Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian. Show all posts

Friday, February 14, 2014

Appreciation Lunch

Since our company was swamped leading up to Christmas and following the holidays, we didn't have any parties or lunches until quite late. The management organized a lunch for us earlier this month. Most of it was purchased from Costco.


There were plates of cold cuts, cheese, sandwiches, veggie platters, crackers, bread, fruits, drinks, and cake.

One of our assistant managers even made a mean vegetarian tortilla soup.

V and I ended up making ourselves simple prosciutto sandwiches. The apples made a great palate cleaner. But as I'm writing about this now, it reminds me of a prosciutto, goat cheese, pesto, apple panini I had years ago in Toronto. Ah that was one mighty fine sandwich.

Strawberry shortcake and chocolate layered cakes for dessert.

Anyway, most of us were exhausted both physically and mentally from the crazy holiday crowds. The appreciation lunch came at the perfect time.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Open-Faced Sandwiches & Macarons

One weekend, Steph and I went down to the Byward Market and picked up some stuff for lunch. We dropped by La Bottega first. I found out that although Steph was in Ottawa the whole summer, she had never had any of their sandwiches. Sad, isn't it? We picked up some smoked gouda, prosciutto, and house-made porchetta.

I've always wanted to try some of the breads at Le Moulin de Provence. This was a perfect opportunity, so we made our way down the street for some fresh bread. We didn't know what to get, I chose something that resembled a baguette - but wasn't. It was a loaf of batard. It looked great. We brought everything to Lucy and Jimmy's apartment for lunch.

(Side story: I forgot what the bread was called. "Fatarg" kept popping in my head. Google didn't help. It turned it into 'fat arg' so it gave me links with titles like "Why do I feel fat? arg!" Fail. Thanks for remembering the correct name of the bread Lucy!)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Lunch in the Lovely Byward Market

Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day. VN, KN, and I headed to the Byward Market for a relaxing lunch.

First up: Awesome La Bottega Italian sandwiches. 

These were so good! You've gotta get the spicy eggplants and dijon mustard. It just elevates the already tasty sandwich to something better.

For dessert, we headed to Le Moulin de Provence. This photo was taken back in 2007 when Lucy, JT, and I met up for lunch.

KN mentioned that their almond croissants were heavenly, so I had to check it out and find out if it was as good as she described. I made a scouting trip earlier last month and got some sweets for Lucy's birthday. The almond croissants were simply divine

Hahaa! Like I said, the almond croissants were divine. Even Mom liked it -- the same person who likes to nitpick everything and is a major buzz kill.

We had to go and have some. Had to.


We got some coffee and asked for the croissants to be warmed up.

Chance of survival: 0%

We were on a high after lunch. The endorphins were pumping. We were so giddy that we couldn't even talk properly.

64 George St.
Ottawa, ON

55 Byward Market Square
Ottawa, ON

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Sticky Toffee Pudding at Moxie's Grill & Bar

We had plenty of time to grab dinner before a Sens game last week. We weren't craving anything in particular so we just dropped by the Moxie's at (Kanata) Centrum.

Can I just say that I absolutely love the spotlights at the center of each table? Just awesome.

VN had a sandwich with a greek side salad. My main was the linguine with bocconcini-stuffed meatballs with grana padano cheese. I rarely order pasta when I do find myself dining at a north american restaurant/bar & grill. Why overpay for something that isn't very satisfying when I can just make the same dish better at home? I found the pasta and meatballs on the salty side.

Though I admit that it didn't take much at all, VN talked me into having dessert. She highly recommended that we order the sticky toffee pudding so that we could replicate it in the future. We shared the mini portion. The caramel sauce was overkill. Instead of sliced almonds, I would've liked larger chunks of toasted/roasted almonds. Maybe all the sugar from the caramel sauce and the sticky toffee pudding killed my taste buds, but I felt that the vanilla ice cream needed more vanilla flavour.

The Sens ended up losing. It was a frustrating game. Dinner was satisfying though.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Random Tidbits

All of the following photos were taken with my Motorola Razor HD phone. If you're following me on Twitter (@teafortwo_c) or on Instagram (@teafortwo_c), these will look familiar. If you aren't following me, then head over and follow me!

After working out and doing physio, I was craving something unhealthy for dinner. I needed to get all those calories back. What? That's not how it's supposed to be done? Oh. Well then. Moving on. Luckily -- or unluckily, depending on how you look at it -- Richard was happy to oblige. We bought some pizza and nuggets fer a #fatlikethat dinner.

We got two pizzas; chipotle chicken, red onions, and bacon crumble on the first pizza, chipotle steak and pineapples on a garlic sauce base on the other. The first pizza tasted much better than the other one.

Homemade fish and chips featuring basa fillets and sweet potatoes.


We had leftover battered fish so I made some dill mayo (mayo, fresh dill, dried dill, lemon juice) and put together two homemade fillet-o-fish-like sandwiches.

Here's a lazy dinner of dry noodles with a side of shrimp wonton soup. Having made the shrimp wontons ahead of time, all we had to do was take them out of the freezer and boil them. We had a pot of broth on the stove so we just had to tweak the seasoning a bit. As for the noodles, we just used the dried shrimp egg noodles. Who said lazy dinners have to be crappy?

If you're a fan of pecan pie and maple, check out these pecan maple pies made by St. Donat. I've seen them in Farm Boy ($9.99) and Metro ($7.99). Get them before they're gone.



Homemade chicken parm with fettucini in marinara sauce.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Homemade Lasagna

We've all had bad experiences with lasagna; the bland lasagna at the cafeteria, the undercooked lasagna at a pot luck, the lasagna that was overloaded with too many ingredients. We all wished that we could snap our fingers and turn the not-so-homey lasagna into something amazing.


It doesn't take much to make a great lasagna. You can actually make a great lasagna with just a simple meat sauce (ground beef, onions, tomato sauce), cooked lasagna pasta, cottage cheese, and mozzarella cheese. That's how Mom used to make her lasagnas and we loved it! Simply remarkable.

When it was my turn to make lasagna, I wanted to change it up a bit. It began with the sauce: I sautéed onions with a bit of olive oil and salt. Then I browned the ground beef until it was just about to be fully cooked. I added two cans of seasoned tomato sauce and then stirred everything together. Some calabrese salami was mixed in as well. Once the sauce simmered for five minutes, I gave the sauce a taste and adjusted the seasonings with soy sauce, Cool Runnings all purpose seasoning, sugar, and black pepper.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Italian Sausage Hash

After reading blogs and watching food shows, I've come across something called hash. No, not that hash. I mean, the hash made by chopping and cooking a variety of ingredients together. That's quite the description, huh? Okay, let me be more specific. What I saw was potatoes, corned beef, and onions being cooked together on a griddle. Seemed easy enough.

Earlier last month, I began scavenging for some breakfast/brunch one morning and found a package of italian sausage meat. Bingo.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Fresco Bistro Italiano, Pure Gelato

VN and I visited Fresco Bistro Italiano for a late birthday dinner. We originally wanted to try out Union 613, but no dice, they were booked until 9:30pm. Lame. We walked down to Fresco Bistro Italiano, which was practically beside Pure Gelato.

We walked into the dimly lit restaurant and were promptly seated in front of the bar. The main reason I wanted to try out this place was because Lucy raved about their amazlingly fluffy gnocchi (not pronounced ga-knock-e). I’ve never had legit gnocchi, so I thought I’d give it a try.

VN got the chicken diavolo, while I ordered the gnocchi with a pesto olive oil instead of the cream sauce. I was very tempted to order the braised lamb shank, but I wanted to try their gnocchi. I’ll have to go back and try the braised lamb.

There was a slight smoky aroma coming off of the mountain of gnocchi. It was probably from the pancetta and seared chicken. I was not expecting such a large portion of gnocchi. Let me explain my thoughts, as I tucked in:

First bite – 3rd bite:
Umm… okay… that’s hot! Hmm… Why does this feel like soggy bread wrapped around a soft potato nugget? Is this what gnocchi is supposed to taste like?

4th – 9th bite (approximate):
The gnocchi are quite light and fluffy – oh, what’s this smoky taste? Mushrooms? The mushroom tastes great! Holy crap – I’m actually enjoying mushrooms in a dish! Smoky pancetta? Yum. Pieces of seared chicken? Womp womp womp womp wowowowowomp…

10th – 14th bite (approximate):
Why is the outside of the gnocchi so mushy? Er… must keep going… Another piece of mushroom… bleh. Suck it up Christine! Stop being a baby. They’re just mushrooms. 
Why is everything so soft in this dish? Why is there so much oil?

15th – 17th bite (approximate):
Must keep eating... Why is there still so much left?

18th bite (approximate):
I’m done. Can’t eat any more.

I tried to enjoy the gnocchi. It’s just not my thing. Maybe I’ll try to make it from scratch and see if it tastes any better. At first, I enjoyed the mushrooms, but then half-way through, it lost it’s appeal. There wasn’t much textural contrast in the dish other than the few pancetta bits. That was the main reason I got tired of the dish so quickly. I doubt I’ll order this again.

VN’s plate of chicken diavolo looked great! Let’s start at the bottom of the plate: I think the sauce was just pan drippings (delicious pan drippings, I might add), roasted fingerling potatoes, vegetables, roasted chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, and a little grated Romano cheese. I was very impressed with the moist chicken. I mean, I rarely go out to restaurants like these, but the chicken was spot on. VN quite liked the sauce. It was a well thought out dish. There were textural contrasts (crisp veggies vs soft chicken), flavour contrasts (tasty sauce vs lightly-seasoned chicken, sun-dried tomatoes vs chicken). One great thing about the chicken diavolo dish was that were wasn’t a lot of carbs, so VN didn’t feel weighed down like somebody else.

We talked about their desserts for quite a bit, but decided to go next door for some gelato instead.

It was my first time at Pure Gelato. Everyone was talking about Pure Gelato during the summer, and why not? We had a summer that felt similar to Taipei’s hot and humid weather.

We both settled on a small cup of gelato. The small cup gets you three scoops of whatever gelato you choose. While mulling over all the choices in the brightly-lit place, we joked that we should just buy a litre of gelato instead. Next time… maybe next time.


I went with pistachio, lemoncello, and strawberry shortcake, which the lady recommended. The refreshing lemoncello hit the spot. It helped cut through the heavy dinner I had. The creamy pistachio was alright. The strawberry shortcake was quite sour, which I liked, but it didn’t really taste like strawberry shortcake to me.

VN went with a scoop each of lemoncello, coconut, and watermelon gelato. The coconut gelato was surprisingly rich. It had shreds of coconut too. I didn’t get to taste the watermelon gelato, because I was too busy trying to eat all of the strawberry shortcake first. Save the best for last...

In the middle of our conversation, VN suggested that we could probably catch Argo at the Empire Theatre in World Exchange Plaza. We weren’t far. We booked it for the theatre. But once we got there, there was a long line up at the ticket booth and box office. I remembered that there was another ticket booth. We got the tickets, walked through the doors (where they usually check your tickets), flashed the movie tickets at the imaginary usher, and walked into the packed theatre.

The movie was… how should I say this?


~ * ~
Fresco Bistro Italiano
354 Elgin St.
Ottawa, ON
Fresco Bistro Italiano on Urbanspoon

Pure Gelato
350 Elgin St.
Ottawa, ON
Pure Gelato on Urbanspoon

Empire Theatre 7
111 Albert St.
Ottawa, ON

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu


Over the weekend, Zee (a friend from Toronto) and her friend TS came over to make some chicken cordon bleu. We didn't make the classic version though. I'll explain that later. Also on the menu: rotini pasta with tomato sauce, glazed carrots with balsamic vinegar, and a side salad.

Before Zee and TS arrived, carrots were peeled and chopped up, marbled cheese was sliced, and the tomato sauce was on the stove.

I didn't want a plain tomato sauce, so I played with the flavours a bit. A bit of BBQ sauce for a little smokiness, a bit of Sriracha hot sauce, some fresh herbs, and a little bit of soy sauce for some depth. I made sure all of those components were complimenting the tomato sauce. Since I didn't know if Zee and TS liked to eat spicy food, I added just enough Sriracha that the warmth of the hot sauce would come late.

We formed an assembly line; I took the chicken breasts, trimmed them of the gristle and connective tissue, and then butterflied them. TS then wrapped prosciutto around slices of marbled cheese, and then stuffed them in some butterflied chicken boobs (to ensure even cooking). Zee used some toothpicks and prevented the components from moving. Then she took the stuffed chicken breasts and rolled them around some flour (which I added salt and pepper to), then dipped them in lightly beaten egg whites (also seasoned with S&P), before she rolled them all in italian (seasoned) breadcrumbs. Chicken cordon bleu is usually made with plain breadcrumbs, I believe.

The chicken was popped into the oven at 350 degrees for about twenty minutes. About half-way through the cooking time, the rotini was cooked and the sauce was reheated.

After the pasta was strained, butter and a bit of olive oil was added to a hot pan. The carrot sticks were tossed in the pan with some sugar and a bit of salt. I didn't move the carrots a lot, because I like it when they caramelize. Just before they totally over cooked, I turned off the heat and TS added a few drips of balsamic vinegar.

I'm always afraid of overcooking chicken, but the breaded chicken came out moist. I wouldn't say it was juicy (at least my piece wasn't). It was close to being over cooked. The chicken needed more seasoning though. We forgot to season the chicken boobs directly. But that's jut being nit picky. TS and Zee both enjoyed the chicken we made though. Zee said that "it was simply delectable!"

The pasta tasted pretty awesome with the chicken. The more I ate the pasta, the spicier it got.

The leftovers tasted good the following morning too. You all should make this more often (including you, TS's fiancée). Simply derishush!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Italian-Inspired Meatballs and Pasta


The basil in our garden began to wilt in the wet weather. Instead of letting them go to waste, I made some Italian-inspired meatballs with them. Using the same concept as when I first created the Vietnamese-inspired meatballs (aka nem nuong), I just used Italian flavours and packed them into the meatballs.

Ground pork, basil, Italian breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, sugar, and black pepper were all I used. The meatballs were briefly browned in a pan and then transferred to a pot. The pan was deglazed with some broth and then added to the pot, where tomatoes, garlic, and onions were simmering.

We cooked the rotini, combined the tomato sauce with the cooked pasta and browned meatballs in a casserole dish. Before the pasta was baked for twenty minutes, I sprinkled a bit of parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs on top of the pasta.


I wished I made more meatballs. They were moist, tender, and the seasoning was spot on. We didn’t have any leftovers that night.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tennessy Willems - Remarkable Pizzas in Ottawa


It’s been so long since Lucy and I have had some sister time. Last weekend, I made some reservations at Tennessy Willems one hot evening. Having previously eaten here with some friends, I recommended that we go have the pizzas at the restaurant in Hintonburg. I didn't know that Hintonburg began on the east side of Island Park Drive. I just assumed Hintonburg was part of Westboro. Woops.

We sat right by the large window and enjoyed the cool breezes. Lucy wanted to get everything off their specials menu but decided to get the carpricciosa pizza in the end. I wanted to try the wild boar. I tried the duck confit pizza last time. It was really good, but I wanted to try their other pizzas.

Iced tea for two.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Random Tidbits: Part 7 - Sandwiches

(Side note: I just noticed that on Firefox, the pictures on my blog are desaturated a bit. I checked other websites, but it seems as though it's only my pictures that get desaturated when I compare Firefox to Safari. The colours on Safari are fine. Is this just my laptop?)

Dunn’s: December 7th, 2010
The last time we had a smoked meat sandwich, we visited Bobby’s Table sometime in November. As I said in that post, I found the smoked meat there a bit lacking in flavour. It was a decent sandwich, but nothing amazing. Since the visit to Bobby’s Table, I was looking forward to visiting Dunn’s. It took a bit of convincing on my part, but Mom and Dad eventually agreed to sit and enjoy a meal at Dunn’s.

Dunn's Smoked Meat Sandwich 1
I ordered their smoked meat sandwich platter with a Coke, while Mom and Dad each ordered a smoked meat sandwich with Kaiser rolls. At first, I asked the waitress if we could get the end pieces of smoked meat but she asked the kitchen and came back without an answer.

Dunn's Smoked Meat Sandwich 2
We received regular sliced meat in the end, which was fine by me. I was just curious as to how flavourful the end pieces of smoked meat were. The smoked meat was juicy but it felt like something was missing. Even though there was more meat in this sandwich than the one I had at Bobby’s Table, the sandwich wasn’t that much better.

Dunn's Fries
In fact, the fries at Bobby’s Table were a lot enjoyable than the fries I was given here. The fries were warm – not hot – and had a slight bitter taste due to being too “well-done”. It felt like the fries were the last bits of a batch. Mom was not impressed and neither was I.

Dunn's Coleslaw
The coleslaw had a great vinegary punch. It played a perfect role of cutting the grease of the fries and the sandwich. I love how the creaminess mellows out the really sharp vinegar dressing. Lucy and Andrew love this stuff. 

Overall, the combo was mediocre. The over-done fries made the meal less enjoyable, but the coleslaw made up for the burnt fries. Mom and Dad liked the sandwiches more than I did, but agreed with me on everything else.

La Bottega: December 8th, 2010

La Bottega 1
Lucy and I met up for lunch at the ByWard Market. We walked over to La Bottega and picked up sandwiches. The sandwich line was surprisingly short and quick when we went through. The line up at the two cashiers; however, was painfully slow. I mean, who buys their groceries at La Bottega in the middle of the week – during the lunch rush?

La Bottega 2
Anyway, we enjoyed our sandwiches at the food court in Rideau. Lucy had a prosciutto and capacollo sandwich with spicy eggplant, tomatoes, olives and mustard on focaccia.

La Bottega 3
I got a prosciutto and capocollo sandwich with provolone cheese, mayo, mustard and lettuce on some sort of bun – which was very similar to Lucy’s. I can’t remember which bread I chose. I liked the sandwich but I can’t remember any other details. I’ll just leave it as that.

Dad’s Beef Sandwiches: December 19th, 2010

Dad's Smoked Meat Sandwiches 6
Dad made some sort smoked beef with his own concoction of spices (the stronger ones I picked up were cloves, star anise and black pepper). He planned to slice up the meat, make them into sandwiches and serve it with homemade french fries. Dad had the urge to make the fries since Dunn’s.

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 3
Homemade fries are really easy to make – the trick is to double fry the potatoes. First, Dad cut up the potatoes, dried them with a paper towel, then and briefly fried them in batches. The first time he fried them was to partially cook the potatoes. 

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 4
The second time he fried them was to get a crispy, golden crust. Again, Dad fried them in batches. This was done just before we began to eat. These fries were just like the fries at Bobby’s Table; the fries had a crispy jacket with fluffy insides.

Dad's Smoked Meat Sandwiches
An idea popped into my head. For some reason, I wanted to make onion rings and so I started to slice the onions. With my pro knife skills, I sliced the onions too thinly. And to cover up my mistake, I started to thinly slice the rest of the onions.

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 2
Instead of a wet batter for onion rings, I remembered that a dry breading mix would be perfect for onion strings. I added flour, chicken bouillon mix, black pepper, and chili pepper. At first, I thought about tossing all of the dry mix to the thinly sliced onions but I remembered that the mixture will turn into a gluey mess. Luckily, I stopped before it was too late. 

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 5
After a few batches of Dad's fries were done, I took a handful of onions and tossed it in the dry mix, shook off the excess dry mix, and tossed them into the oil. Once fried, these onion strings were heavenly! The breading was salty and slightly spicy, while the onions were sweet and tender. I’m definitely going to make these again!

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 7
For something a bit healthier, we boiled some sugar snap peas. These were quite sweet. A bit of butter not only made them taste better, but it also boosted the health factor. Oh yeah!

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 8
Lucy thought that Dad’s spice mix tasted like pho so much, that it grossed her out. She ended up snacking on the sides with kewpie mayo.

Dad's Smoked Meat
Sandwiches 9
I didn’t get a picture of the sandwiches, but they weren’t that great. The beef was so dry that Jimmy and I ate our sandwiches by dipping them into gravy before each bite. After Dad’s first sandwich, he put together some fries, end pieces of the meat and gravy. This was something that brought back lots of memories of working at Kardish for Dad.

When I think of sandwiches, I think of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, grilled cheese sandwiches and stuff like that. I guess it’s because I didn’t grow up with smoked meat sandwiches and Italian cold cuts, but those types of sandwiches still feel unfamiliar. I need to get more adventurous with my sandwiches – that’s for sure.


355 Dalhousie St.
Ottawa, ON
Dunn's Famous Deli on Urbanspoon

La Bottega
64 George St.
Ottawa, ON
La Bottega on Urbanspoon


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