Thursday, May 31, 2007

Energy Drink

Today I feel like an energy drink, I remember my friend Ben telling me there is one called Cocaine but it is not on the shelves anymore.

Apparently guarana juice is a good natural energy juice to drink. Tribes in Brazil believed guarana to be magical; a cure for bowel complaints and a way to regain strength.

The can in the pic is the one that they serve at Guanabara(fun fun place to go) and other Brazilian establishemnts in London town not sure if it is sold in TO?

Am going to a mexican restaurant tonight, will check out their native drinks too, perhaps margaritas - ole!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Ahh Terroni

After a long day with Shoot - the Shoot Team including the 'events manager' and I went to Terroni. We were tired and starving...not a good combo when you try to get a table in a busy , popular restaurant. I think it was all the gay jumping we did.

My pics for dinner:

Funghi Assoluti
Baked oyster mushrooms with parmigiano cheese, balsamic vinegar, garlic and parsley served on a bed of arugola. So simple, yet so delicious, you can make this at home (in the past I have added bread crumbs to this recipe) under your oven's broil setting. Impress your friends.

Spaghetti al Limone
Home made spaghetti with spinach, capers and shavings of parmigiano in a lemon and extra virgin olive oil sauce. I loved this as it was refreshing and light - perfect for a warm summer evening.

We LOVE this place and were so hungry we did not take pics but instead wolfed down this meal and rolled home as we were so tired from our day.

Go there if you want real, southern Italian food.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Minty Fresh
If you grow mint it never stops growing. It grows tall, spreads out and the aroma is great. You can chop it and then use it for several things.
  • Brew fresh mint tea: add some leaves to a cup of boiled water, let it diffuse and add a little sugar. It tastes great and is good for digestion.
    (Itsu in London charges about £3 for a pot of this = $6.90 Canadian for some minty goodness)
  • Add it to a jug of water and drink hint o' mint flavoured water. You can also do this with cucumbers and oranges for a nice summer twist to your usual water jugs with lemon.
  • Add it to your meatball/hamburger recipe. I think this is the ingredient that makes Momma Dolce's meatballs so great.
  • Add a few sprigs to any other sauces you may be making or mix a little in with your pesto dish.
  • Mince it up and use it on your bbq'd lamb
  • Use in a fresh tomato and cucumber salad with basil
Since we have an abundance there is some in a vase by the window and a few other leaves strewn about on my desk which I am twirling about to get some of the lovely smell.

Am sure you can make some kind of cosmetic concoction but for now I will stick to the mint tea with sugar.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Ouma's Rusks

Ouma Rusks (Afrikaans: Ouma Beskuit - literally "Ouma Rusks"; "Ouma" is a brand and proper noun meaning "Grandmother" ) are South Africa's best-known brand of rusks.
They are dipped in coffee or tea before being eaten.

It is an iconic South African product that is consumed all over the world. It is usually marketed with the slogan Doop 'n Ouma (in Afrikaans) or Dip 'n Ouma (in South African English) (Dip a Ouma).

According to the manufacturer, the history of Ouma Rusks began in the 1939 in the small Eastern Cape town of Molteno, where the effects of the Great Depression were bringing people to their knees. During this time, a certain (grandma)Ouma Greyvensteyn and her friends attended a church meeting to find out ways to help.

At the end of the meeting, each of the women were given a half-a-crown coin and told to multiply it using their talents, as in the Bible. Ouma Greyvensteyn used this money to buy ingredients in order to make rusks using her family recipe. The rusks she baked proved to be extremely popular and orders continued to be placed for her rusks.

You can still visit the factory and Ouma's home in Molteno. They produce 37 million rusks a year. 12.4 tons a day in winter and 8.4 tons in summer.

The rusks come in different flavors like wholewheat, buttermilk, condensed milk, muesli and more...

pic of the factory and the original Ouma in the frame.

Friday, May 25, 2007

African Tea TimeLots of talk about Africa has been going on these past few days so I thought I would post about my favorite tea which comes from South Africa. It is called rooibos and is at the top of my list for hot drinks and has been for a while.

Rooibos is caffeine free and means 'red bush' in Afrikaans. The plant is a member of the legume family of plants and is used to make a herbal tea. Commonly called South African red tea, the product has been popular in South Africa for generations and is now consumed in many countries.

It emerged in some diet book in the UK a few years ago and was all the rage and now is more mainstream, you can buy it in the grocery stores (Loblaws sells this PC brand) now whereas before you could only get it from visitors from South Africa, Zim, Namibia etc. (Sally M and The Kirstens were my suppliers) or at the South Africa shop in Covent Garden and the equivalent in TO is Eat Sum More.

Rooibos is only grown in a small area in the Cederberg region of the Western Cape province. Get to Cape Town or anywhere in Southern Africa if you can, the landscapes are absolutely beautiful!

In South Africa people drink rooibos with milk and sugar but elsewhere some drink it without. The flavor of rooibos tea is often sweet enough without adding sugar. I like it with and without sugar depending on my mood. You can drink cups and cups of it and because it is such an anti dioxant filled tea - the more the better!

South African friends of mine who grew up in boarding schools were served rooibos for breakfast, lunch and dinner and now, as adults can't stand it as they were forced to have it as young ones. Oh well too much of a good thing....

When drinking your rooibos tea you also may be served a rusk, which is a hard biscuit that you dunk in your tea. These biscuits are kind of like Italian biscotti but bigger, harder and with a more rugged, salty flavour. More on Ouma Rusks in my next post...Ouma is the brand name but also means grandmother.

But beware, in Africa when drinking your tea and eating your rusks the baboons are everywhere trying to snatch your food. And they look all cute but when they get close they are a) larger than life b) quick with their hands and c) agressive and hungry!

Mr. Kirsten had a run in with them and we had to roll up our windows after taking this pic as they were ready to pounce!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Spaghetti Aglia Olio

My friends were picking olives this past weekend in New Zealand on Waiheke Island and then I had this dish at Momma Dolce's so thought I would post this simple recipe.

Two simple ingredients make a fantastic, quick dish which is one of my favorites.
Garlic and olive oil.

When you are tired and want to eat something quickly do this:
>Boil your spaghetti in salted water, make it al dente.

>In a seperate bowl chop 2-3 cloves of garlic and douse with 5-6 heaping tablespoons of olive oil more if you please. Use the best quality olive oil you can get as this makes a difference. Use extra virgin olive oil if you can.

>Add a few tbsps of the boiling water that is cooking your pasta, with a fork mash this all together so the garlic infuses in the olive oil.

>By the time the pasta is cooked your little olive oil concoction can be dumped into the pot, stirred up and served.

For those who like it spicy add some hot chili peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh basil if you want to add another gorgeous, fresh flavour.

Et voila!
You have a delicious dinner...

Monday, May 21, 2007

Creative Summer GatheringsWith the summer sun beaming down on us there are a lot of bbq and back yard parties going on especially as this is a long weekend -yay! Some creative invites are going around like this one and am looking forward to seeing more like this.

This one was for a simple bbq where hot dogs were the feature food. We were going to rock up at 2pm with drinks and hot dog condiments, thinking this was the time for the party but luckily called and were told that the party started around 10pm -ish!

Enjoy the sun today! Happy Victoria Day.

Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the last Monday before or on May 24 in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Scottish FringeSo that's where my colander went?! Mr. Greene mentioned the Edinburgh Fringe Festival coming up and I remembered I had this pic. The festival runs for a month in August and is superb. The vibe and atmosphere is always lively with performances happening around the clock and the streets filled with performers, singers, actors and other festival people who are dressed weird and wonderful costumes. When I was last there we saw the Perrier Comedy award final show which commenced at 1am. Plan to be out day and night having fun and seeing some great talent. If you are around Edinburgh this summer try and get to it!

Also you can try some traditional Scottish grub, haggis. Haggis a delicacy that only a few can appreciate. I have tried it 2x but still not a fan.

Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish. Although there are many recipes, it is normally made with the following ingredients: sheep's 'pluck' (heart, liver and lungs), minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally boiled in the animal's stomach for approximately an hour. It somewhat resembles stuffed intestines (pig intestines otherwise known as chitterlings) & sausages.

As the 2001 English edition of the Larousse Gastronomique puts it, "[a]lthough its description is not immediately appealing, haggis has an excellent nutty texture and delicious savoury flavour." (p592)

Get into something different, try it!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Critcal Masse - Toronto Restaurant RecommendationsMy girlfriend who now lives in NYC put this list together for a friend who just moved to TO, I thought I would share it! Some excellent selections...such an Aries girl!

Merci NM, bisous!
You can read about her adventures on her blog Critical Masse xx

Here it goes...

High Park
- Bread and Roses on Bloor St. West for the Polish soups

The Annex
- Café By the Way on Bloor – for dinner or brunch
- Dooney’s for brunch or drinks
- Insomnia on Bloor for late nights

- Brunch at Café LaGaffe on Baldwin (great décor inside and the patio is worth the trip)

Kensington Market
- Torino (Spanish tapas)
- Supermarket (cheap and cheerful tapas)

Queen Street West
- Oyster Boy Restaurant – they even offer oyster shucking lessons
- Fresh - excellent vegan restaurant and great patio
- Czehosky – ideal place for group brunches, late night drinks
- Drake Hotel – to hang out with the artsy crowd and great sushi and weekly changing menu
- Terroni – low prices, great atmosphere, excellent Italian cuisine

- Hemingway’s for pub food or beers, great patio in the summer
- Wish, for brunch or drinks (near Yorkville)

The Distillery District
- For the art galleries and outside events during the summer
- Balzac's café

Toronto Island
- To spend a few hours walking around away from civilization

- Queen Mother Café for drinks (I had a gorgeous carrot cake there a few days ago!)
- Blowfish on King West for the spicy tuna sushi roll
- Le Papillon for French food

Queen East
- Bonjour Brioche, a real French café with great brunches and breads

Ms. Masse we miss you here! Em and I will be there soon and you will have to take us to your new favourite places and perhaps we can bump into SJP or other celebs in your posh hood!

And if you are the type of person who always visits the same 3 places for dinner or drinks - use this list!

(pic courtesy of Team Sleepy House, Shoot Toronto, 2007)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The weather yesterday was sweltering I think it reached 28degrees during the day with such a warm wind and lots of humidity. In the evening we had a spectacular thunder and lightning storm which washed away some of the humidity.

With this weather everyone seems to be in summer mode; riding bikes, bbq'ing, wearing summer gear and just being outside. Walking and hanging around on the street - it is nice to see people out again.

So...there have been comments from the peanut gallery that I haven't been cooking lately and that is correct but things will change shortly and I will be back in the kitchen, for now I will just post on my restaurant experiences and other food miscellany... Alex be patient, you can do command centre cooking for now maybe even a bbq for your staff. Maybe even a fruit surprise...

These fruit kebabs are from NZ and our kiwi friend Pat Hale- who may start writing 'Pat's Patch' notes from down under on what is going on in her garden and on her dairy farm...
Fruit kebabs are easy to make and once fruit is cut everyone loves to eat it. It is always the prep that sometimes shy people away from eating fruit. We do get lazy as when we have to slice and dice a mango we may put it off, but if it is done for us we will easily eat it. I am especially guilty of that.

Remember to recycle your sticks as they can be used again and again for your fruit kebab enjoyment.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Food glorious food...

The food we purchased at Pusateri's on Avenue Road was great especially the cannoli, lemon tarts and marinated fresh sea bass. The fish man seemed very knowledgeable about all the fish on display and they cut it in front of us off a whale sized carcass and also marinated it for us in some special sauce -yummy.

BUT the store is chaotic and hard to navigate, especially when busy, you can't get two buggies down the aisle. Everything seems over priced too. Need to compare with other specialty food shops as haven't done much grocery shopping here yet so don't really know what prices should be?

Mrs. Dolce & Mr. Quinn have been feeding me...and AK and I are waiting for Mrs. Quinn to whip up a gourmet meal soon too! Maybe chicken surprise?

I took no pics as we just devoured the bbq'd bass with fresh mango salsa and when desert time came around we again forgot to whip out the camera. We quickly put away the cannoli, fresh strawberries, watermelon, lemon tarts, chocolate mousse cakes and other treats....thx Mr. Q for lunch it was a special Mother's Day!


Monday, May 14, 2007

Fresh fish, cooked to perfection. Decor and ambiance that is tres interesting and a great group of people made an evening here one that will be remembered.

Decor and ambiance play a large part in this establishment. You are greeted by naked photos, busts and other female nude images either sculpted, painted or photographed. They are everywhere. Their website's home page also gives you a glimpse of what the restaurant is like check it out. Not for the conservative diner. The interesting part is that the owner, his daughter and his brother Leo are the artists of all the pieces in the restaurant.

Leo greeted us at the door along with Fergal who was at the bar. It was very comforting to be in the restaurant. Fergal is the latest and greatest Irish man to live in TO. At the end of the evening he turned up with some limoncello shots, thx Fergie.

The wait staff show you the fresh fish of the day on a platter which you then point at and they then v. fresh and tasty. I had the octopus which was lightly grilled and only needed a pinch of salt and was superb. We ordered oysters as an appetizer - excellent fresh east coast ones, of course I do not remember the name of them. Squid, shrimp, and mussels were what was ordered and with great wine and Leo joining us and showing us his portfolio of work it was an excellent evening.

It was the CONTACT & Shoot gang enjoying Shoot UK's last evening in TO. Next Shoot Toronto event is May 27 - spread the word...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Love Shack - Lobster Trap
It has been a busy week but I managed to eat at two fab restaurants this past week. On Monday it was at Joso's on Avenue Road and Davenport and on Wednesday it was Lobster Trap on Avenue Road. Both great restaurants for seafood. More on Josos later.

Lobster Trap has been around for many many years, I can't remember how long from the blurb on the memory fails me as many of you know...but it never changes - the decor, the lighting, the plates, table cloths all are the same. I was there seven years ago and it was just as I had remembered it.

Very basic, rustic, homely but it works. If you want fresh lobster then you go there, upon entering you walk by the tanks of the fresh crustaceans and then you are served it in the simplest of ways, either broiled or steamed only a little while later.

They do have a variety of other fresh fish but as the name of the restaurant is Lobster Trap, lobster is the order of the day! We had oysters to start and my companions ordered their infamous lobster bisque soup. Unfortunately, I am cream intolerant so only had a taste but it was great. I ordered the 2lbs of crab and it was huge! It had to be taken home for crab salad the next day. All of their fish is served with fresh lemon or melted butter - all was delicious.

Our server was super nice and my two guests were on 'diets' but orderered some questionable items from the food and drink selection...they are too funny and great company! Thanks for dinner Mrs. D. They are dining at Phoenicia's in Michigan this weekend- maybe they are sitting in Bill Clinton's chair.

Have a great sunny Saturday!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Drake Cafe
Have been in the Drake Cafe for the past few mornings working on Shoot with the UK team, the staff are wonderful, the food is fantastic and service is great. So Han and I have been sitting with our laptops and working away in our makeshift HQ here at the Drake Hotel. We have met the regulars that seem to come here for breakfast and lunch and alternate between sitting outside on the patio or inside beside artist Sergei Sviatchenko's latest collage installation which brightens the room.

Sergei is the artist in residence here for the next 3 weeks and is working on anther piece for the Hotel. It will be exhibited mid May so watch this space. Sergei is from Denmark and is involved in CONTACT Toronto Photography Festival, the largest in N.America and he is also working on a few projects in Denmark - MILK a new concept store (opening 27 September) and Poison all Curators. So am just waiting for Han-han to come down and eating the usual, muesli with fruit and yoghurt and a tea...posts have been few as it has been a busy week with Shoot Experience hitting Toronto. Will write more soon!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Command Centre Lunch At the Shoot Experience control centre, Alex cooked Jaclyn and I a lovely meal for lunch. It was tofu, rice and veggies with a lot of different spices and flavours. We called it Command Centre rice...I think? Look at the presentation folks...all perfectly chopped and the rice was even served as in a restaurant. AK you are definitely in the wrong business a c-re-a-tive career is calling you! And the dancing that goes along with the lunch is just hilarious...JL did not see the full set of moves as we did last week with the lovely pharmacist/fashion designer...

"Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger but a heart soft as tofu" (Chinese Proverb)

Tofu is a great substitute for meat and if cooked properly it also tastes great. There are several varieties you can buy and usually the harder ones are better for stir fries and the softer ones better for soups like miso.

Tofu is the Japanese name for soybean curd; (the Chinese name is toufu) tofu is made from soybeans, water, and a coagulant such as calcium or magnesium, in a process that has a lot in common with making cheese.

Tofu is high in calcium, iron and B vitamins & low in fat and sodium. Tofu is a excellent source of protein, not only for vegetarians, but also for individuals who have trouble digesting meat, or suffer from heartburn. And if that isn't enough, tofu has been credited with offering protection against diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis.

As per my previous soy posts - tofu is good to eat as it is in its fermented state, raw soybeans (served as endamame) are not!
Eat it!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Stuffed peppers with Feta
51 Division's hottest female cop's fave food which she gets at the St. Lawrence Market...
Got a parking ticket today near the market, SC can u flirt with the parking team to get me off?
Busy with Shoot Toronto this week - foodies sign up!