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Friday, December 28, 2012

[Boston] Pinocchio's Pizza and Subs

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
74 Winthrop Street
Harvard Square

So where are all my Suits fans at? If you've never seen this show then you need to immediately stop what you're doing, and start watching it. No jokes. But if you have watched the show and are as big of a fan as I am, then you'll recall one of the episodes (S01E07 I believe) where Louis Litt quizzes all the interns. You may be wondering how this has anything to do with food, but the last question ended up being "Where is the best pizza in Harvard?" Louis would later reveal that the best place in his opinion is a hole in the wall establishment called Pinocchio's Pizza and Subs.

Now obviously these are all fictional characters, but these scripts must have been approved by an editor or director, which somewhat substantiates this claim. So off I go with my sister and my boyfriend to try out what must be a Haravard University student's staple!

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Pinocchio's Pizza and Subs

Monday, December 24, 2012

[Recipes] California Walnuts -Savoury & Sweet!

The holidays always seem to be a busy time for everyone. Bustling around the mall to buy gifts, arranging gatherings to celebrate the holiday season, and prepping for a big holiday meal with the family. But I'm not the only one who's busy during the holidays, my kitchen has its work cut out for it too! With so many holiday parties and potlucks, you can really start to run out of ideas!

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California Walnuts

Luckily just a couple weeks ago, Sandy (@savvari) of Milk and Eggs introduced me to a website of interesting recipes, all surrounding one ingredient: walnuts. I'm not any particularly fan of walnuts, despite them being actuall quite the nutrient food. It's jam packed with omega-3, vitamin E, calcium, iron, and other good stuff. But to use them in cooking? That never crossed my mind. Sandy graciously offered to send me a package of California Walnuts (@CAWalnuts) along with some recipes to try out. There were an abundance of recipes ranging from savoury to sweet, who knew they were so versatile? I decided to test out both a savoury and sweet recipe.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

[Boston] Avana Sushi

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
42 Beach St
Boston, MA

I don't know why, but everything in Boston closes so early. It posed some difficulty one night when we had to have a later dinner. And thats when my sister Amy (@wasabiwaffles), my boyfriend Rob, and my friend John (@j1kim) discovered a hidden gem in the Chinatown area. And when I say hidden, I mean hidden! Even with the exact address and a map of all the streets, my sister and I managed to walk by this place two or three times. But to be fair the store front doesn't exactly scream "FOOD!" infact, I had originally walked passed the building thinking it was an office building. Only when I saw that one sign that said "Avana" did I realize I was here.

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The discrete entrance to Avana Sushi

Friday, December 7, 2012

[Boston] Mike's Pastry

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300 Hannover Street
Boston, MA, USA

Mike's Pastry (@MikesPastry) must be doing something right, because every single person I asked for Boston food recommendations, mentioned this place. I'm not particularly obsessed with Italian desserts, but HOLY CANNOLI this place is good. They're most famous for their traditional classic Italian cannolis, but they have almost every Italian treat imaginable under one roof: biscotties, gelato, cakes, cookies, coffee, you name it. I could go into all the details of the pastry shop's inspiring history, how the successful business has transcended through generations of the family, and how rival Italian bakery Modern Pastry (@ModernPastryINC)is just a block away...BUT, I don't think I have the patience for any of that. These desserts are too good! (But if you WOULD like to read about the history and success story after you drool all over the pictures to follow, please see here.)

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Mike's Pastry

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

[Event] Chop Steakhouse & Bar Launch

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801 Dixon Road
Etobicoke, Ontario

Last Thursday I was invited by Mr. Brendan Bailey (@BrendanBaileyPR) to Chop Steakhouse & Bar's VIP launch event. I had seen a couple of chop steakhouses while on vacation in Vancouver, so I had some notion of what a huge deal it was to be invited! A sister restaurant of Toronto's more ubiquitous restaurant Moxies, the newest Ontario location of Chop Steakhouse & Bar (@Chop_TOairport) focuses on offering a new dining experience (what they call Fine Casual Dining) to a great steak. Relaxed, unpretentious, while still serving sophisticated culinary plates using the choicest ingredients.

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Chop Steakhouse Bar

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

[Boston] Mr. Bartley's

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1246 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138

Being a big fan of the show Diner's Drive inns and Dives, I was ecstatic to know that my vacation schedule in Boston permitted a meal at Mr. Bartley's Gourmet Burgers, a famous Burger joint located next to Harvard University which was featured on the show.

Hosted by the one and only Guy Fieri, the episode highlights the best that Mr Bartley's has to offer: burgers and onion rings. Billy Bartley (son of the founder, Joe Bartley) has been learning the craft of burger making since he was 13, and ensures each burger uses only the freshest ingredients and minimal preservatives. Just a pinch of kosher salt on each! Guy Fieri ended up leaving very satisfied, and so I was definitely looking forward to having the same experience!

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Mr. Bartley's

Thursday, November 15, 2012

[Boston] Atlantic Fish Company

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761 Boylston Street
Boston, MA, United States

Coming to boston for the first time, I had a couple of items on my bucketlist I wanted to accomplish. They're not all related to food of course (I'm not always a fatass!). But conveniently the one crossed off while I was at Atlantic Fish Company, is. More on that later.

This restaurant was recommended by my coworker, and I was lucky enough to get the very last 6 person table for the next 3 weeks (which resulted from a last minute cancellation). Yes you got that right THREE WEEKS! I think that is a testament to how great the food is. If you plan on visiting this restaurant make sure you book well in advance!

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Atlantic Fish Company

Thursday, November 8, 2012

[Boston] Miracle of Science Bar

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321 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

When I think Boston, I think of a city with lots of water, beans (it must be called Beantown for something!) and colleges. If I was right about one thing, it's the college presence! The MIT and Harvard campuses were absolutely beautiful. So it wasn't a surprise that one of the meals we had in Boston ended up being at a student hangout spot, next to MIT: Miracle of Science Bar (@MiracleScience).

Known for having one of the first open concept restaurants in Boston, they embrace the geek-chic science theme into their decor. As noted on their website, "This place is always packed with artists, musicians, geo physicists and computer gurus who know they don't have to go anywhere else looking for a good time."

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Miracle of Science

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

[Vancouver] Vij's

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1480 W 11th Ave
Vancouver, BC

When it comes to the city of Vancouver, what type of cuisine stands out as the best the city has to offer? My answer to that question has always been "Seafood" or "Japanese" due to it's close proximity to the coastline. Never in a million years would I imagine myself changing my answer to "Indian", but after a visit to Vij's (@Vijs_restaurant) for some modern Indian cuisine, I am a believer.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

[Vancouver] Shady Island Bar and Grill

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3800 Bayview Street
Richmond, British Columbia

Today's restaurant review is located in the historical village of Stevenston nearby Vancouver. The area has lots of little shops, and a boardwalk guiding you along the scenic fisherman's wharf. I was told if you wanted to get fish and chips in the greater vancouver area, Stevenston was the place to do it. Shady Island Bar and Grill, claims that they have "The Best Fish and Chips on the Boardwalk". Those were some powerful words that warranted a try. Taste test time!

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Shady Island Bar and Grill

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

[Vancouver] Sushi Garden

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4635 Kingsway
Burnaby, British Columbia

Located across from the large shopping complex that is Metrotown, is a strip plaza where today's restaurant review is located. Sushi Garden has two locations in the Greater Vancouver area, and is the restaurant that I've come back to each time I visit B.C. In a nutshell, it's really just too good to pass up!
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Optical illusion

Let me clear up any misconceptions this deceiving picture may bring about. You may be thinking "Mary, this restaurant looks pretty empty, must not be very good". Well my friends, it didn't take 2 seconds after I snapped this picture, that people started flooding in. Sushi Garden was open for business in the books at 11am that day, but to our surprise we were able to be seated at 10:50am when we arrived. Felt pretty good to be the first customers in the restaurant!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

[Vancouver] Kiriri Japanese Cuisine

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8780 Blundell Rd
Richmond, British Columbia

One of the many days during my Vancouver trip, my cousin Fiona took us all out to lunch near by her house at Kiriri Japanese Cuisine. From what I gather it's not a very well-known spot, but she loves it for it's authentic Japanese fare and fresh fish. But on top of that, she praised about a cute Kaiseki Set that is served there. At the time I had never had a Kaiseki before, so it was definitely a treat for me! :)

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Kiriri Japanese Cuisine

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

[Events] Oktoberfest at Steam Whistle Breweries

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So now that it is October, it’s only fitting that I do a little post on Oktoberfest, right? Right. But make no mistake, despite it commonly celebrated over Thanksgiving weekend, Oktoberfest actually starts in September, and lasts a total of 16 days. The very first Oktoberfest took place in 1810 in Munich Germany, and was to commemorate the marriage of a German King Ludwig to his bride Therese. 200 years later, this festival of beer is still celebrated by 5 million people all over globe. A ceremonial 12 gun salute and official tapping of the first keg marks the beginning of the 2 week long festival.

This year Oktoberfest began on the 22nd of September, and so last week I decided to join in on the festivities by attending Steam Whistle’s (@SteamWhistle)annual Oktoberfest celebration. Complete with a celebratory first keg tap, traditional German fare, and lots (and I mean LOTS) of beer, I just couldn’t resist going!

I made a trip out to downtown where the Steam Whistle brewery is.

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Steam Whistle Brewery

Thursday, September 27, 2012

[Coupeville] Mosquito Fleet Chili

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
12 Front Street Northwest
Coupeville, Washington

They say that small towns have the best food. With all these big celebrity chefs, emerging fine dining restaurants, and commercialized food processing techniques, it's sometimes easy to forget how a homestyle handcrafted meal can be perfection. But it only took one road trip to Seattle during my West Coast trip to be reminded of this fact.

Somewhere between Vancouver and Seattle is a little town of Coupeville. I spent about a half a day here, and all I can tell you about it is that they have a beautiful lavender farm there, and a small downtown area by the water of Penn Cove. Their downtown consists of only a couple streets, and feels extremely historical. Kind of like Main street Markham, except instead of trying to make it look old on purpose, everything there probably was old.

So lunch time comes around, and we walk down a "busier" street that had a few stores and less than 5 restaurants. They were all pretty similar, so we scoped out each one for their menu. But really, it was one restaurant's sign that decided it all.

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Mosquito Fleet Chili

A chalkboard from Mosquito Fleet Chili displaying daily specials and the words: "Award Winning Mussel Chowder". Well that settles it. Award winning food is more than enough to convince me to go anywhere!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

[Seattle] Blazing Onion Burger Company

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
3000 184th St SW, Suite 840
Lynnwood, WA 98036
Phone (425) 640-9100

A short family trip to Seattle during my west coast vacation brought me to Alderwood Mall for a bit of American shopping. My cousins and I roamed the mall, and really worked up an appetite. Naturally our noses found the food court, and we were presented with a couple rows of food court stalls, most of which didn't seem to appetizing. We were just about to skip dinner and continue shopping when in the very corner, we saw an entrance to the Blazing Onion Burger Company (@BlazingOnion)

We went inside, and it ended up being a full fledged restaurant, serving American style burgers. And to be honest, there really was nothing more I wanted after a long day of sightseeing and shopping than some good old American style food. Burgers? Bring it!

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Alderwood Blazing Onion

Monday, September 10, 2012

[Vancouver] Octopus Garden

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
1995 Cornwall Ave
Vancouver, BC

One of the first Japanese spots I went to while I was in Vancouver, was this much recommended spot in Kitslano. Everyone raved about Octopus Garden their fresh fish and authentic Japanese chefs, so one of the nights I went there to have a light dinner. We had practically been eating all day, so our orders were quite minimal, and we stuck to mostly the raw items.

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The cute entrance to the restaurant. It's so warm and welcoming!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

[Vancouver] Bella Gelateria

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1001 West Cordova Street
Vancouver, British Columbia

Just under a month ago, I took a trip to the west coast and hit up Vancouver and Seattle with my Family. Let me start by saying that it was an AMAZING time! I loved the weather (despite there being a Vancouver "heatwave" which translate to just a regular Toronto summer day), the mountain view, and most importantly the food! So on the first day there, my cousins and I decided to take a walk downtown. Seeing as the London Olympics just started, we felt it was appropriate to visit the 2010 Olympic Cauldron. Little would I know, that Bella Gelateria(@bellagelateria) was just a short walk away, and would have the best gelato I've ever tasted.

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James Coleridge takes pride in having the best handcrafted gelato!

Friday, August 24, 2012

[Event] Oikos presents "Christmas in August"

This is a little known fact, but I'm a big fan of yogurt. I absolutely LOVE it. I'd go as far to say that 99.99% of the calcium that I take in is probably from yogurt. That being said, I may surprise you a little when I tell you how I reacted to a yogurt tasting dinner invitation. Instead of being euphoric, I was a little hesitant and reserved. I mean, yes I love yogurt, but let's be honest. Yogurt is not the first thing that comes to mind when we are talking about versitile cooking ingredients. So was it impossible? Not if Chef Rob Rossi (@ChefRobRossi) has anything to do with it.

Chef, restauranteur, and winner of the inaugural season of Top Chef Canada, Rob Rossi knew exactly how to tackle the challenge, serving up a meal with a Christmas theme. I don't know about you, but Christmas is definitely my favourite holiday, so I didn't mind that it came early!
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This way to Christmas!

Friday, August 17, 2012

[North York] Fabbrica

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usLocation Review
49 Karl Fraser Rd.
Toronto, ON
(Inside Shoppes at Don Mills)

There's a saying that "There's no such thing as a free lunch". That person was correct, because today's post is about a free dinner. That's right. Thanks to Mrs Joie Tataki's (@ZoeticEpics) lucky hand at Mark McEwan's (@Chef_MarkMcEwan) "Dinner for 6 at Fabbrica" contest, I was able to join her as well as Brian (@theurbancraze), Diane (@Dyee), Mark, and Rob to an open menu dinner! The rules were simple, open the menu, order, and eat. This was a fun one!

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Fabbrica Restaurant

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The Menu

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Pizza Oven

We sat close to the pizza oven, which was flown in from Naples. The oven has the ability to cook a pizza in 90 seconds. Pretty impressive!

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Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico 2008 ($148)

So not only could we order anything we wanted, we also could choose a bottle of wine to pair with our meal up to $150. I'm no wine connoiseur, but this red was extremely refined and easy on the palette. Two thumbs up from me! :)

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Olives ($9) -mixed marinated olives with oregano, fennel and chilli

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Selezione di salume ($28) -four types

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Crispy Calamari ($14) -preserved chili aoli and roasted lemon

A solid order for anyone who is a fan of battered calamari. It's not at all greasy, and is delicious with the spicy aoli dip. One order is plenty to be shared!

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Beef Carpaccio ($16)-mustard sauce, capers, onions and grana padano

I almost can't believe how thinly they can slice the Beef Carpaccio, but it makes it so easy to eat. It's light even with the heavier mustard sauce, and the beef almost melts in your mouth!

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Marrow Bones ($14) -horseradish gremolata and grilled bread

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Pappardelle ($22) -braised shortrib, tomato and basil

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Fettucine ($26) -crab, guanicle, cream and soft poached egg

Pasta is something that's hard to make terrible, but equally as hard to make exceptional. I think Fabbrica deserves a round of a applause for making some close to exceptional pastas. The house made pastas were the perfect al dente. For me, the Fettucine was the clear winner of the two with the creamy mixture of the runny egg and Afredo sauce. It was delicious and is highly highly recommended!

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Octopus ($16)- ceci bean, salami, peperonata, baby arugula, and chili

I didn't particularly find this one too memorable outside of being a glorified garden salad. I thought the octopus was a bit out of place, and some pieces were over grilled.

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Funghi Pizza (20) -mushroom, mozzarella, and truffle crema

Calling all mushroom lovers: this is your order right here. Literally right after I took this picture, my slice of the pizza disappeared into my belly. I loved the chewiness of the crust and how it is smothered with cheese and perfectly cooked mushrooms. Just drooling recalling how it tastes!

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Sea Scallops ($34) -squid ink fregola, clams, cherry tomato and fava beans

When I saw the itty bitty 3 peices of scallops on a gigantic $34 plate, I was a bit taken back. Is this meant to be an entree for someone? But then I tasted it, and my brain was immediately distracted by what my taste buds were sensing. These scallops were phenomenal! As perfectly cooked as scallops can be. My only complaint is that I just wish it came with more!

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Porterhouse for two ($68) -roasted garlic and lemon

The porterhouse starts with 34 ounces of raw meet, and is cooked until the desired level of rawness. We ordered a medium and I think that was a tad overdone for me. I probably would've enjoyed it a bit more if it was more to the raw side, but in general I think it's best to stick with the more traditional italian dishes at Fabbrica.

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Potatoes ($8) -roasted fingerling potatoes, rosemary and garlic

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left: Cannoli ($3.5), Right: Zeppole ($10) -warm doughnuts, cinnamon sugar, orange cream and white chocolate sauce

I don't think I enjoyed the Zeppole doughnuts as much as everyone else did, since I'm not a big fan of citrusy desserts. But what I can say is that they were nice and crunchy on the outside and filled with an orange cream. Make sure to eat them while they're nice and hot! :)

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Tiramisu di Fabbrica ($10) -white chocolate sponge, espresso mousse, amaretto mouse and frappucino

People always find it surprising that I'm not a big fan of tiramisu, but it makes more sense when I tell them I don't like nor drink coffee. But this one wasn't a normal tiramisu. Instead of coffee soaked ladyfingers, the coffee is separated from the rest of the cake. Brian had the idea to pour the coffee over the cake, and I'll just say that was probably NOT the best way to eat it... haha :)

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Gelati ($8) - Pistachio, Dark Chocolate, Salted Caramel

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Sorbetti ($8) -Mango, Limoncello, Pear & Prosecco

Every order of these frozen treats comes with three scoops, and our waiter was nice enough to let us choose 3 different scoops to try more flavours. My favourite by far was the Pear & Prosecco Sorbetti. A very prominent pear flavour that's refreshing and clean. The salted caramel was a close second, which I ate in conjunction with the Dark Chocolate Gelati. DELISH!

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Happy Campers! (Photo by Brian (@theurbancraze)

There are some hits and misses, but as a whole I enjoyed the dinner. Our server was wonderful in helping us throughout the night, and not to mention so patient and friendly! I can say without a doubt I would return even if it came out of my own pocket. Thank you to Mark McEwan and The McEwan Group (@TheMcEwanGroup) for their generosity and lovely dinner! :)

Fabbrica on Urbanspoon