Friday, August 30, 2013

French Onion Soup & Peach Crumble


JL came over for dinner. On the menu: french onion soup and peach crumble.

While we picked up a few things from the grocery store, we both agreed that having a little appetizer with prosciutto, goat cheese, and baguettes with white wine would help us in the kitchen.

As the onions caramelized in batches, we noshed on the prosciutto, fine herb goat cheese, capicola ham, peach, and baguettes.

Then as the soup was simmering, we put together the cheesy toast, then had some more appetizers and wine. The bread was from the quick sale rack. Why not? On a related note, I buy breads from the rack to make french toast. Why wait until your bread goes a little stale? Anyway, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah. Cheesy toast.

These were broiled for a few minutes until bubbly.


Although the soup simmered for about 45 minutes, it certainly didn't taste like a quick soup. There was a nice depth of flavour. Of course, it could've been boosted to another level if we made the broth from scratch. Instead, we took a shortcut and used broth from a tetra pack.

We had some warm peach crumble once we finished our bowls of soup. There were plenty of leftovers for the next day. They both tasted great the next day too. Leftovers can be awesome!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Brunch at Stone Face Dolly's

VN, KN, and I got together at Stone Face Dolly's for brunch earlier this month. We had heard good things and always wanted to try it.

Unfortunately, the waiting list got jumbled up and we ended up getting lost in the queue. We waited for almost an hour and saw other groups of people get seated before us. Some groups had the same number of people and arrived later than us. The last straw was when a large group was seated ahead of us -- they, too, arrived after us. Not cool. There was a mix up between the owner and one of the staff at the front. One explanation we got was that the other people arrived ahead of us, which wasn't true. It was a bad idea to go for brunch during a holiday weekend.

We weren't happy once we were finally seated -- hungrier than angry, but still upset. We promptly gave the waitress our order, cause we knew the kitchen was swamped as well.

VN had the banana bread french toast.

KN had one of their specials; an omelette with a loaded hash, salad, and molasses bread.


My eggs Natasha (poached eggs, English muffin, smoked salmon, spinach, and lemon diablo sauce) looked great! I was disappointed with the overdone eggs though.

Wait, upon further review...

Nope. Overdone. The egg yolk was still soft enough to mash into a jam though. I really liked the kick their lemon diablo sauce. It crept up and tickled the back of my throat. The small bottle of hot sauce on the table was great too.

Although I'd prefer going out for dim sum, I wouldn't mind going back to Stone Face Dolly's for brunch. Not only are their portions generous, but I enjoy the vibe of the restaurant.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Final Day of Training + Porter Lounge

Morning call was for 7am. My coworker, Glenn Coco aka GC, and I had no idea there was one set. I woke up so confused. I definitely got up and then crawled back into my pillow fort. We eventually got up and ready. We checked out of the hotel and then went back to headquarters for breakfast and our last day of training. You can read about the first day of training here.




There was a platter of pastries (cinnamon rolls, bear paws, and a variety of scones), bagels, muffins, yogurt, and fruits.


The chocolate croissants were a popular item the previous day, so I checked it out for myself. It was dense in the middle and wasn't light and messy -- which is what makes a great croissant.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blendtec Training in the GTA

This past weekend, twenty seven people across Ontario and myself were sent to Mississauga to be trained on a new demo. I currently work for Professional Warehouse Demonstrations (aka PWD). We, PWD, do most of the food demos found at Costco Canada-wide. While some companies do send their own people sometimes, we do everything else. Still aren't sure who we are? We're the people behind those red tables giving out free samples of various of products.

My coworker, Glenn Coco aka GC (her alias), flew to the the Greater Area of Toronto (GTA) on Portei Airlines -- I mean Porter Airlines. We had never flown on Porter so we were both excited. Our flight left Wednesday morning. Unfortunately, we didn't get to check out Porter's lounge at the Ottawa airport.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mini Donuts at Costco

When we were younger, Mom used to always say that she'd just quickly run in and grab something at the grocery stores. That "quick" trip usually took at least an hour -- something about long line ups at cash.

Did this happen to you when you were younger?

We never liked shopping because of all the waiting. But there was one place that we always looked forward to: Price Club. We'd go around 1pm and snack on all the free samples for our late lunch. There was one demo that stood out in my mind. The mini donut stand. Do you remember them? I briefly wrote about them a few years ago.

We'd head over to the mini donut stand by the bakery and munch on the warm mini donuts. We'd stand there on our tip toes, or we'd sit in the cart, and get hypnotized by the automated donut fryer. It was always a lovely way to end our shopping trip at Price Club. My favourite donuts were the cinnamon and granulated sugar ones, as opposed to the cinnamon and fine sugar ones they made afterwards.

This morning, when I walked into the Costco in Merivale, I immediately knew that mini donuts were back. But my nose has fooled me before.

I went to the bakery area. No donuts. Where could they be? Perhaps they're at the roadshow location, I thought. The perfume got stronger as I walked past the rotisserie chicken. And there it was...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Neighbourhood Pho Joint


Mom was working late. Andrew had to pick something up at the Shoppers, which brought us to close to a few dinner options; Cozmos, PJ Quigley's, Tim Hortons, and the Authentic Vietnamese Pho House. It didn't take long to decide.


After a long day on Saturday and another long day at work on Sunday, I was running on fumes today. It actually felt like I was coming down with a flu. I felt exhausted, frail, and weak. All I wanted was pho to boost my energy. Anything else was just a bonus. Iced coffee? Spring Rolls? Nah, that's just greed...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Singapore-Inspired Kaya Toast


I've always been interested in the cuisines found in Southeast Asia. Take kaya toast for example. I have not been to Singapore but after watching numerous Youtube videos, I felt like I could recreate this dish.

Originally, I was going to attempt to make the custard from scratch using frozen pandan leaves, coconut milk, eggs, and sugar. But then I found this jar at a grocery store in Chinatown.

After doing some research online (aka watching more videos), I thought I'd just poach the eggs and then add some Golden Mountain soy sauce before dipping the kaya toast into the eggs. When Andrew and I poached the eggs, the consistency wasn't the same as the eggs I saw on all the videos. In fact, I thought the eggs that they make in Singapore were underdone. Sadly, the eggs that we poached were a tad overdone.

The sweetness from the kaya sandwich was a real nice compliment to the seasoned eggs. The kaya jam tasted predominantly of pandan, whereas, the coconut played a supporting roll. I'm a fan of sweet and savoury things like the deep-fried mochi dumplings with ground pork, Chicago Mix (caramel corn & cheddar cheese popcorn in the same bag), and Swedish meatballs with lingonberry jam. Now you can have something that's sweet and savoury for breakfast.

Do you have a favourite sweet and savoury dish?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Dim Sum Feast on Boxes


Andrew and I picked up dim sum from Chu Shing. We had just missed the bus when we left the restaurant, so we just walked over to Lucy and Jimmy's apartment near Elgin. The sunny and cool breeze made the walk very enjoyable.

Lucy put together some boxes for a makeshift table, since they didn't have a coffee or dining table at the time. It didn't really matter to us. We unpacked the containers like it was Christmas.



Deep-fried shrimp balls with a sweet and sour sauce. There was also baked BBQ pork buns, steamed shrimp siu mai, beef tendon, lo mai gai, and ginger tripe.

Everything was still hot when we began to eat. The shrimp balls were bouncy and juicy. I really like how Chu Shing mixes in green onions. The beef tendon was very tender and full of flavour.


We had rice noodles with beef and, for dessert, two egg tarts.

Lunch was heartburning-ly delicious!


Oriental Chu Shing Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 05, 2013

Lunch at T&T

Yesterday's grocery run plan:
  • Head to Costco to buy a bunch of snacks that are on sale
  • Grab stuff for hot pot at T&T
  • Eat lunch at T&T
  • Get home in under an hour and a half

What really happened:
  • Spent not even 10 minutes in Costco; snacks were sold out
  • Spent over 2 hours in T&T; lots of pointless waiting

Instead of shopping in T&T first, we were going to eat but when we went to order some dim sum, we were told that the shrimp siu mai would be ready in 20 minutes. And so we went back to our original plan: shop first; eat later.

When we were walking around, I saw a kid snacking on a hot dog on a stick. But it was topped with green onions. How intriguing!

I wandered over to the former bubble tea stall. It has since been converted into a snack stand selling drinks, ice cream, Taiwanese-style sausages, and even jianbing. Jianbing is a breakfast crepe that's eaten on the streets in China.

They were selling a variety of snacks like this Taiwan-style sausage. For only $3, you could get it dressed with a variety of things. Since we had time to kill, I bought one so that we could snack on it while we waited to eat lunch.

As I was waiting in line, I noticed that the gentleman and the older lady were training a younger lady.

When it was my turn, I asked for a spicy sausage with black pepper paste, garlic, and green onions. The lady cut down the center of the sausage to fill it with stuff. It tasted really good. It tasted sweet at first, then the heat from the black pepper paste washed over the palate, then the garlic, then more sweetness from the sausage, and then finally the cayenne pepper kicked in. The sausages reminds me of the sweet Vietnamese version of Chinese sausages that we eat with congee. Andrew and I were very impressed with how good and addictive it was.

We shopped some more, taking our sweet time snaking down the aisles. Mom checked in on the dim sum and they said it still wasn't ready yet. At this point, Andrew and I were getting impatient. We knew the shrimp siu mai wouldn't be worth the wait. I went back to the snack stand to get some milk tea (without tapioca pearls) to enjoy with our lunch.

The. Service. Was. So. Slow.

The gentleman and younger lady were making the drinks people ordered, while the older lady was making the jianbing. I turned my attention to the older lady making the crepes before I began to lose it.

She was much more efficient with her actions, whereas the trainee looked unsure of every move she made while making the drinks. It didn't look like that was any urgency from the trainee.

Once both milk teas were handed to me, I rushed back to meet Mom and Andrew. They had just started to eat. I just wanted to eat, pay for our groceries, and go home.


Discounted noodles and vegetarian spring rolls.

There were also two orders of shrimp siu mai. This is half an order. 

We've tried their dim sum items before and it was quite lacking. We were eating there for the convenience. You can tell from the photo how processed the siu mai was. It was definitely not worth the wait. The filling definitely had a lot of cornstarch or something.

The milk teas were on the weak side. I think the only place that makes a great version in Ottawa is at My Sweet Tea.

After lunch, we grabbed a few more things and then checked out.

Oh yeah, I got two boxes of Melona bars! Mom was pretty sure they were cheaper at the Superstore, but I bought them anyway because we weren't going there. Turns out the savings would've been about a dollar at the Superstore. Dammit! I could've used that dollar to buy an iced coffee or extra large fountain drink at McD's. I'm just not at that level of being "smart with my money," as Mom likes to say.

~ ~ ~

Side story:
After having brunch at Stoneface Dolly's today (more on that later), VN and I went to buy some Melona bars at the Westboro Superstore. They were all sold out -- of course. I asked for a raincheck but the lady at the customer service desk said that she won't give us one because it wasn't in their flyer. "It is in the Superstore flyer at home! It's on a 'World Flavours' page." I told VN. "I swear, I'm not going crazy." I'm not sure why I was so determined to get the raincheck.

I got on my phone and tried to check the online flyers.

Nothing. There wasn't any "world flavours" section in either the in-store flyer or online flyers. I even checked the regular Loblaws' flyers. Again, nothing -- and yes, I did search the Ottawa flyers. I was so frustrated. "I'll send you a photo of it when I get home," I vowed.

Boom. How is it that the "World Flavours" section is totally missing from the in-store flyer and online flyer? Brutal.

I guess the lesson is to bring the flyers you have with you.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Guest Post: It's More Fun in the Philippines

Hi everyone, this is Ritchie (Richard as the sisters call me)! You may have seen my name pop up now and again as I have the rare flash of brilliance in my experimental cooking - just enough that it impresses both Lucy and Christine (granted I find it hard to cook visually appealing food).

Recently I've started an internship in the Philippines where I will be living in Manila for the next year and a half. I hope to share with you all some of my culinary experiences as me and my tongue become more adventurous (some of the things I've eaten already are pretty radically-tasting - even for a guy who's known for loving stinky foods). Here's a sample of things to come!

Manila Polo Club

Since I'm a business development consultant, I get to meet many clients in pretty fancy places. This one particular occasion I was invited to the Manila Polo Club. Classy place, filled with classy people. The walls were lined with hand-written charts of the Polo clubs most decorated players and horses.

And of course these classy people need to be fed with classy food. What we ordered was three different types of pizza: margherita, vegetarian, and hawaiian. You can see the picture of the pizza above. As you can see, it's quite flat and tasted the same. The dough obviously didn't rise enough or had enough yeast and was quite dense. Not to mention the fact that it was overcooked that I couldn't even cut through with a fork and knife. Overall, the pizza was really mediocre.

But the saving grace was the fantastic salad. OMG. I had never had watercress in a salad before but it is the single most amazing-life-changing salad I have ever had. The dressing was akin to the mandarin orange dressing we buy from Loblaws - slightly sweet and just a tad acid. Along with romaine lettuce there was walnuts and craisins. So refreshing and delicious.

Then there was this bad boy. Grape juice. ACTUAL grape juice. You can see the skins in the glass. It was so refreshing.


A few weekends ago our friend invited us to her hometown out in the province of Pampanga to celebrate her fathers birthday. I'll have to tell you - living right downtown in a huge metropolitan city means that most of the food I eat comes from convenience stores and fast food joints - microwaved and deepfried "deliciousness". Which really bugged me since I had quite high expectations coming to South East Asia. So when I expressed this disappointment to my friend, she immediately scolded me. "Don't you dare say that in front of me," she screamed. "Come eat my dad's food and then talk to me."

ZOOM! Off to Pampanga we went. Getting there was quite easy - we took the MRT (main metro system) to Taft station and then transferred to the LRT (light rail system) all the way to Doroteo Jose station where we caught a bus straight to San Fernando. 

Once we arrived we were greeted by my friend's uncles who transported us from the main city to her village.

Sitting in these bad boys felt pretty amazing since your butt is literally a few inches off the road. We arrived maybe around 5 or 6 in the afternoon so it was still light out. The food wasn't ready yet so all her cousins decided to take us on a tour of the village area.

We got to cross this fancy feat of human engineering. When the concrete bridge collapsed during a flood, the villagers built a makeshift bridge from bamboo. The bamboo bridge has been there ever since and no one feels the need to build a concrete one. Pretty sturdy but jumping is still not advised.

Past the bridge a bit we met up with my friend's great aunt. This was my first taste of the Philippine life as she brought us fresh green mangos that she grew.

Our mom would always buy green mangos in these vacuum-sealed bags and would love snacking on these sour bad boys. Now I understand why. The tartness that just makes your cheeks squeeze together is just so pleasant, and dipping it in fish sauce with salt really made it taste like home.

Oh and these guys. Fresh guava from the trees. They taste nothing like the super sugary guava candies that our mom loves to eat. You eat them like apples, skin and seeds together and the seeds are quite crunchy but I'm told that's where all the nutritious stuff is. It has a very mild sweetness with a creamy texture.

When we got back to the house, a feast was set out for us. Oh the food was amazing and it's really hard for me to describe what it tastes like because I've never had anything like it before.

First up was pork minudo. Stewed pork and potatoes and carrots. The sauce had many spices flavoring it but was quite mild (similar to the stewed meat dishes we Chinese make). Juicy hunks of pork and vegetables. YUM!

Some Filipino-style fried chicken. Juicy, crispy - filipinos really know how to do fried chicken.

Kalderetang manok. Another stewed dish made from tomatoes, chicken, and a bunch more mild spices. The meat fell right off the bone and the sauce went so well with rice.

And this stuff. Palabok. Let me tell you - here in the Philippines they are OBSESSED with pancit (read: noodles). They have a huge eating culture and actually take time in the afternoon to have merienda (mary-enda: read afternoon snack). This is one of the many common meriendas to have. The noodles for palabok are a little smaller than udon and the texture is quite strange - as you bite into them they kind of snap. So they don't really turn to mush while you're eating it like the noodles I'm used to eating. It definitely took a while for me to get used to it. I'm not sure what the sauce is made from but it has shredded chicken throughout and deep-fried garlic and sliced eggs sprinkled all on top. It wasn't my favourite dish for sure but it was still quite tasty.

Walking around in the country side really made me homesick. It was time I was able to completely disconnect from work and the busy concrete jungle of Manila and was able to take in my situation. The country air and food cleansed my spirit and rejuvenated my energy. I can't wait to return again!


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