La Vinia

On Saturday night I was sweped away by an elaborate plan orchestrated by Ru and made possible by R.  I was taken to a surprise birthday dinner with a promise that the food will wow me.

We arrived at a small homey restaurant called La Vinia.  The waiters and waitresses were pleasant.  They were very helpful with the menu and gave some really good recommendations too.  Everything looked so delicious, I’m pretty sure we ended up ordering half the menu.


Gambas al Ajillo: Sautéed Shrimp with Garlic and Olive Oil.  The shrimp was very fresh. It came out in a cast iron pan that was still sizzling hot.  The shrimp was perfectly done.  I would imagine it would be slight under cooked before it was served, and as the food is being served it continues to cook so that when it arrives on my plate, it was perfect.  Very tasty and fresh.  The garlic does not over power the fresh shrimp flavour.


Sweetbread:  Sweetbreads or ris are  the thymus  (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) of the calf or lamb.  This was slightly gamey. The sauce was heaven.  It was creamy, with lots of spices, and a bit of carrots.  Perfect for dipping fresh bread with.


Pimientos del Piquill: Piquilo Peppers Stuffed with a Seafood Mouse and an Anisete cream.  The pepper was cooked until it was soft and tender. The seafood mousse was a light cream, with a bit of a salty seafood taste to it.  There was pieces of crab meat in it as well.  This was added to another personal favourite.


Calamares a la Plancha:  Grilled Calamari with Chilli oil.  The calamari had a slightly charred flavour to it.  It has that crispy savory taste to it.  It was served with a generous drizzle of chili oil which gave the squid a very aromatic flavour.  It was grilled perfectly, not to raw so that it was slimy  but not too cooked either to make it take like rubber.


Pulpo a la Gallega: Poached Octopus Marinated in Olive Oil and Pimentón. The octopus was so soft, and so flavourful.  We had to ask the waiter how it was prepared. The waiter said that the octopus was tenderized before being cooked by beating.  Then it was poached for in broth.  I’ve never tasted octopus so soft before.  The chewy elastic texture is completely gone.


Jamón Ibérico: Spanish Ibérico Ham.  I could seriously eat this all day.  Ibérico is the Spanish’s version of prosciutto.  It was slightly salty, the a similar texture as prosciutto.  Excellent with wine and fresh bread. Writing about this post makes me want to go back from some more ibérico.


Seafood: We also had this seafood dish which had scallop, mussles, shrimp served with a light tomato based sauce. The flavour was light, not over powering the seafood.  This dish compared to all the other ones was good, but not as outstanding.


Fideuá: Spanish Catalonia Style Spaghetti Pasta with Shrimp, Calamari, Scallops, Monkfish.  This is a pasta version of paellas.  We ordered it because we though the concept was very unique.  The flavouring used such as safforn, and other spice is like the traditional paella, except it is made with pasta and not rice.  The pasta was thick, perfectly al dante to my taste.  First bite, and this reminded me of chinese noodles. Haha.. I know it sounds weird, but it’s good noodle, with a nice broth and seafood.  Very tasty, and I’m glad we tried it.


Paella de Marisco: Spanish Saffron Rice with Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels, Scallops, Monkfish and Clams.  Paella, the chef’s pride.  The paella was traditionally made with fine safforn spice, infused with flavours of the seafood.  The rice was soft, but not overly cooked.  The flavour was fantastic, with lots of seafood flavour from the shrimp, mussels and calamari. This has got to be the best paella I’ve had since Barcelona. A+++

An assortment of desserts to finish off the night.


Mango cheese cake


Lemon Sorbet


Raspberry Sorbet


Chocolate Tartufo

Where: La Vinia
Location: Toronto, Ontario
What: Almost half the menu. Too many dishes to list. See above.
Verdict: Highly recommended. Would definitely go back.
La Vinia on Urbanspoon

Spectacularly Simple Birthday

Ru and I met up for lunch at Black Camel.  It’s a sandwich place that received a whooping 96% review.  They are famous for the roast beef brisket and pulled pork brisket.

The CamelWhen we arrived, the shop was really small.  There was a line up, but the wait wasn’t too long.  We entertained ourselves by taking photos, selfies, and studying the menu up on the wall.  After debating for 15 mins, we decided on the roasted beef brisket.  The choice was actually easy, it was the condiments that we had trouble deciding on.  I went with slow roasted roma tomatoes and mushrooms.  Ru decided on the roasted roma tomatoes and peppers.


Here it is! First bite, it was super yummy.  The bread was good and the beef was very soft.  Now I see why all the rage.  The tomatoes and mushroom added a nice touch to the overall taste, but I found the sandwich to be a bit dry mid way through.  Next time, I would definitely recommend some greens.  Arugula was on the condiments options.  Adding the arugula should make the sandwich less dry next time.

Here’s us with our sandwich.  All happy and no compliments here.


Name: Black Camel
Location: Rosedale, Toronto
What: Roast Beef Brisket
Verdict: Will visit again with R. but probably not by myself. The sandwich was way too heavy for lunch, better for sharing.

Black Camel on Urbanspoon
After the super yummy lunch, I needed a caffeine fix.  We headed to Caffe Doria.  Ratings were decent at 84%.  The caffe was super cute, with an outdoor patio, indoor seating is also available and there is a row of seating that is perfect for people watching (a hobby of mine).  I had a cappuccino, and Ru had a croissant.  I honestly don’t know how someone so tiny (all 5ft tall) can eat so much.  I was super full after the beef brisket and I didn’t even finish the sandwich.



Cappuccino was nice.  No wow factor here.  We had fun hanging out in the caffee and said that this would definitely be a place to come back to with our laptops when we are doing our trip planning to the Balkans.



Name: Caffe Doria
Location: Rosedale, Toronto
What: Cappuccino
Verdict: Will visit again for the atmosphere.

Caffe Doria on Urbanspoon

After that, we proceeded to the destination Ru has been waiting for. All things good.  It’s a supermarket with yummy cheese.  Ru loves cheese.  I don’t eat cheese.  So I hung around for the shop while she did her cheese tasting and made her purchase.  Next we headed to the LCBO.  Ru loves wine with cheese.  I love wine with wine.  So we journey into LCBO and Ru quickly grabbed a Inniskillin Riesling.  Not a bad choice as they are probably one of the more known vineyards in Ontario.  It wasn’t until check out that Ru received her birthday present.  The cashier innocently asked for Ru’s ID.  Which, based on the way she looks is fair.  I chirped in that it was her birthday today and we both giggled.  The cashier said “Happy birthday.  Did you turn 19”.  After that remark, it was all smiles….

Happy Birthday Ru!