American


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…)

The Rainforest Cafe experience is highly kitschy, unique and appealing to the senses. I remember when the restaurant used to have multiple locations in  Toronto and my family often went when I was younger. I even attended a birthday party there which is an experience I’ll never forget. Unfortunately, the only two places left to experience it in Canada is either in the Niagara Falls area or at Yorkdale mall. On another shopping trip, my family decided to head over to Yorkdale mall which instinctively created a craving for both my sister and I to eat their famous dessert. With most franchised restaurants, the menu doesn’t have highly unusual food but it remains fairly consistent and hits the spot when you’re hungry.

Their menu changes from time to time to keep things new and innovative but one classic remains; the volcano. Their iconic volcano dessert never slips my mind and there are many days where I’m left craving the luscious dessert. I would have gladly just eaten the dessert but the family decided to make a meal out of the entire thing and see what was on the menu. A favourite of my parents had sadly disappeared on the menu so we decided on two other dishes. We shared the food so that we could save  room for the highly filling dessert. (more…)

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

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…)

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!

(more…)

We had some leftover dough so we decided to make a little apple pie with the leftover filling and excess dough. It fit the size of the palm of my hand and was so cute. We cooked this alongside the big apple pie. I ate this with some whipped cream that night and it was delicious.

Brie was also on sale that week so I decided to redo the success from Thanksgiving, especially since I didn’t get a chance to eat most of it last time. It turned out fairly well. You basically just roll out dough, place the brie inside and bake it. There are numerous variations out there especially when it comes to what to fill it with. I just kept it simple. and left it plain.

Review:

It tasted pretty good. I prefer the phyllo caseing as opposed to the dough because its a lot light and the cheese is heavy enough. It was warm and gooey. I definitely enjoy it better when they’re other flavours besides just the cheese. I didn’t finish it unfortunately and A wasn’t too fond of it so he didn’t help me out. It was nice to have something new though. Try it yourself!

I don’t often bake as it’s a far more exact science compared to general cooking and since I take a more relaxed method to cooking, it doesn’t always suit me but I do like apple pie so I decided to give it another try after the success of Thanksgiving. Apples were in season and on sale at this time so A and I decided to make a delicious pie. We followed this recipe as a guideline.

Ingredients:

  • Storebought Pie Crust
  • 6 cups Granny Smith apple slices, peeled and cored
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons cold butter, cut in small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon milk or cream for brushing the top crust
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon for dusting the crust

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Roll out the pie crust bottom and tops, leaving enough overhang to fold underneath. Place the bottom pie crust evenly in a 9″ pie pan or ceramic pie dish and set aside. Fold the top crust in half and place a towel over it so it doesn’t dry out.

3. In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice. Add sugars, flour and spices if desired, mixing gently.

4. Fold into prepared pie crust and dot with cold butter.

5. Follow the double crust directions below.

6. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbly. Place a piece of aluminum foil around the rim if the edges start to brown too fast.

7. Remove to cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes.

8. Serve Apple Pie à la mode with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

9. Refrigerate any leftovers. 

Reviews:

It ended up being pretty delicious. This recipe was easy to follow however, I did prefer the one my sister used for thanksgiving (she doesn’t remember where she got it from anymore). The store bought crust was very flaky, a lot better than anything that I could attempt to make. A was very proud of himself and his efforts to add all the ingredients and roll it out. One should be proud, he tends not to venture too far from the meats. The whole house smelled of delicious applie pie. I ate it with some frozen whipped cream as I’ve been making a concious effort to stay away from ice cream lately. Unfortunately most of the pie went to waste as we couldn’t finish it in time before it spoiled (another reason why people should visit me and take some of my food!) I don’t think I’ll be making this for a while since I’ve definitely had my fill of apple pie. Maybe I’ll attempt a blueberry pie as that’s the only other pie that I’m fond of. Apple pie is definitely a must for the holidays. Happy cooking!

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