Showing posts with label cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cake. Show all posts

Cheese Garden (Toronto)


In case you’re wondering, Cheese Garden is not an export from Japan. Although, it is inspired by all the pastries found in the area when Ruka (owner) visited the country and decided to learn the recipes to bring these confections back to Canada.  

The Japanese cheesecake ($10) is widely found across the GTA and probably the first thing people think about with Japanese cheese-based baked goods. Cheese Garden’s is not as buttery as some of their competitors, but is smoother while still retaining that fluffiness you expect from the cake.


My go-to way of sampling the cake is in three stages: fresh from the shop; leaving in the fridge for at least 8 hours before a second slice; and finally waiting a full 24 hours before having a last taste. On previous occasions, I generally prefer the confection after a day in the fridge. In the cold, the cake deepens and turns creamier. Oddly, with Cheese Garden’s I actually preferred it fresh, possibly because it was so silky to begin with.


What separates Cheese Garden from their competitors is their expanded offering - they are not a single recipe pony. And if you like cheese their double fromage cheesecake ($18.95) will make you swoon.


Inspired by the famous creation from LeTAO from Hokkaido, the cake consists of two layers – the top frozen while the bottom baked. They are sandwiched together amongst sponge cake bits, melding into one to give the eater two flavours and consistencies.

If you’ve ever seen pictures of LeTAO’s version, there’s a stark distinction between the frozen and baked layers (the bottom is darker). Meanwhile, the colour variation at Cheese Garden is slight, but if you look closely you’ll see the top frozen layer is smoother and less crumbly.


Following the directions, I left the cake at room temperature for about half an hour before cutting. By this point, it was still difficult to cut through and there was an icy consistency covering everything. So, it went back into the fridge and after another 4 hours the second slice was much better, the top layer softened and resembled an ice cream cake crossed with tiramisu.


By the following day, still in the fridge as I didn’t want to keep freezing and defrosting the cake, it turned even creamier, the top layer seeping into the bottom and became what I’d call a cheesy trifle (without all the fruit).

While the double fromage is only 4.5 inches, it’s really rich. So, despite being small, I can see why the cake can feed six. The cheese flavours are definitely more pronounced than the Japanese cheesecake, but still light and mellower than western counterparts.

Having only sampled a third of Cheese Garden’s creations, this is the bakery to go to if you don’t mind spending more for something different. With a plethora of choices, perhaps it’s the excuse you need to round up a group of cheese lovers for a tea party.   

Disclaimer: The above cakes were complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 5291 Yonge Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

Cheese Garden Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Spacco (Toronto)



Midtown has a group of restaurants that has operated for years, yet their appeal have diminished with all the new competition, despite having decent food and a pleasant atmosphere. Spacco is one of these restaurants, a place I recall visiting for work functions numerous years ago, dining on appetizer platters and finger foods. 

They began offering a Groupon deal for a three course meal for four for only $80 - a steal considering most of their mains are $15-$20 (prices included in the post are from the regular menu). We did have to order from condensed offerings, but still had plenty of choices and was a well curated selection off their complete menu.

Both of the calamari ($13) were fair sized portions and well executed. The battered version, the typical thin rings, were hot and fresh from the deep fryer. Meanwhile, the grilled version could be charred a bit more but had nice flavours from the lemon garlic olive oil, the vegetables on the side a great addition.


The oven baked shrimp ($13) were thankfully not overcooked and the chunky spicy roasted tomato sauce they sat in great for slathering on the soft complimentary ciabatta buns.  


Although the arancini ($12) were delicious and in my opinion the tastiest of all the appetizers, the two ping pong sized balls made the starter much smaller compared to other offerings. Typically, at other restaurants, there would be three to an order – Spacco you need to consider increasing the number of arancini or the size of each one for this appetizer. Nonetheless, the deep fried risotto stuffed with peas and mozzarella were hot and satisfying, a soft molten middle with the requisite crunchy exterior.  


For the mains, the seafood risotto ($20) was terrible – the rice extremely mushy and is questionable if it was even made with the Arborio variety. There was a fair amount of seafood (shrimp, scallop, calamari and mussels) but despite the menu describing the mussels as “fresh”, they were gritty and tasted off to me.


The penne trecolore ($18) was better, the pasta in between the al dante and cooked through state but tossed in a tasty tomato cream sauce. Mixed into the pasta was plenty of chicken, spinach and roasted red peppers to provide the “three colours” from the dish’s name.


With the wood-burning oven prominently situated in the open kitchen, it seemed like a safe bet that the pizzas would be good. We ordered two to share, the culo rosso ($16) and campagnia ($17), both delicious and prettily presented.


Indeed, the culo rosso had a very spicy kick from the hot banana peppers, so much so that it momentarily renders your tongue numb making the sausage and caramelized shallots non-existent. But, if you like the heat, it’s a great pie. On the other hand, the campagnia is much tamer topped with chicken, roasted red peppers, spinach, sundried tomatoes and a fair amount of creamy goat cheese.

The only easy decision is dessert – there are two choices, a sweet and moist tuxedo truffle mousse cake or dense and sugary iced chocolate brownie with ice cream ($7). Neither are fantastic, yet tasted fresh and since they’re both so decadent, leaves you satisfied with a few tastes.   



Overall, we were all pleasantly surprised with the quality of their food for the price we paid ($20 per person). Although there wasn’t anything outstanding, the dishes were executed better than chain restaurants and the atmosphere cheerful and conducive to sharing bottles of wine without fear of becoming too loud. Best yet, after the meal, you can always venture to their lounge area and continue the night with more drinks and a game at one of their seven pool tables.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2415 Yonge Street (behind Alleycatz)


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Spacco Restaurant and Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

An InstaMeet at Infuse Cafe (Toronto)


Rest assured fellow readers, for me, blogging will always come first. Meaning photographs are snapped quickly (and without staging) to ensure food is consumed at its optimal temperature. With that said, over the last year, I’ve started dabbling in the Instagram realm (@gastroworldblog), as a means of showcasing the photos I’m most proud of or others that will never be included in a post. 

What I love most about this second social media platform, is the sense of community and feedback you receive. People are quick to give kudos and there’s so much interaction in the comments field! Even though it doesn’t showcase Gastro World’s writing very well, it has allowed me to connect with a new group of foodies.

@FeedMyPhone hosted an Insta Meet at Infuse Café’s new location inside the Gerrard Square Mall. The perfect opportunity to meet the people behind the photos that entice me; a collection of individuals who love food photography and their friends (often relegating to holding objects and pouring with a slow grace). To watch the true photographers at work – the equipment (a far cry from my iPhone) and the care they take to ensure things are placed optimally – was eye opening.

Truth be told, my attention was quickly stolen by the high tech gadget used to vacuum extract tea and coffee using reverse atmosphere infusion (are any engineers reading this?). These machines end up costing $20K+ after being installed and requires a special technician flown from San Francisco to get the job done. Infuse Café is the only establishment in the country that has the right to use the machine for the next couple of years.  


So what does a machine that costs as much as an entry level car get you? For tea, a richer tasting cup without the bitterness as the machine doesn’t use scalding water, which unfortunately can sometimes scorch the leaves. For coffee, a cup of java that has 15% more caffeine! The fruit flavours in the blueberry hibiscus iced tea ($3.99/16oz and $4.49/20oz) was prevalent so that the drink could almost be juice. Meanwhile, the classic milk tea (same price as hibiscus) did offer a robust tea flavour without the bitter end note.


Personally, I would have loved to try iron goddess of mercy (or tae guan yum), normally ordered at at dim sum, in order contrast the tea naturally. After all, what should high quality tea made with a specialized machine really taste like? For those who want something luxurious, Infuse offers milk latte versions of their drinks and most can be ordered in a hot or cold form (with no additional charge for making it cold)! Their teas range from $3.49 for a 16oz yerba mate blend to $8.99 for a 20oz cup of their “prestige” line such as the Silver Needle.

A variety of cakes from Cecilia’s Cheesecakes, which can normally be purchased at Infuse, was also tasted at the event. Their original cheese cake ($10) was just as satisfying as Uncle Tetsu’s and the matcha, chocolate or orange flavoured versions ($15) tasty as well. 


But, it was the matcha ganache cheesecake ($18) that was my favourite, combining the fluffy lightness of a Japanese cheesecake with a sweet icing to really make it dessert. It was so good I purchased a personal-sized version ($4) for my husband.


While learning about the machine, we were advised it could even make cocktails – morphing the alcohol to make it sweeter. Oh boy, when Infuse Café becomes the next Starbucks and gets their liquor license, that would be something I’m most excited to try. Just imagine the state of the attendees of an Insta Meet after a couple of those...
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1000 Gerrard St. E (inside the Gerrard Square Mall)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Infuse Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Harbour Cafe at Venachar Lochside (Callander)

Location: Callander, Scotland
Address: Trossachs Leisure Ltd (FK17 8HP)
Website: http://www.venachar-lochside.com/
Type of Meal: Lunch


While travelling with Discreet Scotland, our guide stopped by The Harbour Café located in a secluded area overlooking Loch Venachar.  Whether you sit inside in the dining room or on the patio, you get to take in the spectacular view, as shown from the picture below.





The Harbour Cafe provided me with the opportunity to try another Scottish delicacy the cullen skink (£5.50). The best part is the fish broth base bringing such a rich seafood flavour to the soup.  With the addition of smoked haddock, potatoes, leeks a dash of white wine and cream, there’s also a smoky and hearty feel to the cullen skink. Although it looks like chowder, the consistency is thinner and more like broth; so, it’s not too heavy. Some may find it a tad salty, but it was perfect for dipping the hunk of fresh Scottish bread into. The Harbour Cafe gives a pretty substantial portion so that the cullen skink is a meal in itself.

Their cheeseburger (£9.45) was also delicious and the first I've had in Scotland which was flame broiled – something about that charred smoky taste is what makes the burger.  Sitting on a soft toasted bun, there is a layer of tomato and onion relish which mellows everything out and adds a hint of sweetness. Accompanying the burger were some of the most amazing chips (fries) - crispy, fluffy and just the perfect amount of salt all fried up to a beautiful golden colour. 



As you walk in, you're tempted by freshly made bakery items on display. One guest got a scone and noted it was one of the best he's ever eaten.  For dessert, I had a bite of the lemon and ginger cake (£2.95) which was very moist but the frosting a bit sweet for my taste.


Venachar Lochside was a great place - beautiful views, laid back service and delectable food at a reasonable price.  Special thanks to Matthew at Discreet Scotland Tours for introducing me to this wonderful place. 


Overall mark - 9 out of 10


Like the blog? You can now follow me on twitter for notifications - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog

____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!



The Harbour Cafe on Urbanspoon