Food

the last Indian supper on St Clair West

savera_indian

My last Indian feast as a St Clair West resident: butter chicken, dhansak, basmatic rice, naan, and cold beers.

It’s a time of endings. The last rays of summer will soon fade into autumn — my favourite season. But what will never change nor fade is my love for curry and Indian food!

I’ll be moving out of the St. Clair West neighbourhood in a few weeks’ time after having lived here for almost two years. I remember my first night here. I walked along the streets with my face raised and my eyes darting back and forth, trying to take in everything. I still remember how it felt: the thrill of a new place, the anticipation of a new beginning.

I definitely took advantage of the great restaurants along St Clair West. I’ve been to Savera Indian Cuisine a handful of times and I’ve enjoyed the food and the service every time. I’ve sat and sipped red wine and sampled the delicious curries on cold winter nights. You know, I had to try the butter chicken! Obviously, it was delectable. I’ve also had my fair share of chicken korma, several helpings of saag aloo, chana masala, and lamb dhansak on warm summer afternoons while sipping ice-cold beers.

Soon enough, I’ll be moving on to a new neighbourhood and new food adventures! But until then, I’ll remember my last Indian supper on St Clair West and I’ll remember what it felt like to be young and free and full of food and laughter.

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Culture, Music

Let’s all pretend that summer will never end

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Someone saw my outfit and said ‘Groovy.’ That’s exactly what I was going for. Yes!

But I don’t want to pretend. I want summer to be for always.

All the music festivals, the life abounding in the streets, drinks in the park with long-lost friends, and nights on the patio; these are the things I look forward to when I’m in my fall mode of introspection and my winter mode of hibernation.

The sun is this elixir and the wind — a temporary reprieve from the heat. Everything is a bit more alive and troubles seem like a thing of the past. Or something relegated to some time in the future, some place far off.

During these summer months, I took advantage of my seasonally based energy and the beautiful weather. It was my first time going to Field Trip, a music festival sponsored by Arts & Crafts (an influential independent Canadian record label). Del La Soul was amazing! Girl loves to dance! Girl = me. I would definitely go again next year.

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Day 1 of Field Trip 2015!

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#FindYourWayHome at the inaugural WayHome Music & Arts Festival

During the last weekend of July, I was invited to go to the first ever WayHome Music & Arts Festival. My partner’s band Teen Violence played during the second afternoon of the festival. I was so proud of them! They played like old pros, but I admit, I am biased.

Being part of the Teen Violence crew meant I was given some sweet perks — including, but not limited to, the privilege of saying “I’m with the band” and also fulfilling the essence of scenes from Almost Famous. The VIP experience made it a lot more pleasant than my past festival experiences (I’m looking at you Coachella and general admission).

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The now beloved artist compound. May you live forever in my memory.

On the day Teen Violence played, we were able to hang out in the artist compound which could only be described as a haven — almost a fantasy mirage in the sweltering desert heat. The complimentary food and drink were much appreciated and the staff were downright pleasant.

I’m happy it was such a success. They’ve already announced the dates for next year, which are July 22-24. It was fun to listen to well-established bands playing the same festival as lesser-known acts. Kendrick Lamar was crazy good. Once again, girl loves to dance. Alvvays was top-notch, and I would’ve danced more to Future Islands if I wasn’t asleep on my feet. Also, the surprise performance from Broken Social Scene was awesome!

Let’s all pretend that summer will never end. From this day forth, everyday will be filled with iced coffees, live music, and the belief that it all means something.

Now let me conclude with some of my favourite quotations about music from my favourite books. Enjoy!

But maybe the last part of the symphony was the music she loved the best — glad and like the greatest people in the world running and springing up in a hard, free way. Wonderful music like this was the worst hurt there could be. The whole world was this symphony, and there was not enough of her to listen.
– The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

I can still recall the feeling that came over me when my great-uncle Harper first placed the record needle onto a spinning 45. It happened right away. I felt that everything deep within my body was rising to the surface, that my skin was growing thin, that I would come apart. If this sounds painful, it wasn’t. It was what love did to my body, which was to transform it. I would come apart like a fireworks display, a burst of light that would grow larger and glow, and make the person below me say, “Ah!”
– Bitter in the Mouth, Monique Truong

I have always had difficulty listening to the frenzied sound of many instruments together. In Charles Town, on occasion, I had heard flutes, oboes, horns, and violins all rise together, but they always seemed like voices at war. Here, though, I could befriend the cellist, fall into his music, heed the melodic urgency, and be touched by the way it dipped low like the voices of village elders and skimmed high like singing children. Adonis Thomas’s cello whispered to my soul. Do not lose hope, it said. You too can make something beautiful, but first you must be free.
– The Book of Negroes, Lawrence Hill

My mother began to hum along, her body began to sway. The men in the living room remained silent, as though they were being reprimanded. Elf played louder, then quieter, then louder again. The birds stopped singing and the flies in the kitchen stopped slamming up against the windows. The air was still. She was the centre of the spinning world. This was the moment Elf took control of her life. It was her debut as an adult woman and, although we didn’t know it at the time, her debut also as a world-class pianist. I like to think that in that moment it became clear to the men in the living room that she wouldn’t be able to stay, not after the expression of so much passion and tumult, and furthermore that to hold her there she would have to be burned at the stake or buried alive. It was the moment Elf left us. And it was the moment my father lost everything all at once: approval from the elders, his authority as head of the household, and his daughter, who was now free and therefore dangerous.
– All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews

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Food

it’s my birthday and I’ll eat créme brûlée if I want to

créme brûlée topped with a scoop of sour cherry ice cream

créme brûlée topped with a scoop of sour cherry ice cream

Ah, June. It’s that time of year when I’m feeling particularly restless. The sun lures me outside to patios, open-air restaurants, and I’m always thirsty for a cold beer or a crisp glass of white wine. Or red-wine sangarias. Or ginger beers. Or ciders. I guess I get particularly thirsty in this heat and haze.

June also happens to be my birthday month. I celebrated it this year at R&D with a piña colada bubble tea! Hmmm, the infusion of summer and Chinese flare.

The restaurant was open and airy with high ceilings and contemporary and rustic touches throughout the space. We sat at the bar near the DJ booth and were immediately entertained by the witty bar staff.

We decided to share the lobster chow mein, the sweet and sour pork ribs, General Sanders’ chicken, and Eric’s curry.

sweet and sour ribs with pineapple ginger slaw

sweet and sour ribs with pineapple ginger slaw

I couldn’t convince anyone to order the seafood on the menu, which all sounded amazing. The next time I’m there, I’ll sample the ceviche, salmon belly, octopus, oysters, and scallops. I might even let someone else have a bite.

The dinner culminated with my favourite dessert: créme brûlée. This concoction was coconut flavoured and topped with a scoop of sour cherry ice cream. The balance of sweet and sour gave it that particularly ingenious flavour profile seen throughout the menu.

It’s exactly what I wanted for my birthday: time with people I love and good food and drink. As we ate the very last bites of dessert, we raised our glasses to another beautiful night in the city and for all the nights that are still to come.

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Food

I think the weekend calls for pizza

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Pizza this good is worth sharing.

It’s the weekend, or as I like to call it, pizza time.

As I’ve said before, I’m kind of a pizza monster. I love pizza in all its forms, but one of my favourites is Neapolitan pizza. Its thin crust, soft texture, and blistered goodness can only be trumped by its authentic Italian toppings.

I like my pizza simple: mozzarella and basil atop a tomato base. But I’m open to new flavours as well.

One of the latest pizza joints I checked out is literally a five-minute walk from my apartment. Pizza e Pazzi is a well-furnished establishment with beautiful ambience and an open kitchen. I went to the St. Clair and Dufferin location, but there’s also one on St. Clair and Christie.

The first time I was there, I shared three different pizzas: the marghertia verace, the funghi e salsiccia, and the vegetariana. I had just come from a book reading and pizza seemed to be the best way to finish a lovely day. I was totally right.

Until next weekend, pizza.

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Food

All about that ramen

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A ramen feast: original pork belly ramen with bean sprouts, nori, scallions, seasoned egg in a regular pork broth with thick noodles

Ramen, ramen noodles, warm bowls, broth, rich pork, irresistible egg yolk. I think I have a thing for comforting bowls of broth and noodles.

When I think of Japanese food, I think of sushi, but I wanted to try another culinary favourite from Japan. Ramen.

I happened to see Kinton Ramen when I was in Baldwin Village; I’m there almost every weekend stuffing my face with all-you-can-eat sushi. I really enjoyed being able to customize my bowl. I was able to choose the flavour of broth, its richness or lightness, the type of noodle, and any additional toppings.

It was a comforting treat on a not-so-cold March day.

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Pork ramen and its spicy garlic counterpart with additional nori topping

 

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Food

Family day is a time for love, nourishment, rice

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For me, family day is about spending time with loved ones and eating simple, delicious food. The staple in my parent’s household is sticky rice. In fact, did you know the Lao word for ‘rice’ is the same word for ‘food’?

Sticky rice or ‘glutinous’ rice takes patience but it’s easy to make. Simply visit your local Asian supermarket and grab a bag of sticky rice. For the best results, soak the rice overnight in water (or for a minimum of three hours). The next day, steam the rice for 15-20 minutes on either side. I like to use a bamboo basket, a pot, and a lid (to keep the steam inside the basket). Once the rice is done, I spread the sticky goodness onto a non-stick mat and use a wooden paddle to gently remove the excess steam.

When I moved out of the house my mom made sure to equip me with all the necessary instruments for making sticky rice. She made me a non-stick mat from turning the rice bag inside out and cutting it into a square. She also cut the bag into a circle and placed it in the bottom of another bamboo basket to keep the rice from sticking. This second basket is for storage, but rice doesn’t last long in my house!

For me, rice isn’t a side dish. It’s the main course. The best way to eat sticky rice is also the simplest way. I roll a portion of the rice into a ball, sprinkle it with salt, and enjoy. It’s simple and delicious. And it reminds me of my family and the time we spend together at the dinner table.

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My bamboo basket of sticky rice was featured on the Gastropost section of The National Post.

(Note: Remember sticky rice is different from your everyday white rice because it’s stickier, denser, and more filling. It also doesn’t keep as long since you can’t refrigerate it like other rice. It’s best eaten fresh. )

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Food

New year’s resolution: eat all the doughnuts

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I’m staring out into the middle distance and dreaming of doughnuts. If only I would turn around and see what’s right behind me.

So it’s the new year. A fresh start. 2015! Inevitably, the new year sparks new year’s resolutions — some feasible and others not so possible. I would guess that most gyms will see a spike in their membership and then a gradual decline as people come down from their new year’s high. I’d like to make a resolution that I know I’ll stick to — one that doesn’t involve reducing my body fat and increasing my time on the treadmill. A resolution that will probably see a spike in my glucose levels and an upward trend in my happiness quotient.

I’m committed to my 2015 resolution: I’ve decided to eat more doughnuts in 2015. Perhaps not just doughnuts (let’s try to be inclusive) but all foods sweet, decadent, and prone to inducing the sugar highs. Yes, it’s a giant task, but I think with perseverance I can make this happen.

I’ve already started my monumental goal last year when I stopped by Glory Hole Doughnuts (on Queen St W and Lansdowne Ave) and revelled in their scrumptious selection of gourmet doughnuts.

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All the ingredients for a wonderful fall day: chai brûlée doughnut, almond tea, shades, and a good book.

I met up with my friend Meghan for our donut date. It was the fall and the sun was blindingly bright and the air was chilled. And pesky wasps were still buzzing around. I think they were attracted to the smell of freshly baked doughnuts because before I could order anything — one of those buggers stung me! Ah well, I was immediately comforted with my chai brûlée doughnut and my almond tea. Honestly, I would go back for the almond tea alone. It’s so lux and I have a deep love for tea. Meghan decided to order the vanilla sprinkle doughnut and red velvet tea. She seemed to enjoy those delectable treats.

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Tea and doughnuts, say ‘cheese’!

I would like to add that I’m not biased when it comes to doughnuts. I like them in all shapes and sizes, cream filled or not, cake based or yeast risen, gluten-free or vegan or organic, eaten indoors, outdoors, at restaurants or drive-ins whilst watching Alfred Hitchcock films on the big screen.

As I’ll submit into evidence: I had the pleasure of meeting up with a few friends at Through Being Cool Vegan Baking Co.

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Dense and delicious: vegan boston cream doughnut and pumpkin cream doughnut.

The name is a mouthful but so are the doughnuts. They’re giant and dense. Perhaps because of their vegan nature, but I thoroughly enjoyed them even though I had to eat them in two to three sittings. I decided to go with a boston cream doughnut and a pumpkin cream doughnut, and I never looked back. But what I will do is this: I’ll look forward to 2015 and all the glorious doughnuts I’ve committed myself to consuming. It’s a major feat: eating all the doughnuts in Toronto. But I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

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