jiro dreams of sushi

Last weekend, I went to see the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre. It tells the story of 85-year-old Sukiyabashi Jiro, whose 10-stool sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station earned three Michelin stars and has devoted patrons willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for a plate of his sushi. Watching somebody so obsessed and devoted to his trade was intense, but also admirable. I left the theatre dreaming of Jiro's sushi and longing for a trip to Japan.
*images from Magnolia Pictures


homemade bagels

Before I tackled making bagels at home, I did a lot of research. The two things I really didn't want? Rock-hard bagels or bagels that taste just like bread, but in bagel form. I decided to use Peter Reinhart's recipe because the dough rests overnight in the fridge, meaning I wouldn't have to devote a whole day to bagel-making.
At first, the dough was hard, literally. I was sure this wasn't going to work out for me. But after letting it rest and then forming the bagels, the dough seemed ok. The next day, the bagels were boiled, sprinkled with a variety of toppings then baked.
Fresh out of the oven, the bagels smelled awesome. When I took my first bite, I was in heaven. The crust was crisp and the interior was dense and chewy—just what I was looking for. I'd say these are more akin to NYC bagels, but I think that if I make them flatter and add extra honey to the dough, these could easily transform into Montreal-style bagels.
My favourite topping was the combo of caraway seeds, Maldon sea salt, dehydrated onions, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. All that was needed was a generous smear of cream cheese. 


southern-style supper

Here's my attempt at a traditional Southern-themed dinner: fried chicken, mac & cheese and collard greens. A pretty great way to end the weekend if you ask me.
One of my favourite fried chicken recipes is Thomas Keller's (I divide the recipe by three to accommodate eight pieces of chicken). The collards were chopped and sauteed with onions, garlic and chicken stock until tender (about 30 minutes).
The mac & cheese was my favourite part of the meal. Gooey, but not too rich with a buttery-crisp top. 


fish & chips

There have been some major fish & chips cravings at my house, so Joe took matters into his own hands and made the most awesome meal: homemade fish & chips, coleslaw and tartar sauce.
He used fresh cod dipped in a simple batter of cold beer, flour and salt, which resulted in a light and crispy crust. The tartar sauce was a mixture of mayo, lemon juice, green onions, gherkins, capers and parsley. 
I'm not a big french fry person (I don't like potatoes that much in general), but these were nice and crunchy outside and fluffy inside. Must have been the double fry method that Joe learned about while watching Saturday morning PBS cooking shows. 


country roads

Some days I find the idea of moving to the country really tempting. Like this day that was spent driving around Woolwich Township just outside of Waterloo. After a pit stop at the market, we drove on passing through St. Jacobs and Elmira. I fell pretty  hard for the vast farmland, historic homes and slow-paced small town feel of the area, and was pretty excited to stop at the covered bridge (aka Kissing Bridge) in West Montrose. 
Built in 1881, this is the last covered bridge in Ontario. It's quite beautiful and stretches across the Grand River.
Heading back to the city and towards Elora, we stopped at a lookout to take in the view of the Grand River and surrounding valley. Then, back to real life.


st. jacobs

This past Saturday, I stopped into the St. Jacobs Farmers Market to snap some pics and grab a quick bite to eat. First, I joined the long line for apple fritters. Can't go wrong with battered, deep-fried, cinnamon sugar-coated apple rings.
Anything pickled always catches my attention.
And check out the preserves!
I grabbed a bag of spicy pepperettes, scarfed down a mediocre burger and was on my way.
St. Jacobs Farmers Market
878 Weber St. N.
Waterloo, ON.


pizzeria libretto prix fixe

The prix fixe lunch at Pizzeria Libretto is a great deal. For $15 you get to choose a starter, pizza (Margherita or Marinara) and dessert. For an extra $5 you can upgrade your pizza to any of the ones listed on their menu. There were three of us so we had one of each appetizer: (top to bottom) chickpea and prosciutto soup (loved this!), beet caprese salad, arugula salad.
I really dig the pizza here with its thin, charred, bubbly crust topped with simple, tasty combinations. This time around, we had (left to right) the Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil), Cremini Mushroom (buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola, roasted garlic, rosemary, thyme, pecorino), House-Made Sausage (caramelized onion, mozzarella, chili oil). The sausage remains one of my favourite choices.
You can choose from biscotti or a scoop of gelato for dessert. We tried the biscotti and the gelato of the day, biscotti cookie dough. That cookie dough gelato was genius! 
Pizzeria Libretto
221 Ossington Ave.


new sky

New Sky is probably my most-frequented restaurant in all of Toronto (no lie, I've even celebrated my last three birthdays here with friends). Service is ok, the atmosphere is typical Chinatown (you can see the atrocious lighting in my pics), but I go for the food and nothing else. The double lobster dinner is the best deal if you're with a group—it comes with two lobsters (I like mine stir-fried with ginger and green onion), a choice of soup (go for the hot and sour) and a selection of other dishes (the number you choose depends on the number of diners at your table). Check out this feast: 

hot and sour soup

deep-fried soft shell crab w/ salt & pepper
crispy beef
beef w/ eggplant in hot garlic sauce
crispy sweet & sour pork with pineapple
salt & pepper squid
double lobsters w/ ginger and green onion
New Sky
353 Spadina Ave.


korean fried chicken

The Korean fried chicken at the Galleria Korean supermarket is awesome. It comes steaming hot, is mega crispy and the meat is so juicy. You do have to wait almost 30 minutes from when you order it (or in our case an hour, because the cashier forgot to actually place our order with the kitchen), but they at least give you a buzzer that tells you when your order is up so you can grocery shop while you wait. We got a half order of traditional Mom's fried chicken:
There's also a seasoned version that comes tossed in a sweet-spicy sauce. Along with the chicken you get a small container of tangy cubed pickled radish. 
Because of the extra long wait, Joe and I also shared an order of jjangmyun (noodles in black bean sauce) pre-chicken:
Galleria Supermarket
865 York Mills Rd.


buttermilk cake doughnuts

Sunday morning looked like this: perusing magazines and cookbooks + homemade buttermilk cake doughnuts.
The last couple of weekends have brought on a few too many indulgent breakfast treats—but these doughnuts were just what I needed to get my day started!


pho linh

Recently, Pho Linh has moved into first place on my list of go-to pho restaurants. It's not as convenient to me location-wise, but I can't seem to get enough of their pho these days. One day last week, I actually went twice in a 24-hour period. I always order the cha gio (Vietnamese-style spring rolls) to start.
They offer a special spicy soup Friday through Sunday. It's chock full of rice noodles and random meats, and has a flavourful, aromatic and mouth-numbing broth.
My usual order is the rare beef and tendon pho. The quality of meat/offal here seems way better than at most downtown pho restaurants. 
Pho Linh
1156 College St.