Sep
29

Yes – it’s true. I made chicken soup for my very first time.

How did this happen? The answer is simple: My kitchen has been dairy since 1990. Therefore I made the chicken soup in my boyfriends’ kitchen.

What inspired me? Several things: a) the Jewish New Year is around the corner b) the temperatures are cooling outside and c) there was a 3 day sale for fresh whole chickens at Longo’s!.

To be honest, it was my first time even buying a whole chicken.

As for the recipe: I did my research online and chatted with several friendly chefs. (um, I harassed at least 3 people). LOL

I decided to try two recipes:

Recipe #1 – How to Make Roasted Brown Chicken Stock, from www.simplebites.com

I chose this blog post as she is a respected food blogger (that I’m pretty sure I met many years ago) and I loved her 7 tips that she included in her blog post. Click here.

Here’s the recipe for Roasted Brown Chicken Stock – taken from Simple Bites.

Ingredients
10 chicken carcasses (I was nervous and only bought 3 and then reduced the recipe)
3 gallons cold water, approximately
2 large onions, peeled
1 large leek, washed (oops forgot this ingredient)
4 sticks of celery, washed
2 medium carrots, peeled
2 bay leaves
6-8 garlic cloves (00ps – forgot this ingredient too)
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorn
Handful of fresh parsley
2 springs of fresh thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Do not rinse the bones, but place them directly in a large oiled roasting pan.  I brushed them with tomato sauce for more flavour and colour.

simple-bites-roasting
Roast the bones, turning once with a sturdy pair of tongs, until the bones caramelize, approximately 1 1/2 hours. Do not let them burn, or your stock will be bitter. (easy peasy)

Roughly chop the onion, leek, celery and carrots and toss them with a little oil.
Place them in another oiled roasting pan or sheet, and roast alongside the bones until lightly caramelized, approximately 25 minutes.

simple-bites-veggies
Remove bones from oven and transfer to a large stock pot. There will be a pool of fat at the bottom of the pan which you can drain off before deglazing the pan, or you can add it to your stock. It will only add more flavor to the final product.

Add a few cups of cold water to the roasting pan to deglaze it, and use a solid spatula to lift off the remaining food particles on the bottom of the pan and all the flavor they bring. Add mixture to the pot with the bones.

Add roasted vegetables herbs, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves to the pot of bones. Fill pot up with cold water until the ingredients are just barely submerged and place on stove burner.

simple-bites-pot
Bring stock to a boil — and reduce heat immediately. Simmer slowly for 6-8 hours, occasionally skimming excess oil or scum off the top. You don’t need to babysit it much, just make sure it is at a temperature where it will will simmer, but not boil.
Using a sturdy Spider Skimmer, dip into the large pot and fish out the bones.

When you have fished out all the large ingredients, strain the broth through a fine sieve into a sturdy bucket or another pot. ( I chose to keep the veggies)

If you have the time and patience, strain the stock a second time through a cheesecloth to further remove impurities. (I didn’t do this)

Final Result…the bowl on the right!!

simple-bites-final

Next week, I will share Recipe #2 wth you to explain how I made the bowl on the left.

Stay tuned!!

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Sep
28

Satisfying Cravings!


I like to snack.

Don’t we all?

How do I satisfy my cravings throughout the day? Well there’s a few snacks that certainly do help.
For example, Prana, is a Canadian food company that specializes in delicious 100% organic, gluten-free and gmo-free snacks.

Recently they have launched two new products that are helping me with those cravings! (yay)

ProactivChia is an exclusive blend of probiotics and organic chia seed, with each serving providing 4 billion live probiotics – the perfect 2-in-1 solution for busy people!

prana-chia

Nothing beats a quick chia pudding snack ,which I make by adding my favourite dairy-free beverage and some chia seeds. Bingo – I’m not hungry anymore.

Another new product is Prana’s coconut chips. These crunchy and tasty snacks are a great alternative to traditional potato chips! They can be enjoyed in: Charleston (BBQ flavour), Hula (Salt + Pepper), Jive (Spicy Chili) and Classic (Original).

prana-bbq
I was so excited about this product, that I decided to incorporate it into a recipe which involved three steps.

1. I took some firm tofu and diced it up and then fried it till golden.

2. Then I basted it with some BBQ Sauce.

prana-bbq-sauce

3. For the final step, I took some Prana BBQ Coconut Chips and sprinkled it over the tofu. It was so delicious that I ate the whole thing.

However, under normal circumstances I  would package it up into small containers and snack on it.

prana-tofu

There’s also Machu Pichu  – Nut & Fruit Mix which contains almonds, raisins, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, goji berries, white mulberries and goldenberries.prana-fruit-mix Yum, Yum and more Yum.

FYI – this product is in my car as I seem do to do a lot of snacking in my car. Anyone else out there have this problem?

What’s even cooler? All Prana products are certified organic, vegan, kosher, preservative-free, sulfite-free and, above all, free of compromise.

For more information about Prana please click here.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this blog post however all opinions are my own.

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Sep
25

Review: The Sheraton Tel Aviv


I have a long history with the Sheraton Tel Aviv. It actually goes back to 1988 when I had my last dinner there after spending 4 years attending Tel Aviv University. #truestory

However over the years, I continue to stay at this hotel and to be honest I haven’t ever considered staying at any other hotel when visiting Tel Aviv. Plus I know many friends and family members who stay at the Sheraton Tel Aviv so I know it has a great reputation.

Here’s just a few reasons why I  continue to stay at this hotel.

1. The views: Need I say more?

sheraton-view

2. The Israeli Breakfast: This is a must so make sure it’s included in the price of your hotel. If not, it’s wroth the $$ to pay for it.  The selection is unlike anything you have ever seen in an North American Hotel. You have been warned!!

I couldn’t possibly capture the entire range of what’s offered at this Israeli Buffet however I can tell you that the ENTIRE restaurant is dedicated to it. Trust me – it’s a sizeable restaurant.

sheraton-buffet

3. The pool/beach proximity: I spend most of my time at the pool however if you cross the street – voila – you are the beach!! As you can see, it’s a great place to capture the gorgeous sunset.

sheraton-beach-sunset

4. The service: Everyone was courteous and helpful – the bellboys, the front desk staff and front desk staff too. We had no complaints.

5. The Club Lounge: I’m not a world traveller however I have seen a few club lounges in my life and this one is the best ones I’ve ever seen. There’s food served all day long and an incredible outdoor patio to view the city.

sheraton-more-view

For more information:

Website: www.sheratontelaviv.com

Twitter: @SheratonTelAiv

 

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Sep
19

Tel Aviv Suggestions!!


The other day I received the following message via facebook.

Hi Vicky- sounds like you are having a great trip… My parents are in Jerusalem now and are going to tel Aviv tomorrow to the Sheraton. Do u have any suggestions for them? where they should go… Different ideas than the regular .. Thx

Here’s a list of attractions that I’d visited over the last few days that I suggested to my Facebook friend:

1. Tel Aviv Museum of Art: I hadn’t been to this museum in over 3 decades and I’m so happy that I went. I must admit that one of the reasons I went was because a foodie friend of mine went a few months ago and his photos on facebook really impressed me. The building itself is stunning not to mention the exhibits themselves. It’s also a great way to escape the sunshine between 12 and 2 pm!!

tel-aviv-museum

tel-aviv-museum-2

2. Sarona Market: Even though I was in Tel Aviv in April 2015 – this market opened just after I left.

tel-aviv-sarona

This market brings the “best” of the country to one place. The variety of food in this market was perfect – restaurants, beer, wine, candy, fresh fruit, halva, bakeries, paletas, etc. My tummy was in heaven. I must add that I was lucky enough to have a “tour of Sarona Market” with a well respected Israeli Food Writer. Highlights of my tour included: Captain Curry and Forela Fish Bar.

Here’s a photo of my delicious Smoked Trout Shawarma from Forela Fish Bar!

tel-avivi-sandwich

Seriously, how pretty are these olives?

tel-aviv-olives

I couldn’t bring back the olives with me on the plane, but I certainly did buy  Rusty’s Almond Butter (with Halva) which is made here in Israel! #supportlocal

tel-aviv-almond-butter

3. Carmel Market: This market is a true Israeli Experience. Its crowded, busy and so much fun! I visit this market every time I’m in Tel Aviv. It’s a must.

4. The Old Tel Aviv Port:  A great area to stroll around as it’s on the water and this adds to the atmosphere.  There’s plenty of restaurants, retail stores, cafes and ice cream to keep Israelis and tourists very happy!!

5. Delicious IsraelThey offer unique food tours and food experiences. I was able to participate on a food tour of Levinsky Market and it was certainly a highlight of my trip. Read more about my tour by clicking here.

6. Nahalat Binyamin: I love this outdoor arts & crafts fair that is held every Tuesday and Friday. I always find gifts here and happy to support Israeli artisans. Not to mention it’s a fun scene.

Sadly I only took a photo of this piece of jewellery and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t buy one. #nexttime.

tel-aviv-nahalat

Attractions I didn’t have time to visit:

Old Jaffa Port: Such a gorgeous place to walk around but I just didn’t have time.

A Cocktail Bar; Apparently Tel Aviv has some pretty swanky cocktail bars (click on the link – pretty please)  and after googling “Cocktail Bars in Tel Aviv” – it’s evident that I need to go on a “cocktail crawl” on my next visit.

Jewish Diaspora Museum: I haven’t been in decades but it was always one of my favourite museums.

Tel Aviv is a beautiful cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer. I was fortunate enough to stay in Tel Aviv for 7 full days and can’t wait to visit next year!!

For more information about Israel – please click here.

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Sep
13

Another Fabulous Day in Israel


Today I was on chartered bus with over 40 others who were from Australia, London, Glasgow, Ottawa, California. We are all in Israel to attend a wedding that is taking place this week. #luckyus

The tour was organized by my fabulous relative (the mother of the bride) and here’s a recap of our day:

730 am – We were picked up the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv. As we drove up north, the tour guide provided us with some interesting facts about Israel i.e there’s more museums in Israel per capita than anywhere else.

10:00 am – Arrived at the Atlit Detention Centre. where we had a guided tour of this national site which serves as an educational center for teaching the heritage of clandestine immigration. As you know I’ve been to Israel several times before but had never heard of this museum. What a great way to start the day.

tour-boat

12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Arrived at Tishbi Winery for a wine and chocolate tasting. My cousin really knows how to impress her guests!!

tour-winechocolate

See this sign? Do you think I turned right or left? LOL

tour-sign

1:00 – 2:30 pm – We were treated to a delicious lunch at Tishbi Winery. So tasty. So fresh. Of course lunch involved more wine.

tour-pizza

2:30 – 2:45 pm – We went on a very quick tour thru Zichron Yaakov which is just gorgeous. (ps this was my first time in Zichron Yaakov)

5 pm – We arrived back at the Sheraton Tel Aviv and went directly to the 18th floor to enjoy these views. Not a bad way to end the day.

tour-view

Huge thank you to my amazing cousin for organizing such a special tour. As you can tell I’m having a fabulous trip.

For more information about Israel, please click here

 

 

 

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Sep
12

I’ve been on food tours in Barcelona, Jerusalem and New York and I truly believe it’s a great way to discover a city.

Therefore I was positively thrilled that I was able to go on a food tour of Levinsky Market with Delicious Israel.

Even though I lived in Tel Aviv for 4 years and have visited Tel Avis several times in the last 7 years, this particular neighbourhood was never on my radar.

This has now changed thanks to Delicious Israel who introduced it to me the other day.

tour-levinsky

The tour was friendly and fun and consisted of a few tourists from the UK, France and the U.S. Our tour guide was a native English speaker and was super knowledgeable and clearly passionate about food.

tour-table

Not to mention that on this tour I learned a few things. For example, I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen cinnamon that looked like this before.

tour-cinamon

You see this green fruit next to the apple? Notice how its’ bigger than the apple? It’s an orange. ..not an over sized lime! How cool is that?

tour-orange

Plus I ate the most delicious hummus that was WARM. Once again, this was something new for me. I really did learn quite a bit on this tour.

tour-hummus

The tour was certainly comprehensive and we were introduced to a variety of interesting spots in the Levinsky Market i.e a spice shop, bourekas, a hummus restaurant, a cool restaurant that served cured meats and craft beers, a famous bakery and more!! No one left hungry.

At the end of the tour we were given cute business cards. I swear I’m going to try my best to get thru this list by Sept 22nd. Wish me luck.

tour-business-card

This company does more than just tours – in fact I really wanted to participate  in on their “cook and shuk” tours but the timing didn’t work out. I guess this means I will have to book this for my next trip!!

Please take a few minutes and click on their website. Not to mention that I highly suggest you book a tour on your next visit to Israel. You won’t regret it.

For more information:

Website: www.DeliciousIsrael.com

Instagram/Twitter: @DeliciousIsrael

Email: info@deliciousisrael.com

Telephone Number from ABROAD: +972 525 699 499

Telephone Number in ISRAEL: 0525 699 499

Disclosure: This tour was complimentary however all opinions are my own.

 

 

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Sep
08

Where to Stay in New York?


It wasn’t easy to choose a hotel in New York. I couldn’t decide to go the AirBnb route or do a mystery deal on Hotwire or just look for a good deal.

I ended up searching on Booking.Com. My criteria was:

-price and location (in that order).

I originally booked the Courtyard By Marriott New York Manhattan/Central Park, but was graciously upgraded to stay at the Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park which is directly above the Courtyard Marriott (how convenient).

The price was right and the location was prime! Not mention that we could always find the hotel when we got off the subway as it’s the tallest building around.

nyc-tall

Here’s what we loved about our stay:

1. It was convenient to get to our room i.e. we didnt have to walk a mile down the corridor to get to our room. (huge pet peeve of mine).

2. The view was spectacular. It was so spectacular that we kept the curtains open all the time.

nyc-view

3. The hot buffet breakfast was a definite perk.

nyc-hot-buffet

4. Our spacious room had a full kitchen.

nyc-full-kitchen

When I pulled out one of the drawers in the kitchen I discovered that it wasn’t a drawer but it was a dishwasher. As you can see, we even used it.

nyc-dishwasher

5.. The lounge had these cozy spots so I could watch the U.S Open and sip on my happy hour cocktail.

nyc-cozy-booth

I adore Happy Hour menus.

nyc-happy-hour

6. The location was just perfect. We were exactly where we wanted to be..walking distance to Times Square, Central Park and 5th Avenue. PERFECT.

7.  I loved the decor of our room and the fact that it was a corner suite was an added bonus.nyc-furniture

I truly had a wonderful experience at the Residence Inn Marriott Manhattan/Central Park and would stay there in the future. As always, I’m looking forward to my next trip to NYC.

For more information:

Website: Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park

Address: 1717 Broadway Ave, NY, NY

Phone: 1 212-324-3774

Disclosure: The upgrade was complimentary however all opinions are my own.

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Sep
05

Weekend Getaway to NYC!!


I wanted to take advantage of the long weekend so I booked a quick trip to New York City. I was originally going to drive and then went on Travelocity and decided to fly. It felt like a smart move till our flight got delayed for a few hours. Ouch.

Sadly this meant that our lovely afternoon on the Go NY Tours –  Hop On and Off Double Decker  Bus Tour was reduced to two hours. However we were so glad we went regardless. We had a great overview of the city while enjoying the double decker bus. I can’t imagine not doing these tours. I really do think they offer tremendous value.

nyc - tour

For dinner, it was recommended that we go to a Kosher Certified and Vegan restaurant called By Chloe.  (185 Bleeker St).  I was SO glad we went. The restaurant was hopping but scored a cute table outside to enjoy this super tasty kale salad.

nyc - kale salad

After dinner, I was able to nip into Murrays Cheese  (284 Bleeker St) where I quickly bought three items: Vermont Butter (which I havent found for years), some unique crackers and this beer that had me buzzed in no time at all. (can you say, 13% alcohol). Sadly no time to even look at the cheese counter. ARGHHH.

nyc - beer

Rushed back to the Residence Inn NY Manhattan/Central Park for a wonderful nights sleep in our beautiful corner suite that had an incredible view! (Blog post to foll0w).

nyc - corner room

On Saturday, my day included two critical elements of any visit to NYC – Shopping and Eating. (not in that order).

I started my day off at Smorgasburg in Brooklyn. (90 Kent St) What a great decision. It was my 3rd time visiting this fabulous outdoor food market since it started in 2011 and it keeps getting better and better. What I like best is the opportunity to see so many creative food vendors.

nyc - smorgasburg 1

I saw a few of my favourite vendors from my previous visits: Bon Chovie (which I get on each and every visit) and Kelvin Slushie plus the Ramen Burger vendor.

nyc - smorgasburg 2

 

I was in foodie heaven.

Late afternoon on Saturday included a walk thru Central Park where we stumbled upon a huge gathering of people and then figured it out: POKEMON GO!!

nyc - pokemon

We also did some shopping on 5th Avenue and did some damage at the insanely huge UNIQLO (89,000 sqf).  Pretty grateful that there were no line ups at the cashier but as you can see from this photo. ..they are prepared.

nyc - unqlo

Can’t wait for UNIQLO to open in Yorkdale Shopping Centre sometime in the fall. Seriously.

On Sunday morning, I scrambled to the US Open. I was only there from 1030 to 1230 but it was worth it. I’ve been watching the US Open for decades on TV and it was great to experience being there even though I wasn’t there to watch a match.

nyc - us open

Just like that – it was time to head to Newark to catch our flight. I wish we had time to visit MOMA or the Whitney Museum or Washington Square or Chelsea Market but it just means I will have to go back, right?

Hope you had a wonderful weekend too.

For more information:

Go NY Tours Websitehttps://www.gonytours.nyc/double-decker-tours

Address: 2 E 42nd St, New York, NY, Phone: 1 212-664-0300

Website:  Residence Inn NY Manhattan/Central Park

Address: 1717 Broadway, New York, NY Phone: +1 212-324-3774

 

 

 

 

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Sep
01

Appetizers and Aperitifs!


I’m a huge fan of serving appetizers before a meal. There’s something about putting it all together that really appeals to me.

My appetizer plate usually includes olives, cheese, roasted garlic, dried fruit and whatever else I have hanging around the fridge.

tapas - round 2

However recently I’ve discovered Espuna Tapas Essentials that have elevated my cheese board to another level. There’s a huge range of products and you will find them at major retailers like Metro and Longs.

ps see the package in the middle – I often snack on them in the middle of the day. #goodsnacktoo
tapas - product

Now my cheese platter looks like this!

tapas - round

Along with appetizers, of course there has to be an aperitif. Lately I’ve been enjoying the Aperol Spritz which has been described as “THE drink of the summer”. This aperitif is widely available at the LCBO for $26.55 , and had its own cocktail recipe book come out this year called “Spritz: Italy’s Most iconic Aperitivo Cocktail” by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau.

tapas - aperolTo make this lovely cocktail you need:

3 parts Cinzano Prosecco

2 parts Aperol

1 splash Soda.

Start by adding ice to a glass, then pour the Prosecco, the Aperol and a splash of soda. Top with an orange (oops I forgot this step).

Happy Entertaining!!

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Aug
30

What Took Me So Long?


I was in Ottawa this past weekend – one of those very (very) quick visits. i.e. drive in to Ottawa on Saturday and drive back to Toronto on Sunday.

Clearly when we got home, no one was in the mood to cook dinner or even go out for dinner.

This is where the foodora app came in handy. Oh how I love technology!

foodora - image

We were in the mood for Thai and within minutes I was able to place the order, add tip, and even track the delivery. When placing the order, I could even find out what ingredients were in each dish (in the event I was allergic to something or didn’t like a particular spice etc).

When dinner arrived, we ate in comfort (on the couch) – where we belong!!

foodora - dinner

I wanted to bring it to your attention that it’s possible to enjoy some of the city’s most decadent menu items without venturing down to Exhibition Place with foodora, Toronto’s leading on-demand meal delivery service?

Celebrate the end of summer with fair-type foods delivered so quickly that you’ll enjoy every ooey, gooey bite. For example!

The Notorious P.I.G from Bacon Nation
The restaurant cautions that this item is only for true bacon lovers. This hand-crafted beef burger is topped with bacon strips, peameal bacon, pulled pork, lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, onion straws and BBQ sauce and come served on a bacon brioche bun. It’s also served with fries.

Fran’s Triple Decker Reuben
This Toronto special features sliced corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Fran’s homemade dressing, on three slices of marble rye.

The Jurassic Junkie Thin Crust Pizza from Junked Food Co.
This ingenious Junked Food Co. pizza features creamy mac & Cheese, Dr. Pepper pulled pork, maple bacon, mozzarella and Junked cheese sauce.

The Lord Cheesus from OM Grilled Cheese
One of the city’s best grilled cheese sandwiches is the Lord Cheesus which comes loaded with cheddar, brie, brick, harvarti and mozzarella.

Don’t Even Go There from Old School
This cheesecake stuffed egg bread is rolled in toasted coconuts, topped with whipped vanilla cream and orange honey drizzle.

Foodora really left an impression on me and I have no doubt that I might be using this app more often!!

For more information:

Website: www.foodora.com

Twitter and Instagram: @foodora_ca

Disclosure: I was provided a discount code however all opinions are my own

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