Tag Archives: Toronto

#MMMata: Mata Bar Tasting

1690 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON

1690 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON

Recently, I had the chance to visit Mata, a new Brazilian themed restaurant in the Queen St. West area of Toronto.  If you are looking for a new and affordable place to enjoy some delicious food, this is the place for you.  The chef put together a sampling of five courses for us, that were creative and delicious.  I wasn’t sure that I was going to like all of them, but I was willing to give it a shot (as were the people I was dining with)!

We started with one of my favourites, Cheese Bread which was served with a Lobster Pastel.  This got the evening started on the right foot for me.  Then again when doesn’t warm bread and lobster start things off properly? The lobster was creamy and light and the pastel was not oily. I learned that pastels are very common on Brazilian menus and this one was a great introduction.

Cheese Bread & Lobster Pastel

I was looking forward to the second course, which didn’t disappoint.  Corvina Ceviche with Maple Candied Sweet Potato, Celery & Lime Marinate & Fresh Cilantro.  I liked the taste of the dish and particularly liked the flavour that the sweet potato added.  It was a nice creative touch for the dish.

Corvina Ceviche with Maple Candied Sweet Potato, Celery & Lime Marinate & Fresh Cilantro

The next course was one that I wasn’t sure about, Smoked Crispy Chicken Hearts with Cauliflower Puree and Ancho Chili Oil.  To be honest, the preparation of the hearts and presentation had me won over when they arrived.  They turned out to be a bit more “springy” than I anticipated but were a tasty item to expand my taste buds a bit.

Crispy Chicken Hearts with Cauliflower Puree & Ancho Chili Oil

The third course of Picanha Sliders with Cachaca Carmelized Onions, House Made Catupiry Cheese & Malagueta Pepper Aioli.  These were delicious and disappeared quickly.  Being curious, I looked up what Picanha was and it turns out that it is one of the most popular cuts of meat in Brazil.  In North America, Picanha would be similar to the Top Sirloin Cap.  No matter what you call it the meat is tasty and the combination with the cheese and aioli is a winner and the buns they use are awesome (which is the key to any good slider, in my opinion).  I recommend these for your first visit to Mata!

Picanha Sliders with Cachaca Caramelized Onions, Housemade Catupiry Cheese & Malagueta Pepper Aioli

The follow-up to the sliders was Grilled Octopus with Heart of Palm Puree, Raspberry & Balsamic Reduction & Taro Root Crisps.  I have never tried grilled octopus and it’s amazing.  The taste combination on this plate won me over and I would definitely order this item on a return visit.  This was my personal surprise winner of the evening.

Grilled Octopus with Heart of Palm puree, Raspberry & Balsamic Reduction & Taro Root Crisps

The final course was one I was looking forward to as well – Beef Cheek Poutine with Cassava Frites, Fresh Curds & Scallions.  I have always heard that cheek was the “best” part of a number of animals and it certainly made this dish. A fan of poutine in all of its forms, this dish combined the Cassava frites very nicely with the rich gravy and cheese curds.  A great way to close out our sampling of a very creative menu that showed off the experience and talent that the team at Mata has brought with them.
Beef Cheek Poutine with Cassava Frites, Fresh Curds & Scallion
The evening was closed out with Avocado Creme Brulee, which I thought was a very creative and tasty turn on the traditional.  If you love avocados and have saved room for dessert, this is the sweet treat for you.

Avocado Creme Brulee

Our meal was accompanied by two very delicious cocktails (I love cocktails) and I would gladly order both of them again.  We were treated to a Classic Lime Caipirinha and my personal favourite, the Pisco Sour (Pisco, Egg White, Lime, Simple Syrup, Lemon Grass).

Classic Lime Caipirinha

Classic Lime Caipirinha

Pisco Sour

Pisco Sour

Mata is fueled by the creativity and enthusiasm of Felipe Faccioli, Tulio Lessa, Steve Fernandes and Sharath Dwarkanathan.  This team has a wealth of experience in Toronto that includes, Salt Wine Bar, Fishbar, Chiado and Nota Bene.  All of that experience and their hard work is visible from the passion that meets you at the front door of this restaurant.  Next time you are in Parkdale, stop in and give their menu a try.

Mata is located at 1690 Queen Street West and is open at 5p.m. Tuesday – Sunday.



Couch to 5K – It’s Official – Help me, help the Canadian Cancer Society

This effort is now, official!!  I have registered for the GoodLife Fitness Toronto Marathon 5K.  I might be crazy, but I am going to run this race and finish it.  Simple as that.

I was pleased to find out that the race organizers have partnered with a number of charities to allow participants to raise money for the charity of their choice.  During my training with the #C25K program, we found out that my Mom has cancer.  That kept me motivated to keep training and in some ways it has helped me stay committed to the program.  It has also helped as a stress outlet for me, I am sure.

I want to tell you a little about my Mom.  She is a retired teacher and is a friend to many people.  I can’t even begin to mention them all here.  Her life has been filled with stories of helping others, caring for others and showing kindness to others.  She has been cheering me on even when she hasn’t felt well.  She has been finding the courage to face news that no one should ever have to face, especially my Mom.  This won’t change that news or the fight she is facing, but it will hopefully make a difference for others in years to come.

My hope is I can turn my hard work and dedication into a positive.  I am going to reach my goal of finishing this 5K on May 6.  It would mean the world to me if you would consider helping me, help the Canadian Cancer Society reach their goal of finding a cure for cancer.  If you would like to help me, you can donate via their secure site here.

I sincerely appreciate the support everyone reading this blog has given me and I will continue to draw on your support as May 6 gets closer.  There is no turning back now and the only option is to run the race.  I can’t thank you enough for believing in my abilities and cheering me on to reach that goal.  I can’t wait to blog about the race!!

Couch to 5K – Week #6

Another week in the books!!  This week was a little tough but once again, I am amazed at how this program builds your ability and if you challenge yourself you can push the limits of what you thought was possible.  During week #1 of the program, I can remember waiting for the timer on the treadmill to hit 60 seconds so I could take a walking break.  That same 60 seconds falls away easily now!!

This week was a strange week for the breakdown of workouts.  After finishing week #5 with a 20 minute jog, the first two days of week #6 went back to intervals.  This was fine with me since I mentally didn’t believe that I could make the longer jogging intervals, successfully!!  I worked through Day #1, which had two 5 minute intervals and an 8 minute interval and Day #2, which was two 10 minute jogging intervals.  Each time I was happy when the jogging ended and was sure that was the limit of my ability.

That was not the case!! Day #3 was a 22 minute jogging interval, with no walking (beyond a warm up and cool down).  I wanted to throw my arms in the air and celebrate when I saw the treadmill hit the end of the 22nd minute and the voice on the app said, “Begin your cooldown, now”!!  I didn’t but I did feel like it!! 😉

I still don’t have the speed that the app suggests.  Their goal is to complete 2.25 miles in 22 minutes.  I managed to complete almost 1.5 miles in that time.  I have looked at the workouts for the coming weeks and there are no more walking intervals in the workouts; They are all straight 20+ minute runs until week #9, Day #1 – which is when I will have officially completed the program!! 😉

I can’t decide if I should stick with the time suggested for each workout at the moment and start running to achieve the distance goals once I get to week #9.  The other option is to use week #7 & #8 to run to the suggested distances and not worry about timing.  I think that I am going to stick to the times suggested until I have the program complete.  It just makes life easier with respect to the app and how it works.  Once that is done, then I can build on the distance I finish with at 30 minutes of jogging.

Has anyone else used this app??  What did you do as you got to the end of the program??  Did you run for distance or time until you finished the program??  As always, I welcome your thoughts and I appreciate all the messages of support I have received.  It has kept me motivated and moving towards completing this program!! 🙂

Couch to 5K – Week #5

Another week of progress!! All three runs this week went well and every time I finished a run, I was shocked at what I had accomplished!! If you had told me when I started this program or even last week, that after just over a month of training, I would actually jog for 20 minutes, continually, I would have called you crazy. Well, it happened!!

I am constantly impressed by how well the Couch to 5K app builds you up to the next day and the next stage. This week was a step-by-step build up to the 20 minute jog. I was surprised when I got to this week, because it was the first time that each day was not the same. Each day in week #5 had a different run/jog combination.

Day # 1 was alternating intervals of 5 minutes of jogging and 3 minutes of walking. That went well and built right off of the runs that I did last week. Day #2 was another new adventure, two 8 minute jogging intervals separated by a 5 minute walk. That led straight to Day #3, which as a full 20 minute jog.

I am still sitting here amazed that I did it!! It was tough and around 10 minutes, I thought I was going to have to take a walking break. I decided to challenge myself and push on to at least 15 minutes of jogging. Once I made that I decided I would push myself until I felt too tired to continue and would take a 1-2 minute walking break at the point. Then a strange thing happened…I started to feel stronger. I even managed to pick up some speed in the last-minute of my jog!!

My distance is not as long as the app suggests, but the timing of the intervals has gone successfully.  I still only get to around 2 miles for my total workout (including a warm-up and cooldown). I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to focus on, “going slower, to get faster”, and so far that has worked. Going slower has helped with the shin splints and getting through each interval with success.  I am not going to change that now. Once I get to 3 miles, I will work on increasing my speed. My goal at this point is complete the race, not reach a personal best time, the first time out.  Then again, that will be my personal best, I guess, since it will be my first race!!  Better speeds and times will come as I get more miles under my belt, I know!!

I think there are two more weeks to finish the program that the C25K app sets out and then I will hopefully be running a full 5K, at that point.  I encourage you to keep me updated with your thoughts, comments or questions, if you would like.  They are most welcome and do wonders to keep me motivated!!  I will update you in a week when, week #6 is, “in the books”!!

Couch to 5K – Week #2 – Shin Splints!! Help needed!!

Week #2 is in the book and I have to admit; This week was tough. During the first week, the workouts seemed to get easier as the days progressed. This week, the running felt better each day, it just seemed tougher to run the distances that were needed (only 90 seconds of jogging at a time), due to an problem I knew was there but hoped to avoid.

That problem was pain in my shins and calf muscles. I alluded to this in my Week #1 post. I have long suffered from shin splints and that is what has kept me from pursuing serious running or jogging for fitness. I used to hate the pain when I was in grade school running track and that has stuck with me. I had no idea what it was then but I have learned a lot about it over the years since then. I guess I can thank the internet for the help with the research!!

I have tried some stretches I got from YouTube and they have helped. The shoes that I am wearing are rather new and I have orthotics in them to help. I am at a loss for what to try next. I am determined to get through this, since I can’t be the first person to encounter this issue when running.

My concern is that as the running intervals increase that the pain will increase too. I am looking for suggestions and solutions to help. I am going to put this out into the “Twitterverse” and “Facebookisphere” and see if any others have solutions that might help. I know there are lots of runners out there!!

This week, I also plan to stop at a local Running Room location. I am sure that they have met many people like me, that have embarked on a running program and have ended up with the same issue. I am hoping that they will be able to make a few suggestions that don’t involve super expensive shoes to overcome the battle. For now, I am going to manage my speed (since that seems to help) and run through the pain.

Sorry, this blog sounds like a rant. I guess all I can say is that it is the honest truth of where I am at in the process of getting to 5K. That’s what I promised when I started blogging about this effort!! I know that Week #3 has a 3 minute jogging interval and sitting here before I have tried it, it has me worried. That’s honesty talking.

I know I am going to run this 5K in May (and maybe others if I have fun – I like the challenge). The encouragement has been amazing. My friend Jay P has promised to join me as I finish the run in May!! He is shooting for a personal best that day but is convinced that somehow he will find me to join me!! I am just looking forward to the cold beer after the race!!