Tag: Review

Slurping at Bad Bones Ramen | St. John’s

Slurping at Bad Bones Ramen | St. John’s

What’s on the menu at Bad Bones Ramen in St. John’s Newfoundland? Delicious ramen, pho and other slurpable soups!

Dinner at FORK | Witless Bay

Dinner at FORK | Witless Bay

FORK., a pop-up operating out of Irish Loop Coffee House, has been open for a month now, an I’m still thinking about the food I ate. I wrote an article for The Overcast about FORK. focusing on the “who, what, where, when, why” but I 

Afternoon Tea at the Shangri-La | Toronto

Afternoon Tea at the Shangri-La | Toronto

Afternoon Tea has so much going for it. Where else do you get to indulge in copious amounts of tea, sweets, scones and Prosecco for hours on end? And who doesn’t love miniature sandwiches? No one, that’s who.

The first afternoon tea was held by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. She found the time between lunch and late socialite dinners to be just too long, and started inviting her girlfriends over for a little afternoon indulgence. I like the way this girl thought, she knows all about the importance of inter-meal snacking! This tea-soaked custom has since permeated British culture and has actually seen a renaissance of the afternoon delight in the past five years. While afternoon tea is still seen has a symbol of high society and luxury in famous hotels like The Ritz, there are many more casual tea rooms across Britain with less traditional ingredients and methods.

The brew’s tradition is prominent across the pond here in Canada, thanks to our Commonwealth roots. One of the most famous afternoon teas is at the Empress Hotel in Victoria B.C., where the tradition has been steeping for 109 years.

My friend Erin took me to my first afternoon tea at the Shangri-La Hotel for my pseudo-bachelorette party before Adam and I eloped. The Lobby Lounge hosts afternoon tea from 2-5pm daily, and be sure to make reservation. The photo sums up how much I loved the experience at the Shangri-La.

Here’s how to afternoon tea like a boss in Toronto.

ShangriLa High Tea with The Food Girl in Town

The basics for a traditional afternoon tea

Customarily, afternoon tea consists of a three-tiered tray with an array of small sandwiches on the bottom, then scones with clotted cream and jam, with pastries and sweets rounding out the top tier. Bone china is a must, and usually teas from India or Ceylon are served.

The basics of afternoon tea


Afternoon tea at the Shangri-La has a mix of traditional and modern elements. The sandwiches were more traditional with egg-salad, cucumber and chicken salad, along with delicious little lobster rolls! The scones came with the expected clotted cream and the cutest little jars of Bonne Maman jam. The desserts were the most elegant part of the tea, with eclairs, chocolate mousse and the most delicious little citrus bomb with gold leaf.

In more recent times, the addition of a glass of bubbly jazzes up the event (I consider this a must). We had a few glasses of Champagne to celebrate my upcoming nuptials!

Shangri-La tea service

The tea service itself is big part of the experience. The servers at the Shangri-La were knowledgeable about all of the teas, which was impressive because there was a whole book full! I went with the Royal Earl Grey tea (the sweeter sister of Early Grey) and our server poured the tea expertly. This added to the luxe ambiance of the lobby, with elegant furnishings and art; there was even a pianist playing jazz while we dined.


Drinking afternoon tea at the Shangri-La Toronto

I consider myself to be a forward-thinking person, but when it comes to antiquated traditions like afternoon tea, I am all about it! Despite the entrenched British culture and predilection for copious amounts of tea, this custom isn’t a big thing in Newfoundland. I’m sad I was 30 before I became a lady who does afternoon tea! Now I want to it be my new hobby.

Do you have a favourite place you like to go for high tea? I want to hear all about the best places around the world!

Dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie: Halifax

Dinner at Agricola Street Brasserie: Halifax

I am a sucker for good mood lighting at a restaurant. I love romantically lit bistros, cozy and dark hole-in-the-walls, and bustling trendy hotspots with that perfect balance of sexy shadow and light. I am always excited when I walk into a restaurant and see 

Mission Accomplished! Best of the Cover Recipe Challenge

Mission Accomplished! Best of the Cover Recipe Challenge

I DID IT!! After 12 months, 12 cover recipe challenges, 34 recipes, and 25 wines, I finally completed the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge! What a delicious roller coaster of a year! To my pantry, I have added 6 types of vinegar, 4 types of 

Prime Rib Windup: December Cover Recipe Challenge

Prime Rib Windup: December Cover Recipe Challenge

C’est la fin! Finito! Dunzo!

The Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge IS COMPLETE! 

Twelve delicious months ago, I challenge myself to cook every cover recipe of Food & Wine Magazine for the whole year of 2013, and last month I completed the challenge! I cannot believe it’s done: After 12 months, 34 recipes, and a shit ton of wine, I am proud say that I successfully completed the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge.


December’s F&W was focused on ‘the best holiday recipes,’ so for good reason, the cover recipe was a show stopper: Prime Rib! The menu I put together was classically festive and reflected all the fun that is had around the holidays.

For December’s Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge:

Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Almonds

Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream

Tuscan Kale alla Parmigiana

We ended the challenge like we started it: with good friends and lots of wine. Adam, Erin, Matt, and I got together at our place for one last evening of cooking on a chilly December night. The food actually took very little time to prepare despite the amount of alcohol we consumed (per usual), and with all my little elves in the kitchen, the dinner was on the table in record time!

Prep time

For the first course: Winter Salad with Avocado, Pomegranate and Almonds. The salad was a great success, it was delicious! It was a really easy recipe to follow and I was surprised at the freshness of the combination of ingredients.

Winter Salad

The dressing, a whisked delight of champagne vinegar, shallot, preserved lemon and dijon mustard, was a light and fresh covering for the salad. The citrus of the preserved lemon balanced really well with the creaminess of the avocado, and the pomegranate seeds added a real punch.

This was the first time that I worked with preserved lemon (pickled whole lemons), and I was blown away with how potent those shrivelled babies can be. They are very acidic, so when prepping them, watch those paper cuts. This was also the first time using Maldon sea salt, which is very flaky sea salt. It was such an interesting texture that it almost felt like it wasn’t food, but it was so delicious and brought the salad up a notch. Maldon sea salt adds great complexity to salads and I am already trying to find new ways to use it in my kitchen.

For the main course, I prepared the cover recipe: Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream, which I served with Tuscan Kale alla Parmigiana, mashed potatoes, and a corn and mushroom sautee.

The preparation of the meat was pretty easy and it was obvious from reading the directions that it was going to taste delicious because the prime rib is basted in butter. Hello juicyness!

Prime Rib

The meat reached the suggested temperature long before the allotted time, and it was so juicy and tender even after letting it rest for over half an hour. The horseradish cream was a surprising success as well. During the preparation of the sauce, the smell of the fresh grated horseradish was grossing everyone out, but mixed with the creme fraiche, shallots, champagne vinegar and chives, the sauce was a delicious partner to the buttery prime rib.


Though the photo of the main course may not do the meal justice, everything was just delicious! The Tuscan Kale, though a little runny, was super flavourful, with the Parmigiano-Reggiano taking a starring role in the dish. The nutmeg also added another level of flavour that really made this side dish a winner. The mashed potato and corn made the perfect compliments to the meal and it was great for a chilly December evening.

The whole meal was a great finale and a great end to a year of food adventuring. The past year has been a great learning experience for me: It has challenged me to use ingredients that I have never even seen in the grocery store before, to create menus based around a main dish,  and to cook for bigger numbers of people. Though there have been ups and down throughout the past year, I wouldn’t have substituted one ingredient.

The monthly dinners will not be stopping, as the four of us have decided to continue into 2014 with a whole new set of recipes to Explore. Eat. Repeat. Stay tuned for a recipe round-up of the best and worst recipes of the Food and Wine Recipe Challenge! Cheers.

Turkey Lurkey: November Cover Recipe Challenge

Turkey Lurkey: November Cover Recipe Challenge

Happy uber belated Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas everyone! Yes, this is a post about my Thanksgiving meal, and this is another late posting for my Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge. For November’s issue there was a major focus on Thanksgiving meals because of the 

Grown Up Peanut Butter and Jelly: October Cover Recipe Challenge

Grown Up Peanut Butter and Jelly: October Cover Recipe Challenge

With all the guests I hosted and cooking I did in October, the month just flew by, and somehow the Cover Recipe Challenge got pushed to the back burner. However, in true Food Girl in Town fashion, I finished the challenge and posted late, so 

Lunch at Truly Tasty Ramen: Halifax

Lunch at Truly Tasty Ramen: Halifax

Do you need a fork? Sadly this is a phrase that I hear all too often at Asian restaurants. I must look very awkward while using chopsticks, because every time I sit down for a bowl of Pho, a heaping plate of Pad Thai, or a steaming bowl of Ramen, I am almost immediately offered North American cutlery. At first I was offended, I mean who are you to say that I don’t know how to use chopsticks properly? Does this happen to everyone? I just assumed that the waitstaff gave forks to all non-Asians, and then it hit me:

I am really crappy at using chopsticks.

Granted, no one ever taught me how to use chopsticks when I was a kid; authentic Asian food was hard to come by where I grew up. When I finally started travelling and eating various meals that required these cunning utensils, I just went with the flow and taught myself (hence the awkward chopstick handling). It was only after moving to Toronto for grad school, where I fell in love with Asian food, that someone finally taught me how to use them properly. I started to master the art, which I am embarrassed to say, I have yet to achieve. It really is a true wonder to me how people are able to use them with such finesse and ease. I think it’s hard.

A few weeks ago Adam and I went to Truly Tasty on Quinpool Road for lunch. It was our first time there, and I was pretty impressed with the modern decor: The walls were not covered with the stereotypical Asian art and the furniture was sleek and new. We were greeted by a very friendly server and chose our lunch pretty quickly. The lunch menu is small and direct: dumplings and ramen. What more do you need?

After ordering, the server brought water and a small Sprout Salad. The tiny salad was packing quite the punch with its intense flavours of chili and its deliciousness really got our tummies grumbling.


But sure enough, before I had brought the first bite to my mouth, the server appeared out of nowhere and asked: Do you need a fork?

Okay lady, I know I must look like I’m struggling to get this little bean sprout into my mouth, but give me a chance. I managed to eat the salad without the fork, success!

For our mains, we chose the lunch special, Ramen with Pork, and an order of pork dumplings to share (we like pork). The steaming bowls of ramen came out really fast and they were huge even though we had ordered the small! It looked and smelled amazing.


The ramen was great. The pork belly was cooked perfectly, soft and juicy, the egg was magically brown on the outside and was deliciously gooey on the inside. The noodles were the perfect texture, and there was also some tree fungus in there that I couldn’t identify specifically, but it was awesome too! I did have to give in and use a fork, which I was actually grateful for at this point, there was so much yummy food in front of me I didn’t want to slow down to use the chopsticks.

The dumplings were less than great for me, Adam finished mine, but overall the meal was really good! I am so happy to have found a great ramen spot in Halifax and I will definitely be back for more. I encourage anyone who hasn’t tried this hidden gem to Explore.Eat.Repeat. yourself down to Quinpool Road, immediately.

And so continues my struggle with attaining the perfect chopstick skills. I will trudge on in the hopes of one day not being asked the dreaded question: Do you need a fork?

Things Worth Mentioning…

Cost: SO CHEAP! For lunch for two it was less than 25$ plus tip. A great bang for your buck.

Things I liked: The surprising decor and the pork belly.

Things I didn’t: The dumplings.

Best Place to Sit: Near the back of the restaurant, it gets a little drafty on the first level close to the door.

What To Order Next Time: More dumplings. I want to give them another try, maybe the veggie ones.

Truly Tasty on Urbanspoon

Chicken Fried Chicken Livers: September Cover Recipe Challenge

Chicken Fried Chicken Livers: September Cover Recipe Challenge

9 Months. That is how long I have been doing the Food & Wine Cover Recipe Challenge, and it feels like an eternity. I seriously cannot imagine how women are pregnant for this long because this labour of foodie love is getting old. I can’t 

Spaghetti and Plantballs: August Cover Recipe Challenge

Spaghetti and Plantballs: August Cover Recipe Challenge

So this post is exactly one month late. The post for my exciting meal for August’s Food and Wine Cover Recipe Challenge is late simply because it was summer and I was off galavanting, sorry folks, I have no excuses. But here it is at 

27 and Cobless: July Cover Recipe Challenge

27 and Cobless: July Cover Recipe Challenge

I hated July’s Cover Recipe Challenge. Why? There are so many reasons.

First of all, it has to be said that I actually create the monthly challenge, choosing recipes from the issue of Food & Wine and centring the meal around the cover recipe. Therefore, one might ask: “How could you hate cooking food you have chosen to make?” Three words:

Creamed. Summer. Corn.

This is a late posting; usually I have the challenge and the post completed by the end of the month. I was actually going to pretend that I didn’t do July’s cover recipe, but once I set my mind to something I want to finish it. That being said, I was so annoyed with the result of the cooking that I did not even want to write about it… Well, here it goes.

Adam and I moved in June, and being the procrastinator I am, I neglected to change the address of my subscription to F&W, forcing me to buy July’s issue off the newstands. This is the copy I bought:

July Cover

This is the copy that I received in the mail a few days later once I finally retrieved my mail from my old apartment:

Other July Cover

The covers were different! The cover recipe for the first copy I got was Michael Symon’s Creamed Summer Corn with Bacon. I was not impressed. Creamed corn? Never liked it, and it always reminds me of hospital food. Ew. But, like the true cover recipe challenge warrior, I planned my meal around the dish, choosing to make Mussels with White Bean and Chorizo to start, followed by Triple Pork Burgers with Quick Cucumber Kimchi, the notorious corn, and roasted potatoes. Why didn’t I just forgo the newstands’ cover for the freedom of choosing whatever I wanted in the other copy? I do not know, I guess I am stubborn.


Creamed Summer Corn with Bacon

Rating:  -1000 out of 5

To start the evening off, I choose the “7 Minutes” recipe feature for July: Michael Schlow’s Mussels with White Bean and Chorizo. I choose them because a) I love mussels and b) it looked like a simple recipe to start off an evening of complicated dishes.

And easy it was. All I had to do was combine the ingredients (cherry tomatoes, crushed red pepper, chorizo sausage, and white beans) in a pot and steam the mussels in the delicious smelling broth and bam! There is your appetizer, and a very delicious one at that!


Everyone at the table enjoyed the mussels. Erin and Matt, who joined us once again for the challenge, taught Adam and I a little trick about eating mussels. They taught us to use an empty mussel shell to pinch the meat out! How, as a Newfoundlander and someone who eats mussels all the time, I didn’t know about this trick, I don’t know, but it has changed my life. I was amazed!

Mussel Eating

So, the appetizer went well. This is where it starts to get complicated. The main course for the evening was Triple Pork Burgers with Quick Cucumber Kimchi. Adam and I prepared the kimchi beforehand because it had to sit for 2 hours in order to turn into kimchi. Those vegetables pretty much turned themselves into kimchi with a little slicing and coaching from me.


Basically all I had to do was slice up a crap load of cucumbers (2lbs in fact) and add garlic, ginger, salt, gorchugaru (Korean dried red peppers), sesame oil, and fish sauce and let it sit for two hours and VOILA! Cucumber kimchi!

Usually kimchi actually takes several days to ferment and become the delicious Korean condiment that we know and love, but this quick kimchi liquified before my eyes, and stirring occasionally for a few hours was enough to turn it into something delicious. I loved this recipe and will definitely use it again!

The pork burgers on the other hand were a different story. They were a big pain to make, and had a lot of ingredients. There were over fifteen ingredients in one pork burger patty…that is a lot! It took a very long time to slice and dice all the ingredients, but everyone rallied together and took turns chopping while we danced and sang around the kitchen. Note Adam in the corner singing his little heart out, and the delicious kimchi:

Erin chopping

And Matt’s protective gear while slicing onions:

Matt Chopping

Adam and Matt also really loved adding the fish sauce to the mix:


Once all the ingredients were finally chopped. Adam and I made the patties. They were supposed to be done very thinly, which was really hard to do because of the thousand ingredients in the patty and the fact that there was no binder to keep the raw meat together. It was really frustrating, and took a long time to make them thin enough to be stacked but thick enough not to fall into the BBQ at the same time.

In the end the burgers actually tasted amazing. Despite how long they took to prepare, the cilantro, lime, and other thirteen ingredients in the patties were so flavourful and the kimchi was the perfect condiment. If I ever used this recipe again, I would probably tweak the patties to make them a little denser and easier to make.

Kimchi Pork Burger

And lastly, and certainly least, the creamed corn. I have to admit that I made a HUGE rookie error when buying the ingredients for Michael Symon’s Creamed Summer Corn with Bacon:

I didn’t read the recipe before I bought the ingredients. 

Because of this, I bought frozen corn instead of corn on the cob trying to shortcut the recipe so I wouldn’t have to cut the corn off the cob. Lazy. The result of this was not having the cobs reserved to make the broth for the creamed corn. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not think that I completely sabotaged the recipe by being cobless, but I could not get the broth to thicken. Was it because of the lack of cob? I will never know. All I know is that the recipe had lots of yummy ingredients like bacon and sour cream so I thought it might turn out okay. But, like the other recipes that evening, it took a long time to make. An hour and twenty minutes to make creamed corn? You’re kidding me, right? I am sorry, but this is not a recipe that I will ever make again, not even to see if I can thicken the broth with those stupid cobs.

Creamed Corn

Granted, the corn actually did taste pretty good despite the lack of creamyness. Everyone enjoyed it, and I have to say, it probably was some of the best creamed corn I have ever had; the bacon, sour cream, and coriander made it rich and savoury. However, it will also probably be the last time that I make creamed corn.

To those reading this, you may think “Well that didn’t turn out so bad.” It is true that everyone at the dinner enjoyed the meal and the food was good, minus the not-so-creamy creamed corn. I just didn’t like making these particular recipes. The pork burgers were overly complicated, and though I was thrilled with how the kimchi turned out, I will never make them again, and don’t even get me started on the creamed corn. I love to cook and for some reason, none of these things were enjoyable to make. I really look forward to these challenges every month because I make things that aren’t in my usual repertoire and I really challenge myself into cooking and eating new things. This month felt average and just not fun. Hopefully August’s challenge will be better, I am cooking that next week. Stay tuned and wish me luck.