Thursday, January 29, 2015

Taste the Season 2014 [Niagara on the Lake]

This time for Taste the Season (@NiagaraWine) we only got time a day trip instead of staying overnight like here, here and here. We took it slow this time but still manage to make 11 stop out of the 26 wineries participating. I know a lot of people try to avoid the wine country during the colder months but I highly recommend it since it's just as beautiful.

2012 Triomphe Cab Franc
Paired w/ Duck Confit, pear & Brie Phyllo Tart

2013 Trius Cabernet Franc
Paired w/ Spiced Quinoa with Chorizo Sausage and Vine Tomato Sauce

2012 Oak Aged Chardonnay
Paired w/ Chef Collin Goodine's Savoury Sage & Squash Soup
They always do the best pairing and this was another hit, love the presentation, the color and nothing beats a hot bowl of soup on a cold day. The earthy sweet flavor of the squash paired surprisingly well with the oak-y flavor of the Chardonnay.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Spicy Tofu [Recipe]

Spicy Tofu [Recipe]

I instagram this a week ago and seems like a lot of people are interested, as usual I do not have the exact measurements so please taste as you go. This is a very simple with minimal cooking recipe, hope you all like it.
Ingredients :
Firm Tofu
Minced Garlic & Ginger
Soy Sauce
Korean Gochujang Sauce
Rice Vinegar (optional)
Seasame Oil
Green Onions
Sesame Seeds
1) Pat dry your tofu with paper towel before slicing, it really depends on the tofu but some do have more water than others. If the brand you use tends to splatter a lot when you pan fried it, you may need an extra step. You may want to rub a bit of salt on it, let it sits for 10 minutes or so and then rice it and pat dry with paper towel.
2) Pan fried the sliced tofu, depending what kind of texture you want you can slice it thin or thicker. I like mine thin so it's crispy. I also tried to use a non-stick pan so I can use minimal of oil. Pan fry both sides until golden brown.
3) Mix the other ingredients together and taste as you go. I like to add a bit of Rice vinegar to it for the acidity and also to thin the sauce but it's optional (you can use water too if you find it too thick)
4) Top the tofu with the sauce or keep it on the side as dipping sauce.
~ I like to grate my garlic and ginger with a micro grater which make it a lot easier.
~ For better presentation, you can leave the green onions and sesame seeds out of the sauce and sprinkled on top instead.
~ Switch up the Gochujang Sauce with other hot sauces like Sriracha or even use Korean pepper flakes for a runnier sauce which would go perfect with a less firm/softer tofu.

Philz Coffee [San Francisco]

We just happens to pass by Philz Coffee (@PhilzCoffee) on our way here and since it was on my to-try list and it's early in the morning, we just had to stop by.

Currently they have 18 locations with more to come and this was the Civic Center location in San Francisco (see all the locations here). It was early morning, so there was quite a line up with people on their way to work.

So many roast to choose from and made fresh manually, no drip machine here.

But I was here for their Mint Mojito Iced Coffee; after hearing about this from a friend, I made it my mission to come and try it since mojito is one of my favorite cocktail after all and it's combine with another love of my live COFFEE. This was very refreshing with plenty of mint leaves crushed just like you would a mojito (not fake syrup) , it was more milk/cream than coffee but I guest if the coffee was too strong it would overpower the mint taste. It was a super refreshing and yummy drink, loved it although it didn't satisfied my coffee addiction (oh well, I end up trying 2 other coffee places that day)

Will definitely try making one this summer since we don't have it here in Toronto (^_<)
Related San Francisco Post:
State Bird Provision [Modern/California/DimSum]
Philz Coffee [Mint Mojito Iced Coffee]
 Akiko's Restaurant [Japanese]
Mission Chinese Food [Chinese Szechwan]

Philz Coffee on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Megalomaniac [Ontario Winery]

Back in November, we went on a day trip to Wine Country once again mainly for Taste the Season and also to replenish our stock of wine for the holidays. I can't help by stop by Megalomaniac (@megalomaniacJHC) to check out their new tasting room and also to stock up.
Remember my post here where the tasting room was a tiny cave/cellar but now there a brand new building sitting on top of that original spot.

With the red walls and all those chandeliers, it was difficult to imagine what it use to be like. With the large space and the big windows overlooking the vineyard, I can only imagine a lot of future function being host here... maybe a candlelit dinner on this long table?! ♥

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Swan Oyster Depot [San Francisco]

Swan Oyster Depot being name one of the best Oyster Bar in the states (example here&here) and also being featured in Anthony Bourdain's Layover episode here, this was a must eat place during our San Francisco trip. Opened since 1912, this tiny 18 stools oyster bar is famous for it's hour long line up by both locals and tourist alike. To avoid the long line up, we decided to head there bight and early at 10:30am their opening time. The place was filled up right away and a line start forming outside, who would have guess there would be so many people who want oysters for breakfast.

It was a very narrow space with the bar running through the whole space with memorabilia and old pictures of the place

Love the setup in front of us with the crackers, mignonette, fresh horseradish and lemons

We were quickly offered some Sourdough Bread with tons of butter... Sourdough is basically synonym with San Francisco, I wonder if every restaurant there serve just that?! Don't get me wrong I like sourdough but I tend to prefer it on it's own with butter since the flavor is pretty strong, I find it a bit overpowering paired with other food.

Clam Chowder Bowl
Full of clams and potatoes, it wasn't very thick and heavy as I expected but still felt very hearty.

Clam Cocktail
All freshly shuck with all the juices served with a huge bowl of their cocktail sauce on the side. Love how they kept all the salty sweet juices since it's pure goodness. I thought the cocktail sauce was a bit too sweet, I prefer it a lot better on it's own since it was so fresh and sweet.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Wiseys Pies & Bakehouse

Saw some pictures online and just can't wait to try our the newly opened Wiseys Pies & Bakehouse (@WiseysPiesTO).

They served Kiwi-style meat pies here with tender, flakey crust and filled with rich, savoury ingredients but they also serve sweet latticed fruit pies.

A very cottage vibe, love this brightly lite spot here with the barn board wall.

We opted for the more traditional ones but they also have flavors like Butter Chicken and Thai Green Curry etc.

Mince & Cheese Pie $5.50
 This was our favorite out of the two we tried since it was more saucy and give you a much warmer feeling for this cold winter day.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Patois [Chinese Caribbean]

Patois (@patoistoronto) is serving what they describe as "Caribbean meets Asian Soul Food" which is definitely better than the very scary word "fusion".

The décor is hard to describe with colorful chairs, the fun inflatable buoys, the big Mom sign at the back and black & white old photographs hanging on one wall... somehow everything just goes together and it's fun.

 Daily special on the board and love the bright red Juicy Jerk sign.

Not only do they have daily cocktail specials, they also served them in Chinese  teapots that can serve 3-4ppl at $40. Will have to get that next time.

Jamaican Patty Double Down $7
~ Two cocktail patties, bacon, Swiss cheese fondu, sriracha
The patties were nice and flaky and filled with yummy beef. Never would have imagine Jamaican patty would be so much better with cheese, bacon and sriracha.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter Chef Series - Marc Lepine [popup]

Matt Blondin of The Food Dudes presented Winter Chef Series, pop up sinners featuring top chefs from across Canada held between Dec 2nd and 21st. We attended the 3rd one featuring Marc Lepine of Atelier in Ottawa, a restaurant that I have been wanting to visit and what an amazing deal at $89pp for a 12 course dinner (+$45 for wine pairing).

 We were told to arrive early to hand and and enjoy some cocktail.

Guest Chef : Marc Lepine, Atelier, Ottawa
Host Chef : Matt Blondin, MBA Group, Toronto
Wines By: Mark Coster, Noble Estate, Toronto

Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco, DOC, Bottega Spa, Italy

a needle in an avocado stack
~ avocado oil, lime

foie balls
~ foie gras, freeze dried fruit

Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival 2015 [Contest]

I'm giving away ONE PAIR of tickets to 

Steam Whistle Brewing (@SteamWhistle) will be hosting it's 2nd Winter Craft Beer Festival at Roundhouse Park. I dare you to join me once again for this crazy Canuck Winter fun?! Had so much fun last year although it was freezing (see my post from last year event here).

Date: Saturday Jan 31, 2015

Location: Roundhouse Park
(55 Bremner Blvd)
Time: 11-5pm
Ticket Details:  
Sampling Glasses can be purchased in advance for $20 (sold out) or for $25 at the door. Beer will only be served in the official glasses with beer sampling tokens costing at $1 and food can be purchased with cash (more details here)

Come Early:
The first 500 people through the gate get a signature Winter Roundhouse Craft Beer Fest toque!  

Participating Brewers : 
* Steam Whistle Brewing * Amsterdam Brewing * Beau’s All Natural Brewing * Big Rig Brewery * Black Oak Brewing * Block Three Brewing * Cameron’s Brewing * Flying Monkeys Brewery * Great Lakes Brewery * Highlander Brew Co. * King Brewery * Lake of Bays Brewing * Left Field Brewery * Maclean’s Ale * Mill St. Brewery * Muskoka Brewery * Niagara College Teaching Brewery * Oast House Brewers * Publican House Brewery * Railway City Brewing * Side Launch Brewing * Thornbury Cider * Underdog’s Brewhouse * Wellington Brewery

Participating Food Vendors :   
* Bay of Quinte Cheddar Ale Trail (partnering with Barley Days Brewery) Chimney Stax * Mr. Corn * Ninutuk Maple Sugar * Pappas Greek * Smoke’s Poutinerie * Sugar Mamma’s  * The Pizza Truck

What's to do : 
* Sample brews from some of Ontario’s best craft brewers and eats from local food trucks
* Get in style with your limited edition 2015 signature Roundhouse Winter Craft Beer Festival toque (first 500 through the door)
* Calling all ski bunnies and lumberjacks! Show off your retro ski and winter wear – prizes for the best getups
* See a live brewing demonstration
* Keep warm and partake in fun winter-inspired activities and games such as giant Jenga and Tug-of-War and ice carving.
* Roast Marshmallows on outdoor fire pits
* For the bravest Canucks there will be outdoor port-o-potties and for the faint-of-heart, limited outdoor heating, and indoor bathrooms & warm-up areas
* Own your winter bragging rights 

The event will benefit the Toronto Railway Museum in Roundhouse Park 


Good Luck!!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

State Bird Provision [San Francisco]

We headed over to San Francisco after Las Vegas and State Bird Provision (@statebirdsf) is probably on top of my to-eat list. I plan my trip (aka restaurant research / reservation) probable over 2 months in advance and I still haven't been able to snatch a reservation. Good thing is they set aside a good portion of seats for walk ins.

They open at 5:30pm and we decided to head there at least half an hour early to line up (so unlike me who hate waiting in line for anything usually). It just happened that we were staying closer than we expected and arrives an hour early but there was already a huge line up... yes, we did line up for more than an hour (>_&lt;) Good thing was, we were seated right away (no more waiting) since some people in front of us was there to get a table later that night.
Being voted as the Best New Restaurant of 2013, I had my eyes on this place for a while and was beyond excited to try. Love the "dim sum" concept where they bring out their daily specials of small plates on carts and trays with the price right next to it, then mark it on your "menu card". Yup just like dim sum!
Then there's larger plate on their regular menu/a-la-carte.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro

With over 50 gourmet burgers to choose from, I was really excited to finally check out The Works (@worksburger). They first opened in 2001 in Ottawa and now has 26 locations, they have also won many awards, including Ottawa's best Burger for the past 13 years in a row.

It's a full service gourmet burger restaurant unlike many other burger places in Toronto which is self served. All their burgers are made with fresh Canadian beef and hand press daily. Not into beef, there's 6 other patty option on top of the standard beef and cheese stuffed beef which include elk, chicken, veggies and mushroom.

Bacontella Shake
~ Everyone's favourite Nutella blended with smoked bacon and creamy Canadian Ice Cream topped with whipped cream & even more bacon
This was the regular/medium size and the 2 of us couldn't even finished it since it's so thick and filling but be warned, it's super addictive.

Kamikaze Burger w/ side of Spicy Die-Cut Chips + Gravy
~ Jalapeno, chipotle & banana peppers, cheddar cheese & hotter than hell sauce
 Although the description sounded really spicy, it was actually not that spicy and I somehow wish there was something extra to it... maybe the standard lettuce & tomato or even avocado maybe?! Although love the pickled peppers and the juicy patty, I wasn't a big fan of the combination and the excessive sauce.  But let's move on to the Spicy die-cut chips, it was the highlight of the meal for me and I can't stop eating them. Super thin slices of potato with crispy edge and soft center (yes it's possible even if it this thin) and even you don't see any peppers or "red" to indicate it was spicy, it does pack some kick to it. Plus the recommendation of gravy on the side by our waiter was spot on. Would come back just for them and I would be a happy girl (^_^)

Persimon from Spain [Recipe]

I have been a huge fan of persimmons for years but usually I like to enjoy it as it. Never really thought I would use it in any kind of recipe until Sandy introduce me to Persimon from Spain (@PersimonSays) and asked me to try out some of their recipe.
An interesting fast is that the Persimon from Spain is always ready to eat unlike the "Asian" variety that I am use to eating which have to be super ripe and soft. They are larger and longer than the other varieties that I used to have and are available for only a short period of time (usually from mid October until February). Love the different crunchier texture which I think make it great to use it a lot of dishes/recipe.
These are grown in the Ribera del Xúquer Valley near Valencia in Spain. It's an indigenous variety to the region, was first discovered growing in Valencia more than 50 years ago and is thought to have developed naturally from the conventional persimmon varieties that were introduced into eastern Spain.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to go grocery shopping this holiday season, so instead made something out of what I had at home.
Persimon Chia Seed Pudding
Chia Seed Pudding:
1/4 Cup Chia Seed
1/2 Cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 Cup Milk
Maple Syrup or honey (depending how sweet you like it)
Mix the above ingredients and let it sit for 20 minutes or in the fridge overnight. Feel free to add more milk if you think it turns out too thick for your taste.
Just layer it with small bits of persimmon and I top it with some pomegranate seeds for the extra pop of color. This would also be great if you could purée some of the persimmon for the middle layer instead.

Enter Contest for a chance to win 2 return tickets to Spain here
 ***Persimon from Spain provided me with the persimmon and gift card for the purchase of the ingredients needed***
*** All opinions are my own ***