Dinning in during Covid-19 – Paramount Review

Paramount has always been one of my favorite places to go to for Middle Eastern food in Toronto. I fell in love when I first visited in 2013.

Luckily enough, I now live a couple of steps away from one of their locations in North York. Located right on The Shops at Don Mills. It was and still is one of my go-to places for a Friday night dinner.

When the pandemic lockdown started back in March, I would be ordering from Paramount three times a week, at the most, and always by phone. Their website was only there to check the menu depending on your location as well as the prices. Depending on the location, there would be deals that could be discussed once you called to order. Paramount would also be available to order from UberEats or SkipTheDishes. I used this service once, and the app chose the Scarborough location instead of the one close to me. So, after that, I decided to not use the apps anymore. It is always nice to talk to someone on the phone anyways.

Last Friday I decided to order from Paramount and was surprised that there was an “Order Online” option on their website. Even though I was certain that it was not going to work, I clicked in and started putting together my order. When I was finished and clicked on “Place Order,” I got the notice that ordering online was not available at the moment. Well, I tried -I said to myself- shrugging my shoulders. I proceeded then to call the restaurant and place my order just as I always do.

I got my usual order of 6 pieces of Falafel as my starter and decided to try the Chicken Saj Wrap for the first time as Take-Out. I had this dish before while dinning in but never had it before outside of the restaurant. The wrap comes with a side of French fries and a small salad, enough for one person. The Saj bread is crunchy but thick enough to hold the chicken juices. I loved the chicken. The cut pieces of chicken roll perfectly with the wrap while falling apart when you take a bite. Is it bad that it falls apart? Or maybe I just enjoy being a messy eater? We will never know. The chicken is well-seasoned, juicy and toasty on the inside. And while the chicken was the protagonist of the night, the side of fries was insipid, all I could taste was the oil. I ate them, of course, after sprinkling some more salt to them. I can never say no to French fries.

To finalize my meal, I had 3 pieces of Falafel and saved the rest for the next day. I liked the falafels because they were compact, the ball stayed together as I was eating them. They can be dipped comfortably in the garlic or sesame sauce without it falling apart on your sauce. I recommend you try it for yourself.

Overall, aside from the disappointing fries, I like Paramount. Their menu is inclusive of serving one person all the way up to a family of 6. The price ranges depending on the item, but I found that the average price for an entrée for one person is $20.

Rain and Prosecco day

It was the third Sunday of November in Toronto. The day was gloomy and so was my energy. I talked to my mom and dad while laying down on my couch through Facebook Messenger and my brother joined after. So far, typical Sunday for me.

I was thinking about what to have for lunch/dinner and had to go out and get some groceries anyway. I picked up the dark beer I was going to use for my Sauce Espagnole and roamed around the wine aisle. I was in a celebratory mood since it is my birthday month, so I grabbed a bottle of Ruffino Prosecco as well, which I am sipping on as I am typing this. While, of course, being aware of the time since the pork loin is in the oven right now.

I am braising a pork loin with Sauce Espagnole. It is my first time making this recipe. And the truth is that I thought it was going to be harder to make because of the long list of ingredients. It was not. The whole thing took about 90 minutes to make. A bit messy, yes, but worth it. I also sliced my thumb mistakenly while trying to slice the carrots. That part is a bit blurry; I just remember seeing my finger covered in blood. Not a big deal, I cleaned it up with a bit of alcohol, put a band-aid on, and went back to the kitchen.

I baked the pork for 40 minutes along with the Sauce Espagnole and I served it with leftover quinoa and half avocado. I drank the remaining of the beer while Dash and Lily from Netflix was playing in the background. The sauce was rich and the pork a bit on the dry side. And because I was drinking the same beer that I used for making the sauce, it mixed perfectly with the whole meal. I was satisfied. It was comfort food on a rainy day.

I posted this recipe on my highlights called Food@home on my Instagram profile if you would like to see how it happened.


Let’s Talk About Pizza – Oggi Beyond The Meat

I would like to consider myself a pizza connoisseur. I could even say that pizza is my favorite food and I think my friends would agree with that.

I was at Costco on Saturday and started thinking about what I was going to have for lunch. I was done with my shopping, so I started walking down the gigantic aisles of Costco frozen goodies. I knew I wanted pizza, but I was not willing to wait in line for it. I walked by frozen fruits, beverages, ice cream, even the coffee aisle and I could not find frozen pizza. I was about to just give up and go home.

When I found the pizza fridge, my eyes opened wide and the fridge had a shiny aura. I followed the imaginary lights to the fridge and skimmed through all the types of frozen pizza. I was looking for a specific one until I found it. The cauliflower crust, beyond the meat made by Oggi. I have heard and read about it for weeks and I was willing to try it. So, I did not think twice and got it. It is $12 and the box has 2 individual pizzas. I think that is reasonably priced.

I drove home excited while my stomach rumbled. I turned the oven on as soon as I walked into my house and started to unpack. Read the instructions on the pizza box while trying to get the pizza out of the plastic wrapping. My first impression was that it looked like any frozen pizza -the vegetables, the meat, and the cheese as well as the crust. It was colorful- the white from the crust at the bottom and the dark red from the Italian (beyond the meat) sausage. However, these were not regular ingredients. Everything that was put in this pizza is all plant-based.

Anyways, I baked the pizza for about 15 minutes and waited for it to cool down before slicing it. Once I sliced the knife through the crust it went in smoothly, however, the ends of it were too crispy that it crumbled. I took a plate and served myself four slices. I took my first bite and the first thing I tasted was the tomato sauce. It was rich, thick and with a pinch of oregano after taste. The crust was not as crunchy and you could not taste the cauliflower at all, which is a good thing for picky eaters. It tasted almost like a real flour crust which was surprising to me. The beyond the meat pieces of Italian sausage was too chewy. At this point, I realized I probably overcooked it. The vegan cheese camouflaged among the rest of the ingredients and was tasteless. I knew it was there because you could see it, but taste-wise did not make a difference.

Overall, I was surprised at how good it was. I had plant-based pizza before and it was a fiasco, which is probably the reason why I was not expecting much from Oggi. However, even though I overcooked it because I did, this plant-based pizza can trick you into thinking you are having the real thing.