Paul and Donnie open up Wahlburgers in Toronto at the Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Website: http://wahlburgers.ca/
Address: 46 Blue Jays Way (Soho Hotel), Toronto ON
When I attended: November 15th, 2014

Wahlburgers opened their first franchise location in Canada on November 15th, 2014 at Toronto’s SoHo Metropolitan hotel and I was there! I froze for a few hours in the media pit in hopes to get an interview with Mark Wahlberg. No interview was conducted but thankfully I did get some wicked shots of the recently married Donnie Wahlberg and Jenny McCarthy and Paul Wahlberg, the executive Chef behind the burger creations.

The opening was welcomed by a large crowd hoping to get a glimpse of the Wahlberg brothers with many disappointed (including me) that Mr. Marky Mark was not there at the opening. The “New Kids” fans did get their fair share of pictures of Donnie, who was my favourite of the NKOTB members growing up. The restaurant was closed to the public for about 5 hours where an episode of the reality TV show of A & Es Wahlburgers was being shot. At the opening,  lucky patrons and VIP guests got to try the tasty eats.

Crowds awaiting the Wahlberg brothers

Crowds awaiting the Wahlberg brothers

Paul, Donnie and Jenny

Paul, Donnie and Jenny

For some background, the Wahlburgers first opened the original location in Hingham, MA in October 2011 as a chef-driven burger concept. Like the Boston staple, the menu in Toronto places emphasis on its use of locally sourced and house-made ingredients. Wahlburgers are made with 100 per cent Canadian beef. The custom grind, created specifically by Chef Paul Wahlberg, comes from a local butcher and is cooked to medium, allowing the juices to flow. Wahlburgers  Canada is a collaboration of the Wahlbergs with Bruce Greenberg, President of Starwood Group; Michael Wekerle, Executive Chairman of Difference Capital and Henry Wu, President of Metropolitan Hotels. (Source: Wahlburgers News Release, Soho Metropolitan Hotel).

I did not try the burgers on opening night and decided to come back another day during a less busy time. Stay tuned for my review! I did have some of their hot potato tots, which was generously given by the restaurant to the cold media folks and eager fans.

Some menu highlights include:

·         Mark’s Choice: “The Thanksgiving Burger” made with fresh ground and seasoned turkey dressed with Paul’s orange cranberry sauce, homemade roasted butternut squash and stuffing.

·         Donnie’s Choice: “The BBQ Bacon Burger” topped with white cheddar cheese, bacon and avocado, finished with jalapenos and a house-made BBQ sauce.

·         Paul’s Choice: The Wahlburgers original “Our Burger” made fresh to order with the restaurant’s special blend of beef topped with government cheese (American cheese), dill pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion and finished with the signature Wahl sauce.

 Starting December 2014, Wahlburgers  will incorporate Canadian-themed dishes as part of the ‘burger of the month’ program.

Aside from the burgers, Wahlburgers offers a variety of sandwiches, salads, onion rings and other sides and a variety of alcoholic drinks including the ‘Wahlbrewski North’ pale ale on tap made by Mill Street Brewery and a selection of adult frappes, Paul’s grown-up, alcohol-fortified version of the ice cream beverage.

The restaurant will be open seven days, Sunday through Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight, and Thursday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.  Reservations and call-ahead take-out orders will not be taken at this time (Source: Wahlburgers News Release, Soho Metropolitan Hotel).

For up-to-date info on Wahlburgers , follow them on Facebook (www.facebook.com/WahlburgersCA). Twitter (https://twitter.com/wahlburgersca) and Instagram (http://instagram.com/wahlburgersca/)

I will report back with my review of the burgers soon. For more delicious updates, follow me on Instagram and Twitter (@themary_tang).

Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Executive Chef Paul Wahlberg Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Sweet Potato Tots  Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Sweet Potato Tots
Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Double Decker Wahlburger Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel


Double Decker Wahlburger
Source: Soho Metropolitan Hotel

Wahlburgers on Urbanspoon

{Review} Rosedale diner serves duck confit poutine!

Website: http://www.rosedalediner.com/
Address: 1164 Yonge St. Toronto ON
When I visited: July 2014, lunch, 3 people
Rating: $$, 3.5

The restaurant is a short walk from Rosedale station and can be spotted with their “rose” emblem at the front of the restaurant. The interior was a typical diner with a rustic feel. The patio where we sat was a bit more eclectic and was a mishmash of colours and themes, which is also reflective of their menu. There was typical diner fare like burgers and brunch (available on weekends), as well as Middle Eastern dishes.

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I first heard of the Rosedale diner on an episode of Diners Drivers and Dives (DDD) where Guy Fieri ordered the duck confit poutine and Asian sticky ribs. After watching the cooks make both these items on the episode, I know that a lot of work goes into each dish, which is what intrigue me try it out.

To start, I had a caesar and really enjoyed the fresh horseradish.

Caesar at Rosedale diner

Caesar at Rosedale diner

Next, I had the summer salad with watercress, watermelon, feta cheese and a berry dressing. Although the portion and presentation was great, the dressing was too bland for my liking.

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To make up for it, the duck confit poutine (poutine au Canard) and Asian sticky ribs were incredible! The duck was tender and the gravy was flavourful. I tried my friend’s sticky ribs, and it had a nice balance of sweet and savoury. Totally worth the finger licking at the table!

Duck Poutine off-the-bone confit w. québécois cheese curds, demi-glace gravy

Duck Poutine off-the-bone confit w. québécois cheese curds, demi-glace gravy

Asian sticky ribs

Asian sticky ribs

 

Overall:

I am not in rush to return to Rosedale diner as lunch was expensive and out of my budget at the moment. I spent almost $40 (before tax) for a drink, salad and a poutine. However when I do return, the ribs and poutine will be on my list again.  I have been recommended from a friend to try out their brunch menu and their coffee. If you have gone there for brunch, what do you recommend?

Rosedale Diner on Urbanspoon

Roasted chicken with saffron and lemon

As you know, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, why use it on a roasted chicken? The rub that is created using the saffron makes for an incredibly robust and flavourful chicken with brightness from the lemon. What a perfect match!

I adapted this recipe from Saveur magazine but changed up a few things including brining the chicken in advanced and basting the chicken first before putting it into the oven. Steps that help with making the chicken super delicious!

If you do not have saffron, substitute the saffron with smoked/Spanish paprika or your favourite spice. It won’t taste exactly the same, but it will still make for a delicious roast chicken. I had a friend over for dinner and he raved about the moist chicken and the delicious sauce, which was served with white jasmine rice.

Ingredients:

1 chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
1 tsp of saffron
2 tbsp of sea salt
2 tbsp of black peppercorns
2 lemons
6 rosemary sprigs
2 carrots-large dice
2 celery stalks-large dice
6 cloves of garlic-peeled and leave whole
3 cups of chicken stock (mine was homemade)
2 onions- quartered
Olive oil
Butcher string for tying

Preparation Work:

1. Brine the chicken the day before (steps here). This step is optional.

2. Cut the celery, carrots and onions and throw them into the roasting pan. Toss in the garlic and add the chicken stock. If you do not have chicken stock, substitute with other stocks or water. With the chicken drippings, this base will make a delicious sauce or gravy.

3. Prepare the lemons. For the 1st lemon, slice the lemon about 1/2 cm each. For the second lemon, cut the ends and poke holes all over the skin of the lemon to help release the scent.

4. Prepare the rub. Lightly toast the saffron threads in a pan (1 to 2 minutes). Using a mortar and pestle or a small food processor  (I used the magic bullet), grind the saffron, salt and pepper.

Cooking Steps: 

1. Preheat the oven to 385 degrees F.

2. Prepare the chicken. Slide fingers underneath the skin to make a pocket. Rub the spice underneath the skin and outside the entire chicken. Stuff lemon slices and 2-3 rosemary sprigs underneath the skin. If the rosemary stems are very woody, remove the stems and use the leaves only.

3. Add the whole lemon and remaining rosemary sprigs inside the chicken cavity.

4. Baste the chicken with oil to prevent the chicken skin from drying up too quickly. Tie the chicken legs with the butcher string and tuck the wings in.

Ready for roasting

Ready for roasting

5. Place the chicken on top of the mirepoix mixture and roast at 385 degrees F for 45 minutes and the remaining 15 minutes for 400 degrees F (1 hour in total). Feel free to use the broiler at the end to brown the skin further (I did find it was necessary). Before removing the chicken from the oven, stick the instant-read thermometer at the thickest part of the thigh and make sure it reads 165 degrees.

6. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. I found that the chicken was perfectly cooked at 1 hour.

7. I left the sauce at the base of the roasting pan as is and served it over rice. Feel free to thicken the sauce to make a gravy. I froze the lemon that was in the cavity which I will use to flavour other sauces (nothing goes to waste!).

Again if you do not want to utilize saffron or have a hard time finding it, utilize the steps and guidelines to make a scrumptious roasted chicken. If you can find saffron, do try out this delicious recipe!

Lemon saffron chicken

Lemon saffron chicken

Check out my Instagram photos and Twitter feeds (@themary_tang) for more delicious updates!

Mary Tang’s Pressure Cooker episode is posted online on the W Network

What an exciting week, my episode on the Pressure Cooker with Chef Eric Greenspan aired on Remembrance Day (Nov 11th) at 9:00pm EST on the W Network! Thank you to everyone who tuned in. I hope you were entertained!

I will be writing about my experiencing being on the show over the next few weeks, stay tuned for that.

In case you missed the episode or want to watch it again, it is posted online. CLICK HERE for the video.

My episode

My episode

Thank you for all your support!

5 minute chicken brine recipe

A few months back at one of my culinary classes at George Brown College, we learned a wicked warm brine recipe where we heated the ingredients in a pot to mend the flavours and cooled it before adding in the chicken. Because of the class, I started brining my chicken before roasting it.

Believe me, brining makes a difference! The chicken turns out plump, moist and flavourful.

Brining may seem intimidating but it should not be. I came up with a quick 5 minute brine recipe that consistently creates amazing results with ingredients that many of us have in our households.

What you will need:

  • A pail or pot to hold the chicken. Find a container that is not too wide, so you use less water and salt to fill the container.
  • Fill the container about 3/4 of the way or enough to submerge the chicken (number of cups may vary)
  • 1 cup of salt (household or kosher salt preferred)
  • 1/2 cup of white sugar
  • A few sprigs of a thyme. Leave the stems on.
  • 1 lemon. Remove the peel from the lemon and carefully cut off as much white parts beneath the peel (the bitter part). Add in the peel. Add in lemon slices.
  • 1/4 cup of mixed or black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup of allspice
  • 3 bay leaves
Ingredients for brining a chicken

Some ingredients for brining a chicken

*Remember that a brine is essentially salt water. Use that as a base and add in pickling spice, rosemary or other herbs that you have at home. Feel free to substitute sugar with honey or aguave syrup. The recipe is great for brining turkey as well.

Steps:

1. Add in the salt and sugar to the pail, dissolve a tad of hot water to dissolve the solution. Add in the remaining water.

2. Add in the remaining ingredients and stir well. Taste the brine and adjust to your liking.

3. Add the chicken and the lid on the pail/pot and refrigerate overnight.

4. Take out the chicken at least 1 hour before cooking. Drain and discard the brining liquid.

5. Place the chicken on a plate and pat the skin dry with several paper towers. Air dry the chicken in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before cooking the bird.

Preparation is quick and the results are amazing. Try out my brining recipe!

Reminder: Watch Mary Tang on the Pressure Cooker on Nov. 11th, 2014 at 9:00pm EST W Network

On Remembrance Day (Nov 11th) at 9:00pm EST on the W Network, watch me battle the belt and cook in the PRESSURE COOKER kitchen with my mentor Chef Eric Greenspan! This is a MUST WATCH episode.

Mary Tang Episode 6

Mary Tang Episode 6

About Episode 6: 

Host Anne-Marie Withenshaw welcomes back returning guest star Hugh Acheson who brings out the best in home cooks Mary Tang and Carol McKenzie, and introduces guest star Eric Greenspan who pushes home cooks Matt Hunt Gardner and Scott Doust to their limits as they square off against each other and the belt. It’s a final round that sees home cooks take some big chances and test the patience and palette of Tasting Expert Giles Coren. (Source: W network)

If you happen to miss it, the episode will be posted on the W Network website after the episode airs.

Get social and chat with us: 

I will be online!  I encourage you to Tweet during the show with hashtag #PressureCooker for an interactive session with me @themary_tang and @PressurecookrCA

Chat with award-winning host Anne-Marie Withenshaw (@amwithenshaw) , “the world’s fiercest restaurant critic” Giles Coren (@gilescoren), as well as the celebrity Chefs Eric Greenspan (@ChefGreeny) and Hugh Acheson (@HughAcheson).

Thank you for all your support!!