The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy? Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them my choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
Curbside: Modern Street Food from a Vagabond Chef – available now!
Normally, my Daniel’s Dish adventures lead me to the far corners of the Toronto food world. Today’s extra special Daniel’s Dish was in celebration of the launch of Chef Adam Hynam-Smith’s new cookbook, Curbside: Modern Street Food from a Vagabond Chef and was held at Bestellen amongst friends, family and media. Known for his food truck in St. Catherine’s, el gastrónomo vagabundo, Adam has taken the next step in his career and is quickly becoming a name to be known in Canada.
Amid the #CurbsideCookbook event (follow the hashtag to see what my fellow guests thought about their experience), Adam created dishes you can find in the cookbook and recreate at home. Be you a beginner home cook or a culinary expert, the book has options to tantalize your taste buds.
Take a look at what Adam and the team behind him had to say in thanks for a wonderful evening and the new chapter (pun intended) in his life as a celebrated author. You’ll have to forgive the quality and sound as I decided to record it all in the spur of the moment, but it will help to show you in four short minutes what a humble and talented chef Adam is.
What you have to understand is that the name of the cookbook isn’t just a title. Adam has traveled the world and enjoyed cooking in numerous countries. His travels have influenced and helped shape his style of cooking, and no doubt his recipes therein. It’s like taking a trip around the world with him over the last 20 years and I cannot wait to read it from cover to cover.
Allow me to focus on a few of my favourites that I would encourage you to try cooking for yourself. I know that I am anxious to crack the spine of my autographed copy and get cooking and I have no doubt that you will be too.
One of the sponsors for the evening was Samuel Adams beer. Normally not a beer drinker, it was actually a great choice for food that is inspired by Adam’s travels and the playfulness he came to learn in the world of Food Trucks. If you’re in the mood for a beverage or two while cooking and enjoying your own creations inspired by Adam’s recipes, they have a great selection of products ready for you and served best chilled.
Of the several courses I indulged in, my absolute favourite appetizer would have to be the Egyptian Egg with Asparagus and Candied Bacon (page 39). It was probably one of my favourite salad style dishes this year to be honest. The combination of Asparagus and Egg is as old as time, especially when it is a runny golden yolk. By adding in the sweetness of candied bacon and the earthiness of tarragon dressing, this dish is transformed from a classic duo to so more more. Sesame helps to give the dish an almost Asian inspiration and I was left fighting the urge to lick my plate. Don’t judge me.
Be it for a dinner after work or to wow your dinner guests, this is a fantastic recipe. From first hand experience, it is so much more than it appears in all the right ways and I cannot wait to recreate it at home for Julio!
The Master Stock Braised Pork Belly with Green Papaya Salad (page 102) was going to be my favourite main course even before I tasted it. Because, Pork Belly. Now, I will say that while enjoying the dish tonight I was in love with the Pork Belly and it’s accompanying chili jam, but not such a fan of the salad. In my personal opinion, I always believe that the protein on the plate should be the hero with complimentary sides to enhance it. For this recipe, it’s a one way ticket to flavour town for everything that you’ll put on the plate. For some people, that will be amazing. Personally, I’ll probably tone down the salad a little for my taste.
That’s the beauty with recipes in that they are meant to be a guide, not a rule. Adam has cooked countless meals in his life and I’m sure he would agree that cooking is not a science, it is an art. Crispy pork belly cooked beautifully with a spicy chili jam gave me chills. Salty with just the right amount of crunch is the best way to enjoy pork belly. The salad offers flavours including mint, cilantro, green papaya and an acidic dressing. It’s definitely playful and cut through the flavours of the pork which helped to enhance and play with the overall flavours.
If I wasn’t already such a huge fan of Adam, the moment that the Fried Banana with Toasted Coconut Cream (page 204) was served to me would have won me over forever. Crispy exterior delicately holds softened banana in a cradle of sweet heaven. Matched with kaffir lime leaves for a tart contrast and creamy coconut flavours, this is my kind of dessert. Not too sweet, not too decadent, it’s a beautiful way to end any meal and the recipe couldn’t be easier. You’ll just have to pick up a copy of the book to see what I mean.
Secret You Should Know:
I smiled when I originally got the invite to tonight’s event because Adam and I actually worked together many moons ago in Ottawa. While I was serving in one of Ottawa’s downtown restaurants, Adam worked in the kitchen. We haven’t seen each other in over seven years and tonight it was so amazing to see that he chased his dreams just like I did. The world is a small place full of very inspiring people and tonight Adam helped to remind me of that.
Make sure to head out and pick up your copy of Adam’s book today or order it online here!
To stay inspired by the culinary creations of Adam and his delectable new cookbook, make sure to follow @EGVAdam on Twitter and Instagram. Use the #CurbsideCookbook when you pick up your copy to join in on the social media conversation. I know that Adam & I can’t wait to see what you create and are inspired to indulge in!
For more behind the scenes of this and other Daniel’s Dish visits, follow my #DoTheDaniel Instagram account.
Please remember to enjoy responsibly and never drink and drive.