Wednesday, 30 April 2014

No, I haven't abandoned my blog. I just got back from a three day trip at New York so I'm just catching up back to reality and I'll have posts on that soon! It's just a matter of processing photos and recalling how my experiences went, haha.

Now if only I can get that 'Read More' link to work properly...


Friday, 25 April 2014

About a month ago, I attended a birthday gathering of my close friend/high school friends at a downtown restaurant called, you guessed it — Bannock. Around that time, I had an allergic reaction to something (my allergy test is coming soon... *sigh*), so I researched ahead of time to see what kinds of food I could eat without potentially causing my health to get even worse.

I saw a familiar name (Oliver and Bonacini) when I was searching them up, so I thought Bannock was going to be fairly similar to the Joey/Moxie/Earl's/a little more pricey kind of place to eat restaurant vibe I got when I went to Oliver and Bonacini a while back.


The prices were kind of in that range (or maybe a little lower? I don't remember exactly), but the interiors of the restaurant were more down-to-earth and "hipster", for a lack of better words.

There was a lot of light streaming into the room due to the big panels of glass windows, the tables were wooden and it seemed like a place anyone would just go to for a nice lunch while they wanted to catch up with some old pals.

So this is what I ended up getting for the night:

This was their BLT Bannock, which was a pretty unconventional sandwich to say the least. I found it nifty that they used a flatbread/pita bread medium to encase their ingredients, rather than the traditional whole wheat bread or white bread that I was so used to seeing in most sandwich places. Their housemade belly bacon on the inside caught me by surprise too, as I came with the assumption I would be munching on crunchy hard bacon strips (that and the word 'belly' was probably completely overlooked when I was reading the menu...). It was tender, and reminiscent of a mashup of pulled pork and ribs. I wouldn't quite call the marinated sauce as barbecue; but it definitely reminded me of it with some deviation as a more sweet variant. 

Also, nowhere in the menu did they describe using horseradish as a condiment in the sandwich. For someone who normally despises using wasabi in my sushi, this was actually a pleasant mixture. I didn't mind the occasional minty tingles of said condiment, as it kept my taste buds on edge without overwhelming the whole tasting experience. I also thoroughly enjoyed the taro chips they had at the side (again, they didn't mention this in the menu at all). It was a good alternative to the usual french fries or potato chips found at most places, and it wasn't oily at all, making me feel a little more relieved.

My friends also feasted on something you don't see everyday either:

Behold, the Duck Poutine Pizza. I took a small slice to just try it out, since the birthday girl and another high school friend were raving about just how delicious it was. They were right on that. Though, if you ever do find yourself at Bannock ordering this, just make sure you don't order it for yourself only. You will not be able to finish this, unless if you had a massive appetite and have the ability to finish whole pizzas. The size is about a medium size, but I think what fills up the stomach the most is that sheer amount of carbs this dish has. Not only is there the pizza dough, but there's a copious amount of poutine fries.

The fries were good poutine fries (I still need to go to a poutine specialty place sometime, however), and I don't remember if I tasted any duck in the slice I had, but the birthday girl says it tastes like Peking duck. I'll take her word for it.

Apart from their slightly eccentric (but delicious!) food items, I found their staff to be friendly and accommodating, which is always a good thing.

DIY Vest

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

I for one, am guilty for taking some of my mother's things sometimes — clothes included. Somehow during my childhood, I had taken a vest of hers and did this crime:

Like other stupid things I've done as a kid, I cringe every time I look at this vest because the fabric is actually not a bad colour and the decently larger armholes allows for more wardrobe versatility (my mom decided to just give this to me since she doesn't really wear it anymore... I don't blame her!). It had been sitting in my 'DIY' pile for the longest time, until I finally figured out how I would cover that ugly leftover puff paint (and actually got my butt to go to the closest Fabricland).

• vest
• crochet trim (11/4 m, $3.40 per metre)
• pins
• cream coloured thread
• sewing needle

1. I started off pinning the crochet trim to the edge of the vest along the seam line. I didn't want to line the whole vest so I stuck to the front and avoided the collar area.

2. I chose to hand sew because with the sewing machines I do have at home, I do feel a bit intimidated (and I miss the sewing machines they had back in high school... maybe I should invest in one sometime...?). So yes, this procedure was much more arduous, but if you're comfortable with your sewing machine then sew away :) After threading my sewing needle, I stitched along the edge of the crochet trim and in the middle to tightly secure it.

And I'm done!

Easter Long Weekend

Monday, 21 April 2014

So even though it hasn't been that long that I hadn't posted, I somehow still felt kinda like this:

It's probably because now, there are actually people that would visit here and expect to see new content, unlike before in my university days where I used this platform to just vent about what's on my mind (with almost no filter). This is a good thing though. It's nice to see that people look forward to seeing what I'm up to, or just enjoying the food photography that I have here so far. So thank you guys for making blogging worthwhile :D

What's currently going through my mind right now...

Wok Of Fame

Monday, 14 April 2014

The last time I ate in a buffet was in Las Vegas back in December of last year. Otherwise, I don't really eat in buffets; maybe I'm just growing out of wanting to go to such things?

Two (or was it three?) weeks ago, one of my dear friends had gotten back from India so a get-together was pretty much mandatory (in the good sense). Jem had heard good things about Wok of Fame so we decided to try.

The decor at the reception area was kind of reminiscent of Mandarin (I'm not a fan, bluntly put) with the oriental looking indoor pond housing koi and live turtles (oh those poor things getting hit by plastic leaves thrown by the children...), but the similarities pretty much end there.

They even had a pianist to play pieces while you ate. That was pretty cool.

This buffet had ample room. In the photo above, they had a whole cabinet/fridge dedicated to water bottles and drink dispensers. I mean, they even had secondary dispensers for just juice! See that, you don't come across everyday.

This is what I started with — always gotta start with a salad :) This gave me time to catch up with my friends while taking things slowly.

And here is the selling point of the whole buffet: there is a section of raw food you would put on your plate (i.e. chicken, squid, beef, bean sprouts, egg noodle, udon noodle, etc, etc) so that you can line up and get it freshly cooked by the workers. You get a choice of choosing your sauce and it's pretty much customizing your main meal.

In the direct photo above, this is what I ordered: Shitake mushrooms, imitation crab meat, bean sprouts and chicken pieces with egg noodle, cooked with garlic sauce. I really liked the outcome of my choices. Back in university, I would always order Teriyaki sauce for my take-out noodle meals for dinners and I never really tried anything else, so I wanted a change. The garlic sauce wasn't too prominent in taste that it hindered the other components of the dish, and it wasn't overly salty either.

My second main course. I couldn't resist fries and BBQ pork, sorry :P

I almost felt like a kid at a candy store when I saw this buffet's dessert section; then again, I was also cursing out loud because I couldn't have half of the selection due to the restrictions of my allergy attack (no strawberries or chocolate). This is what I ended up getting:

Whereas Jem got this much:

... and that doesn't even compare to the ridiculousness that I saw my other friends have (regrettably I didn't document that, or else it would've been a pretty funny comparison).

With good company and decently good food, I had an enjoyable experience at Wok of Fame, even if it meant getting stared down at by a worker there because I kept taking pictures of the place. No joke, this is what my friends and I thought of when we think of that incident:

Until next time!

Watched episodes 5 - 9 of Attack on Titan and...


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Destiny is a bubble tea and snack franchise that can only be found in the Richmond Hill and Markham area. I don't go there very often, and as said in a previous post, I didn't expect to go here that day. Comparing Destiny to my local bubble tea joints is not the fairest comparison, as each place has its strengths and weaknesses. I would say my local BBT places are better in the main meal compartment, while Destiny has more variety and quality in their desserts.

The particular branch I went to didn't have the best interior decor (or rather, nothing spectacular in my perspective), so I neglected to take a picture of my surroundings. It may also be the fact that I was hoping for the super soft and comfy sofa like booth seats (that I so vividly remember from my first time at the Richmond Hill branch) only to be left with hard dull plastic ones. 

From left to right: Hazelnut Latte, Green Tea Latte, Cappucino Latte?

That day was kind of chilly, so my parents and I decided to order a warmer drink. Being the green tea fanatic that I am, I was pleased that a latte form of the flavor was available at the bubble tea place. I don't know if I missed the fine print on the menu, but somehow I assumed that tapioca would be included (bubble tea ordering fail) so my experience was a bit lacking when I got my drink. Also, I think I got too used to the flavoring of the Matcha Green Tea Latte at Second Cup, because the one I got at Destiny didn't have as strong as a flavor. I wouldn't add sugar to it per se; maybe they didn't use as much Matcha Green Tea powder? I tried a bit of my mom's Hazelnut Latte and the taste was a bit on the tame side too. Hmm.

My dad decided to order a slice of cake for $5.99. I think he got the chocolate truffle one. While I didn't take a bite, I could tell it was incredibly moist and even looking at the photo now, I kind of regret not taking a bite. 

I myself got tempted to order a slice of cake too. I opted for the cookies and cream slice. Again, this slice of cake was moist, the chocolate ganache layer on the top wasn't too hard or thick, and there wasn't too much cream, which was perfect in my eyes. I enjoyed every bite I had of this medium sized slice and even though I wasn't that hungry for dinner later that night, I'd say it was totally worth it!

TBP: Castle

Monday, 7 April 2014

Back in my university days, I discovered the novelty (what I'd like to believe anyway... I know Japan is way ahead of us, but in North America, this is still pretty new, in my opinion) of Snakes and Lattes. This was the first time I had ever heard of a place where you could spend endless hours playing board games in a cozy coffeehouse-like setting — that is, if you can get in first. The place has been so popular that sometimes, people would have to wait 2 hours just to get in. It's no surprise really. For only $5 admission and a plethora of board games in their library, who wouldn't want to hang out there?

Oh wait, we're not talking about Snakes and Lattes. We're talking about Castle. Let's just say that, last year, when I was eating Dim Sum with my university friends, I spotted a place that was also a board game café called Castle. It seemed relatively new, so I was curious. It wasn't until half a year (or so) later that I finally stepped foot into that place, with an excuse of "let's celebrate my late birthday with a small group of friends".

Off the bat difference between Castle and Snakes and Lattes is that Castle has more modern/minimalist furnishings. That is not to say that it doesn't look cozy, it's just that this café has a different kind of charm. I think it lies in the colour scheme that they used: pale turquoise and bright green to bring some energy into the room.

One thing Castle has that Snakes and Lattes doesn't have? Multiple comfy modern futons. From the recesses of my memory, I do recall S&L having around 3 - 4 armchairs and one futon near the front, but I think that's all they have.

I think it's also the juxtaposition of clean, minimal lines and handwritten lettering that add to the charm that is Castle. The handwritten lettering makes the place look fun and cute, which would appeal to younger audiences.

I'm always open to trying new board games, so after introducing my friends to Bang, I got introduced to Cosmic Encounters. This board game was about invading other alien races' territory by successfully attacking their armies. What's neat about this game is the massive list of character cards that a player could possibly choose from. I think I took a good 15 minutes just going through all the characters and studying the types of abilities they had that I thought would be beneficial to winning the game.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate the lovely artwork done for this game? I almost felt like I was looking at World of Warcraft or some other well done sci-fi/fantasy game promo artwork...

Anyway, I think what makes the game most interesting is having had the choice of playing this character:

This little guy is like the number 4 card on steroids in a Crazy Eights card game. It was funny playing against one of my friends who also had the ability to switch stats and commands around, making it a mental cat and mouse chase game. Sadly I didn't have the beginner's winning fluke like I usually would; still an interesting game nonetheless.

You can't go wrong with a classic to make your afternoon worthwhile. Although I don't play Cards Against Humanity often, it amuses me every time I do because of the sheer absurdity some people come up with in their choice of cards. Anyone with a sense of humour can enjoy this game, especially those with a) a dirty mind, b) chuckle at racist jokes and c) has a good general knowledge of pop culture and politics. It isn't called "the card game for horrible people" for no reason, haha.

I didn't order this slice of cake. My friend did. It was for $5.99 and he said it was good. I guess I'll take his word for it?

I don't know if it's just my darnedest luck, but every time I order a new latte I haven't tried, it always tastes burnt (only exception to that is the Pumpkin Spice Latte I had at Starbucks, otherwise that claim is still true). First it was the Nutella Latte at Snakes and Lattes, then it was the Candy Cane Latte from Second Cup and now it's the Hazelnut Latte at Castle. There's an added sense of disappointment in that the foaming of the latte is just white and brown, nothing special. I got spoiled from Snakes and Lattes expecting to see a face or elegantly done leaves seeing as they do latte art all the time. If Castle had a skilled barista that had the capability of doing latte art, I would put them on the same level as Snakes and Lattes when it comes to their food.

Then again, who knows, maybe the next time I go to Snakes and Lattes, I won't have a burnt Nutella Latte. I'll dream of the day that happens.

One thing's for sure though — Castle is more expensive in the long run. They charge $2.50 an hour as their admission fee. It only takes you two hours of board game playing time to catch up to Snakes and Latte's fee. So if you compare the duration of stay to the differing admission fees, Castle would be more expensive if you plan on staying for longer.


Saturday, 5 April 2014

Let us take a break from all the Asian food I've been posting so far and look at some Italian food! The first time I had heard of Vesuvio was when I went to Amadio's Pizza. While waiting for the freshly made Hawaiian pizza my boyfriend ordered, my eyes scoured around the walls, scanning numerous awards and newspaper clips. It was on one of the newspaper clippings that I saw that Vesuvio was ranked number one in the GTA when it came to pizza, so I quickly jotted down the name before carrying on with my night...

My first impression of Vesuvio was that it was a very comfortable space. It had its fancy metal wine racks that had flourishes reminiscent of the Victiorian era; it had its fancy lighting on the way down to the washroom, and it had those clean white drapes near the back. The comfortable and cozy part comes from the fact that it has exposed brick tiling for its wall, making the place look raw but not too 'in-your-face'. The restaurant also had kids' paintings on display, which made the place even more charming.

It took me awhile to settle on what kind of pasta I wanted. Vesuvio had a good variety for decent prices, with the Linguine Di Mare being the most expensive one. 

We started off with bread — pretty standard, and it wasn't overly salty, which was nice. They gave a choice of two white buns and two multigrain buns, for the more health conscious folks.

The pasta for that night was the carbonara. I haven't had it in awhile so why not? I've mostly been eating fettucine or just spaghetti and meatballs, so this is a nice change. However, this particular dish was quite creamy, so I was thankful that I only took half, or else I would not have had the empty stomach space to try their pizza.

And the main attraction — the Vegetarian pizza. I don't know if it's normally like this, but when I get pizza from a restaurant that is allegedly "fresh" from the oven, I would expect it to be really hot. I know that I took awhile to finish my portion of carbonara, but I don't think my pizza would turn lukewarm that easily. Even my boyfriend found the temperature to be cooler than usual and he had the pizza slices way before I did. There is one redeeming factor though, and that is that the taste was pretty good, as the olives served as the tipping point in making the experience different than other vegetarian pizzas I've had. It's funny, because I normally opt to have an olive-free pizza (I can tolerate them, but they're not high on my preferences list) and yet with this one, I'd feel like something is missing if the olives weren't there.

Overall, Vesuvio is a decent Italian place, and if I were to go there again, I'd probably try their other pastas instead. I wouldn't consider it the best pizza place in the GTA though. I guess I'm still on the hunt for that :P