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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.

 

 

I’ve got a NEW FAVOURITE afternoon tea in Toronto!!!  And you can find it at Shangri-La!  Finally, an afternoon tea service that checks off everything that a good service should be……its a hotel – check! Great atmosphere, they have a pianist playing while you enjoy the afternoon – check! A full selection of teas – check! Good scones – check! Clotted cream – check!  The number item I look forward to with an afternoon tea service is the scones and clotted cream.  I’ve tasted better scones but these were good and made even better with the cream!  However, my favourite item of the afternoon, the lobster salad in a mini brioche bun.  So delicious!  But what really makes it great, the company!  Thanks B, J, M and P for a great afternoon of catching up and making sure we “ALL” had enough to eat :)

Shangri-la - tiered stand

Three tiered tea stand full of sandwiches, scones and pastries!

Shangri-la - close up of sandwiches

Close up look of the sandwiches – the lobster salad sandwiches at the front were delightful!

Shangri-la - scones

Berry compote and clotted cream.

Shangri-la - passionfruit custard

Passionfruit custard with some fresh cubed fruit.

Shangri-la - coconut cake

Coconut bombe with a cake bottom and mousse dome covered in white chocolate shavings.

Shangri-la - single scone

Yummy scone with clotted cream topped with a dollop of fruit preserves.

Shangri-la - teapot

A tray full of teapots.

Shangri-la - tea

A cup of beautiful earl grey tea.

Shangri-la - lobby

Beautiful and grand lobby.

Road Trip: Motor Burger

One of my favourite shows on the food network is “You Gotta Eat Here“.  So when I had to go to Windsor, Ontario for work, eating dinner at Motor Burger was first on the agenda.  We practically raced there making it with 10 minutes to closing and luckily enough, they let us stay.  After talking to the server we found out that the Deux Chevaux was ranked Top 5 best burgers in Canada so of course, I had to order it!  And taking the first bite I can definitely understand why it was – it was juicy, savoury (from the gruyere) with a bit of sweet (from the balsamic onions) – perfect combination!  And did I mention that they make their own beer :)

Motor Burger - inside

Inside Motor Burger.

Motor burger - Lamborghini

The Deux Chevaux burger made with grilled beef, gruyere cheese, baby spinach, smoked bacon balsamic caramelized onions.

Motor burger

Motor Burger.

Motor burger - bar

The bar area inside Motor Burger.

Motor Burger - close up

The close up of the Deux Chevaux burger.

Motor burger - craft beers

Motor burger’s own craft beers.

Motor burger - fries

Fresh cut fries – perfectly crisp and salted.

Motor Burger - sauces

Dipping sauces – curry cilantro motor, avocado chipotle and garlic maple.

 

High Tea at Casa Loma

So I know I spoke too soon when I said that I won’t be attending any Winterlicious events but when my colleague S came to me with an invitation to High Tea at Casa Loma, I couldn’t resist.  Casa Loma is a castle located slightly north of downtown Toronto and to my knowledge, the first time high tea was made available to the public.  For $37, you received entry to the castle, free audio guide, afternoon tea and a small gift bag.  The tea was provided by David’s Tea and the entire event was hosted by Liberty Entertainment Group – known in the city for great event planning.  I must admit, just the atmosphere made it a great afternoon.

Casa loma - tallest tea cake stand

The tallest tea cake stand!

Casa loma - grand hallway

The grand hallway where we sat down and had our tea.

Casa loma - conservatory

The Conservatory – how fabulous!

Casa loma -ballroom

The ballroom was also set up to host tea.

Casa loma - savoury pastries

Savoury plate with some sandwiches, quiches and a croissant.

Casa loma - egg sandwich

Egg croissant sandwich.

Casa loma - sweet pastries

Sweet pastries – green tea macaron and canoli.

Casa loma - east front

North east front view of Casa Loma.

Casa loma - west

West view of Casa Loma.

Casa Loma - south view

Southern view of Toronto from second floor of Casa Loma.

 

Momofuku Milkbar Cookies

I’ve had a small crush (ok, maybe a major crush) on David Chang ever since I was introduced to his Lucky Peach mag and his PBS show, The Mind of a Chef.  So of course I was delighted when he opened his first restaurants in Toronto a couple of years ago but I was even more excited when he opened his first MilkBar outpost in T.O. last year!  I finally made it to check out their baked goods and picked some tasty treats.  My favourite was the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie – you can see and taste the chunks of cornflakes right in the cookie!  Who knew cereal would taste so good in a cookie!  And if you feel like releasing the inner baker in you……MilkBar also sells mixes you can take home and bake yourself.  My friend S got me the compost cookie mix for my birthday and I finally took an afternoon to bake a batch – what can I say, anything with potato chips and pretzels can only taste amazing!

Milkbar - cookies

My yummy purchases!

Milkbar - cornflake chocolate cookie

My favourite cookie flavour – cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie!  Can you spot the cornflake chunks?

Milkbar - maple coconut pecan

Maple-coconut pecan cookie – sweet and buttery.

Milkbar - blueberry & cream

Blueberry & cream cookie – just a bit too sweet and probably my least favourite of all the flavours.

Milkbar - compost cookie mix

Milkbar’s Compost cookie mix.

Milkbar - dry ingredients

Dry ingredients for the compost cookie.

Milkbar - chips & pretzels

Adding regular potato chips and pretzels to the cookie mix.

Milkbar - cookie drops

Dropping spoonfuls of cookie dough.

Milkbar - finished cookies

The finished cookies! I will admit, I used a cookie cutter to make them perfectly round!

Milkbar - compost cookie

Freshly out of the oven – Compost cookie.

London: Monmouth Coffee Company

When my friend M and I arrived at London’s Borough Market, I noticed a very long line that snaked around the corner and into the Monmouth Coffee Shop.  I love coffee, especially when its over ice on a hot summer day!  So when I saw this line, well frankly, I needed to find out what all the fuss was about.  Yes, I stood in this line and ordered my first Monmouth coffee.  In Canada, I’m used to the espresso machines, traditional home coffee machines and french presses – but this is the first I’ve seen a drip ceramic filter sitting directly over the cup.  The coffee was strong and delicious!  Perfect for sipping while browsing the market.

Monmouth

Long line into Monmouth Coffee Company cafe.

Monmouth - inside

Inside the cafe.

Monmouth - interior

Seating area to enjoy your coffee.

Monmouth - filters

Ceramic filters all lined up and ready to go.

Monmouth - filters

Coffee dripping through filters.

Monmouth - full filters

Hot water poured into filters full of ground coffee.

Monmouth - simple interior

Monmouth’s simple interior.

 

London: Borough Market

Back in August 10, 2012, I wrote my first post on Borough Market and I love this market so much that I make it a point to go every time I’m in London.  What makes this visit different from the others is that I made a point to eat more food!  And nothing was a disappointment!  So, I’m going to keep the post short because I think the pictures speak a thousand words.  Enjoy!

Borough - entrance

Entrance to Borough Market – located under overground trains.

Borough - pastries

Beautiful and yummy pastries!

Borough - cakes

Cake anyone? So many different kinds to choose from.

Borough - nougat

One of my favourite sweets to eat is nougat and never have I had fresh made nougat so when I found this vendor, I had to get a slice…..it wasn’t cheap but it was well worth it! Delicious!

Borough - meringue

Another favourite (I have so many) – reminds me so much of my trips to France!

Borough - brownies

You can’t go wrong with brownies, a signature item at Borough Market!

Borough - paella

Curries and paella.

Borough - sangria and pimms

I love the British, they like to drink while shopping!

Borough - Pimms

A Pimm’s cup while I walk the market, perfect for brunch!

Borough - chorizo sandwich

The infamous chorizo sandwich. I first had it in 2006 and it tastes just like I remembered it back then!

Borough - close up of chorizo

Beautiful chorizo sandwich – so fresh and tasty!

Borough - duck confit

Making fresh duck confit sandwich.

Borough - duck sandwich

Duck confit sandwich – look at all that duck meat! What a deal for 5 pounds!

Borough - pies

Traditional British foods – scotch eggs and meat pies!

Borough - alfajores

Gorgeous and yummy alfajores from Portena in Borough Market! Delicious Argentinian foods!

Borough - mushrooms

An array of mushrooms!

Borough - truffles

You guessed it…..black truffles! And you know I took a whiff of the jar!

Borough - saucisson

Delicious saucisson! I need to figure out where I can get these in Toronto :)

Borough - Belper Knolle

Delicious belper knolle cheese…..really sharp taste!

Borough - bread

Yummy bread sticks!

Borough - turkish delight

So many different kinds of turkish delight!

Borough - portuguese tarts

An abundance of portuguese tarts.

Borough - pedibus

How cool is this? I saw these guys on a “PediBus” pedalling around the market. I’ve added this to my bucket list for my next London visit!

 

London: The Royal Horseguards Afternoon Tea

I was really lucky this time around to fit two afternoon teas in a single London visit.  And lucky to have local friends that recommend places for me.  My friend M recommended the Royal Horseguards so we went on a Saturday afternoon.  Located just down the street from the Thames river, the afternoon tea is served in the lobby (in a comfortable sectioned-off area as well as along the hallway).  Very impressed by the service and atmosphere, I did learn that the Royal Horseguards was awarded the Tea Guild’s Award of Excellence 2013 – and deservedly so!  I ordered the Signature Tea which included a selection of sandwiches, cakes, pastries and scones with clotted cream and homemade preserves.  The tea of choice, the “Strawberries & Cream” blend of leaf tea.  My favourite is always and continues to be the selection of sandwiches, delicious – especially the coronation chicken sandwich!

horseguards - tea

Strawberries & cream tea blend.

Horseguards - tier

Triple tiered tray full of delicious goodies!

Horseguard - dessert tray

Dessert tray.

Horseguard - scones

Plate full of fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and homemade preserves.

Horseguard - cake pop

Beautiful cake pop bottom, love the small touches of detail.

Horseguard - inside cake pop

The anatomy of a cake pop.

Horseguard - inside

Inside the Royal Horseguards lobby.

Horseguards

The Royal Horseguards.

 

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