chocolate, desserts, dragonboat, events, food, friends, life, toronto

Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market

Kensington Market is a popular spot for me and my friends to go to after our Sunday morning dragon boat practices. Mainly because it’s pretty close by, the parking is cheap, and there’s a large variety of food to choose from.

I think I have gone there about 3-4 times this summer alone and have definitely tried out a good handful of what Kensington has to offer. My friend Jeremy lived in the area during University so he was very knowledgeable about the area, and we followed his recommendations entirely!

And the one thing that makes Kensington Market even better, is Pedestrian Sundays! On the last Sunday of each month, the roads within Kensington Market gets closed off for pedestrians only and many of the restaurants will set up outdoor booths in addition to various merchandise booths. There will also be many local street performers or interactive activities (such as a giant Scrabble, a mini teacup stacking challenge, and even badminton) throughout the market, so it is definitely an exciting sight to see.

While the weather is still warm, hit up Kensington Market on their last Pedestrian Sunday of the summer on August 31st. But if anything, it will still continue on September 28 and October 26, 2014.

Next time I visit, I would like to try out The Grilled Cheese, Hibiscus for their speciality ice cream, or this Torito Tapas Bar. 

 

Seven Lives on UrbanspoonMillie Creperie on UrbanspoonSanagan'S Meat Locker on Urbanspoon

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chocolate, desserts, events, food, friends, toronto

A Chocolate Social

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend Chocolate Tales’ newest event – Chocolate Social which brings their chocolate and truffle making classes outside of the classroom and into a much more relaxed and social environment of a restaurant or bar. In my case, it was at Alleycatz Live Jazz Bar.

I’ve gone to one of Chocolate Tales’ chocolate making class in the past and this time I was attending a truffle making class. In concept, the procedures were quite similar – moulding a piece of cocoa into your desired shape. For truffles it is a sphere. What was unique about this class however, was that other than learning the most compatible alcohol and chocolate pairings, we also got to create a chocolate painting! See my Totoro masterpiece below.

All in all it was a very enjoyable night and this bar social setting definitely allowed us to get to know some of the other guests at the event too! I would only wish that we had more chocolate to make truffles with : 3  Some of the guests that sat near us ate them all before the night was over even.  At Alleycatz in particular, they offered free beginner’s Salsa dance lessons for all of us as well (at around 9/9:30pm). Unfortunately we were too hungry to stick around to learn.

If you want to try out any of their classes check out their website for full class details, or the Chocolate Social groupon which is currently selling at 55% off.

 

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chocolate, desserts, events, food, toronto

The Chocolate Social

Have you always wanted to make your own chocolates and truffles? Learn about which chocolate is best paired with which alcoholic beverage?

Chocolate Tales has  now come up with a new event, The Chocolate Social, that allows you to learn the art of making chocolate  while in the laid-back ambience of a bar. Instead of just attending a class, The Chocolate Social allows you to learn about chocolate and truffle making through a more social experience. There will also be teachings on what chocolate is paired with which drink (and discounts offered at the bar which hosts the social!)   I’ve been lucky to have been invited to attend one of their previous workshops, and I am excited to be able to attend another!

I’ll be attending the Chocolate Social on June 30th at Alleycatz (of course I would pick something that has the word “cat” in it).

What comes with each social:

  • Brief history of the pairing of alcohol and chocolate
  • Chocolate tasting and pairing
  • Truffle-making session
  • Paint your own edible picture of a cocoa tree to take home
  • Truffle box to take home
  • Discounts on cocktails and wines at the bar

There are various dates and locations to choose from, and best of all, the event is currently on sale on Groupon!

If you’re looking for something different to do this summer, this could be it!

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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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