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Mission Objective: Hit five of Toronto’s best dessert spots over the course of an afternoon.

STOP #1

SUD FORNO: Italian pastries.

Seven stalwart eaters joined me on this dessert op.

Mean Jean Brophey starts things off with a double espresso.  She would need the caffeine boost.

On deck: Mini rhum babas, mini chocolate rhum babas, and canolis.

Elliot, Akemi, Ivon, and Alison start their sampling engines.

Kerrington and Breanna = ferocious eaters.  FEROCIOUS!

The highlight: The mini rhum baba.  A perfect boozy bite.

716 Queen Street West (MAPsudforno.com

STOP #2

NADEGE: Chocolates and pastries.

Petit choux (mini cream puffs) of various flavors.  Akemi is a big fan of the praline while Alison swore by the lemon and ginger.

Bailey’s Irish Cream-flavored marshmallows.

The Individual Donut: caramel chantilly, salted caramel cream, crisp praliné wafer and almond shortbread.

Kerrington considers her next move.

Highlights: That donut!

780 Queen Street West (MAPwww.nadege-patisserie.com

STOP #3

PEACE TREATS: Milkshakes

Three different milkshakes.  From left to right: D.R.E.A.M. (Donuts Rule Everything Around Me) – a vanilla milkshake topped with mini donuts, Amusement Park – cotton candy milkshake stacked with cotton candy, and Go Shanty It’s Your Birthday – vanilla milkshake topped with a slice of birthday cake.

I’m in heaven.

Ivon pacing himself.

Elliot and his mysterious floating cap.

I contemplate life.  And that birthday cake milkshake.

Breanne, aka “The Cleaner”.

Highlight: The cotton candy milkshake!

131 Ossington Ave. (MAPPeace Treats

We WERE planning to go for ice cream next, but our intended target wouldn’t open for another fifteen minutes.  And so, rather than wait, we made efficient use of our time by taking a walk up to College Street and getting in another dessert stop.

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STOP #4

BAKE SHOPPE: Baked goods.

The offerings included, among other things, homemade pop tarts!

Nutella brown butter cookie and red velvet cupcake.

Ruffles marshmallow and passion flakie.

Still focused!

Highlight: The unusual sweet and savory Ruffles marshmallow, the passion flakie, and that nutella brown butter cookie.

859 College Street (MAPwww.bakeshoppeto.com

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STOP #5

BANG BANG ICE CREAM: Ice cream.

The final stop on our marathon tour.  Just pick your ice cream flavor, choose a fresh baked cookie and voila!

I went chocolate cookie and toffee ice cream.

Jean and Akemi sugaring it up.

Sugar high! (photo courtesy of Ivon Bartok).

Hong Kong Waffle high.

Highlight: The peanut butter and jelly ice cream!

93A Ossington Ave. (MAPbangbangicecream.com

We concluded our afternoon in fine style –

STOP #6

Trinity Bellwoods Dog Bowl for the monthly pug meet-up

Thanks to everyone who made this dessert op a success.  Nice work, team!  See you in two weeks for the Toronto Dessert Tour Part 2!

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Today, the whole family headed over to Off Leash Studio where photographer Kevin Sarasom spent the better part of an hour snapping singles and group shots of our muttly crew.  Lulu and Suji were naturals, sitting pretty, preening, and occasionally mugging for the camera while Bubba required a little more work to bring out his natural derpishness.  But we got there.  Eventually.

Kevin was terrific with the the gang, directing them with care, confidence – and treats.  The dogs loved him.  And it seemed the feeling was mutual.  By session’s end, as I was packing up, I glanced over and noticed he’d abandoned his camera to better shower  Lulu with belly rubs.

I’ve been on a reading tear of late, blazing through 28 books to date in 2017.  At this pace, I should easily surpass by annual 100 title goal and maybe even challenge my 2014 reading record of 180+ books.  Or not.  Some of my favorite reads so far this year include Revenger, an epic space adventure from Alastair Reynolds, Tade Thompson’s fiercely original SF thriller Rosewater, Matthew De Abaitua’s AI conspiracy The Destructives, the first book of Brian McClennan’s Powder Mage series Promise of Blood, Emily Fridlund’s mesmerizing coming-of-age novel History of WolvesHomo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari’s non-fiction treatise on the intersection and potential merging evolutions of humanity and technology, and The Core of the Sun, Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo’s utterly delightful scifi tale of a capsaicin addict’s descent into the dark world of black market hot peppers.

Many of these books were released in 2016 and yet I’ve heard no mention of them as award season approaches which is altogether baffling (or, to be somewhat indelicate, kinda bullshit).

This weekend, I made it a point to try out a new restaurant – and was richly rewarded with Bar Raval serving Spanish Tapas on College Street.  A few of the culinary highlights of our back-to-back visits: The kitchen bread: red peppers and anchovies.

Crispy cheese, serrano ham, and caramelized onion pastry.

The house-canned scallops conserva served in a garlic tomato oil with a side of chips.

Bacon, chorizon, red pepper and quail egg atop grilled bread.

The Basque cheesecake – Akemi’s favorite.

Their version of a chocolate-hazelnut donut.

Hey Jeff and Barb, maybe the next time you’re in town?

Back at it tomorrow!  Main unit Episodes 309 and 310.  Second unit episodes 308, 309, 310, and 313.  Prep meetings for Episode 311.  And possible Pink pages for Episode 311?!

Don’t push it.

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Those I remembered to photograph anyway…

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Banh Mi Boys: Crispy squid taco, fried chicken bao, pork belly bao, and tofu taco.

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Le Gourmand: Chocolate chip cookie.

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Yasu Sushi Bar: Katsuo nigiri

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Yasu Sushi Bar: Tuna trio (otoro, chutoro, akami)

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La Banane: Liver & Onions (chicken liver mousse, cippiloini onions, hen of the woods mushrooms).

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La Banane: European seabass en croute.

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Lamesa Filipino Kitchen: Ube leche flan.

P.S. Loved reading your input into yesterday’s blog question.  Very interesting.  Keep ’em coming!

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My third and final batch of hot sauce (habanero, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper, smoked Chilean merken pepper, organic apple puree, apple cider, honey, brown sugar, and apple cider vinegar) is a lip-smacking (in both senses of the word) masterpiece.  It’s a scorcher…but delicious as well.  A true culinary capsicum achievement.  I don’t know whether to eat it by the spoonful or smear into the eyes of my enemy.  It’s THAT good!

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Today, I had lunch with Dark Matter Episode 305 director (and Bitten Executive Producer) J.B. Sugar, a guy who’s as gracious and good-hearted as he is talented. It was a sit-down to review his experience on the show which, I’m happy to report, was nothing but great.  Like his episode, a manic adventure chock full of action, humor, bittersweet character moments, and the Android’s most bizarre undercover guise yet!

On our way, we happened across this familiar fellow adorning some sidewalk art in support of the local Canadian film scene…

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Why, yes, it’s none other than Cowboy Bruce McDonald, indie film auteur and occasional Dark Matter (Episode 107, 202, 206, 302, and 312 so far!) director.

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Speaking of the Android – she is also enjoying a well-deserved break from all the shipboard mayhem.  Pictured above in relaxed mode.

Hey, who feels like voting for another episode title?

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It’s a (Joe) Mallozzi Christmas tradition!  Dinner at one of my favorite restaurants – Au Pied de Cochon – with my sister and Daisy.

But beware!  It’s not for the fainthearted!

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Akemi and I being affectionate.

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Les cromesquis – deep-fried morsels bursting with liquid foie gras.

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And, for Akemi – the mackerel.

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The French onion soup – which was unlike any other French onion soup I’d ever had, highlighted by  some incredibly delicious smoked sausage.

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The roasted bone marrow with caviar – the only miss of the night.  The marrow could have used another five minutes in the oven.

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The beef temake tartare topped with quail eggs.  I ate the top (beef, toppings) and Akemi had the bottom (rice and nori wrap).

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Charcuterie and foie pizza with ricotta and whipped mascarpone – my favorite of the night.

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The stuffed pig’s trotters with foie and whipped mash.  Another fave.

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For dessert, the super-chocolatey chocolate tart.

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And, of course, the classic pouding chomeur.

Tomorrow, it’s Smoked Meat Pete and Bistro 75.

And in January, I am back on the program!

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While in Osaka this summer, I had one of the greatest katsu curries ever at Rika Shokudo.  Katsu curry, for those not in the know, is thinly sliced pork fried to golden perfection served a bed of rice and alongside Japanese curry which is a thicker, somewhat sweeter version of Indian curries.

Today, I discovered that Canada’s best katsu curry is served in a small food court mall on Yonge Street.  Kaiju, located in the basement level of 386 Yonge St. (#51) offers up a surprisingly authentic version.  The chew/owner hails from Singapore and apparently spent six years in Japan, mastering, among other dishes, a damn fine katsu curry.  According to the website, their homemade curry…

“… is made from over 14 different ingredients including various spices, fresh fruits, and vegetables. It is slow cooked for up to two days and the result is a deliciously rich, comforting sauce that balances fragrant spices with sweet and savoury flavours.”

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They also serve up a delicious but potentially lethal homemade hot sauce.

Because it’s tucked away out of sight, the place doesn’t get much traffic but has persevered in its hidden location for some four years.  If you’re in town, check them out.  The food is great and the woman behind the counter is super nice.

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After today’s lunch, we stopped by Infuse Cafe, home of Toronto’s tastiest teas and infused beverages.

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The drink-making process is pretty elaborate.  Check out the website for the breakdown but, suffice it to say, their drinks are far superior to any rival shop in town.  Akemi had a hot jasmine tea that delivered a delicate floral flavor minus the typical bitter finish.  I, on the other hand, went with something a little…heartier.

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The Ice Cream Sandwich Coffee contains three simple ingredients – espresso, ice, and three ice cream sandwiches – which are blended to a deliciously creamy finish.

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I’m not really a coffee guy, but I’ll make an exception for this drink.

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Hey!  Look at who got her stitches out today!

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September 20, 2016: Tokyo Day #6!

Well, I spent most of the day thinking and worrying about my french bulldog Lulu and how best to proceed with her soft palate surgery, then the other most of the day thinking and worrying about the show’s third season.  In the case of the latter – I mean, sure, I know where I want to go, have worked out all of the character and story progressions, but actually getting there is always the challenge as, invariably, you get these inevitable curveballs thrown your way.  It’s alway so unnecessarily complicated.  It shouldn’t be but, really, welcome to show business.

But I’ll save that little rant for another time.

Tokyo!  Day #5!  Another 22k_ steps!  We covered a lot of ground today!

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Apparently, outside of Tsukiji Market, there’s not all that much to do in Tokyo early morning.  Rather than hang around our hotel room, Akemi and I decided to take a walk through Hibiya Park – a little oasis in the heart of the urban mayhem.

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We’ve been missing our dogs so much that we’ve resorted to pestering local dog owners for some time with their pooches.  Pictured above – Akemi and her now pal.

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We arrived early in Naka-Meguro, about an hour and a half before lunch, so we took a stroll through the neighborhood and came across this little dessert(ish) shop.  Akemi had apparently heard about it.  The shop’s owner incorporates vegetables into all her desserts in an effort to get kids to eat their veggies.  A few of the menu items on display…

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Not so strawberry shortcake, in which the strawberries are replaced with Japanese tomatoes and greens.

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Avocado cheesecake!

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And the intriguing but daunting asparagus tiramisu.

I know, I know.  Perfect Weird Food Purchase of the Day potential.  But I didn’t want to ruin my lunch.

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We ended up at my favorite pizza join in Tokyo – Pizza Seirinkan.  Your choices here are simple.  You can have the Margherita.  Or you can have the Marinara.

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One of the cheapest meals of this trip and one of the best.

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Akemi agrees.

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For dessert, a stopover at Jean-Paul Hevin.  Despite the triple chocolate order, our waitress professed her faith in our ability to polish them off.  Her confidence in us proved well-founded.

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I picked up this terrific Crayon Shin-Chan t-shirt at the T.V. Asahi store.  This way, there will no longer be any confusion when I visit set.

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With the entire afternoon in front of us, we decided to broaden our artistic horizons by checking out some of the local exhibits.  First up: The Dali exhibition and a Venetian Renaissance Paintings exhibit at the National Art Center.

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Then, we walked over to The Mori Art Museum for The Universe and Art, part of the TeamLab exhibitions Akemi was very eager to check out.  This one was more her speed.  Some of my highlights…

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Part of artist Laurent Grasso’s Studies into the Past.

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Artist Jia Aili’s “Hermit from Planet Dust”.

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Jules de Balincourt: “Cosmic Chaos” and “Space Investors”.

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Sorayama Hajime’s “Sexy Robot”.

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Artist Neri Oxman’s “Saturn’s Wanderer”: “Saturn’s Wanderer is created to adapt to the vortex storms on Saturn. It has a large surface area that would contain bacteria that converts the planet’s hydrocarbons into edible matter.”  Love it!

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A little something to add to Melissa O’Neil’s wardrobe in season 3?

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SEArch/Clouds AO: “Mars Ice House” – 3D printed resin model with wood base, internal light.

And then there was an amazing, full room video experience from TeamLab.  A small excerpt:

With that done, we headed to Roppongi Hills for a little more walking.  And I happened to come across these DC comics-themed characters –

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Hey, check it out!  It’s Jason Momoa!

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Finally, for dinner, we went to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon.

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The sea urchin in lobster jelly with cauliflower cream to start.

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And a chartreuse souffle with pistachio ice cream.

Today, we head to Akihabara – Electric Town – Anime Central – Geek Heaven.

Perhaps another Periscope coming your way?

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