Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pita Delites - Shawarma

Ok, I promise, this will be my last shawarma post for a while..... Maybe.

After a quick shopping trip in the area, I stopped in at Pita Delites (102 Harwood Ave.) in Ajax. They offer both chicken and beef shawarma for $5.99 each, I tried a chicken and a beef. Frugal meter alert!

To each shawarma I added garlic sauce, which was very mild, their green pepper hot sauce (which didn't add too much heat) and tahini. They offer a wide variety of vegetables, more than any other place I've visited. I added lettuce, tomato, pickle, pickled turnip and onion.

I must say, the quality of the chicken shawarma was apparent. I think this is the first shawarma joint I've reviewed that offers breast meat in their shawarmas. I believe they use a mix of white and dark meat. The meat was very mildly spiced, if at all. I could really taste the spit roasting on the chicken rather than much spice. The only issue I have with using white meat is that it's got a small window of use before it dries out. A couple of the breast meat chunks in my shawarma were a little dry.


The beef was definitely spiced, I could pick out allspice (maybe cloves and cinnamon) off the bat. It had that familiar rich, beefy flavour I've experienced at Shawarma Empire and Cyrus. It really had a great taste, my only issue with the beef was the greasiness of the meat. Some places use caul fat to help maintain moisture in their beef shawarmas, I've seen it prepared this way at Ibrahim. Whatever Pita Delites does, it's overkill. Fat had oozed out of the shawarma and became trapped between the pita and the wrapper, which was a turnoff.


At over $13 after taxes, these were the most expensive shawarmas I've ever tried. They were generously filled with meat but you can get four similar-sized shawarmas from different places on the Lawrence strip in Scarborough for a buck or two more. Pita Delites does serve a very solid product, I liked the white meat in the chicken offering, their beef was too greasy. If I had a choice in Durham I'd still go to Cyrus, it would be a tough call though. The overall price, and the greasiness of the beef at Pita Delites would be the main factors in my decision.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Port Union Bakery

A tiny little shop tucked into a strip mall at Port Union Rd and Lawson Rd, the Port Union Bakery (287 Port Union Rd.) has been around for as long as I can remember. They offer a small assortment of breads, pastries and doughnuts. It's run by a lovely Filipino woman who is there every time I go in.

In my opinion, their best items are their filled doughnuts and their Filipino style empanadas. When I go I usually pick up a dozen empanadas (chicken or pork) and 6 jelly filled doughnuts (my favourite is their Boston Cream).

I think we've all experienced the 'empty doughnut' phenomenon. You go to a doughnut shop (usually a bigger chain) see a Boston cream or a jelly-filled doughnut that looks too good to pass up. You bite into it expecting to be doused with oozy jelly or cream and all you find is dry doughnut. You try again and end up with the same result. It isn't until the last couple of bites you find that tiny pocket of jelly or cream and you consider the waste of calories you just endured.....

You won't find this at Port Union Bakery. They actually slice their filled doughnuts in half and spread on the filling before reassembly so each bite has an equal amount of filling. This is exactly what you'd expect when ordering a filled doughnut. I love the Boston cream because it's a tender, yet slightly chewy doughnut filled with a pudding-like vanilla cream and then topped with a thick layer of chocolate frosting. The best Boston cream I've tried.


Their empanadas are Filipino style which differ from Central or South American style in that they are sweeter, containing ground chicken or pork, raisins, green peas, carrot, onion, and potato. They are seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper. South American versions I've seen are less sweet and more savory containing olives and egg, even beans and cheese and cilantro with the meats and vegetables.

The balance of sweetness and salt works well for me and the baked crust (while a little tough) still maintains a flaky texture.

I've loved these empanadas for years, and have been disppointed on a few occasions when I went in later in the day and they were already sold out. I picked these pork empanadas up at 12 noon and they had aready sold out of chicken empanadas for the day. I am torn as to which I like better, I usually lean to the pork version anyway...


The dozen empanadas and the six Boston cream doughnuts I picked up were $11.25, a steal.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Lamanna's Bakery

A long time favourite of mine, I stopped in at Lamanna's Bakery which is located at 6758 Kingston Rd. (at Port Union Rd.) in Scarborough. They offer items from a hot table (a solid veal sandwich, lasanga slices, rice balls etc.). Deli sandwiches made from italian cold cuts, coffees and have a beautiful cake and dessert selection on display. No word of a lie, I have to restrain myself from licking the display case window whenever I go in (you have to see it to understand). It's always packed, no matter what time I go in.


Today I picked up an assortment of pastries, including my all time favourite, the Lobster Tail (Sfogliatelle).

What is a Lobster Tail? I could describe it, but, the Cake Boss tells it best. It is time consuming to make but is an awesome treat. Lamanna's is absolutely stuffed with a wonderful creamy, custardy filling which contrasts the crunchy pastry. I always end up wearing most of the powdered sugar. They are a steal for $2.79 each (especially considering the cost of the rather-easy-to-assemble boutique cupcake these days).


We also picked up Strawberry Tarts, Cannoli, a slice of Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Mousse, a Mini Tiramisu, a Mini Chocoloate Mousse Cake, a Mini Strawberry Cheesecake, and a couple of small, chocolate/hazelnut filled lobstertails.

I thoroughly enjoyed everything we purchased, the small pastries varied in price from $1.79 to $2.00. Our complete box was just over $20. Not too bad!

The young lady who served us could have packaged things better, most ended up mashed together in the box which was unfortunate.