Bar Altura: Modern Italian in Toronto

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I’ve been craving Italian food lately, and was really in need of some really solid pizza, pasta – anything!! Luckily, a few days ago I was invited to try a curated menu at Bar Altura, a newly opened spot that puts a modern spin on Italian classics. I was really looking forward to trying out their dishes, especially since it’s from some of the same people behind Kay Pacha. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint!

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First off, I really enjoyed their drinks! The attention to detail that they put into their cocktails are crazy! Out of the drinks that I tried, I LOVED the Pasquale’s Daughter, made with cucumber, ginger, butterfly pea infused vodka, Cointreau and lemon juice. Super delicious and refreshing, with a good balance of slightly sweet and tart flavours. The little tapioca like pearls at the top of the drink are made of Aperol, and has an interesting jelly like texture – so cool!

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I got to try a bunch of appetizers, with one of my favourites being the Caprese, featuring peeled tomatoes stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and pecorino. Its a nice and juicy bite full of fresh flavour! What a unique dish, definitely never seen Caprese made like this before!

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The Arancini was also delicious, stuffed with cheese and topped with tomato sauce.

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I really enjoyed my bite of the Carpaccio, made with lamb saddle, fava bean, pecorino and mint.

Other bite sized portions were served including Sardines (house cured, wrapped in Yukon gold potato string), “tu vou fa L’americano” (olive oil poached Nova Scotia lobster, Campari and Vermouth), and Spaghetti al Pomodoro.

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Now onto the mains. My highlights were the Cavatelli all’Ortolana, featuring house made Cavatelli, summer garden vegetable ragu, pecorino and fior di latte. I really enjoyed the bite to the pasta, and the freshness of the vegetables. This was delicious and went well paired with a rosé. I would love to see how they make a short rib ragu, or a meaty and indulgent pasta dish.

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Their take on porchetta, La Porchetta, was very soft and tender, featuring slow roasted pork shoulder, cotechino, puffed rind, caponata, apricot and amarena agro dolce.

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I would definitely come back, I loved their twist to classic Italian dishes, featuring such unique flavours. The space is so beautiful and bright – grab a spot by the window, it’s perfect for a date!!!

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Bar Altura
571 Queen St W
Toronto ON M5V 2B6

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Southern Brunch Indulgence @ The Carbon Bar

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It’s finally summer, and in fact this Canada Day long weekend is about to have super hot weather at over 35 degrees C!!! I can’t wait, I live for this! Summertime calls for lazy weekend brunches (RIGHT?!) and let me just say, I just visited the perfect southern inspired brunch spot this past weekend! I am still dreaming about the suuuper refreshing Blood Orange Mimosa…and pretty much everything that I ordered at The Carbon Bar. From the apps to the mains, the dishes were really well made, plated beautifully and indulgent!!

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If you’ve been following my blog for awhile now, you’ll know that I LOVE comfort food, and The Carbon Bar is really comfort food at it’s finest. My best friend and I started off with Smashed and Fried potatoes (with kimchi, parmesan and green onions) and Jalapeño and Cheddar Pork Sausage – both so delicious! The potatoes were crispy, cheesy and super rich in flavour, and well balanced because of the kimchi. The sausage on the other hand was deliciously tender, succulent and cheesy with a nice amount of spice. I really enjoyed the fact that these sausages were made in house!

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Up next were the Buttermilk Pancakes + smoked bacon, with wild‎ blueberries, Ennis Farm maple syrup, and lemon yogurt – SO YUMMY! The buttermilk pancakes had a delicious lemon flavour to it, and were really light and fluffy. This is a hefty portion, but I highly recommend it if you’re craving for some delicious pancakes. The highlight of this was the juicy, thick cut bacon, made in house as well. You really can’t go wrong with that!

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Who doesn’t love juicy and succulent fried chicken?! Their version of Chicken ‘N’ Waffles featured buttermilk fried chicken, citrus crema, chili + honey + garlic sauce, and it was absolutely amazing! The chicken was really well seasoned, and super crunchy! The waffles were also on the crisp side too, and tasted delish with the honey + garlic sauce.

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OK now for my favourite dish. At this point, I had already mentally unbuttoned my pants, and basically was in food heaven. I really loved the Huevos El Carbon, served with warm tortillas, black beans, two eggs sunny, Manchego cheese, chorizo, guacamole, charred pico de gallo, coriander and a charred lime. This is the dish that I highly recommend and would definitely come back for. It’s a fun dish – you can build your own tortilla the way you want it, and is also perfect for sharing. I really liked how the rich flavours of the beans, chorizo, and egg were well balanced with the freshness of the coriander, lime and charred tomatoes. Topped off with some guac, it was perfection! My mouth is legit watering as I type this!!!

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So, have you called them to book your spot yet!? Well when you do, don’t forget that they are offering a FREE mimosa if you snap a photo sharing your brunch experience + tag @TheCarbonBar! Definitely take advantage of this, their mimosas are bomb!! I truly enjoyed my brunch at this super chic spot, the service was also amazing – you won’t regret going!!

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The Carbon Bar
99 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M5C 1S1

An e11even (almost) summer feast + patio!

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Ahhh, my absolute favourite time of the year is coming up, which (fingers crossed) means tons of sunny days and hot weather!! I grew up in the Philippines, where the weather goes up to 40 degrees C, so I really live for the summertime! Here in Toronto we’re already getting a bit of that summer weather, and I was lucky enough to be invited to sample a few dishes and drinks from the newly opened patio at e11even. I was REALLY looking forward to it, after being very impressed by how delicious the food was from my last visit.

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Let me tell you right now that my experience exceeded my expectations – I got to try some super delicious dishes and tasty cocktails! I’m already thinking about my next visit and cannot wait!

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The first dish that my boyfriend and I tried was the Crab Cake. Beautifully presented, the crab cake was crispy, with huge chunks of super fresh crab. It was so tasty and delicious, especially with the tangy mustard remoulade and the slaw, both adding flavours and textures that really elevated the appetizer. Our meal started off on the right note, and I had a feeling it would only get better!

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Well, I wasn’t wrong. The weather was perfect at 20 degrees C, not too hot with a light breeze; the perfect weather for cocktails. I first tried their Aperol Spritz, which was executed very well, with the right balance of flavours and sweetness: a mix of Aperol, rhubarb liqueur, Prosecco and a splash of fresh orange juice. Delicious and absolutely refreshing! My second drink was their Georgian Mule, a unique spin on the Moscow Mule, made with Peach Ciroc, Amaretto, Ginger beer and Lime. Okay… I am in LOVE with this drink. It’s a surprising first sip, with sweet fruity flavors that really complement the Ginger beer and lime. I would happily drink this over and over!!! This is a must order, and one of the reasons why I’m going back to this spot very soon.

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I got to try a few other mains, starting with the Albacore Tuna Sandwich. At first glance, you’re hit with super vibrant colours that just screams summer — it’s an open faced sandwich with an Asian slaw, yuzu aioli, and topped with sesame seeds. I loved that this dish was very light and fresh, it’s the perfect size for lunch. The fries that accompanied this were really tasty thin cut fries that aren’t too crunchy (my favourite kind) and nicely seasoned too!

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The Maple Burger with Guinness cheddar was delicious, huge (tall) and juicy, topped with shredded lettuce, tomato and diced pickles. Overall, it’s a really solid burger, and I loved how the thick slices of double cut bacon adds another layer of texture and flavour to the dish.

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When the server dropped off the 10 oz Steak Frites with peppercorn sauce served with Truffle Parmesan Fries, I knew that I was in for a real treat!! I mean, WOW, just look at how beautifully presented this dish is! And yes, I’m still dreaming about it. It’s a perfect medium rare steak that’s well seasoned, very juicy and tender, and is wonderful paired with their peppercorn sauce. The peppercorn sauce tasted so rich and was bursting with savoury beef flavor, similar to au jus, and I couldn’t get enough of it. The Truffle Parmesan Fries totally wins in the sides department too. It’s HEAVENLY – crispy fries with a strong truffle taste, tossed with grated Parmesan cheese and some parsley. Tip: make sure you dip the fries in the peppercorn sauce, you won’t regret it!!! I’m legit still dreaming about this dish. It’s A MUST GET and one that I will order over and over again!

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I didn’t think the meal could get any better, but it did! They served us one of their classic desserts, Sticky Toffee Pudding, and my mind was blown. This is one of the best desserts that I have had in a long time. The texture of the warm pudding was exquisite, very light at first bite, then your taste buds tingle with the incredible toffee flavor (think heavy caramel notes). To top it off, this is served with vanilla bean ice cream which adds a layer of creamyness and goes extremely well with the rich and sweet caramel flavor. This is a dish I would 100% recommend, definitely do not leave e11even without ordering it!

Another incredible meal yet again at e11even, and what I loved most is that they delivered in quality and freshness with both the dishes AND the drinks. I can’t wait to go back and I encourage you to visit and take advantage of their patio this summer!

e11even
15 York St
Toronto, ON M5J 0A3

Two of my FAVE Chocolate Treats

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I’ve been flip flopping lately between a keto diet and normal eating habits, getting ready for my big Philippine beach trip coming up! Big problem: I always love chocolate but I had a huuuge craving for it and found it crazy hard to resist baking. So I’m sharing with you one of my favourite recipes, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, and these super awesome Keto Fudge Brownies!!!

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

Who doesn’t love the combo of chocolate + peanut butter? Such an amazing combination, and works SO well with these cookies. The chocolate cookie itself is made from dutch pressed cocoa powder, and is not too sweet at all. Such a nice contrast to the gooey peanut butter center. If you make this, you’ll be in danger!! Seriously, you won’t be able to eat less than five pieces. The recipe was crazy easy to make, you don’t even need a stand mixer for it. Click the name for the link to the recipe!

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Keto / Gluten Free Fudge Brownies

If you’re going to make brownies while on a hard keto diet, THESE ARE THE ONES YOU MAKE! Yes, all caps on this crazy amazing brownie, with rich dark chocolate flavours, and made with almond flour. Of course, the texture is not the same as a brownie you would make with all purpose flour. It’s a bit dense especially when it cools down, it hardens (so I recommend you reheat it first). Aside from that, the flavours are really amazing, rich chocolate that’s not too sweet (I used Swerve instead of sugar), and I topped mine with the walnuts and sea salt top… my god! I rationed this as my nightly treat and wish I had some more right now!! Click the name for the link to the recipe!

What are you waiting for?? Make either of them ASAP!

Sunday Brunch @ East Thirty-Six

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Okay, I’ll admit that I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to brunch with my boyfriend… and we’ve been together for FOUR years! I normally don’t lean towards it, and maybe it’s because the area that we live in, Yonge and Sheppard, doesn’t have a good brunch spot (sadly). I also always crave for heavier meals like Japanese or Korean, which I can find a lot of near me. Well, after checking out East Thirty Six this past Sunday, my feelings for brunch have now changed!!

East Thirty-Six just started their brunch service, which takes place every Sunday from 11am-3pm, and invited me to sample a few of their dishes.  The food was incredible, and my mouth is legit watering right now just thinking about their Fried Chicken & Waffle. I really can’t wait to go back!!! But first thing’s first: they offer $5 Mimosas and $5 Caesars. A super awesome deal! I really enjoyed both, especially the Caesar, which was well spiced, and even had horseradish in it!

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Up first from the starters were Kimchi Fries and Cauliflower. Both delicious in their own ways, with the Cauliflower being the lighter of the two. It was cooked (roasted?) with capers, lemon, brown butter, roasted hazelnuts and topped with parsley. A unique ingredient list but it works! The Kimchi Fries on the other hand is an indulgent starter, with authentic kimchi made in house by their head chef. I loved the pecorino aioli which went really well with it!

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For the mains we tried the French Omelette, which was a lovely and light dish served with a salad and crème fraiche. If I could describe it with one word it would be: BUTTERY. Wow, totally blown away by the soft and tender texture. The mushrooms inside just adds to its richness. But it’s really the slightly tart flavor of the crème fraiche that really elevates and adds an extra savoury flavor – I really wish I knew how to make this dish!!

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The Eggs Benedict with salmon was also extremely delicious! Everything from the buttery toasted muffins, to the salmon, creamy hollandaise sauce and the perfectly poached eggs – all beautifully done. An indulgent treat of this classic dish and is done exceptionally well! Enjoy my failed egg yolk gif below:

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We also got to sample their Waffle + Fried Chicken, which I’m still dreaming (drooling) about. Their spin on it is unique, because it’s topped with cheese garlic mayo and pickled radish, but they all go with the dish!! First bite of this and my day was instantly better!! The fried chicken was so juicy, crunchy and spiced extremely well. The waffle was light and a nice contrast to the super tasty chicken. This is the dish I would come back and have every Sunday if I could!!

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Finally, we got to also try their dessert, an awesome chocolate ganache piece topped off with salted caramel sauce and peanut brittle. WOW. What a way to end a delicious meal. The ganache (which I believe was dark chocolate), just melted in your mouth. Ohhhhh boy. You’d be crazy not to love the salted caramel and chocolate combo!!

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If my blog post hasn’t made you grab your phone and make a reservation now (which I highly recommend as they get booked up) – you need to do it ASAP!! I really can’t wait to come back.

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East Thirty-Six
36 Wellington St E,
Toronto, ON M5E 1C7