the conference fare

I don’t go to many conferences, at least by comparison to what seems like the majority of conferencers. I do enjoy the ones I carefully choose to attend. And among the ones I have attended, they’re always well-organized, interesting (for the most part), held at interesting venues, have lots of free swag(!) and provide a nice environment to network (actually, that depends on the topic and who’s there). For the most part, I’m not complaining. Well maybe the prices are a bit high – I mean do we all really need to be given yet another weird and intensely coloured reusable drawstring backpack?

Recently I attended a conference and saw some people I knew, met some new ones and had a good time. I met a guy from Google which really was the cherry on top. I don’t know why it made my day better, but they have great branding and I use a lot of Google products. Anyway, whilst being herded into a messy queue for the buffet lunch, a friend suggested I write about food at conferences because no one ever talks about a shortage of food at conferences. Why? Because everyone is treated like a herd of cows who need to be fattened up before slaughter. Sorry for being graphic, but that’s the corporate feel.

Let me start from the beginning.

Knowing that breakfast will be served, I made an easy decision to eat breakfast at home and timed my arrival such that I would only be able to hang my jacket, grab a tea and check out the crowd before the conference started. I looked at the breakfast spread and it was great – many different types of muffins, mountains of pastries and platters of fruit. I got a sugar high from just glancing at the food. “Good thing I ate at home.” I thought to myself.

Sessions began and before I knew it, it was morning recess.

Back out at the reception area I saw another spread of pastries and sugary goodness for all! Perhaps they were leftovers from breakfast? I somehow manage to avoid them before the sessions began again.

Then it was finally lunch time!

That’s where I found myself in a herd of conferencers with a couple of friends.

The food itself wasn’t bad. I’m not going to sit here and say it was horrible and nasty. It was somewhat Italian themed. The antipasto spread was nice. We’re not in Italy, so there were some lunch meats in there. The caesar salad was very creamy, but as I understand it, those who like caesar salad like it saucy.

Both vegetarian and meat lasagna was served and I had the vegetarian one. It definitely looked better than the meat lasagna, which appeared to be hamburger between strips of overcooked pasta. I do have to give credit for the amount of vegetables that were served – garlic rapini and roasted fennel. Usually you’ll just get some potatoes or overcooked beans.

They also served some dessert with lunch – a medley of various cake/loaves. But I couldn’t even finish off what was on my plate!

And of course, after lunch – back for more speakers until afternoon recess…

This time they had cookies – more importantly oatmeal raisin cookies. I had several. No one can keep me away from oatmeal raisin cookies or ginger molasses cookies or spice cookies or gingerbread and really, most cookies.

In conclusion, I’m just glad they didn’t serve sandwiches :P

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I love food but…

How does one eat soo much? Even if it’s just once in a while?

When Conan and I went to Asia, we toured around Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. It was a fabulous time and we visited the most food glutenous places in the world. I was there a bit longer than Conan and before he came to meet me, my stomach was still full from trying to digest food from a week prior. It was just crazy…and oh so delicious. Right now, I wish I was in Taiwan, eating some stinky tofu, and then in a moment sitting in a crazy second floor brisk restaurant at a table my uncle just falsely assumes another family identity to secure said table and eat the most amazing Taishan food.

*breaks out of food trance*

But in reality, by the end of our trip, I wanted nothing more than to starve myself for the next few weeks because I was never hungry. Admittedly, I can’t keep up with everyone else in the game of eating, it’s a culture that I wish I could participate in, but my stomach just doesn’t stretch that way.

I don’t know how people do this, but they do. This is a moderate night compared to my experiences in Asia and Vancouver, but it’s still crazy.

Anthony Bourdain’s Guide to Eating and Drinking in NYC: Munchies


New restaurant: Sabai Sabai

I was walking around today enjoying the awesome autumn weather when, on Church Street, I noticed a sign that said Chef Nuit (of Sukho Thai and Khao San Road fame) was opening up a new Thai restaurant!

The papers on the window indicated the new restaurant will be called Sabai Sabai. According to some sources, Sabai Sabai will be opening up in late October. You can find the place at 225 Church Street at Dundas.

Can’t wait to try it!


One day we will ONLY DREAM of sushi…unless…

My dad has been in the seafood business for a long time, as far as I can remember at least. At one time in my childhood he subscribed to a fishing magazine. It was a great resource for me as it listed, with pictures, the various types of fish that were sold on the market. So when there was an opportunity at school to conduct a research project, I jumped at the chance to research about overfishing.

Overfishing at that time when I was in elementary school was a huge issue and today, well I can only imagine. We are running out of natural fish resources, we’ve been polluting our oceans and our efforts in farmed fishing have been marred with issues. While watching the very appetizing movie, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I salivated and admired the dedication to the craft, but near the end of the movie, Jiro lamented on the decline of fish/seafood quality and the future of sushi.

This relatively new documentary, Sushi: The Global Catch, really brings to bear the issues at hand and the bleak future for future generations to enjoy sushi. And despite my craving to eat at Kaji, I feel guilty for being part of the problem.


Noodle cravings

This summer is proving to be one of the best yet – minus the incredible exponential increase in alcohol consumption.

One day whilst running, I had a HUGE craving for noodles. So huge in fact, I ended my run at Kenzo Japaense Noodle House, quickly ordered a bowl of tonkotsu ramen. When it came, I devoured it, felt satisfyingly full and went off on my merry way – just to be hit with another noodle craving!

A few days later I went to Kinton Ramen, waited in line (well I went over to John’s Italian Caffe for beers) and had their shoyu ramen.

And yet after that satisfying experience, I still wanted more…and then I knew what it was – I wanted traditional Chinese lai-mein…a dan dan mein, although now that I type that, perhaps a really good bowl of Taiwanese beef noodle would suffice as well….hmmmmmmmmm

In short, I find ramen a bit too salty overall. Perhaps it’s the fact that the only ramen I know of is the instant kind and the kind they make/serve in Toronto. Regardless, both ramen houses had excellent noodles! I can’t really say much beyond that in terms of taste aside from the fact they both tasted similar.

Kinton may have the slight edge because they have 3 different soup levels (light, regular and heavy – based on fat content, I got regular) and they have a unique ambiance. Kenzo is more of a regular Asian home cooking food kind of place. But in my opinion, they’re both pretty equal – at least I didn’t have to wait a long time at Kenzo :)

So a mild to moderate review for these two places. They will satisfy your ramen craving, but nothing to rave about.

 


More Vancouver in Toronto? Hapa next month…

If you’ve ever talked to me about Asian food, especially Japanese cuisine, I am pro Vancouver. It’s the best sushi in Canada and best anything Japanese in Canada. So when reading about Hapa Izakaya opening up in Toronto, I can say I’m pretty stoked (even if it’s another izakaya)!

On their website, the new Toronto Hapa Izakaya will be opening in Little Italy at 602 College Street in mid-August. Until then, you can follow them on twitter for updates and familiarize yourselves with the Hapa Izakaya offering!

(Source: http://hapaizakaya.com/2012/07/toront/; http://www.torontolife.com/daily/daily-dish/rumours-rumblings/2012/07/10/hapa-izakaya-to-open/)


The Last Meal

While enjoying a fabulous meal in France and feeling high off of our first course of fresh salad and pâté au porc with delicious french bread, I posed the question to Conan:

“What would you have served to you for your last meal EVER?!”

We cheated a bit and instead of incorporating the restraints placed on some US last meals, we had only a 3 course restriction. Let’s be honest, if there wasn’t, the night would never end. So here goes:

Conan

Entrée
Thai hot and sour soup

Plat Principal
Steak frites with ketchup and vinegar

Dessert
75% cocoa with blueberry chocolate bunny that is wafer thin

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Me

Entrée
Pork, chive and shrimp dumplings – a mix of pan fried and steamed with red vinegar (not the nasty kind)

Plat Principal
Creamy pasta from Piola (like carbonara)
Portion of steamed fish with soy sauce, green onion, ginger and sesame oil
Baked brie and roasted garlic

Dessert
Ras Malai

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If you could have a last meal of sorts – what would it be?