Monday, May 30, 2011

Burger Wars - The Result Video

As a self-proclaimed "BURGER GIRL", I was already very excited when I got invited to Burger WarsSalut Wine + Food Festival's wrap-up party (Salut Wine + Food Festival took place during May 7-14 where they offered a week of unique and exciting food + wine events). And since I've been thinking of adding vlogs / videos to my blog for awhile now, I thought  Burger Wars would be the perfect event to start. Soooooo imagine how thrilled I was when I was asked by Don House, Co-Chair and Festival Executive Director of Salut Wine + Food Festival, whether or not I would be interested in being a judge at Burger Wars. Being cool and collected, I replied "Sure, no problem" but honestly, I wanted to jump up and down like a 10-year old girl =P


Without further adieu, here's the video. I hope you guys will like it!



Like? Dislike? =P Anyhow it was fun doing the video but I found it difficult and awkward talking into the camera by myself in public (I finally know how Nicki from View the Vibe feels lol).


So now that you've seen the video, I'm gonna give a quick overview for each burger. Before I begin, here are the chefs from each restaurant:


m:brgr - Chef Adam Rutherford
Origin - Chef Steve Gonzalez
Marben - Chef Carl Heinrich




Friday, May 27, 2011

Back for More Origin

I went to Origin for dinner more than 9 months ago, blogged about it, and ended the post with "...not sure if I will go to Origin again". Well, well, well, maybe what I meant to say was "...not sure if I will go to Origin again if I had to pay" because lo and behold, I found myself at Origin again several weeks ago for lunch. What for? It was one of my boss' birthday and my other boss suggested to go to Origin (they've never been). Woooohooo! =D  I remember the last time someone had a birthday in the office we went to Canoe ~ And guess what? My birthday is coming up in June too hehe. I know, it seems like I work for some baller company or something but honestly, I work at a very small firm so several birthdays once a year won't break their bank (it's all expensed anyway) But still, I realize that I'm pretty lucky and I heart my bosses. They are truly awesome.


Ok enough about work love, moving on to food love. 


A brief recap: the last time I went to Origin, everything was good, I didn't have any complaints. I merely thought that it didn't impress me as much as I thought it would given their price tag. Like I said at the end of my first post, I wouldn't mind going again with friends if they want to try out the place but personally, I will not voluntarily go and eat there again. Having said that, if money wasn't an issue (like this time) I wouldn't mind going back because their food is still good. However, although I didn't have to pay for this lunch, I still thought that some of their dishes were just ridiculously over priced.


K now that you are up to speed, let's go back to the lunch.


For office lunches now it's almost given that we order Gewurztraminer if we are having white wine (and if it's on the wine list). We all adore the grape.


I know this is stupid but thought I would share anyway. I was fiddling around with the utensils while waiting for food and noticed how the knife can stand up straight like that, all by itself. I dunno....I was impressed.


Hamachi ceviche + chilli + mustard + sweet potato + corn nuts + yucca ($19)

This dish was so very, very, very tiny, and the hamachi pieces were cut way too small. Although it looks pretty, the taste was average as the hamachi was swimming in that mustard sauce; pretty much a waste of fresh fish in my opinion. 




Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Khao San Road

I went to Khao San Road (@KhaoSanRoad) several Fridays ago for lunch. It was a spontaneous and last minute decision with a group of friends (a few of them were visiting from Calgary). I always thought I was going to try out Khao San Road   for dinner rather than lunch (I usually lay low for lunch / brunch and go all out for dinner - I will gladly go all out for lunch too if my wallet and waistline could afford to do so). But nah, I'm not complaining because my lunch at Khao San Road was outstanding.

Note: The "Love Life" grafitti you see up there is actually outside Khao San Road; we were sitting at a table right beside the windows facing the street.

Khao San Road is big and spacious, a far cry from the small space at Sukhothai (its sister restaurant which has been around since 2008, Khao San Road opened in January of this year). It has a clean and modern look to it with steel-framed wooden chairs and stools, silver lamps, and a huge bar that extends all the way to the back of the restaurant. If it weren't for the Thailand national flags, I think the venue can easily pass for a modern wine bar.



The entire wall at the back of the restaurant is a chalk board. This is an extension of what they had at Sukhothai (which had several small chalkboards on their walls).




Monday, May 23, 2011

Lemongrass (Bloor location)

I purchased a dealfind coupon awhile ago for the Bloor Lemongrass location. The coupon was a voucher worth $60 for food and drinks for $25 (I can never seem to pass up on these 58% off ones). And this particular location is actually near me for once, in Etobicoke (I live in Mississauga) so it was kinda enticing.


To tell you the truth, I thought of not blogging about this dinner as chain restaurants are boring. Worse, if it were not for this coupon, I probably wouldn't even step foot into Lemongrass. Nothing against Lemongrass; it's just that I am not too fond of Asian fusion in general nor Asian fusion chains (I despise Spring Rolls, I will never ever voluntarily go to Spring Rolls, too many bad experiences). I didn't expect much from Lemongrass - all I ask was that it be better than Spring Rolls, that is all. 


To my surprise, my dinner Lemongrass exceeded my expectation (at least this Bloor location). I don't know, maybe I walked in with zero expectations but I can definitely say that this one dinner at Lemongrass was better than all my previous experiences at Spring Rolls. Every item we ordered was actually pretty decent. Hence, I feel the need to write about it.



This Lemongrass location is located at the corner of a business building.From the outside, the restaurant didn't look too great - the sign looked old and it just didn't look polish and new like what you would expect from a chain. But the inside of the restaurant was bright and clean, a drastic difference to the outside.

With only my friend and I, we would be stuffing ourselves if we ordered $60 worth of food, especially when the dishes there weren't that expensive. That is why we decided to order 1/2 bottle of wine to eleviate our "burden" while maximizing our voucher.

Tom Yum Soup - with galangal ginger, lemongrass, lime leaf, chili, and shrimp.

This was actually really good - hot, but not too hot, nor too sour / tangy. The herbs were fragrant and the tomatoes and mushrooms were fresh. The shrimps were also a very decent size (forgot to take a picture) and its texture was firm.




Friday, May 20, 2011

School Dinner x 3

My last four times at School were all for dinner: one occasion being Cheese School, and the other three times were dinners with my friends - all within maybe, 3 months time? Pretty crazy, right? Well I love the food at School so what can I say? Anyway, to make it easier for myself, I combined the three dinners into this one mega dinner post. And in case you haven't seen my School brunch post, you must check that out too.


Oh and funny news guys! In a few months time, I will be moving office; out of the financial district (bye bye PATH) and into a building at Liberty Village that's literally a 2-minute walk from School!  IT MUST BE FATE! Instead of staying in the boring financial district, which I fully anticipated was going to happen, my bosses chose Liberty Village~ Hurray! 


K, back to dinner talk :)


I usually go for dinner right after work so I'm always the first one at School.


For all three dinners I sat at the same table, not on purpose, it just happened like that - it's the table by the window and directly below all the "3:30 clocks".





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Salut to New Zealand Wine Makers Dinner

I was invited by the lovely people at Salut Wine + Food Festival Series to attend the Salut to New Zealand Wine Makers Dinner last Wednesday, May 11th, at Victor Restaurant & Lounge, located at Hôtel Le Germain. Before I go on any further I just want to say a big THANK YOU to Salut Wine + Food Festival (@SalutToronto) for inviting me!


In case you haven't heard of Salut Wine + Food Festival, let me give you a bit of background info first. Salut Wine + Food Festival, which took place in Toronto this year from May 7 to May 14 (they were previously in Calgary from April 7 to 17) offers us Torontonians a week full of exciting and entertaining events catered to food and wine lovers, and events that bring you up close and personal with leading international and local winemakers, chefs, and food producers.


These amazing events are obviously right up my alley. And well, just my luck (or lack thereof), I came down with a sore throat + runny & stuffy nose combo exactly when the Salut Wine + Food Festival started =( I contemplated skipping this dinner altogether as I was feeling groggy the whole day at work, but...but...being the foodie that I am, I couldn't resist!


So I headed to Hôtel Le Germain right after work. Hôtel Le Germain is located right at the heart of the Entertainment District on Mercer Street, near King and John. Once I stepped into the lobby, I was immediately given a glass of Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvee Brut~


The reception took place in this beautiful room beside the lobby - it had glass walls that stretched all the way up to the second floor. The room also had a double-sided fireplace, a library, a cappuccino bar, and as you can see, a lot of big comfy sofas in the middle.




Monday, May 16, 2011

Fraticelli's Italian Grill & Lounge

I've never heard of Fraticelli's until it was suggested to me by my friend Nancy when I asked for brunch suggestions uptown on my Bluestone Bistro brunch post. I'm always so clueless about good non-Asian and non-chain restaurants in uptown (i.e. Markham & Richmond Hill) so I was pretty excited about trying Fraticelli's. I was able to round up three friends for dinner last minute on a Saturday night; although we weren't going for brunch, I checked out Fraticelli's dinner menu before going and it looked quite good.


We went at 6:00PM as Fraticelli's does not take reservations for less than 8 people on weekends. Good thing we went early because the restaurant filled up pretty quickly. We also noticed that there were a lot of families with small children there. Just an observation.


I wasn't able to take any pictures of the restaurant as I was sitting at a raised booth; I couldn't see much besides the one side where the booth opens up (the back of the booths are really high). In addition to that, the place was really, really dark; unless you sit by the windows (a section reserved for only big parties) the whole restaurant is really dark - I even had trouble seeing my friend's face across the table.


Our server was nice but she stumbled a lot when telling us the specials so it was hard to understand her. She seemed nervous.


We ordered a bottle of Malbec ($32). 



The bread was soft and warm with a crunchy crust. What was unique about the bread was actually the spicy dip that came with it.





Friday, May 13, 2011

The Downtown Deli

I went out for lunch a month ago with two girl friends, Elaine and Mei, who I met at the HUG Spa Party & Networking Event back in March. All of us pretty much work in the same area in the downtown core so meeting up for lunch was an easy task - it was just a matter of setting up a time and date. 


Elaine suggested trying The Downtown Deli at Yonge and Temperance, which I found out was less than a minute walk from my office. When I got there, I realized that this place used to be the Original Motorcyle Burgers (which I've been to once before and was "meh" at best).  The exterior of The Downtown Deli looks exactly the same as Originial Motorcycle Burgers - they only changed the sign and the windows. Anyway, seems like all the Original Motorcycle Burgers have now been converted to The Downtown Deli



When I walked in I was greeted by the owner behind the counter, or at least I think he was the owner. I'm pretty sure though because I vaguely remember him at Original Motorcycle Burgers when I went a year ago. 




Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip - Pizza Junction

Pizza Junction was the last Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ("DDD") restaurant that we could fit in for our DDD road trip. The restaurant is located in North Tonawanda, New York, near the Canada / US border, which is very convenient for us heading back to Toronto.


To avoid long weekend traffic back home, we left Pittsburgh early afternoon so when we got to Pizza Junction it was only around 4:30PM. We expected the early dinner so we didn't eat much for lunch.


Watch the DDD video. Look how much horseradish the guy puts in for the Beef on Weck Pizza! Look how much pulled pork he puts in the Pulled Pork Pizza! Portions are insaneeee~



When we got to Pizza Junction there was only one other table occupied in the dining room. Not surprised since it was only 4:30PM. The doors to the right in the picture leads to another room with a bar.




Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Burger Wars - Who Will Reign Supreme?

UPDATE: Tickets for Burger Wars are now 50% off! Simply enter promo code "BURGER" when you purchase your ticket at www.salutwinefestival.com (click on EVENTS tab). Join this event so you can cheer for your favourite burger and cast your vote. Remember, every vote counts! =D


Okay.  Everybody should know by now that I'm a BURGER GIRL. If you don't, then just look up; go on, look up at the banner on top, see the "anime" version of me at the top right corner? Yeah, that's supposed to be me, holding a burger in one hand and a "notepad" on the other. If that doesn't indicate to you that I love burgers, then I don't know what else will. Oh, I guess the pictures below also will ^_*




So, imagine my excitement when I got invited to Burger Wars - The Ultimate Salut Wine + Food Festival Wrap Up Party!!! 




Burger Wars is held this Sunday, May 15, 2:00PM - 6:00PM at m:brgr (@mbrgr) where three Toronto heavy weights; Origin (@origintoronto), m:brgr (who has home advantage), and Marben (@MarbenResto,) will be battling it out at the biggest burger battle Toronto has ever seen =) Burger Wars will have three of the city’s finest chefs in a juried burger war featuring top gourmet personality judges. There will also be a people’s choice award on the two categories of Best Classic Burger with Cheese and Best Free Style Burger. 


Oh yeah, as if burgers weren't enough, beer by Steam Whistle (@SteamWhistle) and soda by Fentimans (@fentimans) will also be provided.


So who will reign supreme? Who will receive bragging rights for a year? Join me by visiting Salut Wine + Food Festival Series for details to this amazing event so you can cheer on your favourite burger~


For me, I've only tasted two out of the three burgers (Origin and Marben) and has yet to try m:brgr. Can't wait ^_^







Monday, May 9, 2011

2011 Canadian Cheese Grand Prix Gala of Champions [VLOG]

I never knew a Canadian Grand Prix of Cheese existed until I was invited to one a few weeks ago. Not only did I feel honoured to be invited, I was also extremely excited. Why? Well y'all should know by now that I absolutely adore cheese; I'm no cheese connoisseur, not even close, but I do know that I love many types of cheeses. The last time I indulged in an insane amount of cheese was during Cheese School 101 at Schoolville where I got to taste a lot of different types of cheese, courtesy of The Village Cheesemonger. This time around, I was at a Grand Prix of Cheese, so just imagine how much cheese I had that night.


Sponsored and hosted by Dairy Farmers of Canada, which represents 12,965 dairy farmers, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix is the most prestigious cheese competition in Canada. It celebrates the high quality and proud tradition of cheesemaking in Canada. The competition is held every two years and showcases the different outstanding variety, taste and versatility of Canadian cheese that are made from 100% Canadian cow's milk (no imported dairy ingredients are permitted).


This year, the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix was held on Thursday, April 20th, at Palaise Royale; it was a classy and beautiful venue, perfect for the Gala. There were over 250 guests that night, including Dairy Farmers of Canada representatives, the competition finalists, representatives from the retail, food service, food processing, agri-food and government sectors.



There was a record number of entries this year for the competition, a total of 203 from across 6 provinces. I cannot even begin to imagine being a judge for this competition; seven judges, all top cheese experts, had to select winning cheeses in 17 different categories in two days, tasting each cheese, valuating them according to specific criteria including colour (uniformity of the rind, uniformity of the body), general appearance, texture & body (elastic, uniform, firm, semi-firm, soft, pasty, flexible, smooth, breakable, etc), compactness, flavour (neutral, acid, hazelnut, cream, fruity, sharp), and salt content, and finally, choose a Grand Champion. Not an easy task!





Friday, May 6, 2011

Sunday Brunch at Table 17

I've had dinner once before at Table 17 and I absolutely loved it. The food, the decor, the service, everything was phenomenal. I haven't been back since though; with my hectic schedule and my never-ending-and-always-expanding list of restaurants to try,  let's just say I don't have enough time to go back and visit some of my old favourites. I really wish there was more hours in a day, more days in a month, etc, etc...


So then, how did I end up at Table 17 for brunch? Well, Table 17 (@table17) has been really active on Twitter ever since it joined - they are fun, friendly, and extremely engaging on Twitter. They have also been doing a superb job in promoting not only their dinner menu, but also their brunch menu and specials. Needless to say I got curious about their brunch because of that, and was sold on it after seeing View the Vibe's "Sexy Sunday Brunch at Table 17". Anyway, I'm sure people on Twitter will agree with me that Table 17 has really made an impact in the Twitter community, so keep it up guys!


Before I move on, here is a newly released video of Table 17 from View the Vibe. Check it out! I'm confident that you will all be enticed to go afterwards too~


My friend and I went around 11:30AM and it was already really busy. We were seated at a table at the back of the restaurant. I think next time I will ask for a table by the window as it was rather dark where we were sitting, so the lighting is far from optimal for pictures =(





Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Diners, Drive-ins and Dives Road Trip - The Melting Pot

Apologizing in advance for the blog post title once again as The Melting Pot was never featured on the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives ("DDD"), but as I mentioned in my DDD road trip plan post, I needed to fit in a nice meal somewhere in my 3-day road trip; absolutely no burgers, no fries, no sandwiches allowed. None of that. I refuse.


I've always wanted to try The Melting Pot. It is a chain restaurant in the States that only does fondue. I know there are probably a lot of fine dining restaurants in Pittsburgh that are way more fancier and is not, well, a chain. But I didn't care. I wanted fondue at The Melting Pot.


We didn't make a reservation and thought it shouldn't be a problem on a snowy, Sunday night, but was shocked when we were told that we would need to wait an hour and a half for a table. Thank goodness it just so happens that there were two seats at the bar, equipped with fondue burner.



We chose to go all-out and went for the "Big Night Out", a four-course menu catered for two.





Monday, May 2, 2011

Kultura

My friend and I went to Kultura for her birthday back in February. Worked out great since I purchased a Fabfind voucher for the restaurant in January ($60 worth of food and drinks for $30). The coupon was pretty limited as it did not allow any reservations on Fridays or Saturdays after 6:30pm., but this was okay as my friend lives in downtown and I work in downtown so meeting up during the week was perfect. Anyway, I'm glad I got a chance to try Kultura with the voucher as I wouldn't have wanted to pay full price for the dinner - the food was average yet overpriced but we weren't even close to full. If not for the voucher, our dinner for two with one alcoholic drink would have been close to $100. I semi-expected this but what bugged me the most was the lack of service as it was pretty much non-existent.


A good friend of mine loves Kultura so I asked him before going that night what dishes I should order (Kultura is tapas style or in other words, shared plates). I also tweeted during the day asking for suggestions and got several replies regarding various dishes. I put them all in my phone.


This is the dining room downstairs with a bar at the far end. Some corporate happy hour event was going on at the time. My friend hasn't arrived yet so the hostess told me to wait at one of the tables here. 


When my friend arrived, we were led upstairs.