Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Bier Markt #BeautifulBier [EVENT]

I was invited to The Bier Markt (@BierMarktEsplan)  #BeautifulBier event a few weeks ago to sample their Spring/Summer Collection of Beer together with some BBQ items and they couldn't have chosen a more perfect patio day.

 There was 4 beer on tap for sampling that night:

Hasseroder Pilsner  (exclusive to Bier Markt)
~  this was my least favorite although it was their feature beer, it's a very light and refreshing beer which I can see a lot of people loving it especially for hot summer patio days.


~ love this beer which has a very balanced body with a very hoppy taste and a bitter finish. It has some sort of pine taste to it which I like a lot. I personally like this best out of the 4 beer we sampled, so so that I end up buying a case from LCBO ;)

 ~ Tasted this at a wine show a week before and it's a great improvement to their regular IPA. It had a medium body, a little bit sweet with mild-mid hop flavor. Although I love beer and know what I like, I am def not a beer expert so I'm really doing my best to describe the flavors here.

 ~ This had a hoppy lemony and floral aroma to it... sweet & herbal, this was Ben's favorite while I personally didn't like the herb-y flavor but definitely a sucker for the cute gnomes design.

Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese ~ #LuvMexAvocado

I have always love Avocados since it's so versatile and basically a creamy goodness that goes with everything. Not only that but they are low in fat and packed with vitamins; therefore I was thrilled when Sandy (@savvari) asked me to participate in a blogging/cooking project with Avocados from Mexico (@MissAvaCado).

Here's some fun fact of Avocados from Mexico:
~ The world's 1st avocado was grown and cultivated more than 9,000 years ago in the fertile, volcanic region of Mexico
~ Currently Mexico is the only region in the world where avocados bloom four times a year
~ Mexico is responsible for approximately half of the world's total avocado production
~ Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals and more potassium than banana
~ When served with other vegetables, avocado's healthy fats (help lower "bad" LDL cholesterol) help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients from the foods.

One of my earliest memory of Avocados was a milkshake that my dad would made just by blending ripe avocados with a bit of condensed milk, then refrigerate or freeze and  enjoy the thick creamy goodness. I still make it from time to time to this very day.

We were provided with a few recipes to choose from or create our own but thought I would share one of my fave Grilled Cheese Sandwich of all time. It's easy and most ingredient will probably be on hand.

Avocado Tomato Grilled Cheese
Ingredients: Bread, Cheese, Tomato, Avocado and butter

1) Slice Avocado & Tomato around 1/4"
2) Butter the outside of the bread and put the cheese, avocado and tomato in between (I use the good old Kraft cheese slices here but feel free to experiment with other cheeses).
3) Sprinkled with ingredients with salt and pepper as desire (be careful if you are using saltier cheese).
3) Heat up you skillet with some butter/oil, toast sandwich until the desire golden color.

Tip: If you prefer using butter like me (and who doesn't), add a touch of oil when cooking and it won't brown up (burn) as quickly.

I did this as my Meatless Monday Dinner but feel free to add ham, bacon, chicken or bacon jam which is my favorite choice.

Paired the finish product with a side of salad and it's good to go, easy and quick meal that I bet anyone would enjoy since who doesn't like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Visit their website here to find out more about avocados and recipes.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Intelligentsia Coffee [Chicago]

We first had Intelligentsia Coffee (Twitter: @Intelligentsia) at Manic, one of our favorite coffee shop (see post here) in Toronto and loved it since. We were thrill that there was one near our hotel and we went there first thing everyday ;)

Started in Chicago with a couple locations, it is now with locations in New York and Los Angeles as well. Intelligentsia source their beans from growers and ensure fair trades practices. Roasted and crafted around the beans and brewing methods that would best compliment the flavors.

From their website I learn that their coffee are roasted on vintage, gas powered Gothot roasters built during the 1950s & 60s. Gothot's are considered by some to be a masterpiece of German engineering and are lauded for their exceptional temperature stability throughout the roasting drum., The consistency achieved with each roast and is unique look are reasons why this 125 years old brand is still widely sought after by coffee roasters everywhere.

 While watching the staff at work, you can see they have a huge passion and knowledge for coffee and preparation methods; that's where good coffee can be found... we even spotted the staff having a taste test during one of our visit

Day 1: Cappuccino & Latte
Love my cappuccino a lot, it had a very bold flavor yet very smooth and delicate w/ the perfectly smooth & glossy foam. And just look at the latte art, perfectly cute every single cup we had.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

the Publican [Chicago]

Our 2nd day dinner in Chicago was at the Publican (@thepublican2008) and it was our favorite from our trip. The portion are rather large, so I definitely wish there was more of us. Some main was meant to share for 2 people which we can't order since we wanted to order more dishes instead of one big one. We were so stuffed after dinner that we decided to take a 45mins walk back to the hotel.

The place was pack on the Wednesday night we went, so I would highly recommend reservation. They mainly have one big communal table (reminiscent of 16the century European banquets) that goes all around and seats up to 100 people side by side; there's also some small booth seats on one side and bar seats on the other. In the center, there was some three tiered cocktail tables where guest can lean on and have a drink while waiting.

the Publican is a beer focus restaurant in the Fulton Market District in Chicago featuring pork and fish/seafood preparations.... but you will be quick to notice that the meat section are centered around pork. The menu tends to change daily to reflect the seasonal availability of products.

There was piggy drawing all around the place, so there's no doubt that we need to order some pork ;)

As we sat down, we immediately order a Spicy Pork Rinds $5 and some Beer while deciding what to order.  We end up sharing 3 beer cause beer fill me up and I prefer to leave room to eat.

 Trappistes Rochefort 8 $14
~ Braisserie de Rochefort, Belgium, 9.20%
Don't let the color fool you, it was a rather fruity sweet beer with a caramel maltiness, dry fruit flavor to it and a crisp finish

Duvel Belgian Golden Strong Ale $9
~ Brouwerij Duvel Moortgat N.V, Belgium, 8.50%
This one have a slight bitterness to it and a hop flavor to it... I def like this a lot better than the first.

Alpha King Pale Ale $5
~ Three Floyds BrewingCo., Indiana, 6.00%
The pale ale have a rather deep amber color w/ a very creamy head to it and it has a citrus aroma and hoppy finish. This is definitely my kind of beer and my fave out of the 3 we ordered.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Kampai Toronto Media Launch & Seminar [EVENT]

One of my fave event last year was the Kampai Toronto Sake Festival (@KampaiToronto) (post here) and it's happening for the second year. I was lucky enough to be invited to the Media Launch & Seminar at the Shangri-La Hotel last week.

This event is organized by The Sake Institute of Ontario (SIO) which is a not-for-profit corporation whose member include all of Ontario's major sake import agencies and it's sole sake producer. Their goal is to increase the knowledge, education and awareness of sake through events like Kampai Toronto.

 Kampai Toronto will be taking place on Thursday May 30th at the Distillery Historic District and tickets are available here. There will be more than 100 sakes and appetizers form a dozen of restaurant will be available for tasting.

We were given a short presentation and guided tasting by world renowned sake author & educator John Gauntner.

Here's some of the basic about Sake :

~ Sake is brewed, not distilled and not simply fermented from rice and rice alone
~ The alcohol content is usually around 16%
~ Sake been around about 1000 years in the form it is today
~ Sake is fairly priced 90% of the time 
~ Price & Quality depends on the rice (good sake rice is expensive), milling (more the rice milled, more expensive) and labor (hand crafted?)

~ Grades are defined by how much the rice has been milled
~ Daiginjo & Junmai Daiginjo (50% or less), Ginjo & Junmai Ginjo (at least 60%), Honjozo & Junmai (at least 70%) and Futsu-shu (no minimum milling)
~ Fortified Style (rice, water, yeast, Koji + Distilled Alcohol)
~ Pure Rice Style / Junmai (rice, water, yeast, Koji)

~ Sake is not aged but consumed young
~ Most premium sake should be consumed slightly chilled

Sake Style : 
Genshu - Undiluted. Typically bold with a higher alcohol content
 Kijoshu - Sweet aged sake
Koshu - Aged sake
Nama - Rough-filtered or cloudy sake. Texture & creamy on the palate
Muroka - Most sake is charcoal foltered. Murokla means it has not undergone charcoal filtering
Tokubetsu - 'Special". Brewers typically use thus to make a Tokubetsu Honjozo or Tokubetsu Junmai. Usually there is a higher milling rate or a special process is used to make the sake

Thursday, May 16, 2013

XOCO [Chicago]

After our doughnut breakfast here, we walked over to XOCO for lunch, this was a place highly recommended by a friend. Love how you walk in to the open kitchen of the restaurant where there's a wood burning oven for a Mexican street food allure to the place.

As you entered, you are given a table number where you'll then proceed to line up, order and pay. Once you pay and provide your table number, they will bring over the food when ready.
There were quite a bit of choices and we had a tough time deciding what to order.

Pickled Pig Feet Tostada $4.00
~ jalapeno pickled veggies, crema, cilantro
This was more of a play of tostada, it was actually on a shell instead of a fried tortilla.
This was served cold and was really refreshing, great way to start the meal.

Chicharrones $3.50
~ tamozula hot sauce, queso anejo, onions, cilantro
This is fried pork rind, it was perfectly crispy and love the hot sauce but find that there was a bit too much of it which made it rather salty together with the queso anejo cheese.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mickey + Pom Poms + Me [OOTD]

I was just realizing when going through these photos that the t-shirt actually doesn't go that well with the skirt.... too late (>_<) A softer tee is needed here I think but it was still a casual outfit for a casual day at one of my fave neighborhood that is Kensington Market.

Love the vintage cowboy boots but I can never find myself buying send hand shoes... sort of find it discusting

Outfit Details: 
Jacket - F21; T-Shirt, Skirt - H&M; Booties - Zara (sale item);
Bag - UO (on sale for $7.99)

Doughnut Vault [Chicago]

Read amazing reviews online and we decided to head over on our second day, we decided to take a taxi over since it was raining... somehow the taxi driver work previously as their supplier and told us that Doughnut Vault (@doughnutvault) is the best there is in Chicago with everything handmade. It was around 11:00am and the driver warned us that they may have already sold out, apparently they have line up from the time they open at 8:00am from Tue-Fri and 9:30am on Sat until they run out. 
I think we were lucky that most of the doughnuts were still available when we got there, I guess mainly because of the horrible weather.
Their menu is pretty simple with the regular flavors plus a special of the day which you can check through their website or twitter. And remember it's Cash only.

It's a really small store and love the warn yellow glow with the vintage decor.

Ben was the one who choose the place and when I ask what type of doughnut they had, he had no clue. Why I ask you said.... because I don't really like cake base doughnuts since it too heavy and tends to be too sweet for me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Milestones Grill + Bar (Chef's Tasting Menu) [EVENT]

I was invited to Milestone Grill + Bar (@MilestonesCa)  to try out their new Summer Chef's Menu (hashtag #milestoneschefmenu) available as of today, I really don't remember when was the last time I have been to Milestone but I do remember that it wasn't great. Since Chef Jason Rosso (@jasonrosso) joined, Milestone have been working to elevate the chain restaurant to an Independent Restaurant Experience.

Within the last 8 months, they have created, tested and launched 15 new menu items with another 10 coming out soon. They are working hard to change the public's notion of the Brand by revitalizing their menu across the 50 locations across the country.

We were treated to a 6 course tasting menu complete with wine pairing provided by Constellation Brands and presented by Dave Grant (@sommdavidgrant).
 It was an all seafood menu which is light and refreshing, perfect as summer menu items.

Crispy Quinoa Shrimp
~ Chimmi churri aioli and vegetable slaw
The shrimp was quoted with raw quinoa and fried, never had quinoa that way and it resulted in great contrast of texture with the shrimp. And somehow, it wasn't oily at all which made it very airy and perfect with the spicy and garlicky chimmi churri.

 Panko Blue Crab Cakes
~ Fennel and Arugula salad, chipotle aioli
 This was made with 100% crab with no filler which you don't find in a lot of places. But I find it a tiny bit heavy on the black pepper and it was a bit much with the spicy chipotle aioli.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Girl & The Goat [Chicago]

We didn't manage to get a reservation but decided to take a chance and walk in... Girl & The Goat (@StephAndTheGoat) being ranked really high on a lot of US best restaurant list, this was a must try for me.

We decided that we wouldn't go to high end restaurant with $200 tasting menu on this trip which I don't mind since I tend to like more casual hip restaurant better.
We arrive at dinner plan and was told that there was a one hour wait, but after 20 minutes of wait or so we were given a spot at the communal table  by the kitchen with a 2 hour limit.


 It was definitely a bigger space than I have expected, love the huge open kitchen along the back wall with the wood shelves for all the different plates and bowls on display.

Bakery Gateau (inside Galleria Supermarket)

I go to Galleria Supermarket all the time since I love love Korean food but have only try a few of the Korean Donuts (savory) and buns from Bakery Gateau which is located inside the supermarket. 
We had a gathering at a friend's place and was getting some cook food from Galleria and we decided to get a cake as well. We decided on the 6" Green Tea Sweet Potato Cake $22 which was perfect for the 6 of us. Although being incredible full after our feast, we manage to finish the cake without any difficulty. It was very light and airy, not very sweet... I just love it and it means a lot coming from me since I usually don't like "cream" cakes.

Did I mention how pretty it was, perfect for the start of some perfect weather (^_^)

Verdict :
Love it since it was just the right sweetness for me
Cute looking and tasty
Light & airy, won't feel too guilty eating a second piece ;)

Bakery Gateau on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 6, 2013

Giordano's Restaurant & Pizzeria [Chicago]

It's my first visit to the Windy City and we took a rather early plane, was there just in time for lunch after dropping off our luggage at the hotel. The first thing we had to try was the infamous Chicago deep dish pizza. We decided to head to Giordano's Restaurant & Pizzeria (@giordanospizza) which is a chain and have 14 location in Chicago alone.

 Love the bar area...

Giordano's House Salad - Starter $3.95
~ Spring lettuce mix, romaine lettuce, tomatoes, arugula, escarole, radicchio lettuces and fresh fennel tossed in a light lemon vinaigrette and topped w/ shaved parmesan cheese
 Since we knew that the deep dish pizza will be super heavy and filling, we decided to at least have something healthy... this was nothing fancy but love the mostly lemonvinaigrette which was super light and refreshing.