Monday, July 20, 2015

Niagara-On-The-Lake with GO Transit

Woohoo! With the summer season in full swing it is time to take advantage of the glorious weather and the great outdoors. Weekends are jam-packed with so many things to do, people to see and places to explore. It is also the perfect time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city and plan a weekend adventure. Not sure where to go? Well, if you love visiting places with a "small-town" feel, enjoy shopping, appreciate good food and wine, world-class theatre and beautiful scenery, then I highly recommend that you visit Niagara-on-the-Lake. Situated on the south shore of Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Niagara River, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a one of the loveliest, if not the loveliest, town in Ontario. So, after checking the weather forecast, I decided to do a fun day trip out to Canada's premier wine region last Saturday.

Instead of driving, I ditched my car and took the GO. I never knew it was so convenient! With stops on the Lakeshore West line at Union Station, Exhibition, Port Credit, Oakville and Burlington GO Stations, and St. Catharines and Niagara Falls VIA Stations, GO makes it easy for anyone looking to do a weekend getaway to Niagara.

Since I live in Mississauga, I hopped on the GO Train at Port Credit Station, got off at St. Catharines, then took the GO bus shuttle to Niagara-on-the-Lake. You have no idea how great it feels to not have to drive and deal with traffic (driving in Toronto has permanently scarred me). I also love that I could relax and sneak in some precious zzz's on the train. 

I, unfortunately, don't own a bike but if you do, make sure you take it with you because getting around by bike is a great way to explore wine country. GO has made it extremely convenient for you to bring yours, with two special bike coaches on their Niagara-bound trains. All you have to do is lock up your bike and enjoy a worry free ride. All GO Buses are also outfitted with bike racks.

The GO Bus dropped us off at the corner of Picton and King, right in front of the prestigious Prince of Wales Hotel. Once I got off the bus I realized the historic town was packed! I guess everybody was taking advantage of the beautiful weather. I was so glad I didn't drive as it would've been really difficult to find parking.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

TABASCO® - Feed Your Original With The Original

TABASCO® - the hot and spicy legendary pepper sauce that's made exclusively from tabasco peppers, vinegar and salt. I don't think there's anyone on earth that haven't heard of the household name; it's almost like saying you haven't heard of McDonald's, or Coca-Cola, or Disney. Yeah, I went there, only 'cause I see TABASCO® Sauce as the king of all hot sauces. It may not be the hottest hot sauce out there but TABASCO® is the real deal. It's the "original" pepper sauce that everybody knows of and I bet that almost every single home and restaurant owns a bottle of it in the kitchen. Damn, the fact that TABASCO® was founded over 100 years ago in 1868 is incredibly impressive too. That in itself says something, right?

When you think of TABASCO® Sauce, or even just hot sauce in general, it's usually an afterthought in that one would usually add a dash of it to a dish that's already been prepared and ready to eat. However, that perception went straight out the window when I was invited to the exclusive TABASCO® Feed Your Original With The Original event last week.

Here, let me put all this into context for you. It all started when TABASCO® (Instagram: @tabascocanada, Facebook: Tabascosent Canada's hottest Chef collective, The Group of 7 Chefs, down to Avery Island, Louisiana, the birthplace and home of TABASCO®, to immerse them in the culture and heritage of the island, and inspire them as they planned their original dish, one that uses TABASCO® Sauce as an ingredient. I suggest you take a few minutes and watch this short film documenting the Chefs' amazing adventure in Louisiana!

The Chefs returned truly inspired, and on Tuesday, July 7th, each of the seven chefs prepared a dish using TABASCO® Sauce in the most creative way, and guests that evening had the opportunity to be first-to-taste and savour these original creations. 

The #feedyouroriginal Group of 7 Chefs:

Monday, July 13, 2015

Kabuki Sushi Lounge

Now that summer is finally here I'm feeling very motivated to hit up Shops at Don MillsOntario's first open air shopping centre (shopping outside in the dead of winter has never appealed to me). As a matter of fact, even if you're not much of a shopper the outdoor mall is still a very fun spot to just hang out - it's a nice place to take your significant other and if you have little kids they'll probably enjoy playing at the Town Square too (the Town Square is essentially a big patch of grass which converts into a skating rink in the winter). You can also walk your dog, grab coffee, get your dry cleaning done, have lunch, have dinner, or go see a movie... basically you get a lot of things done there. And if you are finally down for some shopping you can shop your heart out at over 70 retail stores. I should also mention that Shops at Don Mills is an awesome place for people-watching and car-watching.

Here's a tip from me: Never go shopping with an empty stomach. Shopping is hard work so having a proper meal before hitting the shops is crucial (feeling exhausted after two hours of shopping is unacceptable ladies). If you're looking to fuel up before your shopping sesh at Shops at Don Mills I suggest you check out Kabuki Sushi Lounge (Instagram: @kabukisushilounge, Facebook: Kabuki Sushi Lounge). Treat yourself to some delicious sashimi before conquering the shops (no carbs = no bloated tummy) and if you can't fit in a sit-down lunch then make sure your grab a drink or dinner at Kabuki afterwards. Why? For the marvelous job you did snagging those Louboutins, of course! What I'm trying to say is there's always time for tasty Japanese food. And you know what's amazing? Kabuki offers complimentary valet, which just means more time for eating and shopping!

First, a bit of background on the restaurant. Kabuki Japanese Resturant first opened in 1999 at Bayview Village Shopping Centre as a family business operated by Philip Yam and his two sons, Carson and Jason. For more than 15 years, the casual 60-seat restaurant served traditional sushi and Japanese dishes to its local clientele. In February 2015, the Yam family made an executive decision to relocate the restaurant to Shops at Don Mills. Now operating as Kabuki Sushi Lounge, the new location promises a new and exciting menu that serves both authentic and modern Japanese plates.

The new Kabuki's lofty interior is chic and contemporary. There are tables against the two walls, by the large window at the front of the restaurant, as well as booth seating in the middle of the room (this is unique since booths are usually off to the side). Kabuki can accommodate up to 80 people inside and 24 people on the patio.

I noticed that the flatscreens above the Kabuki bar are always showing news, sports and Japanese anime (one screen each). The TVs here definitely contributes to the "lounge" aspect of the restaurant.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

New Dinner Menu at Mildred's Temple Kitchen

I made my way to Mildred's Temple Kitchen (Twitter: @mildredstempleFacebook: Mildred's Temple Kitchen) several weeks ago for their newly launched dinner menu. Hidden in the heart of Liberty Village, the restaurant prides itself on serving flavourful dishes cooked simply and using the freshest locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. 

"Mildred’s Temple Kitchen opened with a heartfelt philosophy. We’re here because we love food, people and the simple pleasures of life: our temple is the place where we practice our devotionHere you’ll find seasonal fare, prepared with reverence for its source, and served with pleasure." - Mildred's Temple Kitchen.

Mildred's Temple Kitchen used to be my go-to place for lunch when I worked in the area, and I didn't realize just how much I miss the place until this very visit! That high ceiling, those beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows, the super spacious room, and the casual and relaxing ambiance...yeah, not many restaurants in Toronto can claim they have all these elements (actually a lot of restaurants these days are crammed, dark, and loud).

Mildred's open kitchen.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

4 to 7 Bar Snacks at Nota Bene

You know I'm always looking out for you guys, right? In terms of food-related stuff like where I went to eat, if I liked the food or not, what my favourite dishes were, whether I would go again, etc. Well, last week Nota Bene (Twitter: @NotaBeneToronto, Facebook: Nota Bene Restaurant) invited me to try out their new bar snacks menu "4 TO 7" and long story short, I liked it! It's a steal and I would definitely want to go again.

Offered Monday to Friday from 4PM to 7PM, Nota Bene's "4 TO 7" menu offers a variety of bar snacks for $4 (they become $7 from 7PM till close). The "4 TO 7" menu consists of 10 snacks.

The 10 snacks from Nota Bene's "4 TO 7" menu look something like this:


Kimchi mayo

Grilled miche, olive oil