Now That's Tasty!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

No good blood-sucking bastards, this is my house!

Trying desperately, and failing to hide from painfully itchy, welt-forming, mutant mosquitos. I'm up at 4am, fearfully and feebly attempting to swat these acrobatic flies from the air. I swear to Zeus there's only one of them and it taunts me repeatedly; buzzing in my ear and dancing around my flailing hands as I sound my battle cry. Its basic human nature that I should want to protect my blood, but this rice sized vermine with wings is no humanitarian and will not heed in his quest to get at it.

Finally! After many attempts at bashing the bugger into my wall, I stun the good for nothing pest and squash it between my ring and pinky finger, triumphantly screaming out, "Ha! I fucking hate you!!".

Feeling shell shocked and damaged my eyes still dart about the room, scanning for guerilla militants who may have taken cover during the offensive. I pray that I've exterminated the lot of them.

D-day, will you come at last?

Not, just another Monday night

Sitting curbside on the darkening streets of Seoul waiting for some friends to arrive. It's as if the city has just started to come alive. Encroaching on 8pm, swarms of suits exit office buildings. Groups of women stroll past, arm in arm. Most importantly, street vendors are setting up shop. Potentially the most meaningful part of the day; tents are deconstructed, booths are erected, rice cakes and odeng begin to boil as seafood and veggies are battered and fried. Accessible, quick and cost efficient, it's no mystery why the street food stand holds such an integral place within the Korean eating culture. Barring illegality (and in some cases ignoring it) street food is widely available and revered the world over. The beauty of Korean street snacks, is that while theses compact cooking stations thrive during the dim hours of the night, it's not hard to find a quick fix no matter when you're craving it.

So there's one bit of truth, and here is another:

Sleep is irrelevant, time has no boundaries and common sense seems time blur between the endless bottles of so-mec (soju and beer) and makgeolli (semi-fermented rice wine). At the same time that many Seoulites descend from high rise office towers and parlay into the streets, cracking open a button on their collard shirts (if their feeling frisky), is when the metal tops of green-glass soju bottles begin to crack as well. Whether it be a Korean BBQ restaurant or a pojang macha (beer and food tent) the echo of popped tops and the clink of shot glasses will chime endlessly until the ungodly hours of the morning. After all, why let day-break break up a proper bender?

Tomorrow is imminent, but let's not pay too much mind into thinking past today. At this point it was last night, but when a friend of a friend decides to pass through for a 24-hour visit in a city like Seoul there's only one option on the table, with one definite end. Moreover, when my good friend and Korean fixer extraordinaire, James, decides he'd like to join in on the fun, I'm just thankful that I'm one of the few who remembers the night. It's never long before slabs of meat get tossed over embrued coals and bottles of soju and beer are flying down our throats at a furious pace.

So, what should you do if you're only in Korea for 24-hours? As cliche as it sounds, if you're not going out to party at the bars in Hongdae or take in the ritzy clubs in Gangnam, check you and your buds into a Noreybang (Karaoke room) for an hour or three, and let the laughs unfold. I must admit, I've been living in Korea for over 6-months now and up until last night I'd only had one previous Noreybang experience, dragged out against my will by some Korean friends, but then quick to re-up on an extra hour of time when ours expired. Aside from the Noreybang being a favoured pastime of Koreans living all over the world, Seoul offers them up with greater frequency and variety then coffee shops. Luxury Noreybangs with fancy white leather couches and stripper poles, alien themed, or hole in the wall dumps, each one offers the uninhibited enjoyment of watching your closest (or newest) friends humiliate themselves with nothing more than the aid of a TV screen and echo-tuned microphone. The simple combination of great, or hilariously horrible music, dozens of bottles of cheap alcohol and a big group of tone-deaf and inebriated friends cannot be argued with.

Once you manage to stumble back into the night, or day, tight-cheeked and horse-voiced from excessive laughter and screaming the only thing left to do is locate the closest curbside curator of all things tasty and hangover-curing. Unfortunately for us, we had our guts set on tteokboggi (boiled rice cakes in red chili sauce--one of my favourite and most talked about street foods, which I recently found out I've been poorly transliterating as duk bo gi due to its pronunciation) yet, there were no stands to be found in the immediate vicinity. Thankfully for us, we were with James. The all-knowing and ever faithful guide to gut busting and mouth watering eats around this fair city. Of course, he knows a great place to go, an actual restaurant in a nearby area called Shindang-dong, which is the most famous place to indulge in tteokboggi. "Ya! I think.", he says, with a confident and well-versed nod. He's got me convinced with little effort, and while our 24-hour best friend, Brad, is feverishly faded and already in bed, suffering from 36 hours of straight transit, three different cities that day and a head full of distilled beverages, my other new friend Adrian, a lucky sap whose signed on for a mere month-long summer school contract, doesn't intend on packing it in like the 5 other fallen soldiers.

Different from the standard tteokboggi; a radioactive, red colored slop of tube shaped rice cakes that's shoveled out of a large metal trough with a paddle, placed on a small plate wrapped in a plastic bag and picked at with a toothpick; this was some high-brow shit in comparison. Simmered slowly at your table over a hot plate, and containing a fresh mix of tteok (rice cakes), ramen noodles, hand peeled dumpling noodles, fried mandoo (dumplings), odeng (fish cakes), green onion, carrots, cabbage and a flavourful, natural tasting chili sauce, this was the real deal. James has yet again lived up to his good name. Mildly spicy and with a great contrast of textures from soft, to chewy, to crisp and crunchy. Along with the two bottles of makgeoli, it went down as fast as my head on the pillow once I got home.

Another epic night with the lads. Another memorable Korean experience. Not, just another Monday night.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

My $6 dinner

Boiled mackerel stew with tofu and veggies, kimchi, mung bean sprout salad, tuna salad, oyster mushrooms with tofu, fried tofu, spinach salad, marinated baby octopus in chili sauce and rice.

Perfect post workout protein fix.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

No news is good news, but good news is better

When I first arrived in Korea I was a tourist. I have become a resident, temporarily. Soon, I will be a defector. Not quite escaping, but definitely getting out. Its not because I don't like where I am, but that my justifications for sticking around have been matched by reason, or at least transformed perspective.

In the last real update concerning my personal state of affairs the outlook was grim. I had fallen into a routine of accepted, apathetic and unenjoyable work. My frustrations were brielfy blurred out through uninhibited indulgence, or the exploratory undertakings of a curious stranger in a foreign land.
I no longer feel like a wide eyed alien looking to take in all the 'difference' and draw up distinctions between what I know and what is new. I continue to be on a journey, no doubt. But, I feel like I know where I am going. Rather than walking the banks of a meandering stream in search of a bridge that will take me to the other side, I am paving a path with precision and a purpose.

When it was last addressed, I had no ability to wrap my head around the concept, or moreso the timeframe that surrounded the completion of my one year teaching contract here in Korea. I was roughly four months deep at the time, and the days crawled along with sinister torment. It wasn't what I had lacked to achieve with my children; some of them, most notably my kindergarten kids, had made remarkable and respectable progress over such a short period of time. What terminally tested my patience were the things beyond my control. The crying, the yelling, the relentless and recursive jabber in an incomprehensible language, that I knew would never cease. These were the things that tested my patience to an insurmountable extent. I felt as though I was playing Sherpa, guiding a goup of crippled geriatrics to the peaks of Everest without a map. And I was from Delaware. There aren't any mountains in Delaware, right? Point being, I was delt a difficult hand and felt increasingly out of my element.

As a general statement, I enjoy being amidst things I dont quite know or understand. I relish the opportunity to travel because it not only breaks me out of a comfort zone which is not so easily annexed, but because it allows me to broaden my horizons and accrue a legitimate and preservable understanding, or lack there of, of another culture. However, as I mentioned before, I was no longer a tourist, I was a citizen, an employee; and for the brief and now calculable future I continue to hold those titles. Come October, though, things will have shifted somewhat.

At the beginning of July I decided that I had to make movements. Playing for the puppeteer would no longer cut it. I had to write my own script. There's no such thing as your "two weeks notice" while teaching out in Korea. The departure period is 3-months in the making, which at some schools can lead to isolation from coworkers, abhorrence from your administration, and in the worst cases, a bounced cheque on your final payment. As I've mentioned before, I work for and with a pretty respectable crew of people, so thankfully these are matters that don't concern me. What took the greastest amount of care and concern was sorting out just exactly what the next step was.

When I firt had it in my mind to release myself from my contractual woes, the option of leaving Korea was largely nonexistent. With major travel plans on the crest of the horizon and a $1,200 price tag on a one way ticket home I had done my research and figured the best course of action would be to stick around town with a tourist visa (valid for 6-months for Canadians) and set up private tutoring gigs to pay the rent and stockpile some walking around money. Unexpectedly, I had to take a two week hiatus from work and return home to Toronto just a week later. For a short period of time i was surrounded by family and friends, gorgeous weather, and a bed that was off the floor; a sharp contrast to Seoul. I felt relaxed and revived. In the past 6 years I have spent roughly one cumulative year living in my hometown, and with no real job, nowhere to live and a solid plan to travel for 6 additional months come March, 2012, I was beginning to feel as though I hadn't considered all the options.

On October 10 I will say farewell to Korea. Honestly humbled by my experience as a teacher, and sincerely sorry for those poor sots who had to teach me as a hyperactive youngster, it's time to start looking towards the future while not forgetting the value of living for the present. I committed to myself that after University, until the age of 25, I would take every opportunity to do whatever, whenever and live completely free of regrets. I would be lying if I said that there wasn't a point in time where I regretted my decision to come to teach in Korea. In hindsight, however, a small regret has not led to regression. While the task proved to be an uncomfortable challenge at times, the overall experience outside of school has surely compensated for the rest. The street food, the barbeque, the bar scene, the friends, the travel, and did I mention the food? All of these memorable elements have helped to reaffirm my post-University mission of self discovery, and have collectively allowed me to gain more personal insight into what I want to pursue in my life, as much as what I don't.

When I go back to Toronto I will begin my applications to pursue further education in broadcasting or broadcast journalism, which I will potentially follow with a culinary degree. With those tools at my disposal I hope to work my way onto a television show centered around travel and indigenous international cuisine. Growing up in the cultural mosaic that is Toronto, I have been fortunate to sample a plethora of high quality and authentic eats from all over the world with no more than a 30 minute commute. The experience of leaving the comforts of home, being surrounded by the sights, smells and sounds of a foreign place, and combining that with a truly local meal, cannot be matched in any other forum. Living in Seoul has given me a taste for such a feeling, and I feel like it will take a while until my appetite is peaked.

So, with new aspirations and renewed drive, I'm heading back to what I know in order to prep myself to experience the things that I don't. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Shanghai -Day 1

Once one of the most integral gateways to the Eastern world, a pinpoint stop on the silk road and amongst the longest standing open port cities in the world, Shanghai defines a region that was classically shrouded in mystery, yet continually sought after for escapism and opportunity. Sprung up at the mouth of the Yangtze River river, China's largest agglomeration by both size and population has taken a dramatic shift over the centuries; from a land formed by fisheries and strung together through textiles, opened up by domestic sea-trade during the Qing Dynasty (late 1600s), and built up by international investment starting in 1842 and the Treaty of Nanjing which ended the First Opium War (1839-1842) and brief British occupation; now, Shanghai is the hub of international commerce for the worlds 4th largest and most populous land mass. Shanghai is as much of an example of 19th and 20th century colonialism as modern day Nationalism, however, this Communist enterprise could never erase its storied past as much as it looks to expand its future.

View of Pudong (financial centre) from The Bund
The name Shanghai has not always been used as a noun. Directly translated Shang (above) Hai (the sea) obviously correlates with it's geographical location, however, I was intrigued to find out from one of my guides that to be 'Shanghai'd' used to be a relatively widely used term for being abducted against your will or to get lost in the middle of nowhere. I found this little etymological tidbit so interesting, because as soon as I entered into Shanghai, the middle of nowhere was the last possible place I could have been. Development is dense and sprawling. Nearly 23million people reside in the 6,000 square kilometer vicinity. The 420, plus kilometers of subway track make it the longest public transit system in the world. Buildings tower 400m above your eye-line. This ain't no Bermuda Triangle. Shanghai is a living, breathing, money making, game changing entity!

Of course the history, coupled with the modern day excitement, is enough of a reason to flock to the area, but this is me, and so food became the favoured focal point. Known for its diverse international pallet and abundance of ritzy haute cuisine, my personal appetite, nor my pocket book steered me in such a direction. I was in search of the local fare; the street food, markets, and most of all, the soup dumplings. 

Xiao Long Bao, or Shanghainese soup dumpling are a staple of the local cuisine. Steamed or fried, these sensational balls of molten soup and pork filing are half way to being the only thing I needed to eat in Shanghai. Before getting down with these delicate and most delicious dumplings, however, I was on a mission to score some of my historical dumplings of choice --Dim Sum. 

Being in China for my first time, eating Dim Sum in the place of its origin has always been a great dream of mine. Unfortunately, Shanghai is not exactly the ideal area to pursue cart service and seek out the supreme Shu Maii. Shanghainese cuisine is not Mandarin, and it certainly doesn't resemble Cantonese. Dim Sum is a relatively unique style of Cantonese cuisine that originates from Hong Kong, and so, while I had prepared some intensive research prior to departure, it seemed as though the options were fairly limited. Luckily, the fates were with us. As my close friend and travel partner, Yoni and I found ourselves in the middle of a crowded panoramic by the iconic Oriental Pearl Tower (a.k.a. the TV Tower, a.k.a. the Pearl of the Orient, a.k.a. another giant phallic symbol of modern wealth) in Pudong district of Shanghai, he remarked that he had read about a dim sum spot in some giant mall somewhere in the vicinity. Well there was some giant mall nearby called the Super Brand Mall. And that giant mall (the busiest indoor shopping centre I've ever entered) just happened to house the place we were looking for; Fu Lin Xuan.  

Shrimp Cheong Fun
Haar Gow
This was not Hong Kong, but gaddamn was this bomb! We started off with Shrimp Cheong Fun; a classic favourite of rolled rice noodles stuffed with shrimp and smothered in a sweet soy sauce. The quality of the noodles and the flavour of the meaty, yet tender shrimp issued positive tidings for the future of this meal. The next hit was a Haar Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings) and Shu Maii (steamed pork dumplings with shrimp and fish roe) combo that did not disappoint. The Haar Gow was moist and well cooked, and the shrimp inside offered up the same quality as the previous round. The Shu Maii, while completely different from any other that I've tried was tasty, but lacked some tradition in my mind. 

A trio of steamed sticky rice in lotus leaves with pork and egg followed. Then, IT came. My fantasies of Dim Sum in China were always littered with sampling the most spectacular preparation of a particular dish that I'd ever bit into. Well, one bite (no chewing needed) into the Ham Sui Gok (deep fried crescent shaped dumplings of glutinous rice stuffed with pork and vegetables) and IT happened. The blood rushed to my tongue, vision blurred and I knew that the next two bites were going to be pure magic. The problem with this dish back home, and the only potential disadvantage to a cart wheeling Dim Sum experience is that a lack of turnover on certain items can lead to a cold, unwelcome bite into an otherwise excellent piece of food. These puppies were fresh out the fryer, crisp and slightly salty on the outside, remarkably warm and sweet on the inside, and filled with a proper mouthful of quality ground pork and vegetables that rounded off the balance of the bite. That was undoubtedly the highlight of the meal, but lightning did strike twice in the same spot as my fantasy came to fruition once more in the form of our final dish. Sin Zuk Gyun (steamed bean curd rolls with pork and bamboo shoots) are one of those things that you either adore or abhor. Their slimy, slippery and sit steamed in their own juices; they're also, in my opinion, super excellent! The subtle flavour of the bean curd casing compliments the supple crunch of the bamboo shoots and salty swing of the pork. I think I may like Dim Sum a little too much. But really, there's nothing so overwhelmingly wrong with a slight obsession. 

Ham Sui Gok

Sin Zuk Gyun
Satisfied, but not stuffed, Yoni and I wandered our way around the mall for a few minutes to prolong the re-submergence into the punishing heat of the city. It hard for me to believe that it took me this long to mention it, but the weather in China in the middle of July is nothing short of satanic. Near 40°C discounting the torturous 80% humidity, I walked around in a puddle of my own drippings for the duration of the week. Without exception, both Yoni and I were soaked through within 5 minutes of festering in the open air. Nevertheless, this was a touring trip and we were left with little choice but to bare the balmy climate. 

Wujiang Road: "Food Street"
From feast to feast we decided to hop the subway to the Peoples Square on the opposite side of the Huangpu River where we could roam the People's Park, saunter up the famous pedestrian-only Nanjing Road towards The Bund, and most purposefully, find the famous food street of Shanghai, Wujiang Road. 

When I hear food street and I think of Asia, my immediate and enticing impulse is to assume that this means street food will be abundant. Stalls serving mysterious concoctions, with names that you need not know, for the point of a finger is the only mutual dialect available. To my brief chagrin, maybe it was too early, but all that was available outside the confines of a restaurant that featured a full-wall menu of illegible Chinese characters were a couple of fruit stands and a guy selling bottles of water. All was not lost, however, as it occurred to me in literally the exact moment that we turned the corner to reveal the beautiful, bright pink sign, that Yang's Fried-Dumpling lay claim to a piece of this neighborhood and a legendary Shanghainese treat. 

The assembly line at Yang's
As I mentioned earlier, Xiao Long Bao (steamed soup dumplings) are a staple food around these parts. Delicate, paper thin and perfectly steamed dumplings are stuffed with moist, flavourful pork and a searing hot few sips of sweet soup broth made from congealed pork fat which turns to soup during the steaming process. It's clear that the Shanghainese all have a preference, but Xiao Long Bao is the classic when compared to its arch nemesis Sheng Jiang Bao (fried soup dumplings). Wok fried in a bottom layer of oil so that the bottom become crisp and caramelized while keeping the top third of the dumpling soft yet slightly baked and doughy, the badass of soup dumplings puts up a hard battle against its lightweight counterpart. At Yang's they sprinkle the tops with white sesame seeds and some chopped green onion and pump out thousands of these bad boys a day for around $.75 for an order of four. 

Sheng Jiang Bao
Yang's Fried Dumplings and Curry Duck Blood Soup
A look inside the molten mouth
Our initial decision to split a single order with a side of curried duck blood soup was modest to say the least. After one painfully scorching, yet addictively satisfying bite we each agreed that a full order each would have to follow. The consumption process of the soup dumpling is directly calculated yet somehow always doomed to fail in some small fashion. Taking the dumpling up with a pair of chopsticks and supported by a spoon, the idea is to take a small nibble from the soft part of the dumpling, inevitably and unavoidably blistering the inside of your lips and mouth with volcanically hot, yet unstoppably delicious sweet pork broth. After sucking out the rest of the hot nectar you dip the dumpling into some red wine vinegar that I choose to ladle several spoonfuls of moist chili powder in oil into and continue to scorch the roof of your mouth as you attempt to exercise some form of restraint. There is no use in trying to fight the awesome power of the pork dumpling. But in the end, really everyone has won.  The curry duck blood soup was also not too shabby and certainly one of those unique things that I would never get much of a chance to have tried until then. I was surprised at how inoffensive the soft, yet coriander driven broth was (as coriander is one of the few spices that I disagree with) and the pieces of congealed duck blood packed a nice flavour with a smooth gelatinous texture. More on the glory of Yang's later; this would not be our last visit!

The Machine hard at work
Dusk had fallen, but the heat was still pervasive. We strolled over to Nanjing Road, one of the busiest shopping streets in the world, and spent a good hour taking in the beautiful, brightly lit buildings and hoards of people in the former epicenter of the International Concession. Amidst our setup of professional looking, tripod mounted photography it was amusing how we became as much a tourist attraction as the surrounding area. Commencing earlier in the day, and following us for the duration of our trip, much more so to our amusement as any bit of annoyance; people were taking photos of Yoni and I from every angle. Some attempted to candidly capture our image while other, more outgoing individuals came up and asked us to take pictures with their girlfriends, mothers, or the entire family. Coming from Korea, where I find that many people, whether out of conservatism, coyness, or a lack of interest, tend to work hard to avoid your gaze while passing in the street, and would certainly never ask for a photo op; I found that everywhere I went in China I was met with friendly smiles, waves, and no shortage of uninhibited voyeurs. 

Yoni and I on Nanjing Road
We parlayed our walk along Nanjing Road to its end and into the area known as The Bund. Situated along the Eastern bank of the Huangpu River, The Bund is the offspring of European and Middle Eastern immigration around the turn of the 20th-century and contains one of the most magnificent and well preserved assemblies of early 20th-century architecture. From the neoclassical HSBC Building to the art deco Peace Hotel, a walk along the boardwalk and a peak inside some of the buildings (if they'll let you in) is essential to a visit to Shanghai. 

From the boardwalk of The Bund: The Customs Building (The same clock as Big Ben, assembled in London and shipped over in one piece) and the HSBC Building to its left
A couple hours later and the beast in the belly started to growl out for more. Around The Bund the only restaurants that exist are swanky spots located on the upper floors of the iconic buildings so we figured we'd work our way back towards the peoples square and see what we could find on the way. Quickly realizing that our only options along Nanjing Road were crappy North American fast food chains, there was only one real decision to be made--back to food street--back to Yang's. We would have entertained other alternatives, but we figured that whether it would be Yang's or not, at leas that area might be more popping then it was earlier. 

Street Grilling
Without much luck in the Yang's department (they close at some unreasonable hour like 10pm) we wandered around a bit and managed to find a corner that actually featured a few vendors donning woks, noodle stations and charcoal lit grills with arrays of skewered meat and veggies. Jackpot! I later discovered that the street food culture has come under attack, due to the desire of the Communist government to control the distribution (and more so the income) of those selling on the street. Due to the essential illegality of the act, the street vendors are often difficult to find, yet well worth the stop. 

We indulged in traditional Shanghainese fried noodles with green onion, bean sprouts, egg and 
Shanghai Fried Noodles: dessert
a little bit of pork. As we would learn several days later as we spent the day with 5-star Grand Hyatt Chef Frank Wang, typical Shanghainese cuisine consists of many of the same seasonings, however, the diversity of flavour is brought out in the cooking process or the choice of one or two specific ingredients. These fried noodles were done with salt, white pepper, ground chilies, dark and light soy sauce, a bit of corn starch for thickening and a dash of sugar to balance out the saltiness. Classic and comforting, this was a perfect nightcap before bouncing back to the hotel. 

Day one in the bag and we're really just getting going. More mouthwatering meals to come!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

This is going to be so much food. I'm going to kill you!

Words by: Yoni Kanfi.
Photo by: Jason Finestone.

Pancakes, sausage patty, bacon, two eggs sunny side up, hashbrowns, butter, french toast, breakfast sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, seasoned potatoes, butter...and mac and cheese.
Brekkie from Butterfinger Pancakes in Apgujeong

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Hogtown is living up to its name

Those of you who know Toronto bacon undoubtedly know the great folks at The Belly Buster Submarines. A late-night landmark for the boozed up empty-bellied belligerents as much as a daytime staple for the working man who needs to dine quick and dip. No one knew that microwaved bacon could be so beautifully crisp and unshakably addicting until the boys at Bellies started stacking thick cuts on their fresh torpedos; "Lettuce, tomatoes, onions? Salt, pepper, sub sauce? Mustard, mayo?" to my ears! 3447 Yonge St. in North York map: get the Turkey Bacon, or the Belly Buster with bacon-- add gravy, mushrooms and get it heated, for the true savants.

Never failing to satisfy, and destined to live strong for decades to come, Bellies is not alone in the local road to perfect pork products.

(Image credit: Toronto Eats)
A much less storied establishment, but one that has earned plenty of well deserved accolades and a soft spot within my gut is a humble joint known as The Stockyards. According to their website "The Stockyards: Smokehouse and Larder is the culmination of the personal journey and labor of love of Thomas Davis, conceived over 15 years ago in a Toronto backyard with a 6 in 1 $100.00 BBQ smoker from Canadian Tire." The best food in the world is bred from passion and built for the hungry; The Stockyards assembles both of those models together in a cohesive and complimentary cacophony of smoked, fried and cured meats that will tantalize the taste-buds, warm the heart and stuff the gut.

Griddle Smashed burgers, sensational sandwiches, chicken, brisket, ribs, and buttermilk fried chicken which is almost unquestionably the best in the city (I think the best I've had in my life), and preparations of which I've unjustly only touched upon. Sad to say that time and distance have kept me from sampling nearly enough of their carefully selected and equally appealing menu items, however, when I returned home for mere moments a couple weeks ago this was one of my must eat meals.

The Porchetta Sandwich 
Making care to patronize on a ribs and smoked chicken night (Tuesday, Thursday and Friday only, starting after 5pm) I dove into the Porchetta Sandwich and a half rack of ribs. The Porchetta features a trio of fennel and garlic scented pork loin, pork belly and cracklin's, topped with garlic aioli and my addition of sauteed rapini; I died and went to hog-heaven. The blend of sweet, tender pork, tangy, balanced aioli and the bitter hit of the rapini made a love child in my mouth...and then the crispy, salty solo of the cracklin's pierced my palate and I was instantly caught in a whirlwind of taste and texture. It's difficult to get into the pork ribs now that I've gotten all hot and bothered, however, they are not to be overlooked. Get your portly rear off the couch and inhale a dozen of these bad boys (if you can stop there). If you break your weight watchers regiment for one thing it should be slow cooked pork that you suck dry from the bones of the beast which bore it. To attempt to quantify the awesome power of The Stockyards BBQ: I went to pick up a female friend from the airport later that evening. I had two choices: roses or ribs. I chose ribs.
...Yeah, they're that good!

Bottom line: Next time you find yourself in the St. Clair West area hustle over to The Stockyards for some homey South Carolina style BBQ in the heart of Hogtown. And, if you never find yourself in that neck of the woods, plan to get lost for an hour. You tummy, and maybe even your hunny, will thank you!

The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder
699 St. Clair Ave. West
Toronto, ON M6C 1B2
(416) 658-9666