Travel

LA Part Two

*Restaurants featured: Randy’s Donuts, Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken, Mastros, Huckleberry, Madeo, Laurel Hardware, Salt’s Cure, Dan Tana’s

Let’s get back to LA talk, starting with Randy’s Donuts.

OMG. OMG. OMG. That is all. I also posted about Randy’s in my LA post from over a year ago. However, no trip to LA is complete without multiple stops here. I won’t even tell you how many times I visited. This 24 hour walk-up window and drive-thru donut shop is the real deal. They specialize in simple, old school donuts. Nothing fancy here. Plain glazed, chocolate glazed, cream filled, all that sort of simple stuff. It is kind of unexplainable how good they are. Once again, simplicity is key.

IMG_1867 IMG_1871

Fried chicken is up next, with a stop at Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken. It does not get more Southern comfort food than this. My order of fried chicken and biscuits was rich and heavy, but more than worth the splurge. The chicken was crispy and juicy, and the biscuits, OMG, don’t even get me started. Buttery and flakey. The most perfect biscuit I have ever tasted. I dream about these.

IMG_1874

 

(more…)

I’m Baaaack

IMG_1251Hey everyone! It’s me, I’m back. You may have noticed that I took a little hiatus. Not from eating, but from sharing it with all of you. Not to worry though, I am back.

Here’s the answer as to where I disappeared to.

You know, life got busy, life got in the way, and then I took an extended vacay to my favourite place of all time, Los Angeles. I was just feeling blah and needed a change. What better way to liven up a little than to spend six weeks in the sun? A lovely time was had, full of eating, sightseeing, shopping, beaching, working out, and just living.

I suppose you can call a lot of what I was doing work, since I ate at some of the coolest most delicious places which I am about to share.

*Restaurants featured: Father’s Office, Plan Check, DK’s Donuts, fōnuts, Sprinkles, Churros Calientes, SUGARFISH, Langer’s, Bottega Louie

IMG_1251IMG_1251Let’s get right to it. I’ll start with a restaurant called Father’s Office in Santa Monica. Former Top Chef Masters contestant Chef Sang Yoon is responsible for the food here. The concept is pretty cool. Think bar meets restaurant, but you have to be 21+ at all times. It’s not some grungy bar serving cold deep fried everything with a side of stale nachos. You order your food at the bar, then just have to stand around drinking while waiting for a table. It was very loud, busy, and filled with young, hip people. No substitutions or changes to the menu.

The Office Burger is the star of the show here. Firstly, the medium rare beef patty is served on a baguette, and topped with a mixture of bacon, blue cheese, and caramelized onions then sprinkled with arugula and gruyere cheese. The bun was fresh, the meat was juicy, and the toppings paired extremely well. I thoroughly enjoyed this burger with a side of thin cut fries, crispy brussels sprouts and a green salad.

IMG_1195

 

(more…)

Chicago

IMG_6200

It’s crazy to think how quickly the summer flew by, and even how time has continued to fly by since. I can’t believe it’s almost the holidays already! Appologies for the delay on this post. However, better late than never!

Anyways, my girlfriends and I decided to take a little girls weekend in Chicago for some shopping, eating, and sightseeing. I must say, I was blown away by this city. The shopping is unreal, the architecture and buildings are beautiful, with such intricate detail, and the city seemed very clean and proper. I loved everything about it. Between shopping and taking the architectural boat tour, there was still plenty of time left for eating. Check out below for some must-visit Chicago eateries.

After settling in from the airport, we headed to a place called Big Star. It is a Mexican eatery, with a huge outdoor patio, and a bustling, loud, exciting vibe on the inside. For those of you that know of Grand Electric here in Toronto, the guy who started it actually did his apprenticeship at Big Star. While we waited for a table outside, we grabbed a drink at the busy indoor bar. Once seated with our pitcher of margarita, we ordered chips and guacamole to start. It was perfect. Next it was time for tacos. We chose a whole bunch including the chicken, braised pork belly, fish, and potato. Each one was better than the next, including fresh ingredients between soft taco shells.

IMG_6049

As soon as I saw the word dulce de leche on the menu, I was sold. Dulce de leche is basically a South American caramel, and MY FAVOURITE THING EVER! The dulce de leche milkshake at Big Star was thick, creamy, caramelly, and insanely delicious.

IMG_6050

 

(more…)

Los Angeles Part 2

Feast your eyes on these pancakes. The Griddle Cafe, as seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, located on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood is known for their huge pancakes. As soon as we walked in we saw the size of these griddle cakes. I have never in my life seen such ginormous pancakes. We sat down and ordered just one pancake for the two of us because truthfully, we wanted to be able to eat again that day. Our choice was the Cinnamon, Banana, Brown Sugar Streusel pancakes. They were huge, fluffy, sweet, and satisfying. The two of us barely made a dent in these, and still left feeling quite stuffed.

image

image

Later that day we were feeling hungry again, so we decided to grab a bite at Toast Bakery Cafe. This restaurant is pretty well known by locals and tourists and is quite a trendy spot. It has been featured on shows such as “The Hills”, “Entourage” and “Rachel Zoe”. Whether you stop in for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, there are plenty of options to choose from. Since it was kind of an off time to eat, Jonty and I just shared a delicious, fresh chicken wrap with a side of fries.

image

I do enjoy eating healthy, as hard as it may be to believe. Fresh pressed juice and juice cleanses are all the rage these days, and I have been jonesing to try Pressed Juicery in Los Angeles, which is a trendy hot spot, and celebrity favourite. I was in need of a little refresher, so I chose the “Greens 2” and “Greens 3”. They contained kale, spinach, romaine, parsley, cucumber, celery, apple, lemon, and the Greens 3 had ginger added to it. To be honest, they are not the best tasting things, but they are drinkable and extremely healthy and nutrient dense.

image

Dinner time had come around and we decided on the well-known, supposedly amazing, Asian fusion spot called Katsuya. Located in the heart of Hollywood this chic, trendy, bustling restaurant is packed every night. We arrived without a reservation, so we had a drink at the bar while we waited about a half hour for a table.

image

At first glance of the menu, we knew we were in for a treat. For appetizers, we ordered the sashimi salad which was mixed greens with a spicy, creamy ponzu dressing, topped with the chef’s selection of assorted sashimi. The freshness of the fish, paired with the raw vegetables was a refreshing start to the meal. The next dish is what Katsuya is most famous for, the Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna. After the first bite, it was clear why it is their most sought after dish. Picture white rice, fried to a crispy texture, and topped with a mixture of raw tuna and spicy mayo. The taste was explosive. I could use one of these right about now!

image

image

Wagyu tenderloin was next. Now, I am not exaggerating when I say this, but I can confidently say that it was one of the best steak dishes I have ever had. It was slow roasted and served with soy au jus. The sweetness, juiciness and perfect texture really made this stand out.

image

As for rolls, we ordered a yellowtail roll, spider roll, and another Katsuya favourite, the Rock Shrimp Tempura roll. This roll was a spicy tuna roll on crack, since it was topped with rock shrimp tempura tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce. These rolls were out of this world, and some of the best I have ever had.

image

image

After all this eating, it was time for some physical activity. California is known for it’s amazing hiking trails, so we chose the beautiful, quiet Topanga Canyon in Malibu. However, we did need some fuel before this journey. We stopped at a local Manhattan Beach favourite called Uncle Bill’s Pancake house. Our seat on the patio with the ocean as our backdrop and the sun beating down on us could not have been more perfect. Since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we went all out. We both ordered eggs, mine with hash browns his with fries, which each came with either pancakes, toast or muffins, so between the two of us, we got all three! On top of all this, Jonty ordered a chicken, apple sausage. Our table was barely big enough for all this food. The pancakes were fluffy, the muffins were moist and full of flavour, and the whole meal really hit the spot.

image

Along the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway) in Malibu is this little fish shop called the Reel Inn. We stopped by and enjoyed a platter of fried goodness on the back patio. Delicious calamari, shrimp, haddock, and french fries filled our bellies.

image

Here is some proof that we actually got some exercise (along with a breathtaking view)!

image

If you ever go to LA, you must visit Venice. Some really cool restaurants and shops can be found around here. For dinner, we picked Gjelina, based on wonderful reviews and recommendations. The atmosphere is dark, almost industrial, with a trendy vibe. While waiting outside for our table, I spotted the canoodling couple, Adam Brody and Leighton Meester! Anyways, back to the food. We were seated on the gorgeous outdoor patio, furnished with wooden furniture, and vines growing along the walls. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of our pizza, which was topped with mushrooms, goat cheese, fontina cheese and truffle oil. They are all cooked in a wood burning oven and come out a little bit burnt, but regardless it was still enjoyable. Next was the hanger steak with chili, lime, mint and spring onions, which were all grilled and cooked perfectly. Our other choices were salt and pepper frites with romesco (nut and red pepper-based sauce) and a garlic aioli, along with kale which seemed almost BBQ’d, topped with a yogurt, ricotta sauce, shaved fennel, and macadamia nuts. The kale was a little burnt for our liking, but the crunch and nuttiness from the macadamia nuts and the unexpected creaminess from the sauce brought it all together. The fries however were unreal. Thin, crispy and salty, just how I like them.

*sorry, the picture isn’t so great, it was dark outside and I really don’t like using the flash…

image

The next day we headed to Santa Monica and decided on Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, since Jonty had always wanted to try it and it was located right on the pier, overlooking the beach. Another fried platter for us (FML!), which included hush puppies, fried fish, shrimp, and french fries.

image

After walking along Venice Beach, we were starting to feel a little peckish. We stopped by the take-out window, Schulzies, which is a little bread pudding shop. We chose a small sampler which is three flavours, in which I chose, original, blackberry, and caramel. It was incredibly sweet, amazing, and rich, so the size was perfect for us to share. That being said, next door we came across a sashimi place called Poke Poke. This was an unexpected, yet incredible discovery. We chose spicy tuna on top of brown rice. The fish was so fresh, the sauce was perfect, and the healthy brown rice made us almost lick the bowl clean.

image

image

image

image

***Almost done, I promise!

Finally, what has been the topic of conversation, our dreams, and our imagination, finally became reality. It came time to try the one and only Rocoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles.

image

Jonty and I love chicken and waffles, but have always wanted to try the original, famous hot spot. Naturally, we ordered a ton of food. Fried chicken, waffles, cornbread, mac and cheese, chicken sausage, and french fries. When it all arrived, we dug our faces right in and didn’t look up. We were in actual heaven. The chicken was obviously amazing, juicy and fried to perfection, along with a thin, yet buttery waffle. I love cornbread, and this just tasted so traditional, especially with a spread of butter. The mac and cheese also tasted like it was right out of the south, so creamy and cheesy. This meal was so indulgent and highly anticipated that I literally felt like this was our last meal on Earth. Thankfully it wasn’t (as you will see below)!

image

image

image

Nate ‘n Al is a deli in Beverly Hills, who is visited quite often by Larry King. Just like any Jewish deli, it is usually packed, serves huge portions, and has very outdated decor. Jonty and I could not decide which meat we wanted, so we got the best of both world’s with the Reuben sandwich, which was piled with corned beef, pastrami, swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and coleslaw. A side of skinny fries, a side of fat fries, and a side of turkey bacon and we were off to the races. This deli did not disappoint, even though we have our fair share of traditional delis in Toronto.

image

One last trip to Uncle Bill’s, In N’ Out and Randy’s the morning of our flight and we were off to the airport with two very full, yet satisfied bellies.

image

image

image

image

There you have it folks, two long, detailed posts about how we stuffed our faces in my favourite state, and hopefully gave you some ideas if you ever want to travel there!

A Lot of Eating in Los Angeles-part 1

I have a major love affair with the entire state of California. The relaxed, beachy atmosphere just gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside. I am not exactly a winter person and I dream of the day I can move to LA. That being said, it has been quite a number of years since my recent visit to the West Coast. Also, Jonty had never been, so we decided to take a little vacay. I counted down the days until we left and savoured every moment. With every vacation comes my excitement for food. This trip was no different, as we did plenty of eating.

Right after booking our flight, we knew the first stop would be In N’ Out Burger. I have had it years ago but Jonty had never been so lucky. I was salivating the entire flight just thinking about what was to come in a number of hours. As planned, right from the airport we made our first of many stops at this famous burger joint. I ordered a cheeseburger, while Jonty got a double, with a side of animal fries (topped with their special “spread”, cheese, and fried onions). OH MAN was it delicious!! We inhaled it so quickly and realized that nothing quite compares to an In N’ Out Burger. It just doesn’t.

image

The next morning we decided to take a stroll in downtown Manhattan Beach, which is the little beach town we stayed in. Many LA food guides and bloggers that I follow suggested a trendy restaurant called Manhattan Beach Post for brunch, lunch or dinner. We decided to try it out for brunch and was not disappointed. The corned beef hash with egg on top and the caramelized apple french toast with walnuts were incredible. However, the only downside was that the portions were quite small and the prices were a little high. Since we were on vacation and like to try tons of different restaurants, we refrained from ordering more and figured we would eat somewhere else to fill our hunger that remained. While exploring the area, we came across a fast food type restaurant called lemonade. As soon as we walked in, we fell in LOVE. It is a counter/cafeteria style and has plenty of healthy options such as kale salad, cabbage salad, quinoa, among many others. There are also sandwiches, prepared meats, soups, and desserts. The best part of it all is the various flavours of lemonade. Our favourite was the blueberry mint and watermelon rosemary. We also ordered a plate of different salads which was a nice healthy addition to our brunch.

image

image

image

image

After a little walking, we felt that it was time for a donut. Now not just any ordinary Dunkin Donut. It is all about Randy’s donuts. You may recognize it from various TV shows or movies. It’s that big donut on top of a building, known as Randy’s Donuts. I have been here as a child, but barely remembered what the donuts tasted like, but I knew they were good based on the amount my parents/everyone who’s been to LA talk about them. We pulled up to this tiny walk-thru and drive-thru window and the smell in the air was pure bliss. As per usual, there was quite the line-up. The donuts are not crazy, unique flavours. They are simple and classic. The best two in my opinion are the plain glazed and the chocolate glazed. On top of those two we got a cinnamon streusel cake donut and a jelly donut for Jonty (I’m not a fan). We immediately ate all 4 donuts before reaching the car. The taste is almost impossible to describe. You just have to try one. They taste so light, not overly sweet, and exactly how a donut should taste. Let’s just say we visited Randy’s four times during our stay and even brought a dozen home to Toronto for our families.

image

image

That night we met up with some cousins of mine who live in LA and they took us to Umami Burger, which I have only heard good things about. We enjoyed the truffle burger which was topped with house-made truffle cheese and drizzled with truffle glaze. The burger was incredibly tasty and moist. The fries were also my favourite type of fry, thin and crispy. Along with plain fries, we ordered truffle fries which were topped with some sort of truffle infused sauce.

image

image

Our next meal happened as a coincidence. A while back, Jonty and I saw an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives where they went to a restaurant called The Boiling Shrimp, which serves shrimp in a plastic bag. We made it our mission to try it one day. As we were driving through Hollywood, we randomly thought of going there but didn’t know where it was located. We pulled over and was about to look it up on our phone, when all of a sudden I turned my head to the left and we were literally right beside it. If that’s not faith then I don’t know what is. The shrimp come steaming hot in a plastic bag with whichever spices you want. We got a mix of a whole bunch, with a side of the Cajun fries. The shrimp were so succulent and tasty. We are thrilled to cross that off our food bucket list!

image

The weather in LA started off a little gloomy, so we figured heading to the desert would be just what we needed after our long Toronto winter. The entire drive to Palm Springs was cloudy, and I was starting to get angry!! I was convinced that I was bringing horrible weather with me wherever I went. That was until we literally entered Palm Springs. It was quite surreal actually. We drove from pure grey clouds straight into BLUE SKIES!! It truly felt euphoric, and was the perfect pick-me-up. We spent the afternoon by the pool, with a break for lunch at the one and only, In-N-Out once again.

image

For dinner we walked up and down the main street until we found a nice, busy restaurant with a patio called Lulu, so we got a table. The food was alright, but the only dish worth mentioning was the tuna tower which was tuna sashimi layered with avocado with a soy ginger sauce. It tasted extremely fresh and the sauce added a nice sweetness to the dish.

image

After doing some research for a brunch/breakfast spot, I came across Cheeky’s which was close to our hotel. I could tell it was going to be a great start to the morning just by how busy this place was. We waited about 20 minutes and then got seated on the wonderful outdoor patio. As if it mattered at this point, I tried to be a little healthy by ordering the kale acai icee which was just kale, acai berries and ice blended. Jonty chose freshly squeezed blood orange juice. As for the food, we shared a few dishes which were, truffle tater tots, salted caramel waffles with apple chips, and a herb rolled omelette with a croissant and side of mixed greens. Each dish was better than the next, I didn’t know where to bite first. We thoroughly enjoyed this breakfast and I kept mentioning all day/trip how much I loved Cheeky’s.

image

We headed back to LA and went for dinner with my uncle who lives there. We couldn’t decide on a place, so he suggested we go to a few different restaurants and just have something small at each. Jonty had some obsession with trying Chick-fil-A, so we started our food tour by sharing a fried chicken sandwich with waffle fries. It was a yummy start for our taste buds. Next we headed to the famous Philippe the Original which is known for their french dip sandwiches. Jonty and I shared a double dipped beef dip which was incredibly moist from the au-jus on a soft, white bun with a side of creamy pasta salad. This was by far the best beef dip sandwich I have ever had. It literally melted in my mouth.

image

image

Our next stop was Bottega Louie. The moment we entered this Italian spot I was in awe!! I loooooved it in there. The huge, open space with high ceilings and a very plain, yet chic white interior was buzzing on this Monday evening. A huge display of desserts greeted us as we walked in, which included numerous flavours of French macarons and beignets. There was also prepared foods, as well as coffee and other beverages sold at this front counter space. We were seated and greeted by a friendly waitress and brought an interesting shaped bread, which was perfectly complemented by soft, salty butter. Since this was already stop number three, we opted for just a pizza to share. We couldn’t decide on which one, so we got half of one pizza and half of another which gave us a chance to try some different combinations. One half was topped with fontina cheese, mozzarella, creme fraiche, shittake mushrooms, garlic and Italian parsley, and the other half had ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted garlic, and wild rocket arugula. The soft crust topped with fresh ingredients was the perfect choice. I will most defitnely visit Bottega Louie on my next trip to Los Angeles!

image

image

image

As a little treat for later, which Jonty and I enjoyed in bed, we brought home one nutella stuffed beignet and a few macarons. I was literally in heaven. The nutella oozed out of the fried doughy goodness. My mouth waters at the thought.

image

Our last stop was Canter’s deli to take a look. We were all incredibly stuffed and definetly did not have any room for a huge deli sandwhich. However, there is always room for dessert. Along with my treats from Bottega, we got a little slice of carrot cake, plain cheesecake, and cookies and cream cheesecake to bring back home with us. *Although not the most appetizing photo, I can assure you they tasted juuuusssst fine 🙂

image

Stay tuned for the rest of our eats in part 2, coming soon!

New Continent, New Food

Although I have not been blogging for the past three weeks, I sure have been eating! Sorry for the hiatus, but I was busy hanging out with penguins and lions and rhinos and other cool stuff in South Africa. Still sounds crazy to me that I’ve been to Africa! If someone would have asked me a few years ago if I could ever see myself visiting Africa, I would have probably said “ummm are you crazy?!” Little did I know that a boy would change all of that. That boyfriend Jonty of mine who joins me in a ton of eating was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. That being said, it was time he show me his roots and where he was brought into this world.

Visiting a new place always sparks my taste buds with excitement. I dedicate a large majority of my vacation to finding the best food to enjoy, photograph, and write about. After all, if it hasn’t been photographed then you didn’t really eat it…right?! After spending some time in Johannesburg and Cape Town, I can confidently say that the food is incredibly delicious, fresh and worth talking about.

An authentic South African food is dried meat, also known as biltong. It is quite comparable to beef jerky, yet I find it way more enjoyable. To be honest, before this trip I would never indulge in some biltong whenever Jonty would come across some in Toronto. Three weeks surrounded by this stuff has converted me into a biltong fan.

For years I have been hearing Jonty talk about this Shawarma restaurant in Johannesburg that he went to years ago on his last visit back. I always just thought “ok yeah it’s shawarma, what’s the big deal?”. Well, I now know the big deal. It is super yum! The array of toppings and salads you can stuff inside your sandwich include the staples such as hummus, lettuce, eggplant, veggies, and then some nontraditional ones such as mashed avocado and potato salad!! Also, the beef ribs were literally fall-off-the-bone delicious, yet also quite rich. The juicy, soft meat smothered in a sweet, tangy sauce made for probably the best ribs I have tasted.

A common chain throughout the country is a place called The Spur. Since Jonty and I love to indulge in anything that has hit the deep fryer, we ordered calamari, with fries and onion rings. The one thing I couldn’t comprehend is why they are called rings. They are onion strings to us North Americans! Oh well, I still had no difficulty eating them.

The surrounding oceans in Cape Town allow for seafood to be readily available and extremely fresh throughout the country. Also a chain, which was just mediocre in my opinion was called the Ocean Basket. The food is tasty and the price is reasonable, but it would not be my first choice of restaurants. Anyways, Jonty and I ordered a seafood platter which consisted of prawns, calamari, fries, rice and hake fish, in which we got two fried and two grilled. When it arrived at our table we were overwhelmed with the amount of food, but before we knew it, our plates were empty.

These days you can find frozen yogurt on basically every corner in Toronto, however this trend is quite new to South Africa. There is only one fro yo shop, called Wakaberry, which we of course visited. I do prefer the yogurt here, as I find it to be creamier and tastier. However, for something so new in South Africa, I give it two thumbs up. The toppings were also a little bit different to me, considering there was some candy and treats that I am not familiar with, but I did give many of them a try and was pleasantly surprised. After all, if it’s sweet and sugary, I’ll most likely enjoy it!

We actually only ate Italian food once at a restaurant called Mimmos. Avocado is extremely popular in many dishes because of the freshness and mass quantity of them. The pizza we chose was topped with mushrooms, avocado, and chicken, which are three of my favourite things! We also ordered linguine with chicken and spinach in a garlic cream sauce. My carb craving was thankfully filled with a fresh, satisfying meal.

After all these savory delights I was in desperate need of something sweet. As I entered Milky Lane, I knew I had found the right place. Milkshakes, ice cream, sundaes, donuts, I didn’t know where to begin. I found a section on the menu which was kind of like a Mcflurry or blizzard with different flavours. I chose a Bar One (kind of like Mars bar) and banana creation. As soon as it arrived, I dug in and didn’t look up until I could see the bottom of the bowl. Let’s just say I enjoyed it. As for Jonty, he was feeling nostalgic and ordered something he loved from his childhood, which I find quite revolting, a bubblegum milkshake.

Whenever the topic of food and South Africa come up in conversation, the restaurant Turn n’ Tender is almost always recommended. Since this is the case, I just had to see what it was all about. To start, Jonty and I ordered biltong carpaccio, which was thinly sliced biltong topped with a bed of arugula, Parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil. This isn’t something I would have ever thought to order before this trip, but I am sooo glad that I did because I couldn’t get enough. As for the main course, Jonty and I each ordered a steak cooked to a medium perfection with a side of fries and onion rings/strings. I now know why this restaurant is talked about over and over again.

Stay tuned for part two and the rest of our photo diary from Cape Town.

Vegas!

My friends and have I always planned on taking a girls trip to Vegas. With everyone home from University and their world travels, we decided this summer was the perfect time. Our choice of hotel was The Cosmopolitan, which was pretty much the best place ever. The trendy, chic decor, three beautiful pools, dayclub and nightclub, the most friendly staff, and great food was all we needed to feel right at home in this crazy city.

We arrived in what seemed like a fake world, something you only see in the movies. It was only 9:00 am when we checked into our hotel. Each one of us STARVING and in search of something wonderful to eat. Because of the three hour time difference in Toronto, it was already lunch time for us. We decided to head upstairs in our hotel to a buffet called The Wicked Spoon. When I think of buffets, I think of sub-par, mass-quantity, not-so-great food. However, in Vegas, this is definitely not the case! For only $24 we entered paradise. None of us could contain our excitement. We didn’t know where to begin.

image

The large buffet spread had everything imaginable, with most things in single size servings. There were individual pastas including mac and cheese, gnocci, lasagna. There was a meat carving station, sushi and Asian station, make your own omlette, individual egg dishes, yogurt parfaits, bagels, french toast, potatoes, vegetables, pizza, assorted breads, and basically everything you could ever want in any meal all in one buffet. To top it off, mimosas were also included.

image

The aftermath.

image

As if I didn’t eat my own body weight in EVERYTHING, there was no way I was missing out on dessert. Surrounding me was a gelato bar with flavors such as salted caramel peanut, strawberry balsamic, cookies and cream, among many others. There were also cases of little pastries and tarts, chocolate covered strawberries, individual molten lava cakes, peach cobbler, apple pie, as well as a ton of other sweet treats! By the time we finished, we could barely breathe, but it was a fabulous start to an unbelievable trip!

image

After changing into our bikinis we headed down to the pool. Since it is Vegas after all, I decided to indulge in an alcoholic popsicle. The Neapolitan is a poolside ice cream shop serving up alcoholic frozen treats. They offer popsicles, ice cream, smoothies, and shakes which use liquid nitrogen and unique ingredients. Another “since it’s Vegas” sentence, the bartenders wear an open lab coat with their bikini peeking through. My popsicle of choice was the Watermelon Margarita with Cucumber Segments dipped in Chile Salt and topped with pop rocks. It was pleasantly refreshing, and not too strong, but it was a little too heavy on the salt for my liking so I tried to wipe some of it off. One of my friends ordered their spin on a pina colada, which was a coconut popsicle spiked with Don Q Coconut Rum and chunks of pineapple, and topped with shaved coconut. She thoroughly enjoyed her selection.

image

After lounging by the pool, we decided to take a walk down the strip and do some sightseeing. Of course a pool side day really works up an appetite so I was excited to see that the famous Pink’s from Los Angeles was right across from our hotel. They serve a variety of hot dogs and toppings. We ordered one plain beef dog, one veggie dog topped with veggies and guacamole, and one beef dog topped with chili and onions. The fries were just as delicious, as they were thin and crispy, just how I like them.

image

image

image

image

Later on in the night we visited Tao for dinner. I started off with a berry martini which was quite enjoyable. I love sharing a whole bunch of dishes, which is how Asian food usually works, so I was quite pleased that we could all agree on our selections. We ordered the spicy tuna roll, sweet potato tempura, bamboo steamed vegetable dumplings, and chicken dumplings. These were all quite tasty. We continued our ordering with the delicious soy ginger glazed salmon with udon noodles and spinach. The salmon was cooked perfectly and was not too fishy, and the noodles had the perfect amount of bite and saltiness to them. The Roasted Thai Buddha Chicken was incredibly moist, yet had a nice sweetness to it on the outside. To keep things a little healthy, we ordered a side of asparagus. My favourite of the night was the jumbo coconut shrimp in a Thai curry sauce. The shrimp were so juicy on the inside, yet crispy on the outside with the creamy curry sauce melting in your mouth at every bite. This says a lot since I am not a huge fan of coconut or curry, but somehow the combination was out of this world. Our last dish was the Lo Mein with chicken and vegetables. I have to say this dish was a little bit boring, but we still managed to polish it off.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

After a night out, we woke up pretty hungry and ready to start our day. The concierge suggested we try Cafe Bellagio which was right beside our hotel in the Bellagio, of course. I ordered corned beef hash which came with a huge pile of corned beef, some potato hash, and topped with two over easy eggs. It was a great start to the morning. Everyone else ordered standard breakfast foods such as bagel with lox, and omlettes. We were all pleased with our selections.

image

After hearing great things about N9ne Steakhouse, we instantly made a reservation. Our dishes of choice were the filet mignon, sautéed mushrooms and caramelized onions, Kobe burger with fries, and the penne pasta with chicken, broccolini, heirloom tomatoes, sweet onions, and pesto. Each entrée was delicious and satisfying. Although we were pretty full, we did save a little room for something sweet. The warm powdered sugar donuts with a side of chocolate and caramel sauces were truly a delicious end to a wonderful meal.

image

image

image

image

image

For our last night we figured we would go somewhere rather fun and unique, so we chose Sugar Factory at the Paris hotel. This restaurant is known for their crazy desserts and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The menu is filled with different cocktails which come in a large glass and are meant for sharing. For some reason we picked the gummy worm one which was overly sweet and almost undrinkable. I would not recommend this drink, although the alcohol infused gummy bears were a nice treat. As for the main course, we ordered spaghetti with shrimp in a garlic olive oil sauce, Chinese chicken salad, Ahi tuna sliders, savoury crepe with vegetables and goat cheese, and a veggie burger. The food was pretty mediocre. I would suggest visiting this restaurant for late night food, breakfast, or dessert. However, the star of the meal was the dessert. A piece of chocolate, banana, peanut butter cake was gone in no time. Each one of the desserts sounded incredible such as milkshakes, cakes, sundaes, fondue, crepes, and waffles.

image

image

image

image

image

Breakfast the next day, and our last meal of the trip was enjoyed at Society Café at Encore hotel. Everyone’s meal was up to par, but I only took a photo of my dish because it was to die for. I ordered the buttermilk pancakes topped with berries. It sounds so simple, which it was, but the smooth, fluffy hotcakes were truly something special.

image

So sorry for such a long post. It sounds like we ate a lot more than we did. While we were there we felt like we didn’t really overdo it with the food. My next trip to Vegas will focus on trying new restaurants and maybe eating even a little bit more!

 

 

We Came, We Saw, We Ate (New York)

Ooohhhh my! I think I may still be full from my trip to New York this past weekend. Jonty and I decided to take a weekend getaway filled with plenty of shopping, sight seeing, and of course plenty of eating.

I will start with breakfast on day one. We went to one of my favourite brunch spots-Sarabeth’s. You may remember it from my other New York post last summer. Everything on the menu sounds incredible, and with my sweet tooth, I chose the lemon ricotta pancakes topped with strawberries. They were perfect. Extremely light and fluffy with just the right amount of lemony zing. I polished these off in no time. Jonty stuck to simple scrambled eggs, but the star of the show was the croissant with their famous homemade jam. The croissant on its own is extremely delicious and buttery, but topped with the preserves added an extra sweetness.

Cafe Habana was next on our list. Although I have been before, I knew this was right up Jonty’s alley. And boy was I right! He couldn’t stop raving about the corn on the cob topped with mayonnaise, cotijta cheese, cayenne pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice.

For dinner we met up with some cousins of mine including a five year old boy in Times Square. We thought it would be a fun atmosphere not only for him, but for Jonty who has never been to Times Square. We went to an Asian restaurant called Ruby Foo’s. We ordered chicken lettuce wraps, calamari, lobster and shrimp spring rolls, kung pao chicken, and fried rice. Everything from the food to the ambiance was lovely.

As the night approached, we were looking for somewhere to go for drinks and some late night eats. The Meatpacking District is always bumping so we took a stroll through there trying to find somewhere. Everything was really busy, but eventually we landed at a place called The Diner. The food and drink menu looked appealing to us, as well as the DJ playing some old school music. Jonty ordered a beer, while I got an Arnold Palmer, with iced tea, lemonade, and vodka. For a snack, we munched on mac and cheese. I can tell you right now that I am still dreaming about that dish. It was incredibly creamy, cheesy, and smooth, with the perfect crunchy breadcrumb topping.

The next day was filled with even more deliciousness! For lunch we met up with my brother who lives in New York. I am a huge fan of Eataly (How can you not be?!) as mentioned in my other post. Last time I indulged in a prime rib sandwich which I haven’t stopped thinking about. We shared that and a caprese sandwich which had yellow tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil oil. As simple as these sandwiches sound, they were to die for. Mario Batali certainly is a genius.

The three of us split the two sandwiches (the entire sandwich is not pictured, it was bigger than that!) in order to save room for everything else that New York has to offer. That being said, our next stop was The Donut Plant. It was also mentioned in my previous post, but the peanut butter and blackberry jam donut is too tasty to pass up. Obviously Jonty loved it too. There is nothing better than the flavour of the fried dough, dunked in peanut butter, topped with peanuts and then stuffed with blackberry jelly.

Later that day, we were ready for some more. I have been dying to go to the Big Gay Ice Cream shop. What started off as a truck soon turned into a storefront. All of the publicity on the Food Network and word of mouth certainly did some good for this little ice cream truck. The creations are quite unique ranging from wasabi, olive oil, cayenne pepper, sea salt as toppings for your ice cream. As we approached the small East Village shop, my excitement had to be put off just a little bit longer to wait in the long line up out the door! Once we entered, it was definitely worth it! I will get to the ice cream in a minute, but the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful, offering samples of anything you could dream of. My choice was the ”Salty Pimp” which was vanilla ice cream, drizzled with dulce de leche, sea salt and then dipped in chocolate. Never have I ever tasted something savoury and sweet together that quite compares. With each bite I savoured the moment and dreaded when it started to get smaller and smaller. I didn’t want this cone to end. Jonty ordered the “Bea Arthur”, which was vanilla ice cream, drizzled with dulce de leche sauce, dipped in Nilla wafer cookies. His addition to this though was cayenne pepper. We were both in heaven.

After all of this day’s food had digested, it was finally time for dinner with my brother and his girlfriend. We went to Schiller’s which is a trendy, buzzing restaurant turned bar late at night. My drink of choice was lemonade, vodka citron, with muddled strawberries, while Jonty ordered a Hoegaarden beer. To start we ordered calamari, which was perfectly crisp, along with oysters. Jonty had never tried them before and was a little hesitant. After a little bit of peer pressure he took down a couple. He didn’t love them but nonetheless he was able to handle them.

For the main course, Jonty and I love to share two dishes so we can try a bit of everything. This place is known for their steak frites, so naturally we chose this. Also, we got fish and chips, but substituted the fries for a green salad. Attempting to be a little bit healthy was our goal here if we didn’t want a heart attack right then and there. Everything was just amazing, enough said.

Our last day in New York had sadly approached, so we ended off on a sweet note. Max Brenner was our lunch spot. This restaurant specializes in chocolate and dessert, but also has a savoury menu. Jonty, myself and his cousin all ordered milkshakes. I got the dulce de leche one, Jonty got cookies and cream and his cousin ordered a chocolate and vanilla one. YUM!!!

Since it is Max Brenner after all, I ordered the chocolate chip pancakes as recommended by our waiter. These consisted of 60% dark truffle chocolate cream, pure milk chocolate shavings, spiced pecans, and caramelized bananas. Do I need to even explain how good these were? Let’s just say the waiter was right!

Jonty ordered a pizza with fresh and smoked mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil and avocado. This also did not disappoint.

On the side we ordered waffle fries topped with chili and cocoa powder. We could not resist this unique, yet amazingly satisfying combination.

Last but certainly not least, we indulged in a cupcake from my favourite bakery, Magnolia. I like to think of Magnolia as one of the first cupcake shops around, setting the trend that exists today. I think the simplicity, buttery, perfection makes them the best around.

New York, we shall meet again soon to continue our tour of the city through our mouths and stomachs!

Mother Daughter Bonding

Having a brother going to school in New York leaves me with the perfect excuse to visit quite often. How could my parents resist me saying that I miss my big bro and would love to go see him?! This time around it was a mother daughter trip. My parents had gone a few weeks prior but due to sickness I was unable. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend some quality time together over shopping and good food! What could be better than that?

Eataly is probably one of the best places, like ever. Think gourmet grocery store with numerous restaurants, a coffee shop, and a gelato shop all in one. Mario Betali is the genius behind this. For lunch, the prime rib sandwich was my choice, which was literally to die for. It was a simple sandwich drizzled with just olive oil, however I still salivate at the thought.

Although my parents brought me back Crumbs cupcakes last time, I still had to visit for myself. The flavours are incredible, and the cupcakes are huge! My mom and I shared a peanut butter banana cupcake named The Elvis.

After a day of shopping, we met up again with my brother at another one of Mario Batali’s restaurants called Otto. This Italian eatery did not disappoint. We shared a cobb salad, pizza topped with potatoes, butternut squash pasta, and a mushroom tomato pasta.

As for dessert, we opted for something simple like this trio of gelato. Tangerine, caramel and apple cider were the flavours we chose and I could not believe how delicious they were!! It tasted exactly like real apple cider.

Another day, another cupcake! Today we gave Sprinkles a try, which is a cupcake shop that started in Los Angeles. My mom loves fruit flavoured things and I was in the mood for something light so we compromised on the orange cranberry, which was the perfect balance between tanginess and sweetness.

Self-serve frozen yogurt seems to be all the rage these days. This is a picture from one of the New York chains called 16 handles. A few of the flavours were original tart, peanut butter, strawberry lemonade, cookies and cream, chocolate, vanilla, and many more.

Trendy, yet quaint was a coffee/ice cream shop called Van Leeuwen. The flavours were incredibly original, such as Earl Grey Tea, Red Currant, Ginger, Burnt Caramel, Hazelnut, along with a variety of others. My choice seems really boring in the real ice cream world, but here, it was simply mouthwatering! I chose Strawberry, which had real pieces of strawberries in it, and Vanilla bean which was so creamy and pure tasting.

Since my brother lives in New York and knows all the cool spots, he took us to a tiny, very low key, casual burger joint called the Corner Bistro. They serve simply burgers, cheeseburgers, and grilled cheese. The burgers are thick and juicy, and cooked exactly how you like it.

To end the trip, I just had to stop by Magnolia Bakery (even though I’ve been years ago). I have to say, these are still my favourite. The light, buttery, moist cake slathered in creamy butter cream frosting makes for one heck of a cupcake.

New York

This past summer a couple friends and I decided to take a last minute trip to NYC. If you hang with me, you gotta love to eat! Thankfully, we did just that!

As featured on the Food Network on shows such as Unwrapped, we visited The Donut Plant. Our pick was the Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jelly donut. IT WAS INCREDIBLE!

Next, we stopped at Cafe Habana in Nolita. This is also a well known little Cuban restaurant featured on Best Thing I Ever Ate. The most famous dish is the corn on the cobb smothered in mayonnaise, cotija cheese (kind of like parmesean but a little tangier) and cayenne powder. I am not a huge fan of any of these ingredients but somehow the combination along with the corn is truly a melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Naturally, I was beyond thrilled to visit a CAKE BOUTIQUE called Lady M. There were a variety of cakes on display and our choices were strawberry shortcake, chocolate mousee cake, layers of crepes in a cake, lemon cake, and a banana cream cake. They were all to die for.

The most important meal of the day was enjoyed at Sarabeth’s. It is a cute, warm, homey restaurant which all started with selling only jam years ago. Today you can find this place lined up out the door with tourists and locals edging to try homemade pastries, breads, and breakfast favourites. They do also serve lunch and dinner which I’m sure is just as delicious! Since I can eat anything sweet at any time of day, I ordered the french toast topped with strawberries, powdered sugar, and served with a side of maple syrup and butter. Nothing says “Good Morning” quite like this!

 

Next we tackled Rice to Riches in SoHo. It is kind of like an ice cream shop, but for rice pudding. To tell you the truth, I have never been a fan of rice pudding, but Cassi insisted I try this place. With an open mouth and stomach, we decided to try two flavours- french toast and rocky road. To my surprise, it was delicious! It was extremely flavourful, creamy, yet very rich even for my sweet teeth. If you ever visit New York, just be warned that this is definitely a snack to be shared.

1 2