Jul
11

I know..I know….I’ve posted three restaurant reviews in a row. I promise next week there will be NO restaurant reviews K? However bear with me for my last restaurant review K? I attended a media event for Portland Variety and they really nailed it with some spectacular presentation and flavours. Not to mention…they serve coffee that is WICKED.

Ok let’s start from the beginning.

The front of the restaurant serves breakfast (coffee and pastries etc) …take out lunches (sandwiches etc) and after work there is this INCREDIBLE spread of  tapas.  I mean INCREDIBLE…with incredible prices too. There’s also dinner!!

portland - spread

Now let’s talk about the food that is served during dinner. Top Left:  Chickpeas in a creamy sauce, Top Right: Smoked Octopus, Iberico Chorizo, Smoked Tomato, Olive Oil, Lemon. Bottom Left: Crispy Pork Rinds that I wrapped up and put in my purse (no joke).  Bottom RIght: House Made Ricotta with Honey, Hazelnuts and Pear

I’m in love with all the sauces. I could marry them!

portland - food

I didn’t taste any of these cocktails but I sure did want to take a photo of them. One drink was prettier than the next drink!

portland - drinks

Naturally I didn’t have any battery left to take photos of the desserts but I beg of you to try to beignets. (I haven’t begged before but seriously – Im begging you this time).

As for the coffee. It’s not to be missed. Milton (one of the co-owners) made me a spectacular Americano. It was so good that I had one at the beginning of my meal and one at the end of my meal. This is NOT something I do on a usual basis – especially at night.

portland - coffee

ps..Notice how gorgeous the machine is? Well, there’s only 2 in Toronto and he spent a week in Delaware learning how use it!

Congratulations to Portland Variety. I can’t wait to return.

For more information:

Porland Variety  587 King St. W, Toronto (416) 368 5151

Twitter: @PortlandVariety

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Jul
09

A few weeks ago I received an invitation to a media event at Mata Petisco Bar and I have to be honest…I didn’t reply in a timely fashion as I wasn’t sure if I was going to like South American Cuisine. At the last minute, I quickly replied “Can you please squeeze me in?”. I’m ever so grateful that I changed my mind.

The restaurant is located at 1690 Queen St. West and just opened recently. (errr…in time for the World Cup).

Here’s what I inhaled!

Top photo: Cheese Bread and Lobster Pastel; Bottom Right: Corvina Ceviche with Maple Candied Sweet Potato, Celery & Lime Marinate & Fresh Cilantro.  Bottom Left: Smoky Crispy Chicken Hearts w/Cauliflower Puree & Ancho Chili Oil.

mata - 1The meal continued….

Top left photo: Grilled Octopus w/Hearts of Palm Puree, Raspberry & Balsamic Reduction & Taro Root Crisps, Bottom Left: Beef Cheek Poutine w/Casava Frites, Fresh Curds & Scallions. Right Photo: Picanha Sliders w/ Cachaca Carmelized Onions, House Made Catupiry Cheese & Malagueta Pepper Aioli.

mata 2

I was enamoured by these small jars of HOT sauce which I put on everything…ok not everything but close to it.

sauce

If you asked me to nail down my fav dishes…here ya go: a) the crispy chicken hearts, the grilled octopus and the beef cheek poutine. Yum..Yum..and more Yum.

Hope you get a chance to check out this restaurant soon.

For more information.

Mata Petisco Bar….1690 Queen St. West, Toronto (647) 691 0234

Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 5 pm to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 11 pm

Twitter: @MatabarTO

 

 

 

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Jul
07

I swear it’s been 15 years since I’ve visited a Mandarin Restaurant. So when I received an invitation to check out their “Celebrate Canada Menu” …I quickly replied that indeed I was interested.  Not only did I want to visit their buffet again but I was also interested  in helping them celebrate their 35th Anniversary!

mandarin - canada

I chose a location that’s close to where I live and decided that it would be IDEAL to bike over there to help eliminate some of the calories I was about to consume. What a smart move!!

mandarin - bike

The buffet is much larger than I remember and there truly is something for EVERYONE. I can see why this is a popular restaurant for families with kids and for large group celebrations. I bet it would be hard to find a 10 year old that DIDN’T like going to celebrate their birthday at the Mandarin!

The service was efficient and we both noticed how polite our waiters were (shout out to Richard and Tom).

mandarin - 1

Round #2 to the buffet look liked this.

mandarin 2

Round #3 to the buffet looked like this.

mandarin 3

I swear I ate everything except for one vegetable side dish that didn’t agree with my palate.

Believe it or not I made room for dessert. I could not resist my favorite desserts…a nanaimo bar, creme brulee and a rocky road square.

mandarin - dessert

Needless to say we left the Mandarin and happily got on our bikes in an effort to burn some of the calories we consumed.!!

For more information:

Mandarin Restaurant – to find a location near you please click here.

Twitter: @ Eatmandarin

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/mandarinrestaurant

 

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Jul
04

Cravings….


Sometimes I’ll have a salad or a great kale stir fry and even though I’m full…I will be craving something “extra”. Do you know what I  mean?

Here’s my list of how I satisfy those cravings:

-grab a bowl of cereal (I generally have 6 boxes in my kitchen even though I live in an apartment with my daughter part time). These days Multi-Grain Cheerios + Ancient Grains with 5 Whole Grains has my attention seeing as there’s the bonus of ancient grains (Kamut, Spelt and Wheat).

 

7223030_GM_Cheerios

-grab a packet of seaweed

-grab a frozen choc chip cookie from my freezer

-find a piece of chocolate and dip it into peanut butter

However the other day, I was happily clicking my way thru Pinterest and discovered a recipe with Cheerios that only requires 4 ingredients to make. I love these types of recipes …especially in the summer when I rarely turn on the oven.

I grabbed the Cheerios and within no time at all – I had a sweet, crunchy snack to add to my list when Im craving something “extra”.

RECIPE FOR 4 INGREDIENT  CHEERIO SNACK BARS (taken from My Little Celebration)

INGREDIENTS

2-3 cups of Cheerios….try using the new Multi-Grain Cheerios + Ancient Grains

1/4 cup peanut butter (I used Kraft Natural..Crunchy)

1/4 cup sugar (Im going to try and reduce this next time)

1/4 cup honey (I used agave)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a small saucepan, melt the sugar and the honey – over medium heat.

2. Remove from heat and add the peanut butter and continue to stir

3. Add the cheerios

4. I had these cute little pans to put it in….but you could put it in a small loaf pan, a small dish…anything really.

pan

5. Pop it into the fridge for an hour and then cut up into squares!

final

I have no doubt that I can add these snacks into my freezer so that they are handy!!

Before you start making these amazing snacks, I’d love to talk more about Ancient Grains. I’d love to know….

A) How do you incorporate ancient grains into your lifestyle? (cereal, in your bread, muffins, etc)

B)  What’s your favourite ancient grain? (spelt, whole wheat, kamut,)

Look forward to hearing from you….

PS This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are my own.

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Jul
02

I drove into Ottawa on Saturday at 7 pm and left on Monday at 8 am. This means that I had a lot to do in a short period of time. Guess what? Mission Accomplished. I checked out 4 new places. Here’s what I discovered:

a) Bread by Us…this new bakery is only 6 months old and is already a hit in the neighbourhood.  I had a lovely chat with the owners and enjoyed my coffee with a white chocolate strawberry scone . Next time, I really need to buy a loaf of bread.  Kind of kicking myself that I walked away empty handed.

bread

b) La Trappe a Fromage: I have NO idea why I’ve never been to this store before. It’s only a 15 min drive from downtown Ottawa and WELL WORTH THE DRIVE. There’s a massive variety of Quebec beer and a massive variety of Quebec cheese too. This is now going to be a store that I’m going to visit on a more regular basis.

beerandcheese

c) Beyond the Pale Brewing Company:  I drove by this place in the morning but it was closed and then returned in the afternoon. I’m so glad that I did. What a discovery. I had 3 samples and then chose one to bring back to Toronto. This little brewery is soon to be expanding as there’s a HUGE demand for their beer. Very happy for them.

beyondthepale

c) Salt.…this restaurant only opened 2 weeks ago! I’m not sure what I should write about first…the space or the food. Both are outstanding. In fact I can’t think of a restaurant in Ottawa that has paid this much attention to the space! The owners wanted to create a restaurant that is open late at night (i.e the kitchen is open till 2am) and where live music is played. As for the food – everything is made in house (the jam, the mustard, etc) and both dishes that we had were well executed and plated to perfection.

salt - food

For more information

Bread By Us: 1065 Wellington St. W, Ottawa (613) 422 5300 Twitter: @BreadByUs

Beyond the Pale Brewing Company: 5 Hamilton Ave. N, Ottawa, (613) 695 2991 Twitter: @BeyondThePale

La Trappe a Fromage: several locations…I went to 114 Blvd Saint-Raymond, Gatineau Quebec

Salt 345 Preston St. Ottawa  (613) 695 5755. Twitter: @SaltOttawa

 

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Jun
29

Thought I might share a few things to do on Canada Day.

1) Get up at 9am and take advantage of this $49 deal that’s been offered by HotelTonight!

HotelTonight logo_whiteHere’s more info:  To show their love for Canada, HotelTonight, (a last minute hotel booking app) has announced a special Canada Day promotion for Toronto, Ottaw, and Vancouver. For only $49 – on JULY 1st ONLY.

Participating hotels:

Toronto: Thompson Hotel, Gladstone Hotel, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Pantages Hotel.

Montreal: Hotel Chez Swann, Hotel St-Paul, St. Martin Hotel Particulier.

Ottawa: the Lord Elgin Hotel, among others.

Vancouver:  Hotel Le Soleil, Granville Island Hotel, Moda Hotel.

There are some more details you should know!!

  • Rooms are limited to first come, first served and the $49 rate is only applicable for a July 1 stay. 
  • $49 deals will go live at 9 a.m. local time in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver. 
  • Look for deals in each destination marked “CANADA DAY.”
  • HotelTonight will have great deals all day, but the $49 rooms and limited. If you see one you like, GRAB IT!

2) Go Strawberry Picking….This is one of my favorite activities and the perfect activity for Canada Day.  My go-to- farm is Whittamores. (8100 Steeles Ave E, Markham). Here’s what I have learned over the years: wear sunscreen, hat, bring water, FLAT containers, and wear black clothes!

strawberry2

3) Visit an outdoor hotel pool – this is such a treat! I recently spent the day at the Sheraton Toronto Outdoor Pool (123 Queen St. W) and when I say “spent the day” …I mean it. I was there from 11 am to 8 pm.  Please note there is a fantastic fitness centre so you can bring your gym cloths and squeeze in a workout in between suntanning!

pool

4) Visit one of the many conservation areas we are lucky to live near…Mountsberg, Crawford Lake, Kelso. My fav this time of year is Kelso because of the beach.

kelso

5) Just chill and relax! Nothing wrong with that, right?

Happy Canada Day!

 

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Jun
27

Yummy Market is a grocery store that caters to the Eastern European Community. As you know – I’m adventurous when it comes to food so visiting Yummy Market is always a pleasure as there’s a good chance I’m going to try something new!

Their store on Dufferin St looks like this:

yummy - storefront

The first thing you notice when you walk in is wide varieties of bread (with samples too).

yummy  - bread

They also carry a huge range of Kefir.

yummy - kefir

I bought this product – but sadly I haven’t tried it yet. Its still in my fridge. My. Bad. It’s a milk flavoured soda and to be honest…I think I’m a teensy bit afraid to try this.

yummy- milk

I also bought some pickles. I adore pickles and love them even more when they aren’t in a jar!

yummy  - pickle

There’s no shortage of a feta cheese, meats, candy and more! I promise you that visiting this store will be a (tasty) adventure.

Happy Grocery Shopping!!

For more information:

Yummy Market:  

North York Location: 4400 Dufferin Street, North York, ON  Phone: (416) 665-0040

Store Hours: 9 am to 9 pm daily

Maple Location:1390 Major Mackenzie Dr. W. Maple, ON  Phone: (905) 417-4117

Store Hours:
Monday – Sat. 8 am – 10 pm
Sunday 8 am – 8 pm

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Jun
25

Spending Habits….


I don’t know about you but I never seem to carry cash anymore. This drives my mom crazy – however I keep telling her “why do I need cash? I have an Interac card and almost everyone accepts Interac”. Truth be told, the only time I take out cash is for my manicures.

A while ago I received an Interac Flash card – (it has a little ” Wave” symbol on the front of the card) and this enables me to just flash my card at the point-of-sale reader. I adore the convenience and use use my Interac Flash card for all those small purchases – even a coffee.

In fact I remember the day when Tim Hortons started to accept Interac. I was so happy about this news – that I even blogged about it. (click here to read that blog post)

Last week I was invited to an event that was hosted by a wonderful team at Interac and learned a thing or two (or three) that I would like to share with you about  Intertac Flash - specifically about the safety of this technology.

interac - bloggers2

  •  Interac Flash has all the security features of Interac Debit, plus added security features – like spending limits – to protect you from theft or fraud. Some of the security features include:
  • Each Interac Flash transaction is unique and cannot be copied
  •  Interac Flash leverages EMV-based secure chip processing instead of magnetic stripe technology to protect against electronic pick-pocketin
  •   PIN authentication is required when your spending limits are reached (this resets the limits)

I’m a huge believer in technology and have embraced Interac e-transfers, Interac Flash and online banking…as much as I can. It makes my life SO much easier and more convenient.

The hashtag below is truly the way I live now…I’m paying in a flash with my Interac Flash for coffee, for froyo, and more!!

20140611_184744

I might have been apprehensive about paying for a coffee on my Interac debit card a few years ago – but no longer have those feelings. I truly believe that it’s perfectly acceptable these days. Dont’ you?

PS this blog post is sponsored however all my opinions are my own.

 

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Jun
20

Events on My Radar


Here’s a few events that are on my radar:

a) The Niagara Integrated Film Festival (Thursday June 19 to Sunday 22, 2014). This is a great chance to see some wonderful films AND drink wine! Not a bad combo at all. There’s a wide range of films (Canadian, Animated, Documentaries and more) and you will be watching these movies in a truly unique setting. Please visit their website for more info www.niagarafilmfest.com

logo

 

b) Restaurantacular on Wed. June 25th from 4 – 9 pm. This is a great way to eat your way thru Mount Pleasant! There will be a variety of food from local restaurants that will only set you back a loonie or two or three!! LOVE IT. For more information please visit: www.mountpleasantvillage.ca

restaurantacular

c) Night It Up 2014 Night Market takes place this year on Friday July 11th to July 13th. I’ve gone for the last two years and always find something that I’ve never tried before. For more information please check out their website www.nightitup.com

night it up

d) Summerlicious will be taking place July 4- 20th and I’m sure I will be checking out a restaurant or two. I’ve already make plans to visit Pukka for a $15 lunch with a bunch of friends. What great value. For more information – please visit their website www.toronto.ca

Take a peek at how many festivals are going on…there’s no way one can be bored during the summer.

PS many thanks to my friend @sackman66 for sending me this list!

summerHave a wonderful summer everyone!

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Jun
18

I’ve just returned from the Stop’s Night Market and I’m oh so happy and oh so full. I kept hearing the same remarks over and over again from food vendors and participants – “this is my favourite event of the year”. They are so right!!

The Stop really does put on a well organized and very-tasty event!! Line ups are minimal, food portions are generous, the venue is central, and the atmosphere rocks. There is a reason why this event sells out in minutes.

When you arrive, they give you the coolest plate. Thumbs up to whoever thought of this idea. Here’s a photo of @Abbeyskitchen (on the right) and I …with our cool plates.

bloggers

Then the fun started as I ate my way thu the Stop’s Night Market. 

PhotoGrid_1403141753940

There’s no shortage of tasty food at this event….

food

Special mention to a few vendors:

a) Neal Brothers - who served chicken that was coated in their new line of potato chips. I can’t wait to try this with fish or tofu! (stay tuned).

neal

B) This Saigon Sub by Hey Meatball - there was so much flavour in here that it wasn’t funny

20140618_180309

C) The Mustard Spatzle by WhippoorWill Restaurant and Tavern was freakin’ unbelievable. I love the creativity of this dish – I mean, it’s not every day that you see small bits of pretzels in your food! #texture #complex

PhotoGrid_1403141571242

Congratulations once again to The Stop for organizing such a fantastic fundraiser.

For more information about The Stop please visit their website so you can read more about the important work that they do.

 

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