This year I spent my birthday in Toronto, Canada – amongst amazing friends in a locale I am somewhat familiar with. I admit there are still many pockets of area in Toronto that I have not visited yet. It is a funny thing that happens to me, as I mentioned before I love to explore. However, when it comes to places I actually live in – like Toronto, Winnipeg, Hong Kong. Even on a broader reference, I have barely explored the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, they are the provinces of Toronto and Winnipeg, respectively.
So to celebrate my birthday, I naturally “traveled” and ate. In the last 48 hours, I had traveled to Mexico, Japan, Philippines and Italy – without getting on an airplane. Would you like to come along?
As I mentioned before in another food tour post, Toronto is home to many citizens of the world. As such, the offering of cuisine is wide and varied. What started as a few friends getting together to celebrate my birthday became a food tour to familiar and unknown countries. The past 2 days I collected a few food stamps in my Foodie Passport! Stop #1…
*** Mexico ***
Personally I have never been to Mexico, however, I have enjoyed their cuisine many times while living in Toronto. I have no idea what is my favorite dish yet but for my birthday I decided to try a version of the fish taco while my friend enjoyed their enchiladas at La Mexicana. We both washed the food down with Dos XX beer – I prefer the Amber while my friend stayed with their pale ale!
*** Italy ***
Then I jetted off to Italy for some of their local flavors at Gusto 101. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was intimate.
*** Japan ***
As the 3rd stop – we changed continents again and visited Japan. Fortunately, two of my Canadian friends (born in Canada and of Filipino and Irish background) have married Japanese woman – so for my birthday we had a delicious homemade Japanese hot pot. It is essentially Shabu Shabu or Sukiyaki but we won’t call it either of those because of some minor ingredient differences.
The soup base was flavored by 2 pouches of high quality home made style Dashi which my friend had recently brought back from Osaka, Japan. The other ingredients in the pot included: tofu, enoki mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, bean sprouts, michihili cabbage, green onions, thinly sliced beef and pork and udon noodles. We added a bit of Korean flavor with some kimchi, Korean pickled cabbage covered in red hot chili.
Then there was the light as air, not too sweet Japanese style cream cake with strawberries, from mon K!!
*** Philippines ***
Then we visited another Asian country – the Philippines! Now despite the fact that I visited Philippines many times as a child, I was rarely exposed to Filipino food as my maternal grandparents cooked chinese cuisine at home. So for my birthday, my Filipino friend took me to Casa Manila for my debut into Filipino cuisine! Let’s just say it was a feast that could have fed many – needless to say a good portion of it was brought home as leftovers. As we went for brunch, we started with a bit of breakfast food and moved into the lunch menu.
Then even though it was only lunch, we still enjoyed some dessert!
The variation in flavors within Filipino food amazed me. I look forward to revisiting the Philippines in the future!!
I hope you will try some of these local flavor soon!