This weekend I was taken on a magical food and drink journey through Toronto’s Little Italy. I had the time of my life and it was all because of Chef Scott at Culinary Adventure Company. Scott worked his magic and his connections to give me the most awesome culinary experience I have ever had…EVER!
We started at the members only drink lounge Toronto Temperance Society for a cocktail. The lounge is located above the restaurant Sidecar at 577 College St. You need a key to open the unmarked heavy door that leads to a dimly lit staircase. As I walked up the stairs I could hear a saxophone and some chatter getting louder and louder. The lounge had a beautiful bar with the most unique liquor selection I have ever seen. It was fitted with comfy black leather booths and the window shutters were closed which made it a wonderful place to `secretly` enjoy a drink or two. I had a very tasty champagne cocktail with St Germain liqueur, which is made from handpicked elderflower blossoms in the French Alps. It was sweet and refreshing, a real treat!
The next stop we made was for some food down the street at L.A.B Live and Breath. We had a seat at the bar towards the back and met Howard Dubrovsky the chef and owner of L.A.B right away. He was cute and charismatic and really made us feel special. He immediately agreed to to do a small tasting for Chef Scott and I and also made us two unique drinks to start.
The first one he called Cherry Garcia, it was like drinking ice cream and was made with Chocolate Grappa. Then he made a hickory smoked Manhattan, he did this by filling the Cointreau bottle with hickory flavoured smoke before he mixed the drink. The taste was awesome, you could smell the hickory as you brought it up to your lips and then it tasted boozy, smokey, and sweet all at the same time. I would have this drink again for sure!
We dinned on the Long Bean Salad with Radicchio Paint, Edible Flowers, and Caramelized Onions
Then we enjoyed Howard`s version of a tater tot – Parmesan Potato Croquettes with sweet and sour Tomato Chutney
The final dish he brought to us was Braised Veal Ravioli with House made Ricotta – He told us he cooks the veal sous vide for 24 hour. It was phenomenal!!
L.A.B was small, unique, and had a huge heart! Howard literally `lives and breaths` cooking and I had an amazing time. He was a wonderful host and I would definitely go back again to satisfy my hunger.
The last stop on our culinary adventure was to Woodlot at 293 Palmerston Ave. The restaurant is in an old garage that I remember used to be a dance spot for some old school hip hop on Friday nights. So it was interesting to now walk into such a heart warming, cozy, and delicious smelling venue. Woodlot also operates a full on bakery during the day and has a beautiful handmade wood burning oven. We were greeted with smiles and seated at the large long wood table right in front of the open kitchen. Chef Scott introduced me to David Haman the chef and owner right away. He agreed to prepare a tasting for us and the eating and drinking continued into the night. LOL I honestly don`t know how I kept up. Everything was just so wonderful and because I didn’t look at any menus made it all the more fascinating.
First we were presented with Seared Scallops on a bed of Lentils and Prosciutto topped with slivered Shitocki Mushrooms- delish! It was cooked perfect and the small bit of dill on top complimented the flavours so well.
Then Scott and I shared a Mushroom dish Served on a Farro and Beet salad.
We then had the most amazing pasta dish, a little bowl each of Braised Lamb Pappardelle with Dandelion Greens.
The last dish we had was a unique Combination of Bacon and Snails on Polenta with a Duck sauce (I think) – soo tasty!!
At this point in time I am asking myself how am I not extremely full. I am so pleasantly satisfied with the experience I have be enjoying all night. I got to chat with David when service was done. We talked about why he chose the name, his bakery, and how his girlfriend cooks and leaves HIM leftovers for when he gets home from a long night. He is very passionate about his simple and homemade approach to his menu and I am looking forward to going back 100%.
A shot of tequila ends our visit to Woodlot and I raise my glass to cheers my host Chef Scott from Culinary Adventures for an amazing and delicious journey through College Street.