Monday, 15 January 2018
Friday, 12 January 2018
Thursday, 11 January 2018
Wednesday, 10 January 2018
I've been going to Duff's for a very long time. I've been to the first one in Toronto on Bayview, the College St location, I've even been to the original in Amherst NY. I've posted about them more than any other spot. I posted about them in 2006, in 2007, and again in 2007, then 2008, then 2011 and even had my 10 year anniversary there in 2015. I even have posts I never posted. This doesn't include any news articles or reviews from others.
I've loved Duff's from the first time I went there. Large, crispy wings that had an awesome sauce that you could get really hot. Factor in a great wing night and traditional good service, its the reason I went back again and again. So when I moved away from Toronto, this was definitely on my list of places I missed most. Having a brief stay in the city meant I got to go back and fufilll some missed Super Hot Wings at the College location.
I'm going to be upfront, this was probably my worst visit to Duff's. It was a weekday afternoon, and the place was pretty quiet. I can't tell you the number of times I've been and there was a line up out the door. My server was not friendly. She wasn't rude, she was ok at the job, but just not friendly.
I ordered a pound of wings, Super Hot, with the sauce on the side. You may notice in the picture above that the wings came with sauce. My waitress just dropped them off before I could say anything. I mean I wasn't going to send them back or anything, but that was a little bumming.
Before the wings came out, I did get my veggies and dill dip. The celery was very limp and not enjoyable at all. The carrot was crisp and the dill dip was on point.
So my wing came out and the first thing I noticed was that the wings were not as big as they used to be. They are still bigger than a lot of places, but they were smaller.
Next, the meat was slightly overcooked. The skin was also not crispy - I ordered sauce on the side because these wings are usually swimming in sauce and they loose crispness quick. But while the wings were wet, there was not an abundance of sauce, and what sauce there was had made the skin less than crispy.
Now the wings were not bad. They were still very good overall, but the perfection that I had come to expect from Duff's was not there.
My waitress never came to check in on me and my wings and I had to wait a while to flag her down for the bill. I'm hoping this was just a day where things were off, but it sucks that my once a year fix was not up to the expectations I had. Maybe I just had it built up in my mind.
What is going on?
I was getting on track, and then BOOM, life happens.
The end of 2017 came much faster than expected. I was working hard on getting as many late 2017 official reviews done. Those reviews are the most important thing for me on the blog - it's what made the blog. It's what I use to remember what wings were like.
Then I got sick. Lost my voice, was fairly ill and going on the computer was one of the last things I wanted to do. No problem, use my cell phone right? Well that went on the fritz too, and I scrambled to back up and replace my first cell. Then it was travel back to the GTA and then off to Cuba for a week (with no internet access) which to be honest, was a great social media break.
I came home to my father-in-law's place, where we prepared and hosted several memorial events for my mother-in-law who passed away 2 years ago. Had a visit with my Grandma, and took some kids to Chuck-E-Cheese & Star Wars. I thought there would be some downtime, but I had none.
Then I thought, I'll have time once we get back to Ottawa. Well, another round of being sick and being busy kept me from even setting up my computer for days.
So 2018 has been off to a crazy start but I'm excited for 2018 to be the Phoenix year of my blog. I have a lot planned, not sure when it's getting out, but here's what to look forward to soon:
- finishing 2017 wing reviews
- posting my 2016 Year in Review that never got published!
- posting my 2017 Year in Review (this replaces the old 'Blogiversary' that I used to do, but wasn't an actual anniversary).
- My first wings of 2018
- My first homemade wings of 2018
- Getting back to my scheduled programming (@lotw_wingking)
- Eating more wings.
How was your holidays?
Back in November I had a whirlwind return tour of Toronto. It was a busy trip but I was able to meet up with a few folks, reunite with some old wing favorites, and try some new ones.
It was a Friday night and I was meeting with my friends Kathy & Desiree. We had to meet near the waterfront, so Desiree suggested we go to Goodman's. Goodman's is a part of a conglomerate of Fab Restaurants and bars ( I've reviewed Pogue Mahone's before, and The Foggy Dew & Murphy's Law were places I have in my review queue from my inactive blogging years).
I'm going to warn you now, this was a half assed review. I was so busy catching up and listening and telling stories that I took poor photos, not enough (I didn't even get my companions in a shot!) and just didn't follow up as I should have.
This was a huge place, with lots of rooms with different styles. I liked the decore, but it was way too loud inside. Especially since the place was empty. For a Friday night it was pretty dead - in the room we were in it was just us and two other tables.
When picking places, Desiree took into account my love of wings, and I was ready to live up to my reputation and go with the wings.
My platter came and I was pretty psyched for the delicious looking wings.
I was happy to see some carrot sticks and dip on the side - so many places don't do this anymore, its a shame. That dip, a Dill Ranch was homemade and very good. Creamy, but also a little oily - it was very dilly and just the right amount of ranch flavour.
The menu doesn't indicate any kind of numeric value for how many come in an order. They just say "Classic Wings" and "$15." Usually a place says 10 wings, or 1 lb. Not Goodman's. My order came with 7 wings. Certainly not a deal at $15.
These were very large wings - they were long wings and very meaty. I would say that these 7 were more than a pound based on the size and weight. The menu describes them as 'dusted', but that must be a heavy dusting, because I would describe these as breaded. The meat was super tender, and I could easily pull the bones apart. The wings were also very wet, which was great for sauce, but the skin was super soggy. You win some you lose some I guess.
Buffalo was a pretty classic Buffalo - very buttery with some cayenne pepper hot sauce. It wasn't spicy, but it was rich.
This was an interesting sauce - the dominant flavour was sesame oil. It also has some sweetness (honey?), but also salty soy. This would be a good side dipping sauce, but I can't imagine having a whole order of wings with this sauce.
Goodman's Pub & Kitchen has some pretty good wings. Big, meaty, saucy and the Buffalo is very buttery - not hot - but buttery. The downsides were the wings were soggy and they were pricey. I wouldn't bother with the Korean BBQ. And that dill ranch was aces. The atmosphere was pretty cool, but the best part was hanging with friends. 7.5/13
The Goodman Pub & Kitchen
207 Queen's Quay West, Toronto ON
It was November 2017 (I'm slowly catching up on my review logs as I go back in time with my wings) and my wife was at a work function. I took it upon myself to sample some wings on a wing night at a place I've been curious to try for years: Brixton's Pub.
Brixton's Pub is located on Sparks Street, a former street that for a long time has been a pedestrian pathway, home to many restaurants, festivals and bars. It's steps from Parliament and government, the business district, and lots of tourists.
Walking down the strip I saw their street board advertising their wing specials - Tuesdays are "half price jumbo chicken wings all day only $6.99." Well I was going in for sure now.
This place is just a chill, British style pub. The crowd was dominantly government suits relaxing with beer and wings after work. My server was Courtney who was doing it all on her own: hostess, waitress, bartender. She seems like a vet at this, friendly but efficient. I didn't see her much, but she was handling the entire place by herself.
Courtney told me upfront about it being wing night. I pretended like this was new information and that I hadn't planned this in advance.
I decided to go with an order of Hot, an order of Cajun dusted, and a side of BBQ sauce.
The board out side says the wings are jumbo; they aren't jumbo, but they are a large wing. Not terribly meaty, but they are definitely large.
The hot wings were probably Frank's or some similar cayenne based pepper sauce. They were good, but they got absorbed into the skin. I would have liked them to have been much saucier.
The Cajun wings were great because they were the super crispy wings. The downside was that there was almost no seasoning to these wings. You can see in the photo above that there is a dabbling of spice, but it was really weak. They were salty and again I loved the crunch of the skin on these.
I ordered a side of BBQ just in case the Cajun wings were too dry or in case they had a great BBQ sauce. It was good, but clearly a commercial sauce - simple, sweet, tomato based. Made for a good dip on the side, but I don't think I would go for them on their own.
I enjoyed these wings but I have a bunch of constructive criticism: when I go back next time, I would order the wings Cajun but ask for double seasoning, and a side of hot sauce (to preserve the crispy skin). I would also only go on wing night - at $14 regular price, 7 wings is not much. Yes they are big wings, but wing night makes them worth while. 8/13
210 Sparks Street (& Bank), Ottawa ON
Wednesday, 20 December 2017
I'm all about repurposing leftovers. We had some Popeye's fried chicken one night with lots of leftovers, which are good on their own, but the crispy breaded wings were calling out for sauce. I melted some butter, and added a ton of the Popeye's Louisiana Hot Sauce packets and toss. Instant win.
Monday, 18 December 2017
Sunday, 17 December 2017
Nachos are one of those dishes that are great for re-purposing a previous meal. Leftover steak? Piece of chicken? Veggies? Throw them on some tortilla chips and add some cheese and BOOM - whole new meal.
These nachos are made from leftover ground beef (taco seasoned), with onion & peppers leftover from a salad, and corn that was just on hand. Shredded 2 cheeses, layered up, baked for 15-20 minutes, and topped with sour cream and taco sauce.
Its just that simple.
Friday, 15 December 2017
After visiting my folks, my dad had bought a bottle of Mountain Dew for me. We went to a family party and it was put in our cooler, and we came back home with the 2 liter bottle. I like MD, but I wondered if I could do anything with it wing wise. I remembered 8 years ago my buddy Dude and I made Chinese Coca-Cola Wings, a recipe very popular in China. You fry the wings, add some garlic, ginger, soy sauces and Coke (we did a simpler version) where the cola reduces to a syrup, so I thought, what would wings cooked in Mountain Dew be like?
I tried to do some research to see if anyone else was doing Mountain Dew wings, and I read that Buffalo Wild Wings has their own version, but it was very different. So I stepped into the Lord of the Wings Test Kitchen to make my own.
This is a super easy recipe/experiment. Fry wings, add seasoning, add pop, reduce. I tried to think what flavour would go well with the lemon/lime soda - I didn't think garlic or soy sauce. Some spice would help, but maybe just some flakes. Let's start basic and we could always build.
I started off with my wok/pan on high high heat. I added some canola oil and when it was hot enough, tossed in the wings, which I seasoned with salt and pepper. I had to overcome my urges from just eating them right now. I also thought back to my Coca-Cola wing and my buddy Ricky's suggestion to do the sauce on the side to preserve the crispness. I almost did this but thought I wanted the MD flavour infused through the whole wing.
- I removed the golden fried wings and removed the excess oil. I put the wings back into the hot pan and added some chili flakes. I had to toss them quick so as not to burn the flakes.
- Next I added enough Mountain Dew to cover them in the pot. It's at this point I need to make it clear, you have to use FULL SUGAR MD, not diet. The key to these wings is the sugar, and diet has fake sugar that won't caramelize like sugar will.
- After adding the MD, I put a lid over the wings and walked away with them on high heat. Don't go to far away ...
- After less than 10 minutes I came back to almost all of the pop gone and the gooey sugar sauce.
I won't lie, this does not look appetizing.
I was really surprised when I opened the lid - the colour was a caramel colour! I was totally expecting that neon green colour of the Dew. Instead, that boiled off quick, leaving just the sugar, which carmalizes as cola would. Who would have thunk it?!
I won't lie, I was bummed out that the wings weren't neon green. But that didn't mean they weren't bad looking. I plated the wings and poured what goo was left over them.
I took a bite, expecting a burst of fake-chemical citrus flavour. Again, I was wrong. These tasted just like Cola wings! Clearly the citrus essence boiled off with the colour. Does this mean that I could use any soda and it would all end up tasting the same? Orange? Cherry Coke? Grape?
The flavour was sugary, but not cloyingly so. The chili flakes added a nice bite that went well with the chicken.
The crispy texture of the wings was completely gone. Well maybe not completely; I wouldn't want to NOT fry before this process. So like last time, these wings are not crispy, but they were super tender. enough that the meat just fell off the bone.
What would I do differently next time? I still like the idea of MD wings, but want more of that flavour.
- Maybe marinade the wings in Dew to infuse more flavour?
- Make a sauce that isn't boiling the flavour out, but adding maybe more of a sweet & sour approach?
- Keep the chili flakes. If I wanted to make this more Chinese flavoured, I would add the traditional garlic, ginger and soy sauce.
So I didn't learn all the lessons from the last time, but I did learn more about this process.
So feel free to try this recipe yourself and Do the Dew!