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Archive for July, 2013

Valens

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I went with one of my best friends, J, for a Summerlicious lunch date. After going through a bunch of menus, we settled with Valens.

 

The Atmosphere

It’s a small space with a small patio at the front. We came just before the lunch hour rush and got a seat inside. The decor is all darkly coloured, with lots of natural light coming in through the front window. We were seated close to the front window.

 

The Food

Valens - tuna bruschetta
Tuna Bruschetta

For my appetizer, I picked the tuna bruschetta. The bread was soft and chewy, which indicated to me it was fresh. the tuna itself was a little lack lustre. It reminded me of canned tuna, mixed with some tomatoes and bell peppers, then heavily covered with cheese and cracked pepper. It could have been much better, and I’m sorry to say I was disappointed with this one.

 

Valens - pan seared atlantic salmon
Pan seared atlantic salmon

My entrée choice was pan seared atlantic salmon. When the plate first arrived, I was taken aback at how large my piece of salmon was. It’s huge and was literally the size of my hand, if not a little longer. Unfortunately, the salmon was dry and overdone, which made eating it rather difficult. I was glad for the sauce because it was a maple sauce, so the sweet liquid helped to moisten the salmon a little bit. The vegetables were great: herb roasted potatoes and grilled peppers. If only the salmon was cooked better, I would have really liked this dish!

 

Valens - mocha almond tartufo
Mocha almond tartufo

My dessert was the mocha almond tartufo. It came already sliced and served in a glass cup so I had to eat quickly or it would melt in the heat. It had a slight mocha flavour to it and the almond flavour came from the crushed almond crust. I loved this dessert and would happily eat it again. It’s not too sweet but oh so refreshing and cool.

 

The Verdict

I’m only so-so with this place. I’d like to eat there again and try something else to see if their regular fare is any better than their Summerlicious fare. Sadly, I can’t say I would recommend this place, particularly if you’re looking for seafood. I have yet to try their non-seafood dishes so it could be drastically different.

 

The Place

Valens (no website, but Yelp link here)
19 Baldwin St, Toronto, ON
416-340-0303

Written by Jessica

July 29th, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Posted in Events,Food,Restaurant

Steveston: The Crab King

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While in BC, Mr. Pixelbunny and I had a chance to meet up with his best friend, J, for afternoon hijinks. We wandered down to Steveston where they both used to hang out for some eats. Walking along the boardwalk, we found this place that neither had seen before, and, being that is was fairly new, we stopped by for a snack.

 

The Atmosphere

It is a floating restaurant just off the docks in Steveston. Everything is outdoor, patio style, with large patio umbrellas providing shade and rain cover. Large tanks of seafood with lots of live seafood beckon you to order them.

The Crab King - tank
Trying to escape! 

You can see just how fresh this seafood is. That crab is trying to escape from the tank and it almost made it! No “sleeping” seafood here!

 

The Food

The Crab King - half steamed crab
Steamed 1/2 crab – $12 

Since this was a snack, we ordered a steamed 1/2 crab. Sweet and juicy, the shell was easily opened up to reveal delicious morsels of crab meat. This was served with a small cup of fried garlic and melted butter. After eating this, we immediately regretted not getting a full steamed crab. What were we thinking ordering only half to share between the three of us?

 

The Crab King - steamed mussels
Dozen steamed mussels – $8.50

The second part to our snack was a dozen steamed mussels. Each shell was open and you could see the tasty morsel inside. None of these mussels tasted “off” and were also sweet and juicy. This was also served with a small cup of roasted garlic and melted butter.

 

The Verdict

I would love to come here in the middle of summer and indulge in their full menu! A little on the pricy side but you are pretty much guaranteed the freshness. I spoke with our server and were told they catch their own seafood. How awesome is that?

 

The Place

The Crab King
3540 Bayview St, Richmond, BC
604-448-8801
 

Written by Jessica

July 25th, 2013 at 11:35 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Montreal: Au Pied de Cochon

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Ever since hearing about this place a couple years ago, Au Pied de Cochon has been on my radar. Last year, when Mr. Pixelbunny and I passed through Montreal for our epic East coast road trip, we had tried to make reservations to eat there but were unable to get one. We had eaten poutine nearby and decided to walk past Au Pied de Cochon, so that we could at least say we saw it. Maybe because it was late at night but there were quite a few open tables!

This time, we tried making reservations earlier but still were unable to get one (probably because it was Canada Day long weekend). Instead, we decided to line up right when it opened in hopes that we would score a table. One of my coworkers, P, was also in Montreal so we invited her to join us. We lined up at 4:50pm, and after waiting about 15 minutes, we were seated. Awesome!

 

The Atmosphere

The restaurant itself is not very large, which would explain why reservations are needed in advance in order to secure a table. All tables and chairs are made of glossy finished wood, and seats quite comfortably. A long bar houses the seafood station and the alcohol in separate sections. As soon as we were seated, we ordered a couple of beers and pored over the menu.

 

The Food

Au Pied de Cochon - charcuterie
Charcuterie – $9(?) or $12(?) Can’t remember exactly

We started off with a charcuterie plate from the specials menu. A selection of cured meats, cured fat (yes, those thin white slices were melt in your mouth goodness), sausages that resembled breakfast sausages but tasted much much better, thick cuts of thicker sausage, and a buttered, crispy baguette. The greens on the plate were puzzling because we had no idea what it was, however it was light and tossed in olive oil. A great sharing plate to start off with.

 

Au Pied de Cochon - tomato tartlet
Tomato Tartlet – $6.50

P had been to Au Pied de Cochon before, and she recommended the tomato tartlet. What looks like a pizza/pita like crust is actually a pastry, sort of flaky crust. The tomatoes were sweet, the cheese was savoury, and the combination of all three were amazing. I can see why she recommended it and I would recommend it to you too!

 

Au Pied de Cochon - plate decal
Plate decal

I just wanted to show you a closer look at the plate decal. A chef riding a pig! So cute!

 

Au Pied de Cochon - foie gras poutine
Foie Gras Poutine – $23

Next up was the foie gras poutine. This was all sorts of amazing. You’ve got really good, thick cut fries (with the skin too), melted cheese curds, delicious gravy, and three large, thick cut pieces of foie gras. It was so amazing. You can eat the poutine on its own, or you could eat poutine with a small piece of foie gras. No matter how you eat it, it’s just amazing.

 

Au Pied de Cochon - PDC Platter
PDC Platter – $60

Served pretty much right after the poutine was the PDC platter. It was essentially a giant stainless steel bucket full of ice with all sorts of seafood on top. There were oysters, cherry stone clams, stuffed long neck clams, snails, chopped razor clams, spicy clams, deep fried clams, mussels… did I name them all? With the exception of one or two little clams tasting a bit off, everything else was incredibly fresh and briny. There was so much yumminess in this bucket.

 

The Verdict

For those of you who want to come but aren’t able to make a reservation, I highly recommend you go line up right before it opens! It’s much easier to squeeze you in and you’ll at least get to try some of their food. Highly recommended and I would certainly come back. Next trip: to try duck in a can!

 

The Place

Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est, Montreal, QC
514-281-1114

Written by Jessica

July 22nd, 2013 at 10:22 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill

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For our second Summerlicious date, Mr. Pixelbunny and I went to Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill. We both love the Distillery District for its architecture and atmosphere, so we couldn’t pass up an excuse to be in the area.

 

The Atmosphere

To get there, you walk in through the main gates and turn left at the first lane way. Walk down a short distance and it will be on your right. We got a table outside so I can’t really comment on the inside. Because the floor is basically an old brick road, be prepared for unevenness when you’re walking about. Also, because of the unevenness, your table will be a bit crooked.

There’s lots of tables outside with large umbrellas to help shield you from the sun. The chairs are wide metal chairs that are perfect for sitting back and relaxing with a beer, but not all that comfortable for dinner. It’s actually a little difficult to sit upright because the back of the chair is so far reclined. So just remember, chairs are great for patio-ing, not so great for meal times.

 

The Food

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Watermelon Mint Lemonade
Watermelon Mint Lemonade Mocktail – $5

I started off with the watermelon mint lemonade. It was cool and very refreshing, due to the amount of fresh mint leaves that was used. You can definitely taste the watermelon and mint, with a hint of lemon.

 

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Blue Raspberry Fizz
Blue Raspberry Fizz Mocktail – $5

Mr. Pixelbunny ordered the blue raspberry fizz. The neat thing was its aesthetic. You can see the layer of blue raspberry on the bottom, completely separated from the red layer. However, make sure you mix it before you drink it! Otherwise, you’ll get a large dose of extremely sweet syrup from the blue. A little bit fizzy with the tartness of raspberries, but still too sweet for me.

 

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Fresh bread and butter
Complimentary bread and butter

After we made our orders, they brought out a basket of fresh bread and butter. The bread reminds me of ciabatta bread and I received two white, and one whole grain. The butter is a whipped butter so it’s super fluffy and light, making it very easy to spread. They’re both very fresh and tasty, and I tried very very hard not to have more than one.

 

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Grilled Octopus
Grilled octopus

For my appetizer, I chose the grilled octopus. It’s served with a smoky babaganoush, endive slaw, and chimichurri sauce. What I liked about the octopus was that it was cooked just right, tender and juicy, not dry and chewy. The babaganoush had a slightly smoky flavour to it that went really well with the octopus. The endive slaw was a little on the soggy side. The sprouts that were served on top were definitely fresh as it had that fresh “crunch” to it. The chimichurri sauce was good on its own, but not a great pairing with the octopus.

 

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon Fillet
Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon Fillet

My entrée was the pan seared atlantic salmon fillet. Unfortunately, at first glance when the dish was set before me, all I could stare at was how charred and solid the salmon was! I was really wary about how the salmon would be because it looked and moved like a solid brick. I cut it open, and to my relief, it was still moist inside. Just a side note: I do prefer my fish to be slightly undercooked because I find it much more juicy and tender that way. The way I found this salmon was not to my liking. It was seared much too long and the entire outside of the fillet (both the skin and the fleshy side) were both dry and crispy. Although the inside was still moist, it’s still over done for my liking. I didn’t mention any of this to the waitress because I wasn’t sure if this was the kitchen’s intention. However, after watching several salmon dishes walk past my table to other guests, I’m pretty sure that this is the way it’s meant to be served. Some may like it, but for me, I wasn’t a big fan of it.

The salmon was served with roasted jewel potatoes, sautéed kale, and a romesco sauce. The potatoes were great, the kale very good, and the romesco sauce a really good pair with the salmon, helping to moisten the salmon a little more.

 

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Strawberry and Rhubarb Crème Brûlée
Strawberry and Rhubarb Crème Brûlée

Dessert was the strawberry and rhubarb crème brûlée. First, let’s start with the garnish: it’s a slice of peppered shortbread. It’s a slightly dense cookie, but the pepper is a really interesting flavour to it. You have the sweet and savoury of the cookie, but an added touch of heat from the pepper. Brilliant! The crème brûlée itself is very good, with a smooth and silky custard and a hardened sweet shell on top. The strawberry and rhubarb part is actually a purée that’s found at the bottom of the crème brûlée. I thought the combination was ok, but I would have preferred the crème brûlée by itself.

 

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill - Mussels
Mussels in Traditional Sauce ($17) with Sweet Potato Fries ($6)

Mr. Pixelbunny wasn’t all that interested in the Summerlicious menu, and instead, was fixated on the Monday night special: all you can eat mussels! He ordered them in the traditional style, which was steamed mussels in a garlic, tomato, shallots and white wine sauce. The mussels were sweet and juicy, with some large ones and some small ones. The only complaint was that they weren’t cleaned all that well because quite a few of the mussels still had their “beard” (the stringy, thready part). He also ordered sweet potato fries on the side, which were pretty awesome. You could they they were cut straight from the sweet potato and not processed at all. They were a little over fried for my liking, but they had a great, sweet and soft inside, and generously sprinkled with coarse salt.

 

The Verdict

We found my Summerlicious picks to be so-so, and made me wonder how their meat dish fared. I’m not a fan of how they prepared their salmon, but I did like the way they grilled the octopus. It’s definitely worth their daily specials should you choose to go.

 

The Place

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill
17 Tank House Lane, Toronto, ON
416-361-5859

Written by Jessica

July 16th, 2013 at 11:53 am

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Night It Up!

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For the past twelve years, there’s been a night market held in Toronto that brings together numerous vendors of asian street food, trinkets, and entertainment. Five years ago, it changed it’s event name from Toronto Night Market to Night It Up! and it’s still been going strong ever since. The only asian style night markets I’d ever been to were the ones in Hong Kong, and the Richmond Night Market. I was always curious about this annual event, but work kept conflicting with the weekend and I would always miss it. That is, until this year. Lucky me, I didn’t have to work! Mr. Pixelbunny and I finally went to Night It Up and see what it’s all about.

 

The Atmosphere

Held outside of the Markham Civic Centre, the event hosts over 100 food and merchandise vendors. Each booth is essentially a tent with a table in front, with a mini kitchen just behind it. The event is cash only, so make sure you have enough on you! Otherwise, there is an ATM on site.

There’s also an outdoor stage with live entertainment featuring local singers and talents, so there’s always something good to listen to as you munch away at all the food! If nature calls, there are port-a-potties on the premise along with portable hand washing stations. There’s also a good police presence there, as you can see them walking in twos or threes, scanning the area or lining up to partake in the glorious eating.

Mr. Pixelbunny and I went in the late afternoon around 4:30pm and wandered and ate until 7pm. I’m pretty sure even more activities occur at night, but we were stuffed and needed to leave before our tummies growled for more.

 

The Food

Night It Up! - pork skewer
Pork Skewer – $2

The first thing we had was the pork skewer from Karmayan (booth G1). They are a Filipino cuisine booth and they had these great, succulent pork skewers. There’s two people manning the grills, and they each cook numerous pork skewers. Once they’re done, they’re placed in a aluminum tray in the middle where the person taking the orders can retrieve them. We waited a little bit for ours to finish cooking since the tray was empty. It only took another couple of minutes, and we were presented with steaming hot skewers of juicy pork. Slightly salty, slightly sweet. Loved it.

 

Night It Up! - watermelon juice
Watermelon Juice – $7

One of the more pricier fares of the day was the watermelon juice from Watermelon Juice (booth G2). It’s a small watermelon, hollowed out, then refilled with blended watermelon. You’re definitely paying the price for novelty here, and you’re at the mercy of whether the watermelon is sweet or not. However, for those who enjoy it so much that they want more, there is a refill option for $2.

 

Night It Up! - twist taro
Twist Taro – $5

The rotato was always on Mr. Pixelbunny’s radar, but once he saw there was a taro version, he had to order it. The twist taro is from Happy Twist (booth F4). You can watch them drill a hole down big chunks of taro or through a potato, insert a skewer into it, then have it placed in a machine that makes the rotating cut. After the machine is finished, someone takes the skewer, holds it vertical with the taro/potato at the top, then raps the end of the skewer on the table, elongating the taro/potato. Imagine stretching a slinky. Yup, that’s what it looks like. After that, it gets dunked into a vat of boiling oil to fry, and then taken out to dry. It’s neat watching the whole process at work. Almost like an assembly line.

 

Night It Up! - Okonomiyaki
Okonomiyaki (regular size) – $7

A popular place that was recommended on the website was the okonomiyaki from Okonomiyaki on Fire (booth F3). This was way better than my previous experience with okonomiyaki (see my post here) and much more tasty too. There were a lot of shredded cabbage in ours and not too heavy on the batter. I would have preferred a some more aonori and katsuobushi than was provided, but the flavour was still good. I definitely recommend this!

 

Night It Up! - grilled salmon cheeks
Grilled Salmon Cheeks – 2 for $5

Also from Okonomiyaki on Fire (booth F3) was the grilled salmon cheek skewers. The photo on their sign is misleading because I’m absolutely positive those are scallops. I didn’t take a picture but if you’re there, you’ll know what I mean. The salmon cheeks are silky and soft, and lightly seasoned. Some of their other fare were Japanese style grilled zucchini skewers and grilled lamb chop skewers, both of which are also 2 for $5.

 

Night It Up! - shucking fresh oysters
Shucking fresh oysters

We spotted this and couldn’t resist getting into the long line up.

 

Night It Up! - Pacific Tiger oysters
Pacific Tiger Oysters – 7 for $10

We had headed over to Diana’s Seafood (booths B9 and B10) and waited in line for 20 minutes for their delicious fare – freshly shucked Pacific Tiger Oysters. At 7 for $10, this puts your oysters for only $1.43 each, which is an amazingly good deal! Especially since these oysters are quite large and meaty. They also have a very nice sweet after taste to them. This one is a must try if you come!

 

Night It Up! - Cola Bomb and Sunset Grenade info
Info about what we had next

When looking up info about Night It Up!, I read this post, about Baron Hau, a local chef. He is bringing molecular gastronomy to Night It Up! and it’s at Modernist Desserts (booth K4).

 

Night It Up! - Cola Bomb and Sunset Grenade
Cola Bomb (back) and Sunset Grenade (front) – $3 each

This picture doesn’t do these desserts justice! The Cola Bomb is this gelatinous sphere of cola, that’s covered with strawberry foam and sprinkled with chocolate powder, freeze dried caramel bits, pineapple gel, and a slice of dehydrated pineapple. Amazing! The Sunset Grenade, is a sphere of mango juice, sitting in spiced apple juice, with a thin layer of grenadine syrup at the bottom. When you look at it, it seriously looks like a raw egg. Once you drink it, the sphere sits in your mouth until you break the sphere, letting loose an explosion of awesome manga juice. If you’ve never tried or heard of molecular gastronomy before, you have to try this. It’s a really neat way to experience something truly amazing!

 

Night It Up! - takoyaki
Takoyaki – $12

Next was takoyaki from Naniwa Taro (booth K1). These are the best takoyaki I’ve ever had in Toronto! Crispy outside, soft inside, and fully cooked inside too! A little pricey (it works out to $2 each!) but tasty. Wish it was a little cheaper though.

 

Night It Up! - making stinky tofu
Adding stinky tofu to the oil

Lastly, we went to Wei’s Stinky Tofu (booth F6) to try their infamous stinky tofu. Lucky for us, they were making a fresh batch.

 

Night It Up! - frying stinky tofu
Frying Stinky Tofu

Look at them bubbling away! The aroma was certainly stinky at times, but the breeze was in our favour and blew it away from us.

 

Night It Up! - stinky tofu
Stinky Tofu – $5

At last, the stinky tofu! To be honest, it didn’t smell stinky at all. It’s served with some chili sauce and pickled cabbage. The sauce it’s served with is a garlic pepper sauce. Slightly disappointing only because I was expecting a really pungent smells, but otherwise, the tofu tasted great! Check one off the bucket list!

 

The Verdict

There are tons of other vendors that we haven’t tried but were too full to attempt. With so many food vendors, you certainly won’t leave hungry. Admission is free, and parking is just a short walk away. What are you waiting for? The weekend is almost over!

 

The Place

Night It Up!
Markham Civic Centre
101 Town Centre Blvd, Markham, ON

July 12, 2013 – 7pm to midnight
July 13, 2013 – 12pm to midnight
July 14, 2013 – 12pm to 8pm

Written by Jessica

July 14th, 2013 at 12:24 am

Posted in Events,Food

Vancouver: The Flying Pig

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The Flying Pig - outside
Entrance to The Flying Pig in Yaletown

I met up with a friend whom I haven’t seen in over a year since she moved back to British Columbia. We settled for lunch at The Flying Pig in Yaletown.

 

The Atmosphere

The Flying Pig - decor 2
Cute pig decor!

Once you walk in, there’s a side table with business cards, a pig (of course), and wooden box full of paper menus attached to wooden boards. Seating is spacious and plenty with great natural lighting from the front windows.

 

The Flying Pig - decor
Exposed brick wall with numerous wine bottles

I loved the exposed brick wall and how they lined up wine bottles in the indents. Even with the exposed air vents in the ceiling, it’s like a converted loft feel with simple decorations and it’s easy to maintain. You can also see what seating looks like against the wall in this picture: comfy benches on one side, lots of tables and though you can’t see it, cushiony chairs on the other side.

 

The Food

The Flying Pig - menu
Regular menu

 

The Flying Pig - specials menu
Specials Chalkboard Menu

They had two menus available: their regular and specials. After poring though both, we settled on our meal.

 

The Flying Pig - lemonade
Lemonade – $?? Can’t remember…

We started with a lemonade. It wasn’t anything special, just a lemonade. Not too tart, not too sweet. Ice cold. Served in a mason jar (cute touch!).

 

The Flying Pig - fresh bread
Fresh bread – complimentary

Fresh bread also came at this time and we poured some olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. The bread was warm and fresh, having just been cut before bringing to the table.

 

The Flying Pig - bone marrow cheezy bread
Bone Marrow Cheezy Bread – $5

We excitedly started off with bone marrow cheezy bread. Mr. Pixelbunny and I love bone marrow and couldn’t pass up the chance to try this out. The menu simply describes it was “OMG”. Unfortunately, it was really disappointing! We couldn’t detect any bone marrow in the bread at all! I don’t know if it’s supposed to be baked into the bread or if it’s spread on thinly under the cheese. Mr. Pixelbunny thought it was spread under the cheese, but we could not taste any bone marrow at all. It was more like regular bread with melted cheese on top. I was so so sad.

 

The Flying Pig - braised beef short rib jumbo macaroni
Braised beef short rib jumbo macaroni – $14

For those of you who are carnivores, this dish is for you. There was tons of meat in this dish and very little jumbo macaroni. I would say the ratio is 3 meat : 1 jumbo macaroni. There were also a few stalks of rapini in there. This whole dish packed a lot of flavour but was too salty for me. If this had more jumbo macaroni, it would help balance out the saltiness of the meat. Given how little macaroni there was, I was quite thirsty afterwards. I ended up packing a lot of the meat as left overs and used it as a meat dish for supper that night.

 

The Flying Pig - BBQ'd local wild salmon
BBQ’d Wild Local Salmon – $15

Mr. Pixelbunny opted for a lighter dish for lunch and ordered the BBQ’d wild local salmon. The salmon was tasty though just a little dry, with a hint of maple syrup. The salad was light and fresh. Lots of olives in this salad (it is a niçoise). It was a good portion size for lunch, and quite healthy. He definitely picked a healthier, lighter option.

 

The Verdict

It was ok, though not as great as I was expecting. Perhaps I had overhyped it myself. A great location to meet for lunch (very very close to Yaletown Roundhouse station) with lots of shops nearby.

 

The Place

The Flying Pig
1168 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC
604-568-1344

Written by Jessica

July 11th, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Jump

without comments

Twice a year, Toronto puts on an event where restaurants from all over the city put together a 3 course prix fix menu for lunch and/or dinner. This is known as Summerlicious. The idea is to get more people out to try different many different things for a set price. For foodies, this is a great time to try the more expensive restaurants on your list for a fraction of the cost of a regular night out. This summer, I had my sights set on Jump.

 

Jump - sign
The sign outside – so cute!

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of their sign outside. “Jump” mounted on a spring! Also, I thought it was quite clever having the “u” being higher than all the other letters of the word. It’s kind of like it’s jumping up to be noticed!

 

The Atmosphere

The restaurant was newly renovated and reopened this past April, and you can tell how beautiful it is once you walk in. There are large, leather-bound chairs arranged neatly around tables, immaculate place settings, wait staff and kitchen runners dressed to the utmost detail. I could already tell I was in for a real treat tonight.

 

Jump - back wall wine rack
Tall, geometric shapes for the wine racks

We were given a table at the back which had a glass panel ceiling for half the room, and a covered ceiling for the other half. The lighting effect was really nice given that so much natural light was coming from outside. The wine rack along the back well was fun to look at. Criss cross panels created diamond shapes that are filled with different wines. I thought it was a rather interesting way of storing their wine collection!

 

Jump - hanging lights
Giant lamp shades

You can see the glass panels in this picture, which is the open half of the room. When outside lighting becomes too dim, your light source comes from these giant lamp shades, which was a nice nostalgic reminder of my childhood.

 

The Food

Jump - Summer Nights and Sparkling Peach Mango Lemonade
Summer Nights ($10) and Sparkling Mango Peach lemonade ($6)

We started off with some drink specials on their Summerlicious menu. The Summer Nights drink is made of Malibu rum, peach schnapps and blueberry lemonade. There is definitely blueberry purée in there because at the bottom of my drink were some particulates of blueberry. A large lemon slice gives it a nice touch and doesn’t really impart any taste to the drink. This drink goes down easy so sip lightly. The sparkling mango peach lemonade is their non-alcoholic beverage, and tasted more on the mango side than peach. Definitely sparkling but not much lemonade to it. However, it was very cool and refreshing to drink.

 

Jump - bread with tomato, garlic and olive puree
Fresh bread and rosemary flat bread – complimentary

Some fresh bread and rosemary flat bread was brought to the table and accompanied with a tomato, garlic and olive oil purée. This is a different take from most places that serve bread with either butter or olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The purée had a light garlic taste and the olive oil worked well when mixed all together. It’s different and I rather liked it.

 

Jump - Andalusian Style White Gazpacho
Andalusian Style White Gazpacho

I started with the Andalusian style white gazpacho. I’ve never had a gazpacho before and had no idea what to expect. Our waiter tells me that traditional gazpacho is made with a tomato base but the chefs at Jump wanted to do their own take on gazpacho and used ingredients such as almonds, grapes and soy milk to make this. The flavour wasn’t anything that I’d ever tasted before. However, it was light and refreshing. It had a complex mix of flavours that worked really well together. Also, this is served chilled so don’t expect it to be hot!

 

Jump - Crab BLT
The Crab BLT

A seafood and bacon lover, Mr. Pixelbunny’s obvious choice was the crab BLT. Two perfectly sized sliders of crab salad, served on butter lettuce and tomato, and topped with a thick cut of smoky bacon. On the side is a mix of vegetable chips, which are reminiscent of Terra chips. I couldn’t resist and ate one of his sliders. To be fair, I gave him half of my gazpacho. There is a generous amount of crab meat in these sliders and they are not weighed down by the sauce it’s mixed with (mayo? some sort of cream?). A perfect intro to our meal.

 

Jump - BBQ Sustainable BC Albacore Tuna
BBQ Sustainable BC Albacore Tuna

For my main, the BBQ sustainable BC albacore tuna, served over a spinach salad. I received four thick cut slices of tuna, ever so slightly seared on the outside, cool and refreshing on the inside. Half of a King Oyster mushroom with criss cross shallow cuts is lightly pan seared, and served on top. The crispy noodles tastes like potato, although it reminds me of a type of rice noodle. The salad is hearty, complete with carrots slivers, beans, celery slices and a light dressing. Very very good and very very tasty.

 

Jump - Tandoori Lamb Sirloin
Tandoori Lamb Sirloin

Mr. Pixelbunny’s main is the tandoori lamb sirloin. I honestly have not had a lamb sirloin that was as melt in your mouth as this one. It is cooked perfectly with a hint of pink, is incredibly juicy and moist. Tandoori sauce is drizzled on top of the lamb sirloin. Served with a jicama, cucumber, and jalapeño slaw, it packs a rather spicy punch. Borderline too much for Mr. Pixelbunny which basically equates to too hot for me. His tolerance for spiciness is quite high. You can also spot two pieces of naan bread under the lamb pieces which were a little on the dry side. Underneath everything was some yogurt to help offset some of the spiciness. A very very good dish, although the slaw may be too spicy for some.

 

Jump - Cannoli
Cannoli

Dessert for me was cannoli, which is an obvious decision for me. Two crispy shells filled with ricotta cream, served with lemon curd and pistachios on the side. You can eat the cannoli alone or add some lemon curd to it. I tried it both ways and they were both amazing. The lemon curd was not too tart but definitely has a strong lemon flavour. An awesome way to finish my meal.

 

Jump - Balsamic Macerated Strawberries
Balsamic macerated strawberries

Mr. Pixelbunny’s dessert was even more impressive. Although it looks like a pretty presentation of ice cream and strawberries, it’s the flavour that really makes this dessert. The ice cream is a vanilla bean, and it has a very heavy vanilla bean flavour to it, more than I am used to. However, the heavy flavour was quite good, and made me think of my jar of vanilla bean paste at home. The strawberries are slightly macerated and mixed with some balsamic vinegar – something I would never think to put together. The sour of the vinegar and the sweet of the strawberries is beautiful and the taste almost dances in your mouth. Add in a little bit of the basil and I would say it’s almost magical – I kid you not. This dessert may not look the most impressive, but it certainly tastes the most impressive.

 

Jump - house made caramels
House made caramels

With our bill came a small plate of two house made caramels, wrapped in tin foil in a way that resembles little individually wrapped candies. The caramels are soft with a very full butter flavour and not at all too sweet.

 

The Verdict

If you’ve never been to Jump before, go while Summerlicious is still on! All the dishes mentioned here taste amazing and you will not be disappointed. With the beautiful renovations, you’ll be dining extra special!

 

The Place

Jump
18 Wellington St W, Toronto, ON
416-363-3400

Written by Jessica

July 10th, 2013 at 1:07 am

Posted in Events,Food,Restaurant

Richmond: Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant

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As an early Father’s Day gift (we were in Vancouver at the end of May), Mr. Pixelbunny and I took his parents out to dinner at a Japanese restaurant. His dad is a huge fan of all you can eat places, and we wanted to bring him somewhere that wasn’t so he could experience the difference in quality you can get when going to a non-all you can eat place.

After doing some research, we settled on Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant.

 

The Atmosphere

Located in the Garden City Plaza, Tsukiji is a fairly large restaurant with ample seating throughout. There were lots of tables, booths, sushi bar seating, as well as several “rooms” with low tables where you can kneel. We came on a wednesday night, and the place was empty, save for another table of 3 and a lone person at the sushi bar. We were quickly seated and given menus to look at. It took a while for us to decide on what to eat, but once we settled, we sat back and let the food come to our table.

 

The Food

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - salmon tartar
Salmon Tartar – $9.50

We started off with salmon tartar, which was sashimi grade salmon, a raw egg, and lots of green onions. It’s served along with sheets of nori. After mixing the egg with the salmon, you take a spoonful and place it on the nori, which you can fold over and eat. I was really blown away by this, considering how fresh the salmon was and the crisp flavour it brings when mixed with the egg. I wouldn’t hesitate to order this again, and you shouldn’t either.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - beef sashimi
Beef Sashimi – $9.95

The beef sashimi was also amazing. Thinly sliced, melt in your mouth beef. You can see how well marbled it is in the picture. Very fresh, no “off” flavour detectable. Served with some grated daikon, grated carrot(?), green onions and shiso leaves. A small flower shaped dish of soy sauce accompanied the plate.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - agedashi tofu
Agedashi Tofu – $5.25

Next up was the agedashi tofu. Six perfectly cubed pieces of tofu, deep fried, and topped with green onions and bonito flakes. Finished with a generous drizzle of tempura sauce. It was crispy on the outside and silky on the inside.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - spinach gomaae
Spinach Gomaae – $4.25

A little underwhelming was the spinach gomaae. It packs a powerful sesame flavour punch, but other than that, it’s just chilled spinach mixed in a sesame paste/sauce.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - assorted sashimi
Assorted Sashimi – $28.95

Assorted sashimi comes with 3 pieces of salmon, 3 pieces of tuna, 3 pieces of hamachi, 2 pieces of tako, 2 pieces of hakki, and 2 pieces of hotate. Served on a bed of ice, the sashimi slices were extremely fresh, thick cut and incredibly fresh tasting. Loved every piece here.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - prawn and vegetable tempura
Prawn and Vegetable Tempura – $10.95

The prawn and vegetable tempura was served to us next, which included 2 prawns, some asparagus, sweet potato, mushroom, broccoli and squash. Lightly battered, crispy outside, hot inside. Just the way I like my tempura.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - California roll (real crab meat)
California Roll – $7.50

We ordered the California roll out of curiosity because the menu states that it is made with real crab meat. Well, after having it with real crab meat, I can safely say that there is hardly any difference, texture or taste wise. You could tell it was real crab meat on close inspection, but other than that, I wasn’t able to tell any difference. You can probably skip this roll.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - spicy salmon and tuna crispy roll
Spicy Salmon and Tuna Crispy Roll – $8.95

Hard to tell from this angle, but the spicy salmon and tuna crispy roll was jam packed full of fish! There is very little rice used and you can see that it’s a very thin layer. Lots of spicy fish on the inside, and topped with some spicy fish as well! This was a popular roll amongst everyone and was quickly devoured.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - spider roll
Spider Roll – $7.50

Another jam packed roll, the spider roll was also pretty big. The soft shell crab was definitely freshly made because it was still hot when you bit into it. Compared to pricier spider rolls at other places, this one is definitely worth it!

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - House roll
House Roll – $11.95

The House roll is made of a prawn tempura roll topped with unagi, avocado and masago. Think of it as a glorified dragon roll, but the black and green are mixed together with some masago. Nevertheless, it was still very good and with large portions.

 

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant - chopped scallop roll
Chopped Scallop Roll – $6.50

A favourite of Mr. Pixelbunny and I, our last roll was the chopped scallop roll. A little disappointing in size, it was much smaller than I expected. The scallop was fresh and tasted very clean. Compared to the other rolls we had ordered, this was our least impressive one.

 

The Verdict

For quality sushi, you will find it here at this place. It is more on the pricier side, however, you’re definitely getting the quality and freshness guaranteed.

 

The Place

Tsukiji Japanese Restaurant
4751 Garden City Rd, Richmond, BC
604-276-2628

 

Written by Jessica

July 7th, 2013 at 10:30 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant

Summer 2013 Luxe Box Review

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The summer edition Luxe Box is here! This time around, there was an email sent to all members giving you the option to upgrade your Luxe Box to one of four limited edition Luxe Boxes:

Condition Couture – 6 items specifically for hair, including hair ties, feather extensions, and hair shadow. Cost for upgrade – free!

Fragrance – includes 6 mini perfumes, 1 body wash, and 1 body lotion samples. Cost for upgrade – free!

Loulou – a selection of 9 different beauty items picked from the editors of Loulou magazine. Cost for upgrade – $5

Wedding – a selection of 8 different beauty items specifically geared towards those who are in or attending a wedding this season. Cost for upgrade – $10

 

I had taken a look at the upgrade options and didn’t see anything that I really wanted to upgrade to, so I left my subscription as is and waited for the regular Luxe Box to arrive. Also, I didn’t think it was worth it to have to pay an extra amount of money just to have a guarantee of knowing what’s in my box.

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - everything
Contents of this season’s Luxe Box

This was a pretty hefty box, in which I delighted in opening the beautiful silk bag to reveal the goodies inside. Let’s get to it!

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Essie Sleek Sticks

Essie Sleek Stick Nail Appliques – Embrace the Lace

Full size: $13.99
Sample: This is the full size!

Can’t wait to try these on. The design is so cute!

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Barefoot Venus Shea Butter Hand Cream

Barefoot Venus Shea Butter Hand Cream – Lychee Luxe

Full size: 60ml for $5.99
Sample: This is the full size!

I love getting samples of hand cream because they’re small enough to pop in your bag or to have it with you at work. I opened the bottle for a quick smell – mmm lychees!

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Philosophy Purity

Philosophy Purity Made Simple 3-in-1 cleanser for face and eyes

Full size: 8 oz for $26
Sample: 1 oz for $3.25

Never tried a Philosophy product before so am excited to try this out.

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Knotties

Knotties

Full size: 5 pack for $10
Sample: 4 pack for $8

Not too impressed by this. Over-priced elastic ribbons that I can easily purchase from the local Fabricland. May or may not use them.

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Colorsmash

Colorsmash Hair Shadow

Full size: 4.1g for $15
Sample: This is the full size!

A repeat from last season’s box, except this is a different colour. I’m not all that interested in hair products and have indicated it in my profile, so I’m not sure why I’m still being sent hair products.

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Goldwell Style Sign Jelly Boost

Goldwell Style Sign Volume – Jelly Boost

Full size: 160ml for $16.99 (Ulta.com)
Sample: 30ml worth $3.19

Another hair product. I actually received this in my AMEX Topbox so this is a repeat for me.

 

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Loose Button Foundation Brush

Loose Button Foundation Brush

Full size: approx $15
Sample: This is the full size!

It seems like Loose Button is starting their own brush line. There was a kabuki brush from the Winter box and now a foundation brush. I think it’d be neat if in the next box they had an eye shadow brush or a fluffy blush brush.

Luxe Box Summer 2013 - Oil of Olay CC Cream

Oil of Olay CC Cream

Full size: $22.99
Sample: This is the full size!

This was neat; a black box with only the words “Compliments of Olay”. Inside the box, was a full size bottle of their new CC cream. I’m not sure when it will start selling in Canada (I haven’t been able to spot it at any of my local drugstores yet), but if it hasn’t yet, this was a great move on Olay’s part to start marketing their products before it’s launch.

 

To sum it all up…

# of sample size products = 3
# of full size products = 5
Total value of this season’s Luxe Box = $87.41

 

Although the value isn’t as high as the previous two seasons, the contents make up for it (for me anyways).  Great job Luxe Box! Now if only you could remember to keep hair products out of my boxes next time…

Written by Jessica

July 5th, 2013 at 11:43 pm

Posted in Beauty,Luxebox

Vancouver: Japadog

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I had been craving Japadog ever since I discovered it’s stand on Burrard and Smithe years ago. I keep wanting to go with every trip to Vancouver but never had time to go there (too many family obligations). But this time, I made sure that Mr. Pixelbunny and I would at least, finally eat at this coveted place! We went with his brother, E, who suggested going to the actual store front because that’s the only location where you can get their shaked fries. So off we went.

 

The Atmosphere

The store front is quite small, with only around 6 or 7 small tables very close together and a long bar top to the side. As you’re waiting in line to get in to order, someone was standing outside holding two trays full of their shaked fries to give out as samples. As soon as you get through the door, you order at the cashier to your left, pay for your order, then they hand you your receipt with a number. It does get pretty cramped during the lunch hour as many people are waiting inside for their number to be called and then to walk up to the counter to pick it up. Luckily, most people get their order and leave. We managed to snag a table to sit down at.

 

The Food

Japadog - Korubuta Terimayo
Kurobuto Terimayo – $7.25 

I ordered the kurobuta terimayo, of which the kurobuta is made of 100% Berkshire pork. It’s incredibly juicy and full of flavour. It’s topped off with grilled onions, kewpie mayo, teriyaki sauce and shredded seaweed. With every bite, you’ve got the savoury of the kurobuta and the sweetness of the teriyaki, grilled onions and kewpie mayonnaise. The seaweed gives it a nice crunch too.

 

Japadog - Croquette
Croquette – $?? Can’t remember.

Mr. Pixelbunny got the croquette. This one uses Arabiki, a smoked pork sausage, and paired with two croquettes (deep fried potato cakes). Add in some sautéed cabbage and tonkatsu sauce, this was surprisingly tasty!

 

Japadog - Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu – $5.95

E got the tonkatsu. It is exactly what its’ name is, instead of any kind of sausage, you get tonkatsu, deep fried pork cutlet, instead. It was tender and juicy, crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Topped with a generous helping of cabbage and mayo, the tonkatsu is delicious. Maybe it’s psychological but, I prefer having a sausage in the bun for more juiciness.

 

The last thing we ate that isnt pictured are the shaked fries. Only the sit down location serves them as they are not available at any of the street stands. We got an order of butter and shoyu, their most popular flavour. The fries remind me of McDonald’s, although not fried as much. The flavour was also awesome, a combination of salty butter and salty shoyu. Now that doesn’t mean that the fries are just salt, but the flavour combination is pretty awesome. You have to try it in order to understand it.

 

The Verdict

I would happily return to try some other offerings. It really is a glorified japanese style hot dog. However, I really liked the ones I tried and I want to try more. Another Vancouver trip soon? Perhaps.

 

The Place

Japadog
530 Robson St, Vancouver, BC
604-569-1158

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Written by Jessica

July 2nd, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Posted in Food,Restaurant