Friday, July 30, 2010

Steamed Pork Dumplings at Ding Tai Fung

Ding Tai Fung is a Shanghai dim sum restaurant at First Markham Place, a busy Chinese plaza located in Markham (3255 Highway 7 East to be exact). My boyfriend and I frequently go there because he literally lives 2 minutes away from the mall - we go there for food as well as movies (they have a Cineplex there). If you're looking for good Asian eats of different variety, First Markham Place is the place to be - they have Vietnamese food, Japanese, Korean, as well as Hong Kong style cafes, and of course your Chinese restaurants, which can be broken down to noodle and congee places, dim sum places, and Cantonese style restaurants. I probably haven't covered everything since these are just from the top of my head, but if that still doesn't entice you enough to take a drive to the suburbs, they also have a cheap food court inside the mall hahaha =D

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jules Bistro

It's always great to be able to have dinner with a good friend after a stressful day of work. It was one of those much needed, catching-up, dinners that Cindy and I had a month or so ago at Jules BistroJules Bistro is again one of Cindy's recommendations, which I have 100% faith in. It's quite a distance from my work but very close to Cindy's...this works out perfectly since I get off work much earlier than her - this gives me a chance to take a nice walk after a long day sitting at my desk.

It is pretty neat how you can see the specials on the chalkboard that is clearly displayed at the front of Jules Bistro. Clever! This is great advertising for people walking by.

Gotta love those prices!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trevor Kitchen and Bar (Summerlicious)

I organized a Tweetup event, with the help of Summer (@summer_luu), during the first week of Summerlicious at Trevor Kitchen and Bar. When the Summerlicious menus first came out online, I was so swamped with work during the day and too tired at night to check out any of the menus or restaurants for this year's event (I usually do so very diligently twice a year during Summerlicious and Winterlicious). Thankfully, Summer had  Trevor in mind so I didn't have to think about anything else and was just responsible for booking the reservation.

At first, we were going to have about 12 people for dinner, but when I called Trevor, they said for any group larger than 8, they require a deposit of $35 per person (basically the cost of one Summerlicious dinner). With that in mind, we scaled down our invite to 7 people since it was ridiculous for anyone to fork out $420 for deposit. Also, it would definitely complicate things if some people decide to cancel last minute. At the end of the day, 6 of us came out for dinner: Sean (@InSeansOpinion), Evelyn (@eviechiu), Jenna (@JennaStothers), Shay (@shalynsays), Summer and I.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cottage Fun

The cottage is great. Cottage > Camping for me. I have never been camping before and I know that I shouldn't write off something that I haven't tried, but I have no interest in camping because I know I cannot deal with no running water and sleeping in a tent - so why torture myself haha? Cottage all the way baby~ 

My first time at the cottage was 3 years ago and I haven't been back since, so when my friend asked me if I was interested in going again during the labour day weekend, I did not hesitate to reply "YES OF COURSE!"

I don't know whether I love the cottage because of this particular cottage I get to stay at every time or whether all cottages are just as great. This huge cottage is in the little town of Coboconk. It is owned by my friend's friend's parents - they rent it out in the summer time to friends and family (and strangers? not sure). This cottage has two floors: the second floor is like a loft, open concept - it partially surrounds the cottage where you can overlook the common area on the first floor. It has three bedrooms, a kitchen, two washrooms with shower, and tons of space. The only thing lacking is A/C, which I am totally fine with. Basically, this cottage is like a huge house situated right by the lake. This time around I even had my own bed room! SWEET =D 

The picture above is the back of the cottage. And the picture below is the view from it - so beautiful and peaceful. 

We arrived Friday night and left Sunday, so basically like a normal weekend. It was super fun! Some of us went on the paddle boat while some of us went on the canoe. Other times we would chill or nap, I sunbathed a bit too =)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Duggan's Brewery

My colleagues took me out to lunch for my birthday awhile back. Before heading out, they asked me where I wanted to go. The first place that popped into my head was the Beer Bistro (I haven't had their frites in ages, cravingggg even right now). Unfortunately, one of my bosses took a client there for lunch the week before and politely asked if I can make another suggestion. What can I say? "No its my birthday and I call the shots"? Um. No. Not really. So I thought for awhile, then remembered seeing a foodie friend's pictures of her dinner at Duggan's Brewery on Facebook before and the food looked quite good. I suggested Duggan's Brewery and off we went. It is literally a two minute walk from my work. 

I don't really drink beer. I find that it fills me up too quickly so I usually pass on it. But this never deters me from going to a pub as long as they have good food and good munchies. My colleagues ordered the first two beer on the list below: German pils and Asian Lager (pictured above).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The World's 50 Best Restaurants for 2010

The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants list for 2010 was revealed back in April 2010. San Pellegrino, which most of you probably know for its mineral water, publishes this list every year since 2002. This year's top pick is a restaurant by the name of Noma in Denmark.

How does this list work exactly? From looking at their website and Wikipedia, here is what I understand:

--> The list is compiled from the votes of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy;
-->The world is divided into regions, with a chairperson in each region appointed for their knowledge of their part of the restaurant world;
-->These chairs each selected a voting panel, who cast a total of 4,030 votes; 
-->There is no list of nominees; each member of the international voting panel votes for their personal choice of five restaurants;
--> They may vote for up to two restaurants in their own region, the remaining votes must be cast outside their home region;
--> Nobody is allowed to vote for their own restaurant and voters must have eaten in the restaurants they nominate within the past 18 months; and 
--> Contrary to popular belief, the restaurants selected do not have to meet any criteria like Michelin or other guides.

As their website claims, their 50 Best Restaurant list is "recognized around the world as a credible indicator of the best places to eat on earth". Wow. "On Earth". Sounds so crazy.

Here are the Top 50 restaurants:

Eight from the USA and one from Mexico, and that's all from North America folks! Canada makes two appearances, first one at #60 for Rouge (in Calgary), then Langdon Hall for #77 (in Cambridge, Ontario). 

Can you imagine dining one day at a restaurant that is, or has been, ranked # 1 on earth? I can't at this moment. Maybe one day. Actually, I shouldn't be so greedy - I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to dine at any of the restaurants in the top 100 list =D

Here are the official list

Friday, July 16, 2010

More than just Chicken & Waffles at Harlem East Side

A month or so ago, I organized a group outing with friends at Harlem Underground. I've wanted to try this place for brunch before, but right when I wanted to go try it, I heard some mixed reviews. So it gradually, like many other restaurants, got pushed further and further down my "To Eat / To Try" list. However, a friend suggested to go to Harlem Underground anyway for dinner, so I figured why not? I'm game. I volunteered to organize it too.

Notice that I keep on saying Harlem Underground when this post's heading clearly says Harlem East Side. This is where I completely and utterly FAIL. I always thought the two names were synonymous of one another, like interchangeable names. But man was I wrong. 

Since I thought there was only one "Harlem" in Toronto, when I made the reservations, I Googled "Harlem Restaurant", which gave me the phone number for the Richmond street location immediately ( I didn't even bother going into their website). And a few days before the actually dinner, I wanted to confirm my reservation, so I again Googled for the number, but instead of typing in "Harlem Restaurant" this time, I decided to type in "Harlem Underground" (which I know now is on Queen Street), and dialed their number. HAHA can you imagined how frustrated I was when they said they didn't have my reservation? Anyway afterwards, with everything confirmed (or so I thought), I sent out a mass email to my friends telling them the place, date, and time, and wrote in Harlem Underground's address. 

Long story short, on the day of the dinner, my boyfriend and I went to Harlem East Side since I somehow decided to search "Harlem Restaurant" on Google for the addy before leaving the house, while the rest of the gang went to Harlem Underground I was so embarrassed and felt so bad when I realized the huge mistake I've made (realized it only when we started phoning each other, both sides saying that they were "there", which is of course completely possible because I made reservations at BOTH restaurants). Anyway, our friends were nice enough to leave Harlem Underground and come to Harlem East Side to join us (they had to pay for parking again). FAIL....lesson learned for sure!

OK time for me to talk about Harlem East Side. They got us a table upstairs. This is the bar across from our table.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Buca for Birthday

For my birthday, five of my girl friends and I went for dinner at Buca. None of us have been there before so we didn't know what to expect (there is no menu posted online either). But since Buca was suggested by Cindy, my best foodie friend, I wasn't worried =). 

Beautiful decor. 

 Edison-bulb chandeliers.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Banana Banana Bread

Banana is my least favorite fruit. I never eat it plain. I like fruits that are refreshing, juicy, and have the ability to quench my thirst. Banana does not do any of those things for me. Actually, I know some people that love bananas not because they taste good, but because they are too lazy to peel fruits and get their hands dirty. I guess in that aspect, bananas are quite convenient, but they are not for me. 
Having said that, I don't mind bananas in ice cream sundaes, dessert crepes / waffles, milkshakes, smoothies - bananas make great compliments, just as long as they are accompanied by something that is refreshing in itself. I actually don't even mind those dried banana chips either, or fried bananas. And I guess without question, I like banana bread too; they are great for baking.

This banana bread is moist and delicious, with loads of banana flavor (hence the double "banana" in the name hehe). Caution though, this bread is very dense and heavy, so if you're looking for a lighter cake or muffin-type banana bread, look elsewhere. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wedding Feast - Fourth of Six for 2010

Last Saturday, I attended Jason and Flora's wedding at Markham Event Centre. My best friend Ray introduced me to Flora several years back, and a bit later I met Jason. 

Flora is a very beautiful, kind-hearted, and genuine young woman. She is a dedicated teacher who is always too busy marking and preparing report cards to meet up with me; it is so hard to get a hold of her (*hint hint* Flora). All kidding aside, Flora and I still find time to meet up for dinner once in awhile to catch up and update each other on what's new in our lives. Flora's hubby, Jason (who has the exact same name, first and last, as my brother), is an extremely hard working real estate broker. He is career-oriented, ambitious, and a motivated guy who definitely loves his work. However, it is also evident to every one that he loves Flora much much more than anything else in the world. So Jason, after having said such a bold statement, you better take good care of Flora, or else! =D  Jason and Flora have been together for many years now and I'm so happy that they have finally tied the knot last weekend. Congratulations to the lovely couple! By the way, if you are looking for a real estate broker, visit Jason's website - I refer him to all my friends =) 

Enough of the praising and promotion, huh? =P  Time to show you some food pics from the wedding. 

Before going into the banquet hall, guests were served appetizers at the reception. I was obviously too slow to notice this since there was hardly anything left on this tray.

Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese Roll.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dozo Sushi + Sake Bar

For my birthday, I wanted my boyfriend to pick a place for lunch. I ask this of him because it was already my decision to go to The Drake Hotel for dinner, so I wanted him to surprise me and plan somewhere to go for lunch. 

My boyfriend is always very hesitant  to pick a place to eat because 1) he is not really into food hence is pretty laid back about it 2) he is always nervous about picking a restaurant because he is afraid I will be disappointed if the food turns out bad, and 3) I love food and actually has a food blog, which I guess, indirectly gives him more pressure hahaha. I tell him time and time again that I don't care whether the food turns out good or bad;  I just want to be surprised and not have to think of where to go all the time. So for my birthday lunch, he chose Dozo Sushi + Sake Bar. Verdict? Let's just say he breathed a sigh of relief =) 

By the way, I love saying the name DOZO (sounds like "BOZO" and I like to elongate the "O" sound haha). I like it so much I named my pet fish DOZO. I'm not joking =D

Dozo Sushi + Sake Bar is located in Richmond Hill, at a strip mall on Commerce Valley Drive. The mall also has Baton Rouge, Brix, and Bombay Bhel. From the outside, Dozo already looks a bit different than the other Japanese restaurants uptown...more "upscale". This was confirmed when I walked in.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Ed's Real Scoop

Nothing beats ice cream on a hot day and with the heat wave happening this week, I think everyone deserves some quality ice cream (i.e. not the crappy neapolitan ones). Ice cream makes everything better (even Mondays!) and since it is so hot you need to treat yourself to the city's best ice cream at Ed's Real Scoop.

Ed's Real Scoop has been around for 13 years with two locations: one in Leslieville (the one I went to) and the other at the Beaches (the original location). All their ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt, and gelato are homemade. They even make chocolates, hot fudge and caramel sauces, candies, sundaes, floats, milkshakes, espresso shakes and affogato. Aside from their extensive list of offerings, what's also great about Ed's Real Scoop is that they are always trying new recipes with store made products changing daily, reflecting seasonal themes and flavours. When its summer, go in for a tasty waffle cone filled with your favourite ice cream, gelato or sorbet and for winter, enjoy a steamy cup of hot chocolate made from Belgian Callebaut chocolate.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My First Chinese Restaurant Post: Bayview Garden

Some of my friends tell me that I don't blog about Chinese food enough. They question whether I even eat Chinese food when I'm out. The thing is, I do! I eat Chinese food all the time when I'm out with my parents. Not as much with friends or on my own because for Cantonese food, it is all about ordering dishes to share. So eating out with one other person, or even two, won't give you much variety (same idea as dim sum). And as to why I don't blog about it? I don't know. Maybe I take advantage of it because I'm Chinese and Chinese food to me just doesn't seem all that interesting? Or maybe I haven't been to a restaurant yet in Toronto where their food impressed me so much that it gives me the motivation to look for other ones that are just as good? Or maybe there's a lack of good Chinese restaurants in Mississauga (where I live) so expectations become non-existent? Whatever the case may be, whether it's one, or all of the above, here is my first Chinese food post =)

Recently, a restaurant emerged in Mississauga called Bayview Garden. This restaurant is probably the most decent restaurant in Mississauga so far. I figured if I am going to blog about Chinese food, might as well start with a good one. Hopefully the quality of the food lasts though - a lot of Chinese restaurants start out pretty good in Mississauga, then quality tends to deterioriate after a year or so. 

A side note: this restaurant has no affiliation with any Bayview Gardens that may already be in existence or was once in existence in Markham / Scarborough / Richmond Hill. Chinese restaurant owners are not very creative when it comes to English names, so English restaurant names are sometimes replicated, that is why I only remember Chinese names (only possible if you're Chinese ^_^).

I've combined pictures of two occasions here. The first one was with the fam, where we ordered a set dinner.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

BBQ Pulled Pork

I've never made pulled pork before. I've certainly had pulled pork sandwiches and have always loved how tender the meat was and appreciated the tremendous amount of flavor it contains. But I've never thought about making it because pulled pork is usually cooked in big batches, so obviously it has no place when it comes to just cooking for me and my boyfriend. However, when my boyfriend mentioned that he wanted to host a party, I immediately thought of making pulled pork sandwiches. What better way to feed a group of 10 (mostly guys) than pulled pork? It is easy, economical, tasty, and most importantly, it is all meat and nothing but meat - all my boyfriend's friends are carnivores.

The great thing about making pulled pork is that you don't need to buy expensive cuts of meat like tenderloin or boneless pork chops; all you need is an inexpensive cut of meat (i.e. pork butt, pork roast) because it's gonna be in the slow cooker for many many hours anyway. I got some pork butt and it was very cheap. 

Note, there was no "regular" pork butt, just "supreme" pork butt....whatever that means hehe.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Drake Hotel

I've always heard good things about the food at Drake Hotel (especially their burgers) and have always meant to go try it, but somehow I never got around to it. There are just toooo many restaurants in Toronto that I want to try, and Drake Hotel always somehow falls off my "to-eat" list. I guess a part of me wanted to wait till it's super duper hot out so I can go then and take full advantage of their rooftop patio, the Sky Yard. Anyway, for my birthday, I was at a lost about where to go for dinner. Since I wasn't in the mood for fine dining and because the weather was beginning to look promising, I made a reservation at Drake Hotel a week in advance of my birthday  - it was a go, rain or shine.

Although it was still a bit chilly, the rain stopped late afternoon (it was raining all day) so I was excited about the thought of getting my hands on some meaty burgers at the Sky Yard.  But when we arrived, I got the feeling the hostess was trying to keep us inside - she kept on telling us that "it's pretty cold up there" and that even if "it's nice out now, it's gonna get cold later"; I just got the impression that she was trying to deter us away from the patio. So okay fine, we settled for inside.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Virgin America Launch Party

As most of you may know, I've started this food blog merely three months ago. I've always been passionate about food, whether it is eating it, cooking it, baking it, or just simply taking pictures of it. I used to post all my food pictures on Facebook, and I did it so frequently that some of my friends suggested that I should just start a food blog  (they were probably sick of getting my Facebook update alerts). My food blog quickly became my hobby, and never did I think that I would get anything from it besides the satisfaction of writing and updating my blog.

However, my first so-called "freebie" was an invitation from Spotlight Toronto for me to participate in the Stratford Culinary Tour back in May (if you haven't checked out my blog series about it, see the first post here). You wouldn't believe my excitement, to think that only after one month of starting my food blog, I was already given a chance to learn more about food. The best part about the Stratford culinary tour though was really meeting other food loveres. Through the Stratford trip and Twitter, I have also met other foodies and friends.

Imagine my excitement when I got an email two weeks ago from Klout, an analytics service that tracks users’ influence on Twitter, informing me that because I have "so much Klout", Virgin America is offering me a free round-trip flight to either Los Angeles or San Francisco! I was totally ecstatic since again, it has only been three months that I've started blogging and been on Twitter. Is this too good to be true?  My first reaction was "is this a scam?". Well the answer is "no" because I've already booked my ticket  to Los Angeles for 9 days in August! I can't wait to try out this plane (wide black leather Recaro seats, mood lighting, free inflight wi-fi).