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rapsrealm's Profile

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Recommendation for Personal Chef-Dinner for 2

So I'm thinking of hiring a personal chef for a romantic dinner for two and was wondering if anyone has done this before? If so, are there any recommendations for some chef's I should call/email?

Jan 18, 2014
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Restaurant recommendation for couple with dietary restrictions-Please help!

So both myself and my wife are on restrictive diets which make it difficult to go to restaurants. On the Family Day weekend we would like to keep our tradition of staying downtown and having a mini-vacation. We want to be able to at least visit some restaurants but unsure which restaurants would accommodate to our strict restrictions. Our major restrictions include for myself: tomatoes, black pepper (pepper in general), sugar (but can have natural sugar such as maple, agave, fruit), nightshades (eggplant, potatoes). For my wife it includes the former but also dairy, eggs and wheat. We can have some meat (turkey, chicken and fish).

One restaurant that we have enjoyed in the past has been La Fenice which seems to have some items that we could possibly eat such as chicken cooked with herbs and dry sherry and a tableside prepared fish drizzled in lemon.

Any suggestions for restaurants that either have some items right off the menu or ones that I could call ahead who would be happy to accommodate such strict restrictions?

Jan 16, 2014
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Looking for Restaurant Recommendations for Florence in August

Which restaurants have impressed you based off their pastas?

Aug 10, 2012
rapsrealm in Italy

Looking for Restaurant Recommendations for Florence in August

Thanks for some of these suggestions. I'll also be in Florence from August 18-23 and some of these look intriguing.

Aug 10, 2012
rapsrealm in Italy

Rome Recommendations on August 13

I will be celebrating my birthday on August 13 and will be in Rome. Our plan for that day is to go visit the following:

Pantheon
Spanish Steps
Via Veneto
Trevi Fountain

I was hoping for some recommendations for lunch and dinner that is close to that area. It could also be close to our hotel which is on Fabio Massimo n°60 Street.

In terms of food we both love our pasta and eat pretty much anything except seafood.

Jul 26, 2012
rapsrealm in Italy

Restaurant Recommendations in Rome, Florence and Venice

My price point is per person. Not including drink.

Jul 15, 2012
rapsrealm in Italy

Restaurant Recommendations in Rome, Florence and Venice

I will be going to Italy next month and am looking for some advice as to which restaurants I should try out. In terms of our preferences we both love pasta and my wife prefers a veal dish (especially veal scallopini) and I prefer chicken or lamb. My wife is allergic to seafood so we're looking for places that have a good variety on their menu.

In terms of price point we're looking at mid-range (20-30 Euros) and possibly one restaurant in Rome where I can have a nice meal to celebrate my birthday.

In Rome we're staying at the intersection of Via Fabio Massimo and Via Germanico.

In Florence we're staying at Via dei Belfredelli.

I'm hoping you guys can help me out!

Jul 13, 2012
rapsrealm in Italy

Best Italian/Pasta in NYC--Easter Weekend

Thanks for all the information!! I'm thinking of going on Sunday April 8th so I'll make sure to call them tomorrow at 10am.

Mar 07, 2012
rapsrealm in Manhattan

Best Italian/Pasta in NYC--Easter Weekend

I'll be heading down to NYC over the Easter Weekend and we have a ton of spots we want to try out. We are hoping to have one good Italian meal while we're there and wanted to know where we could get the best pasta. We are considering one of Mario Batalli's restaurants (Babbo comes to mind) but we do have some restrictions:

- My wife doesn't eat seafood
- I don't eat beef

I'm not sure if the Babbo Pasta Tasting will work with the above restrictions or not. Are there any other recommendations for some great pasta?

Mar 07, 2012
rapsrealm in Manhattan

Recommendation for restaurants for August 2011 honeymoon(Nice/Paris)

I'll be in France for about two weeks from Aug 8-20th. I am hoping for some recommendations for some restaurants that we can visit while we are there. I am not looking for anything high-end but rather something in the 25-30 euros per person range. The only restriction we have on food is that my fiance is allergic to seafood so the restaurant has to have a decent selection of lamb, chicken, beef. So far the only restaurants I have "locked in" are Le Relais de I'isle and Chez Janou. I'm hoping you guys can provide me with some solid options!

Jul 11, 2011
rapsrealm in France

Dessert Tasting Menu in Paris?

I was wondering if something like this exists and if anyone can recommend a restaurant that may have some spectacular desserts to try.

Jun 12, 2011
rapsrealm in France

Looking for a nice upscale place for an engagment party Indian food preffered

I think your talking about Tandoori Flame.

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Tandoori Flame
8150 Dixie Rd, Brampton, ON L6T5N9, CA

Apr 23, 2011
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Fredericks opening location in Markham?

I went today for lunch. Its quite good and reasonably priced. Also it is Federick's.

Dec 18, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Fredericks opening location in Markham?

Sorry, that's correct. Federick's.

Nov 28, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Fredericks opening location in Markham?

I was down by Markham/14th yesterday and saw that Fredericks is opening a location (it seems bigger than the one in Scarborough) on Markham/14th. This location is in front of the Costco within the new plazas. Does anyone have any information on this location or if it is in fact the same Fredericks?

Nov 28, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarpetta in Toronto

This is correct. When I went I was placed at one of these tables to the left and there was barely any room for the waiter to slide in between the tables.

Sep 12, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarpetta in Toronto

Wow my experience was nothing like that. I had excellent service when I went a few weeks back.

Sep 03, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Review: Scarpetta Toronto

I felt the same way after my meal. Loved the polenta but felt a bit underwhelmed with the spaghetti considering all the hype it gets.

Aug 17, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Review: Scarpetta Toronto

I didn't see any tasting menu being advertised.

Aug 17, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Review: Scarpetta Toronto

The ultra chic Thompson Hotel is seeking to provide Toronto tourists and locals a form of luxury never seen in Toronto. By being the first five-star hotel to open in Toronto since the Hazelton Hotel, and the primary competitor to soon- to- open Ritz-Carelton, Trump International, the new Four Seasons and the Shangri-La the Thompson group knew everything had to be perfect.

One of the key strategies for the Thompson Hotel is to not only have luxurious rooms but a flagship restaurant that adds to the hotel experience. When Thompson Hotel opened up in New York City, they lured Toronto super chef Susur Lee to open up his first NYC restaurant. Coincidentally, the Toronto hotel has nabbed one of New York City’s top Italian chefs, Scott Conant, to open up a location in Toronto.

The opening of Scarpetta comes with a great amount of fan-fare as this is the first time a star chef has opened up a location in the city of Toronto. Over the years, there have been rumours of celebrity chefs looking to open up high-end restaurants in Toronto, but there have always been question marks surrounding the desire of Torontonians to pay top dollar for a meal.

Scarpetta, which is the restaurants third location throughout North America was slated to open in Mid-June and then got delayed to the end of July after several constructional hiccups due to the gas line. After Scott Conant’s open letter to Toronto, came off as being condescending more than “cool”, things weren’t looking good for the New York native. Although Chef Conant may not be that great with words, I had to make sure to check out his new restaurant.

On August 13th, I made my way to Scarpetta for a 9:30 reservation. Scarpetta is on the ground-floor of the hotel, and a bar stands right outside of the restaurant. For anyone who wants to try some of Conant’s dishes, the bar will be serving food in the near future. Right from the beginning there was something different with Scarpetta compared to other restaurants within the city. The best way to describe the culture of this restaurant is perfection. From the hostess, to the waitress, to the busser there is a sense of professionalism and pride throughout the whole restaurant.

The restaurant was packed and talking to one of the managers it seems they are reaching full capacity on a regular basis. We were placed at a corner table that barely had any room for anything more than two plates. The side window provided a great view of the CN Tower.

To start we were provided a basket of different breads with three different toppings; chunky eggplant camponata, citrus-infused olive oil and a butter-mascarpone spread. At Scarpetta, the breads go further than the traditions of an Italian meal as the restaurant is named after the Italian-slang la scarpetta, which means to soup your pasta sauce with the bread. The breads were fresh and the mascarpone spread was thick and rich.

Prior to even glancing over the menu, I knew I wanted to taste some of his signature dishes including the creamy polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushroom ($15). The dish was delicious and I clearly understand why this is one of the more popular items on his menu. The polenta was rich and provided a great sweet creamy aftertaste upon each bite. This dish was eaten in whole in less than five minutes and now I understand why polenta is more popular than pasta in some regions of Italy.

The second dish that we ordered was the Spaghetti with Tomato and Basil ($23). This is probably the most distinguished dish on Chef Conant’s menu and has received rave reviews over the years.

The dish can’t get any simpler and there isn’t any secret to his recipe as he openly shares his recipe on his website and is posted on SeriousEats as well. When first served the pasta, the first thought that came to mind was “Is that it for $23?” as there didn’t seem to be a large portion, but as you take the first bite it is obvious the pasta is a bit heavier and the portions are actually perfect. The pasta is made fresh and it is explicitly clear as the noodles are a bit rougher than I’m used to. This was the dish I was most excited to try as it seemed to get the most accolades from food critics in New York City and Miami. Although I found the dish to be perfectly executed, I also felt a bit let down as I was hoping this simple dish would have a little something that would take it to that next level. Perhaps I set the bar too high for this dish, but for $23 a plate I was expecting to be wowed and after the excellent polenta I thought the pasta would have blown me away.

To end the meal I had the Coconut Panna Cotta ($11), another one of his recipes that is openly shared on the Scarpetta website. I didn’t think that the coconut and guava would work very well together but it provided a very vibrant flavour and made a great way to end the meal. We also ordered the Chocolate and Vanilla Parfait with a hazelnut milkshake and biscotti ($11), which had layers of flavours and wasn’t overly rich.

I was astonished that I came into a highly acclaimed restaurant and chose to eat all vegetarian-friendly dishes. Unfortunately many finer dining establishments overlook this group, but its obvious Chef Conant is not afraid to create refined dishes that are meatless.

It is obvious that Scarpetta is at another level compared to many of the Italian restaurants in Toronto, its my hope that the restaurant will get even better as the years go on, and the competition starts getting more fierce.

Pictures can be found here:
http://journeyofafoodie.wordpress.com...

Aug 17, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarpetta at the Thompson Hotel

Thanks for that. I was afraid that the pasta dish would be too small to split. I have a reservation tomorrow so I'll make sure to split both pasta dishes to taste both of them.

Aug 12, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarpetta at the Thompson Hotel

Aug 12, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Scarpetta at the Thompson Hotel

I'll be going there on Friday for my birthday. I'll be sure to ask about the chips.

Aug 09, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Review: Ambiyan Indian with pics

I first heard about Ambiyan a year ago, when they first opened, but never got an opportunity to visit. As I found myself craving some good Indian food I decided to give Ambiyan a try and found myself actually going back a few days later. Ambiyan has a prime location in the heart of Main Street Unionville, and with the help of the owners of the Amaya Group they launched a much needed upscale Indian restaurant in the Markham-Unionville area.

Ambiyan does an excellent job of balancing the menu with traditional Indian dishes and exploring the fusion realm of Indo-Mediterranean cuisine.

Currently Ambiyan has a three course prix-fixe menu that allows you to sample many of their popular dishes. Regularly, this is priced at $29.99 per person, but from Monday-Wednesday the price is dropped to $20, which is an excellent deal for anyone who wants to try out Ambiyan for the first time.

Inside the restaurant, there is a dining area and a bar at the front. Prior to Ambiyan claiming the building it used to be a steakhouse and much of the layout and decor seems to still resemble that.

Appetizers

Between my two times there I sampled three different appetizers: the tandoori chicken tikka ($12), brie pakoras ($9) and the chicken tikka samosas ($7). Prior to the appetizers each guest is provided a complimentary mango lassi shot which is a nice touch.

The tandoori chicken tikka was part of the prix-fixe meal and was perfectly executed. The chicken pieces were large cuts and moist, with the tandoori masala modestly marinated and not overbearing the natural taste of the chicken.

On my second visit, I sampled both the Brie Pakoras and the Chicken Tikka Samosas and noticed that the plating for the appetizers is the same in many of their dishes as the tamarind sauce and/or green mint sauce is smeared on the bottom with the food placed on top.

The brie pakoras was an interesting combination and the tamarind sauce complimented it very well. I found the taste of the brie to be overpowering at times, but overall it was excellent.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the chicken tikka samosas. I thought this had the potential to be an excellent appetizer but was underwhelmed when I received it. The chicken tikka was grounded and filled into the samosa, similar to the meat samosas found at any take-out Indian place. The chicken was incredibly dry and bland. The pieces were ground into small pebble like chicken and many of the pieces would fall out after the first bite.

Entree

The entrees at Ambiyan are really the highlight of their menu, with all the dishes I have tried being flavourful and beautifully presented. From the prix-fixe menu I chose the butter chicken ($14), and have sampled the lamb ($17) and chicken vindaloo ($14) my next visit. The prix-fixe comes with regular nan and a jeera (cumin) basmati rice. The portions are large and can easily serve two people. The nan was fresh and fluffy, while the rice mixed with cumin and onions was plentyful.

The butter chicken had a sweet and creamy sauce that was not overly oily, often found in many run-of-the-mill Indian restaurants. The chicken pieces were similar to the Tandoori Chicken Tikka, being large cuts of moist white meat.

The vindaloo was by far my favourite dish at Ambiyan and one of the best vindaloos I have tasted. The vindaloo is normally the spiciest dish on the menu, but often nothing special at most restaurants, as they focus solely on adding heat to the dish. At Ambiyan even though the dish may not rank high on the Scoville scale the tomato based dish builds a level of heat that provides a welcoming kick and maintains an excellent overall taste. Both the chicken and lamb are excellent and boneless.

Desserts

For dessert I have tried the gulab jaman and the kheer and overall although both were executed perfectly I was hoping for them to take these traditional desserts to another level. The gulab jaman came pipping hot and each one was soft. The kheer (rice pudding) was thick and not overly sweet.

Both times I went the service has been good with everyone friendly and efficient.

Ambiyan has done a remarkable job with their restaurant and competing restaurants such as The Host, Jaipur and Bombay Bhel which are all a 10 minute drive away in Thornhill have just gotten more competition. As a bonus, Ambiyan has delivery Tuesday-Sunday from 5pm-9pm with pricing for take-out/delivery a tad cheaper per item.

For pictures click here:
http://journeyofafoodie.wordpress.com...

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Ambiyan
149 Main St, Markham, ON L3R, CA

Main Street Cafe
1626 Stittsville Main, Stittsville, ON K2S1A2, CA

Amaya
1574 Bayview Ave, Toronto, ON M4G3B7, CA

Apr 11, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Roasted Chicken?

If you can please take some pictures :O) I'm excited to hear your report on this dish.

Mar 30, 2010
rapsrealm in Manhattan

Best pre-fixe lunch deal in Manhatten

Does Lupa have a prix-fixe lunch nothing popped up when I clicked on the lunch menu.

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Lupa
170 Thompson Street, New York, NY 10012

Mar 26, 2010
rapsrealm in Manhattan

Roasted Chicken?

How much is the one at EMP?

Mar 22, 2010
rapsrealm in Manhattan

Best Pasta in NYC?

I'm planning a visit to NYC and wanted to know where I could get the best pasta dish in NYC. I've searched the board and found some interesting suggestions, but the one caveat is I want a restaurant that has a decent choice for someone that doesn't eat seafood. Right now I'm thinking of going to Scarpetta.

Does anyone have any other suggestions for non-seafood based pastas?

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Scarpetta
355 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014

Mar 19, 2010
rapsrealm in Manhattan

Any good pizza joints in Markham Ontario or even Stouffville Ontario?

I haven't been but Calabria Bakery, opened up a second location in Markham on Hwy 7/McCowan. I have heard good things about their original Scarborough location, which serves wood oven pizzas only on Fridays/Saturdays I believe.

Mar 05, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Afternoon Tea in downtown TO? Advice please!

I've been to both Royal York and Windsor Arms. Both are charming places and Windsor Arms is a bit more cozy and has a better environment since they have a "tea room", but at the same time its steep on the weekend at $38/pp.

Feb 25, 2010
rapsrealm in Ontario (inc. Toronto)