Archive for the '' Category

Food Dare: ‘Fowl Times’

Food and sex have been analogized ad nauseum and I find no small amount of delight in the fact that among the qualities they share is an interesting relationship to craving: it seems I always want more of either immediately after I’ve had some. But there’s no ‘fucking’ way I’ll be craving ‘balut’ again any time soon.

Now, I’m a big fan of Tony Bourdain and his various travel/food shows and take no small amount of inspiration from his notoriously adventurous palate and his equally foul mouth. And while admittedly eating fetal duck egg isn’t quite downing a shot-glass full of vietnamese moonshine along with a still-beating cobra heart, I’d have to say it’s probably one of the strangest things I’ve ever consumed. Continue reading ‘Food Dare: ‘Fowl Times’’


Food Dare: FOCO Aloe Vera Dessert

Raised from early childhood with the question: 'how do you know you don't like it, you haven't even tried it?' I've taken the question to heart and maybe even the slightest extreme where now my eating habits mirror my dating habits in that i've been known to put pretty much anything in my mouth once. maybe even twice just to make sure. This recurring 'Food Dare' section in fake. is designed to appeal to my playful sense of oral adventure and hopefully illuminate some of the more exotic and interesting food fare this citiy's shops have on offer.

They say the supermarket is a great place to pick up. I guess you could say I have a bit of an asian fetish then cos I seem to spend way too much time wandering the aisle of the various grocers and supermarkets around Gerrard and Broadview, weaving through aisles, chasing down exotic beauties that only speak to me in strange oriental umbrage, in accents incomprehensible.

Pacing through the aisles of a Gerrard East supermarket, I flash by shelves bursting with ramen [a subject for its own future series], ignoring the hordes of sweets and pleasantly stocked cans plump with all manner of food and bevvy– I'm looking for something a little more ecclectic; more novel. That hidden novelty finally reveals itself on the cusp of the frozen food section where i find the treat that's coming home with me: FOCO Aloe Vera Desert.

Aloe vera!?! Falling down more than once as a child i'm well acquainted with its medicinal properties and, along with garlic, its pancea status in the bosom of my mother's esteem. Up til now though, I didn't think the shit was edibie! well that's a good enough reason to try it. So I grab a couple of bags– they're cheap. like $.99 a pack– and take them home with me for a quiet evening in.

Heeding the "Chilled Before Serving" advice on the bag I can only assume that refrigerating it while i have some dinner is what's required. Mind you, how much refrigerating does something need if it's chilled before serving? Ever seen stressed out Aloe? Nah, me neither.

Supper finished, candle light and soft music at the ready I prepare myself to be seduced as I crack open the contents of the wonderfully squishy bag (feels like i imagine a bizarro-world breast implant would) and pour them into a bowl. Undetered by the sheer volume of liquid spilling into the bowl along with the peeled pieces of green-striped translucent aloe, i reach for a spoon and accept my first mouthful.

Anyone who's ever peeled a grape or eaten a lychee has a vague idea of what the pleasing toothy crunch of Aloe is like. Actually, cross the aforementioned with a cucumber and you've got it exactly. As for the taste, I'd be lying if I said the plant's natural flavour wasn't almost completely obscured by the artificially muscaty infused sugar solution which amplify the whole grape cum lychee vibe. Still, once the syrup's strong taste dissipates, it reveals the plant's pleasant, ghostly floral flavours, teasing in the foreground of your tastebuds for a second and then evanescese, requiring another mouthful just to make sure you didn't imagine it all.

Despite the package's claims touting the benefits of consuming Aloe Vera (apparently, amoung other things, it "helps to maintain tone of blood vessels, promotes good circulation, decrease body stress" being naturally rich in Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids and Enzymes) according to the Wikipedia entry on Aloe, there have been very few proper studies conducted on the benefits of interal uses of the plant. That being said, i dunno why you'd be looking for anything with healing properties in the desert section of an Asian supermarket in the first place.

The Verdict? Although it's either a bit too much flavour (if you drink all of the acompanying liquid) or too little flavour (if you're expecting a powerful flavour burst from this subtle cactus) it would definitely make a fine addition to a summer fruit salad for your next potluck and spark some interesting conversations as well.

Worth The Wait: Yung Sing Pastry Shop

yung sing.jpg

Like finally getting round to cracking the spine of 100 Years of Solitude (always a bridesmaid, eh Marquez?), sampling the flavour at Yung Sing Pastry Shop is something i've been meaning to do for what also seems an embarassing eternity.

What took me?


Curiously, every time i managed to find myself jonesin' for a snack this side of Baldwin for say the past decade, i've always been inexplicably greeted by the cheerfully sneering 'closed' sign dangling inside the locked door of a suspiciously empty shop. For reasons obscure, cosmic, co-incident or perhaps even statistical for all i know, i can't dismiss the possibility that every other time i managed to make my way down here it was on a Monday when they are closed.

So considering the shambolic odessey preceding my arrival on Yung Sing's doorstep this particular grey, april-showered afternoon i s'pose it's only fitting that i'm forced to wait a little longer to sample the goods and frankly almost relieved to see the shop stuffed to bursting with the regular noontime hungry republic of angel-eyed Kensington kids, erstwhile undergrads and Steven Davey disciples all hip to what are rumoured to be some of the finest chinese buns in the city.

Checking the chalkboard menu behind the counter of this pleasantly bright and plant-filled space reveals a list of the usual suspects with a few interesting twists (the most intreguing one for me being the fried rice bun which is unfortunately sold out by the time i get up to the front of this line– a testament to its quality no doubt). So I opt for those old standards barbecue pork and curried beef bun along with a 'pork roll'. Most of the buns on the menu are $.90 each which is average for a chinese bun but a steal for how good these treats turn out to be. The pork roll is quite tasty, a deepfried gluten ball stuffed with pork and dried shrimp, it provides a decent introduction and sets the bar for what follows. Known by various names, the pork roll is probably familiar to every dim summer, but the care paid and attention to detail seem to elevate this one a notch above your average dumpling (speaking of which: Yung Sing offers shrimp-packed Har Kao and pork Siu Mai on weekends i'll definitely have to try upon my return which will definitely be soon).

As for the baked buns? Although these buns lack the sweetly varinished sheen of most of their chinatown counterparts that's where the dullness ends. The Bun itself is impossibly light, the soft dough intreguingly sweet though not overly so and i find myself marvelling at how exactly it manages to keep contained the remarkably subtle combination of meats and sauces couched within. The barbecue pork bun is excellent, trading in the typical ketchupy-red barbecue sauce for something more mahogany in colour and akin to gravy. The sweetness is still there but its not trying to hide anything as it plays well off the abundant barbecued pork.

That's nothing compared to the curried beef bun. I'm blown away by the almost spicy-sweet nuttiness curry that seems to shift through the flavour palette at will flirting with each flavour long enough to make you miss it when it's gone. I wanna blow my brains out its so good. I'd be droppin' f-bomb superlatives if my mouth wasn't so happily fully. Then the sadness like an april rain– i'll never have a chinese bun that i won't in some way compare to this moment. This is the thrill of the hunt for me! Every once-in-a-while someone manages to breathe new life into the simplest or most commonplace foodstuff and creates something utterly inspiring and elegant. Believe me, you've got to try these cheap, tasty treats. Just don't wait as long as I did.

Yung Sing Pastry Shop

22 Baldwin Ave.

Open Tuesday-Sunday

11am- 7pm

Closed Mondays