pixelbunny's picks

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Archive for January, 2013

Canoe

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Winterlicious is an event that Toronto puts on annually where restaurants create a prix fix menu so diners can try them out at a more affordable price point. Aside from being affordable, it’s a chance to try out higher end and well known restaurants that you hear of but never go. It runs from Jan 25 to Feb 7 so go while you still can!

Mr. Pixelbunny and I had a chance to go to Canoe, a restaurant we’ve both been wanting to try for YEARS but have never had the chance to. Thanks to his AMEX card, we managed to snag a reservation.

 

The Atmosphere

When you first step off the elevators, you’re greeted with a host stand that points you to the right. From there, they take your coat for check-in (Mr. Pixelbunny even checked in his bag), then escort you to your table. Wow, wow, wow. Having your restaurant setting on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower definitely has it’s benefits, particularly the VIEW. The night was clear so you could see lights twinkling everywhere. Mr. Pixelbunny and I delighted in identifying buildings and roads and laughing at rush hour traffic. From our table, we could also see the kitchen, which was bustling with liveliness as chefs and cooks worked their magic to create the masterpieces that were brought to our table. I noticed bar seating right up front of the kitchen. How cool would it be to sit with a front row view, and maybe even share a few words with some of them?

The one thing I needed to mention was the chairs – these are not your regular restaurant chairs. These are extremely comfortable, almost velvety feeling, cushiony chairs. I felt like I was sitting in an upscale lounge at my dinner table. It took almost all of my will power not to pet them.

Although we didn’t have any wine that night, Canoe has their own sommelier, who will help you pick out the best wine to compliment your meal. An extensive bar list is also available.

 

The Food

Canoe - bread
Rosemary fococcia bread and sourdough bread, paired with roasted garlic and chickpea hummus

We started off with a complimentary bread basket. My favourite was the rosemary fococcia – light and a little chewy. You can definitely smell and taste the rosemary in the bread, and it wasn’t too much. The sourdough was Mr. Pixelbunny’s favourite – thinly sliced and dense in texture. It worked out well as I devoured the fococcia and he the sourdough. The roasted garlic and chickpea hummus was delicious, pairing well with both breads. A hint of roasted garlic taste that didn’t overpower the whole spread. Very yummy indeed.

 

Canoe - spritzer
Canoe Winterlicious spritzer

Choosing from the non-alcoholic beverage, the winterlicious spritzer was a sweet, fruity drink with some diced fruit mixed in. I could identify apple in mine.

 

Canoe - ginger beer
Ginger beer

Another pick from the non-alcoholic menu, Mr. Pixelbunny ordered Ginger beer. A lover of anything ginger, he picked this out within seconds of looking at the menu. It came in it’s own bottle with an accompanying cooled tall glass, complete with a slice of ginger candy.

 

Canoe - roasted squash and parsnip soup
Roasted squash & parsnip soup 

For my appetizer, I picked the roasted squash and parsnip soup. Served nice and hot in a very warm shallow bowl, you can see pieces of charred Yarmoth lobster in the middle. Small chunks of parsnip and squash are centred in the middle of the bowl with the lobster, and they melt in your mouth with flavourful smoothness.

 

Canoe - pork rillettes
St-Canut pork rillettes

Mr. Pixelbunny ordered pork rillettes as his appetizer. Served with cider jelly, wild mustard aioli, watercress and a slice of crostini, this was another tasty dish. We had no idea what rillettes were when we ordered this and likened it to be like pâté in taste and texture. Our server told us the white fluff in the front of the picture was powdered bacon. Unfortunately, it didn’t really taste like anything.

 

Canoe - duo of Ontario beef
Duo of Ontario Beef

My main course was the duo of Ontario beef – perfectly seared beef tenderloin (normally served medium but I asked for it to be medium rare) sitting on a bed of braised beef brisket. Creamy mashed potato (Alliston spuds according to the menu), two potato crisps, green beans were served as sides. I was pleased to find caramelized shallots on one of my beef tenderloins (I looove caramelized onions!) and the bone marrow jus almost made me lick the plate clean. For my tastes, I found the braised beef brisket a little on the salty side, but if you take a little of the mashed potato in the same bite, it works out well together.

 

Canoe - salmon
Olive oil poached heritage salmon

Mr. Pixelbunny’s main was the olive oil poached heritage salmon. This was served with celery, preserved fennel, chive couscous and Hewitt’s buttermilk. Out of the two mains, we both agreed that we liked this one the best. The salmon was cooked just right – not too over, not too under. I ended up eating about a third of it because it was so tasty. I wonder if our surrounding diners noticed the amount of fork passing that was going on between us.

 

Canoe - almond cake
Almond cake

My dessert pick was the almond cake, served with Niagara apple compote on top with salted caramel ice cream on the side. It was dense like a pound cake, but so full of almond flavour! It pairs well with the apple compote. I actually ate my ice cream separately for reasons I can’t even remember. There were some crunchy caramel bits underneath the ice cream too. A not too sweet end to an amazing dinner.

 

Canoe - gingerbread pudding
Maple gingerbread pudding

This was Mr. Pixelbunny’s dessert –  a warm, maple gingerbread pudding served with candied orange, cranberry preserve, and scorched crème anglaise. The maple flavour wasn’t all that apparent, but the gingerbread was definitely there. The unfortunate aspect of this was that the candied orange made this taste oddly similar to Christmas fruitcake. I don’t know if that was the intention, but that was the first thing that came to mind when I tried this.

 

The Verdict

For the first time to Canoe, I loved it! This would be an ideal restaurant for a celebration, an anniversary, or even that special occasion. I would love to come back and try some of their regular menu items. Maybe even sit up at that kitchen bar…

 

The Venue

Canoe
66 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON
416-364-0054

Written by Jessica

January 31st, 2013 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

The Versatile Blogger Award

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Wow, a nomination for a blog award!! I’d like to thank Maria from Beauty with a Latte Love for nominating me. This was a very unexpected and pleasant surprise!

blogger award

Here are the rules once nominated:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

These are the following bloggers I nominate for the Versatile Blogger Award:

in a nutshell…

Little Miss Andrea

Beautezine

Musings of a Muse

And finally, 7 random facts about me:

  1. If given the multiple choices, I will almost always pick asian food to eat.
  2. I’m from the era of Famicom.
  3. I’m a sucker for anything cute. If it is cute, I must have it!
  4. The Director has a better eye for fashion than I do.
  5. Loved watching anime when I was younger. Sometimes I still do.
  6. The best vacation of my life was my honeymoon to Hawaii.
  7. I grow green onions in a pot on my windowsill. They keep growing and I don’t have to keep buying them from the grocery store!

 

Written by Jessica

January 31st, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Santouka Ramen

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Mr. Pixelbunny and I came here with another ramen eating friend in our quest to try every ramen place in Toronto. We had agreed to meet at 6pm and ended up waiting outside for a table for about 30min.

 

The Atmosphere

Like Sansotei and Kinton, this place is small! It can only seat 36 people according to Toronto Life. Small tables can be pushed together for larger parties. There’s also bar seating that’s right up against the kitchen so you can watch the cooks at work. Having so many tables in such a small space, conversation is tricky, and everyone is talking loudly so the other can hear. The other unfortunate aspect is that because of the clear glass window front, you can see exactly how long the line up is, and you feel a bit obligated to pick up the tab and leave as soon as you’re finished eating, so that those poor people don’t have to wait in the cold for too long. After all, when we were waiting in line, we were secretly willing people on the inside to finish eating and leave.

 

The Food

Santouka toroniku ramen
Toroniku ramen – $15.90

We all ordered the same thing – the toroniku ramen, which is their signature dish. The noodles are in a separate bowl of tonkotsu broth, which is nice and creamy, with lots of flavour. I’d say the broth is like Sansotei’s. The toroniku is simmered pork cheek, sliced and arranged on a separate dish with a heap of wood ear fungus, bamboo shoots, a slice of kamaboko (japanese fish cake), loads of chopped green onion and an umeboshi (japanese pickled plum). I added all the ingredients except the toroniku into my bowl of ramen, stirred it around, and set to work tackling my meal. My only complaint is that sides must have been pretty cool as my hot broth became lukewarm very quickly, and lukewarm ramen isn’t the best. The noodles were at least thick and chewy, just how I like my ramen noodles. This was also the very first time I was able to finish an entire bowl of ramen, including all the broth.

 

The Verdict

If you don’t mind the long wait and the many eyes staring at you if you’ve finished and are just sitting there, Santouka is definitely worth trying out. The next time I go, I want to try their shio tonkotsu ramen and maybe an appetizer too.

 

The Place

Santouka Ramen
91 Dundas St E, Toronto, ON
647-748-1717

Written by Jessica

January 26th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

NOTD: Essie’s Sew Psyched

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essie_sew_psyched

This beautiful polish is from Essie’s Fall 2010 collection. It’s a greenish-grey with a slight shimmer to it. Essie’s website describes it as “a cashmere-soft sage pewter”. This is also known to me as the-nail-polish-a-random-stranger-asked-me-about.

This shade matches pretty much anything, so it’s a versatile colour for my collection. The usual two coats followed by my Seche Vite topcoat is all I need!

Written by Jessica

January 23rd, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Posted in Beauty,nails

Raijin Ramen

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And the ramen hopping continues! This time, I went to Raijin Ramen. I’ve been twice now, one with friends and the second with Mr. Pixelbunny. He always wants to go eat at places I’ve been to without him.

 

The Atmosphere

Raijin Ramen's Interior Back room
The view from the back right corner table

Mr. Pixelbunny and I arrived at 7:30pm and was surprised to see how empty the place is. Seeing how popular the ramen scene has been in Toronto lately, I was very surprised to be able to walk right in and immediately be seated amongst very sparse looking tables. The waiter took us to a very large back room and seated us in the back corner, which was great for privacy. I was also excited at how well lit this place was which made for great looking dinner pics. The setting was comfortable with a modern feel. The front room boasts a seating bar around a giant wooden sculpture of the Raijin, the god of lightning. I’m told this sculpture was imported from Japan.

 

The Food

Raijin Ramen's Gyoza
Gyoza – $2.50 for 5 pieces | $4.50 for 10 pieces

The first time I went to Raijin, my friends and I shared the gyoza, little pan friend dumplings in a thin wrapper. They weren’t overstuffed or monstrous (kind of like Kenzo’s), but a decent size that could theoretically be eaten in one bite, although I much prefer a more comfortable two bites. The dipping soy sauce was light as well and not overly salty. I really liked these.

 

Raijin Ramen's Karaage
Karaage – $4 small | $7 large (pictured)

The second time I went to Raijin, Mr. Pixelbunny and I ordered Karaage, and was immediately disappointed. Visually, they looked like over battered deep fried pieces of chicken. To our disappointment, the chicken was bland with no marination, and the breading reminded us of Church’s fried chicken, but with much less flavour. The lemon helped a little bit, but did little to squash our disappointment.

 

Raijin Ramen's Bamboo Charcoal Dark Miso Ramen
Bamboo Charcoal Dark Miso Ramen – $11

This was the first ramen I tried, and also what Mr. Pixelbunny ordered the second time we went. The Bamboo Charcoal Dark Miso Ramen had an earthy smell to it, almost like hay. The broth was flavourful and not too salty. The pork shoulder was moist, but not as fatty as other ramen places. Add in some bean sprouts, a soft boiled egg, canola flowers and green onion toppings, this hearty bowl of ramen was definitely tasty. The thinly sliced chili peppers added a nice aesthetic touch. The noodles were chewy in texture and completely slurp-worthy. This one is definitely one to try.

 

Raijin Ramen's Kakuni Ramen
Kakuni ramen – $11 

My second visit to Raijin saw a fairly new addition to the menu: Kakuni ramen uses braised pork belly instead of the thinly sliced versions you normally see on ramen. This ramen was hit and miss for me. The braised pork belly was melt in your mouth pieces of deliciousness. Unfortunately, the tonkotsu broth paled in comparison and was almost bland tasting. I even made sure to taste the broth before trying the pork. The noodles this time were soft and not chewy. I don’t know if this is a one off but this was an unfortunate miss. Unless Raijin improves this one, I would skip it.

 

The Verdict

Given how quiet the opening was, there seems to be very little hype about the place. It is definitely one of the larger ramen places that can seat quite a lot of people. The food for the most part (of what I’ve eaten anyways) was lacklustre and disappointing. I left this place not satisfied with my meal. Given how many ramen places there are these days, I would actually skip Raijin.

 

The Place

Raijin Ramen
3 Gerard St E, Toronto, ON
647-748-1500

Written by Jessica

January 20th, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Chanel’s Stylo Yeux Waterproof

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Another duty free purchase while on vacation, I picked up these two waterproof eyeliners from the Chanel counter. These babies set me back $24US each, which is a real steal!

Chanel's Stylo Yeux Waterproof - ébène

 

Chanel's Stylo Yeux Waterproof - ébène 2

 

Chanel's Stylo Yeux Waterproof - taupe

 

Chanel's Stylo Yeux Waterproof - taupe 2

I picked up two colours:  ébène (#10) and taupe (#84).

The creaminess and ease of application reminds me of Urban Decay’s 24/7 pencils, with excellent colour payoff and long-lasting wear. I tried lining my upper and lower lashes and didn’t see any run off until the 6 hour mark (I have watery eyes and my eyelids are super oily). The waterproof claim is definitely true. I forgot and washed my face without taking my eye makeup off first, and found that afterwards, my eyeliner did NOT budge. If anything, there was slight runoff from my waterline. For those with watery eyes and oily eyelids, this is an eyeliner for you!

 

Written by Jessica

January 18th, 2013 at 8:22 am

Posted in Beauty,eyes

Winter 2012 Luxe Box Review

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The Winter Luxe Box from Loose Button arrived mid-December and wow is it ever luxurious. I think it is their best box to date! I’m going to try a different format with this post so here we go. Let’s take a look at the goodies for this season:

 

Winter 2013 Luxebox

Once again, a beautiful, sleek, cream coloured box with a golden Loose Button logo embossed on it.

 

Inside cover of Winter 2013 Luxebox

Inside the box, a product card and a silky pouch that contains all of this season’s goodies.

 

Prada's Infusion D'iris Perfumed Body Lotion

Prada’s Infusion D’Iris Perfumed Body Lotion. A full size bottle (250ml) sets you back $65. That means this 100ml sample bottle is worth $26! Already the cost of one season of Luxebox. Awesome.

 

Eyeko Mini Skinny Brush Mascara

Eyeko’s Skinny Mini Brush Mascara. Only available as part of a duo set with the Skinny Mini Liquid Eyeliner for $25. So let’s say this sample is worth $12.50.


B. Kamins Vegetable Cleanser

B. Kamin’s Vegetable Cleanser. Full size (180ml) for $38. This sample size (60ml) is worth $12.

 

Blue Lagoon Algae Mask

Blue Lagoon’s Algae Mask. Full size (50ml) is $1oo. Sample size of 10ml is worth $20.

 

Keratase's Cristalliste Lumiere Liquide

Keratase’s Cristalliste Lumiere Liquide. Full size (50ml) is $42. Sample size (3ml) is worth $2.52.

 

Prada's Infusion D'iris Eau de Toilette

Another Prada product! This one is Infusion D’Iris Eau de Parfum. Full size (30ml) is $65. The sample size (8ml) is worth $17.33.

 

Essie's Leading Lady

I love getting Essie polishes in my Luxebox, especially since it’s my go-to nail polish right now. This one is Leading Lady and a full size product! Worth $9.99.

 

Loose Button Kabuki Brush

This is Loose Button’s Kabuki brush. I haven’t started using it yet, but it’ll be a good for my setting powder. Let’s estimate the cost to be around $10.

 

Number of products: 8
Estimated cost of box: $110.34!

Am I reading this right?! What an amazing value for this box! Towards the end of my monthly subscription, I was getting disappointed with the contents of my monthly boxes, not because of the value, but because the type of products I was receiving (I once had a box that contained 4 different perfume samples. Really?). I am absolutely in love with this season’s Luxe Box. The Prada Eau de Parfum smells divine and I’m excited to try Eyeko’s Skinny Mini Mascara.

If you’re a subscriber to Luxe Box, what did you get? Was your box a lot different or similar?

Written by Jessica

January 9th, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Posted in Beauty,Luxebox

Sansotei Ramen

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Mr. Pixelbunnyand I went to Sansotei Ramen, one of many ramen places that’s popped up in Toronto recently. As usual, the line up was out the door. We got lucky and only stood in line for about 15 minutes before we got a table.

 

The Atmosphere

Again, no interior picture. The place was packed and the last thing I wanted to do was squeeze behind another patron’s table just to get a picture of the interior. One side of the wall were tables for seating with two booth-like tables at the back. The other side of the wall was lined with mirror, creating the illusion or a larger space. Actually, I thought the restaurant was larger than it was due to those mirrors until I walked inside and realized they were mirrors. A long, twisted fisherman’s rope snakes across the ceiling from the front to the back. A door in the mirrored wall leads to stairs that take you down to the washrooms. For those who don’t mind outside gawkers, a bar at the front window can seat two people.

 

The Food

The menu is simple, like all the other ramen places, Sansotei offers several bowls of ramen, extra side options, some appetizers, dessert and a drinks menu. I was a little surprised that they charged $2 for tea, especially since it’s just a tea bag in a cup of hot water.

 

 

Sansotei's Zangi
Zangi – $4.50

For appetizers, we ordered zangi, which is deep fried pieces of chicken thigh. Marinated, these tender, moist morsels were delicious. Lightly deep fried, I was glad there was no thick batter or breadcrumbs overpowering the chicken. We squeezed a bit of our lemon wedge over the chicken for some added flavour. You could tell these were fresh from the kitchen – as soon as the lemon juice hit the chicken, steam came up!

 

Sansotei's tonkotsu ramen
Tonkotsu Ramen – $9.25

I ordered the tonkotsu ramen, a pork bone based broth with two slices of pork belly, a soft boiled egg, a generous helping of black fungus (YUM!!) and a mountain of green onions. The broth was a little too salty for my liking, and kept me from finishing off the entire bowl. However, it was piping hot and had a slight creaminess to it that made me drink 3/4 of it. You could order this two ways: with thin noodle (which was Sansotei’s recommendation) or with thick noodle. One of my friends had gone a month ago and had complained to me that the noodles were white and didn’t feel or taste like ramen noodles. I opted to have my tonkotsu with thick noodles. Mr. Pixelbunny chose thin noodles, but the waitress said they were all out, and offered original noodles instead. When both bowls came, we each tried each other’s bowls.

My friend was right: the original noodle was thin and white, with a soft chewy texture but not like other ramen noodles I’ve had. For those that know what I’m talking about, the original noodle reminds me a Yet-Ca-Mein, a type of Chinese noodle. The thick ramen noodle I had was great: thick, chewy texture that brought up a good amount of broth with each slurp. Apparently Sansotei had received quite a number of complaints about their original noodles, and now they offer the choice of thick or thin noodles at no extra charge. I didn’t have a chance to go when it first opened, but having gone now, I do like it the way they do their tonkotsu.

My only complaint is that one of the pieces of my black fungus wasn’t rinsed very well, and I ended up with sand in my mouth.

 

The Verdict

Thick, tasty, chewy noodles in a delicious pork bone broth. A little on the salty side for my liking, but definitely slurp-worthy. Crispy-out-the-outside, moist-and-tender-on-the-inside chicken appetizer. Would definitely return to try some of their other ramen offerings.

 

The Place

Sansotei Ramen
179 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON
647-748-3833

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Written by Jessica

January 6th, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant