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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Pop-Up Doughnut Shop at Cake & Loaf!

This post is a painful one for us to write.  First, let us say that Cake & Loaf is our favourite bakery in Hamilton.  It is our go-to for birthday cakes, for cookies, for pastries, for bread.  We cannot recommend them enough.
Today, we were really excited as Cake & Loaf had their very first pop-up doughnut shop.  They opened at 9, with the caveat that it was first come first serve.  We stayed up late last night to see Catching Fire (Highly recommended.  Go see.) so we didn't wake up early and only headed down the hill at about quarter to 10.  The line was long, but the level of fun was high.
We made it inside after about 30 minutes.  The supplies were running low, but we managed to get 2 Apple Fritters with Caramel, 1 Sour Cream Glaze, 1 Chocolate Walnut Crunch, & 1 Canadian Maple.  We brought them home, and one of our dogs gazed at them longingly. Sucks to be her.  She got nothing.
We began with one of the Apple Fritters with Caramel.  It was a fabulous way to start.  The doughnut was studded with apple chunks, the caramel glaze was delicious.  It was decadent, fresh - everything we have come to expect from Cake & Loaf.  So impressed!
We moved onto the Sour Cream Glaze doughnut after that.  It was moist, but Ms. HitH felt that the taste of the oil it was fried in was strong, while Mr. HitH wanted some more sweetness in the doughnut.  Having said that, we both enjoyed it.

We moved onto the Walnut Crunch.  This is Ms. HitH doughnut of choice, so the excitement was palpable - but sadly, this guy did not live up to the hype.  There were very few nuts (see picture). The doughnut had a burnt taste to it and the texture was overly heavy.  The chocolate flavour was fine, but even splitting this doughnut in half between two of us, we didn't finish it. It was disappointing.
Last, we moved onto the Canadian Maple.  Again we were excited!  Maple - good! Filled doughnuts - good! All good - but not so much.  The icing was maple-ly and quite good.  The dough texture was fine - but the filling was tasteless, making the doughnut very disappointing.  Again, even splitting it, even didn't finish it.
In summary, you should visit Cake & Loaf for their amazing selection - but the quality of the doughnuts was not up to the usual Cake & Loaf standards of incredible awesomeness.  Having said that, remember that this was their first try and they certainly were slammed.  If the rest of the doughnuts can come up to the quality of the Apple Fritter with Caramel, then Cake and Loaf will become the best doughnut shop in the city, along with being the best bakery!



Monday, November 11, 2013

Two Cougars and a Cafe

We at Hungry in the Hammer are tremendous fans of the brunch.  In fact, Ms. HitH proudly proclaims it to be the best meal of the day.  Through a friend's suggestion, we came to Two Cougars and a Cafe, a great place in the midst of the North End.
(image from http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/03/2e/5b/96/two-cougars-and-a-cafe.jpg)
At the risk of sounding like dreadful snobs, I don't think either of us would have considered visiting this restaurant if it had not come so highly recommended, as it is located in a strip mall close to the steel mills.  Thankfully, our sense of adventure prevailed and a regular addition to our brunch options was discovered.
 Two Cougars has a great selection of traditional brunch fare as well as sandwiches and burgers.  As well, they always have brunch specials posted. While we did not include a picture of the decor, it is unique, reminiscent of the great Canadian cottage of your great-uncle.
 Their coffee, while just standard brewed, is always fresh and strong.  Mr. HitH is a bit of a coffee fanatic, and this is amongst his favourite drip brewed coffees in the city.  Refills are offered often.  Say that 5 times fast and you get a prize.  The prize of a new picture!
 Mr. HitH tried something new. The Joe's Special Sandwich is made with eggs, peameal and cheese.  He had his potatoes, as we always do, in the home fry form.  They also offer hashbrowns, but we far prefer the home fries.  Notice that they slice fresh red pepper over them.  Usually, they also have green onions - I'm not sure why the omission this time, but they were missed!  He also asked for a side of spicy mayo, which was provided with the usual grace of the wait staff.  He was quite pleased with his sandwich, finding it meaty and filling without being greasy.  The spicy mayo added a spicy kick to a great breakfast sandwich. The potatoes were, as always, crisp and savoury. Overall, fantastically delicious.
 Ms. HitH ordered the same thing she gets every. single. time.  This is the Eggs Florentine.  This is the best Eggs Florentine in the city.  A bold statement you say?  Indeed, but I stand by it.  Their hollandaise is the perfect consistency.  It is neither too rich nor bland.  It is the perfect melding of eggs and butter and the sprinkling of paprika is the perfect touch.  The tomatoes and spinach are always fresh.  Usually it is served on pumpernickle, but the bread offered this time was uninspired, but did not detract from the brunch.
For the first time, we had dessert - in this case a lemon crisp.  It was just fine.  It tasted as if it came out of a package - and a cheap one at that.  We ate it, because we are suckers for lemon baking, but wouldn't order it again.

Two Cougars is the best 'greasy spoon' style brunch in the city, in our opinion.  It's not greasy, despite our label, the food is overall fresh and delicious.  The staff are remarkably welcoming and always make eating there a delight. We have introduced friends and family to Two Cougs and all have enjoyed, with most demanding return visits and spouting ire at us when they find out we went without them. We suggest you get out there and go wild for the Cougars!

**Addendum on 11/24/13 - two of our friends visited and weren't as thrilled with the experience as we are.  They discovered that the hollandaise is made from a Knorr package and found that it tasted of fake tarragon.  I am also worried about my palate, because I maintain it's still the best hollandaise in the Hammer - but also yet another good reminder that taste is a very personal thing and while we're giving our honest opinions, your mileage may vary!

Two Cougars & A Cafe on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Thanksgiving Dinner!

We at Hungry in the Hammer are ashamed of our absence from the blog.  Sadly, the stresses of careers, schooling and life have put a damper on our postings.

However, we are pleased to present our Thanksgiving Dinner.  This features a special appearance by the mother of Ms. Hungry in the Hammer.  She is the Canadian Martha Stewart.  She is known for her elaborate, delicious holiday dinners, where she spends days preparing meals.  For this reason, we felt she deserved a guest spot on our blog.
 We arrived to this lovely table.  My parents' house has housed 4 generations of my father's family. Mom sets a beautiful table, with the Blue Willow china that she inhertied from her mother.  Fun fact - Ms. HitH taught in China and visited Yu Yuen Gardens in Shanghai, which is where the pattern on Blue Willow was drawn from.
Our before dinner aperitif was a pumpkin smoothie.  A unique choice, but its tangy smoothness was a terrific way to start the meal.
 We then moved onto the soup course.  Mom created potato soup with homemade stilton cheese crackers.  The soup was deliciously creamy and served with bacon (except for Ms. HitH, whose vegetarianism precludes eating delicious, delicious pork).  The stilton crackers were an earthy addition, rounding out the creaminess of the soup.  Everyone loved them, except for Ms. HitH, who found them to be more barn-y than earth-y.  Also, please note our dedication to honest reviews.  My mother may never forgive me.
 Next to the table was the salad course, featuring fresh salad greens dressed with Maple Balsamic vinaigrette & served in Parmesan bowls.  Typical of Mom's excessiveness, she hand crafted mini-Parmesan bowls so the salad could simply be picked up and eaten.  It was an exceptional salad.
 Mom also baked fresh pumpkin biscuits.  Although it is not evident from the picture, they were cut out into autumnal shapes. Again, delicious, especially with butter.  With that said, what isn't better with butter?
For the main course, we were offered:
 Roasted Turkey served with bread stuffing
Butter mashed potatoes
Butternut Squash
Peas Elegante (aka peas sauteed with onions and mushrooms).
This was an exceptional meal.  Mom makes the best stuffing on earth.  This is not hyperbole.  This is simply fact.  Her turkey is remarkably moist.  The mashed potatoes this year were made with garlic and were a savory, delicious delight.  Both the potatoes and the squash were grown my Ms. HitH's dad in his garden.  He is a remarkable gardener, with his produce feeding his family, friends and being donated to charity.
 The above plate is simply presented to show you how much Mr. HitH eats.  He is a machine of eating awesomeness.

 And Ms. HitH's plate, complete with her Tofurkey.  Tofurkey is not delicious.  Do not buy it.  Please.  However, I appreciate that my mother loves me enough to buy me Tofurkey.
 And onto dessert.  Mom offered us two choices.  The first was apple pie, with homemade vanilla ice cream.  The pie was stuffed full of apples (from the apple tree at my parents' house) and the crust was, as always, up to Mom's exacting standards.
Finally, we were given Pumpkin Bread Pudding Served with (again) Pumpkin pecan ice cream and drenched in caramel sauce.  This decadent dessert was a perfect ending to a Thanksgiving delight.

Overall, we highly recommend dinner at Ms. HitH's parents' house.  All food was made from scratch and the care and love it was offered with was obvious in every bite.  Ms. HitH's mother is a remarkably talented hostess and cook, and we hope to be invited to her home for many, many more years (so we're going to keep living in our little tiny house so we can't have people over for dinner!).

Monday, September 30, 2013

Delirious Burger Company

Delirious Burger Company is a relatively new addition to Westdale.  First thing - bring cash.  They don't accept debit.  In this day and age, this seems rather dated, but there it is.  (Edit: They now take both cash and debit - but no credit!). Their menu is small, with basic burgers and a veggie burger and the only side offered, at least when we were there, were fries.
 However, these fries are outstanding.  Best fries available in the hammer.  They were crispy on the outside, mushy in a delicious way on the inside and dusted in sea salt.  They also provide you with malt vinegar, if you ask, which makes them even more amazing.  Cannot say enough about these fries. Also, if anyone can find a way to fit the word 'fries' into this paragraph a few more times, please let me know.
 Mr. HitH chose the double burger, with cheese, bacon and caramelized onions.  He likes his toppings to be on the meatatarian side (i.e. he skips lettuce and tomato) and he likes his burgers extra saucy.
 He was pleased with his burger.  While he isn't sure that it meets the ultimate standard (i.e. the Sneaky Cheese at Memphis Fire BBQ Co.), he found it to be well made.  The meat was moist, with a great crust. The toppings were added as requested and he very much enjoyed  the caramelized onions.  Overall, a well made burger.
 The veggie burger is made from a breaded portobello mushroom stuffed with cheese.  I loved it.  Anything fried is delicious, of course.  I asked what toppings they recommended and went with lettuce, tomatoes and mayo.
As you can see, it is full of cheese.  It's quite a mouthful and very filling.  The contrast of the creamy cheesey centre contrasts nicely with both the body of the portobello and the crunch of the crust. Without the mayo, I think it would have been too dry (and how something loaded with that much cheese could be dry, I do not know, but that is my belief and I won't stop BEEEEELIIIIIIEEEEVING).  This is also a solid burger for vegetarians who do not want to eat 'fake' meat (not a problem for Ms. HitH - she loves fake meat) and a delicious change for anyone wanting to add some veggies to their diet in an utterly non-healthy way.  I think I will say that this is currently the best veggie burger in Hamilton.

Delirious Burger Company is a solid addition to the Hamilton burger scene.  Their fries are excellent, their veggie burger a fantastic change and their burgers among the best within the city limits.

Delirious Burger on Urbanspoon


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Supercrawl 2013

This post is a little late.  Mr. HitH is working 2 jobs, 7 days a week (the joy of being a recent graduate of teacher's college) and Ms. HitH is teaching full time and is back in school part time.  We're going to do our best to keep on keeping on, but posts may not be as timely as we hoped!

With that said, we made it down to Supercrawl on Friday night.  We purposely went early, for we knew we would need to leave early to come home to bed. We hit up James St. at about 6 p.m.

 

We wandered up and down James a couple times to get the feel of the crawl.  I loved Erika James' Barriers installations.

It was also fun discovering things we had never noticed before - like the statue of justice on this cultural club.

We also enjoyed the random musical artists, like this Celtic style band which had a gentleman jump in and jam with his bongos. They were playing so well together that when the gentleman with the bongos stood up to move down the road, I was shocked he wasn't a permanent band member. It was truly amazing to watch a few strangers jam together and then part ways.
I was so excited that Matt Jelly had made one of his fantastic maps of my neighbourhood.  We visited his booth when the Tall Ships were in the Hammer and loved them, but he had yet to venture up the Mountain.  I grabbed my neighbourhood and will soon be framing.  Now I just have to decide where to hang it in the house.
And then we ventured onto the food.  Being the responsible adults we are, we chose to eat cupcakes and doughnuts first. We stopped at Curbside Bliss cupcakes.
We first enjoyed the Dulce de Leche cupcake.  The cake was fresh - soft and inviting with a delicious molten caramel middle. The icing was sweet, without being sickening.  The caramel drizzle was perfect.  Truly, a superior cupcake.
However, the doughnut (donut?) took the cake. The cake.  Get it?  Get it?  (Puntastic jokes like this are the reason my students loathe me.) Anyway, this was a Ferrero Rocher inspired doughnut.  It was dipped in molten chocolate immediately before being placed into our hands. This made it messy - but it was ah-maz-ing. The crumble sprinkled on top was crunchy and delicious and made it taste exactly like like a Ferrero Rocher. So delicious.  Could eat a dozen every day.  Of course, I would die, but it would be a delicious death. Worth it.
Then we hit up the Karma Chamealon truck.  Ms. HitH is a vegetarian and was really excited about trying their Philly Cheeze Steak. In fact she had tried to get out to try this truck before but was always unlucky, until now. This is a vegan truck, so both the 'meat' and 'cheese' were vegan substitutes.
Overall, as a vegetarian, not a vegan, I found it a touch disappointing.  The fake meat was fine, if not inspiring - as fake meat tends to be -  and the onions were cooked to perfection. The roll was firm enough to hold together without being hard to eat.  However, the cheeze sauce was not plentiful and I found the sandwich dry.  It was certainly fine and I ate it all, but I wouldn't return for another.  The coleslaw was very disappointing.  It tasted like shredded cabbage dressed with only vinegar.  I expect more from a vegan truck than this in terms of salad!
Then, we ran into the Hamilton Portuguese Marching Band.  They were enjoyable and who doesn't love a marching band?  If you know this person, do not introduce them to me.  I won't like them. Neither should you.
We then moved onto the Meatball Shoppe truck.  They cater to a meatarian crowd (I know your jaws have just dropped in shock.  Go ahead.  Pick them up.  I'll wait) so only Mr. HitH ate there.
He enjoyed (and I mean enjoyed) The King Angus, described as 3 Angus Beef Meatballs served on a Bun with organic Field Greens, Marinara Sauce, sautéed onions & red peppers, 4 Italian shredded cheeses, Buffalo sauce and fresh cilantro.  His verdict was that it was delicious. He found the meat moist and flavourful.  The Angus was cooked to perfection and the spices were perfect.  The roll was not memorable, but did the job.  He was concerned about it being a cacophony of flavours before the first bite, but the sauces blended perfectly and the cheese gave it a great added dimension. A superb food truck meal.
We felt that we needed more dessert and I had read good things about the Itty Bitty Pie Co., so we went and bought a peach pie in a cup.
We found it uninspired.  The presentation, perhaps simply due to being thrown into a cup, looked rather like a dog's breakfast.  Mr. HitH felt this was a cruel assessment.  I had to just school him on the meaning of this British colloquialism, meaning a mess.  So no, it did not appear as kibble, just a rather mashed up pile of ingredients. After a careful reconsideration of his position, he now agrees. Schooled. We also wondered if apples had been added, as we found that it tasted much more of apples than peaches which was a shame as we wanted us some peaches. It was also much more of a cobbler than a pie.  We didn't even finish this. We finish everything. Especially Mr. HitH. But not this.
Then we discovered this cool mural.  How I missed it before Supercrawl I do not know.  But I love it. Who wouldn't want to saddle up a turtle and ride?!
I didn't know whether to be happy I found Elmer the Elephant or to be upset that Weekend Riot Club had co-opted him.
This gentleman was singing opera.  He was outstanding.
I wish I knew the artist's name for these pieces - but they were creepy.  I was a little afraid to walk beside them.
These people were walking down the street chanting "Free Omar Khadr". I would like to make a political statement here, but Mr. HitH reminds me that this is a food blog and not a political one. Thus, my bleeding heart shall remain hidden, unless talking about delicious, delicious issues. We all know politics leaves a sour taste in one's mouth, and who wants that when one is trying out new delicious food?
After the interesting array of Hamilton's fine arts we headed over to The Salted Pig as Mr. HitH loves him some pork. He had Pigs in a Blanket, which are corn tortillas filled with pulled pork, covered in horseradish sauce and green onions.
They were good, but there was nothing extraordinary here.  The meat was nicely cooked, tender and soft, but because the sauce was on top of the tortilla, it was dry.  The crunch on the tortilla was perfect.  He finished these happily, but again, wouldn't order them again.  He also had some bacon candy, which sweet, salty, and little pieces of heaven.  However, the serving was quite small.
We have never seen the Caplansky Deli Truck in the Hammer, so when we ran across it, Mr. HitH had to have a sandwich.
He ordered the Reuben.  I ate the pickle.  It was one of the top pickles I have ever eaten.  It was crispy and garlicy and salty and all things that a pickle should be.  Well done, Caplansky. Mr. HitH adored his sandwich. The bread was fresh (seriously, Supercrawl had good bread).  There was a ton of tender and melt in the mouth delicious meat.  The sauerkraut blended perfectly with the meat.  They had 3 options for mustard, and he chose the original mustard which worked perfectly. He cannot wait until we find the truck again.  This won his favourite meal of the night.
With this, we packed it in and headed home.  Mr. HitH had to work the next day at 7 a.m. and Ms. HitH needed to be at orientation the next morning - so no late night enjoyment for us, unfortunately, because judging from the tweets Supercrawl just got better and better.

In summary - a more disappointing food truck experience overall than we are used to, but that could also be explained by the fact that we did arrive as the trucks were opening. However, The Meatballe Shoppe, Caplansky's Deli and Curbside Bliss were excellent and we enjoyed them immensely.  Overall, Supercrawl was very enjoyable.  We will be back next year for more fun and adventure.