Bar Hop on King West

The first time I went to Bar Hop was earlier this year when I called out a bunch of friends to get introduced to the Monsieur. A parkour/lawyer friend of mine had suggested it and I’ve fallen in love with the place ever since!

Courtesy of Bar Hop

Located at 391 King Street West, right between Spadina Ave. and Peter St. in downtown Toronto, Bar Hop attracts young, casual but trendy professionals of all industries in for some good food and drink.

Bar Hop has 36 offerings of craft beer with rotating casks, so it’s entirely possible that you’ll see a completely different menu every time you go.

They don’t take reservations, so if you bring a whole group of friends (4 is usually the best) it might be a while before you’re able to be seated if you want to sit together. But, it’s definitely worth the wait.

I went with Chris on a random Wednesday night for some dinner and drinks. Even though I had went with the monsieur on Saturday, they already had a different beer list! I was a little disappointed because I had this fantastic beer on Saturday and I couldn’t remember the name of it to get another recommendation.

Bar Hop Toronto

Ah, well. I ended up going with Left Field’s Prospect, which is a single hop American IPA that was seriously light and refreshing but it had plenty of personality to keep me interested.

Chris got Beau’s LugTread, which is a kolsch style beer that reminded us both of Rickard’s but much less hoppy, way crispier and very fresh tasting. The only problem for her was that it made her fall asleep really quickly! (She’s a lightweight for beer. Wine, not so much.)

Bar Hop Toronto

For food, I was instantly won over by their Meat Pie of the night: smoked chicken, chunks of merguez sausage, roasted corn in a hot creamy pot pie. They had a pretty fun sounding vegetarian pot pie with celery root and red quinoa, but I have a soft spot for sausages and smoked chicken.

As you can tell, the dish was really generously portioned! They actually bake it in a small cast iron skillet and it gives a whole new dimension of flavour to the pot pie, which was already really delicious in the first place.

The chicken chunks were so succulent and the merguez sausage was balanced out really nicely with the roasted corn, and when eaten with a good beer… HEAVEN!

Chris got their Fish and Chips and Stuff, which I had on Saturday. Served with tempura battered green beans, apple fennel slaw and a pile of fries and house made tartar sauce, the haddock filet was delicate moist and wrapped in a crispy, airy batter.

After tax and tip, I paid about $30 for my meal and that’s a great deal for a fantastic venue like Bar Hop.

Verdict: 5/5! There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back again very, very soon! If you’re in the area, you should definitely stick your head in and see if you can grab a seat. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

xoxo,

B.elle

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Impulse Lunch Break

Today was one of those days that took me from one end of the GTA to the other and back. I needed to take measurements, tackle traffic, talk to some partners, grab some samples, drop off samples and somehow squeeze in some lunch before making the hour-long trek on the 401.

(Side note: “Hour-long trek on the 401” kinda has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?)

After I took care of the samples, I checked my GPS to see where’s the nearest place for me to eat. It led me to a small plaza-esque area where there was a McDonald’s, Subway and a Wild Wings. Yay.

Right as I parked the car, I noticed a quaint little cafe that opened up to the parking lot called Bukamaranga Bean & Bagel Company. Curiously, it was almost empty at 1:30pm on a beautiful Friday afternoon, but it immediately brought back memories of the open-air cafe by the Woodbine Beaches.

I went by pure instinct and stepped in for some lunch. It looked clean enough!

And boy, was I ever surprised!

Smoked Salmon Lunch

A smoked salmon sandwich with tons of dill and garlic cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, capers on whole wheat toast and a generous side of fresh caesar salad! With an amazingly delicious coffee, the total came up to $11.50 after tax!

A Big Mac combo at McDonald’s is almost $10 now anyway, so you can see why I’m always on the lookout for local, delicious cafes for lunch.

Bukamaranga Bean & Bagel Company

Address:
6465 Millcreek Drive,
Streetsville, ON, L5N 5R3

Phone: 905-812-8777

xoxo,

B.elle

Clif Bar – Peanut Butter Crunch

The last bar I tried was the Clif Bar! It’s so well known that I simply had to take one and try it out for myself!

Courtesy of Clif Bars

 

Clif Bar in Peanut Butter Crunch – $1.99 (68g per bar)

Ingredients:

*Brown rice syrup, protein blend (soy rice crisps [soy protein isolate, rice flour, barley malt extract], *soy flour, *roasted soybeans), *rolled oats, *cane syrup, *peanut butter (*peanuts, salt), peanut flour, crunch pieces (apple pomace, *oat fibre, *milled flaxseed, inulin [chicory extract]), *fig paste, peanuts, natural flavours, sea salt.

*Organic, certified Organic by QAI

The Clif Bar definitely has the best value for the couple dollars you spend! It has the lowest price point of all the bars I picked out AND it’s the biggest one of them all, too!

It actually didn’t taste too bad, too! It wasn’t grainy or too sweet and it actually filled me up nicely without weighing me down.

I actually picked up a box of Clif Bars in White Chocolate Macadamia Nut at Whole Foods for about $17 (go sales!) and I’m really enjoying the whole lineup although I think the White Chocolate Macadamia Nut flavour is a lot sweeter than Peanut Butter Crunch!

Verdict: 4.5/5 Clif Bars are delicious, they sustain your energy and they’re very reasonably priced for gourmet-type energy bars even when they’re not on sale! The only thing that would make the Peanut Butter Crunch better would be some chocolate…

xoxo,

B.elle

February 2014 Tasting Box by Foodie Pages

I got my Tasting Box today! What I love about the Tasting Box is that it features Canadian small business artisans that I normally wouldn’t know about! All of the products are available on the Foodie Pages e-marketplace for easy shopping.

Tasting Box February 2014

Here’s what’s inside!

Cocolico’s Salted Butter Caramels – Vancouver, BC (sample of 4 – approx. $3.60)

Cost: $9 for 100g/3.5oz

I’m not sure how many are in a full size, but the picture they used on Foodie Pages looks like there’s 10 in a 100g box, so I took a calculated guess from there.

I used to work for a salted caramel company for a summer and I have to admit that I missed them a lot! Unlike the ones I worked with, Cocolico mixed the salt into the caramel so you get that delicious sweet/savoury taste through the whole candy. It’s so decadently soft that I may have to hide these for a treat before someone else steals them…

Bonus: All natural ingredients AND the cream’s from local BC farmers!

Tasting Box February 2014

Bix Bakery’s Lemon Pizzelle Cookies – Toronto, ON (Full size)

Cost: $17.95 for 3 full sized cookies

It’s allergen free! Woo! I’m not allergic to anything food-wise, but it’s great to see more products that try to accommodate those with food allergies or sensitivities.

But $17.95 for 3 cookies seems a bit steep for me, especially since said cookies have to come to me by mail in various sized pieces, like they did now. Thank god Bix Bakery’s in Toronto so I can make a visit there!

For the cookie itself, it’s really light, fluffy and airy with a great lemony taste to it. It’s just a tiny bit grainy to the chew from the rice flour, but I don’t mind it.

Dave’s Roasted Garlic Hot Pepper Jelly – Invermere, BC (45mL – approx. $1.65)

Cost: $7 for 190mL / $42 for 6-pack

This stuff smells great! It actually reminds me of a really good salsa with a ton of garlic and jalapeno. Too bad I don’t have any tortilla chips in the pantry…

Even though it’s a sweet jelly, the savoury notes from the roasted garlic comes in right after the sweetness and the spicy peppers just jump on your tastebuds right after that! The card says that it makes a great glaze for barbecued ribs, so that’s a great excuse for me to roast off some ribs soon.

Tasting Box February 2014

Full of Beans’ Deluxe Kitchen Sink Soup Mix – Bornholm, ON (250g – $2.50)

Cost: $5 for 500g

This generous sample alone makes makes 7 servings of 8oz., so I can only imagine how much soup the regular size makes! I’ll be making some baked bean stew tomorrow to see how this turns out.

Tasting Box February 2014

Urge Chocolates’ Oranji Dark Chocolate Bar – Burnaby, BC (60g – Full Size)

Cost: $5 for 60g

I usually don’t like flavoured chocolate. For me, if I’m craving chocolate, I want it to be dark, simple and preferably in fudge form.

But this chocolate? Oh. My. God.

The orange flavour is so fresh and inviting, like that first scrape of orange zest in the summer, and it pairs up so beautifully with the goji berries embedded right in the dark chocolate, which is already sooooo silky and just bitter enough for all the flavours to have a party. I will definitely be buying more of this once I finish this pocket bar!

PS – I love the packaging!

Verdict: I love, love, LOVE this box! My favourite has to be Urge Chocolate’s Oranji Dark Chocolate Bar, but everything that I could taste so far is so delicious that it’s well worth the cost. I paid $25 and got $30 worth of products, so that’s always a bonus!

Did you get one? What did you think of the box?

Want to subscribe? Only 50 boxes are available each month on the 1st, starting at noon, right here (with my referral) on Foodie Pages! Act fast or you’ll miss a box of the best of Canadian artisan cuisine!

xoxo,

B.elle

Note: I am not paid by Foodie Pages or any of the companies mentioned in this post for this review. All opinions and views are mine.

Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. – Honduras Jose Salomon Benitez

My June box came on June 14th and I’ve somehow managed to resist the temptation of beautiful coffee for a FULL WEEK! I don’t know how I did that, but I’ve instantly regretted it.

MistoBox June Anodyne

The first one I pulled out for this month is Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.’s Jose Salomon Benitez. The card states that it’s a microlot of Finca El Bourboyon with the Catuai variety. Not too sure exactly what these details mean, but the beans look a lot smaller and rounder than the typical Colombian variety.

It also tastes a lot smoother and creamier with just a touch of milk! The mouthfeel of this particular blend is somehow a tad thicker and more pleasant than others, but without the use of a high fat creamer. (I use 2%, not coffee cream or table cream at home.)

The flavour itself does have hints of blackcurrants and honey, but it’s not as pronounced as the finishing tones nougat and almonds. These subtle flavours come out the best after adding a little sugar and milk for me, so it’s probably not too suited for black coffee drinkers who want the full experience.

Verdict:  The coffee as a whole actually reminds me of a really good nougat bar that you’d get in a cafe. I would actually drink this AS my dessert instead of WITH my dessert! It is such a great treat! That being said, I’d probably just buy a half bag since it would probably go stale before I get a chance to finish it all. 😦

Wanna try it out and share it with some friends? Pick up a whole pound here at Mistobox.com or here at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.‘s own website, which only ships within the US.

xoxo,

B.elle

OQ Coffee Co. – Sulawesi Toarco Station

I tried out the third sample I got from my MistoBox today.

OQ Coffee Co. - Sulawesi Toarco Station

My first impression of this coffee bean came when I ripped open the top and a huge whiff of freshly roasted coffee hit my nose! It definitely wasn’t as delicate as the Case’s Agaro Jimma or Water Avenue’s Finca Buena Vista and reminded more of the more common varieties but not in a bad way.

The roast appeared a little darker than Case’s and Water Avenue’s beans, so that might be why it smells a bit stronger and more like the typical roasts we find in the supermarkets. The beans also looked a little larger than the others, but that could also be the variety of coffee bean that they used. (I’m not very educated on the different varieties of coffee beans!)

Without any sugar or milk added to it, the Sulawesi Toarco delivered a full, almost wine-y taste that comes from the juniper and other spiced notes. I think it reminds me of wine because of the spices they chose since many red wines use those during oaking.

I didn’t pick up any of the floral notes the card had mentioned. None. But that could be because I had just eaten lunch and floral notes can be a bit difficult for me to detect.

It’s got a distinct bitterness that’s characteristic of coffee, but I found it to be much less sharp than typical coffees and sharper than the other samples I’ve tried.

Verdict: Out of the samples in the box so far, it’s not my favourite. It’s not as distinct or as novel in flavour profile as the others, but I do enjoy its resemblance to wine. It’s still better than most commercial coffees available and it would do perfectly as the first morning roast after a long night of partying, but I’m not sure if I’d get it online to ship to Canada. If it was available on the shelf, I’d take it in an instant!

Interested? You can buy a bag here at MistoBox.com or here at OQ Coffee Co.’s online store, which also does not ship to Canada. *sigh*

xoxo,

B.elle

Case Coffee Roasters – Ethiopia Agaro Jimma

Here’s the second of four samples I got from MistoBox!

Case Coffee Roasters - Ethiopia Agaro Jimma

Every sample came in these resealable brown paper bags that fit perfectly into the box they sent it in and they picked different colours for each bag. I’m not sure if the colours are used each time or if it’s by region or if they pick new colours each month, but it definitely does help when trying to pick the morning brew.

This was the second sample that I opened and it turned out to be a slightly lighter roast than other commercial coffee beans. It’s not as light as the Finca Buena Vista, but it’s still lighter than say… Starbucks’ Pike Place.

The smell actually reminds me of a barbeque for some reason. I don’t know why, but it’s that toasted scent that first hits my nose! It’s still quite lovely and dry as they say on the card included in the MistoBox, but I don’t pick up any of the apricot and honey.

It tastes so sweet even without any sugar! The first flavour I got was literally peaches and raspberries and I had to double check with the card to make sure that I wasn’t imagining things! The finish is a little dull, but the overall profile is very delicate and perfect for beginner or casual coffee drinkers.

Verdict: It’s a much lighter and delicate coffee that would probably appeal to more people than the typical coffee and it delivers a cloyingly delicious flavour.

Want to check it out? You can buy it here at Mistobox.com with free shipping or here at Case Coffee Roasters’ store site for a $5 flat shipping fee!

xoxo,

B.elle