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Afternoon Tea: Langdon Hall

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As you can tell by the bare trees, this post has been a long time coming.  This past Easter, my friends (I, S and W) and I did a little road trip out to Cambridge, Ontario for afternoon tea at the historic Langdon Hall –  about an hour or so west of Toronto.  It was my first visit out to the the hotel and spa and what a beautiful property!  Afternoon tea was served is a small all-white room overlooking the back property.  There was at most 10 tables.  The selection of teas were limited (I order the Imperial Earl Grey) however, the savoury and sweet selections were delicious!  My favourite will always be the scones and devon cream but the strawberry macaroon and the charred asparagus and sweet tomato tart were both so tasty!  I also loved the fact that we each got our own three tier stand, no sharing involved – bonus!

Beautiful Langdon Hall.

Beautiful Langdon Hall.

Inside the tea room at Langdon Hall.

Inside the tea room at Langdon Hall.

White tea set at Langdon.

White tea set at Langdon.

Devon cream, honey butter and housemade preserves.

Devon cream, honey butter and housemade preserves.

Three-tiered stand full of yummy savoury and sweet things.

Three-tiered stand full of yummy savoury and sweet things.

Charred asparagus and sweet tomato tart on the left and quail egg, mustard aioli on smoked paprika crouton.

Charred asparagus and sweet tomato tart on the left and quail egg, mustard aioli on smoked paprika crouton.

Beautiful strawberry macaroon, butter tart, rhubarb opera cake and lavender sugar cookie.

Beautiful strawberry macaroon, butter tart, rhubarb opera cake and lavender sugar cookie.

Deliciou savoury plate: asparagus and tomato tart, quail egg on a crouton, chicken and apple gougier, and cucumber on pumpernickel.

Deliciou savoury plate: asparagus and tomato tart, quail egg on a crouton, chicken and apple gougier, and cucumber on pumpernickel.

 

Restaurant of the Month: El Catrin

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It has been quite some time since I’ve posted a restaurant worthy of the “Resto of the Month” title.    But El Catrin absolutely deserves this honour.  The usual “Finer Things in Life” Supper club members (me included) hit the relatively new restaurant for dinner one night – located in the hip and historical distillery district of Toronto.  Specializing in Mexican cuisine, it was a menu of small dishes that can be shares – with a variety of botanos (mini burritos), ceviches and tacos.  The guacamole was fantastic with lots of avocado chunks.  I usually rate a mexican restaurant by how good the guacamole is however, what made this meal was the restaurant’s signature dish “Gobernador”.  A delicious taco made with a flour tortilla filled with sauteed shrimp and lobster in chipotle mayo and black bean puree.  I can confidently say that it was probably the best taco I have eaten to date!!!  This is a must order!  (Don’t forget the margaritas!) In addition, the dessert was unique in that they offered, as part of their regular menu is an option to select 3 desserts on a single place served with salted caramel popcorn.  The churros and the hazelnut chocolate bar were to die for!  So decadent!  I will be back!

Freshly made guacamole.

Freshly made guacamole.

Pitcher of mango margarita - absolutely refreshing and delicious!

Pitcher of mango margarita – absolutely refreshing and delicious!

Gobernador - signature tacos with sauteed shrimp and lobster.

Gobernador – signature tacos with sauteed shrimp and lobster.

El matamoros - mahi mahi ceviche.

El matamoros – mahi mahi ceviche.

Fish tacos made with crispy fried haddock.

Fish tacos made with crispy fried haddock.

Gringa - flour quesadilla with grilled pork.

Gringa – flour quesadilla with grilled pork.

Carnitas - pulled pork and black bean.

Carnitas – pulled pork and black bean.

A close up of the Gringa.

A close up of the Gringa.

El Catrin - dessert

Barra de Chocolate Ahumado – double smoked spiced hazelnut chocolate bar.

ElCatrin - dessert 2

Churros and Tres Leches cake – delicious!

Inside El Catrin.

Inside El Catrin.

Patio and pathway leading up to El Catrin.

Patio and pathway leading up to El Catrin.

 

Field Trip: Strawberry Picking

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For the past 18 days now I’ve been on a “no dairy, no sugar (natural or artificial), no grain” challenge with my dragon boat team. So I thought to take advantage of the summer season, I wanted to go strawberry picking. I remember fondly, strawberry picking as a child with my mom – bringing home baskets of fresh berries for her homemade jams! Last weekend, along with my colleague S and her family we went to Forsythe Family Farms located north-east of Toronto. It was my first time at this farm and the strawberry field looked small but boy, was it full of ripe, juicy strawberries right for the picking. We then stopped by a local farmer’s market shop, Hy-Hope Farms, on the way back home that specialized in homemade pickles, salsas, jellies and preserves. I picked up a jar of Green Tomato Chow (like a relish) and a jar of Red Pepper Jelly (perfect on top of cheese and crackers)! With my fresh produce in hand (including fresh cut rhubarb from S’s garden), I decided to bake from scratch, a strawberry rhubarb crumble pie to take to a Canada Day BBQ! Everything just tastes so much better straight from the farm!

Forsythe Family Farms

Forsythe Family Farms

My pickings for the morning - 2 whole buckets of ripe strawberries.

My pickings for the morning – 2 whole buckets of ripe strawberries.

Hy-Hope Farms.

Hy-Hope Farms.

Pick your own lettuce and kale at Hy-Hope Farms!  Fill a bag as much as you can for only $3!

Pick your own lettuce and kale at Hy-Hope Farms! Fill a bag as much as you can for only $3!

Homemade jars of relishes and jellies by Hy-Hope Farms!

Homemade jars of relishes and jellies by Hy-Hope Farms!

My crimped homemade pie shell ready to be filled.

My crimped homemade pie shell ready to be filled.

Fresh cut rhubarb from my colleague S's backyard garden.

Fresh cut rhubarb from my colleague S’s backyard garden.

Strawberry rhubarb pie filled and then topped with a sweet crumble topping before going into the oven.

Strawberry rhubarb pie filled and then topped with a sweet crumble topping before going into the oven.

Fresh out of the oven, my strawberry rhubarb crumble pie!

Fresh out of the oven, my strawberry rhubarb crumble pie!

A close up look at my strawberry rhubarb crumble pie!

A close up look at my strawberry rhubarb crumble pie!

 

India: Lazeez Affaire

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On our tour of Dehli we were brought to Lazeez Affaire for lunch.  I typically don’t like scheduled tours but I must say, this is a great way to see a lot of Dehli in a short period of time.  And for once, the “tourist” restaurant the guide took us to was really good!  Located in the British part of Dehli, the restaurant was upscale in decor and the food just as delicious.  Actually, some of the best food I’ve tasted in India, especially the papadum!  So flavourful, light and crisp – I couldn’t stop eating them.  This trip has definitely changed my view on guided tours :)

Lazeez Affaire - in Dehli.

Lazeez Affaire – in Dehli.

Pickles

Pickles

Papadum - so tasty!

Papadum – so tasty!

My plate full of yummy food.

My plate full of yummy food.

Vegetable curry.

Vegetable curry.

Basmati rice.

Basmati rice.

Delicious butter chicken.

Delicious butter chicken.

Fresh saag with paneer.

Fresh saag with paneer.

2nd course plate.

2nd course plate.

Chana Paratha.

Chana Paratha.

 

India: Suruchi Restaurant

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After a great visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar we decided to stop into a nearby restaurant for lunch called Suruchi Unlimited Thalis Service Restaurant.  The restaurant served all-you-can-eat thalis.  I had no idea what a thali was before that meal but I’m a BIG FAN!  Its literally a plate full of different dishes and a great way to try so many different items.  Each of us were set up with a tray and multiple small bowls.  The server then comes by and ladles different dishes in each of the bowls.  Along with the dishes you also get rice, naan and papad.  My favourite was the papad or papadum which is a thin crisp flatbread/cracker.  So tasty with great flavour – I can eat a whole plate full of these.  Out of the curry dishes, the shahi paneer was delicious!  Made with paneer (cheese), tomatoes, cream and spices – to me, it was butter chicken without the chicken or butter!  Check it out!

Suruchi Unlimited Thalis Service Restaurant.

Suruchi Unlimited Thalis Service Restaurant.

I ordered the Punjabi Thali.

I ordered the Punjabi Thali.

My favourite sodas in India - Thums Up and Limca.

My favourite sodas in India – Thums Up and Limca.

Server scooping curries and dishes into the thalis.

Server scooping curries and dishes into the thalis.

A spongy snack best dipped in one of the curries.

A spongy snack best dipped in one of the curries.

Another savoury snack filled with what tasted like potatoes and spices.

Another savoury snack filled with what tasted like potatoes and spices.

My Punjabi thali.

My Punjabi thali.

Tawa parantha and papad.

Tawa parantha and papad.

 

India: McDonald’s

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What’s great about fast food joints like McDonald’s is the consistency – you know what you’re going to get!  And don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing different cultures through food but I’m just as curious how large international food chains adapt to local tastes.  So McDonald’s was high on my list of “must-haves” in India.  And of course, not to my surprise, there was no Big Mac to be found – well, no beef or pork.  However, the variety of chicken, filet-o-fish and paneer (yes, I said PANEER!) burgers made up for the absence of beef burgers.  I went right to the McSpicy Paneer Burger – basically a nice block of cheese covered in batter and deep fried with shredded lettuce and a spicy mayo!  Delicious!  And the fries…..just as I hoped, the same – oh how I love McDonald’s (in moderation)!

Spicy menu.

Spicy menu.

Meal deals menu.

Meal deals menu.

Spicy Paneer burger meal deal.

Spicy Paneer burger meal deal.

My spicy paneer burger - delish!

My spicy paneer burger – delish!

Taking a bite out of my spicy paneer burger.  Cheesy goodness!

Taking a bite out of my spicy paneer burger. Cheesy goodness!

Spicy McChickens.

Spicy McChickens.

 

India: Ladies Sangeet & Mehndi

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Indian wedding celebrations last a number of nights and on my third night in India, we had probably the “most fun” night of the wedding at the Ladies Sangeet and Mehndi!  Why not the reception?….This night is reserved for only the brides side with the attention on the women and bride to be.  It first started with a mehndi session where my hands were beautifully decorated with intricate designs using a natural dye, henna.  Then it was time for the bride to get covered in some sort of paste (not sure what it is made of) by her family and friends – called the Vatna.  It is said that this is to make the bride more beautiful on the wedding day.  After all is said and done, we finally busted out in dance and boliyan (song of expressions that are passed down from generation to generation).  And throughout the entire night, of course, we were well fed!  Again, starting with a number of appetizers – my favourite being the grilled tandoori paneer, it was delicious!  I wasn’t counting but I couldn’t helping popping those in my mouth all night.  I then had a plate full of curries, including my all-time most delicious butter chicken, and naans – baked in a tandoor oven built within a steel drum!  Brilliant!

My mehndi (my hands are in the centre), loved it!

My mehndi (my hands are in the centre), loved it!

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The view of the beautiful courtyard from a top R’s roof!

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I fell in love with this stuff – Limca!

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My dinner plate full of tasty curries and roti!

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A pretty unique clay oven made within a metal barrel.

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Mutton gosh – a lamb curry.

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My favourite Indian dish ever – butter chicken!

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The start of the buffet line.

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The salad bar.

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My appetizer plate – grilled chicken, fish pakora and grilled tandoori paneer.

India: The Mangana

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Other than wanting to go to India itself and knocking off another country off my list, the other reason was to attend my friend R’s wedding!  Yes, an Indian wedding in India!  And if you’ve ever been to an Indian wedding you know that celebrations can last a week long.  So after a short two day stint in Paris we started our journey to India.  Our main hub was a city in Punjab called Ludhiana and the first event leading up to the wedding was the Mangana – which is what I’m told is the “engagement”.  It was hosted at and catered by the Hotel Maharaja Regency.  Here, the bride is not present but is an event on the groom’s side with the bride’s immediate/close family.  Gifts are given to the groom and we eat…..we eat at every event – did I tell you how much I love attending Indian weddings :)  And how much I love pakoras!  Typically made with vegetables in a spiced batter and deep fried – delicious!  Check out some of the other dishes I sampled.

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Hot chai…..so good!

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A close up of the stuffed fried paneer – it was delicious!

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My plate full of yummy goodness!

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Sweet Gulab Jamun!

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Fried dough.

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Stuffed fried paneer sticks.

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Vegetable cutlets.

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My favourite Indian dish – vegetable pakora!

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The buffet line.

Paris: My Favourite Things!

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If there is one thing I can say about Paris or more acurately, France as a whole, its that the food is amazing – no matter where you eat! It can be some small mom & pop bakery located in quite alley or a larger restaurant with rows upon rows of tables and chairs in a popular square. Regardless, you can rarely go wrong. Because my visit was very short this time around, I needed to make sure that my limited number of meals were well spent! That meant, making sure I ate my favourite French foods: croque madame, pain au chocolat and of course, macarons! Below are some of my favourite foods from my two days in my favourite city!

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The best pain au chocolate I have had in my life so far! I bought this from the Laduree shop and frankly, it is the flakiest croissant I’ve ever eaten! Delish!

 

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Inside Laduree’s pain au chocolat avec pistache! You can see the millions of air pockets within the croissant! So yummy!

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One of my favourite all time meals, sitting in a French bistro having a croque madame! Its a hot ham and cheese sandwich taken to the next level!

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My favourite street side dessert – a freshly made crepe spread with hazelnut chocolate (nutella). Best when the crepe is hot so it slightly melts the chocolate!

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My favourite grab and go lunch when travelling, a french baguette stuffed with butter, large slices of brie and lettuce.

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Pistachio and coffee flavoured macarons from a brief coffee break at Galeries Lafayette!

 

Paris: Le Fumoir

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Most of you know me by now that when you haven’t heard from me in a while, its because I’m travelling and this time around, I was off to Paris for a couple of nights before heading to India!  That’s right, INDIA!  But before I dive deep into my food adventures in Asia, I return back to my favourite city in the world, Paris!  The visit was short but sweet and what a great place to catch up with my friends A and F, visiting from Brussels.  Coming as a recommendation, my friends booked reservations at Le Fumoir and the food and atmosphere was fantastic!  With a fixed price menu, entree, plat et dessert for 38 euros is a deal – of course, that doesn’t include wine but that stuff is cheap here!  All my courses were delicious but I must say, ending the meal with the cheese plate has to be my favourite!  Much to the dismay of most of my friends, wherever I can, I opt for cheese to finish my dinners in France and the choice of cheese paired with a tart and sweet mix of cabbage and apples was perfection!  Completely satisfying!

Le Fumoir

Le Fumoir

Interior of Le Fumoir.

Interior of Le Fumoir.

An aperitif to start the night - Kir!

An aperitif to start the night – Kir!

The amuse bouche of the night - lamb chop.

The amuse bouche of the night – lamb chop.

Tartar de boeuf - beef tartare with cucumber and mixed greens.

Tartar de boeuf – beef tartare with cucumber and mixed greens.

Saumon fume - appetizer of house smoked salmon, sliced potatoes and cream of lemon.

Saumon fume – appetizer of house smoked salmon, sliced potatoes and cream of lemon.

Saucisse de porc et foie gras - my dinner or pork and fois gras sausage with mashed parsnip and stewed onions.

Saucisse de porc et foie gras – my dinner or pork and fois gras sausage with mashed parsnip and stewed onions.

Banane poelee - pan fried bananas, meringue, bourbon caramel and pralines.

Banane poelee – pan fried bananas, meringue, bourbon caramel and pralines.

Selection de trois fromage - cheese plate with three cheese and pickled cabbage.

Selection de trois fromage – cheese plate with three cheese and pickled cabbage.

 

 

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