Monthly Archives: July 2012

Betty’s & Blueberries

Betty’s is a chill local bar that is particularly popular with George Brown students. Somehow I have never been there at night, but I hope to get there before summer ends so I can enjoy the patio. Then again, if I go at night I won’t get to see the patio in all its glory in the sunlight.

Love the King Street East sign on the wall.

My sister, a couple of her friends and I went to Betty’s over the weekend for brunch/breakfast. What an awesome breakfast menu. I wanted to try everything: hello, breakfast poutine?

I decided to go for the hash with a generous helping of greens. The hash was on the salty side, but the combination of potatoes, onion and corned beef was scrumptious!

Over the weekend I made lentils for the first time with some carrots and peppers from the St. Lawerence Market and some parsley from the balcony garden. Not bad, but I needed to work on the flavouring.

I also did some baking. I know it’s hot out so turning on the oven is usually a no-go, but these blueberries were screaming to be baked into some whole wheat banana berry muffins. I tried out a Moosewood Restaurant recipe and I was totally impressed. The recipe called for four bananas, two tablespoons of honey and no other additional sugar!  The muffins used all whole wheat flour, but they weren’t tough at all. I think the natural yogurt lightened them up. Definitely need to make these again.

Betty’s is located at 240 King Street East, Toronto.

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One Lovely Blog Award

A few weeks ago, Ruth at bluebalu nominated me for a One Lovely Blog award. I am now writing a very belated thank you! Ruth is an expat working in Hong Kong who writes a blog about living there. With entries about various subjects, from food to people to weather, bluebalu is a wonderful blog to read as she notices many things locals would not. After Ruth stopped by my blog, she inadvertently introduced me to other HK bloggers. I am reading her blog still so I can live vicariously through her.

Thanks Ruth for this award even though I was no longer qualified to be nominated with your Hong Kong-themed awards since I was back in Canada.

I’ve learned that there are a few things to do when one receives this award:

  1. Honour the person who awarded you.
  2. Nominate 15 other blogs for this award.
  3. Tell readers 7 things about yourself.

I’d like to nominate some blogs that I simply enjoy reading, but I don’t think I can get up to 15.

Bake + Bike – Sarah is currently working in Ottawa and posts beautiful pictures of her bike rides in the area.

One Healthy Munchkin – Chelsea writes a very relatable healthy living blog. I really   enjoy her entries related to her nutrition studies as well as her recipes and restaurant reviews.

Adventures in Heritage – Kayla’s writes about being a heritage professional. There are many interesting entries about heritage in Southern Ontario.

Just Live It! – I love reading Nicole’s blog for a mix of everything: food, style, fitness, life and most of all her positive attitude.

Opalla on Trails – I like Opalla’s blog especially for the pictures she takes on her power walking routes and on the trails. I think anybody at any age can take a note from her about “aging gracefully.”

So since I nominated five blogs, here are 3 things about me (instead of 2.3).

1. I share the same birthday as my older sister. I’m surprised she wasn’t more annoyed that she had to split her birthday with her younger sister.

2. I commuted an hour each way on the train for six years for high school. Lots of people watching opportunities, but more like sleeping opportunities.

3. I don’t mind large creepy crawlies like spiders and those centipede-like ones, but I get very nervous around ants.

Thanks again Ruth for the award! I am so flattered you thought of me.

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Hot Town

Sometimes all you really need to do to feel you are living somewhere is to walk. The other day instead of taking the bus, I walked about 40 minutes home and cut through the Cabbagetown neighbourhood or thereabouts.

A little trompe l’oiel?

Tree-lined streets

A chilled breakfast on a beautiful sunny summer morning: overnight oats with diced peaches in a jar to finish the remains of some almond butter. And oh yes, this was my first “oats in a jar” as inspired the foodie blogosphere. It was actually good way to get the bottom of the nut butter, but it was hard to mix the night before without making a mess since my jar was on the smaller side! Mm, this tasted like peach crumble.

Finally, a (poor) shot of lightning on a hot summer night. It is hard to capture lightning on camera, but I tried 🙂

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Just Pipes

I had a lovely weekend back home. I am happy to say that I now have a Presto card for the GO train. This may be old hat for any readers abroad, but it is exciting to be able to tap in and tap out using the card to ride the train. There’s no need to scramble for a ten-ride pass anymore. Of course, the key is tapping out. Unlike the Hong Kong system where there are barriers to enter and exit, the GO train uses a proof of payment system. Thus, it is easy to forget to tap out here, ahem… I can’t wait until Presto is compatible with more TTC subway stations.

My sister and I stopped by a Zellers to pick up some sundries and were surprised by a liquidation sale. Target bought out Zellers and I suppose now is the transition time. The sales were not all ridiculously cheap yet, but the selection was still good. Even though I’ve heard great things about Target, I am not sure about another big box store replacing another.

The main reason I went home was because our family had Brott Music Festival tickets to a “Just Pipes” concert with high tea in a local church. Music + tea is always a nice combo 🙂 Since this was a “just pipes” concert, the whole concert consisted of an organ (Jan Overduin) and recorder (Matthew Jones). Wow, I did not know that the recorder could play such an expansive repertoire! The first half of the concert took place in the church where there was the organ. The duo played pieces from the Baroque period.

During the intermission, we went to another room in the church for tea. What a spread.

Clotted cream, of course 😉

In the second part of the concert, Matthew Jones continued playing the recorder including a soprano and baritone recorder. Overduin accompanied him. Jones even played two recorder at the same time at one point! He was a very animated musician and discussed the pieces he played.

A very interesting concert, indeed.

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From Mexico to Asia

Don’t ask how I could smell more like stinky tofu in Toronto than I ever did living in Hong Kong for a couple of months. Well, ok, I’ll answer it: when there are more than five stalls selling stinky tofu within a 500m radius, your clothes and hair will start smelling like it. Iech! or should I say I have not yet acquired the taste of stinky tofu? Let me explain how I got into this situation.

First, one of my favourite parts of summer in Toronto is all the public events and festivals. I love people watching. Since I went back to my parents’ house for the weekend I had to fit two weekend festivals on Friday night.

I started off with the Harbourfront Hot and Spicy Festival.

Construction on my walk over.

I hadn’t been to the Harbourfront in so long. It was a perfect scene with the sun, sky and all the people. After visiting the waterfronts in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon and Stanley in Hong Kong Island I think, aesthetically, Toronto’s waterfront is just as beautiful. Well, it’s hard not to be beautiful when the sun is setting.

I intended to go to a taco throwdown, but unfortunately I got there too late to get the sampling platter. I lined up elsewhere only to find out that they too ran out of meat. I asked for a “chicken taco” because I was really hungry. I feel bad since that’s not what the vendor intended it to be. It was still delicious though.

Then off I went to the third annual T&T Waterfront Night Market in the Portland. T&T is a very successful line of Chinese grocery stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). While I’ve heard of the night markets in Markham, it seems that this is fairly new downtown. The night markets were inspired by the Taiwanese night markets.

I love standing south of the CN Tower and seeing the Toronto skyline.

What a fun night, even if there was way too much stinky tofu. I kid, I kid.

Kalbi short ribs – mmm, freshly grilled and fatty.

Oyster omelette, Singapore-style. They served it with the some sweet and spicy sauce which cut through the heaviness of the omelette. There were a lot of oysters too.

I waited the longest for takoyaki, which, according to Toronto Life, is on the list of foods that you have to try before you die. It is rare to find outside of Osaka, but they serve it in the Scarborough T&T. Takoyaki are seafood balls with octopus and tempura flakes. It was served with sauce, a green powder and white flakes. You put the mayonnaise on yourself. It was awesome just watching the people make the takoyaki. They poured a batter into the molds and seemed to roll the batter into the ball shape within the mold while the batter cooked.

Mango shaved ice.

Peanut mochi.

It seems that with these food events, strategy is key. It can get frustrating waiting in a line. Sometimes you just have to forego the buzzy items. The line-ups Friday night were alright. Some were a bit long, but I managed to to find some that weren’t too bad as well.

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Hong Kong Eats: Chautari

It’s been pretty hot in Toronto over the last week. Luckily the humidity broke a couple days. I love the heat though — I much prefer hot weather over the cold. Have you noticed that cultures in hot climates tend to have spicier food?  That’s why I hope it’s appropriate I am now writing about Chautari, an Indian restaurant in Hong Kong.

While of course I was loving the Chinese food in Hong Kong, I wanted to taste something different. After reading about Chautari in a HK food blog (The Dim Sum Diaries) my Canadian friend from undergrad and I tried it out.

I got us lost walking there even though it should not have been hard to find (I think we just took a wrong turn), but finally we arrived at the restaurant in a cooked food centre. There were many other restaurants all along the perimeter. All the tables and chairs were in the middle, but it seemed that each restaurant had their designated tables.

Even though they looked like stalls, the prices were more in line with a sit down restaurant. We each got a set dinner for HK $115 (~ CAD $15) which came with a fair share of food. I couldn’t finish everything and I hate wasting food!

The meal included a drink so I got a mango lassi. It was slightly tangy — I think it was green mango — and refreshing. I tried my best to conserve it so I could drink it along with the spicy meal. It was so good that I struggled not to drink it quickly, but I was mostly successful!

Papadum with a minty sauce to start us off.

These vegetable samosas were a highlight of the meal. They were hot and crispy. Within were tender potatoes and vegetables.

The chicken tikka was perfect. It came fresh on a grill. The chicken was still moist inside. It was slightly smoky and spicy. It reminded me of tandoori chicken. The chicken was served with some cabbage.

With my set meal, I got the vegetable curry. This was tasty, although pretty standard. It still came with a lot of veggies.

The set came with naan but I asked the waiter if I could try the chennai roti instead. He agreed! It was slightly greasy but tasted great. I loved ripping strips of it and dipping it into the curry.

My friend got lamb curry which was rich. Fresh and fluffy naan on the side.

Chatauri is located at Shop CF6, Queen Street Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Note that this is one of the cases where Google Maps is somewhat misleading. The market is located on Queen Street, but it’s closer to the junction of Ko Shing Street, Queen Street and Des Voeux Road West.

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Beets and Eats

Even though I was in Toronto for over a week, it didn’t feel that I actually lived here since I was commuting to Markham for work. I decided to change that this weekend.

Friday night I met with a friend from high school. We were going to see a Fringe Festival play, but we didn’t line up early enough for at-the-door tickets. WHOOPS. Unfortunately the Fringe Festival wrapped up this weekend, but there is always next year.

It worked out nicely though because we walked around the Annex neighbourhood and our old high school haunts. We caught up over frozen yogurt at Yogurty’s, one of the many froyo places in the Annex. I had actually never tried frozen yogurt with toppings before. I am now a fan!

I got the Greek-style froyo which was tangy. At first I tried to be strategic with toppings that should go together, but I just started to put whatever I fancied on: Almond Roca crumbles, granola, sour gummy worms, nerds, cookies’n’cream crumbles and lychee boba. This “combination” was yummy! I was worried about getting too many toppings and having to pay a lot, but it was fine.

On Saturday morning I went to the St. Lawrence Market for the first time this summer. I liked going here during the school year when I could afford the time “off.” I love the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. Mmm, so many veggies.

I got back home and fixed myself brunch: spinach and tomato from the market and egg and toast from before.

Sunday night my sister and I had the beets I bought with the green still on!

I roasted the beets in olive oil and pepper. They were so sweet. This was my most successful roast beets so far. I always read that roasting beets were “foolproof” and that the skins would rub right off afterward, but that never happened to me – I did feel like quite the fool. Maybe it was because I was roasting old beets or maybe I was just inept. This bunch was just lovely.

I sautéed the beet greens and they were on the bitter side. My sister suggested adding lemon and garlic.

+ ham that was kicking around in our freezer and some pineapple.

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