Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Toronto Marathon Weekend 2013

My weekend was spent in Toronto for work. I helped cover the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon as a sports photographer with the MarathonFoto company. You can read more about what it's like to work the event [link]. This post is about all the food.

The train to Toronto arrived about half an hour delayed. Once I left Union Station, I followed some people out, to where I hoped the taxis were waiting, but they just all split up and walked away. There weren't any taxi stands in sight. With the whole street in front of the Union Station under construction, I failed to spot the taxi stand sign - if there even was one.

I met up with Lucy and JT for my annual Pizzeria Libretto fix. Prior to my arrival, Lucy and JT had a cappuccino and coffee americano, respectively, and a giant muffin at the Crafted by Te Aro coffee shop down the street. Apparently they both enjoyed their drinks and recommend it. I'll try to get their thoughts.

Lucy's comments:
The cappuccino was delicious.  I'll be honest and admit that although I'm a caffeine freak, I've not yet jumped into the world of well-crafted espresso based drinks.  After drinking this cappuccino, I can now say that I understand when coffee-crazies talk about the importance of properly steamed milk, the velvety texture of the foam, and the incredible aroma of well-roasted beans.  I get it now, guys.

My stomach was empty when I arrived at Libretto. I was hungry for some pizza. The feature pizza was a tomato sauce-based pizza with Stracciatella & mozzarella cheese, soppressata, a few drizzles of spicy cayenne maple, and fresh basil. Doesn't it sound good?


There were plenty of crispy soppressata edges to enjoy. The pizza was on the salty side because of the generous blanket of soppressata. It needed a bit more of the spicy cayenne maple syrup to cut through the cured meat. I think the pizza needed more sweetness like red grapes, apple chunks, or pear chunks. The pizza dough was a bit on the dense side -- still really delicious -- but not as bubbly and fluffy as I've had in the past. It was just an off day, I guess.


Lucy and JT both shared a very photogenic yellow beet caprese salad. They also got a slice of my pizza.

After lunch, I went back to the hotel to check in and wind down before the team captain meeting in the evening. I meant to take a nap but that didn't happen.

I met up with JT in Chinatown after my meeting. By the time we arrived at the House of Gourmet, we were both starving. It was 9 o'clock and we needed food. The waitress came over and I told her:

"Can we please get the sizzling beef with chef special sauce?"

"Beef with chef special sauce? Okay."

"Can we also get... uhh..." I tried to look for my favourite rice noodles with beef and vegetables dish. Time was ticking. I could almost feel the impatience of the veteran waitress. "And... gai lan cha ngao hau."

"Stir-fried rice noodles. Okay."

"Can I also get extra sauce please?

"You like extra sauce?" She asked with an expression that was a mix between being surprised and impressed.

"Yup. Extra sauce please."

"You like more soy sauce?"


"Extra soy sauce?"

I was confused. Did I not order the rice noodles with beef and Chinese broccoli? The sauce isn't made of soy sauce. I panicked.

"It's okay. We don't need extra sauce." I said with a smile.

She confirmed the order and left. "Okay. One beef with chef special sauce and gan cha ngao hau."

While we were waiting for the food to arrive, I told JT how this was one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto. Most of the things I've had at the restaurant have been amazing. And of course, this was the place that made an amazing dish of rice noodles with beef and vegetables.

Apparently I ordered the rice noodles with beef. The dry ho fun noodles with soy sauce. Meh. Still good. I pointed out the charring on the noodles were a sign of the chef's talent for getting the noodles smoky by stir-frying on a really hot wok.

The sizzling beef was good as well. Especially when you mix the two in your bowl a bit.

It was nice to catch up with my cousin over a tasty dinner. We made plans to meet up the following day after I was finished work. We got the leftovers packed up and parted ways for the night.



Covering Humber River Bridge W
Early in the morning, I had a breakfast of a Bacon 'n Egg Bagel meal with hash browns and a coffee. I went to work afterwards. 

I was finished around 2:30pm after the paperwork were completed. Zee and JT met me at the hotel lobby and we went to grab some food at Hoops Sports Bar & Grill.

This was the cover for their menu.

We shared a plate of spicy chicken nachos.

We all ended up ordering more chicken for our main dishes. Chicken parmesan sandwich and side salad with balsamic vinegar dressing for myself, spicy BBQ chicken wrap for Zee, and JT had the cajun chicken sandwich with fries. They both really enjoyed their fries. I had a taste of the dark golden shoestring fries were good. They'd be terrible in a poutine though.

Once we were finished eating, I went to the Union Train Station to catch my train back to Ottawa. I settled into my seat while listening to the Habs vs Sens Game 3 online on the Team 1200. They served dinner about an hour and a half into the ride. The three choices for the main were: smoked cheese ravioli (vegetarian option), trout in chardonnay butter (fish option), and grilled boneless beef short ribs (meat option).

The appetizer was a cheese plate: Swiss and Camembert cheese, red grapes, and a choice of bread. I thought the swiss tasted like cheddar. I swear it was white cheddar.

I was happy with my selection. The short ribs were "... cooked in a bourbon BBQ sauce and served with mashed garlic and chive red potatoes, and a medley of oven-roasted vegetables." The short ribs were so tender. The bourbon BBQ sauce just tasted like gravy to me -- delicious gravy. I'm a huge fan of roasted root vegetables. These weren't overcooked and were so sweet. I went with red wine to enjoy with my meal, cause I could. If I was served this in a restaurant, I'd be just as happy with it. Very impressive indeed!

I'm a notorious slow eater. I like to enjoy my food and drink by savouring the different flavours. By the time I was finished with my main, I was beyond full. But I couldn't leave the chocolate cake! Glutton. Pure glutton.

At this point of the meal, I was getting quite giddy from listening to the Sens trounce the Habs 6-1. So much for my planned nap.

What's the timing of the meal service? Does anybody know? I ask this because just as I started to enjoy the moist chocolate cake, you can see the little corner of the cake missing, we were given a little chocolate truffle. Erhmagerd! This summarized my trip to Toronto...

So. Much. Food.

Pizzeria Libretto
221 Ossington Ave,
Toronto, ON
Pizzeria Libretto on Urbanspoon

Crafted by Te Aro
135 Ossington Ave,
Toronto, ON
Crafted By Te Aro on Urbanspoon

House of Gourmet
484 Dundas St. W
Toronto, ON
House of Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Hoops Sports Bar & Grill
458 Yonge St
Toronto, ON
Hoops Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Via Rail - Union Train Station
65 Front St W
Toronto, ON

1 comment:

  1. *drool* all your food pictures look amazing! Sounds like you had a jam packed trip to Toronto!


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