Wednesday, November 27, 2013

First Major Snowfall 2013


The snow began to fall yesterday evening and finished this morning. Ottawa received a total of 24 cm (that's 9.4 inches to our American friends) within that time span. It made for beautiful walks in the city and luckily for me, we live by the Bruce Pit part of the Greenbelt.

Even though it wasn't very cold, I bundled up, grabbed my camera, and headed out for a little photo walk.



It was nice to unplug from the computer. There were a variety of sounds during the walk; the whistling wind going through my toque, the crunch of the snow with every step, the thumps from the fallen accumulated snow on the branches. Ah... I love winter!


I was hoping to see some deer. But all I saw on this photo trip were a few birds.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Rice Noodles Two Ways

Whether it's homemade or at a restaurant, Grandpa really loves his lobster with ginger and onion sauce.

Last week, Mom and I happened to have the same day off. We did some grocery shopping and went over to visit Grandpa and Grandma. Grandpa bought some lobsters that were on sale. Mom decided to make rice noodles with chinese broccoli and beef with a side of lobster. I requested rice noodles with lobster with the ginger onion sauce.





Mom and I started with some of the prep for both dishes. They're actually both easy to make.

Side note: do you keep the green onion stems like we do? We let them re-grow their roots and then add them into our herb garden or indoor pots.

Since most of the prep was finished, the only thing that really needed to be made before cooking the rice noodles with beef and chinese broccoli was to make a slurry for the sauce. It was made of water, cornstarch, oyster sauce, cooking wine, sugar, and salt. Oh and the sliced beef was seasoned with some soy sauce, cooking wine, sugar, and cornstarch.

Mom and Dad cooked while I helped out in the kitchen. The chinese broccoli was blanched and then rinsed off in cold water to stop the cooking process. Then in a smoking hot pan containing vegetable oil, the minced garlic and sliced onions were added into the pan to cook for about 30 seconds. Some of the stalks of the broccoli were tossed in for a few seconds before the rice noodles were added in and stirred together. Some water, dark soy sauce, sugar, and salt joined in the mix to season the noodles. After another five minutes, the noodles were transfered onto a plate.


The sauce started off the same way as the noodles -- a smoking hot pan with vegetable oil, garlic, and onions. The rest of the blanched broccoli was added in. After a few seconds,  the marinated beef was added in and cooked for about 30 seconds before the slurry was added.

Whenever we (the kids) help out in the kitchen, we're usually good about knowing what our parents need next. That's what happens when you're involved at a young age, I guess. But that evening, I was a little slow and Mom had to ask for the slurry.

Yeah chep! -- From the South Korean drama, Pasta. See the clip here.

We adjusted the sauce to taste with some sesame oil and then added some eggs. The eggs were broken and were gently stirred into the sauce after being allowed to cook for a minute. That's it.



The chunks of lobster pieces were tossed in some cornstarch and then deep-fried. They were taken out when fully cooked, drained of oil, and then placed in a paper towel-lined plate. One batch was left in for too long and the pieces of lobsters shrunk like overcooked shrimps. Sad.

The ginger and green onion sauce for the lobster was stupidly simple. Unlike the other sauce, the sliced ginger was added into the smoking hot pan with vegetable oil. Once the aroma came out, the garlic was put in and stirred until it started to change colour. The onions went in and then the rest of the slurry joined the party. Dad added eggs to the sauce, which is optional.


We tasted and adjusted the flavour before the green onions and fried lobsters were tossed in.

There wasn't enough sauce for some reason. But with the little sauce that there was, the rice noodles tasted amazing. Fancy, huh? I have no idea why we've never done rice noodles with lobsters before. It was definitely luxurious. We'll definitely be making this again -- and I can't wait!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

After Work Dinner at Kelsey's

It just so happened that Andrew and I finished work at the same time. Feeling lazy, we decided to grab food before going home.




We were going to head over to Wendy's but ultimately went to Kelsey's instead. We both loved the light humour in their menu. Take a look at their "Chips & Dip"on their Starter menu. They crossed out "Koritos" because apparently their "... legal team said that was too much like that familiar cheesy tortilla chip." Beauty.

Andrew and I were both hungry but couldn't decide what to order. We munched on some spinach dip with baked pita bread as we talked about what we should get.

By the time we ordered our mains, we had almost finished the spinach dip. The Messy Fish Sandwich, made with two beer-battered haddock fish fillets, was crisp and actually wasn't that messy. Andrew said that some of the over-seasoned chips he had were stale though. Those that weren't soggy tasted great with the tartar sauce. He found the chips were too salty by themselves. The kitchen must've mixed in a new batch with the old one.


I went with the chicken fajitas. I received the tortillas along with the fixings first. Unfortunately the tortillas weren't very hot. In fact, it was still cold in the middle. The sizzling plate arrived with peppers, seasoned rice, and the chicken soon after. Instead of asking for a new batch of warm tortillas, I just heated each one on top of the sizzling platter before I ate each one.

Our dinner wasn't anything mind-blowing. We knew we'd get subpar food. The execution of the dishes were suspect, but it was still a good time.

Kelsey's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ken's Birthday Dinner at Sea King

With one of our younger cousins visiting from Toronto, a few of us got together for a small birthday dinner at Sea King. I headed to the restaurant after I was finished and met up with them (Andrew, Kevin, and Ken) there.

"Alright, what does everyone want to eat?" I inquired while getting settled into my chair. It didn't matter apparently. No one was picky. "Let's try something different then."

I knew I wanted to order the shrimp-stuffed crab claws as an appetizer. It was a special occasion, so why not? Sometimes you can find deep-fried shrimp balls during dim sum. This is the king of those -- the price reflects that too; $4.50 a piece.

The shrimp-stuffed crab claws arrived piping hot with a dipping sauce of an unthickened sweet vinegar sauce. They were super plump, bouncy, and juicy. Packed with sweet shrimp covered with fried vermicelli, dinner started off on a great note.

Kevin wanted to get the black pepper steak. I was thinking of ordering a casserole pot with veggies and vermicelli on the bottom. But Andrew said he wanted to get a vegetarian dish so we went with that.

Other than the steak being over-tenderized, everyone enjoyed the black pepper steak with their bowls of rice. The vegetarian dish had a strong canned bamboo taste. I was not a fan. This was the least favourite of our table.

The last dish I ordered was the stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp and egg sauce. I've read about the dish so often in other food blogs. I was eager to give it a try.

At first, it just looked like it was a plate of shrimp and sliced Chinese vegetables in a egg sauce. But there was rice noodles hiding underneath. The sauce was quite mild. The seasoned shrimps were the saltiest note of the whole dish, while the sliced Chinese greens added a textural crunch. I'm not sure if the dish was a true representation of how it should've tasted though. Is it supposed to taste so simple?

We wrapped up Ken's birthday dinner with some complimentary dessert of red beans.

When the bill came, I just laughed when I saw the breakdown of the pricing. The most expensive part of dinner was the appetizer. Yowzas! I'd still do it over again though. It was that good.

Sea King Shark Fin Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Updated: Breakfasts at A&W

Our family has never been big fans of breakfast. Brunch or dim sum? That's another story. But when I have to open at work, I need to eat or else I'd be a sluggish zombie. I'm usually still waking up by the time I leave the house, so making breakfast is just not ideal -- whether it's the that morning or even the previous night. The sun is usually still waking up too.


And that's where A&W comes to the rescue. For a few months working at the Costco location in Merivale, I'd go to Tim Hortons for some morning coffee or tea. Some time at the end of summer, some one told me that A&W was open for breakfast. I was so excited! The last time I had breakfast at A&W was over 6 years ago in Kingston. Lucy and I loved their breakfast sandwiches made with hamburger buns. I knew what I'd order first.

Here's the breakfast sausage sandwich combo with a hamburger bun instead of an english muffin. The sweet fluffy bun provided a nice contrast to the salty sausage patties. The hash brown that was included was super hot and crisp. They were much better than the soggy thin hash browns at Timmy's.

One morning, I ran some errands before I went to work and so I was super early -- almost 2 hours early. So I tried out their classic breakfast and received a tray with my breakfast and a mug of coffee. The tray added something special. It was a nice touch. I got comfortable and enjoyed my classic breakfast while surfing the web on their free wifi.

I've since learned that their orange pekoe tea is a better option than their coffee.

Here's some bad news though. Earlier this past weekend, I planned to grab some breakfast at A&W before work but their signs were gone. I didn't walk up to the door. It looked closed so I walked across the street for some Timmy's.

There is good news! Their voicemail says that they've closed down their store temporarily from Nov. 11th to about Dec. 9th for renovations. Huzzah! I'm eagerly waiting until they're open for business again.

*Update on December 14th: I've heard that A&W has been reopened for a few days now. I can't wait to grab some breakfast soon.


A&W on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ottawa's 1st Annual Poutinefest

Sparks Street has really been stepping it up lately with the sheer amount of food festivals being hosted this year.  Most people know about Ribfest, usually held in June, but the organizers also brought many of the same vendors back in October for Ribtoberfest.

Screen shot from Sparks Street Mall.

Poutine Fest is here!

The newest addition to the food festivals on Sparks is Poutine Fest, going on NOW!  Although not completely necessary, I (Lucy) bought a $20 poutine pass that gives you five samples from the participating vendors.  They'll be great for sampling and figuring out which poutine we'd like to dine on, though it will probably mean that we'll be lining six times instead of just one or two.  These passes are sold in a small tent on the east side of Metcalfe and Sparks (block 1).  Otherwise, the vendors are selling the regular sized poutine at regular prices.

Poutine Fest is on now and runs until tomorrow night.  Check it out before it's gone, and make sure to vote for your favourite vendor!

Christine here:
Based on what I've heard, the lines are worse than Ribfest. It's probably because it's the first year for the event. But I think that Sparks Street will be more packed since there are vegetarian options too.

So here's my plan of attack. Depending on how busy it is, I might get the Poutinefest pass where you pay $20 and get five 8oz-small poutines from any of the participants. With that pass, I'll try to get poutine from 5 different places. I'll try to get one regular poutine (cheese curds, gravy, and fries), one with chicken gravy and, finally, a poutine that has unusual toppings. We'll see how that goes. Worse case scenario, we'll just go somewhere else for poutine.

I hear that there's also churros and mini donuts available for dessert too!

For those who have been to Ottawa's Poutinefest, what was it like? Which poutines were among your favourites?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Elgin Street Eats: Pizza and Gelato

CL and I were finally able to get together after multiple failed attempts. The wait was definitely worth it.

We met up at Slice & Co. for some pizza on a cold windy autumn evening. I've always wanted to try this place. It was always packed full of customers throughout the NHL playoffs and the summer. Their patio looked really enticing.

The original plan was to check out El Camino. They weren't open that day though.


The pizzas we got were tasty. We both ordered Italian hand-tossed pizzas. They also had Chicago deep dish, California thin crust, and New York pan pizzas on their menu too.

Topped with tomato sauce, capers, red onions, olives, chili pepper, and mozzarella, the puttanesca pizza had a great combination of flavours. The bottoms of the pizza held nicely too.

CL liked her salsiccia pizza pie. There was tomato sauce, sausage, mushrooms, onions, chili pepper, mozzarella, and CL asked for olives. We both liked that the pizzas weren't overloaded with toppings.

We packed up the leftover pizzas and continued our conversation at Pure Gelato, just a block or two away.

I didn't know that they make crêpes, panini, and even hot food items. Good to know.


There were so many flavours to choose! I wanted 80% of them that night but ended up making a fancy peanut butter cup flavour combination of peanut butter and Ferraro (as in Ferraro Rocher). Definitely a winner! CL went with just the lemon which is never a bad choice -- I actually got it last time.


The two flavours that I got would've tasted perfectly fine by themselves. But they were meant for each other. Their friend, the waffle cone, unfortunately wasn't invited that night.

After we left Pure Gelato, I walked over to Lucy's place to chill with Richard, Andrew, and Lucy's fur baby for a bit.

They were actually just pulling into their garage when I got to their apartment. The three of them split a $40-something sushi platter. It sounded like it hit the spot.

The sushi pictured above was actually what was left of the platter. It was that good.


Slice & Co. on Urbanspoon

Pure Gelato on Urbanspoon


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