Tasting Menus – The best way to eat

24 Apr

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A tasting menu is a special menu offered in many fine dining establishments. It can be an opportunity for restaurant guests to have a nibble of almost all dishes offered at a restaurant, or it can be a way for a chef to demonstrate all that he/she is worth by creating small and innovative dishes that aren’t on the regular menu. Usually the tasting menu is what is called prix fixe or set price. This means people pay a single price to get to explore everything that is on the tasting menu, instead of ordering a la carte, and “everything” may be quite a few small dishes.

There are many restaurants that offer a tasting menu in addition to a la carte meals or more standard prix fixe meals that could include things like an appetizer, entrée, and dessert, at minimum. Typically tasting menus are much more extensive in scope than a simple three-course meal. Some restaurants may have ten or more dishes in this type of menu, and they might frequently be paired with different wines or other alcohol. If they are not, and people are interested in food/wine pairings, they ought to consider consulting the sommelier or wine expert of the restaurant to get recommendations on the most appropriate accompaniments to the chef’s food.

In restaurant terminology a table d’hôte menu is a menu where multi-course meals with only a few choices are charged at a fixed total price. Such a menu may also be called prix fixe (“fixed price”). The terms set meal and set menu are also used. The cutlery on the table may also already be set for all of the courses.

Table d’hôte contrasts with “À la carte”, where customers may order any of the separately priced menu items available.Table d’hôte is a French loan phrase that literally means “the host’s table (fr)”. The term is used to denote a table set aside for residents of a guesthouse, who presumably sit at the same table as their host.

The meaning shifted to include any meal featuring a set menu at a fixed price. In the original sense, its use in English is attributed as early as 1617, while the later extended use, now more common, dates from the early nineteenth century. This meaning is not used in France. Many restaurants in the United States convert their menus to prix fixe only for certain holidays such as Thanksgiving. Generally, this practice is limited to holidays where entire families dine together, such as Easter and Thanksgiving, or on couple-centric holidays like Valentine’s Day and Sweetest Day.

old-italian-restaurant

In Italy, this is the typical practice in small rural restaurants called Osterie (singular Osteria, from oste meaning “host” as in the French hôte mentioned above). Osterie vary widely in what they offer, but most serve simple foods and wine sourced locally, and prepared according to the local practices. Other Italian restaurants offer a selection of antipasti at a fixed price; often enough to fare una tavola completa (fill the table). Diners enjoy an informal meal as they serve themselves various small portions family style.

 

PORZIA’S CHEF DINNER:

Our menu changes every week, swapping in fresh produce and new items created by our kitchen staff. final chef menus are created 24 hours prior to your dinner.

A communal dining style menu 3-8 courses with sharing plates set up. Basilio will send out 2+ dishes per course do that guest maximize the options of what they can eat. This also allows guests to participate in the actual dining experience, something we like to encourage. This service can be wine paired if you wish, however drinks are not included in the price. Wine will be charged per bottle opened.

PRICING TIERS FOR THESE SERVICES:

$55 2 snacks, 2 appetizer , 1 pasta shared pasta, 1 main , 1 dessert

$65 3 snacks, 2 appetizer , 2 pastas, 2 mains, 1 dessert

$75 3 snacks, 3 appetizers, 3 pastas, 3 mains, 2 desserts

PORZIA $75 TASTING MENU
(SAMPLE SPRING 2014)

CROSTINI
cotechino & rapini

OLIVES & ALMONDS

POLENA TOTS
hazel nut romesco

RAZOR CLAMS CASINO

BEEF CARPACCIO
tuna & salsify

ARTICHOKE CRUDO
baccala, ‘nduja & yoghurt

CHICKEN LIVER AGNOLOTTI
honey mushrooms & 15 year old balsamic

SPAGHETTI CARBONARA

CORZETTI
duck ragu, ricotta & rosemary

HALIBUT
maitake mushrooms & artichoke

LAMB SAUSAGE
navy beans & pepperonata

OCTOPUS
semolina, apple & peanut

TIRAMISU

ZEPPOLE
hazel nut and ricotta budino

 

tips for how to split the bill

21 Apr

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When you dine out with other people, do you pay for your own food and drink, or divide the bill so that everyone makes an equal contribution? Splitting a bill can be a source of conflict among friends, especially if one person is trying to avoid contributing at all. It can be difficult to split bills fairly, without antagonizing anyone in the process. Money can be a touchy subject, and people don’t always react well when prompted for their contribution towards a bill. Now, more than ever, paying too much when dining out can be a financial burden. Although the amounts spent at restaurants may not seem like much, the meals can quickly add up to a significant amount of money. Over the course of a year, you can easily spend hundreds or thousands of dollars at restaurants, especially when you’re paying.

Splitting the Bill with Friends

To avoid any conflict, talk openly with your friends about sharing the bill as early as possible. Then, at the restaurant, ask the server if he or she can provide your party with separate checks. Even if the restaurant does not provide this option, asking this question will show everyone that you are only willing to pay for your portion. However, this approach only works if everyone hears your conversation with the server.

If you haven’t had a chance to chat yet about splitting the bill, find a subtle way to ask your guests to split the bill when it arrives. For example, when the bill is placed on the table, ask your friends how they would like to pay for their meals. The timing of this approach lets your friends know that you are not overly anxious about splitting the bill, while clearly stating that everyone is responsible for paying for their meals. If necessary, offer some suggestions for how the group can split the bill. It’s entirely possible that some friends didn’t bring cash, and might want to charge their share of the meal to a credit or debit card. If the group’s meals are charged to one friend’s credit card, make sure to pay him for your entire meal, including tip. If trying to split the combined bill becomes too cumbersome, it isn’t too late to ask the server to split the bill even if the bill has already been totalled and printed.
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Ideas on How to Split the Bill with Friends
After you’ve had a conversation with your friends about paying for the meal, determine the best way to split the bill. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, so use the approach that is most appropriate for your situation. 

1. Ask for Separate Checks
Asking for separate checks is the most equitable way to split the tab because each person pays for their share of the bill. For example, if someone orders a salad when everyone else orders steak, the salad eater will not be paying for a steak-sized portion of the bill. This method also works well when some people plan to pay with cash, and some people plan to pay with credit cards. The downside to this method is that it is more work for the server, and waiting for separate checks can take some time.

2. Take Turns Paying
Taking turns paying works well for people who frequently dine out together and generally eat at restaurants with similar prices. For example, my husband and I frequent a Mexican restaurant close to our home with a neighboring couple. Since we know we will be going to the same restaurant with the same couple again soon, we take turns paying the entire bill in order to keep the bill-paying process quick and simple.

Conversely, this is also a wonderful way to stay in touch with friends that you don’t see very often. Pick up the tab the first time you meet for lunch or dinner, and when your friends protest, tell them it’s your “secret ploy” to get them to go out again because they “owe” you a meal. I have done this many times and my friends are always charmed by the ploy, and the favor has always been returned.

3. One Person Pays and Is Repaid
If you trust your friends, you could volunteer to pay the bill, and have your friends pay you back later. You could also take turns being the person who pays, and is repaid later. This also keeps the bill paying process quick and simple, but it does take trust, and it also requires the buyer to put out some significant cash. This would not be the ideal approach for anyone who practices the envelope budgeting system, due to the cash required.

4. Split the Bill Evenly
If you and your friends do not feel it necessary to calculate how much each person owes towards the bill, a simple solution is to split the bill evenly. While some people have no problems paying a little more or a little less than they owe, others will be upset about paying for someone else’s steak dinner. If you decide to split the bill evenly, make sure that each person ordered items approximately equivalent in price, and that no one has a problem with this approach to splitting the bill.

5. Use a Bill Splitting App
If you frequently go out with a group of friends, or order take-out with your roommates, check out a bill-splitting application like Wesplit.it. The website will track your bills and the total amount owed for everyone in your party. The easy-to-use app reminds your friends that they owe you money, taking the pressure off of you and eliminating the need for an awkward conversation.

6. Split the Tip Evenly
Sometimes it is not the actual bill that is difficult to split, but the tax and tip that can be frustrating to determine as you are trying to pay the bill. The easiest solution is to split tax and tip evenly. While some people do mind splitting the entire bill, most people do not mind splitting the tip evenly, since it is only a small percentage of the total bill.

7. Use a Tip App
Use your smart phone to do some calculations. If you decide that you want to split a tip equally, there are tip applications that do this calculation for you. You can also use the calculator on your phone to determine the amount of tip that each person owes.

8. Throw in Dollar Bills for the Tip
Collect a tip for the server by asking everyone who has dollar bills to throw them into the tip pile. This works well because most people don’t mind putting in a dollar or two into the tip pot. Most likely, next time you dine out with this group of people, it will be someone else who has the dollar bills. Over the course of a year, it’s likely that everyone will contribute tips equally using this method of tipping.

9. Only Pay for Exactly What You Ordered
If you’re out with friends, it shouldn’t cause a conflict to just pay for what you ordered. You should have a pretty good idea of what your total is when the bill arrives, and the total can be quickly verified by scanning the bill. However, this approach can be problematic if the table shares a bottle a wine or a dessert. If that happens, offer to pay for what you ordered, and for a portion of the item shared with your friends.

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What If Someone Doesn’t Pay?
Sometimes, there is one person in the group who says that they just do not have the money to pay for their portion of the bill. Unfortunately, the burden of that person’s meal is now on his or her friends, and it is never a good situation when a friend won’t pay you back. However, there are a few ways to deal with this situation:

1. Let it Slide
If someone doesn’t pay his or her portion of the bill once, just let it slide. Consider it a gift, with the expectation that it will not become an ongoing occurrence. But in the future, discuss splitting the bill with this friend before you leave for the restaurant.

2. Have That Person Pay the Tip
If someone can’t afford to pay for their entire meal, perhaps they would be willing to pay for the tip. Depending on the number of people who went out to eat, the tip may be significantly less than paying for an entire meal.

3. Loan the Money
Offer to pay for the person, but make it clear that you expect to be paid back the next time you see them. A straightforward statement like, “Sure, no problem. I can lend you the money. Just pay me back as soon as you get a chance,” works well. This way, the person knows that he or she is expected to repay the loan.

4. Subtly Remind That Person Next Time You Go Out
If you paid for someone’s tab on a previous occasion and haven’t been repaid, a subtle-but-direct strategy during the next meal is to say something like, “You have me covered this time, right?”

5. Don’t Go Out with That Person
If someone gets into the habit of talking their way out of paying for their food, stop going out with that friend. Eventually, he or she will get the message.

6. Discuss the Situation with Your Friend
Talking about money can be awkward, even when you’re having the conversation with someone you know very well. If this person is really a friend, you should be able to have an open and honest discourse about his or her behavior. Your friend might be experiencing serious financial troubles, or he or she might just be a little forgetful. Opening up a conversation about the topic will get everything out in the open so you can decide how to move forward with this friend when it comes to paying the bill.

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Final Word
Make sure you are splitting the bill in a way that makes you feel comfortable. Have a plan established and agreed upon before you go out with friends. Be in control of the situation by bringing up the topic of splitting the bill in a tactful, but direct way. This shouldn’t be a contentious or uncomfortable topic, if the people are friends.

Home Made With Porzia on Jazz FM

17 Apr

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The week Chef/owner Basilio Pesce of Porzia, one of Toronto’s hottest restaurants, shares his recipe for Trippa Alla Romana. Basilio started his career off by apprenticing under Mark McEwan at Toronto’s famed North 44 before also working at Bymark, Canoe and Biff’s Bistro, before opening Porzia. With this restaurant Basilio wants to build “memories around food and eating.”

Porzia uses only locally sourced ingredients, ethically grown and raised, and keeps its menu small (14-16 items). Menu items rotate daily and ingredients vary depending on the season.

Their website goes on to say “Every thing has a purpose, every choice has meaning and each experience brings pleasure.”

Give it a try!

TRIPPA ALLA ROMANA

Makes 4-6 portions

Trippa alla Romana is an essential Roman comfort food dish. It’s origins are tied to the history of Testaccio, the Roman meat market neighbourhood. Essentially, the entrails were the part of the animal the butcher and peasants had access to after the upper classes took their share of the animal. The butchers were often paid with the entrails or “fifth quarter” of the animals, and so they worked to create delicious ways of preparing these cuts of meat. Ours you ask?….comes with chick peas and fried egg.

2 lb (900 g) honeycomb tripe
4 tbsp (60 mL) white vinegar
3 bay leaves
2 onions, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
2 ribs of celery
1 lb (450 g) sausage (portioned into small random pieces)
1 tbsp (15 mL) olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large red bell peppers, cored and finely diced
6 tbsp (90 mL) white wine
3 sprigs thyme
1 tbsp (15 mL) chili flakes
2 cups (500 mL) canned tomatoes, crushed or pureed in a food processor
2 cups (500 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) cooked chickpeas
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 eggs (one per serving)
Pork breadcrumbs (see below)
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Clean tripe of any extra fat or sinew. Soak in cold water for 36-48 hours with 1 tbsp of white vinegar. Change water twice a day. In a large stockpot cover tripe with cold water and bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Skim any foam that rises to top. Add the bay leaves, plus half of the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for 4-5 hours until tender. Once cooked remove from liquid and allow to cool. Discard liquid and vegetables. Trim tripe to bite size and set aside.
Preheat oven to 300F/150C.

In a large pan on medium heat, use olive oil to brown sausage, about 9 minutes. Stir occasionally making sure not to break up the sausage too much. Transfer to plate. Finely chop remaining onion, carrot, celery and garlic, add to same pan, adding more oil if needed, and sauté until soft, about 12 minutes. Add red bell peppers, thyme and chili flake and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and reduce until liquid is gone, about 4 minutes. Add tripe, tomatoes and bring to a boil. Transfer to oven-proof dish with water, cover and bake for 6 hours, adding the cooked chick peas for the last 45 minutes. Set aside. Season to taste.

For the pork breadcrumbs

2 oz pancetta, sliced thin and chopped

Olive oil

3/4 cup (180 mL) breadcrumbs

In a large pan on medium heat, use a few drops of oil to sauté pancetta. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until crispy, about 8 minutes. Add breadcrumbs and stir till golden brown, about another 4 minutes. Cool and blend in food processor. Season to taste.

To serve:

Place warm tripe stew in bowls. Cover with pork breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Top with egg, fried sunny-side up.

For more information about the restaurant, to see their full menu or to make a reservation, visit them online atPorzia.ca

Starting Sunday May 18th 2014

15 Apr

Starting Sunday May 18th 2014, Porzia launches it’s new Sunday post brunch series entitled DOPO – (english translation meaning “after” or “afterwards”) The question “what do you do after brunch on a beautiful summer sunday afternoon” has been answered. $10 and under snack and cocktail menu starting at 3pm EVERY SUNDAY with new items every week. #bikesandbooze #postbrunchsunday#daytimedanceparty #porzia #parkdale #vintagebikeposters http://ow.ly/i/5fQhN

so….. what does that mean? Understanding Italian terms on an Italian Restaurant Menu

14 Apr

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If you haven’t eaten your way across Italy yet, consider the advice of someone who has. Italian food varies dramatically from region to region, but you can rest assured that you will find pasta, wine, espresso, and gelato wherever you go.

I, however, suggest stepping out of your culinary comfort zone to try all (or almost all) the country has to offer. Here is a guide to the basics. When it fails, your best bet is to order what the guy next to you is having – “prendo quello che ha preso lui.”

At the coffee bar

Caffè – an espresso
Cappuccino – a breakfast beverage not to be ordered after lunch or dinner
Macchiato – an espresso “stained” with milk foam
Caffè shakerato – an espresso shaken over ice forming a frothy summer treat
Caffè corretto – an espresso “corrected” with a shot of liquor, often grappa
Grappa – distillate made from grape pomace, the leftovers from wine-making
Caffè americano – an espresso served in a cappuccino cup with hot water on the side not to be mistaken with…
Un americano – an aperitivo of Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda
Cornetto – an Italian croissant also referred to as a “brioche” in Northern Italy
Succo di frutta – fruit juice
Spremuta d’arancia – fresh-squeezed orange juice
Un bicchiere d’acqua – a glass of water

At the pizzeria

Pizza – a flatbread, often circular in shape, baked with or without toppings
Mozzarella – cow’s milk cheese made by pulling or stretching the warm curd
Mozzarella di bufala – mozzarella made with buffalo’s milk
Pomodoro fresco – fresh tomato
Salsa di pomodoro – tomato sauce
Basilico – basil
Origano – oregano
Acciughe – anchovies
Capperi – capers
Cipolle – onions
Peperonicni – red chilis, often dried and in flakes
Peperoni – bell peppers
Salame picante – pepperoni or spicy, cured sausage
Salsiccia – sausage
Ananas – pineapple, an unacceptable Italian pizza topping
Wurstel – hot dog, a passable Italian pizza topping

At the gelateria

Fiordilatte – “the flower of milk,” theoretically made with the best part of the milk, meaning the cream
Panna – cream made without egg yolk
Crema – cream made with egg yolk
Cioccolato – chocolate
Cioccolato fondente – dark chocolate
Nocciola – hazelnut
Gianduja – chocolate hazelnut
Bacio – also chocolate hazelnut, but easier to pronounce
Stracciatella – chocolate chip, but with chocolate flakes rather than chocolate chunks
Fragola – strawberry
Lampone – raspberry
More – blackberry

At the paninoteca

Panino – an Italian sandwich
Panini – more than one Italian sandwich. Panini is plural.
At the salumeria

Prosciutto di Parma – salt-cured, air-dried ham, aged in or around Parma for months.
Prosciutto San Daniele – salt-cured, air-dried ham from San Daniele in the Friuli region of Northeastern Italy
Speck – dry-cured, smoked ham from Northern Italy
Coppa (in Lombardy and Emilia Romagna) – cured sausage made of pork shoulder
Coppa (in central Italy) – cured sausage made of pork head
Finocchiona – fennel-flavored cured pork sausage
Guanciale – cured pork jowl
Pancetta – pork belly, cured but not smoked. It’s bacon with an Italian accent.
Pancetta affumicata – smoked pancetta
Porchetta – spit-roasted stuffed pig

Ingredients/dishes to look for

Bottarga – salt-cured fish roe often from Sardinia or Sicily
Bruscandoli – hop shoots
Foccacia di Recco – a very thin flat bread filled with cheese. Arguably the most delicious thing you are likely to eat in Italy. Look for it in select parts of the Ligurian coast.
Frico – fried cheese served in Friuli
Granita – Sicilian shaved ice
Mascarpone – Italian cream cheese
Moeche – soft-shelled crabs from the Venetian lagoon
‘nduja – spicy, spreadable pork sausage from Calabria
Ricci di mare – sea urchins, served seasonally in Puglia and Sicily
Funghi porcini – mushrooms with a big brown cap
Tartufo nero – black truffle, found year-round
Tartufo bianco – white truffles, available late fall to early winter

Good to know

Colazione – breakfast
Pranzo – lunch
Cena – dinner
Merenda – snack, normally acceptable only if you are under the age of ten
Pane – bread
Olio extra vergine di oliva – EVOO
Formaggio – cheese
Carne – meat
Pesce – fish
Pollo – chicken
Maiale – pork
Cinghiale – wild boar
Di stagione – in season
Fuori stagione – out of season
Andato a male – gone bad
Vino – wine
Rosso/biano – red/white
Vino della casa – house wine
Vino della zona – wine produced nearby
Il conto – the check
Coperto – service charge, normally included in the check
Compreso – included
Escluso – excluded
Un’altra grappa, per favore – another grappa, please

 

Even better to know

“Conosco i miei polli.”
Literally – I know my chicken.
What it means – I know what I am talking about

“Sei come il prezzemolo.”
Literally – You are like parsley
What it means – You pop up everywhere.

“Non fare il salame.”
Literally – Don’t act like salame.
What it means – Don’t be a ham, you idiot.

“Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.”
Literally – Not all donuts come out with a hole.
What it means – Things don’t always turn out as expected.

“Non puoi avere la botte piena e la moglie ubriaca.”
Literally – You can’t have a full wine barrel and a drunk wife.
What it means – You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

 

RED SAUCE DINNER APRIL 14TH

10 Apr

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On Monday April 14th, Basilio Pesce hangs out with Matty Matheson (Parts & Labour), Matt Demille (Drake by the Lake) and Local Kitchen & Wine Bar in Parkdale for the next chef collaboration pop-up dinner - RED SAUCE. Come see what the boys have thrown together. Word on the street is that the menu for the evening is made up of 2 dishes submitted by each chef, one cold and one hot. Please not that this is not a ticketed event and the menu is  a la carte.

The little room just east of Roncesvalles smells like an Italian deli—the sweet, meaty aroma of high-quality salumi—but it looks more like a rec room, with T-shirts on a laundry line and a boar’s head mounted above the door.  Add Gio Rana’s blue-collar suburban Italiana to the Black Hoof’s charcuterie obsession and you start to get close to the vibe at Local. What makes it unique is the energy of the two friends from Woodbridge who created it: chef and salumi master Fabio Bondi and host Michael Sangregorio.  - TORONTO LIFE

So come down to Parkdale and sample some dishes from all three chefs for the night and take advantage of the half price bottles of wine. Tables can be booked through Local Kitchen directly. So friends…. if you’re not hitting up Porzia for our Prix Fixe Monday then i hope we’ll see you at RED SAUCE on the 14th.

For bookings and Inquiries please contact info@localkitchen.ca
Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, 1710 Queen Street West, Toronto Ontario, M6R 1B3, 416 534 6700 www.localkitchen.ca

RED SAUCE this coming Monday

8 Apr

check out the menu for REDSAUCE this Monday. Tables are booming up quickly and it’s a small space so make sure you call and book your table now.

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