The last day of operation at the “The Kitchen and Glass place” on 840 Yonge St, is March 31st, 2013. Tony Vrbanatz, owner and chef, and will be closing his shop after 45 years in business. That is significant given the competition and market changes over the years.
Do come by to rummage any remaining kitchen supplies at a steep discount. I was able to get a few seafood forks, a porcelain oil and vinegar set, and other baking items for less than $15. I am going to emphasize on the rummaging part, since there are just a few shelves left of inventory.
What really makes your visit well worth it, is your chat with Tony. He is charming and will brighten up your day with his stories of his past and his upcoming retirement.
Young Tony Vrbanatz
His first store was on Yonge St. and Adelaide St, which was in operation before the Hudson Bay Company bought the Queen St. flagship store. His store is the longest running kitchen supply store in Toronto operated by the same owner, and not passed down to the second generation. Although, his first store was opened before my time, this is very fascinating indeed.
The store did not make BlogTOs best kitchen supply stores list, but it would have been on the top of my list. As a previous George Brown College student, I made use of their generous 20% discount to culinary students at George Brown on all regular price items. I haven’t found another store that was able to match that. It was not the “Tap Phong” of kitchen supplies stores, which is the Costcos and Walmart of all kitchen supplies stores, but after 45 years of operation, that says a lot of the loyalty of their customers and their business.
Chili Secrets(Richmond Hill location) This is the least expensive restaurant in the list. If you decide to order items off of their regular menu as well, they specialize in Schezuan and northern Chinese cuisine.
I have heard great things about Casa Victoria, which is on my list of places to try. If there are others you recommend in the GTA, please comment on my post. As for dim sum downtown Toronto, I normally go to Rol San in Chinatown or Crown Princess on Bay St., both great choices.
I have been to Chicago five times to-date, with food as a large focus on my trips. Below are my top picks for best restaurants in Chicago.
My rating scale: $$$$- Fine dining. Places I go on a special occasions. $$$- Upscale. Places I go on a weekend to enjoy a great meal but it won’t break the bank. $$- Casual. Places I don’t need to dress up for and can frequent often. $- Inexpensive. PlacesI would eat any time and great for student budgets.
Scale based on the taste, quality and overall experience: 4- Must try. “I recommend this to everyone and would go back every day if I can” 3-Excellent. “I will go again and try more menu items” 2-Good. “Restaurant and food doesn’t stand out but it was okay” 1-Not impressed. “Don’t go there”
I have tried many items on each one of the menus and narrowed down to the best picks.
Gibson’s Steak House: $$$$, Rating: 4. W.R’s 22 oz Chicago Cut Steak, and any of the pies/cake to share with the table. Other notes: The waiter shows you the different meats they offer at the table which is really cool. It has a classic steak house vibe.
David Burke Prime House, $$$$, Rating: 4, The classic table side caesar salad, 55 or 75 Day Rib eye, and the seared Ahi Tuna. Other notes: It is a modern steak house with appetizers such as wagyu beef on Himalyan Salt Block. Make sure to ask the Manager to give you a tour of where they age their meats if you are interested.
Carmine’s/Rosebud-Both menus are very similar. $$$, Rating: 3. Recommend the Caprese salad, veal saltimbocca, and cavatelli arrabiata (pasta with a spicy marinara sauce).Other notes: If you are super hungry, go for the lasagne at Carmine’s. It can feed 4 hungry people!
Carnivale$$$, Rating: 3, Ropa vieja (plantains and braised beef), seafood paella, and any of their speciality drinks. Other notes: Make sure to bring your camera to capture the gorgeous high ceilings and beautiful decor.
Del Soeul(Korean taco joint): $, Rating: 3, Sambal fish Korean BBQ tacos, and Korean bulgolgi “banh mi” sandwiches.
Weiner Circle: $, Rating 3, Char Dog with the works including huge pickles, tomatoes, sautéed onions, and hot peppers on the side. Other notes: Be prepared to be sworn at and don’t get offended, it’s part of the fun. Check out the videos on their website. http://www.wienercircle.net/
Billy Goat’s Tavern(Original location) $, Rating: 2.5, Double Cheeseburger (aka Cheezeborger). Other notes: They don’t have the best burgers you have ever eaten, but you are entering into a place of history. Check out the skit that made SNL famous and made the cheezeborger famous. They also offer cheap beer. http://www.billygoattavern.com
Gino’s East$$, Rating: 3, Try any of their deep dish pizza’s. Other notes: Having tried Lou Malnalti and Connie’s deep dish pizza, Gino’s east stands out amongst the two. Ask your server for a marker to sign your name on their walls before you leave.
Wildberry Pancakes and Café(near Millennium Park location): $$, Rating: 3.5 (Based on their breakfast). The W.B signature “Berry Bliss” pancakes and bliss berry crepes. This place has the best pancakes I have ever eaten!
Recommended from Kevin, a lawyer I met on the plane who is a foodie and lives in Chicago. Thank you!
Having tried many other joints including the Original Pancake House, the Cheesecake Factory Hancock Centre, and Corner Bakery Café, I am confident that you will enjoy the joints I have chosen. I am looking forward to expand and share my list on my next visit.
Growing up, Congee (aka rice porridge) was often made when a family member was sick or if we wanted to have a lighter lunch. This was the perfect meal for me to make after Christmas, since I wanted something warm and comforting, and a great way to utilize my leftovers from the holidays. This recipe is simple and is delicious.
Ingredients to make a full pot (serves 8):
½ a sweet potato diced 1/2 inch thick
2 cups of jasmine Rice (adjust the amount as needed)
½ tsp of salt or 1 tablespoon of fish sauce for seasoning (I prefer fish sauce)
Optional to add when the congee is done:
Leftover turkey meat
White pepper for seasoning
*Feel free to substitute the ham bone for roasted chicken/turkey bones.
Clean the leftover ham bone by rinsing it under water in a colander, to get rid of any sauce. Cut off any big pieces of fat. If there is tons of meat left on the bone, cut the meat and add to congee during the cooking process.
Using a large pot, add 2 cups of rice and wash it under the sink until all the starch is clear (4-5 times).
Dice the sweet potato.
Add the ham bone, rice, and sweet potato in the large pot, and add water (filtered preferred). I filled mine up ¾ of a pot full.
Wait until it boils and then simmer on medium heat for 1 hour. If you like a soupy consistency, and like to see each grain of rice clearly, than the congee is ready. Turn it down to low, season it with salt or fish sauce. Garnish and enjoy.
If you like a thick consistency similar to porridge (my preference), then simmer for another hour (total 2 hours). Make sure to not burn your congee and check that there is enough water at all times. Keep stirring and adjust the heat as needed. When ready, turn the temperature to low, season, and garnish.
Often times, you get congee that is made from just water and rice. Next time you have leftovers; think about what soup or congee you can make out of it, you will be impressed.
Congee with leftoever ham, sweet potato and garnished with arugula
Sorry for the long hiatus. As I was in the process of selling my home over the last month, I was not able get on my computer with all the showings. The house is sold and I am back! Stay tuned, as I have many more reviews coming from restaurants in Toronto, as well as reviews on where to eat in Chicago.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays! May you have a safe holiday with lots of tasty food!
Check out the cool train display at the bottom of the John Hancock Centre in Chicago.