Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Q&A with UofT's Bulletin

About a month ago I was approached by the University of Toronto's newspaper, the Bulletin, to participate in their 'Off the Clock' series. "'Off the Clock' is an ongoing series of short Q & A's with faculty and staff and their lives outside the university, i.e., what they do ‘off the clock'."

A coworker recommended me to the Bulletin and mentioned my love of food. The Bulletin thought it would be a great idea to focus on that, so most of the Q's were related to that. I even included a recipe in my answers.

You can read the article here.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Playa Cabana Cantina

This past Sunday I went to the Junction Flea Market with some friends. After walking around for a while and making some vintage purchases we were feeling a little peckish. We walked along Dundas until we came to Playa Cabana Cantina. It's a traditional Mexican restaurant, where you're encouraged to eat with your hands - "The tortilla is your plate and your fingers are your forks".

The decor is Junction-themed with neon signage and vintage Mexican film posters.

It's Tapas-style dining, so we ordered guacamole for the table and each ordered two different tacos, and of course, margaritas! The food was incredible and the portions were perfect. I'm already planning my next visit.


House-made chips and guac

Flor De Calabaza Con Queso - Zucchini-blossom with Oaxacan cheese

Ancho-Braised Shortrib - AAA Ontario Beef shortrib braised in ancho chiles on a crispy tortilla with guac, crema, queso

Pollo Tinga - Braised chipotle chicken breast on a crispy tortilla with guac, creme, queso and a Mexican pineapple soda

Monday, September 9, 2013


A few weeks ago I had a night out with some friends from high school. It was my turn to choose the restaurant and the only suggestion I had was that we dine on a patio. After a quick Google search I came across BlogTO's article "The Best Patios in Toronto". I went through the list and looked at the menus and locations of all the restaurants. My criteria was that it be located somewhere that was easy to get to by all the girls, and have great vegetarian options for my non-meat eating friend. Smith seemed to be the winner, and when we got there we all fell in love with it. It's located at 553 Church (Church and Wellesley) with a hidden patio behind the building.

We loved the open bulbs lighting the patio, as well as the mix-matched plates and cutlery, the chalkboard directional signage and the newspaper-like menu. The food was incredible and we had such a great time catching up and enjoying the atmosphere.

Patio lights and little flower pots

Table setting
Chalkboard directional signage

Newspaper-like menu

Appetizer of bread and avocado spread

Grilled corn-on-the-cob with chili powder, goat cheese and lime juice

Heirloom tomato salad with roasted beets, fennel, cucumber and pickled beats

Myself at Smith

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Shakespeare in the Park

I recently went to Shakespeare in the Park to see MacBeth. They encourage you to arrive early to the park to get a good seat, and we brought along a picnic to enjoy while waiting.

My contribution to the picnic was some aged Cheddar, Brie and homemade Fig and Honey jam. The jam was very easy to make and was a big hit at the park.

I used this recipe from Well Preserved

I used these great figs from Kensington Market!

One of the most important steps of the recipe is to have the mixture boil and reach a temperature of 210 Fahrenheit so the jam sets

The finished product! The fig skins and seeds give the jam a great texture

Enjoying our picnic in High Park while the actors rehearse

Jam and Brie on a cracker - Absolutely delicious!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

European Eating - The Mall Tavern - Throwback Thursday

I recently recommended an awesome restaurant to a colleague traveling to London, and since it's Throwback Thursday I thought I'd write a post about my visit to The Mall Tavern back in 2011.

My best friend Rebecca and I were in London for a little while during our European vacation. We absolutely love London and were so thrilled to spend some time there! Luckily we were able to spend some time with our best friend Katie who showed us some really awesome places in London, including the Hummingbird Bakery.

The Mall Tavern in located in the Notting Hill area, close to the Portobello Road market. After a long day of shopping and exploring, it was the perfect way to wind down. Most pubs in London carry a variety of the same things: fish and chips, beef pie, bangers and mash, etc., all very heavy to keep away the British chill. We were in London in July and it was hot and we felt like having something light and refreshing. The Mall Tavern differs from your average pub and had lots of really yummy items to choose from that matched our appetites that day.
We shared an heirloom tomato salad with warm goat cheese,
pesto flatbread,
and their soda bread (which is made in-house).
We washed it down with a Pimm's Cup!
We enjoyed the food at The Mall Tavern so much that we went a second time! This time we were looking for a more substantial meal and finished it off with dessert.

We each had a serving of the Mac & Cheese with smoked bacon.
I tried the Rose Lemonade which was sweet and bubbly with a hint of floral fragrance.
Rebecca finished her meal with the deconstructed cherry cheesecake,
and I had the toasted marshmallow (made in-house) with raspberry couli, which was flambeed right at the table!
 We absolutely loved everything we ate at The Mall Tavern which is why I always recommend it to friends visiting London. I will certainly go back the next time I'm across the pond.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Muffuletta Sandwich

One of the things we made in my Preserving and Canning class was Giardiniera, which is an assortment of pickled vegetables. You can use this to make an olive tapenade to accompany a Muffuletta sandwich.

Making this also coincided with a Gastropost mission.

Mission #64: Mediterranean Diet
"There must be something in the water of that warm sea that separates Europe, the Middle East and Africa, because the cultures that overlook it — from Morocco to Turkey to Spain — somehow all enjoy delicious (and summer-friendly) national cuisines. Your mission this week is to celebrate the Mediterranean by eating something from the region, whether an old family recipe or a contemporary dish."

See my photo online here.

Here are modified versions of the recipes we used in class:

Muffuletta Olive Tapenade
1 - 1/2 pint jar of Giardiniera (assorted pickled vegetables)
1 cup - Green olives, pitted
1 cup - Kalamata olives, pitted
1 tbsp - Capers in brine
2 - garlic cloves, blanched
1 cup - semi-dried or soft sun dried tomatoes (or 14oz jar of roasted peppers)
1 tbsp - Italian parsley
1 tbsp - Fresh eregano leaves
1 tsp - Crushed red pepper flakes
125 ml - Extra virgin olive oil (or as needed to make the tapenade spreadable)
Splash of red wine vinegar or lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running slowly, drizzle the olive oil until the mixture is spreadable, but still chunky.
  2. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
  3. Scoop into a jar, cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to one week, to let the flavors develop.
Muffuletta Sandwich
1 - Baguette or 10" round loaf of Italian bread
1 - recipe of olive tapenade
120 g - Sliced Genoa salami
120 g - Sliced hot capicollo or ham
120 g - Sliced Mortadella
120 g - Sliced Provolone

  1. Cut the bread in half lengthwise
  2. Spread the olive tapenade on the bottom side of the bread.
  3. Layer the sliced cheese and deli meats. Top this with more of the olive tapenade.
  4. Replace the top of the baguette and gently press down.
  5. Wrap in plastic wrap, and rest for at least half an hour*
  6. Remove plastic wrap, slice and serve.
*This just allows the juices to soak into the bread. Not necessary if you don't want to wait.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


Hi folks! After a brief hiatus, while I went on vacation, I'm now back and ready to bring you some more posts to read and salivate over!

One of my photos, that I sent to Gastropost, was published in the National Post on Saturday, August 3!

Mission #62: Corn Goes Pop
"Who’s that husky fellow awaiting us at the produce section and farmer’s market? Why, it’s our old friend, fresh local corn, back and tasty as ever. Your mission this week is to take part in an Ontario midsummer tradition: Eat some corn, whether it’s a simple cob or a dish that incorporates its colourful kernels".

Here is the PDF of Saturday, August 3 Gastropost Spread. You'll find my photo in a smaller section called "Taking Food Further"  because I made the food myself instead of taking a photo of something eaten in a restaurant. If the submissions are creations made at home an additional hashtag is included: #further.
The mission was to eat some corn and I made corn relish to top a BBQ-ed burger.

I made the corn relish in my canning class at George Brown a few weeks ago and finally got to garnish something with it. And since it fell in line with the Gastropost mission I took a photo of my meal and posted it on Instagram.

This is a modified version of the recipe we used in class.

1 - Large red pepper, diced (1 1/2 cup)
1 - Large onion, diced (1 1/2 cup)
2 tsp - Kosher salt
5 - Large ears of corn (500 g/3 cups)
250 ml - Apple cider vinegar
150-200 g - Sugar
3/4 tsp - Tumeric
1/4-1/2 tsp each - Allspice, Celery Seeds, Mustard Powder/seeds


  1. Wash jars and lids in hot soapy water. Place the jars in a large pot lined with a jar rack or clean towels. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Sterilize the jars in the boiling water for 10 minutes. Heat the lids in a small saucepan of freshly boiled water (do not boil).
  2. Cut the kernels off the cob. With the back of the knife, scrape the cobs to extract the milky, starchy juice.
  3.  Place corn kernels and remaining ingredients into a saucepan and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Spoon the relish into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4" in headspace. Remove air bubbles with a non-metallic utensil and wipe the rims with a clean damp papertowel. Centre the hot lids on the clean rims and screw the bands on slightly.
  5. Place the filled jars back into your large pot and cover with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place the lid on the pot and bring to a full boil. Process the jars for 30 minutes from the point of boiling.
  6. When the time is up, turn off the heat and remove the lid from the pot. Let the jars rest for an additional 5 minutes. Place the jars on a cooling rack or on a counter lined with a towel. Leave then undisturbed for 24 hours. If the lids seam loose, that is ok, do NOT tighten them.
  7. Check the jars to make sure they have sealed properly. The lids should be curved down. Note: if the jars fail to seal, refrigerate and use within 2 days.
  8. Store the jars in a cool, dark place and use within one year. Labeling is recommended.
Note: You could do a version of this with roasted corn.