Beef


I seldom visit the Pickle Barrel restaurant, not because a lack of decent food or a dislike with the atmosphere but simply because it never springs as a go-to option when hunger strikes. I’ve gone a total of 3 or 4 times in the past, mostly to this exact location since it is the closest to my home.

My sister had just gotten another acceptance letter from another university so our family decided to celebrate by going out for the night and getting some food. After much deliberation as to where we could get what my sister was craving, we decided to head  down to Markville Shopping Centre and visit the Pickle Barrel for some dinner.It had been a long time since our last visit but we were excited.

The Pickle Barrel has a wide range of menu items for any meal of the day. Breakfast until late at night, there are many options to choose from. Although we had gone for dinnertime, my sister and I were drawn to their breakfast and brunch items (who could resist pancakes smothered in sweet goodness?) but we went the traditional route and stuck to dinner entrees. Pickle Barrel was also featuring new items on the menu as seen in the above photo. An adaption to the summer season, this menu has lighter, fresher options. I’m sure there’s something on the menu that would entice you. (more…)

*Update* I’ve had some personal struggles lately and with the transition from the school environment to back home, I’ve been unable to update this page at all. For those who constantly remind me and support me in this, I thank you and appreciate you. It makes me so happy knowing that I have readers out there whether you come on a regular basis or have dropped by just once. Also, through the kindness of a great friend of mine, he purchased my domain for me so the plan is to get the site running and eventually redirect you guys to my own personally owned site (though I will always love wordpress for giving me a place to start this up) Can’t wait! :)

I’ve eaten short ribs in many variations in the past. When I came across this recipe  and saw the delicious photo, I put it into my ever-growing list of recipes that I want to try. While on a grocery run with the family, I encountered some short ribs and instantly remembered this recipe and decided it was time to give it a try. I hadn’t really mentioned to anyone in my family that I was making it they didn’t get excited for it until make later into the cooking process.

The experience was an interesting one as I don’t often ‘braise’ any type of meat, new cooking method for me to try out but of course I love experimenting. I luckily had all the other ingredients at home waiting for me and I set out one weekend to make this long but tasty meal. (more…)

Now I know this is not anything gourmet and I’m not about to blog about some unique twist or original take on traditional hamburger helper. I’m here to simply blog about the experience of it. Now I don’t want to assume or generalize too much but based on what I’ve been told by friends, family and society and what I’ve seen via the media, I don’t think it would be too far a stretch to say that food staples such as hamburger helper and mac & cheese are the iconic food of university students and many Americans as they grew up. I never had these things.

In my childhood I had no kraft mac and cheese, no hamburger helper, no chef boyardee or riceroni. I’ve eaten the first one about two times in my life, and I’ve yet to experience the last two. I often talk to people and they describe how there was a time in their life, generally childhood or college years where such things were staples in the household. I was convinced by a friend of mine that I just had to try one of them and I settled on hamburger helper. Growing up I had seen the commercials for it and it always look simple and delicious. Now that I’m more food conscious, I’m highly aware of the ingredients and nutrition of something processed such as this but I did want to give it a chance; and so I did. (more…)

Szechuan Szechuan is a pan Asian and Szechuan restaurant. It has two current locations; one in Vaughan mills and the other in the First Canadian Place in downtown Toronto. On a shopping excursion to Vaughan mills, my family decided to eat at the Szechuan Szechuan restaurant. We decided for quicker service and general convenience to stick with the takeout/express service as opposed to the sit down meal in the restaurant. I can’t comment too much on decor but it looks really classy and modern inside the restaurant. The website displays some pictures.

image taken from google

The food choices are quite extensive even for the take out. There are soups, salads, main dishes of every meat, sushi, side dishes, rice, noodles and set menus with the type of food ranging in the Chinese, Thai and Japanese flavours. Simply ideal if you ask me. We ordered 4 dishes, one for each of us and ended up with leftovers. The other bonus to the take-out service is that they provide take out boxes of all sizes if you’re unable to finish. There’s also water on hand so you don’t have to worry about buying tons of drinks if all you need is some refreshing water to go along with the meal. The take out service has certain special up on the board with enticing photos as well as the menu. It’s all very clean-looking and appetizing. I can’t really explain the thought process behind choosing what we did that day. We all wanted a little something different.

I remember choosing the Pad Thai ($9.95) simply because the other noodle choices didn’t seem appetizing at the time and although Pad Thai dishes in most places aren’t all that authentic, I’d settle for it over other options. It was surprisingly better than I had anticipated, certainly not super authentic but better than most. There was a lot of flavour and you could definitely tell that it was freshly made to order. I could happily live off of Pad Thai for the rest of my life.

My father got the General Tso Chicken ($10.50) since it was advertised as a house speciality. I can’t say it  looks all that appealing in this photo but it was definitely delicious. A little too much on the salty side so luckily we had some rice to go with it. There wasn’t as much spice and kick as you’d think there’d be considering all the dried peppers in the dish. I like my food spicy but I don’t mind either way. Definitely a hearty dish.

I’m not 100% sure what this is. Upon reviewing the online menu, I tried to figure out what this might be and was torn between two choices. I’m leaning more towards Crispy Ginger beef ($10.95) but someone correct me if I’m wrong. At my favourite Szechuan restaurant, they have a similar crispy beef dish so we decided to try this out. It was certainly tasty but a little salty as well. We might have ordered extra rice because of it. Again not as much spice and kick as you’d think considering you can see the big pieces of dried peppers. We had some of this left over in the end.

And finally, my sister decided she wanted Sweet & Sour Pork ($8.95), a Chinese classic dish. Also tasty but pretty generic compared to others you could find elsewhere. She happily gobbled it all up.

Overall, Szechuan Szechuan is a great place to grab a bite. There’s a wide selection and I certainly appreciate the takeout option as it is certainly much more convenient especially while on a shopping trip. The portionning is really good and great value. It’s a different level of fast food. Maybe one of these days, I’ll venture into the restaurant itself but in the meantime, I hope you try it for yourself and enjoy :)

1 Bass Pro Mills Dr
Vaughan, ON L4K 5W4
(905) 738-8398
Website
Take Out Menu
Cash/Credit/Debit

Szechuan Szechuan on Urbanspoon

I first heard about fanatics in my freshman year of university. I had just signed on to be a an executive member of the Filipino club on my university campus and was supposed to head out with the newly appointed group for dinner. Unfortunately, I had a calculus midterm within the next few hours that I desperately needed to study for (I didn’t do well in the end :P hehe). Fanatics didn’t come back up as a possibility until just this past year. I’ve gone several times and tried several things. I tend to go on Sunday’s when there’s the promo student discount. Can’t pass up a 25% discount. Almost every night has some type of promo that caters to everyone’s favs. I tend to forget to bring my camera whenever I head over there  or I don’t remember to take photos. I managed to take some on one of my visits.

I am always happily greeted by someone at the front whenever I enter. They promptly show me or us to a table and hope that there’s something good on. Gotta love the millions of televisions, projectors and screens with something visible at every angle. A highlight is their complimentary chips that are pretty yummy. I have a bit of a chip addiction. I don’t actually like chips but it’s one of those things that if you put in front of me, I could mindlessly eat (never good for a diet). They’re freshly made, well seasoned and there’s certainly plenty of it. Apologies for no picture.

Off the menu I’ve tried the Fanatic Burger, Southwest Burger, Crispy Chicken Fingers, Brew Battered Fish & Chips, Garlic Bread and Fries.

This particular visit I had the southwest burger ($9.99) and shared in some of my friend’s fish and chips. I tried their fanatic burger and was deeply disappointed mainly because I had such a craving for this juicy,  flavourful, meaty burger in my head and they just didn’t deliver. I decided to give their burgers another try and was disappointed once again. (Side note: I was so saddened by my failed search for this ultimate burger that I was forced to make some homemade ones that were exactly what I was looking for.) The burger, although quite sizable for my appetite, lacked any flavour. Maybe someone could correct me but it tastes like unseasoned ground beef cooked and stuck between some buns. It wasn’t as juicy as I had hoped and should had the misfortune of eating the patty alone or with the just the bread, there would be very little taste. Luckily burgers come dressed which helped to greatly improve the dish. I opted for a salad this time and was pleasantly surprised with the salad. The house salad was fresh and dressed perfectly. All the vegetables went together well and filled me up better than the burger.

My friend ended up getting the fish and chips ($12.99) and I ate some of it. Fries at Fanatics, just like their chips, are pretty darn good, some of my fav in fact. The fish was a little disappointing this time. I’ve had better so it’s a hit and miss. My friend got a chicken breast along with it and surprisingly, the chicken was really good. It was juicy, tender and very flavourful. The fish comes with a tangy mayo sauce and coleslaw.

In the past I’ve also gotten the garlic bread along side my meal. Not a wise choice. The bread itself is delicious but there’s hardly any garlic flavour to it. Maybe I’m used to more greasy, garlic ladened bread from other restaurants but that’s what I expect when you advertise garlic bread especially when its accompanying fries and chicken fingers.

Speaking of which, Crispy Chicken fingers ($10.99) whether dressed in buffalo sauce or not, is pretty good. Nothing extraordinary but definitely hits the spot when it’s what you’re craving. They give 5 sizable pieces which is nice as I know of some places that only give about 3.

Fanatics also does take out and delivery. I’ve never tried their delivery service but I have done their take-out which was a smooth and quick process. I’ve never had a problem with service in house despite what I’ve read in some reviews. However, their food just isn’t flavourful enough for me to enjoy too often. I go at the request of friends but don’t venture there on my own.

371 Princess Street
Kingston, ON K7L 1B9
(613) 542-3267
http://www.fanaticssportslounge.com/
Cash/Credit/Debit

Fanatics Sports Lounge on Urbanspoon

I often get sushi cravings considering there isn’t a multitude of good places to go in Kingston which is real shame. So when I manage to make the trip back to Toronto I instantly think of certain foods in hopes of satisfying my cravings until I finally come home for the summer. I have a definite fav place to go for my sushi craving which is out in Whitby (Sushi Mountain, yum!) but I’m always open to new suggestions especially ones closer to where I live. A friend of mine, J suggested heading to a place in Markham for All U Can Eat and I was happy to accompany. I had limited amounts of time to spend so we decided to go for lunch.

I had come to this specific plaza several times to visit other surrounding places but had never noticed the Japanese sushi place on the side. J often came here with friends for crazy feasts from what he described. I was certainly eager to see what they had and definitely hungry.

(more…)

UPDATED 01/12/09 @ 3:45PM — I forgot a few more dishes so for those who have already read this post, check the end to see even more food from the party

New Year’s is a huge event for my family because it’s a two fold celebration. In addition to the general excitement for the new year, New Year’s day happens to be my father’s birthday. My family throws an annual New Year’s bash, invite all of our family and friends and party from the afternoon until the wee hours of the morning. Because it is such a long event and there are more people than the normal get-together, there’s a pretty big spread on our table.

After a year of numerous parties, my family tends to feel like we’ve gone through the majority of the Filipino dishes out there. Therefore, we like to attempt to ring in a new year with different food that isn’t always typically seen at a Filipino party. When deciding upon the menu, we consulted a variety of sources for inspiration and recipes and came up with a menu that features some of our most favourite dishes, some experimental food and some tried and true Filipino food.

Recipes that I reviewed

Recipes from various sources

Click to see more food from the party!

(more…)

Next Page »