Sunday, November 28, 2010

Classic Greek Fast Food

As far back as the time of antiquity, Greeks have been grilling meat on a stick. The forerunner to the modern day souvlaki these shish kebabs we’re comprised of cubed lamb. 
Loosely translated to mean “Little skewer” souvlaki has evolved to be just about any meat or vegetable skewered and grilled. The food items name being used as a prefix to souvlaki. “Chicken” or “Fish” souvlaki. The most popular modern day incarnation is “Pork” souvlaki.

When Eleni and George Moschopolous started vacationing in Greece they probably had no idea where the journey would take them. Favouring the small neighbourhood, restaurants George and Eleni fell in love with the food. Simple ingredients, treated simply. It’s not rocket science. Let the true flavour of the meats, cheese and veggies shine. Years of travel through the country produced some favourites such as zucchini, olives, beeftekia and of course souvlaki. All of which they’ve brought back to Pape Village in Toronto and to Folia Grill.
Keeping with the feel and philosophy of the little curbside establishments, Folia offers a small menu that is executed extremely well. Just about everything is made in house from ingredients that are locally sourced.
It’s also the kind of place that’s best visited with friends. Items are not expensive and most are perfect for sharing. It only has about 10 seats which makes it cozy with a clean, modern look and open kitchen. The over all feel I got for he place was laid back. Get some food, relax, talk, laugh, eat, enjoy.
My visit was for lunch (early) and it wasn’t crowded but take out orders were starting pile up. I got the feeling that it’s one of the neighbourhood “Go to” spots for a great, quick, inexpensive meal.

The pork belly souvlaki is fabulous. I ordered the double skewer on a pita which is a pair of skewers (obviously) with tzatziki, lettuce, onion and tomato. From previous experience I knew I didn’t like fries on mine so I opted out of those and also from a previous visit here I thought Steve (the cook) was a little heavy handed with the tzatziki. So I asked for light on that. The meat its self is the very same part of the pig from which we get bacon so you know it has to be good. It’s grilled over an open flame. A longer cooking time results in melt in your mouth pork, kept moist with the rendering pork fat and it gets a nice charred exterior.
The beeftekia is even better. Ground pork and beef formed into egg shapes. It too was cooked over the open flame. They were made fresh that morning and are well seasoned with oregano and garlic. Before plating the eggs are bathed in a lemon based sauce which was awesome.
A previous visit saw me enjoying chicken gyro. These gyros are the same style as Messini. The schwarma, al pastor type of layered, seasoned meat. Not the meat loaf on a spit style. It was very tender, very juicy and very tasty. As I mentioned above, I thought there was too much tzatziki on it. That’s really just personal preference and quite frankly, if my tzatiki was as good as Steve’s, I’d load up everything I make with it too.

I had heard nothing but great things about the new (as of 2012) Pork Gyros. Let me tell ya, they’re every bit as good as advertised. They’re simply fantastic. Nicely seasoned and plenty tender. Mixed with the salad here it made for a really great, healthy choice lunch.

Mmmmmm rotating meat.......
You can visit Folia at 1031 Pape Avenue in Toronto, Ontario.

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You can also visit them on the web
Folia Grill on Urbanspoon

Well that’s all from the food court for another day. Hope to see ya soon.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Iconic Cincinnati

In 1951 Johnny Johnson, fresh off the boat as it were, walked into Camp Washington Chili and began his first day of work in his new country. He never left. Still there today, 6 days a week, Johnny is just one of many icons at this Cincinnati institution.
The Camp Washington area of Cincinnati is named for the old military camp that trained thousands of soldiers for the Mexican/American war and of course the restaurant, opened in 1940 is named for the area. The original building is long gone now. Demolished in the name of progress and has been replaced with a modern, 50’s diner themed emporium. 
A painting of the old building hangs on the wall amid dozens of magazine and newspaper articles and their James Beard Award
It’s not often you find food synonymous with a city and even rarer that you find three such items all under one roof. Goetta, (pronounced “get a”) the pork or pork, beef and oat mixture found in loaf or bulk sausage form that is a staple on breakfast tables. Double decker sandwiches are not to be confused with Dagwood sandwiches. The two tiered sandwiches are filled with such things as beef, ham, cheese, bacon or veggies between each toasted slice. Then of course there’s Cincinnati chili. The icon of icons in the Greater Cinci Area is widely regarded as THE best around.

So on with the eatin’.

We ordered a side of goetta. At Camp Washington, it’s made into a loaf, sliced and then put on the flat top to give it a beautiful crust. It’s a little bit spicy, heavily seasoned and is absolutely fantastic.
We opted for ham and turkey double decker. The meat is of the cold cut variety sliced thin on toasted white bread with lettuce and mayonnaise. Simple, perfect. I will point out that they didn’t skimp on the mayo and I thought it made for a good balance in the sandwich. The girl next to us didn’t think so as I watched her scrape some of the mayo off.
The chili is simply fantastic. We went with a three way (spaghetti, chili, cheese) and split it. Not as tangy as Skyline but with a little more balance in the flavour. There was no one flavour that stood out above the other but one giant flavour. We both had to admit, it was the best Cinci chili we’d had. It had the requisite mound of cheese on top but not the comical amount that I’ve seen at other establishments and that also helped with balance.
Last but certainly not least were the chili, cheese Coney's. As per usual the dogs were of the pup variety, steamed on steamed buns. Loaded with chili, diced onions, mustard and a heap of cheese. There were fabulous.

You can find Camp Washington Chili at 3005 Colerain Ave, Cincinnati, Ohio.

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You can also find them on the web.
Camp Washington Chili on Urbanspoon

 Well that’s about all for today. We’ll see ya next time. Take care.