Monday, May 31, 2010

My First Lunch Post - Ki Modern Japanese + Bar

I'm usually pretty low-key when it comes to lunch. Monday to Friday when I'm at work I usually just get a soup from Tim Hortons or a small salad at a café nearby. Nothing fancy. Two reasons really. One being that I can't afford to eat out everyday for lunch in downtown Toronto where stuff from the food court can cost you around $8. Second, if I eat as much at lunch as I do for dinner (which is a lot, a fact that my friends can confirm), I'm afraid I may reach 200 pounds in a month's time.

Well, two Fridays ago was an exception. It was 1) the Friday before the May 2-4 long weekend, 2) one of my boss' birthday, and 3) it was my 2 years at the firm (gahhhhh time flies!). So to celebrate, we went to Ki for lunch, which ended up to be a 3 hr lunch. Needless to say we weren't very productive afterwards.

Since it was such a nice day, we sat outside on the patio. It is a pretty enclosed space, fenced in and everything. But I'm thankful for that given the location of Ki - it's at a pretty busy intersection.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Extremely Easy Mushroom Pork Chops

My boyfriend likes pork chops, while I'm pretty much indifferent about them. I much prefer beef or chicken. This is probably due to the fact that I had many bad experiences with dry and tough pan-fried pork chops (which I would like to avoid for the rest of my life if possible). I honestly don't know many other ways of cooking pork chops. So one day, I went to and found this great and easy recipe that would satisfy my boyfriend's love (well more so "like") for pork chops and my dislike for "pan-fried" pork chops. 

I made these pork chops twice now, the first time the chops were cut more thick, so they came out a lot more tender. The second time, the pork chops were cut thinner so not as good. So if you want to make this, remember to tell the guy (or girl) behind the meat counter to cut the chops thick.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Good and the Bad at Mela Indian Cuisine

I am on Menupalace's mailing list, and once in awhile, I get emails about restaurant promotions. The ones I particularly love are the 50% off nights - where everything on a restaurant's menu is 50% off (excluding alcohol). It is usually offered only on a weeknight (scheduled a few weeks from the day you receive your email), at two seatings (usually 6pm or 8pm), and is recommended that you call in advance for reservations. Mela Indian Cuisine was the participating restaurant several weeks ago, so I dragged my friend Ed to go with me after work.

Before making a reservation, I usually check the restaurant's menu online to see if the place looks decent or if it's even worth going (50% off doesn't necessarily mean I will go for sure). Mela had an extensive menu, and it has been ages since I've had Indian food. PERFECT!

We went for the 6pm seating so the sun was still out. As you can see there's a patio option outside but the weather wasn't warm enough yet at the time.

The "reviews and menu" display. Not too shabby! You can also find them online here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Apple Crumble Pie

I love apple pie, especially when it's served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top - it's really the ultimate comfort food/dessert. To be honest, I don't know anyone that doesn't like apple pie.

Anyway, I found this simple apple pie recipe from It has gotten 561 reviews, with an average of 4.5 stars out of 5. I browsed through some of the comments and made some changes to the recipe on my own. I liked the pie a lot, especially when it was fresh out of the oven. However, after a couple of days, I found that the apples slices got all mushed up and gooey - it was no longer individual apple slices. Oh well, I guess like other baked goods, it is always best to finish it ASAP.

Apple Crumble Pie
(adapted from allrecipes)

  • 1 (9 inch) deep dish pie crust
  • 5 cups apples - peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened

    I bought 6 Granny Smith apples and ended up using only 5 (1 apple = 1 cup)

    Friday, May 21, 2010

    Coco Lezzone

    For my friend, Ray's birthday, him and I went to Coco Lezzone for dinner. I've been there once eons ago, while Ray has been there a couple of times. 

    Ray is my best friend and my original food buddy. Back in our university days, I would tempt Ray to skip lectures so we can go for out lunch instead.  We would also venture off to different restaurants around town after class and eat ourselves silly. After university, we discovered fine dining and would go through Winterlicious / Summerlicious meals like they were free. He is now in a different stage in life, and off to bigger and better things, which leaves me, poor me, in a constant search for foodie friends to fill the void he left behind. Anyway, he was able to spare some time out of his hectic schedule a couple of weeks ago so I can treat him for dinner =P

    Coco Lezzone is located in the heart of Little Italy on College St. It is a pretty casual Italian restaurant with a patio out front. It also has sliding glass doors that can open all the way to the side for the summer.

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    The Wagyu Beef Brisket Burger at Nota Bene

    After hearing from a friend that Nota Bene is featuring the Wagyu Brisket Burger for the month of May, I knew I had to go try. The problem is finding people go with me! You're probably wondering why that is a problem. Well the problem is that this succulent Wagyu burger is priced at $42 (I emailed Nota Bene to find out the price since tactfully not indicated anywhere on the promo). Uh huh... *nods*...Yup... $42 for a doubt a gourmet burger at that. But let me tell you, it is really the best burger I've ever had in my whole life - the Wagyu simply renders me speechless after my first bite. And my friends, I'm not kidding.

    Nota Bene, named Canada's Best New Restaurants in 2008 from both TORONTO LIFE and Air Canada's EN ROUTE Magazine, and voted as one of Canada's Top Ten New Restaurants by WHERE magazine, is already quite well known for their Stilton Beef Brisket Burger ($19) which is offered on their regular menu. After some research, it seems like even this Stilton Beef Brisket Burger was getting a ton of praises from several food forums. So having never been to Nota Bene, I knew this is the perfect chance to pay a visit to this renowned restaurant. And the Stilton Beef Brisket Burger can step aside, I knew I would have to go all out and get the Wagyu Beef Brisket Burger, once and for all.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Wedding Feast - Second of Six for 2010

    Not sure if you noticed, but the number of weddings that I will be attending this year has jumped from four to six (my last post about weddings was a month ago, titled "Wedding Feast - First of Four for 2010"). Yeah, not sure how it happened, but it did! And it just so happens that they are spaced out with one every month till October - so one feast per month...I can certainly handle that! 

    So two weeks ago, my friend had her wedding reception at Diamond Banquet Hall at First Markham Place. Diamond is also a Chinese restaurant that serves dim sum by day, and  Guangdong dishes by night. The banquet hall / restaurant can accommodate around 30 tables, which works out perfectly for her lovely evening reception.

    Cute towel origami puppies~

    Tuesday, May 18, 2010

    Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies

    It's been a loooonnnggg time since I've blogged about  baking, that's because I simply haven't baked for a really long time! The reason behind this baking drought is due to the mere fact that I was sick of making muffins - I needed something more challenging (relatively speaking), a recipe where I would actually need my Mom's Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer (which I have now inherited and is at my boyfriend's house! YAY!). And to celebrate such joyous occasion, I made my favorite chocolate chip cookies.

    Below are my two loves: my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer and my stack of chocolate chip cookies =)

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Sidecar Bar and Grill

    Sidecar is located in the heart of Little Italy, and it is again another great restaurant suggestion from my friend Cindy. Honestly, she should really be the one blogging about food because she recommended close to 90% of the restaurants I blog about. Anyway, she told me about this great prix fixe menu that Sidecar regularly offers from Sundays-Wednesdays, which is a 3-course meal for $25. What a steal, right?

    So after work on a Tuesday, we met up at Sidecar. We didn't make any reservations since we thought it's only Tuesday, so should be OK right? WRONG. Tables were all booked up, the only tables available were at the back patio. Thank goodness the weather was beautiful that day, so we had no problem sitting at the back courtyard. 

    Friday, May 14, 2010

    Dumplings at The Sugar...and more

    The Sugar is one of the many places I go for Chinese desserts, and recently, it has also become a place for cheap dinner deals. The Sugar is located in North York, which is a good place to meet up for me and my friends; I live in Mississauga (west end) and 99% of my friends are either in Richmond Hill or Markham (east end), so North York can be considered the middle point. Although I love crepes and waffles, I sometimes crave for Chinese dessert, especially the sweet dumplings. Besides desserts, The Sugar also has snacks, noodles and rice dishes. Recently, it has added a few new items in their set dinner menu, with various ramen and steamed dishes..

    Below are some pictures I've taken on three different occasions.

    This is their main menu. The picture below shows the different kinds of appetizers they have

    The Chinese desserts.

    Thursday, May 13, 2010

    A Tongue and Rabbit Brunch at The Hoof Café

    I went to The Hoof Café with Cindy back in January. It's been, what? 4 months now? Geez, how time flies. Anyway, since it's been so long, please don't mind my lack of details in this post. Maybe just enjoy the pictures? There are a few things I remember about The Hoof Café: 1) the place is tiny 2) the food is awesome 3) I want to go back. 

    I went there on a Sunday afternoon for brunch. In case you didn't know, I love brunch. Also, if you have read about my experience at The Black Hoof (The Hoof Café's sister restaurant across the street), you would know I am quite carnivorous in nature, and I dig food that is out-of-the-ordinary (especially the artery clogging kinds!). The Hoof Café, originally opened so that people waiting for a table at The Black Hoof has a place to go, combines my love for brunch and unique foods in one place. FYI, The Hoof Café doesn't only serve brunch, it turns into a bar with a snack menu at night, with a cool offering of dishes like crispy beans and grilled beef heart.

    Cindy and I didn't get table right away. I had to leave my name and phone number, and the lady suggested we go get a coffee around the corner until she calls. We walked around for maybe 15-20 minutes and got a call back. We sat at the bar (my favorite!)

    The decor is pretty simple but artsy. It gives a bit of a farmhouse feel due to the wooden bar, but yet it has a cool tin ceiling, whitewash cupboards (old windows as cabinet doors), and a stainless steel counter. All this gives a modern yet rustic feel (I notice I'm using a lot of juxtapositions here).

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Pizza for a Good Cause at Pizza Nova

    On Tuesday, May 11th, Pizza Nova and Variety hosted the 11th Annual That's Amore Pizza for Kids, a fundraising event where walk-in customers can purchase a medium pepperoni pizza for $4.99 at Pizza Nova, and they will donate $1 from each pizza sold to Variety - The Children's Charity. I loooove pizza, and so does my friend, Adrienne. So me, Adrienne, and Cindy met up at the Pizza Nova at Bathurst and Harbord (we all work in downtown) and got ourselves 2 medium pizzas for dinner (came out to a grand total of $9.99!). We walked back to Cindy's place for an impromptu "girl's night" for some pizza, TV, and chit-chat.

    I've never had pizza from Pizza Nova before. I remember some of my friends told me that they prefer Pizza Nova over Pizza Pizza, which is a relieve for me because I hate Pizza Pizza (Cindy had Pizza Pizza once and she said never again). And after trying Pizza Nova's pizza yesterday, I've got to say that it is way better than Pizza Pizza

    For a $4.99 pizza, they could've easily skimped out on the pepperoni, but on the contrary, there was a lot more pepperoni than I expected. 

    Although our "girl's night" only lasted about an hour, it was good catching up with my girl friends while eating yummy pizza (I hate 6 pieces, such a pig). But also, it was good cheap pizza for a good cause. And as a foodie, what more can I ask for right? =)

    Tuesday, May 11, 2010

    Mother's Day: Part 2 - Oyster Shucking at Home

    Actually, to be specific, all this was done at my brother's house, not my house (aka my parent's house). Nonetheless, the take home message is that  we celebrated Mother's Day as a whole family not at a restaurant (which we usually do) but at home. Every year, my brother and I have such a hard time choosing a place to take our parents since we live in a "good-food-deprived" city known as "Mississauga". So this year, to spice things up a bit, my brother suggested having dinner at his place, and what  a great idea it was!
    On Mother's Day, my brother and my sister-in-law went for a drive and fetched 4 dozen fresh oysters and 2 lbs of clams from Diana's Seafood, picked up a 1.5L bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, and invited my parents and I over to their place. They also prepared a wonderful meal consisting of soup, salads, lamb chops, and a home-made cheesecake. All this food for the five of us, at the comfort of their new home. Good food, good wine, engaging conversations, lovely company - elements that are staple to our family gatherings were all present that night.

    Here are the 2 lbs of clams - washed and drained.

    Monday, May 10, 2010

    Mother's Day: Part 1 - Afternoon Tea at Windsor Arms

    I took my parents to Windsor Arms a couple of weeks ago for Mother's Day. A bit early I know, but for the few weekends leading up to Mother's Day, there was either a friend's wedding, a house party, or just something scheduled in my calendar. So to make sure I get to take my Mom there, I reserved a table at Windsor Arms three Saturdays before Mother's Day. My Dad also wanted to tagged along. He says for all the previous Mother's Day, my brother and I would treat him for dinner too, not only my Mom, so he doesn't see why he shouldn't come along for afternoon tea as well. He has made a valid point haha. I did warn him though, that it's gonna be 98% women there.

    I've been to Windsor Arms for afternoon tea once before with some colleagues. I gotta say that having tea there is nothing like I've experienced before. Everything is so classy - from the decor, the waiters, the dainty little sandwiches, down to the fancy gold-trim tea cups. It's all very "Jane Austin", you know? Almost feels like everyone should talk with a British accent there.

    Windsor Arms has been serving high tea since 1927. They have two rooms, one is the purple room with its original working fire place (which sits around 30), and the second one is the French-style lobby tea room (sits around 18). Both are available for full or partial booking. I've been to both rooms (purple room with colleagues, French room with parents) and I liked them both equally.

    Here's the list of loose leaf teas. We got the Chai Arms, the Private Windsor Arms Breakfast Blend, and the Passion & Envy. I loved the Chai Arms (the cinnamon really stood out) and the Passion & Envy (so fruity!). The Breakfast Blend tastes like regular Earl Grey. The first time I went I had the Tibetan Tiger which was amazing because I could actually taste the chocolate and caramel. 

    Why would anyone do take-out? This "Tea To
    Go" concept does not make sense to me. 

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Cupcake Madness at CupcakeCampTO

    CupcakeCamp was originated in San Francisco. Its mission is to bring together cupcake lovers, bakers, and eaters from in and around the community to celebrate and embrace their love for cupcakes. It became so successful there that CupcakeCamp was brought over to Toronto for the first time last year at LabSpace Studios. This year, CupcakeCamp TO was held on May 2nd at Prime Gallery on 52 McCaul Street. What is also neat about all this is (yes theres more to it than just cupcakes) is that net proceeds from the ticket sales goes to the Daily Bread Food Bank. So, not only are the bakers having fun baking, and the eaters having fun eating (ME!), it is also for a good cause. Bonus!!! =) 

    Here are some stats for this year's event:

    • 38 bakers 
    • >50 flavors
    • >180 eaters
    • 2,000 cupcakes

    Crazy, huh? Bakers can also enter into a voluntary cupcake competition. Sugar overload for the judges! Can you imagine having to taste 50 cupcakes in a span of 3 hours?! I can't, and I love sweets!

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    Montreal Food Journey - Day 3: La Banquise

    Day 3, last day in Montreal! After lunch we would be heading back to Toronto. Before leaving the hotel, I asked my boyfriend whether he wanted to have burgers or poutine, he chose poutine. I was fine with either one because I had in mind a place for both options, and I know neither will disappoint. For burgers, I wouldv'e went to La Paryse, a place with rave reviews on almost every food review / blog that I've come across, it seems to be "the place for best burgers in Montreal". Likewise, La Banquise is supposedly the place for poutine in Montreal (thanks to Vinman15, a Montreal local, for this great recommendation)! According to, "it is a well-known fact that the title of the best poutine in Montreal belongs to La Banquise", and from, "La Banquise is now the best, all around poutine joint in Montreal. They offer the greatest is a must-stop for anyone eating poutine in Quebec". You will see similar comments from Urbanspoon, Yelp, and various other food review sites. 

    La Banquise is open 24 hours, making it another reason why it is so popular besides the awesome poutine it serves. I can just imagine how popular this place would be in Toronto downtown's clubbing district at 3 am - Burrito Boyz can move out of the way!

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Montreal Food Journey - Day 2: La Marée

    After having such a wonderful lunch at Jardin Nelson, my boyfriend and I wanted to come back to Old Montreal for dinner so that we can take full advantage of the beautiful weather and scenery.  Specifically, we wanted to dine at the same area where Jardin Nelson is located. If you've been to Old Montreal, you would know which area I'm talking about - the wide stone road where caricaturists set up shop, street performers entertain, with wooden benches for people to sit on and relax, and the restaurants are lined up on both sides (Jardin Nelson being one of them). So that same night, we ditched my excel spreadsheet and checked out the restaurants along there (not too many, 6 at most), and decided on La Marée

    La Maree - we sat along the edge of the patio

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    Montreal Food Journey - Day 2: Jardin Nelson

    I looove crepes. I have crepes in Toronto all the time for dessert, and every so often I would go to Apricot Tree in 'sauga for some savoury crepes, and I have also been to Le Papillon in downtown. However, I knew I wanted to go to a crepe place in Montreal (i.e. one that is known for their crepes), and preferably located in Old Montreal, and preferably with a patio with a nice / romantic atmosphere haha. And just my luck, I found all my requirements at Jardin Nelson. It has a lovely courtyard, with trees and plants surrounding the place, and has jazz music playing in the background at all times. Like its website says, it is "a small and comfortable oasis where the summer breeze is always present", and I cannot agree more.

    According to Jardin Nelson's website:
    • Their courtyard's plant design was purposely matched with the restaurant's architecture, which dates back to 1812. 
    • Different kinds of jazz music is played depending on whether its noon time, afternoon, or evening, and also changes depending on whether its a weekday or a weekend.
    • Their huge parasols are unique to in Quebec; they allow customers to finish their meals if it starts to rain.

      There are two of these parasols in the rear courtyard

      Monday, May 3, 2010

      Montreal Food Journey - Day 1: Rockaberry

      After our dinner at Le P'tit Plateau, my boyfriend and I walked over to Rockaberry for dessert. Mind you, I was a bit weary about having pies for dessert because I'm usually a waffle / crepe / ice cream person, but I was determined to try Rockaberry because it's a local Montreal chain. Here are some facts: 1) Rockaberry was first opened in 1989, 2) it now has 5 locations in and around Montreal, and 3) It's been ranked #1 five times as "Best dessert/sweets" category for Montreal Mirror's annual "Best of Montreal" issue. So although pies are not my "thing", I thought Rockaberry deserves a visit.

      The pies are showcased immediately once you walk in.