Months deep into this pandemic, I decided to effectively adopt a local small business to help it weather the tough times. Beast is a great Toronto restaurant, known for its fantastic brunches. Given the staggered lockdowns however, it has had to shut down indoor dining and shifted to a bodega-style set-up that has seen it offering bottle and artisan grocery shop service in addition to a take-out menu. I’m a huge fan of its cheeseburgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and bone barrow french toast and always make it a point to drop by for everything from tinned octopus to spicy Liuzhou noodles. Beast also offers “whole animal” meals reminiscent of the dinners served up by Chef Robert Belcham back when I was a regular at Vancouver’s (much missed) Fuel ad ReFuel restaurants. Just choose your meat and place your order a week in advance. Then, on the appointed day, pick up your order and prepare to be wowed.
We elected to do a duck dinner for Christmas Eve. Our order came with a handy menu and an easy to follow instruction sheet for heating the various courses.
The liver parfait was spectacular and the duck gizzards, served in a kaffir lime sauce, were the best I’ve ever had.
Speaking of best ever, I’ve had duck wings before but never like this. Outstanding – and Akemi’s favorite course.
On the other hand, the crispy confit legs with the rosemary roasted potatoes were my favorite course.
The seared duck breast a l’orange was also excellent and reminded me of one of my father’s preferred preparations.
The flourless chocolate cake was the perfect end to the meal – decadent and delicious. In fact, every course was a home run and so impressed that Akemi wondered whether the chef had actually researched my blog to find out exactly what we loved.
Another small local business we’ve been supporting throughout this pandemic has been SOMA Chocolates. Another tremendous flourless chocolate cake, this one served with Akemi’s vanilla and bourbon cream.
A more sedate Christmas all in all. In addition to some amazing pistachio and almond desserts sent my way via sis, Daisy, and mom….
A couple of Evangelion (Asuka and Rei!) t-shirts from Inked in Culture.
And some of my favorite chicken ramen –
Akemi scored chocolate, a two-weeks’ supply of seaweed, and this flashy little number she’d had her eye on –
When she wears this in Japan, the locals will refer to her as “yankii”.
Hope everyone else is having a good holiday even if you weren’t able to spend it with family.