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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!).