Sailing in Toronto Harbour

A few months back I came across a Groupon deal for a Toronto Harbour Cruise on the tall ship Kajama. I purchased the deal with the intent that Bryan and I would spend an afternoon in Toronto on the cruise then visit with friends in the evening. Things didn’t work out as planned, we just couldn’t seem to find a day that worked for both of us. The deal doesn’t expire until the end of September, but I wanted to go on the cruise while the weather is still warm.

Instead, I called up my former roommate S, who now lives in Toronto, and planned a visit. It was the perfect day for sailing. Sunny with a bit of wind. It was great to catch up and the cruise was lovely.

Kajama with its sails down leaving the harbour front

Kajama with its sails down leaving the harbour front

Leaving the harbour

Leaving the harbour

Kajama's sails are up!

Kajama’s sails are up!

Toronto skyline

Toronto skyline

Fantastic day for sailing

Fantastic day for sailing

Kajama at the docks

Kajama at the docks

Kajama at the docks

Kajama at the docks

Afterwards, we travelled to China Town in Toronto in search of all-day dim sum. Fortunately, that’s not hard to find in a large city (dim sum is strictly a brunch meal in Waterloo). We ended up trying a new-to-us restaurant that came with good recommendations from S’s classmates. The food was fantastic. The price was reasonable for the food we got. We could have found cheaper dim sum, but it likely wouldn’t have been as tasty.

All in all, a fantastic day!

Beach Day and Dinner at the Erie Beach Hotel

With all of my assignments and such handed in for the term, I decided it was about time I get outdoors and enjoy summer! Or at least what’s left of it. I loved my day-trip to Grand Bend and wanted at least one more day at the beach before fall arrives. So I called up my classmate Kas and we hopped in a car for a day trip to the beach.

This time, I set out for Lake Erie (where I had spent every weekend during the summer months as a child). The day was gorgeous and perfect for some sight-seeing and relaxing at the beach.

First stop was Booth’s Harbour, where I showed Kas around and shared many childhood memories. I hadn’t thought to bring my camera, but stopped to take a quick picture with my cell phone.

 

This was my usual fishing spot and you can see the treeline for my favourite beach on the horizon.

Next stop was Port Rowan, where we loaded up on sun screen and ice cream. We stopped by Twin’s Ice Cream Parlour one of my two favourite ice cream shops in the area. I chatted with the staff a bit, we each ordered a soft ice cream in a waffle cone, then headed out again. Next time, I need to remember to visit during strawberry season, when the shop (who also owns a local strawberry patch) serves strawberry sundaes with their locally grown (pesticide-free) strawberries. Yum!

Next up, Long Point Beach for some swimming, sunshine, and snacking. We thought it was surprisingly busy for a weekday, but still very quiet and relaxing.

After an afternoon of fun, we decided to have dinner before setting off for home and set out for Port Dover. There, we stopped in at the Erie Beach Hotel in Port Dover. This restaurant is one of my family’s favourites in the area. They have fresh Lake Erie fish on their menu as well as an assortment of other fish and seafood.

Of course, the attraction is the locally caught fish. So we both ordered the Pickerel and Chips dinner (which comes with a side of celery bread).

The restaurant has a notice that everything is made fresh to order and to please be patient, especially on days when the restaurant is especially busy. Yet, we found there was very little wait time.

Despite having a lovely picnic lunch at the beach, I was hungry by dinner and accidentally took a few bites before remembering that I should take a picture of the lovely dinner.

The food was delicious. The portion size was just right (though probably too much on a normal day). The service was quick and friendly. The price was fair. I left happy and full.

We took a short walk down to the beach after dinner. The Port Dover beach is smaller than Long Point Beach. However, there’s more things to do in Port Dover with lots of beach shops and cruises available.

We got to the beach just in time to watch the sun set, then headed back home after a fantastic day (and no sun burns!)

 

 

Fresh Fish Chowder from Relish Cooking Studio

I was so nervous eating this fresh fish chowder. I have a lactose sensitivity (thank goodness it’s not an intolerance, I couldn’t give up my small amounts of whipped cream, cheese, etc.). It’s not that I can’t eat milk products, I just have to be careful and enjoy them in moderation. And, if I think there might be a problem, take preventative measures by ingesting a “dairy digestive supplement” before the meal. This meal calls for heavy whipping cream… so I took two. Because I wanted to enjoy both this dish and the rest of the meal.

Chef Mark offered to make a soup just for me with a tomato broth as the base. This would have made it lactose free. However, despite his generosity, I declined because I really wanted to taste the chowder recipe as it was meant to be.

If I make this recipe again at home (probably during the winter when we tend to enjoy more soups), I will try out the tomato broth and exclude the cream.

This part of the demo was especially fun, because not only did Chef Mark teach us how to choose fish from the store, he also taught us how to cut a whole fish into fillets. He even allowed someone from the audience to give it a try! (Unfortunately, I didn’t speak up fast enough to try, but I’m confident that, with the right knife, I wouldn’t do a terrible job filleting a fish!)

Have you made fish chowder at home? What kind of soup base do you enjoy? Cream? Tomato? Something else entirely?

Fresh Fish Chowder

Recipe by (and posted with permission from) Chef Mark Brown, demonstration at Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 teaspoon butter – approximate cost $0.10
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, chopped (about 2 cups) – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine – approximate cost $1.50
  • 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 1/2 cups clam juice – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 bay leaf – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 pounds firm white fish (such as sea bass), pin bones removed, fillets cut into 2-inch pieces – approximate cost $20.00
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy (or whipping) cream (so the brother won’t curdle, do not substitute milk) – approximate cost $2.00
  •  2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley – approximate cost $0.10

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the wine.
  4. Cook uncovered until the wine reduces by half.
  5. Add the potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper.
  6. Bring to a simmer.
  7. Lower heat to medium setting.
  8. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are almost done (10-15 minutes).
  9. Lower heat to low setting.
  10. Add fish pieces and cream to the pot of potatoes.
  11. Cook over low heat, uncovered, until the fish is just cooked through (about 10 minutes).
  12. Mix in the parsley.
  13. Allow soup to rest for 30 minutes before serving (the flavours will improve).
  14. Serve with a side of fresh bread.

Makes 6 servings (approximate cost: $4.68 per serving).

NYC foods and sightseeing

On the way home from the conference, Kas and I stopped in NYC for two evenings and spent one full day exploring Manhattan before making the 9+ hour drive home. This was by far my favourite part of the trip! I got to visit with some very good friends of mine (practically my family!). It had been much too long since I’ve visited and hopefully I will be there again soon!

Our day in Manhattan was a fantastic combination of exploration and food-tasting. We took the Subway in (not my favourite part of the trip), and started our journey with a boat tour, I saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time!

Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

We then walked through Battery Park and picked up some hot dogs for lunch (because that’s what you do in NYC, right?). Mostly, we wanted a quick lunch so we could get walking!

NYC hot dog

NYC hot dog

We walked. And walked. Stopped at a few stores. And walked some more.

While looking for Washington Square Park, which we circled it a few times before actually getting there, we came across Waffles and Dinges, a waffle truck Kas had heard about on the Food Network (Kas tells me the name is Belgian for “Waffles and Delicious Things,” or something like that). We had just stopped for pizza (which I didn’t get a picture of because I was too hungry), despite being very full, we had to stop! I’m so glad we did! The waffle was light and crispy. The toppings were fresh and delicious. It. Was. So. Tasty! Stop if you ever come across this waffle truck.

Waffles and Dinges

Waffles and Dinges

Waffle with strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce

Waffle with strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce

Afterwards, we finally made it to Washington Square Park.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

Our feet were hurting at this point, but we pressed on. Determined to make it to Central Park. And we did! At this point it was beginning to get dark, so we decided to catch the subway back to my friend’s place. We guess that we walked about 14 1/2 kilometers (or about 9 miles) by the end of the day. I can’t wait to return to NYC!

What food do you enjoy most when visiting NYC? Or if you haven’t been, what would you like to try?

Central Park

Central Park

Southern foods

Last week, my classmate Kas and I travelled to Roanoke, Virginia to present a workshop at the Gender, Bodies, and Technology conference. Our workshop, we think, went fairly well! We didn’t have a means for cooking at the hotel (also, we really didn’t have time), so we scoped out a few restaurants that looked good (we were looking for Southern food in particular for obvious reasons)

Our first stop was the Lake View Restaurant at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. How did we end up here if we were staying in Roanoke? Well, we had planned a half day trip to the Peaks of Otter. We arrived one week before the park was open for the season, and it was pouring rain when we arrived. Wanting to wait out the rain and do some sightseeing, we founds the only place that was open in the area. We checked out the gift shop and debated staying for lunch. We are so glad we decided to eat here! We ordered lunch, talked about and revised our upcoming workshop, and the rain stopped just as we were finishing up our lunch. We didn’t get to go hiking, but we walked the gorgeous trail near the restaurant and stopped at various overlooks where we enjoyed the view of the Appalachian Mountains on our way back to the hotel. My lunch was deep-fried catfish with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. Kas had a chicken pot pie (sorry, no picture). This was my favourite restaurant of the ones we visited in Virginia.

Deep fried catfish

Deep fried catfish

View from The Lakehouse Restaurant

View from The Lakehouse Restaurant

Walking trail at the Peaks of Otter Lodge

Walking trail at the Peaks of Otter Lodge

Blue Ridge Parkway (Appalachian Mountains)

Blue Ridge Parkway (Appalachian Mountains)

That evening, we came across Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles. Neither of us had tried chicken and waffles prior to this trip. I wanted to try chicken and waffles because it’s on The Food List Challenge (a Facebook app). Actually, I was able to try two things on the list, the other being okra. Kas and I both ordered the same thing: fried chicken breast and a waffle with a side of potatoes. It was delicious! We agreed that the chicken was the best part of the meal. We almost decided to go back to this restaurant again.

Menu - Thelma's Chicken and waffles

Menu – Thelma’s Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles

Lunch the next day was fantastic buffet during one of the plenary talks. The room was quite dark for a performance piece, so I didn’t attempt to take a picture. However, I will likely try to recreate part of the meal sometime soon. There was so much to choose from! Garden salads, carrots and parsnips, vegetarian lasagna, chicken, meatloaf with a chipotle sauce, horseradish mashed potatoes, and so many desserts!

For dinner, we sought out a southern barbecue restaurant we had found online prior to the trip, the Blues BBQ company. The restaurant came very highly recommended by a very nice woman who was working in a Vintage store that we stopped at. This restaurant is where I first tried fried okra, which was delicious when piping hot, but the texture struck me as a bit odd when it had cooled down. A woman who worked at the market had mentioned that the texture is usually what determines whether someone likes okra. In addition, this restaurant is where Kas first tried fried green tomatoes. Yum! Our overall impression was that the food was decent, but a bit on the salty side for our tastes. What made this restaurant fun was the welcoming atmosphere! The staff seemed to genuinely want to make us feel welcome.

Fried green tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes

Pulled pork, fried okra, and collard greens

Pulled pork, fried okra, and collard greens

Beef brisket, hush puppies with an egg sauce, and fries

Beef brisket, hush puppies with an egg sauce, and fries

Our last day in Virginia, we had breakfast at Denny’s before heading north (making a one day stop in NYC before returning home). Kas got a standard bacon and eggs breakfast. I ordered the biscuits and gravy, which I had for the first time in Florida a few years ago and had mostly forgotten about until this trip.

Biscuits and gravy

Biscuits and gravy

Overall, the food was great! My favorite was the fried catfish. What is your favorite Southern food?

Day 29: Dessert

Coconut panna cotta with a pineapple consomme and kumquats (prepared two ways)

Delicious! (I forgot to take a picture before I started eating) My brother says it’s really not that hard to prepare yourself at home… I haven’t tried yet, but when I do I will share the recipe!

Day 27: Chocolate

Why is there a picture of pasta when the topic is chocolate? It’s hard to believe, but these ravioli pieces are stuffed with braised beef and dark chocolate. It was delicious. I’ll admit, I was skeptical about this pasta. I didn’t think I’d like it. Chocolate and beef seemed like a weird combination. It was delicious. I might try to make it myself at some point.

Pad Thai from Relish Cooking Studio

When you think of Thai food, Pad Thai is probably the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, when I mentioned that I had attended a Thai cooking class many of the responses were “Did you learn how to make Pad Thai?!” Yes, I did learn.

Will I be making it at home? I’m not sure. Maybe if I have a Thai-themed dinner at some point I will attempt this at home. I’m not very good at stir-frying in large quantities, so maybe I’ll make half the recipe the first time I try to make it myself.

A few things I took away from the course are that Thai food doesn’t take a long time to cook, but takes a very long time to prep. And the noodles can be a bit finicky (the water needs to be boiled first, tap water isn’t hot enough for soaking the noodles).

If you’re adventuresome enough to make Pad Thai at home, this recipe was delicious!

Pad Thai

Recipe by Akeela Rabley from Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 1/2 package of Thai rice stick noodles – approximate cost $0.75
  • 1/3 cup boneless, skinless chicken pieces (or super firm tofu if you’d like to make this dish vegetarian-friendly), cut into strips – approximate cost $3.00
  • 1 1/2 cups Chinese chives, chopped into 1 inch pieces (optional) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 1/3 cups bean sprouts, rinsed well (optional) – approximate cost $1.50
  • 1 egg – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 pound shrimp (optional) – approximate cost $5.00
  • 1 shallot, minced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced – approximate cost $0.30
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil – approximate cost $0.05
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste – approximate cost $0.75
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or palm sugar) – approximate cost $0.10
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper, dried and ground – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper – approximate cost $0.05
  • 1/2 lime, cut into wedges – approximate cost $0.25
  • 2 tablespoons roasted, unsalted peanut pieces (optional) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1 bunch of Thai basil – approximate cost $2.00

Method

  1. Boil water in a large pot.
  2. Remove from heat and add dried noodles to the water (noodles should be flexible and still fairly solid after soaking, if the noodles are over soaked, they will become soft and mushy).
  3. In a wok (or large pot), heat the vegetable oil on high heat.
  4. Add the shallot, garlic, and chicken (or tofu) and cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
  5. Drain the noodles and add to the wok (stirring frequently so nothing sticks).
  6. Add the tamarind paste, sugar, fish sauce, and chili pepper and continue stirring. (Note: If there is a lot of liquid in the bottom of the wok, it’s not hot enough and turn the heat up!)
  7. In a separate frying pan, scramble the egg and remove from heat.
  8. Fold the scrambled egg into the noodles.
  9. Test the noodles (if the noodles are chewy, they’re done! If the noodles are crunchy, add a bit of water to cook them).
  10. Add the shrimp and stir.
  11. Add white pepper, bean sprouts, and chives and continue stirring for anther another minute or so (the noodles should be soft, dry, and very tangled).
  12. Pour generous amounts onto serving plates and garnish with peanuts and black pepper.
  13. Serve hot with a lime wedge and Thai basil on the side (Optional: have additional raw bean sprouts and Chinese chives available as garnish).

Makes about 4 servings  (approximate cost: $4.15 per serving).

Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad with Peanuts and Chlies) from Relish Cooking Studio

After a short break last week, I’m back to talking about the Thai food class at Relish Cooking Studio!

I think this salad was among my favourite dishes that we enjoyed at the class. It was fresh, crisp, and very different from the typical salad. First, I hadn’t realized there was more than one variety of papaya. I expected the salad to be sweet and spicy. It was definitely not sweet. Actually, I didn’t find it overly spicy either. I really like the lime-based salad dressing. It would probably taste very good on a spinach salad!

When learning how to make this salad, we had a brief lesson on Thai chilies. I learned a lot.

First, we learned how to choose our chilies according to our desired spiciness. The long Thai chilies are mild, while the smaller chilies are spicier. The richness of the colour doesn’t relate to the spiciness. (Who knew?) I used to buy the smaller chilies so I wouldn’t have as many chili pieces in the dish. Turns out I was actually using the spicier chilies!

Second, we learned some safety tricks when chopping peppers. Akeela suggested wearing gloves to avoid any contact with the pepper. After an unfortunate encounter with a jalapeño pepper, I highly support this idea! While it may seem a bit over the top, you will understand if you’ve ever accidentally touched your eyes after handling a hot pepper. You may recall, I posted about ways to relieve burning caused by contact with hot peppers a few months back when I was just starting this blog.

Som Tam (Green Papaya Salad with Peanuts and Chilies)

Recipe by Akeela Rabley from Relish Cooking Studio

Ingredients

  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled – approximate cost $0.15
  • 1 long red Thai chili pepper, seeded and chopped finely – approximate cost $0.10
  • 1 ounce of unsalted roasted peanuts (whole or pieces, your choice) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried shrimp (optional) – approximate cost $0.50
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar (or brown sugar) – approximate cost $0.25
  • 1/4 cup lime juice – approximate cost $0.50
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce – approximate cost $0.20
  • 3 1/2 ounces cherry (or grape) tomatoes, halved – approximate cost $2.00
  • 4 cups of green papaya, peeled and grated – approximate cost $2.00
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced – approximate cost $0.50
  • 1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves – approximate cost $1.00
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves – approximate cost $1.00

Method

  1. Combine the garlic and chilies in a food processor, and mix until they form a paste.
  2. Add the peanuts and mix until roughly chopped.
  3. Add the shrimp, sugar, lime, and fish sauce to the paste and mix well.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the tomato pieces and lightly squish.
  6. Add the papaya, shallots, basil, and cilantro to the mixing bowl, and toss well to coat the ingredients with the sauce.

Makes about 4 servings  (approximate cost: $2.18 per serving).

Day 17: Something green

Green soft ice cream. Yummy! (There was also an option for green sprinkles)

%d bloggers like this: