desserts, events, food, friends, toronto

Winterlicious at La Societe

Let me just put it out there that La Societe was my favourite out of the 4 restaurants I went to for Winterlicious this year. MAYBE good company makes it better too ; ) ?  I went with my fellow only-child neighbours Nancy and Horace : )

The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, very parlour-esque and had a large stained glass ceiling light. But I was too embarassed take pictures of the place since there were few diners (Sunday night) and were actually more “fancy” people not there just for Winterlicious.

La Societe was on my list of Winterlicious restaurants I wanted to try this year because they had Octopus Salad as one of their appetizer choices (and it was also on Nancy’s list too!).  I was ever so disappointed when the octopus salad was not on the actual menu we received.  I chose its replacement Cured Tuna as my appetizer, which to be honest tasted kind of like salmon to me : S   For my entree I picked the Parisian Gnocchi (another reason why I picked La Societe – I love gnocchi!) which was great paired with chestnuts, though a bit on the softer side.  For dessert we all picked the traditional Creme Brulee, but the wait staff got confused with our orders and brought us 3 Lemon Tarts instead.  So in the end we each got our original order of Creme Brulee, and one Lemon Tart on the house to share : D

Overall it was a lovely experience and well worth the $35 price especially at such a beautiful location right in Yorkville. It’s on the 2nd floor of a building and it even has a balcony patio. I’d love to come back here in the summer to patio there.

 
La Société Bistro on Urbanspoon

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desserts, events, food, friends, toronto

Winterlicious at Marcel’s Bistro & the Best Ice Cream Ever!!

My 2nd Winterlicious 2014 meal was with Adrienne at Marcel’s Bistro. I had actually created a list of restaurants I was interested in and sent this out to my friends (lol I am OCD like that), and then I would let them narrow it down / pick which one they like most. Marcel’s Bistro was the one Adrienne liked most out of my list!

Interestingly enough, Marcel’s Bistro is actually split into 2 separate dining rooms, divided by a staircase (the restaurant is on the 2nd floor).  Luckily we were able to be seated in their 2nd dining room which was way less stuffy and humid than the 1st one. It is a very small and authentic French restaurant which is likely why they did not seem to be able to manage the sheer amount of customers they were having due to the Winterlicious specials.  Each dish took quite some time to arrive to us : /

For appetizer, I had the puff pastry filled with seafood in béchamel sauce.  This puff pastry was the reason that Marcel’s Bistro made it onto my list – I love puff pastry! Adrienne found the bechamel sauce to be overly salty, but I was okay with it. It went great with our complimentary bread : )  and was actually my favourite dish of the night.  However, that was also mainly because my grilled beef steak entrée was extremely thick and tough . It came with brussels sprout which originally, I refused to eat, but Adrienne was telling me that brussels sprout were the new kale.  So how could I refuse? In the end, it was the most delicious thing on my entrée plate. For dessert, I chose the decident dark chocolate cream mousse and raspberry verrine. I was not too fond of this dish because the raspberry verrine was on the sour side and I don’t like sour foods. Bad choice on my part.

After our meal we wanted to go somewhere else since for once we TTC-ed downtown and had a day pass to use. We couldn’t let our day pass go to waste without maximizing its full potential!!! We searched and searched for places to go for a post-dinner snack or drink. We decided on Dutch Dreams which was probably one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  Not only was it their last night of operation before they closed to move locations, but the ice cream is MINDBLOWING. I can honestly say it is one of the most delicious ice cream that I have ever had.  And I ate this while walking in the middle of a snowstorm.   The worker attending to us was very very friendly and nice  : 3   The original flavour I picked was Pistachio Almond, but as there wasn’t enough to fill one cup, he offered to run out to their storage to get more, but I replied that it was okay and that I could just get a different flavour.  And then he allowed me to pick 2 flavours!! My second choice was cookies and cream and I am in love with it. It was very creamy, yet had  really rich chocolate brownie chunks – like no other cookies and cream ice cream that I’ve ever had. The pistachio one was good, but had too strong of an almond flavour for my liking.  Adrienne got a Swiss Mocha (I think?) and it tasted exactly like Coffee Crisps – amazeballs.

Something cool about Dutch Dreams is they have a lot of dessert themed items and snacks on sale other than their ice cream. The worker saw us checking out the products and pointed out to us their cool personalized dessert themed lamps, which he says is the best product they have. Dutch Dreams is definitely a place I would re-visit when the weather is warmer, and when their new store front is open. I definitely recommend you all to visit too! It was tastier than my Winterlicious meal and probably $40 cheaper.

Marcel's Bistro Fine French Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Dutch Dreams on Urbanspoon

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events, family, food, toronto

Winterlicious at O&B

I went a bit crazy this year and booked myself 4 winterlicious meals in the span of 2 weeks. In my defence, Winterlicious is like an event for me so I treat it like so. My first Winterlicious for the year was at Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grille at Bayview Village.  (On a side note, are any of you watching Master Chef Canada? Michael Bonacini is a judge on it!!)

Over the past 1 to 2 years or so, I’ve been trying to assimilate my parents into my food loving, “fat fo’ lyfe” lifestyle by introducing to them new restaurants and types of cuisine. One thing they quite enjoy is Winterlicious at O&B – we went together for the first time last year. So this year, we decided to go again.  I would love to eat with them at a restaurant downtown (where most of the Winterlicious participants are), but it is just too much of a hassle for us as unfortunately both my parents and I don’t like taking the subway, nor know our way around downtown well. Maybe someday when I get over my fear of driving and parking downtown!

 

For lunch, my dad and I both chose the Mexican-Asian inspired dishes of Yellow Corn Tortilla Soup and Beef Bulgogi Quesadilla. While my mom got the Chopped Rocket & Romaine Salad and Blackened Haddock Hot Pot.

No pictures of our desserts because my parents dug in before I had the chance : ‘(   We all picked different desserts so we had all 3 of the options of Warm Ontario Cranberry Date Pudding, Mayan Spiced Chocolate Panna Cotta and Cheese & O&B Artisan Crisps.  Dessert in general, other than the cheese were on the sweet side. I got the cheese & crisps dish which wasn’t spectacular as I should’ve expected, but I really liked the refreshing quince jelly and fruit it came paired with.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the Summerlicious menu will be like, and am also interested in going for brunch! I hear they have chicken & waffles.


Oliver & Bonacini Cafe Grill on Urbanspoon

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events, food, friends, japan, nihonbashi, roppongi, shibuya, Tokyo, travel

Tokyo Day 5 – Art Aquarium, Roppongi and a Trendy Hairstylist’s Party?

Rushing from Odaiba, we met up with our new friends Nico and Juan to attend an Art Aquarium exhibit by Kimura Hidetomo in Nihonbashi. We fancy, huh? They introduced us to their friends (whom they also recently met) Kensu and Miwa. Kensu and Miwa are Japanese, but are very interested and involved with Spanish culture so at times the 4 of them would speak Spanish while we had no clue what was going on. We also must have looked like a weird group of people.

Kimura’s work consisted of a total of 5,000 goldfish and 70 aquariums used in his 17 displays.  It was a futuristic meets Edo Japan kind of style through light displays and modern designs combined with cultural kimonos, lanterns and folding screens. There were many different types of goldfish used in the gallery – some that I never even imagined existed!

I think the black and red goldfish, and the goldfish with the puffy cheeks are the cutest.

Kimura’s gallery is definitely much more than just aquariums, it really is an art. Each of his displays are intricately designed and some through the use of mirrors, glass and the sheer shape of the aquarium, were able to create optical illusions.  These are some of my favourite displays.

The intricacy and size of Kimura’s main aquarium display was extremely beautiful, especially in person. I don’t think it is captured well in pictures due to the dim lighting and I really don’t know how to explain it in words other than it was breathtaking and unimaginable.  I really regret not buying a souvenir as a memory of this event – they had the cutest goldfish plush toy on sale.

After the gallery, we headed to Roppongi where Miwa brought us to an izakaya!! I finally got to satisfy my dream of eating at an “authentic” izakaya.  The brag-worthy things that I got to eat at the izakaya was HORSE and WHALE sashimi. We all liked horse more because whale was very fishy tasting..and not to mention bloody.

I think people sometimes get mistakened that Roppongi is a rich area due to Roppongi Hills, but it actually can be quite sketchy at night since it is a nightlife district, has lots of foreigners, and has a high Yakuza presence. One of my other dreams was to see some real Yakuza in Japan. I THINK I got to see one! Well it was an older man in a yukata talking to another gangster looking guy and he looked pretty boss.

After dinner, Adrienne, Nico, Juan, Kensu and I headed to Shibuya to go to Club Air where Nico’s friend Kouichi Hirose, an international DJ champion, was DJ-ing for the night. Nico originally told us it was a trendy hairstylist’s party, and as hairstylists are pretty popular and “in” in Tokyo, I was pretty excited. However, we never found out who the hairstylist was…or if it was even a hairstylist’s party. BUT, the main DJ for the night happened to be Nakata Yasutaka from CAPSULE!!!! Other than being a songwriter, music producer and DJ, he’s also the producer for Perfume and the very popular Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Although the crowd was pretty young as it was a Monday night, the style of music was purely electronic (no vocals), and the way people danced was very different than  Toronto, it probably is one of the best clubbing experiences I’ve had.  Maybe it’s the fact that we were foreign and didn’t know anyone so that we could do whatever we wanted, but we party rocked (while completely sober) and even got some of the local crowd to join in with us!  One funny thing to mention is that Japanese people (at least this crowd, okay?) really like to clap and jump around as a group as their “dance” – we joined in anyway for the sake of it.  As the night went on and the crowd grew, we eventually got pushed from standing right in front of the DJ booth to the far back of the room.  I think we did a good job hyping the crowd for Nico’s buddy.

The next day, Nico told us that apparently Club Air was also in Lost in Translation. So that means I unintentionally went to two places from the same movie!!  Really got to get to watching that movie.

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food, friends, toronto

The Priest of Burgers.

How long has The Burger’s Priest been in Toronto for?  I honestly do not know. All I know is, it had been far too long for me to have not eaten one of their burgers at least once. Every time I go downtown to eat it is usually for something for more “fancy” so I never had the chance to try out this burger joint which arguably (by some), serves the best burgers in Toronto.  As I’m not one that enjoys too much meat in my burger, I opted for “The Priest” which is their Cheeseburger + The Option.   There isn’t much burger choices in their regular menu so be sure to check out their secret menu before going.

No matter what kind of burger you choose, you must definitely get/add on The Option. It is 2 portobello mushroom caps with lots of cheese stuffed in between, and then deep fried altogether. Cheesy AND deep fried can only mean deliciousness!!   The chilli cheese fries on the other hand were underwhelming – so you can pass on that.   The Burger’s Priest does not come close in comparison to burgers I have eaten at Shake Shack in NYC or Mos Burger in Japan where their patties and buns are much better in quality. But compared to the only “gourmet” burger I’ve had in Toronto at Holy Chuck, I did like it more – potentially because I loved The Option though.

Reminder to you all , they take cash only!

 
The Burger's Priest on Urbanspoon

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events, friends, toronto

Christmastime in Toronto

Toronto is unfortunately not one of the most beautiful cities in the world during Christmastime, but we do get a little bit of Christmas festivity from the Toronto Christmas Market which is held at the Historical Distillery District each year from late November to mid-December. It’s pretty neat since the whole section is especially full of Christmas spirit from all the decorations and lights, and of course music.

A Christmas Market is basically a street market with vendors selling various handmade goods and of course, food and drinks. Most of the food vendors sold German food such as schnitzels and sausages, likely because Christmas Markets originate from Germany.  Other popular vendors were ones that sold hot (alcoholic) drinks and chocolate.  Because we went on one of the coldest days in December ( about at least -15 degrees Celsius without windchill?), I don’t think we were able to enjoy the market as much as we could’ve on a day less cold. But of course we did take obligatory pictures beneath the huge Christmas tree. Please note the artistically placed in clock.

As the cold started to become unbearable, we warmed ourselves up with some hot drinks. I got spiked (with apple brandy) apple cider :)  Mulled wine was a really popular choice, but too expensive for me at $14!

There was a Santa that was available for pictures and he was making the most hilarious poses – such as, as he called it, a Sears catalogue pose. However I spent too much time debating whether I should pull my camera out or not that he walked away as I got my camera ready : (   Although my visit was short, the market really did get me excited for Christmas!!  Hope you all have a happy holiday : ) !

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food, friends, japan, odaiba, Tokyo, travel, tsukiji market

Tokyo Day 5 – Tsukiji Fish Market & GIANT GUNDAM

It was our 3rd last day in Tokyo (2nd last full day) and we still had much we wanted to do. As we were not able to fit it all into our agenda, we decided to cut out the shopping (as we’ve shopped quite a bit to the point the credit cards had to come out) and focus on the tourist activities.

We originally intended to go to Tsukiji Market at 4am. Yes, 4 AM which is when you must arrive to be able to view the fish auction!! I saw it once on TV and it looked pretty fun so I definitely wanted to see it in person!  That plan got pushed aside almost immediately as we started to lose our jetlag, stay out later, and sleep in. We ended up arriving around lunchtime. Supposedly, there is an inner (better one) and outer market, but we had lots of difficulty even finding the “market” that we just stuck to whichever we found. To this day I still don’t know which one it is…probably outer.  My hairstylist in Toronto suggested for me to go to “Sushi Big” because that’s the one he likes, but it had a very long line. After much deliberation, we ended up picking one that had a cute old man out front as the greeter.

It was one of the best meals I had in Japan and definitely worth every penny! I guess this is why Tsukiji Market is such a huge tourist attraction.

After lunch we quickly headed to Odaiba where the giant LIFE SIZED GUNDAM was at.

As I barely watched Gundam Wing even, I knew nothing about gundams and purely took pictures of what looked cool and the “prettier” gundams. We didn’t have much time in Odaiba as we made plans for the evening with Nico & Juan so we just did a bit of shopping before heading back to Shibuya.

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