First Things First, I’m A Eat Your Brains!

Yes, I am quoting Nicki Minaj. That’s when you know I’m all excited.

So after three glorious months, I’ve left Toronto. Our first and hopefully not last season of the television show that still doesn’t have a damn title has come to a wrap, and I’ve had to bid my beloved Toronto a heartfelt good-bye. But crazy-lucky for me, just before I left I had the sound mind to give The Black Hoof a try to see what in tarnation all the fuss was about. (Best part of being your own editor? Freely using the word “tarnation” whenever you flippin’ feel like it.)

The Black Hoof has quite the rep among Torontonians as one of the best places, if not THE best, for charcuterie in all of Canada. What’s charcuterie, you ask? Why, cured meats and lovely bits of animal in all their smoky juicy delicious glory, that’s what! So I think it goes without saying that The Black Hoof is most definitely not for vegetarians. Or the faint of heart. It’s a place you go to worship at the alter of every part of the animal, including tongues, livers, hearts, sweetbreads and bellies. But don’t worry, little lambs (they’ve got that too, by the way): it isn’t nearly as scary as it sounds!

One of my best and most adventurous pals by the name of Martin Gero and I decided to slip into the Hoof at the rather unfashionable hour of 6 o’clock on a Saturday night, because since there’s a no reservation policy, there’s almost always a wait (it’s cash only too, so bring some cheddar). But that’s because they don’t really agree with the whole idea of reservations at the Black Hoof, encouraging instead the philosophy of first-come first-serve, which, if you’ve got a fully stocked bar, I don’t have much problem with. Especially if at the end of the wait I get to eat pork. But lo and behold, two seats at the bar opened up just for us right away, and within minutes we were poured a stiff glass of champagne to get the meat party started.

The thing you notice right away at the Black Hoof is the service. Every single person there, from bartender to dishwasher, is proud to work there, and it shows. They know their stuff, and if you’re okay with surrendering all control (I don’t do that for just anyone), then go ahead and let them order for you. They’ll even whip up some fabulous cocktails to pair with your meal or, better yet, they’ll open a bottle of “wild card” wine of their choosing (they promise it’ll be under $65) that’ll send you swooning off your barstool. There’s nothing better than being taken care of when someone knows their stuff. Am I right? Always.

We started off with an in-house made pigs head mortadella. Now listen, darlings: mortadella is kind of like an Italian bologna, and it’s my most favorite little cold cut out there. Try it on a sandwich with a fried egg and a little arugula and mayonnaise, and life’ll never be the same again. But this mortadella was out of this world sweet and tender, served with little bits of pickled shallots to cut the fat and a few dollops of spicy mustard.

Who knew the head of a pig could taste like deliciousness?!

Our next course was roasted bone marrow, served still in the bone and straight out of the oven with some coarse sea salt to sprinkle on top as you see fit. Glorious! On we went with a lovely and refreshing little “salad” of baby heirloom tomatoes and roasted speck ham sitting in a creamy pool of some magical sauce I felt like bathing in and a pungent smear of red pepper vinaigrette.


Next came the most bad-ass dish of the night: the tongue on brioche. Very few things last for long on the Black Hoof menu, but this one they’ve managed to keep, probably for fear of public revolt if they ever took it away. Thinly sliced roasted beef tongue piled on the softest brioche roll imaginable and doused in tarragon mayo, served with a little homemade pickled relish on the side. Now, I know tongue doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thing in the world, but please oh please trust me: this is one of the best sandwiches on planet earth. Seriously. Even a cow would taste this and be like, “Holy shit, guys, we taste awesome!”

Best. Ever.

Our server decided, smartly, that we’d had enough meat and brought us a simple plate of astoundingly good cheeses complete with succulent accoutrements like blueberry jam and more pickled relishes, just in case we weren’t pickled enough (we were– thank you, mystery wine!).


And then we capped it all off with a beautiful little jar of a nutmeg-y creamy custard topped with granola still warm from the oven and diced pear, which was just sweet enough to leave us wanting oh so much more.

How dare they.

Have I convinced you?

Of course I have. Now go eat tongue.


19 Comments Add yours

  1. Richard Harris says:

    My god you are hot.

  2. Foo says:

    As a Torontonian and a person that likes to eat things that are delicious, I’ve heard much about The Black Hoof, but I just can’t bring myself to eat head and tongue.

    Am I a sissy? No, not really. I think I just can’t stomach the idea of possibly waiting in a long line to eat something that might not agree with my gut parts.

    Perhaps one day I will take the plunge.

  3. Did Amy use any of those recipes on Supernatural? Just wondering.

  4. Glad you had fun in our fair city. Hope you get a chance to return. I adore your work and your culinary madness but, alas, having been brought up in a country where tongue is something I have tried, you can count me in the sissypants group. Also, please leave some of this California weather behind. It’s very enjoyable for October.

  5. Shima says:

    I’d try it if somebody else was paying and I was pissed to the gills. Well…maybe not the spicey mustard part. Was in a Chinese grocery today and saw the largest tongue I’ve ever seen…that was one BIG animal. Was wondering what one would do with that….thanks.

  6. Morgan says:

    Damn that left me salivating… then I imagined a cloud, the size of a Stargate, that Martin Gero left behind…. (pick one) 😛

  7. Rob says:

    You should be proud of your writing – I read the whole post even though I’m vegetarian, and don’t drink much. But, between your awesome writing style and words about my long lost hometown it’s a good read nonetheless.

    Now.. Let’s hope your unnamed show is a success so I can watch it next year on netflix!

  8. Dino says:

    .. from Italy… First timers are often (understandably) disgusted at the idea of eating tongue.. first time I raised my first forkful to my mouth I was diffident to say the least… but that’s where it all ended.. it is way too D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S… as for pigs head mortadella, you would never call it that way here in Italy. You ask for mortadella in Italy, you get bologna (and nobody calls it bologna, which is simply the name of the city where, “incidentally”, mortadella “was born”). Pigs head mortadella is called “coppa di testa” in italy (almost literally, it stands for “head chopping”, because the meat from the head is just roughly chopped with a big knife). Here in Rome you can call it simply “coppa”, but in northern italy “coppa” is a cut of seasoned meat, what we call “lonza” or “capicollo” (good pig meat anyway 😀 [not chopped… no, I don’t know why they call it “coppa” :D]). Do I need to say that every single region has its recipe? And that “coppa di testa” not only tastes lightly different from region to region, but actually _looks_ different, going from a color like the one in your photo (Rome coppa) to a lighter or darker brown moving north through Northern Lazio, Umbria and Marche?… This is a strange country, I know…. :D… BTW, this blog is AWESOME, my personal blog of the year!

  9. TJ Currey says:

    Well, I think I would just jump in, if I lived close enough to do so. Life is about experiences!!! Sounds like they’ve done all the right things at that restaurant – I’d be standing in line with a cocktail in my hand! 😉

  10. Erin says:

    I was fortunate enough (I think) to have a mother who sprang tongue on me under the guise of “roast” when I was 13. I think it’s made me appreciate trying different foods ever since. That sandwich (and everything else) looks absolutely incredible! What a lucky little “foodie” you are!

  11. Cécile says:

    Oh God. You should be so happy in France ! (South West especially). I advise you to go and visit Toulouse.

  12. You see, this is why people call me a freak; this ALL sounds wonderful to me.

  13. ninjagon says:

    I have a love affair with all those things (and it all started with beef tongue :D).

  14. Eeel says:

    Not sure I’d be able to take either that food or the company (why didn’t he shave BEFORE going out with you?) but love your blog nonetheless.

  15. Miz says:

    I’m always up for trying new things, and it helps that it all looks positively delicious!

    Of course, I’m from the land of haggis and black pudding, and both are too yummy to be precious about what they actually are! If you ever get the chance, Stornoway black pudding and poached egg = heaven on a plate. Asparagus optional 🙂

  16. DWG says:

    Tongue? I generally avoid tasting food capable of tasting me back.

  17. CobyLyn says:

    Damn girl, you’ve got me saying tarnation now. Maybe I’ll give tongue a 2nd chance, I was served a whole one hidden in some disgusting sauce in Austria back when I was 14. I was NOT amused ;D Just found your blog recently via twitter, yippee!!!

  18. CobyLyn says:

    Oh yeah…. Bone marrow…. yummmmm!!!

  19. Kari says:

    If I ever get the opportunity, I’ll try those foods! They look awesome, you do a great job photographing food!

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