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[Foodie] Springrolls – Yonge and Dundas

A little over a month ago, after hearing of my intent on becoming a foodie, my friend Jo, Jo-napped me and took me to this wonderful restaurant called SPRING ROLLS here in Toronto. It’s located in the AMC building right on the intersection of Yonge and Dundas and can be accessed from the Dundas station.  At first I thought it was another one of those small, Chinese restaurants in the middle of nowhere. I mean if you go through China Town here or the Korean neighbourhood here in Toronto, you can crash into some very spectacular eats. Some of these places doesn’t look like anything much from the outside but once you sit down to the food, you wonder how in the world you missed this place before. But then I think and these small mom and pop places survive because their food is so good so the regulars keep going back! Anyway, I digress.

Beef in Mushroom Sauce – Omnom!

SPRING ROLLS is cutting edge – how? Well when you go in, you are seated and someone come and hands you an iPad. No, you can’t take it home – I asked lol. What this tablet is for, is ordering. After they show you how to use it (it’s not hard really) they leave you to it and you pick all the food you want for that moment (did I mention it is all you can eat?) then hit a button that says “call server” it then says “Your server will be right with you.”

The server comes, tap tap tap at the tablet and ZOOM! Your order is off to the kitchen!

Shrimps.

The servers are polite. They walk around with smiles and are ready to help even if they weren’t assigned to your table. They never once said “I’m not at your table let me get your server.” No matter who it was, if you called them and asked them for something, they get it for you. What a concept!

When the food shows up, they are so beautiful! Everything is put together and the smell from our table made my mouth water.  I even sampled Octopus Balls (which I will be writing about in another blog post coming soon).

I tried so many different things I’ve never had before-including Octopus Balls which requires a whole different post all together. I even ate Mushrooms – which if you know me personally, I don’t do mushroom in ANY form. But a foodie has to be brave and try food as long as it’s not alive and wiggling I will definitely try it.

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Day After Thanksgiving Blues

Recently, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving. Like always, I worked but I managed to swing some family time through it all. It was lovely for I got to spend it with my favorite uncle! But aside from that, there was plenty of food where it would be strange to whip out the camera and snap pictures. Besides, my aunt got to the turkey with the electric knife before I could sneak pictures. But the sentiments here is the same. Thanksgiving is a time for us to get together with family and friends–those we care about and celebrate each other. For Christians, it is to thank God for life and happiness and for everything we take for granted. For others, it is a time to take off works and celebrate our families and friends-those we don’t get to see as often as we would like. There is good food, laughter (I hope) and a sense that we belong to a bigger part of a puzzle in our lives, a glad whole.  There is tons of food–turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potato, veggies, snacks–but if you’re from the Caribbean there is a slew of native food we cook like Jerk Chicken, Rice and Peas, Roasted Corn, Greens and that’s just a part of it. We eat until we are ready to pop needing someone to desperately rub our tummies.

Then the next morning you wake up and you open the fridge and thing what in the world am I going to do with all this food? Well, aside from the obvious that is. But lets face it, if your family is anything like mine, there is no way you can eat all the food, jammed into that fridge before it starts going bad and as a person, there is only so much turkey you can eat before you start gagging at the thought of more turkey. So what do you do?

Here are some tips to help you out.

  1. Before your dinner party, go out and buy some Tupperware. When your guests are leaving, ask them if they’d like to take some food with them and give them what they want, within reason, to take with them in one of the containers you bought. Sure, it may be a little pricey but it’s worth it. You won’t have a fridge about to burst at the seams and food going bad on you and your guests has lunch or snack or dinner for the next day. Its win-win!
  2. That giant turkey that you barely touched – Slice the turkey down the middle, stick the untouched half into a freezer bag and drop it into the freezer. If its frozen it will last a while and it won’t spoil. This can also be done with the ham – you can take it out at a later date, let thaw and use for sandwiches.
  3. The food that you believe will go first, eat those first – spice them up by making different alternatives – use veggies like broccoli, celery, cauliflower and the like for stir fry. Drop them into a wok or a frying pot, toss ’em around with some onions, tomatoes and green and red peppers with a splash of soy sauce, ground pepper and thyme. You can add bite size pieces of turkey or ham but either way it could be fun.
  4. I know, after thanksgiving the last thing you probably want is a bunch of people back in your house-you want a break to just sleep in, let your feet rest but invite people over, do not cook anything new. Sure, maybe bake a cake or get some ice-cream for desert but use what you have. Thanksgiving happens around the Baseball playoff season and the beginning of football season, have a tailgate party or something-that is a sure fire way of getting rid of all that yummy goodies.
  5. Or to avoid the build up of food, accept an invitation to have dinner at someone else’s place for a change – offer to bring the turkey or the ham.

There are plenty of things that can be done to not make you go all crazy. There is always something to be done with left overs or that feeling of being too full. If by the next day you still feel full, do what I do, first thing in the morning, go for a walk. It doesn’t have to be a marathon or a year long–just a little walk to stretch your muscles and to work off some of that stuff you ate the day before. Then, when you return to your place, for your breakfast, have a cup of tea and a few crackers. This will help give you a few more hours in the day to allow that day after thanksgiving feeling to go away.

Here’s hoping these tips help you out at least a little bit. Have a happy Thanksgiving where ever you are in the world and whatever day you celebrate it on. And remember, thanksgiving isn’t just for Christians. use the day to celebrate your loved ones and your friends. Trust me, you won’t regret it…well, I hope.

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Mac and Cheese Wrapped in What?

When I was younger, girls’ night was a weekly thing. I mean come on, we grew up watching Sex and the City and we all wanted that group of friends who we call no matter what time and they’re there. We wanted, well I never wanted the fashion because I thought those clothes were god-awful, but I wanted the girls’ nights and Cosmo’s and the talks about boys. But the reality of it all is that now that we’re older, those happy go-luck nights out are few and far between. With work and school and volunteering and travelling and every thing else we bombard our lives with lately–I’m surprise we find time to sleep or eat much less a social life.

One of those rare occasions happened recently. I worked nine hours the day before and eight hours on the Sunday and by the time the clock rolled around for me to go I just wanted to go home and craw into bed. But I hadn’t seen my friend A in a long time. It was starting to look as if we didn’t even live in the same city, a mere ten minute car ride or a twenty minute bus ride apart from each other. Strange, no?

Anyways, we met up and wanted to go to Kelsey’s for something to eat, a couple of drinks and just chill. But when we walked down to the Kelsey’s it was closed–not closed as in they hadn’t opened yet but closed as in gone, no more. I was not pleased. We’d walked to it and it was gone–poof! We both burst out laughing – why? To others this wouldn’t be remotely funny but in Jamaica there is a saying, If I don’t laugh, I’ll cry.  It would have looked rather strange, women standing on the sidewalk doubled over in tears.

Sure, I know, it’s just a restaurant and its gone, it’s nothing to cry about. But when you’ve had the weekend I’ve had and all you want to do is just sit down in place with someone you care about and pretend everything that happened in the last few days was just a horrible nightmare and then you show up to this place and nothing– yes, I really did feel like crying. We walked back the way we came, crossed the street and up toward a mall where there is a St. Louis. For those of you who have no idea what I’m referring to, St. Louis is a lot like Jack Astor’s or Shoeless Joe’s. Its one of those sports bar meets a pub meets a restaurant. It shows UFC pay-per view shows and all the special play-off games. It’s the kind of places guys get together and talk about stuff. But more and more females are checking it out as well.

We finally got settled and A got the great idea to order two appetizers. Me, wanting to become a foodie, decided I would order something I’d never order before. I searched the menu, passing over the typical stuff like nachos and Jalapeno poppers, chicken fingers and the like and fell on a picture. When the waitress came back I pointed at it and she laughed because I had no idea what it was. She explained it was Mac and Cheese wrapped in Bacon. I shrugged, of course I’m like most Canadian that believe everything is better wrapped in bacon.

Yes my friends, Mac and Cheese wrapped in BACON. It was beautiful when it came. It was nice and brown and looked so absolutely yummy. Yeah–then I bit into one. It was fatty, the bacon stretched as I tried breaking the piece I’d bitten off from the rest of it.  I’m not sure if they were skimping on the good bacon but it was all fat – I’m not sure how they got bacon to be soft and not crunch but they managed it. The Mac and cheese inside was bland and just not right. It was as if they cooked the Mac without any kind of spices at all – not even salt. I tried using the dip which was melted cheese but that didn’t help for it too was missing any spark of life. I tried adding salt and ground pepper and it was tolerable to eat then. The Mac was over-cooked because if they’d done it right, the pieces wouldn’t stick together when you bite into it and would make a mess (I’m trying to think that is the only reason my everything was so soft and pressed in together and not because our chef was horrid) but I wouldn’t order it again.

Hugs,

Kadian

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Cafe 250 Does Cheese Danish Right

I am like the other 90% of the world – I have a giant appetite for anything sweet. Not overly-claw-your-eyes-out-sweet but something that has the right balance of sugar and cream to make it go goey in my mouth. Lately, I’ve been craving something different. I wasn’t sure what, really but I was aching to eat something that just completely blows my mind.

I had an appointment in this building in North York. It really is out of the way because when I was heading home and walked to the bus shelter, there was a sticker on the post that said “This route is not serviced Monday to Friday in the evenings, on weekends or on holidays” so you know this route just has buses to take people in during the work day and if you miss the last one, well, to be honest, you’re screwed.

Anyway, I was extremely early by some miracle, and had to figure out a way to burn time-about forty five minutes. I was nervous and the chaos around me was not helping my nerves. Think about it; the click of high heels against ceramic floors, the pinging and dinging of elevators coming and going, someone’s cell phone singing the theme song to Rawhide as he ignored it till the end while staring at the screen with an almost quizzical look on his face . Each time the glass doors open to allow someone inside, the sound of tires crunching wet earth beneath them with a mixture of rain would add to the other unattractive music of 250 Consumers Road.

Oh the absolute horror when all you can think of his how scared you are of what was to come.

My relief came in the form of a tiny sign on a little stand that said the specials of the day for “Cafe 250 I expected a kind of hole-in-the ground type deal with coffee in white Styrofoam cups and the

like. I followed the hall until it opened into this open space with the Cafe that completely threw me for a loop. First of all, the room was large, big enough to hold at least 80 people. It had the seating area to the left containing neat rows of seating, either four or two to a table and in a quaint, comfortable looking sections were beautiful, black Leather sofa with a giant, flat screen television. I was pleasantly surprised.

The walls were black with red highlights and were adorned with some of the most beautiful paintings and photography I’ve seen in a cafe in a long time. In the seating area with the tables and chairs was a giant television playing softly. Aside from the kitchen area that could be seen by customers, which looked clean and inviting, the only other thing in the seating area were a couple of glass fridge exposing the goodies one could buy to drink. Though it was in a business complex kind of place, the view wasn’t as chaotic as everything else around.

I greeted the man behind the counter, who by the way was busy cooking on this large to-die-for stove that I’m pretty sure my mom would die to have. He was pleasant, smiling and very helpful. I asked for Peppermint tea and he pointed me in the direction. I picked up the last Premium Peppermint tea packet, and waited patiently while the man ahead of me stood in a position that blocked the lovely Cafe 250 tea and coffee mugs. He was busy dumping a sugar into his coffee.  I stared, wide eyed, wondering how in the world he was going to drink that. Finally he stopped, stirred it, placed a cover on, thanked me for my patience and walked off. I set my tea up, handed it to the gentleman behind the counter and he filled it with water for me. I was on my way to pay for it when I saw these beautiful danish. My first thought was, if I bought one and it was horrible I would cry. It wasn’t like I could take it back and tell him it was horrible and get my money back. But I was starving.

So, I pointed and he laughed and said, “Danish?”

I grinned and nodded and he used a tong to place one in a plain, white, bakery bag for me. The prize an amazing $3.75 was another thing that surprised me.  But the shocks didn’t end there. I stopped, added some sugar to my steaming hot tea, mixed it then found a seat, out of the way and sat down to eat, go over some French while I wait for time to pass for my appointment. From time to time I glanced up at the screen but I wasn’t really paying attention. I took a breath, pulled my danish from the paper bag and sunk my teeth into it like someone skydiving for the first time–held my breath while praying for the best and preparing for the worse.

It was still warm which said one thing – They baked it right there that morning. It wasn’t sitting in their case from the day before and they simple repackaged for sale. No, it was warm and soft and delicious. It turned into beautiful, gooey, sugar in my mouth. The pastry was soft and the cheese tasted as if it was a lightly sweetened kind of whipped cream. But trust me, it was cheese. I ate it, savouring the freshness, the warmth, the tinge of sweetness that made it oh so perfect. It was so good, after I finished that one, I ordered a second one (pictured above) for when I was finished with my appointment as a kind of pick-me-up.

Honestly, this is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth.

If you’re ever in Toronto and you have some time to burn, before you leave hitch a ride to Victoria Park station from there jump on the 24A bus and endure the trek to 250 Consumers. You will love the Danish there.

They serve food there as well as salads and the like. But I was just so into my Danish…

Hugs,

Kadian