ZURICH, SWITZERLAND

When you tell your friends and family that you will be embarking on an European adventure in these three countries, France, Switzerland, and Italy, you can probably guess which one of those will get over looked. Frankly, France has probably one of the most famous and visited cities in the world, Paris. On the other hand, Italy has cities like Milan, Florence, Rome, and Venice just to name a few that will excite any worldly traveler upon just the mere mention of the name. For foodies like myself, if you ask them to name any country to visit based off of their cuisine alone, France and Italy will top the list no doubt. However, if you ask someone to even name one single city within Switzerland, Zurich may not even come up. Zurich? Where’s Zurich?

I admit, I was one of those people who only knew Switzerland to be a great skiing/snowboarding country in the winter time up on the Alps. Besides that though, I really knew nothing else about it and even less about Zurich itself. As I didn’t go to Switzerland in the winter months, I had no idea what to expect of it in the middle of summer so I was very skeptical to say the least. Even researching online did not get my hopes up as the main consensus I got was that the city is super expensive and that the food is average at best. With that being said, only one of those statements have proven true.

Let me just get straight to the point. The food in Zurich was nothing short of amazing! I only stayed for a short 2 nights here, but during my time I was fortunate enough to taste some exquisite food with a great bonus of having great plating on all the dishes me and my friend ordered. The restaurants were by no means fine dining albeit the cost of the food may say otherwise, so it is very possible to just randomly pick a restaurant on the streets of Zurich and have a very pleasant meal because that is exactly what we did.

Deep Fried Filets of Perch with Salad and Tartar Sauce. Cost - 21.50CHF (Approx CAD$25.95)

Carrot and Orange Risotto with Rocket and Parmesan Shavings - Cost 19CHF (Approx CAD$22.95)

Raspberry Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream. Cost - 9.00CHF (Approx CAD$10.85)

Caramel Custard - Cost 8.50CHF (Approx CAD$10.25)

Spinach Quiche with Cottage Cheese and Leaf Salad. Cost - $22.50CHF (Approx CAD$27.50)

Sliced Veal “Zurich Style” with Crispy Rosti. Cost - $38.50CHF (Approx CAD$46.45)

Movenpick’s Pistachio Ice Cream. Cost - 5.00CHF (Approx CAD$6.05)

I found that the desserts in Zurich were not priced outrageously and very close to what we would find here in Toronto. Actually, for the taste and presentation of the desserts I was surprised they didn’t charge more. The main courses were a different story though and the prices were jacked up higher than what we would normally expect here.

The sliced veal “Zurich Style” with Crispy Rosti was probably one of the most expensive dishes I ever had especially since it wasn’t lobster, steak or a filet mignon. I couldn’t help but try it though because it had the name “Zurich Style” and my curiosity as a tourist got the best of me to see what zurich style even meant. Essentially it means that the strips of veal are browned and then tossed in a creamy mushroom sauce where the dish is almost always paired off with a bed of golden and crispy rosti (potato pancake). Having the description “Zurich Style” allowed them to charge a premium on it, but it’s not to say that I regret getting it because it was in fact very delicious, it’s just one thing I don’t need to try again for my wallet’s sake. However, I can now say that I can cross that off of my foodie bucket list!

Although I thoroughly enjoyed every single dish I had here, my top two favourites would have to be the Deep Fried Filets of Perch with Salad and Tartar Sauce and Carrot and Orange Risotto with Rocket and Parmesan Shavings. That risotto was the best risotto I ever had in my life! Period. Both dishes also easily make it into my top 5 overall dishes I tasted throughout my two week adventure abroad.

I had a fantastic time in Zurich and have nothing but good things to say about this world class city. The scenery, the weather, the people, the transportation system, and of course the food were all incredible. I can’t wait to come back Zurich. Let no one doubt you ever again!

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PARIS, FRANCE

It’s been a while since I really wrote anything substantial on here, mostly due to the fact that I’ve been pretty busy since coming back from my Eurotrip a month ago so I’m glad I can find some time in the early wee hours of the morning to start writing this. A lot of exciting things are starting to happen because of this blog that I would have never expected 7 months ago, so I can’t wait to share that with you all a little bit later!

But now back to business! Going to Europe has always been a life long dream of mine and it finally happened a month ago when I went backpacking across six cities and 3 countries in Europe for a span of two weeks. My first stop was Paris, France and as you could imagine I could not wait to experience the Parisian lifestyle that was waiting for me in terms of their food.

As I only had 2 weeks to cover 6 different cities, time was not on my side and unfortunately I was only able to fit 3 days in Paris. Everyday was extremely exhausting from all the walking and sight seeing so whenever me and my friend had a chance to sit down and eat some food it was always received with a hungry stomach.

I lived in an apartment that I rented out on airbnb (best decision ever!) that was about 25 minutes away from the city centre and right below my apartment was a small bakery that I would visit every morning to buy some fresh pastries. People always say that the Parisians do it right when it comes to their croissants, breads, and various other baked goods and I couldn’t agree more. From the crisp, flaky textures, to the fresh fruits and fillings, I did not eat one pastry I did not like. Most of the pastries cost around 1.25 to 2.00 Euros so it’s certainly one of the most affordable ways to eat in this city considering how expensive everything else is here.

I managed to also visit a few staples in Paris when it comes to patisseries (Eric Kayser) and macarons (Pierre Herme).

One thing that I was not used to when eating out in Paris (and Europe in general) is that they do not serve tap water like second nature as it is here in North America. Be prepared to spend around 2 to 3 Euros for a bottle of water to share with your table and for someone like me who can drink around 3 glasses of water alone during dinner, drinking water in Paris does not come cheap. Although in their defense most Parisians will order a glass of wine instead that costs only a little bit more.

I remember asking a waitress for water in Zurich, Switzerland and she replied with “still or natural?” I paused and replied back with “tap.” She looked shocked and almost dumbfounded when she heard that as if I said something atrocious. After that I realized that it was not the norm in Europe to order tap water and sucked it up later on and got bottled water instead. Don’t get me wrong though, if you ask for tap water you will probably still get it (for free) but you will most likely get a side of stink eye with it.

Also, from my experience in eating out in Paris (and again in Europe in general), tip is included in your bill. Unlike here in Canada where you pay around a 15% tip on top of your bill, the amount written on your receipt in Europe is the exact amount you need to shell out. Of course if you find the food or service to be exceptional you can always give an extra Euro or two. Me and my friend didn’t know this at first so we would tip like Canadians in Paris. We would always wonder why the body language of the waiter collecting the money would go from a grin to a gigantic smile, and now we know why. They are not used to getting an extra 10 to 15%! Luckily we realized this pretty early on in our trip and only tipped a couple of Euros max if we did.

The stand out dishes for me pictured above was the chicken with foie gras with mashed potatoes (pictured 2nd), savoury crepe with a sunny side up egg (pictured 4th), escargot (pictured 7th), honey & caramel glazed ribs (pictured 9th), and the duck skewer with a baked potato (pictured 10th).

The worst dish I had above was the “steak” (pictured 6th). I should have also known better as I was warned that the restaurants close to the Eiffel Tower was not the best, but because my friend and I were so exhausted that night we settled for a restaurant about 5 minutes away from it. Bad decision as it was one of the worst meals of the entire trip. The restaurant was called Le Champ de Mars. Please avoid.

I came into Paris with exceptionally high expectations and the lesson I learned is don’t. I had an idea that everything I would eat in Paris would be nothing short of amazing because no one ever says the food in Paris is bad, but realistically you will have some fantastic tasting dishes and you are also bound to have some mediocre and bad ones as well. You may even have a thought in your head thinking I’ve had better in Canada. To make the best out of your foodie experience in Paris, I would recommend to plan ahead and research the restaurants ahead of time. If you’re in a time constraint like I was, I know that is not always possible so just be realistic that no city is immune to a lackluster steak or an inedible pasta (even if it’s in the motherland of Italy which I will post about later). City of Lights - I will be back!

THE TWISTED APRON (WINDSOR, ONTARIO)

It’s fitting to have my first travel edition restaurant review in the city of Windsor, a city I visit at least a couple of times every year. Windsor may not have a grand selection of restaurants such as here in Toronto but over the past few years I’ve certainly witnessed a fair share of new restaurant openings worthy of operating in any metropolitan city around the world. If you ever wondered where highway 401 ends, Windsor is it. It’s just under a 4 hour drive east of Toronto and is situated right across from Detroit, Michigan.

I’ve been to The Twisted Apron a few times before, but never for their dinner service. Every time I’ve been to Twisted Apron it was for breakfast and I’ve always enjoyed it very much. Located down Wyandotte Street East, this is the area in Windsor where it seems the foodie revolution is flourishing and new trendy restaurants are opening up one by one.

Twisted Apron lives by its motto “Home Cooking with a Twist.” They are your neighbourhood kitchen table inside a small quaint restaurant that serves up comfort food reminiscent of your mom’s home cooking. Often times from previous experience this restaurant can be pretty packed. They also don’t accept reservations but when we arrived at around 6:30PM we were lucky to get seated right away on a weekend.

First up were the Eggplant Sliders as our appetizer. I’m not a big eggplant fan myself but the name of the dish caught my attention as it’s not something you commonly see on a menu. Between the onion buns is fried eggplant, basil pesto, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. To be honest I could not taste the eggplant in this dish after it was fried (which could be a good or bad thing depending if you like eggplant), but even so I thought the actual “meat” of the slider tasted very good. My one gripe with this dish were the buns. Personally I prefer the buns toasted and the buns here were not (or at least not enough). The warmth of the fried eggplant combined with the cold onion buns left my taste buds confused with the sensation of a hot middle and a cold exterior. However this was just a small hiccup for me as overall the sliders were still very good.

Fried Eggplant, Basil Pesto, Mozzarella, Tomato Sauce, Onion Buns - Cost $9.00

Then comes my favourite dish of the night. The Pork Schnitzel acted as my main. A “schnitzel” refers to any boneless meat that has been thinned, coated with flour, eggs, bread crumbs, and then fried. It’s a very popular dish in Germany. Fried Ontario breaded pork was the meat part of this schnitzel and I found that the dish was constructed in a very interesting way. Smoked cheddar mashed potatoes and asparagus is layered in between the three pork schnitzels and an apple chutney tops it all off. It’s a classic spin on meat and potatoes. The pork was not dry at all even after it was fried and the mashed potatoes was creamy and delicious with a hint of a cheddar flavour infused into it. I was very pleased that they were generous enough to give three fairly large pieces of pork schnitzel for the price of this dish. I was only expecting one!

Fried Ontario Breaded Pork, Smoked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus, Apple Chutney - Cost $17

I was debating if I should order dessert, but the fat kid inside me always seems to win so a Rhubarb Meringue Pie was in front of my face not long after the pork schnitzel was happily consumed. This was my first time having rhubarb as well in any form so I was curious to see what it would taste like. Rhubarb is a species of plant and in the culinary world the leaf stalk of the rhubarb is what is used in many recipes as it has a tarty flavour to it. When the waitress brought out the pie, she immediately apologized for butchering it as she admitted that it was difficult cutting it. She did not lie. As you can see in the picture below the slice of pie does look rather sloppy and unappetizing. As I kept eating this rhubarb meringue pie all I could think of was that it tasted very much like an apple pie. The flavour and texture of the rhubarb had a striking resemblance to it and because of that I was yearning for a scoop of ice cream to go along with it. There was another dessert option of a Salted Caramel Pudding offered here. Next time I would probably have to go with that.

Rhubarb, Meringue - Cost $5.50

I’ve been searching for a restaurant in Toronto that is like Twisted Apron for many years now after my first experience eating here. It is not an easy task to find a place that not only serves an impeccable well thought out breakfast menu but for lunch and dinner as well. Although not everything I had for dinner was a home run, most of my grievances were very minimal and other positive factors such as the service, decor, and ambiance of the place quickly puts out the flames I may have had in regards to any dissatisfaction. This is definitely a go to place when I’m in Windsor and if you ever wind up here in the southernmost city of Canada, I would recommend you give this place a try.

The Twisted Apron

1833 Wyandotte Street East, Windsor, ON, N8Y 1E5

(519) 256 2655

Hours:

Monday to Saturday: 9am to 9pm; Sunday: 9am to 3pm

The Everyday Foodie Report Card

Atmosphere: 10/10

Service: 8.5/10

Food: 8/10

Presentation: 7/10

Value: 9/10

Overall: 85% Everyday Foodie Satisfaction