Saturday, November 22, 2014

Quebec City: Creperie Le Petit Chateau

During an a colourful Autumn visit to Quebec City, QC, my buddy and I decided to give fondue a first time try at Creperie Le Petit Chateau. This intimate bistro offers a 3-course fondue experience for two for $65 - a price that left room for an escargots appetizer and a beautiful bottle of French red wine (the name escapes me). And then it began...
  • Cheese fondue and bread - silky, smooth gruyere blend that smothers and warms your bread and then melts in your mouth. 
  • Beef fondue sliced super thin and served with salad and baked potato with a steamy hot french onion broth. Just a few seconds in the broth cooks the beef to a beautiful medium-rare. 
  • Chocolate fondue with a platter of bananas, pineapple, marshmallows, strawberries, cherries, red grapes and pears...oh yeah!
This is a great place if you're trying fondue for the first time and I recommend it if you're ever right in the heart of Old Quebec City. It's a dining experience fitting for the location. 

Le Petit Chateau on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Chicago: From Sushi to Hot Dogs and All That Jazz!

When I'm lucky enough to be in Chicago, food is usually the first thing on my mind. This time around, I skipped the deep dish and enjoyed new and diverse experiences during a week in September.

Inventive, imaginative and satisfying. Also my first saki experience...perhaps an acquired taste?
We started with the Tuna Tartar - not to be missed if you're dining here. And then on to some rolls:  
  • Ginza Roll (steamed lobster, spicy mayo, cucumber, jalapeno topped with tobiko and wasabi tobiko)
  • Tochigi Maki (spicy tuna roll wrapped in slices of mango and avocado with a sweet and spicy sauce)
  • Rainbow Maki (toasted salmon, tempura crunch wrapped with pieces of tuna, salmon, yellowtail, and eel)
  • Red Dragon Roll (salmon, avocado and spicy mayo topped and marinated tuna)
Perfect combinationof ingredients and a place to revisit...because there's so much more to their menu.

Sushi Taiyo on Urbanspoon

The menu is short and sweet with something for everyone. For me, it was the Seared Sea Scallops (butternut squash puree, toasted pumpkin seeds brown butter vinaigrette, braised caraway cabbage). I polished off every bit of it. And the butternut squash puree and braised cabbage has smokey bacon crumble mixed in, a surprise not mentioned in the description. Perfectly seared scallops and perfectly portioned. We also tried the Kale & Artichoke Dip and Shrimp Sliders (mmm...pretzel bun) to get it going.

Quay on Urbanspoon

They describe it perfectly..."The Intersection of Art & Cuisine". It was my pleasure to be a guest among good company, eclectic and creative pop art and exquisite food. Mixology fans will love the cocktail menu. I had the What's Up Doc (Grey Goose Vodka, Carrot, Ginger, Lemon, Mint) and the Eight Ward (Rittenhouse Rye, House Grenadine, Lemon, House Orange Bitters, Orange Peel). Both packed a pretty good punch! Our tapas do not appear on the menu, so aren't we special! And they were amazing mise en bouche, which included Portobello Sliders on Pretzel Buns, Pan Fried Fish served on a tablespoon, Beef Tartar, Fish Tacos, Chicken Satay and the melt-in-your-mouth Chocolate Creme de Pots served in an espresso cup. Tucked away in the meat packing district, it's truly something to discover.

Fulton Market Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Classy and elegant, we got cozy at our round table beside the contemporary fireplace and enjoyed fresh Tableside Guacamole with warm Housemade Tortilla Chips. Their signature Casa Rita Margarita is a perfect combination of Giro Silver Tequila by Sauza, Cointreau Orange Liqueur and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices . My entree of Camarones Escondidos (grilled chicken breast stuffed with shrimp, topped with sautéed spinach and chipotle-wine sauce) was oh-so-good...I just had to share some with everyone at the table. I ordered a Cantina Mojito (Don Q Cristal Rum, fresh mint, lime, cane sugar) for dessert (hehe) with a side of Gran Centenario Tequila (smooooth). The best Mexican meal I've had outside of Mexico. 

Cantina Laredo on Urbanspoon

A steak and seafood USA restaurant chain with 2 locations in Chicago. The Wacker St. location gives you a prime view of the Trump building from the bar. My spirit of choice for the evening was a lovely La Marca Prosecco. The table shared some amazing Long Island Blue Point Oysters (and I love me some oysters!) and I really enjoyed my Asparagus Salad and Swordfish Casino (with lump crab, roasted red pepper, bacon, mushrooms spinach sautee) from the seasonal menu. Creme Brulee for dessert was the perfect end. And our souvenir menu to was customized with a welcome message for our party as arranged by our hotel concierge...sometimes it's the small things that count. 

McCormick & Schmick's on Urbanspoon

And I couldn't leave Chicago without a hotdog moment. This one was from Uno at O'Hare International Airport. 

Love you Chicago! I'll be back. ; )

~ S ~

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Tony's I-75 Restaurant...Got Bacon?

If you ever happen to make a road trip to Northern Michigan on the I-75, it's worth a pitstop off the highway in Birch Run, MI to grab a bite...make that a big Tony's Restaurant.

Recommended by a colleague, we ventured off the I-75 on our way to Traverse City, MI, found Tony's and bit off more than we could chew! Should have clued in when all the servers had "Got Bacon?" on their back. 

If you order a BLT, it comes with a pound of bacon. My turkey club came with a 1/2 pound of bacon and a 1/2 pound of turkey. We're talking BIG food! And if you like bacon (and every pork eating carnivore does), then you'll love this place. The bacon is GOOD!

Not in the mood for bacon? Then maybe try the Reuben like my travel pal did on my 2nd trip through. Or the Ranchero or Poutine that we had on our way back! 

The epitome of excessive food and over indulgence, but consider it a right of passage if traveling on the I-75....and the food is awesome and served with a smile!

~ S ~

A glimpse at the menu
Got Bacon?
The Reuben (front) and Turkey Club (back)
A closer look at the Turkey Club
The Ranchero
Tony's homage to Canadians - The Poutine!
Tony's I-75 Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Haven't Stopped Eating!

It's been years since my last blog post. And believe me, it's not because I've stopped eating. Everywhere I go, there's something delicious and memorable! So much to share, so little time. Here are a few honourable mentions over the last few years...(within North America!).

Carlo's Bake Shop - Hoboken, NJ
My brother ventured out from Mississauga, ON to the popular Cake Boss pastry joint in Hoboken NJ and brought me back a chocolate chip cannoli. I was impressed that the dessert survived the road trip and was just as yummy as you would imagine. But my local favourite for take home desserts is La Rose bakery in Milton ON...and the cannoli are my favourite ; )

Love this place! The food and service are great. And the best's a shisha lounge. Great place to relax, socialize, nibble and puff away on some great herbal flavours. My favourite is the iced mango coconut after sharing a shawarma platter with friends.

This is a Canada West joint with locations in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. They boast Canada's largest selection of draft beer. I loved the STIEGL RADLER - AUSTRIA ("A deliciously refreshing blend of Stiegl Goldbräu and real grapefruit juice. The sweetness comes from the fruit with no artificial sweeteners or flavours.") and the RED RACER IPA TAQUITO SKILLET ("Natural Alberta Chicken taquitos topped with pico de gallo, cheese, bacon and two poached eggs"). A perfect brunch! And all ingredients are locally sourced.

Fritomania - Orleans, ON
We drove about 1/2 hour from Ottawa to Orleans for what my friend promised would be the best poutine in the area...and she was right. Any food lover knows never to underestimate the side-of-the- road food hut or truck. Worth the drive to Orleans.

Paradiso - Oakville, ON
A new choice for a girls night out dinner in honour of a dear friend's birthday. We really enjoyed the live jazz duo, great service and even better food. We passed around cornmeal crusted calamari and hummus with flatbread (Spring Menu). I really enjoyed the Roasted Chicken Tagliatelle (served with penne on the Summer Menu) with herb roasted chicken, sundried tomatoes, artichokes and kalamata olives tossed with fresh arugula in garlic infused xvoo finished with crumbled feta cheese. We shared the Creme Brulee Trio for dessert...and the wedge of complimentary Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake topped with caramel, strawberries and birthday candle ; )

That's barely cutting the surface of the last few years. But I look forward to bringing you highlights from more food adventures! Find me on Instagram @shara.cheeranjie for even more foodie moments : )

~ S ~

Monday, June 13, 2011

September 2011: Lisbon By Night

At the table: Nad B, Bibi, Shara

Lisbon By Night is a beautiful, authentic, Portuguese restaurant with an inviting atmosphere. The warm lighting and authentic decor makes you feel as if being welcomed into a traditional, Portuguese home. 

Though seafood isn’t the only choice here, it’s definitely the popular choice with the restaurant’s signature platter – a generous serving of mixed grilled seafood perfect for sharing. The serving is so large; it challenged groups of 6-8 people!

Nad B ordered a wonderful dinner of mixed grilled seafood set atop a lovely bed of rice paired with a sparkling white Portuguese wine, Azelda. 

Bibi and I went for the Fish Rodizio – an all-you-can-eat mixed grill featuring 8 types of fresh fish served right to your table with boiled potatoes, salad and rice and fish soup to start. The variety of seafood included: calamari, salmon, mahi mahi, sea bass, prawns, sardine (large and small) and catfish.

Next was the dessert trio - a choice of any 3 desserts on the menu. Our choices seemed easy - Chocolate Lava Cake, Creme Brulee and Toffee Pudding. However, our server convinced us to try the Fresh Creme and Eggs instead of the Toffee Pudding by assuring us it was the most authentic dessert on the menu and also the best. She was sooooo right. It was like a parfait of thick whipped cream, sweet creamy egg yolks layered with graham crumbs. It was our favourite of the trio and we literally scraped the dish with our spoons!

Overall, this is a great place to go for big family dinners, celebrations or an intimate date. Did I mention there was live music? Beautiful is the only way I can describe this experience.  And mmmmm.....Fresh Creme and Eggs!

Lisbon By Night on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Try It! Deep Dish Pizza in Chicago!

At the table: Shara (me)

What do you do when you have an entire day to yourself in Chicago? You take an architectural cruise aboard the Innisfree, shop the Magnificent Mile and eat deep dish pizza, otherwise known as "stuffed pizza" at Giordano's.

Thick, smokin' hot and ultra cheesy with a rich sauce. Worth the 40 minute wait. But after 2 Rolling Rock, I could only get down 1 piece - less than a quarter of the 10 in. monster (the smallest dinner size). I carried the rest back to my hotel, froze it and it traveled back home in my suitcase! Note: not as good when thawed and reheated.

Chicago, I hope we meet again! And Gino's....I'm coming after you next!

Pizza favourites?? Let's have 'em!

Giordanos Famous Stuffed Pizza on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 15, 2010

Try It! Bourbon BBQ Ribs to Beef Brisket Nachos!

I literally ate my way through August and September (and it shows!!). Let's just say the indulgence(s) were worth it! And this post doesn't include Chicago!

At the table: Mom, Dad, Steven, Maya, Shara (me)

The Village at Blue Mountain is a fun place to be in the summer, but choosing a restaurant isn't easy. Be prepared to spend premium in the Village. Rusty's seemed like they would have something to satisfy our varying tastes. True to form, we all ordered completely different dishes! Being seated right next to the smoker, the air was good enough to eat! So of course, I went for the smoked ribs - a full rack! The full rack was cut in half and stacked. The top half was perfect....fall off the bone, hot, smoky, sticky. The bottom rack was none of those things....chewy, dry, lukewarm. So I don't think the 2 halves came from the same rack. Bummer that I couldn't enjoy them start to finish. I'd go back to Rusty's, but probably opt for a big nasty burger instead. Oh! I almost forgot to mention the pickles!!! Rusty's pickles are awesome!

At the table: Steven, Maya, Shara (me)

While on holiday in Collingwood, I was ready to satisfy my craving for fish & chips. But I wanted the real deal...or at least as authentic as you can get "on this side of the pond". After an extensive web search for English pubs in Collingwood and an endless review of the reviews, we headed out for The Admiral's Post. The decor was typical of what you'd expect of an English pub (when not in England I suppose). The service was friendly from start to end....even when my 6 year old daughter pulled down the curtain with rod not 2 minutes after being seated! I ordered the Halibut & Chips, my daughter had the children's meal of Cod & Chips (not much smaller than my meal!) and Steven went for the Steak Pie. Craving satisfied, mission accomplished!! The fish was lightly coated, the way I like it. The halibut was meaty, flavourful and filling! I devoured everything on my plate, except the coleslaw. The "chips" absorbed the salt and malt vinegar perfectly. I crave it now as I write it! All went down easy with a pint of Stella Artois (I know, a dark stout would have been more appropriate, but I haven't acquired that taste). We ended the night at the Post with Maya dancing on the asphault to live music on the outdoor patio. A great dinner, a wonderful evening.

At the table: Nad B, Nad R, Tanya, Chris, Shara (me)

Margaritas!!! I don't usually like them as I developed an aversion to tequila in university. But I took a generous sip from Nad B's..... Suffice to say, Lone Star Cafe will be the only place I'll be drinking margaritas at from now on. The tequila is in there, but the flavour is subtle and actually enjoyable. While you're there, get the fajitas. We went for the trio - chicken, shrimp and beef. The fresh tortillas make this my favourite place for fajitas! Find a location near you on their website.

At the table: Nad B, Nad R, Vijai, Chrissy, Shara (me)

This was a night for celebrating our beautiful Nad B who chose On The Curve to bring us together for her birthday. I've been here many times before for many different occassions over the years and each experience has been different. It's earned a reputation as a "cougar bar". The clientele is majority age 30+. But many celebrations happen here - birthdays, anniversaries, bachelorettes, corporate events, etc. Then the night opens up to dancing, with live music on the weekends and it literally becomes standing room only. It's a classy, mature place and I think it suits its clientele, or maybe it's the other way around. In any case, the food here is terrific! The 5 of us decided to go for the "appie share" - order an appetizer each and share everything! We got more than we bargained for....the portions are generous, even for appetizers. The food here is worth listing out since we had a broad sampling (and I just want to make your mouth water):

Latin Spiced Chicken Salad
grilled cocoa mole rubbed chicken, balsamic basil banana chutney, pickled jicama vegetable slaw & romaine lettuce

Crispy Calamari
with cocktail sauce & banana pepper relish

Warm Cheese Fondue
baked Gouda & goat's cheese served with chipotle cranberry compote baked pita bread & tortilla chips to dip

Beef Brisket Nacho Plate
smoked beef brisket topped with cheese, jalapeños, green salsa, Gouda cheese sauce tomato salsa & sour cream

BBQ Chicken Flatbread
goat's cheese, scallions

All of this alongside my mojito and 2 glasses of Santa Carolina Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot - the wine I buy for home on a regular basis, a good reminder of how much we're gouged for booze at restaurants! And the shots - I think 3 or 4 came our way while I was there.....and I left early!

The latter half of September included:

Applebee's - one of my Dad's favourites for their beef tips and ice cold Heineken draft. And you can actually order a full steak dinner here for no more than 600 calories!

Boston Pizza - the "light" stromboli dinner is my favourite. Ok, that's not true...I love their chicken parmigiana. But I do also love the light stromboli dinner.

Kelsey's - I only like the one in Milton, ON. The restaurant itself is just nicer at this location and my half rack rib dinner was better than Rusty's.

See, I wasn't exaggerating when I said I ate my way through August & September. I still haven't shared with you yet the 3 great meals I had mid-September in Chicago or our September pick for the girls who like food! Even I can't believe there's more!