Bread


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…)

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I first tasted this dessert in during my summer employments. Like many other office jobs, sweet treats are a favourite especially during those  long days where you need a sugar boost at 4 in the afternoon. Doughnuts, cookies, cakes, chocolates, and candy were prized at my office.  These sweet treats were no different. Given to us as a reward when we had zero errors on our reports, we were treated to this unique Greek dessert.

I will admit that when first offered to me, I refused due to just unfamiliarity. It didn’t look completely appetizing at the time that I first saw it, inside a box clumped as one big sticky mess. I finally got the courage to eat it and totally fell in love. It was definitely as sweet as it looked. The ball itself was like a doughnut but surrounding and absorbed inside is the honey syrup that bursts into your mouth when you bite into it. It’s warm and filling, definitely not something you could eat handfuls of.

I recently remembered eating the dessert and tried to find if any Greek restaurant in town had them on their menu. Sadly, there was none. My craving had grown and I just had to have some so I took it upon myself to find a recipe, gather the ingredients and give this dessert a try.

P.S. I apologize for the lack of photos during the creating process. I didn’t really know how it would turn out and I spent a lot of time checking things twice and ensuring things would go well to take the necessary pictures. Should I make this again, I’ll be sure to update with step-by-step photos (more…)

I’ve noticed in the last little while that my home cooking strays more towards the vegetarian region and my restaurant/takeout meals lean more towards more  meaty dishes. So I wanted to switch things up and try the vegetarian fare at Lotus Hearts Blossom. Since moving to downtown, I became aware of the  lovely vegetarian restaurant close to where I live. I’m actually able to look into the restaurant from where I live and I often people watch from time to time while in my kitchen. I was thoroughly surprised at how much traffic the restaurant received. I looked over their great website and wonderful menu and I realized that I had to give the restaurant a try.

I decided to do take out because I’m the type of person who feels a little uncomfortable being in a restaurant alone, especially one that I’ve never tried before. Take out was also more appropriate because at the time I was busy doing lots of readings and housework so I just didn’t want to bother with sitting in the restaurant. Their menu is quite diverse and features so many great dishes and drinks. They feature some vegan and gluten free items when they can. They’ve chosen dishes that have lots of spices and herbs to bring out the most flavour from their ingredients. There are hints of indian, mexican and mediterranean to their meals.  It was actually very difficult for me to decide since it all sounded so appetizing. Their menu is separated by all day selections, lunch meals and dinner meals. They also have a brunch menu for the weekends. Check their site for hours.

It was lunch time when I decided to get something so I decided to opt for their meatloaf meal or “Neatloaf” as they call it, lunch portion. I love meatloaf but I can’t seem to bring myself to make one from scratch. I was intriguied in what a vegetarian version would taste like. They describe the meal as “A loaf baked with rice, grains, eggs, ricotta cheese & tofu served with mashed potatoes and rich mushroom gravy.” After reading that, how could I resist? I also decided to get a strawberry milkshake because I knew their version would probably delicious and healthy as opposed to the version you could pick up at a fast food chain. I adore strawberry or berry milkshakes. As I’m writing this, I’m craving one. :)

When I picked up my meal, I got the opportunity to see the interior of the restaurant myself. It’s an experience for sure. There wasn’t too many people in the restaurant when I went to pick up mainly because it was later in the afternoon so the place was rather quiet and calm. The lady who gave me my meal was very friendly and sweet looking. The whole place had a relaxing aura, very colourful and warm. It definitely doesn’t give off this eat and run vibe to it that some other restaurants can give off. Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos inside since it was a quick visit but the website does show a few.

This is how the meal looked like upon pick up. I thought the writing was a cute touch :)

Let’s have a look inside!

Although you could definitely eat it from the very sturdy box, I opted to transfer my whole meal onto a plate for easier photo taking and easier eating. I don’t know about you but I don’t normally eat out of a box. (hehe)

First thing I noted was that it was quite a lot of food for a lunch time portion. I remember having to finish off the rest another time. The neatloaf was definitely hearty. You could taste all the ingredients that went into the neatloaf, especially the tofu. You could also see the bits of rice. It was definitely delicious and filling. The neatloaf was covered with the gravy so you definitely tasted the mushroom gravy sauce first. My piece of meatloaf seemed to have been a corner so some of the edges were a bit more tough that I would have preferred. The bottom was also a bit more crisp that I really would have liked. The whole thing held well together and had a meaty taste so I definitely didn’t miss any of the flavours.

As mentioned it comes with mash potatoes and a salad. The mash potatoes were nicely seasoned. I normally eat the boxed mixed version of mash potatoes for convenience sake so this was a nice change. and the gravy went really well with the potatoes although I would like more gravy to cut the thickness of it. The salad was really tasty. It had a lot of fresh vegetables which included mixed greens, sprouts, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, red onions; all yummy things! The salad dressing that came with it was unique and had an interesting taste. I was testing it for the longest time trying to figure it out but my palate just isn’t good enough to determine the ingredients. It’s not my favourite dressing but I was willing to eat it, although next time I’ll probably opt for my own dressing. It did go well with the vegetables though.

As for the milkshake, it was super light and full of strawberry flavour. They didn’t overdo it with the ice cream so you could definitely drink it through a straw but not so thin that it was a smoothie. There were specks of the strawberries while I was drinking which made me wonder if it was made with actual strawberries. My questions were answered when I found a chunk of a strawberry at the bottom of my cup. I have a sneaking suspicion that they were frozen strawberries as opposed to completely fresh but for milkshakes, frozen strawberries will do. It was a beautiful pink colour and very well blended. Delish!

In total my whole meal was approx $15 with tax included and it was definitely worth it for all that I got. Had it not been the fact that I live so close to the place, I wouldn’t have come across it which would have been a shame. Its definitely an experience, meat fan or not and I highly recommend it. Happy eating!

Lotus Hearts Blossom Restaurant
185 Sydenham Street, Kingston, ON
613-549-7777
website

Lotus-Heart-Blossoms Vegetarian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Every once in a while I buy a whole roasted chicken from the grocery store. Although roasted chicken isn’t too hard to make, I just opt to buy it as is to save me time. I normally eat it plain or with some white rice. Everyone has their favourite parts of a chicken and for the most part, people will choose the darker meats and breast meat can sometimes dry out. Besides the wings, I prefer the breast meat. It’s a good base flavour to work with and experiment with. Breast meat is typically the last meat I eat from a roasted chicken for the sole purpose that I can do more creative things with it than eating it plain. It can be used for salads, pastas, soups…etc. I choose to eat it as a sandwich. The breast meat actually lasted me a long while so I ate a few of these during the week.

A recipe isn’t exactly necessary but I will list the ingredients for those who are wondering. I toasted the white bread so that the bread was crispy and holds up to the filling. I used mayo for both sides (because I happen to like mayo), slivers or red onion, shredded chicken breast meat and cilantro leaves. I opted for cilantro leaves because a) it’s all that I had on hand and b) I happen to like the idea of using a strong flavour like cilantro leaves as opposed to lettuce or spinach but use whatever you have.

I just wanted to feature my photos l because I’m really working towards improving my photography skills, learning about composition, utilizing the light that I have…etc. So enjoy :)

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!

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I know I am terribly over due for a post and I have several (decent) reasons. First is the fact that I went home for my Christmas vacation and although you make think that I would have more time to update since I have no school to distract me, its actual more time-consuming as there are more responsibilities and duties while at home. During the holiday season there are several parties to attend, a lot of shopping/errands to run and many attempts at cleaning the house. Second is the fact that although as readers, there are no new posts, I do work on the behind the scenes stuff. For example, I’ve really been working on generating more readership that is stable. I’ve been joining other blogging/food networks to promote the blog because my secondary goal for this blog is to gain a decent amount of readership. I think I’ve done very well for only 3 months of publication and I hope that things only get better from here on out. I also spend a lot of time uploading/editing photos. My lighting and camera quality are not always the best so I do take the time to edit photos to make them as appetizing as possible. I’m trying to do the research needed to improve my photography skills so that I can cut down on editing. So I’ve caught up on editing, done a good chunk of promotion and gained more readership so now its time to get back to what it’s all about; food posts!

We’re gonna go way back to feature the main party food for this Christmas season. This is what a Filipino feast is like during the holiday season, in particular my home for New Year’s. Warning: this post is picture heavy!

For the annual Christmas day party, our family friends take turn on rotation deciding who will host it. This year it was held at my uncle’s house in Whitby from lunchtime until dinner. It was a potluck event and everyone was required to bring something. My family had decided to bring shrimp & vegetable tempura. It was also our opportunity to open our gifts with everyone else. Shortly after, I fell asleep from just exhaustion of the past few days. I awoke in time to eat a little bit of dinner, picture taking with the family and then headed home. But back to the food. There were tons and I wanted to feature all of them.

This was a black forest cake made by a family friend who specializes in baking. I’m not a huge fan of black forest cake, primarily because I’m not a fan of cherries. However, I was informed by my all-cake-loving sister that it was delicious. It was a beautiful cake fit for the season.

This was the tempura my family had brought. We used shrimp, eggplant, sweet potato and green peppers. It was a hit at the party and there were hardly any left overs. My favourite is always the sweet potato. It wasn’t as crisp as it could be since it was cooked earlier in the day but it was still very delicious and very easy to make.

Click to see more photos!

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Whenever I get a chance to visit home I make sure to stop off at an asian supermarket to stock up on asian goodies to bring back to Kingston. I love the intense aromas of spices, fresh meats, fish and fruits and vegetables when you walk into the store. There so many different kinds of colour packaging and products that come worldwide. It’s always interesting to see the variety. My family primarily goes to T&T and Oriental in Scarborough for our asian grocery needs. I remember taking a few pictures while stocking up just because everything looked so beautiful. It was a rather rushed grocery trip so I couldn’t get more.

Beside T&T there is a Vietnamese sandwich shop. My dad had a craving for a sandwich and since the rest of my family was too lazy to make an alternative dinner we decided to eat the same thing as him. I love those Vietnamese sandwiches aka Bánh mì. It’s a baguette with pate, butter and/or mayo spread on the inside and filled with pickled carrots & daikon, fresh cucumbers, cilantro, and various meats or tofu. For those who want a little kick, peppers can be added as well.  Not only are they delicious, they’re fairly inexpensive and served up quick to your specifications. In the past, when the store first opened, my family would buy all the ingredients in larger amounts, bring it home and make it ourselves. Now, we just get a few sandwiches every time we have a craving.

The store that I go to is at:

5661 Steeles Ave E. Unit 1
Scarborough
416-292-8875

although they have another location in Chinatown in downtown Toronto.

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