So I’m NOT the only one who noticed!!


Article from the New York Times

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I have several relatives who live in the US and every time they travel up to Toronto all they do is eat. They make me take them out at all hours of the day, night and early morning for food. It’s such excessive eating that I can’t wrap my head around how their stomachs can expand to such sizes. I ask them why it is that all they want to do is eat in Toronto and they tell me, quite frankly, “It’s because the food up here is waaaaaaaaaaay better than it is in the US. The US sucks when it comes to food.” Although I would love to hate on Americans, I didn’t really believe them.

UNTIL…

I made my way to Manhattan for my friends wedding. Somehow I ended up planning most of the trip and importantly, places to eat. I chose a variety of venues around the city, from local American to International fare. One of the restaurants on the list was a well-known, much talked about and famous Chinese restaurant off of Canal street. My boyfriend and I went there for dim sum. It was the WORSE DIM SUM I have ever had in my life. I’ve been to really shady and crappy places in Toronto before, but none of that was as bad as this place in Manhattan.

Then I went to Denver for Chinese food. My boyfriend lives in Denver and I wanted to try some Chinese food. He had previously researched “good” Chinese restaurants / eats from a work colleague who is Chinese and also from Toronto. His work colleague told him the Chinese food in Denver isn’t as good as Toronto, but he gave my boyfriend some “good” suggestions anyway. So I went and researched the suggested restaurants and picked one that appeared pretty authentic. We went there for dinner with another friend and it was the most disappointing meal ever! I won’t go into the details but it was bad.

There are many other times I’ve travelled to the US and all I’ve seen are places that sell “American Chinese food”. For all who don’t know what I’m talking about, American Chinese food is defined as bastardizations of real Chinese food i.e. spring rolls (but they’re nasty and not real), chicken balls (wtf is that?), egg rolls, fried wontons etc..you get the idea.

It suddenly hit me: my cousins from the US were right. America has bad Chinese food.

It was a bit mind boggling for me – probably more so for places like New York than Denver. New York has always been a major hub for immigration. There is a large Chinese population there who are from the motherland and no doubt, know how to cook authentic Chinese food. But why is it that it tastes soo bad?!

Then one day when I was in Boston, I came across this article in the New York Times. It expressed and explained my very hatred and confusion about Chinese food in America. At that moment I hearted Adrian Ho. He is my hero for writing and getting an article published in the NY Times!!!! Does the rest of America NOT notice this problem?!

Isn’t there something that can be done? I just want to eat real Chinese food and evidently, that’s too much to ask for in America. I’m glad to be Canadian!!!!!

WOOT!! GO CANADA!!!

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Egg Poaching Mechanisms

I have breakfast foods not only at breakfast, but all throughout the day. It’s great to come home from work and grab a bowl of cereal or make some pancakes or even some eggs and sausage. Ever since I was a kid I ate my eggs no other way but scrambled. My mom would also sometimes change it up and scramble some eggs and steam them. It wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve started to appreciate over-easy and poached eggs. (To this day, I still haven’t tried devilled eggs!!) In fact now I prefer poached eggs over scrambled!

I love dipping my buttered toast into the gooey, creamy yolk of a poached egg. There is nothing worse  than a poached egg with a cooked yolk!! But cooking the egg to perfection is just the secondary to dropping an egg into a pot of hot water and keeping the whites intact. I’ve tried the vinegar in the water and slipping the egg into the pot. I would like to say it was somewhat successful, but I’m only kidding myself. So as a result, up until now I have only had poached eggs at restaurants.

I am aware of several different types of mechanisms that help make it easier:

  1. Microwave Egg Poacher
  2. Toaster / Egg maker combo
  3. Electric Egg Cookers

And recently while making breakfast at my boyfriend’s parents house, I used an Egg Steamer mechanism.

As seen, there is a metal cover which sits on the pot filled with some water, the eggs are placed in the holders, the lid goes on and eggs are steamed.

Reasons why I prefer this steamer over the other mechanisms:

  1. I’m not nuking my eggs in plastic
  2. I’m not buying a useless toaster with a random egg maker on the side that probably doesn’t even work very well
  3. I’m not buying an expensive kitchen appliance that will take up space and be a hassle to use and clean

The only downside to this egg steamer contraption is the holder is hard to clean by hand. Regardless, the result was intact and tasty!!!


The perfectly poached egg straight out of the steamer. Yes, Conan made them for me!


Parisian bread with butter and a gooey yolk…mmmMmMMmMmMmmm Thanks baby!!!


It was such a delicious breakfast – now I just gotta get me one of those steamers!


Long Weekend @ HARLEM

Harlem
(416) 368-1920
67 Richmond St E
Toronto, ON
www.harlemrestaurant.com

Harlem on Urbanspoon

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I had passed this restaurant a couple of times while walking around downtown Toronto; and even from the outside, it oozed of coolness. I went home and immediately put it on my “wishlist” on Urbanspoon. Yeah, I’m nerdy like that.

Valentine’s day arrived and my boyfriend asked me where I would want to have dinner. It was one of the few times I didn’t say, “where ever you want to go!” So we called and made a reservation. He was interested to know what other people thought about Harlem before we went for dinner, so we read some reviews. There was a unanimous declaration the place served up some good tasting soul food and that it was also a bit cramped. We figured we’d judge that ourselves.

We arrived there for dinner and saw that yes, it was a bit cozy on the inside, but it would only feel uncomfortable or annoying if it was bursting at capacity – but thankfully, it wasn’t (this place also has 2 floors). I looked at the menu but before I could even read what was on it, I was taken away by this sweet music streaming from upstairs and through the stereo system. We later found out it was this dude Jevon Rudder. Awesome voice. Here’s short clip of him playing She Will Be Loved by Maroon 5:

Back to food. I LUUURRRVVVEEE fried chicken and at a place like Harlem where they specialize in soul food, I couldn’t help but order some Southern Fried Chicken! My boyfriend and I also shared a Jerk Chicken Quesadilla and he went for the Valentine’s day special – salad, braised short ribs, chocolate cake. The waiter brought over some corn bread – which I LOVE as well.

The Corn Bread

The corn bread was quite tasty. It had some hot peppers in it but all in all, your regular run-of-the-mill corn bread.

The Jerk Chicken Quesadilla

Next we had the Jerk Chicken Quesadilla. THIS was a really interesting dish. It was a marriage of both sweet and spicy. The jerk chicken filling was like “pulled chicken”, it had some jerk spice in it and I believe some sort of mayo and of course, cheese…it kinda tasted like a goats cheese – but I’m not sure. It also had a sweet syrup on it. On the menu it says a “honey chipotle” sauce and it indeed tasted smokey, but more maple syrup than chipotle. In short, my boyfriend thought this was the best part of our meal. I really liked this dish, however, I wish it was a little more jerk/spicy. I was expecting a much stronger Caribbean flavour than I got.

The Salad

My boyfriend had a salad with his meal. I know what everyone is thinking, “it’s just salad, is it worth talking about?” Well I think it is! Only because there are some places that serve up salads with slightly wilted and gross field greens and/or they over dress their salads. Harlem did a pretty good job!! I was NOT disgusted by their salad. It was fresh, the leaves weren’t wilted, the dressing was light and tasty and most importantly, dressed at the right amount. All of their greens were like this – excellent!

The Southern Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is definitely a food which I love, yet try not to eat so much of it because it’s soo bad for you – BUT IT’S SOOO GOOD!!! Anyway, this was an AMAZING fried chicken! It was super crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It had a slight drizzling of a sweet honey-like sauce on the outside – but not too much, which was good! It was definitely one of the best fried chickens I’ve ever had. Of course, the BEST fried chicken I’ve ever had was in Vancouver (Woo Fung Dessert in Richmond, BC – Trust me. THE BEST!). I will definitely be back @ Harlem for the Southern Fried Chicken!

The Braised Short Ribs

I love short ribs and this was super delicious. I’m salivating just thinking about it! It was fall off the bone, melt in your mouth kind of short rib. I could’ve eaten 4 plates of this stuff, but I didn’t. This was my boyfriends entree, so I only got to have 2 u____u Now I’m not a big fan of spicy. I don’t like hot spicy food, but I felt like this needed to be more spicy. Perhaps I’m just being a bit picky and these short ribs weren’t even supposed to be spicy, but I wish they were…

The Music

Freaking. Amazing. My boyfriend and I actually went to Harlem two nights in a row. After our dinner we went upstairs to listen to the rest of Jevon’s set before the DJ took over. Now I’ve already raved about how good Jevon was, but the DJ, DJ Carl Allen, was also REALLY GOOD! We definitely enjoyed the tunes that night. The next night, which was a Monday night, we attended an open jam session. And we wouldn’t have gone ourselves if it wasn’t for my boyfriends brother, who happened to tell us he was going to be playing a jam @ Harlem. Anyway, the jam is hosted by Carolyn T and this bass guy – Bubbha.

It was AMAZING! The talent in that room was phenomenal! They had drummers, singers, a pianist, trumpet, tenor sax, vocalists, bass, guitarists…I mean it was an open jam, so anything was game! They played an awesome selection of good funk, R&B, jazz, soul music. At one time Bubbha, the bass player, played along with the band a song he wrote for Sly and the Family Stone. Come on!!! That’s super cool! [OK, my boyfriend said that might not be true…something about joking around and something about Michael Jackson]

One of my most favourite moments from that night was when a trumpet player and tenor sax did a rendition of “Autumn in New York” – LOVE that song and also I play the trumpet, so it was especially cool for me :)

I strongly recommend checking this place out! Come for the food and stay for the music.


What you didn’t know about whole grains

I woke up this morning and figured I should head off to the supermarket and buy some food. I was thinking about items I need to replenish over a bowl of mixed cereal (had some shredded wheat, whole grain puffs, raisins, oats) and realized I needed more cereal. I went on the Internet and searched up some info on whole grains and found that there is an issue with eating whole grains and that most of us don’t even do them up right?!?

Yeah, I was shocked.

Over the years the whole/organic food movement has really picked up. I mean it’s even gotten me to go dairy-free – except when my bf is around because he likes milk and cream. Regardless, I drink almond milk, hemp milk and soy milk. They’re not the same, but still good! Anyway, the shift to whole grains is huge and some of you might have noticed on cereal boxes, bread and other such things the claim that everything is made from “whole grains”. Although what the products claim are true – they were probably whole grains before processing – the fact that these products are indeed heavily processed, many of the nutrients in whole grains are also compromised.

So alright, I’ll just go buy legit whole grains from some whole foods store or the over-priced farmers/health market down the street. Not so fast.

As homosepians we only have one stomach, which is comparatively weak to four stomachs – like a cow. And as such, we cannot effectively break down whole grains and extract their nutrients. In fact the opposite often occurs and we are harmed. WTF?!

I started to feel slightly defeated at this point. What’s so bad about them and what needs to be done so I can eat my grains in an effective and efficient manner?

I don’t want to go into the science of it all as I’m typing this on my iPhone while my computer sadly sits idle on my desk infected with a narsty virus. In short, we just can’t digest the natural protection grains have.

It’s not news our ancesters have been eating whole grains for centuries and it seems they’ve fared well. The difference between the past and the present is we don’t prepare our grains in the same manner. Oatmeal is not prepared the same way, granola isn’t done up properly, even when cooking our lentils we’re all backwards.

After much research, it appears we skip the process of soaking our whole grains and fermenting them. It’s a not an extremely tedious process, it just takes some foresight and planning on your end if you want to wholly enjoy your whole grains! (heh)

Here’s what you do:

For Gluten-free Grains

Soak in warm water for 6-12 hours. Add some sort of acid is even better and more efficient – say some lemon juice, vinegar, whey (clear liquid in yogurt) or just yogurt.

For Glutenous Grains

More complex and must be soaked and sprouted. Takes around 2-4 days.

This will breakdown all the complex components of whole grains we can’t digest properly and make them into the superfoods we should all be eating!

It’s a lot of work. Hmmm….

Anyway, here is one of the better websites I came across with lots of info: http://www.naturalnews.com/024508_gluten_whole_grain_food.html


Winterlicious in Toronto

Beer Bistro
18 King Street East, Toronto
(416) 861-9872

Beerbistro on Urbanspoon

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Today a couple of my co-workers and I headed down to the Beer Bistro for their Winterlicious lunch special.

For all those who are unfamiliar with Winterlicious, it’s an event that takes place in Toronto in both the winter and summer (summerlicious) whereby restaurants across the city offer up prix fixe meals for a “discounted” price. I put discounted in quotations because I’ve noticed throughout the years the prices have gone up considerably and it no longer offers deals which would entice you to try out different places. Not only is the price kinda crappy nowadays, I’ve noticed the food quality is usually pretty brutal. Regardless, there are still restaurants that offer up good food for a reasonable price and the Beer Bistro is definitely one of them!

Now I had forgotten I started this blog, so in consequence I didn’t take any pictures except for the one below of 3 / 4 different beers I had. Speaking of beers, this place offers up a great selection of beers!!! I would definitely come here just so I could sample beer like it was wine!!

I’ve eaten at the Beer Bistro on several occasions, eaten out on the patio in the summer, went for just drinks, dinner, lunch, take-out…just many many times and each time I’ve gotten extremely good food and service.

This place does an excellent job at seamlessly fusing beer into the cuisine. This is absolutely NOT a typical pub fare place – it’s original and exciting!!!

One of my more memorable dishes I’ve had here was the pulled pork. I love smoked meat and the pulled pork here was excellent!!!

The mussels are also something you cannot pass up! Each type of mussel bowl is filled with a fresh, oceany sweet broth which MUST be fully enjoyed with the sourdough bread provided.

Duck confit corn dogs. Need I say more?

Although not a meal (but it can be), the frites are to die for! Served with both a slightly spicy mayo dip and a BBQ ketchup sauce on the side…mmmmmmmm!! Just thinking about them makes me hungry!

And for the healthy person inside of us all, the salads are pretty good too!!!!

Now I need to figure out my restaurant rating system but for now I’ll just say this is one of my fav spots to go for food. I just wish my metabolism was fast enough to keep up!!


Hello world!

Might as well start this blog with a classic title!

As my “About” page states this will hopefully be a culinary collection of gems! Probably not though because most people out in the Internet world don’t read my other blogs and there are literally a zillion blogs and pages dedicated to the art of eating.

Regardless, this will keep me busy when I’m bored!!

W00t!! Food!!!


Chinese New Years Eve

Chinese New Year falls on Valentine’s day this year. This has been a constant issue with me because I keep forgetting about Valentine’s day and instead, constantly thinking about new years – also THE WINTER OLYMPICS IN VANCOUVER!!!!! Go Canada!!

Anyway, I’ve been halfly pre-occupied with what to cook and prepping my boyfriend about everything new years because he has no idea what’s happening :p And because I’m awesome I’ve dealt with Valentine’s day by getting him hockey tickets!

Moving on, as any good Asian would know, new years eve is THE most important night of the year. All the family get together and enjoy a feast dedicated to bringing in and retaining luck for the rest of the year. And like any other good quality family event, the food is the center of attention.

The dishes/food components served at NYE dinner all symbolize longevity, prosperity, good luck in every thing under the sun. Now I could go on and make a summary table of all the different foods and stuff, but I’ve already read something someone has already written, so I’ll just post it here. It’s a nice short article!!

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The Chinese New Year Dinner
By RR Ritchey

The Chinese love to eat. Being full is the ultimate sign of wellness. Feeding and eating together is a sign of affection. Families eat when getting together. Moms like to think of what to cook or feed the family as a sign of love. Therefore, during the start of the year, to invite wellness and happiness it is but natural to spend time with the family eating.

The Chinese New Year’s eve dinner is believed to be the most important family ritual of the year. Food symbolizes abundance, and being together stands for family ties. Abundance, health and happiness of the family are the main focus of the New Year’s Eve dinner. It is said that if a family does not share this all-important meal of the year, the family’s love will grow cold. This is a special event in the year that sibling rivalries and family issues are set aside. Everybody is encouraged to eat well and be merry.

The Chinese New Year’s eve dinner honors both the past and current generations. Ancestors are remembered and honored. They too are included in the fast as food is offered at the family altar, especially for them. Letting the family elders eat first is a sign of respect and love. Before the family sits down to eat together, the family ancestral spirits are served the dinner first, including tea and wine, at the altar. This gesture not only pays respects to the forebears but is also a way of giving thanks. After all, it is believed that the wellness of the ancestors reflect on the family fortune.

The family dinner brings hope for the Chinese New Year. Food served also has many symbols of abundance, health and happiness.

Here are some of the courses offered for the family’s Chinese New Year eve dinner:

• Soup. Favorites are bird’s nest soupd and shark’s fin soup. The bird’s nest soup symbolizes long life and youthfulness. While shark’s fin symbolizes prosperity.

• Jai Choy is a special vegetarian dish that is most appropriate for Chinese New Year. All ingredients symbolize good fortune, long life and abundance. It has:
– dried oysters for good business
– sea moss called fat choy that mean prosperity
– Chinese black mushrooms is about getting wishes granted
– bean noodles called fun see symbolize long life
– lily buds mean 100 years of blissful union
– lotus seeds to have sons
– dried bean curd also symbolize abundance
– cloud ears are good luck
– and snow peas also bring in prosperity.

• Poultry like duck or chicken are served whole (with head and feet) to symbolize unity or wholeness. Missing body parts mean it is broken and are not good symbols, so best have it in 1 complete piece when possible.

• Long, leafy green vegetables such as Chinese broccoli and Chinese string beans are served whole, believed to bring longevity to parents.

• Fish is yu. “Yu” sounds like abundance. This dish is often served last. The head and tail should not be removed from the body to ensure good luck throughout the year. The family should also be careful to not flip the fish over. This superstition stems from the old fisherfolk belief that flipping fish over will also flip fishing boats.

• Rice or long-grain noodles are also eaten with this hearty feast.
Some of the food are deliberately left over to signify abundance through out the year. This is also convenient, as it is custom that animals cannot be killed, even for meals, on the first day of the new year.

Other Chinese New Year beliefs for the new year’s eve banquet are: All utensils and plates should be clean and unbroken. Even a small chip on a plate is not allowed, as this signifies that something will eat into the family fortune. Chopsticks should also be of equal length to represent harmony.

(Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Chinese-New-Year-Dinner&id=3593908)