Friday, April 29, 2011

A Maple Syrup Tour in Stratford

Thanks to Suresh (@spotlightcity) from Spotlight Toronto and Emily (@Emily_Chandler) from Stratford Tourism Alliance, I was invited to a Maple Syrup day tour in Stratford with a group of food bloggers around a month ago (yes I know this post is way over due >_<). I went to Stratford last year for a Stratford Culinary Tour and had an amazing time so I was looking forward to this Maple Syrup tour (my Stratford Culinary Tour posts can be found here). And as I expected, it was an extremely fun-filled day. On that Saturday, I left the busy, bustling city behind me and enjoyed a day full of activities, all planned by Emily, and while munching on tasty food, I also learned a lot more about Stratford and its local restaurants and farms, and most importantly, I learned a lot more about Maple Syrup.

Our first stop in the morning was at Revel Caffe where owner, Anne Campion, gave us a brief introduction about Revel Caffe and its direct and fair-trade coffee. Besides regular coffee, Revel Caffe also serve a wide variety of beverages including cappuccinos, lattes, espresso, French Press, americanos, teas from Straford Tea Leaves, and Italians sodas in the summer. Pastries is another speciality at Revel Caffe and they are all baked on site. While sipping cappuccinos, we were all served mini maple pecan schnecken (a traditional Saturday morning treat in Germany) made by their in-house Chef Jordan Lassaline. What a great way to start the day =D

Revel Caffe: 50 Wellington Street, Stratford, ON. N5A 2L2. Ph: 519-305-1600 - Email: - Web: - Twitter: @revelcaffe

After the cappuccinos and delicious schneckens, we were off to McCully's Hill FarmMcCully's Hill Farm has been around for 160 years (!) and specializes in the production of maple products, natural meats, home-made baking and preserves, and garden fresh produce. Once you walk into McCully's Hill Farm, you will see endless jars of maple syrup, honey, jams, jellies, pickles and relishes. McCully's Hill Farm also carry naturally raised meats, fresh homemade pies, and maple tarts. So in short, a lot of good, local foods.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip - Dor-Stop Restaurant

After my disappointing dinner at Primanti Brothers (featured on Man vs. Foodthe night before , I was back on track with my next Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ("DDD") destination, which is a breakfast place called Dor-Stop Restaurant. I was really excited about this because I love breakfast / brunch food! It is so warm and hearty, and it has magical powers -  it makes me want to sleep / nap again! How wonderful =) But back home, I can never wake up early enough on the weekends; whatever I eat usually just turns into boring ol' "lunch", which is never as cool as "brunch", if you know what I mean.

I actually remember seeing this very DDD episode on TV. You know how the diners featured in DDD usually serve like, over-the-top portions of meat, or high-rise burgers, or just food that will make you cringe due to its pure size? Well, I remember when I saw this episode, I was like "Wow, somewhat normal breakfast food for once...pancakes!" Never did I think that one day I would be able to go and try out Dor-Stop for myself =D

Watch this episode~ Guy Fieri's parents and relatives are in it too lol!

We parked on the street, a block away from where Dor-Stop was located. It was a fairly quiet area with just few people on the street on a nice Sunday morning, so we assumed that finally, for once, we wouldn't have to wait for a table (lots of waiting at both Primanti Brothers and Grover's). Oh were we wrong, so wrong... It was so busy inside Dor-Stop; the whole waiting area was full of people with almost no room to stand.

I saw an empty seat at the bar so I sat there to wait but had to give it up eventually too.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Crab Cake is a MUST at e11even

I was invited to a tasting at e11even two weeks ago and like any tasting event, I prep by eating a very light lunch since there's usually a ton of food at tastings, and this one was no exception. Hey, I'm not complaining though ^_^  I really enjoyed the food at e11even (they serve classic North American dishes with a twist) especially the crab cake, which is, get ready, THE BEST CRAB CAKE I'VE EVER HAD. That's right people! But more about that later =D

e11even is Maple Leaf Square Entertainment's follow-up to Real Sports Bar and Grill and is a fairly new restaurant that opened back in November 2010. Although new to the restaurant scene, e11even has already created quite a buzz on Twitter; similar to School (@schoolville) and Table17 (@table17), e11even (@e11evenToronto) is very active on Twitter - they engage with everyone . Love that.

The decor at e11even is very modern with dark wood, contemporary furnishings, and plush banquettes. Once you're inside e11even you will see this beautiful bar. 

I was seated at this very long, 20-person communal table made from excavated hemlock timbers. This table stands out in the room; the rustic feel as well as the pure size of it makes a really strong statement.

How cool is this? Wine list via iPad. Over 600 bottles and 30 wines by the glass from e11even's wine cellar. I had so much fun playing with it =)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ox Tail Stew with Tomato & Red Wine

My Mom made this at home one night and I immediately fell in love with it. I love stews to begin with because they are so warm and hearty. Added to that is my love for ox tail; ensuring I get all the meat from those angular bones is just so... fun; a sense of satisfaction comes over me when I know that I've gotten every shred of meat possible from those bones ^_^ Because of the long simmering time, the ox tail meat here is extremely soft - I know the following sounds totally cliché but the meat was really, literally, "fall of the bone" tender. The onions and tomatoes  become a "mush" with all their flavour transferred to the stew and the meat. 

My Mom assured me that this dish was is easy to make. I was weary at first because she says most things are easy to make which is usually the case for HER but not for ME. She then gave me a photocopy of the recipe, taken from one of her many Chinese cook books, and I gotta admit guys, this is a very easy recipe. If I can do it, you can do it =D So go ahead and try this. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

Oxtail Stew with Tomato and Red Wine (serves 6)

  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 tomatoes (skin removed after slightly boiled)
  • 4 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (mashed)
  • 3 shallots (mashed)
  • 1 ox tail (parboiled)
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar

1. Soak tomatoes in boiling water for about 1 minute. Tomatoes can then be peeled easily by making a criss-cross slit at the bottom. Roghly cut tomatoes and dessed.
2. Cut carrots and onions into chunks.
3. Heat oil in a casserole and fry garlic & shallots till fragrant. add onions and fry until golden.

4. Add tomatoes and carrots. Cook until soft.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip - Primanti Brothers

My apologies for the confusing title of this post as Primanti Brothers was never featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ("DDD"), but rather, the restaurant was featured in Travel Channel's Man vs. Food. I wanted to keep my blog post titles for this road trip consistent since my intention of this road trip was to visit as many DDD places as I could. However, Primanti Brothers is an extremely popular chain of sandwich shops throughout Pittsburgh so it would be wrong of me to not pay this place a visit.

When I was on Primanti Brothers website, I looked around and it was then that I noticed that they were on Man. vs. Food. I thought that works out perfectly as it kinda fits the "theme" of my road trip, which was basically "going around eating a crazy amount of diner food in a span three days".

Watch this Man. vs. Food video. Primanti Brothers is known for putting fries and coleslaw in their sandwiches.

The Primanti Brothers that we went to was located in Pittsburgh's Strip District and is the original Primanti Brothers before it expanded to a chain restaurant (this location was also where the Man. vs. Food episode was filmed). Primanti Brothers has been around since 1933 and has now expanded to Fort Lauderdale as well.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Crepes and Waffles at Spin Dessert

Thank goodness for Spin Dessert, I no longer have to rely on Demetres for my dessert fix in the west end. In my opinion, Demetres has gone down in quality over the last several years: presentation is sloppy and depending on what location portion size can be drastically different too. Oh yeah, some locations really need a renovation as well. All in all, I just don't feel like I'm getting my money's worth when I get a crepe or waffle at Demetres. In all honesty, I think crepes and waffles are never worth $8-$12, they are essentially a rip-off in in a sense considering they consists of just batter and ice cream or some fruits and other toppings. But nevertheless, I'd rather be walking out happily ripped-off than walking out feeling all bitter about it.

The one thing that bothers me the most about Demetres is the presentation of their crepe. This is just purely personal preference but I like my crepes to be methodologically wrapped with ice cream on top of the crepe, unlike this crepe from Demetres, where the crepe was simply draped on top of the ice cream and then sprinkled with toppings and syrup with two randomly placed blobs of whipped cream. I personally find this crepe really ugly.

Photo credit - Tummy Points

On the other hand, look at this crepe from Café Crepe; this is how I would like my crepe to look like.

Photo credit: UTTSA

Pretty, right? I know not every place will, or want, to present their crepe exactly like that which is fine, but all I ask is the following: serve people something that look like you put some effort into making it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New City Restaurant

It was a Friday night and my boyfriend just picked me up from Fairview Mall subway station. He would usually ask me the following question: "So where do you want to go eat?". I'm asked this question a lot, and most of the time when I'm in uptown, I'm stumped. I know there are tons of places to eat in Markham / Richmond Hill, but as you know, when you're confronted with so many choices you usually end up...clueless. Well, a few Fridays ago, I knew exactly what I wanted. For some reason, I was really craving baked pasta, the Hong Kong style café kind (or 茶餐廳). I have no idea why but the craving was intense.

I usually go to New City Restaurant when I have such craving. It is located in Peachtree Centre, near Highway 7 & Kennedy.

This is not going to be some long and extravagant post, but rather I just want to let you all know how affordable it is to eat a meal here.

Here is the menu. Sollie no English =D Basically, the menu has a vareity of baked pasta or rice, with an option for a variety of meat (chicken, ham, beef, pork, seafood etc) and sauce (tomato, cream, cheese, portugese, bolognese, etc). These prices also includes a soup and a drink (cold drinks are $0.75 extra and take out is $0.50 extra)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip - Grover's Bar & Grill

My boyfriend and I left Toronto after work on Friday before the Family Day long weekend. We didn't leave work early so we fully expected the rush hour + long weekend traffic. After about a 2.5 hour drive, we checked into our hotel in Buffalo and immediately headed over to Grover's Bar & Grill, in East Amherst, New York, for our first Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ("DDD") stop. Thank goodness Grover's was close to our hotel because we were both extremely hungry by then O_o

I'm going to start off all my DDD road trip posts by posting the DDD episode of when the restaurant was featured. I strongly recommend that you watch the videos because for each DDD place we visited, we purposely ordered everything that was featured in the show. I assure you that you will appreciate my blog post so much more after seeing exactly what ingredients were used, how the food was made, and what exactly I was eating =D

Monday, April 11, 2011

Viva Frida!

It's Tweetup timeeee! ^_^  I've heard so much about Frida Restaurant (@FridaRestaurant) on Twitter that I knew it was just a matter of time that I went and got myself some Mexican deliciousness. So last month when Mack (@M3foods) and I were brainstorming on our next possible Tweetup location (we take turns organizing hehe) I suggested Frida. And one thing led to another, the next thing I knew I was sitting with 10 others at Frida last Tuesday, having a great meal along with non-stop conversation, thanks to Troy (@OakleyInc) (sorry I had to add that hehe).

OK guys, Frida is not Burrito Boyz. Nothing against Burrito Boyz of course, just trying to make a point that Frida is not a fast food Mexican joint, far from it actually. First of all, Frida is located in Forest Hill and is a more upscale Mexican restaurant. It is small; the decor is very contemporary, mellow, and relaxed yet elegant as well. I personally really like the modern feel of the red accent seating and the blue and white tiled wall. 

There's Alfonso (@msgfonz) and Ed (@phoenixrageZERO) on their phones :)

I also like the black and white photographs by the entrance; it ties in really well with the black tables and chairs and the white napkins.

Secondly, besides the decor, Frida is different in that it offers more of a refined and modern take on Mexican food but still keeping it authentic. It is upscale and sophisticated unlike that of a taco parlour for sure.

Friday, April 8, 2011

School Gets an A+ for Social Media

You know what I love these days? Restaurants that "get" social media. You know the ones that understand the importance of interacting with their customers? The ones that embrace this "whole new world" of Facebook and Twitter, and realize that "Hey, you know what? It's 2011. We gotta keep up with the times, step up our game, and start doing things differently". These days, having a website is sometimes not enough; it serves as a good starting point but there are many more ways and avenues to engage with customers.

Not going to name names, but one time, a restaurant owner and I were talking about the opening of his new restaurant. He had websites for both his current restaurant and his new restaurant, but nothing beyond that. So I suggested to him the benefits of Facebook and Twitter, and how getting involved in it can really help get the news out about his new restaurant. He immediately shot the idea down, telling me it is not necessary and that he simply does not have time to do all that. 

OK people, this is not some hole-in-the-wall type restaurant, it is a pretty established restaurant in the neighbourhood so all I can say is:


Now, turn 360 degrees with me to a restaurant not only does social media right but embraces it in every way possible. School (formerly School Bakery & Cafe), in my opinion, sets a really good example as to how when social media is done right, it can do wonders in terms of attracting and engaging with their customers. Last week, School launched a whole new look and revamped their website. I love it! All their food pictures make me drool =D

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip!

As you all know, watching the Food Network can be very dangerous, especially at night when you're about to go to bed - it's like an ultimate test of self control (for me anyway). My battle of self control occurs when Diners, Drive-ins and Dives comes on, and self control losses 95% of the time. Instead of lounging on the couch during commercial break, I usually find myself walking towards the kitchen instead, looking for munchies, fully aware that I had dinner only a couple of hours ago and that I'm going to bed soon. I love this show yet I hate it (well my stomach loves it but my brain hates it).

Have you all seen this Diners, Drive-ins and Dives show that I speak of? It's one of my absolute favourite shows, not just on the Food Network, but in general. It's literally food porn at its best. II know it grosses a lot of people out but I LIKE IT. The show is about Guy Fieri travelling across the United States, visiting local establishments and seeing how they make their specialties. Hole-in-the-walls, mom and pop restaurants, and of course, "diners, drive-ins, and dives", are the type of places featured on this show. One thing's for sure - you won't find fine dining here, and yeah, the show is also not for vegetarians =D

Seeing Guy pulling up to these places, from one state to another, in his red, shiny Corvette, and biting into sloppy burgers and thick slices of pizza, cutting into gigantic steaks, holding pieces of succulent ribs, putting ginormous pulled pork sandwiches into his mouth, makes me go berserk. What gets me the most is his reaction afterwards: his eyes closed and his mmm-delicious "This is so good!" groan like it's the best thing he's ever tasted. Without fail. Every. Single. Time.

If you watch the show, you know as well as I do that even if the food tasted like crap, Guy will always act like he has never had anything so good in his life until that very moment. Not once did I ever see him take a bite and go "'s ok...nothing special". Sometimes I even see Guy already making that "mmm-delicious" face a millisecond too early. But do I care? NO I DON'T. All I know is this: whatever he is eating, I want a piece of it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

CityLine Blogger Special

I was invited to be an audience member for a CityLine show that focused on women who blogs and tweets. The show was aired last Tuesday, March 29th, at 9AM and repeated at 2PM the same day (the show was not a 'live' show and was taped prior to that day). The show can also be found online as well. I didn't get a chance to watch the show on TV as I was studying for an exam; well, even if I didn't have an exam I would've been at work anyway. Here's a blurry screen shot of me clapping (we had to clap a lot, and I mean, a lot) ^_*

We were seated according to what we blog about. There were four types of bloggers who attended that day: decor, beauty, food, and mommy bloggers. If you watch the show at around the 1:08 minute mark, you will notice that there were very few food bloggers compared to decor, beauty, and mommy bloggers. Just an observation ^_^

At the set of CityLine

Friday, April 1, 2011

Guu Sakabar aka "Guu 2"

*GASP* how time flies! It's been exactly one year since I've started Food Junkie Chronicles so Happy 1-Year Anniversary to meeee! This post is the 175th post on Food Junkie Chronicles and I must say, it's been absolutely amazing! I'm so glad I started blogging and I hope you enjoy reading Food Junkie Chronicles as much as I love blogging on it!^_^

What's even more cool is that my first blog post, exactly one year ago on April 2nd, 2010, was about my visit to Guu Izakaya (@GuuIzakaya) (I know it's one day off but close enough =P). And noooo, I did not purposely time this post to be that way - I had dinner at Guu Sakabar two days ago on Wednesday and when my fellow Tweeps on Twitter knew about this, a number of them told me that they can't wait to see my post on it as they are going to Guu Sakabar next week (you know who you are ^_*) So what is a nice food blogger like me to do? Well to be specific, I stayed up till 4AM last night, editing pictures and writing this post, which resulted in only 2 hours of sleep and getting into work late (also got into trouble by my boss). Oh yeah, I also have to write an exam later on today at 1PM. See what I would do for you guys?

Heyy, just a thought, wouldn't it be cool if exactly in one year's time (preferably around April 1 / 2 / 3, 2012) there is a "Guu 3" in Toronto for me to visit and write my 2-Year Anniversary  post on it? That would be so awesome =D

Sorry, I digress, back to present time. I arrived at Guu Sakabar around 5:50pm on Wednesday, and my first thought when I saw the empty waiting area was "YAY NO LINE UP!". I guess even if there was a line up, it wouldn't be as bad as at Guu Izakaya where you gotta line up outside O_o

Oh yeah, quite a few people asked me if I was going to go to Guu Sakabar on its opening night, which was on Sunday, March 6th. My response to everyone was "HELL NO!" - I mean even though I am a self-confessed foodie but still, I was in no hurry to try this place to be honest, especially because I can always go straight after work on a week night and beat the lineup!

I was sitting at the end of the bar waiting for my friend to come. Here's my view of Guu Sakabar.