Thursday, April 30, 2009

Toronto Weekend, Part 2: Pancakes from Scratch – April 19, 2009

Note: This pancake recipe is slightly different from the ones I’ve posted before. I improvise a lot, especially when I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Anyway, enjoy an (almost) step-by-step recipe with photos!

Christine had been craving pancakes, so we whipped some up from scratch on Sunday morning. I mixed the first batch, and she took the photos with the new camera.

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Start by melting 4 tbsp butter. Normally, I would have taken out the butter the night before, and left it at room temperature so that the butter is soft but not melted. I forgot that we were making pancakes, so we just melted some cold butter in the microwave.

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While the butter is heating up, combine 2 tbsp sugar, ¼ tsp salt, and 1 tsp vanilla in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well.

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Add 2 eggs to the mixture. These eggs should be at room temperature. If they aren't, you may risk having them cook and scramble in the butter mixture. Whisk together well, until the mixture starts to lighten.

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Add 2 cups flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1 tsp baking soda to the bowl. Stir lightly. Slowly pour ½ cup milk as you mix. You may need to add more or less milk, depending on the consistency of the batter. The milk should be at room temperature, but if it isn’t, that’s not a problem. You will notice, though, that your batter will be slightly thicker because the cold milk cools down the butter mixture.

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Take care not to over-mix the batter. It should be thick, and there should be lumps remaining. If you are trying to get it completely smooth, you will beat out the air and end up with flat, rubbery pancakes.

Let the batter sit for at least 10 minutes to let it settle.

Heat up a pan to medium-high with a small pat of butter and about 1 tsp canola oil. You don’t want to be deep-frying the pancakes, just enough so that they don’t stick to the pan. I suggest using a non-stick pan for this.

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Drop 2 tsp batter into the pan to form one pancake. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look round. As the batter heats up, it will relax into a quasi-round shape.

Make sure the heat isn’t up too high. If the oil smokes, turn down the heat, remove the pan, and wait for the pan to stop smoking. You need a medium-high heat to brown the pancakes and cook them through. Otherwise they will be both burned and undercooked at the same time. You’ll probably have to readjust the heat constantly, unless you have an electric griddle.

You should also beware of having the heat down too low. The heat will cause the bubbles to rise and pop before cooking and setting. You will essentially cook out the bubbles, which will result in flat, rubbery pancakes.

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If you want to add blueberries or chocolate chips, add them after you’ve dropped the batter into the pan. Mixing them into the batter will create irregularly-shaped pancakes because the batter won’t be able to spread uninhibited by little knobby things. Also, make sure to push the blueberries/chocolate chips all the way down, so they won’t burn when you flip them over.

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Look for bubbles to rise to the surface and slightly cooked edges before you flip the pancakes. If you’re unsure, use a spatula to peek at the bottom. They should be golden brown and spotty.

Flip the pancakes and let them cook for less than a minute. It takes much less time on the second side because you’ve already heated up the pancake batter on the pan. Again, it should look golden brown, though less spotty.

There aren’t any pictures of stacks and stacks of pancakes because we were snacking on them throughout and eating platefuls from the pan. Yummy!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Toronto Weekend, Part 1 - April 18, 2009

Since it doesn’t look like I’ll be catching up on my posts anytime soon, I’m just going to blog about last weekend’s trip to Toronto before I start to forget all the details.

Christine got me a new camera! I am totally in looooooooooooooove with this one. It’s a Canon PowerShot SX110 IS. She gave me a few lessons on aperture and shutter speed, and I can’t stop playing with all the settings. I’m actually using the manual function to set all the settings myself. Woot!


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Here’s one of the many practice shots I took on the first day. There’s such a big difference in quality.

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Anyway, Saturday night, we ate pizza and wings from Pizza Pizza. The first pizza had Italian sausage, pepperoni, red onions, and extra sauce. Man, it had a whooooooole lotta sauce.

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The second pizza had Italian sausage (my aunt loves Italian sausage), green peppers, pineapple, and extra sauce.


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The wings were regular wings (not the extra crispy ones). They paired nicely with the sweet and tangy BBQ sauce.

I think that’s all we ate that day. Jimmy and I were at Pacific Mall earlier, but failed to take any pictures of the snacks we ate.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

*Updated: Phnom Penh Noodles aka Ka Tieu Phnom Penh aka Geem Tak Goo-ui Dee-ow aka Hủ tiếu Nam Vang - March 27, 2009 *

Updated: We had a very tasty version of Phnom Penh ka tieu in Montreal. Check it out here, the pictures are much better.

Before I start jabbering about these noodles, I wanted to point out that this picture is crappy because I thought my camera died. The flash refused to work, so that’s why I’ve got a really ugly photo.

In any case, Phnom Penh noodles beat out pho in my books. This dry Cambodian noodle dish packs a wallop of flavour, and they impact your taste buds more than pho. I can only eat one bowl of pho before the spices overwhelm me, but with Phnom Penh noodles, I can eat up to three bowls (plus a bowl of soup)! It’s pretty refreshing for a pork-based noodle dish.

Khmer-speakers call it "Ka Tieu Phnom Penh." In my dialect, it’s called “Geem Tak Goo-ui Dee-ow,” with Geem Tak translating as Phnom Penh (capital city of Cambodia). In Vietnamese, it’s known as “Hủ tiếu Nam Vang,” where Nam Vang is Phnom Penh.

Side note: my family was part of the Chinese diaspora in Cambodia, which is why we eat such a wide variety of foods.


Phnom Penh noodles normally come in two parts. First, a bowl of dry noodles, pictured here. The noodles are dressed in oyster sauce, dark soy sauce (for colour), fried garlic oil, green onions, and cilantro. That’s the basic flavouring. Then you can add pretty much whatever toppings you want. Minced pork and dried shrimp, shrimp, crab meat, sliced pork meat and organs, sliced chicken, bean sprouts, whatever! Here, I’ve got pork balls, fake crab meat, and minced pork and dried shrimp.

Christine's comments: In addition to the oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, fried garlic oil (with a bit of the fried garlic bits), green onions and cilantro, I like to add hoisin sauce to sweeten the noodles up a bit and a bit of broth to loosen up the noodles.

The second part (not pictured in this post) is a bowl of soup. Normally, it’s a super clear, super rich pork soup topped with your choice of meats and garnished with the requisite fried garlic oil, green onions, and cilantro. At a restaurant, these two parts are served together, but I like having a bowl of dry noodles followed by soup noodles.

Though the soup is normally made with just pork, I like to add a chicken leg or two to round out the flavour. My recipe is fairly simple. Boil water, toss in pork and chicken bones, sprinkle liberally with salt, turn heat to medium, boil for ten minutes, skim off scum, add half an onion and one carrot, turn heat down to a slow simmer, add a teaspoon of dried shrimp and two teaspoons of fish sauce, and simmer until the smell makes your mouth water and the soup is clear and tinged with yellow (about three hours). The soup is packed with flavour from the rich pork and chicken, the sweet onion and carrot, and mildly stinky from the fish sauce and dried shrimp.

I use leftover pork bones to make my soup. Sometimes, a picnic roast comes with bone-in, so I cut out the bone, leaving a little bit of meat on it, and toss it in the freezer for times when I want to make Phnom Penh noodles. Other times, I get a package of pork neck bones or some other cheap scraps at the grocery store. This only sets me back around $3 per package, which is a great deal.

On the Food Network, the hosts stress simplicity and cooking to showcase one flavour. This is good advice for people who are just learning to cook, but I think harmony should be the key concept.

Take a look at this non-recipe. There are about a dozen different ingredients going into the dish, but they all work together to form the right flavour. If you’ve mixed your noodles properly, you end up with Phnom Penh noodles as a whole, and not just noodles with sauces and garnishes. The ingredients don’t overpower each other.

So keep this principle in mind if you attempt this dish, or even if you’re just going out to eat these noodles. The different elements should be in perfect harmony with each other.

I don't mind the "dry" version of this dish, but I'd much rather have a bowl of Phnom Penh noodles with soup. You can order hu tieu Nam Vang at pho restaurants, however, the soup is usually too sweet and lacking the rich-tasting soup.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Deep-Fried Goodies and Hot Chocolate at the Pilot House and Sipps - March 22, 2009

I don’t know how it was possible that I’ve lived in Kingston for six years and never ate at the Pilot House. Their fish and chips are supposed to be the best in Kingston, and yet, I never dropped by to see what the hype was about.

I blame my mum.

My mum makes some of the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. Her beer batter and hand-cut fries edge out all others. I love her fish and chips so much that I don’t order fish and chips when I’m out eating. I don’t want to be disappointed. And why would I go somewhere for fish and chips of unknown quality when I can go home and fill up on my mum’s?

Well, I finally visited the Pilot House last year to celebrate Jimmy’s birthday, and it has definitely become one of our favourite haunts.

The pub is tiny, but always full of people. Every time we’ve gone, there’s either been a party or a gathering of some sort. It’s not overly boisterous, though, so you can still have a conversation without having to shout.


Jimmy ordered the halibut and chips. The fish was meaty and firm. Judging by the few bites I stole, the halibut was a winner. The outer breading was crisp without being crunchy. I burned my mouth on the first bite, but man, was it worth it! He also had a side of mushroom gravy for his fries.

I ordered the scallops and chips. Scallops are my favourite seafood because they’re generally mild in flavour and are bite-sized. These scallops were treated to a different, crispier batter. It suited them well because the crunchy outer coating sealed in all the scallop juices. Each bite had a burst of sweet and briny juice. I loooooooove the scallops here, but I love almost all scallops. As long as they’re not overcooked, and these were cooked perfectly, I will devour the scallops.

Oh, and the chips are great, too! Each time we go, the fries are of varying crispness. I think it just depends on the day. I like these types of fries to be on the softer side because they absorb more vinegar. I doused the fries in malt vinegar, until it started dripping out the bottom of the basket. Oops! But man, I love my malt vinegar. I also had some ketchup on the side, to mess with my taste buds every now and again.

Full and happy, I desperately needed something to help cut the grease (I didn’t have beer at the Pilot House). We slowly meandered over to Sipps for some coffee.



On the way, we saw this funny sign at City Hall. With only a few puddles and patches of snow left, who would ever think to come out skating? I doubled over in laughter before snapping these pictures.


Sipps is another place that I’ve heard people rave about, but never visited. I admit, I’m a Starbucks girl, but I am always open to trying out small coffee houses.

I ordered the hot chocolate, after a co-worker recommended it. It was okay. I prefer a rich hot chocolate that feels like I’m drinking a melted chocolate bar. This one had more milk in it than I like, and not enough chocolate.


I was totally foiled by the lid. I just couldn’t figure it out, and Jimmy laughed at me for a good five minutes before he offered to help me. Cruel. Anyway, pouring steamed milk on top of fish and chips didn’t help cut the grease at all. I don’t know what I was thinking.

Still, it was a gorgeous day, filled with outstanding food, and a hilarious photo. You don’t get these days often in March.

~ * ~

The Pilot House
265 King Street East (at Johnson, across from the church)
Kingston, ON
(613) 542-0222

Sipps Coffee & Dessert Bar
33 Brock Street (near Market Square, City Hall)
Kingston, ON
(613) 542-8868


Sandwiches, Burgers, and Fries—Oh My! – March 16, 2009

As I’ve mentioned before, Copper Penny’s menu isn’t overly exciting. I like it for its consistency and straightforwardness. You order something, and you actually get what you’re expecting.


We went back to Copper Penny for dinner before heading out to a movie across the street. I ordered the Copper Penny Club which includes roast beef, turkey, and bacon. Yummy! It was served alongside a huge pile of fries. There’s not much to say about the club. It’s exactly as you would imagine. There was a smidgen too much mayo, but I just scraped some off and happily returned to the sandwich. The deli meats were cold, but the toast and bacon were warm. I liked the different temperatures in the sandwich because it played nicely with all the other flavours and textures.


Jimmy ordered their Mushroom Bacon Burger. Again, it’s exactly as advertised in the menu: sautéed mushrooms and bacon on a burger. He got extra onions (raw) to kick up the flavour, but I think that’s all he did to it. This was also served with a heaping mound of fries.

There’s something to be said about consistency and reliability. Almost every time we eat there, we get the same waitress. She’s always friendly and attentive. Even when we’re the last couple in the place, she doesn’t rush us. And the food always comes out in decent time. We’ve had practically nothing to complain about there. The prices are about right, too. The bill this time came under $30 with tax and tip. Just don’t go to Copper Penny expecting gourmet burgers. It’s a nice alternative to grabbing McDonald’s or pizza for a quick bite.

~ * ~

Copper Penny
240 Princess Street (across from Empire Theatres)
Kingston, ON
(613) 549-4257

Friday, April 24, 2009

Taiwanese Tea Eggs Done Lucy-Style – March 13, 2009

Jimmy first introduced me to tea eggs a few months after we started dating. We were talking about the different foods we ate as children, and tea eggs came up as one of his favourite snacks. Shocked that I had no idea what tea eggs were, he made a batch for me to eat.

I loved them at first bite.


They were like a milder, more refined version of the eggs from the braised pork dish. Hints of star anise, cloves, and a slight bitterness from the tea leaves emanate from the eggs. The aroma is comforting and reminds me of home, even though I had my first tea egg when I was 19. Strange how that works.

Now, it’s part of my repertoire. Of course, I cheat with store-bought spice bags. Once you’re able to find the spice bags, it’s easy peasy.


Hard boil eggs. Remove eggs and crack the shells lightly with a spoon. Return eggs to pot of water. Add spice bag, a few spoonfuls of soy sauce, and simmer them forever. They’re done when the brown colour has seeped through to the yolk. How can you tell? Take one unsuspecting egg out of the simmering pot, peel it, and take a bite. Is it still too pale? Simmer some more. Not salty enough? Add a little salt. Does it have no flavour? Either let the water boil off a little more, or add some soy sauce.

And th-th-that’s all folks! Home-made tea eggs from a box!



Cheap Eats at Little Saigon – March 13, 2009

I think I’ve mentioned my love for Little Saigon before. I fell in love with their crispy little spring rolls. It was here that I introduced Jimmy to Vietnamese cuisine. It was here that I sold Christine on the virtues of rice-paper-wrapped spring rolls. It was here that I routinely spent $20 for a meal that feeds two young Asians with disproportionately HUGE stomachs.


On the left side of the photo, just out of frame, is a plate of those delicious spring rolls. It’s obvious that many people share the kitchen duties at Little Saigon because the spring rolls’ deliciousness varies day to day.

The fillings include ground pork, shredded carrots, vermicelli noodles, wood ear mushrooms, and lots of pepper. Jimmy and I judge the spring rolls by the amount of pepper they contain. More pepper = yummy!

Jimmy ordered their tom yum goong, which comes with lots of little goodies: shrimp, enoki mushrooms, and uh, soup. Once I started listing them, I realized that there aren’t THAT many goodies. Just lots of the few types of goodies. (Terrible sentence, but I shall ignore it.) The mushrooms are clearly the best part of the soup. Little Saigon doesn’t use coconut milk in their version, so Jimmy loves this version.


I had #19 small. It’s their pho with little bits of everything. I don’t add anything to the soup except for a squeeze of lemon (for some reason, Little Saigon serves lemons instead of limes). I was really craving a bowl of pho, so this tasted delicious to me when I ate it.

Little Saigon’s pho normally has decent soup, but the noodles are almost always overcooked. Also, they don’t provide a side dish with fresh accompaniments, such as bean sprouts, fresh herbs (basil and sawtooth herb), and lime wedges. The bean sprouts are already in the soup by the time the bowl gets to your table, so there’s not a lot of customization to be had.

I am very particular about my pho. I don’t like an overly sweet soup, and I HATE it when the noodles are over/under-cooked. I’m soooooooo nitpicky about these things that sometimes, I just can’t believe I settle for Little Saigon’s version. It’s just not that great. It satisfies a pho craving, but it just doesn’t compare the some of the awesome bowls of pho I’ve eaten in Montreal.

But it’s cheap. And this is Kingston. Lower your expectations a little, and head on over to Little Saigon. The spring rolls are worth it.

~ * ~

Little Saigon
284 Princess Street (across from McDonald’s)
Kingston, ON
(613) 536-5774

Too Good for Hotdogs? Hell No! – March 12, 2009

I am not a food snob. For real. I eat almost anything. Almost.


So once upon a time, Lucy was hungry and ate two hotdogs. With sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. And was totally unapologetic for eating such crap.

It was deeeeeeeeeeeeee-lish!

‘Nuff said.

Sushi Snack – March 8, 2009

Jimmy and I were starving one night, but we didn’t have much in the kitchen. I had yet to go shopping that week, so we were out of our usual groceries. Luckily, earlier that week, I bought some smoked salmon with the intention of making some sort of awesome sushi dinner. I forgot about that plan and forgot about the salmon.


Anyway, at 1:00 AM, I decided I would make some uber simple sushi: nori, seasoned rice, and smoked salmon. I made waaaaaaaaaay too much, as always. We ended up eating the leftovers the next day.

No recipe because I am lazy.

Mr. Dumpling’s Dumplings – March 7, 2009 *UPDATED*

*UPDATED*

Mr. Dumpling has changed ownership, and is now called "Arigato Sushi." Thanks to Russ from A Glutton in Kingston for the name of the new place. The owners of Mr. Dumpling have opened another restaurant across the street, "Arisu."

~ * ~

I don’t feel like writing much, so I’ll post these photos with a short blurb.


Before the food came, we had some banchan. It’s not like in some other restaurants that serve you with half a dozen different varieties. We got two small dishes of kimchi—one napa cabbage and the other daikon. I’m pretty sure they’re homemade because they taste different every time, as if they were from a different batch. Then again, I’m no kimchi expert.

We got two orders of fried pork dumplings. I like the crunchy yet yielding texture of the dumpling skins, and I find the pork dumplings to have better flavour than the chicken and the beef ones. The dumplings were served with a dish of soy sauce and vinegar with red pepper powder sprinkled on top. It cut the richness of the pork nicely.


I ordered some bulgogi since I hate eating dumplings as an entire meal. It was sweet and tender. I hate it when the bulgogi has been over-marinated and ends up falling apart completely. This bulgogi was still pleasantly chewy. I like it a little stinkier though. People should be able to smell the bulgogi off of you after eating it. If this had a little more garlic and onion, it would have been perfect. Of course, I still devoured the dish.


As you can see here, we cleared our dishes completely.

The bill came to $30-ish with tax. For a quick and cheap lunch for two, Mr. Dumpling is highly recommended by yours truly. However, I must point out that it’s cash only, so make sure to stop by a bank or ATM before going there.

~ * ~

Mr. Dumpling (link to menu)
428 Princess Street (Princess and Division, across from Shoppers Drug Mart)
Kingston, ON
(613) 531-9264
*CASH ONLY*


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Libretto!

I didn't take any photos, but I've added some pictures of other visits.

~*~

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My friend, Jackie, and I met up for dinner last. Where were we going? Pizzeria Libretto!! You bet I suggested it.

We were going to meet at the restaurant but ended up meeting up at Ossington station. We had a chance to catch up on everything before the bus came. We caught the bus and got off near the restaurant. We didn't really know where we were going, but figured out the general location of Libretto. The restaurant was only a two minute walk from the bus stop.

First impressions of the restaurant from the outside: the restaurant looked like a great place to hang out for the business class. A few people, eating at the window seats, were dressed nicely. It looked like they were going out to a function afterwards. There were businessmen in suits and businesswomen in blouses and dress pants/skirts and nice shoes.

First impressions of the interior of the restaurant: definitely looked fancy. Their wall behind their small bar was covered in bottles of wine. They had glass bottles of water.. well, just think of a bastard child of one of those glass wine pourer-jug-pitcher-holder-things and a tall glass milk bottle (Lucy calls says they’re called decanters). I'm going to have those in my house just because they’re so fancy! You have to see them to know what I'm talking about. Anyway, yeah, every table had either wine or water, and sometimes both. Not many people were drinking beer and I don't think I saw anyone drinking pop. Everyone looked to be older than 30 and they were all dressed casually. I felt so underdressed.

Jackie and I ended up waiting for about ten minutes for a seat. We were hoping to either get a seat in the back, where the wood-fired oven and the small open kitchen was located, or in the front where the windows were, so we could get great pictures. We ended up getting a seat in the back of the restaurant in front of the kitchen, but unfortunately, I sat with my back facing the kitchen. *Tear* It was too dark to take photos so I didn't bother. Their menu was pretty much the menu online - very small. There were appetizers and small main dishes listed, but the main thing was their pizza. I already knew what I was going to get (I had decided over a month ago). My friend was unsure, but ended up getting the pizza with caramelized onions, homemade sausage and chili oil (we asked for the pizza without the oil).

Not five minutes later, we had the complimentary slices of bread with the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and something else. The first time I had this was when I went out with Lucy at a place in Kingston, but I wasn't a fan. It just didn't appeal to me. This time, I actually liked it. It was kinda weird, cause they poured the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and something else (something yellow-ish.. but not mustard..? dunno. I should've asked) on a small plate. Jackie wasn't a big fan, so I pretty much ate the whole thing.

I don't know how much time went by after we ordered, but the pizzas came and it was sooo beautiful!! I don't know how to really describe it. I felt like I was looking at a really, really nice piece of artwork. Seriously! I was amazed at how beautiful it was, which is weird, cause I'm not that kind of person. My Margherita pizza looked soo good. I definitely ate with my eyes and just took it all in. *Dreamy sigh...* It was so, so, so gorgeous that I actually hesitated to dig into it at first. But to truly enjoy an artwork such as an authentic made Neapolitan pizza, I had to let my taste buds enjoy it. And man did they ever.

Lucy's Toronto Vacation10
I went to cut a slice out of the pizza and attempted to pick it up and eat it like every other pizza that I've had, but no dice. It was too flimsy, so I did what everyone else did - cut it and eat it with a knife and fork. Oh man... the sauce. The San Marzano tomato sauce. This sauce was amazing. My cheeks cramped up momentarily after my first bite. It was so simple, yet so tasty! It looked like just pureed tomato with maybe a bit of salt added. I'm not usually a fan of plain tomatoes, unless it's in salsa or if it's the canned tomato sauce (yeah, I know it's not the greatest). But this sauce changed everything. The sauce was slightly sweet (natural sweetness - for sure) and a bit tangy. The tanginess was really enjoyable.

Oh man... at first, my taste buds were shocked. Once it stopped, my stomach was like "this is heaven!" Then after I finished that slice (and one more, so pretty much a quarter of my pizza), my mouth and taste buds finally caught up to the moment. No joke, every bite that I had after that, my cheeks cramped with excitement. You know when that happens? They just tense up whenever you eat something that's really tasty and all you can feel is your cheeks imploding. You know... You know.

So I finished the pizza and seriously, EVERY bite - E.V.E.R.Y bite - after I ate the first quarter of the pizza, my mouth would spaz. At the time, I was thinking that the heavenly pizza was so good that my mouth couldn't handle it. Now that I'm thinking about how the sauce tasted, I think it was just the tang of the tomato sauce that made my mouth react the way it did. It was quite the experience! I'm not sure how much you like tomatoes and if you like eating them raw or whatever, but I was just shocked at how good it was.


The other highlight of the pizza was the dough. Not so much the bottom of the pizza, but the crust. I was expecting their crusts to be similar to Pizza Pizza's, since Libretto makes thin crust pizzas, but no. How could I even mention the two establishments in the same sentence? The crusts were fluffy, but not as dense as Lorenzo's. I'm thinking they made my pizza a bit too thin on the bottom because my crusts looked a bit thicker than everyone else's. In any case, the crusts were very good and just reminded me of amazing bread. Mmm....

The cheese wasn't a big thing for me. It was some Ontario made cheese, something-something-something rather, but it was just cheese to me. I tried to taste the flavour of the cheese... but it just tasted like cheese. It wasn't processed plastic cheese that pizza joints usually use. Most of my pizza was just sauce and pizza dough anyway (it was expected, as all pictures of Margherita pizzas looked like that). There were only tiny pools of cheese, whereas typical Ottawa-style pizza is loaded with cheese. The basil wasn't exciting either. There wasn't much to begin with, but it wasn't that strong.

Not sure if I mentioned it above, but I finished my pizza. Oh, I didn't mention the size of them. They don't make small, medium, large, or the other sizes. They only have one size, which covers the plate that they serve us with. They were big for personal pizzas. Almost everyone who was eating there had their own pizza pie, so that was a great sign. You have to go if you're ever in Toronto!

I thought about the pizza afterwards and kept thinking about the sauce. The natural sweetness and tang. I realized that the wasn't really salty about the pizza. It was more sweet than salty. The sweetness of the cheese, dough and sauce. I guess you can add the basil as well, but like I said, I didn't really pay attention to the basil. I think I would make the sauce a bit saltier. Sure, the natural sweetness of the tomato was great, but I'm sure that if I were to go there again in two weeks, I wouldn't enjoy it as much, because of the sweetness of the sauce. Do you know what I mean?

We were going to have dessert there, but Jackie wasn't a fan of their selection.. so we walked down the street into Little Portugal and went into some bakery for dessert and coffee. Well, I had coffee and chocolate mousse while she just had coffee and a bit of my dessert. What a great way to end my awesome day. I hope I don't forget this day. It's just too bad I didn't get to take any pictures to remind me of all of this.. *tear*

Fin.


~ Christine


~ ^___^ ~

Unbelievable Day

I've had so many crappy days and weeks where nothing seems to go right in these past 8 months. I'm sure you've had them too. Well, today was the opposite, for once. Everything finally turned out for me today. =]

The highlight? I met up with a friend and we went to Libretto. My Margherita pizza was AMAZING! The only downside to dinner was that we didn't take any pictures. I would gladly explain it all to you guys, but I think it'll be better if there were pictures. Maybe I'll go back and take many, many pictures and just insert them in... hmm.. I may do that. I'll write about it tomorrow. For now, all you have to know is that my culinary experience at Libretto's was like an epiphany.


~ Christine

~*~*~

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Lucy's New Toy

So I finally.. FINALLY gave Lucy her birthday present, as she finally came down to visit. The present.... was.... a new camera!
It's the Canon SX110 IS point and shoot digital camera. The camera has 9.0 mega pixels, 10 times optical zoom (that's right - ten), 3" LCD screen, advanced face-detection technology (meaning it follows your face!), and other awesome features.


Here's her new toy compared to her "cybershit" and cell phone.

More shots comparing the two... Front view.

Side view.

Back view.

A close up of the camera's face.

And back.

~ Christine

~*~*~

Friday, April 17, 2009

Peach Garden Restaurant

Three things led me to Chinatown; It was a beautifully sunny day outside yesterday, I didn't have any classes for the day, and I needed to take pictures for one of my last assignments of the year.

(For food porn, scroll down to all of the pictures. Forget about all the words! Kidding, please read the words.)

(They will make you smart!)

(er. smarter) ^__^.

I don't think I've ever been to Toronto's Chinatown (located on Spadina) and actually took my time enjoying the sights. It's always been something like 'eat, shop, eat, go back home', 'quickly take pictures, eat, go home', or 'quickly take pictures, eat, shop, go home'. It's just so busy in Chinatown that it's very hard not to be consumed by the fast paced environment. Either you get pushed around while walking down the streets, or you push others. And by pushing, I mean nudging or bumping them to get by. It also helps that I was there alone, so I could chose my own pace of things. Oh, and it also helps that I only had two assignments left to do before the end of the exams.

Part of my assignment was to take pictures of buildings that were important to me. If you know me, you'll know that pictures of the Chinatown buildings is not my cheap way of getting my assignments done. I looooove Toronto's Chinatown! So many restaurants, so many different shops, so many people! I went around taking pictures of the places I've enjoyed. I'm not going to post all of those, cause there's a lot, but here's a random statue/pole that let's us know where Kensington Market is.. in a way. This was taken on the corner of St. Andrews and Spadina. Right in front of the cow place.

I was pretty much done walking around and taking pictures when my stomach rumbled. It was it's way of reminding me that it was lonely and bored. I needed to decide what to eat... it was a given that I was going to have lunch there. ^__^. I was debating if I wanted dim sum, dumplings, pho, or even bun (since it was a summer-like day outside). In the end, I chose the Vietnamese restaurant called Peach Garden Restaurant.

When I went inside, there was one other customer in the restaurant and he was waiting for his take-out. The waitress gestured for me to take a seat in the middle of the restaurant, away from the beautiful sun, so, being the rebel I am, I sat in one of the window seats. Arrr! (Rebels express their rebelling ways by grunting this, ya know? Just carefully listen to any teenagers and you'll hear it. Don't get too close though, cause they'll bite. For no reason!)

So as I was saying, I sat down, took off my jacket and bag. I noticed that all of the tables had menus and the order sheet with a writing utensil already laid out. Nice. That saves time. So I was reaching for the menu, rested my arms on the table and.... it was sticky! Gross! Instead of asking the waitress to wipe the table down, I took some tea and napkins and wiped my eating area. I can only imagine all of the fish sauce that has been spilt on the tables.. eww! Okay, so I order a medium bowl (they don't have small bowls) of pho and a thing of spring rolls. The waitress picks up my order, heads to the kitchen and then sits down to finish eating her lunch.

Can you spot the missing item in this picture? Hint: I didn't realize this was missing until the pho came.

While I'm waiting for ma grub, a couple walk in. They order their food and get their bowls of pho before I do. I was thinking, how is it that they get theirs first? I was here first! *throw temper tantrum* But then I got thinking... I never liked when we order spring rolls, which is an appetizer, comes after the main dish (bowl of pho, plate of rice, or what have you). Appetizers are supposed to arrive before the main dish!

The waitress brought me these condiments and dipping sauce for my meal right after I gave her my order.

The hoisin sauce was missing. I had to steal one from the empty table beside me.

Soon after that was running through my head, sure enough, the waitress carries my appetizer and main dish. I had some of their spring rolls and I was a fan. These were the kind of Vietnamese spring rolls I was used to. Their fillings consisted of meat, noodles, wood ear mushrooms, carrots and a couple of other things.

The filling was not mushy, it was firm. No mystery bits in there that you can taste/feel - if you know what I mean. Hahaa! As you can see below, the spring rolls aren't that large either... unlike Pho 88. Pho 88's spring rolls are huge but they're soggy inside. One point for Peach Garden. They also don't taste very good. Two points for Peach Garden.

Note the size of my 'medium bowl' of pho. It's huuuuge!

I was very surprised at the size medium bowl of pho. I swear they gave me a large. No complaints there (I'm a greedy person. To my parents who told me not to be greedy: Arrr!) I took a sip of the broth. Another familiarity. It's like any other pho place in Toronto and Ottawa - sweet, with very little flavour of the spices. (Pho Mi 108, in Ottawa, is not included in this crappy club, they're better than that.. unless they've changed their soup since the last time I went.) I didn't detect any pig's feet flavour like I did in Pho 88's broth. Three points for Peach Garden.

The noodle to soup ratio was something like 1:2, where there was more soup, instead of the typical 2:1 ratio. It didn't really bother me though, cause I love soup! I tasted the noodles and they were on the soft side. Not much bite to them, which is sad. And with every bowl of over-done-noodle-soup, I struggled to finish it.

Holy smokes, this entry is getting long.

Erm, okay.

I finished eating, paid the bill, went outside to catch the street car, got thirsty, headed down to Ten Ren's on Dundas, bought a mango slush, went to wait for the street car, watched a fire truck speed to the intersection of Dundas and Spadina, saw three firefighters walk out, followed them (there was no fire or anything harmful when they were there), took out my camera, snapped off a bunch of pictures, headed to the street car stop, got on and went home.

The bill. I love how cheap pho is!

Just look at my beautiful mango slush.


A tritone image of one of the firefighters.

A black and white image of another.

That was my awesome day. Hope you all enjoyed the sunny weather that we've been having! Now for the weekend... oh the weekend! I'm pumped! Why? Lucy and Jimmy are coming down for a bit to visit... and I have an awesome present for Lucy. I'm so excited to give it to her!! Oh, yeah, forgot to let you guys know. It was Lucy's birthday on Wednesday. Yeah... my bad. I forgots to let you all know... but now you know. No harm done. ^__^.

Why herrow!

Phew! All done now. I wrote this after waking up from my nap, refreshed. See, I can sometimes be funny!

~ Christine

~*~*~


Addresses:

Peach Garden Restaurant
332 Spadina Ave, Toronto
416-913-3642

Ten Ren
454 Dundas Street W, Toronto
416-598-7872

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