As someone that lives in Parkdale, I was very sad to see my go-to burger joint Stampede sold off. Luckily, it went to the owners of Grand Electric, who've done a reasonably good job of turning it into a fun, 80's memorabilia glad barbeque smoke house.
• Shrimp and Grits : My fav - great flavour but a bit stingy on the grits and slightly too saucy. More of an app size than a main.
• Roasted Cauliflower: Good sized portion and lots of nice little ingredient details with nuts and raisins that added texture.
• Hot Links: sausages: Way too juicy and spicy with not enough smoke - we didn't even finish the dish, which speaks volumes for people that love meat.
• Pickles: Meh, nothing special at all - skip 'em.
• Collard Greens: Ok - good flavour. Nothing more elevated than one might make at home though.
• Crack Rolls: Freshly baked buns with butter that had pan scrappings in it: Any food name that has "crack" as a descriptor should have a melt-your brain addictive quality - these did not. We used the bread to soak up the saucy grits instead.
• Banana Cream Pie in a jar: Good but not exceptional. The whole dessert in a jar trend is a bit annoying as the portions tend to be smaller (yes - I am a total pig).
• Soft Serve tea flavoured ice-cream: Surpisingly, this was one of my favourite items. The flavour was so subtle and light - it was delicious!
• Watermelon Porch Crawler Cocktail: I loved this drink, it was so light and refreshing and the flavour was delightful. Very pretty colour too.
Overall, the experience was really fun, (good service, fun decor, cool vibe), while the food itself (in total) was just ok.
That all said, we'll be back to try all the other items on the menu we missed this first round and see if they've worked out the kinks.
I keep seeing this quote reposted daily on Pinterest, attributed to someone called Sheamnessy, and it makes me question where feminism is heading.
I want to shake all of the women that keep posting it awake. It's as though they've been pinning shoes and listening to Chris Brown songs so long that they don't even know what they are reading, endorsing and spreading.
Let's break this down shall we?
Look like a girl.
So no matter who you are, what your outlook or style, or what age you happen to be, make sure you embrace youth and look young, look like a girl. Not a woman, but a girl.
I realize youth is king in our day and age, but I'm a woman and proud of it. My days of dressing, looking and behaving like a girl are firmly in the past and I'm more than ok with that. Hopefully, Sheamnessy can cope with Old Spice here.
Act like a lady.
What does that even mean? Who's telling me to act like what? Bit patronizing no? Do I need to be reminded to cross my legs, be nice and do as I'm told – is this 1950? Acting like a decent human being should be price of entry for all.
Think like a man.
Possibly the worst and most revealing offender of the lot. I should think like a man because thinking like a woman isn't good enough? Sheamnessy, has made an ignorantly misogynistic statement here. How does she or her fellow Pinners expect to succeed in life if they assume she and all other women are second best?
Work like a boss.
Why is the author presupposing that I'm not already the boss? Guess what, I am, and so are many other women. This is 2013; women entreprenuers account for 4 out of every 5 new businesses started.
The decor at ABC Kicthen is very, very feminine and pretty – almost looks like it was feathered by a woodland fairy or sprite. Not sure many (straight) men would go of their own accord with a buddy, but I loved the look. It's likely better for a girls night out or lunch.
We tired the crab toast (our fav) and the kabocha squash toast, as well as a mushroom pizza, and pretzel crusted calamari (did not taste an ounce of pretzel).
The only photo really worth posting is the dessert – which was the salted caramel sundae with popcorn, candied peanuts and chocolate sauce. It's not sophisticated in any way – it's just yummy.
I also had an order of their freshly baked cookies to go – but didn't like them one bit. Not buttery enough and very dry!
She's led a full life with many big fashion moments and collaborations. Some of which inspire massive eye rolls, and surprise at how much smaller the industry seemed in her early days, and others that are more quietly poignant and charming. The book is packed with name dropping and celebrities, so it's juicy enough on that front.
The idea of writing a memoir does make one pause though. It seems like an incredibly hard task to pull off without glossing over truly seminal events or over-indulging in others. The result can seem like a bit of a vain mess and not terribly dignified in the end. I sympathize, as I love the idea of a good biography, but they are rarely done well.
All that aside, if you're looking for a fun and light "fashion" book, this super quick read, will do ya. Took me one day to finish it.
Every review of the Nomad menu in the atrium I have read, falls all over itself gushing about the famous foie gras and truffle chicken sandwhich. Which of course, I had to order.
Now, it was good, of course. But was it thaaaat good? Hmmmm. Not sure. Thankfully, it wasn't overwrought, given two very powerful ingredients. I find most people are heavy-handed with truffles and they can dominate instead of enhance.
The crab eggs benedict that MB tried were sadly very lacking in their namesake ingredient – crab, so that seemed a bit silly and cheap.
The fries, however, were amazingly good. Very light and sprinkled with beautiful cripsy parsely and rosemary. Lastly, the small salad pictured directly above, had red cabbage and crackling, which was a nice contrast.
Not sure I would return on my next trip, but I'm glad we tried it. The light quality and the skylight in the space, is sort of pretty and the service was good.
Maison Kitsuné is also in the hotel, so when you leave, there's a nice little fashion pit stop to make.
What's more surprising to this newbie than Chris Rock showing up at the Comedy Cellar unannounced? The fact that he totally and completely bombed! And when I say bombed, I mean crickets. The crowd was not sleepy or out of it – they were going nuts for the previous and following acts – which were all really good incidentally. Chris' material was just beyond rough.
To be fair, he did warn us that it wasn't going to be good, and we came to learn that this is how all comedians test their acts over time. Either way, it was fascinating to see how much he obviously works at the material that makes it into his recorded specials. I previously thought he just spoke and gold nuggets fell out, but he obviously polishes his insights like mad.
Bad set aside, it was still pretty amazing to see him though, as I'm a big fan. Sneaked a quick snap before getting yelled at.
If you go – make sure to make reservations onine first. The line-ups are long!
In all my years of visiting NYC, I somehow never managed to visit Balthazar and now that I have – I'm sad I didn't go sooner. Albeit a bit pricey for what it is, I loved it. Good service, absolutely great food and charming atmosphere.
The escargot, lobster risotto, oysters and steak frites were delicious. Skip the seafood ceviche - it was not on par with the rest.
We tried the jerk chicken (it had some heat!), the crunchy coconut corn on the cob, fish tacos and banana pudding and they were awesome! Such a fun restaurant – great crowd, fun vibe and good music. Will absolutely return for another casual dinner out.
Paid a nice little visit to see the Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory in person.
Even though their line of chocolate has become so popular now that you can get them everywhere, MB and I wanted to see their operation firsthand – as we love their philosophical approach to their craft.
I also think I love it because their packaging design is a tastament to the power of branding. There are countless organic, fair trade chocolate brands on the market that insist on presenting themselves in stereotypical heavy-handed "green" looks. But the reality is, while those brands may be a fit on other ethical / production levels, they don't appeal to the child in us that wants a beautiful treat. Mast has struck the perfect balance between creating a great product in an ethical manner, while looking hand crafted and artisanal and also, very importantly, delighting the eye.
Starting off my reviews with one of my favourite meals of the trip. MB and I ventured out to Brooklyn one afternoon (so fast on the M train!) to sample the fare at Pies -N- Thighs and we were not dissapointed one bit.
MB had the fried catfish (he loved it) and I had the fried chicken on buttermilk buscuit with a side of hushpuppies. Everything was just delicious and the charming atmosphere made for a relaxing meal.
The only bummer was that the food was so filling that we had no room for the peanut butter crunch pie. Next time for sure.
The Parsley root soup with snails, bacon & fried bread is awesome. Also, loooved the Pork Pie - it had great flavour. The Cod with smoked potato & bacon was good too. The fancy orange chocolate marshmallow "Viva Puff" for dessert was charming and fun. Go try.
Obviously, my all-time favourite app is Instagram, for too many reasons to list here, but one thing I will wax on about is how great it has been for my exposure to new brands. Had I not been trolling through Paris Capsule Show hashtags, I would never seen the above photo from attendee @lyndsaymcgregor and pounced like a cat!
I think this is one of the most charming, original ideas for a gift I've seen in a while. You submit a drawing your child did to Child's Own Studio and they make a custom plush toy based on it. Brilliant.
(I did a crazy tour of Europe at Christmas – Paris, London, Berlin & Rome and it was wonderful. But as soon as I started back at work, my motivation to post about all the things I did became rather daunting. So, I'm going to post about individual things as they occur to me now versus being chronological. So bare with me if my posts seem to jump around!)
If you want a boutique hotel in Rome with the hot new restaurant and a cool bar scene, this is not your place. If you're looking for something decidedly more calm and peaceful – Hotel Donna Camilla Savelli is worth a look. It was the last hotel I stayed at during my tour and my most favourite. A converted monestary, it's a pretty little gem of a hotel with a beautiful courtyard filled with lemon trees. Located in the Trastevere neighborhood in the west bank of the city – south of Vatican City, it's in an area crammed with character thanks to the narrow cobbled streets lined by medieval buildings that house tiny shops and restaurants.
In terms of location, we basically walked everywhere we needed to go within 20 minutes, so we never needed to take cabs or transit, which was ideal.
Overall, a charming hotel that was just the right fit for a quiet little Christmas stay.
It's truly hard to find anything negative to say about the food at Sushi Kaji. It really is exceptional in terms of freshness and flavour. The fatty tuna was easily the best I have ever had.
And yet, even after watching Jiro: Dreams of Sushi, that shows the world's best sushi master modestly situated in the basement of corporate building next to a subway, I was still bothered by the lacklustre airport lounge decor and location in an Etobicoke strip mall.
I know these things are not supposed to matter so much when you are in the presence of greatness. I also know that I forgive shabby locations all the time when certain other types of amazing street foods are involved.
But yet, I was bothered the entire time throughout the meal by the space design, like a little fly buzzing around my head. I just kept saying to myself, why must this place be so ugly? It felt unnecessary, distracting, inconsistent with the food, and worst of all – cheap.
That little cube is pickled watermelon rind. The smallest and most delicious detail.
If Hoof Raw Bar was situated next to my office, I would literally eat there every single day – that's how much I love it. As it stands, I'm averaging every Friday for dinner. Last night I missed it, and I can tell you I felt sincere regret because I've come to really look forward to how good their food makes me feel.
Over the last month, I have visited HRB about 5 times, and in that time, have sampled every single item on the menu and like a perfect album, there isn't one song or note out of place.
I realize I sound like a gusher, but it's so rare to come across an accessible restaurant where you can literally choose anything off the menu and you'll be happy – more than happy in fact. The flavour combinations are surprising and illicit conversations that attempt to deconstruct their layers.
Each time I have visited to date, I've seen a big group waiting next door for sister restaurant Black Hoof, and yet, Raw remains generally empty-ish until almost 1.5 hours later. That's probably why I've avoided posting about it. The place feels like a delicious secret still, without the silly line-ups like BH and Grand Electric.
Dishes that you must try: the shrimp toast with egg yolk cooked sous vide, salmon in a can with chips with pickled egg white, the squid salad cooked sous vide with flying fish roe, the smoked muscles, the ceviche, the cured board, and I could go on...
Also worth noting – they have a excellent selection of tomato-based cocktails (caesars, bloody marys and two other RHB originals).
Lastly, the staff have been consistently warm and generous – even gifting us a jar of the smoked muscles we raved about once.
Paulette's retro storefront and sweet staff charms you when you arrive. The nostaligic look of it makes you feel like you're about to be taken care of.
Aside from the lack of space to sit and eat, (they have a few stools and one bench outside), I really liked the experience. I certainly wouldn't go there too often given the decidely unhealthy bent to the whole menu, but it was a tasty treat. The chicken has a crust akin to a springroll – which was really crunchy and surprising and the donuts come in some unusually delicious flavour combinations. Defintely go and give it a try!
They also cater. We brought in their donuts for a client meeting recently and they were a big hit.
I love Montreal, I do. But I guess I should confess that the main purpose for visiting the fair city this weekend was really just to eat at Au Pied de Cochon.
We asked the chef to bring us whatever he wanted – his favourite / signature dishes. He presented us with the trotters, the foie gras and boudin noir tart, the seared tuna, an epic seafood platter & the amazing duck in a can.
In a word, everything was excellent. But the duck in the can stole the show for me. It had the most rich and deeply satisfying flavour.
Also not to be missed is dessert!. Even though Martin Picard's Sugar Shack isn't open yet – the sweet things on the PDC menu are not to be glossed over. This man is as talented with maple syrup as he is with meat. The baked pastery with strawberries and ice-cream I had at the end of our meal resulted in uncontrollable happy moaning because it was so good.