Cheap Eat of the Week: a creamy tres leches cake from Playa Cabana
It’s been over a year since Playa Cabana graced Toronto’s quasi-Yorkville-meets-Annex area of the city (pre Grand Electric and La Carnita, mind you) but it wasn’t until (gulp) a few weeks ago that I finally made the five-minute walking journey to chef Dave Sidhu’s urban plant of a Mexican beach cabana.
Here, street or beach-side Mexican fare is elevated and treated with real respect and care, using ingredients like Grandview Farms’ organic, grass-fed beef, homemade Mexican chorizo or guacamole made to order in a lava rock molcajete. It’s hard not to want to order it all. But save room, regardless of how tempted you are to order another shrimp bucket (yes, a bucket of shrimp – tossed in spicy arbol-garlic butter). At $7, the tres leches cake at Playa Cabana, like many things in life, tastes better than it looks and is best shared with a friend.
A Latin American version of tiramisu of rum cake, the traditional tres leches cake is a sponge or angel cake that’s soaked in whole milk (or heavy cream, if you’re lucky!), evaporated milk and – this is the clincher because nothing can go wrong with you’ve got – condensed milk. The
lightness and airiness of the fluffy cake is perfect for soaking up the sweet milky concoction but magically, doesn’t leave a heavy soupy base at the bottom of your plate but absorbs just enough of the creaminess. A good cake that’s baked just right will also subtly boast a golden brown
edge that, in a tres leches cake, will give that touch of crumbly texture. Finished off with a dollop of crème fraiche, Playa Cabana’s tres leches cake will leave you purring, although that could be from the one-too-many margaritas or the sight a certain Gyllenhaal two tables down.
Playa Cabana, 111 Dupont St., 416-929-391.
Gizelle Lau is a food and travel writer/photographer in Toronto who lives from one meal to the next. Her column, Cheap Eat of the Week, highlights dishes that costs $10 or less. Follow her on Twitter for your daily dose of food from in/around the city.