Archive

Restaurants

One of my best friends will be in Tokyo soon. I’m jealous and anxiously awaiting all the details of her adventure. I’ve been thinking about Tokyo a lot lately. Perhaps my friend’s trip prompted my pensive daydreaming about the capital’s city streets, or maybe I’m just long overdue for a vacation? Either way my daydreaming has led me to write this post – to share with my friend and with the world, my favorite places to visit in Tokyo.
I should preface, this list is in no particular order, this list is rather a mind full of musings on one of my favorite places in the world.
The department store of all department stores. My favorite locations in Tokyo are the Shinjuku and Shibuya locations. My favourite areas of the store:
– The beauty section – local makeup brands like CanMake (love their gloss).
– Bath products: Yes I do want 100 options for my bath salts.
– Stationary: Because I love stationary and someday want to write a real letter… You know like I did back in the 80’s
– The Toy Floor
My favorite location again is in Shinjuku. I love this store. I love books, but I really love Japanese Magazines. There are magazines for all sorts of things – like the best coffee houses in Tokyo… or  Nail Art. I could look at pictures of Nail Art forever.
I got my nails done here on my honeymoon and loved them. I highly recommend them. The location that I went to is in Shinjuku. Note that you should ask your hotel to make your reservation as all the nailists mainly speak Japanese. You could also use this handy reference from Universal-Doll for common phrases/ etiquette when getting your nails done in Japan. 
4. Shibuya Crossing – Getting Starbucks at the crossing and watching the world go by. Note – if you get a matcha latte in Japan… It tastes much better as they add more Matcha.
5. Shibuya 109 – I love this mall. Love it. I’ve been able to get some select items years ahead of the trends in Canada, particularly accessories. Tip – Start at the top and work your way down… I find the best stores have been near the top. On the very top floor is a makeup store and HUGE selection of circle lenses. OMG you must get some of these – they are insanely fun. Look closely and you will find a waiver you must sign (all in Japanese) but there is a cheat sheet for us non speakers. NOTE: If you have a prescription pick out 3-5 different lenses you want and bring them to the cash – prescription lenses sell out more quickly so you might not get your first choice but if you’ll brought a few backups you like they should be able to find you your second or third choice.  Shibuya 109 is also a mecca for eyelashes at the same store… the sheer selection is daunting.
6. Japanese baked goods. Especially ones with adzuki beans and or matcha flavoured.
7. Sushi. My favourite places include:
– Genki Sushi: http://www.genkisushi.co.jp
– Heiroku Sushi in Omotesando https://www.heiroku.jp
8. Fast foodish – Japanese Curry from CoCo Curry.
Get ready to Queue though – although the wait is worth it! Ohh and get the cucumber salad… I dream of that salad.
Also known as the inspiration for that famous scene in Kill Bill where Uma Thurman battles the crazy 88 – and on a personal note where my hubby and I celebrated our engagement together.
12. Watami. A popular Izakaya. Ask for non smoking.
Hope you enjoy some of the same places I do next time you travel to Japan.

Friday night in a foreign land – Syracuse, NY.

20140703-084537-31537426.jpg
We craved BBQ. I searched for BBQ in Syracuse and found that DinosaurBBQ had a 91% rating on Urban Spoon. But when out hotel concierge proclaimed that she was “raised on” DinosaurBBQ , a Syracuse institution, our dinner plans were set.

If you are in the Syracuse area I would recommend it. The food was down home BBQ at its best. To start we had the fried green tomatoes. Coated in a spiced corn flour batter then deep fried and served with a jalapeño blue cheese dipping sauce; I’m going to dream about these delicious morsels. I’m so sad I didn’t get a pic of these beauties. We ate them too quickly. We washed our appetizer down with a pitcher of Dinosaur smoked porter.

A moment on the beer. I loved the Dinosaur smoked porter. I don’t normally like darker beers. I usually prefer to stick to lagers and IPAs. But the smoked porter had some depth with a touch of sweetness and no bitter aftertaste.

For our mains we each were compelled to try something different. Our kiwi friend ordered , my future hubs ordered x and I had a 1/4 rack of ribs and 1/4 chick

The food was down home cooking lovingly prepared. Everything was good. But the standout favorite for everyone were the ribs. If I ever go back I’m only going to get the ribs. Not only were they huge! They were just slow roasted perfection. The meat was slightly caramelized by the rub and sauces applied and the large chunks of meat were quick to fall off. The ribs were also less fatty than others I’ve tried.

Now don’t get me wrong. I liked the food. But what would make me go back to DinosaurBBQ over and over again was the atmosphere. Servers were quick to laugh and provide their menu recommendations. Patrons were a complete mix of the population. Hipsters sat next to 50 something music lovers. The music was loud. Around 10:30 a live band complete with trumpet, saxophone, guitar, drums and piano took the stage.
20140703-084538-31538325.jpg

Me wearing a fox trimmed poncho. My new Black Fox tail in the upper right image.

Me wearing a fox trimmed poncho. My new Black Fox tail in the upper right image.

Last Saturday I was in Toronto. I love Toronto. I spent my Saturday morning in Toronto catching up with friends and their lovely baby at the Easy Restaurant in Little Italy. It was a delicious breakfast, if you happen to be in Little Italy in Toronto you must stop here. I had the Breakfast burrito. I’m drooling thinking about it.

After breakfast, full of burrito fuel, I headed to the Queen and Spadina area. It was cold outside as I walked. I sought a small reprieve from the cold. Spying a fur in a shop window, I darted into Alex Furs on Spadina. When I stepped inside I was greeted by a friendly “hello”. It was clear this business was a family affair with 3 generations sitting and standing near the cash register. Family spending time together watching rugby between customers. I was welcomed and politely left to peruse the supple furs. I couldn’t help it, I tried on some as well.

Nick, the store’s manager, helped me try on a few furs. Mostly fox fur. I love fox fur. The picture below is one of myself wearing a fox trimmed poncho made of cashmere. So warm and so beautifully made. Nick was quick to point out that they help their clients with custom designs and understand the desire for their clientele to have something unique.

While I was in the store an existing client came in to pick up their jacket (a lady in her 20’s who had taken a vintage find to Alex Furs for cleaning and some gentle repairs). It was clear to me in watching  the team at Alex Furs take care of this younger client that their customers are family. The service they provided was warm and friendly, the type of real customer service that you don’t see often anymore. I got the sense that if I bought something from Alex Furs that I would be remembered and that I would actually share in something. Share in a passion for fine clothing, clothing that if taken care of will last a lifetime, garments created with care and purpose.

Once the younger customer left, happily carrying a revived vintage fur, I chatted with Nick about fur and their business. Alex Furs has quite the legacy, manufacturing fur garments and accessories since 1969. Located in the Fur district on Spadina Avenue they specialize in custom design, repairs, recycling cleaning and cold storage of furs. They love their work and it shows. It was hard not to nab a new fox collar for my wool coat. Instead I snagged a black fox tail for my purse.

But… I have plans ohhh yes I have plans for a custom cashmere jacket. Something suitable for a dress in the winter with a fox trimmed hood. Think Little Red Ridding hood with an edge.

 

20130218-113055.jpgIt’s a blustery winter in Northern Ontario. Snow banks reach shoulder height.The populace hibernates to keep warm. But everyone comes out of hiberation Saturday afternoons to gather at the Beef n’ Bird Pub for Porketta Bingo.

Porketta. Not Porchetta. Porketta. A Sudbury delight inspired by the traditional italian recipe.

What is Porketta you ask? Get ready to Drool.

Porketta is a pork cut (the cut varies by recipe) which has been stuffed full of a mixture containing dill, fennel, garlic, salt and pepper and then slow roasted on a spit for hours. The result. Pure Pork Paradise. You have to taste it for yourself. The slowroasting of the pork makes the meat tender and juicy, while certain parts have been exposed to the heat and have carmelized the pork juices and fat on the outside for a crisp, meaty bite of heaven.

20130218-114047.jpg20130218-113112.jpgThis Saturday we were lucky enough to be able to attend the winter tradition of Porketta Bingo at the Beef n’ Bird in Sudbury. Locals head to the pub early to get a seat (11am) and wait until 3pm when you can buy a bingo card (composed of three playing cards laminated together) for 12$. Your ticket to future meaty winnings. I bought 2 cards. Next you sit, drink and hope you get a “porketta” (the equivalent of Bingo when all three of your cards are called). DON’T Call out BINGO or expect to be booed – Porketta is the word of the Day and after waiting all day to be fed – this is exclaimed loudly and ravenously by anyone lucky enough to win. Winners are brought a full pound of steaming porketta to enjoy with friends. The pork is served on butchers paper in a wicker plate with one fork and one loaf of bread. It disappears quickly. Almost no one uses the fork offered. Fingers get greasy and bellies full. Everything is washed down is pitchers of beer.

Porketta Bingo is a lively, loud game. Tables are competing to be fed – so expect a lot of light hearted rucous. Lots of Swearing. And Fun. Alot of Fun.

We won 5 times in total and took a lot of meat home – much to the dismay of the tables around us.

A good article ran in the Toronto Star a couple years ago about this yummy phenomenon and can be read here and here.

Link to a delicious recipe for Porketta.

Try not to drool too much 🙂
K

20130122-080453.jpg

I had the pleasure of going to Art-is-in Bakery a couple of weeks ago. I’m so glad I did.

I stumbled upon Art-is-in when looking for a good brunch option for a recent bookclub meeting. I wanted something fun and unpretentious but delicious, I found that at Art-is-in.

I would say the vibe is friendly, accessible hipster (just the right blend of warmth and style to make you smile and feel like you could chat up just about anyone there). The crowd is a mix of age groups who just seem to all have one thing in mind – eating fabulous food.

The menu hangs displayed on two blackboards above the counter with staff eager to help you make a selection. The staff member who took our order was very calm and didn’t rush us at all, despite a growing line of other foodies growing behind us. I really appreciated her calm amidst the breskfast rush, as there were so many tempting options and having never been before it was nice to ask some questions before making a selection.

I opted for a breakfast sandwich (egg, cheese and bacon on freshly baked sourdough bread) a coffee, and a peanut butter and jam Danish. One of my friends ordered the same and another girlfriend ordered the Croque Monsieur.

We settled in to a table with our table number (waitresses bring you your kitchen order to your table). What followed once our order arrived was … a lot of delighted mmmmm’s and silence as we enjoyed our meal.

My breakfast sandwich was delicious, the bread was soft, sour and ever so salty which complemented the bacon, egg and cheese inside. Fresh chopped chives rested on top of the sandwich and a sort of sweet chutney was provided for dipping (the closest I could describe the chutney was Dutch ketchup).

20130122-080530.jpg
The Peanut Butter and Jam Danish was divine. I’m not lying when I say I often think about this Danish. It was sinful. Just enough peanut butter and jam inside to make it ooey-gooey without being too messy. To top it off resting on top of the Danish were fresh banana slices. Yum.

20130122-080602.jpg
*Note: The restaurant layout has changed a little since these pictures. They’ve nice increased seating. Yippee!

20120930-131100.jpg

I spent a wonderful weekend in the largest city in Canada. Toronto. The home of one of my best friends, Laura. So one of my favourite places as a result.

We spent the whole day on Saturday shopping at Yorkdale mall. We didn’t leave the mall with much, I got some awesome socks at H&M and we both got some false lashes at Sephora. Even though we went easy on our wallets, after six hours of scouring the mall for new finds we were both exhausted.

Thankfully we refuelled with lattes and lashes. Using false lashes is one of my favourite ways to play with a look, to create some drama or just go completely over the top for a night. I think Laura is a new lash convert. Although I had to laugh when I asked Laura “How do they feel” and she responded happily “Great… I love them. It just feels like I have hair in my eyes all the time.” Not exactly how I would describe the feeling, which to me feels like butterflies on top of my lashes… But hopefully next time wearing lashes will be a more comfortable for her.

After our looks were complete we headed to little Italy to a little restaurant called “La Forchetta Ristorante“. I’ve been to the restaurant twice and love it there. The food at La Forchetta reminds me of eating in Italy. Simple, fresh ingredients are combined in unique and uncomplicated ways, yielding food that demands you just sit, relax, and enjoy every forkful. And the service is impeccable. If you are in Toronto I highly recommend it.

After dinner we went to Eat My Martini, so delicious. 6$Martinis. We ordered the Pumpkin Pie and the Chocolate Factory Martini. The Chocolate Factory is my favourite so far, but with over 130 Martinis to choose from I might find a new favourite next time.

It’s wasn’t a late, late night. But we are already planning our next night out. Looks like it might involve dancing and drag queens and I can’t wait.

I had a wonderfully weekend. I hope you did too!

K