Monday, March 26, 2012

Pineapple Upside Down Pancake

When anyone says 'Breakfast for Dinner', the kids are always hands over head clapping. Well, the kids as in Nick and I. This Bon Appetit recipe was found on my digital subscription and with half a pineapple left in the fridge, I knew it was meant to be (cue the parting of the clouds in the sky and light shining down). More often than not, I have trouble flipping pancakes and these ones were not any easier with the weight of the pineapple. The best attempts were made but they were still a bit sloppy. Various sources recommend a metal spatula which is not part of the arsenal. What can I say, at least I gave it my best shot. As for taste, we both appreciated the crunch and fluffiness of the pancake paired with the fresh juicy pineapple rings. With a side of double smoked bacon and aspargus, it all came together as a complete breakfast that even Tony the Tiger cannot resist!

Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Maui

Maui was nothing short of awesome. We are so glad we picked this Hawaiian island as our destination. It is lush and majestic. Nature never looked any better.

Favourite sites:
- Road to Hana and Road past Hana was even better
- Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala Park with Bamboo forest and 400ft Waimoku Falls
- Ali'i Kula Lavender Farm

Favourite eats:
- Grandma's Coffee House
- Star Noodle
- Tommy Bahama's
- Spago
- Huli Huli Chicken off Homoa beach
- Happy Hour at Cafe Mambo

Favourite shopping areas:
- Paia
- Lahaina

Favourite activities:
- Whale watching on raft with Pacific Whale Foundation
- Old Lahaina Luau
- Kanapali beach Stand Up Paddle Surfing
- Outrigger program at Four Seasons Resort

Tips:
- Rent a Jeep. That way, you have no problems driving the south side of Hana and going off road to some of the destinations like Jaws.
- Definitely staying 2 nights in Hana was a good idea. We did not have to rush back and had a full day to enjoy the hike.
- Book the earliest whale watching tour on the raft which only seats 30. You never have a bad seat.
- Book the floor seating for the luau. You will be right in front of the action and also be the first at the buffet.
- Hit Costco to pick up souvenirs and snacks. Booze is also cheap there and worth it if you are staying at a condo
- If you do stay in Hana, book the Hana Kai Ocean Front Two-Bedroom, Two-Bath Deluxe Vacation Rental. The windows are big and the place is gorgeous.  


And of course, we had a great time at the Four Seasons Hotel in Maui. We lived our Modern Family dream and even found our dream retirement home (last picture!) Here are some of the picture highlights. The rest of the pictures are here.  Enjoy! 
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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Maple Bacon Donuts

I don't have much of a sweet tooth but I am always excited about anything that is both salty and sweet. Like roasted duck with the plum sauce. Or sweet and sour pork.  Sausage and pancakes.  Chicken and waffles.  Honey garlic chicken wings.  Suckling pig with sugar and hoisin sauce.  The list goes on. And to add to this now, is the simple maple bacon donut from Beast. This neighbourhood establishment has also served Anthony Bourdain when he was in Toronto in 2010, so anything that's good enough for him is good for me.   I had one whole donut myself and not regretting it at all. Very satisfying on a Sunday morning after a good workout.

And look at the weird thing I noticed.  Nacho and Humphrey are the same colour as maple bacon donuts. Coincidence? I think not!

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Maple Bacon Donut from Beast

Maple Bacon Donut from Beast


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hipster's Guide to Gastown + Chinatown Vancouver

My inner hipster was calling out to me on my trip to Vancouver. Loud and Clear.  If you've got an inner hipster, you will appreciate the following destinations:

Roden Gray - Amazing clothing featuring local brands like Wings + Horns. Hipster staples like Rag & Bone, Alexander Wang, and Helmut Lang also fill the racks. 

Bao Bei - Unpretentious Chinese food with hip interiors, a great cocktail list and the perfectly dimmed lighting. Susur Lee take note.

Old Faithful Shop - Features high quality hand crafted goods for the home. You will wish you had one of everything in your home.

Nelson the Seagull - Extremely yummy coffee in a great cafe setting adorned with Niche Modern lighting and Tolix Marais chairs. Did I mention they bake their own bread at the cafe?

Medina - Sunday morning brunch line up galore for waffles and lavender latte. So come early.  It was worth it though. 

Other places worth noticing are Inform Interiors, Alife, One of a Few/Two of a Few,  and Lynn Steven. Equally as hip.

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Picture of food from Bao Bei, Old Faithful Shop, Nelson the Seagull, and lattes from Medina.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

5-course Chinese Dinner

"My sister's coming over dinner!"

That means it was time for all the bells and whistles. I went directly to my Jacky Yu Food Life Attitude 2009 cookbook because I want to make a Chinese meal that had modern twists. The dinner was on Sunday and I picked the dishes and sent it to her on Wednesday. That's how excited I was. The meal was definitely well balanced as it contained vegetables, meat, and seafood. Here are the items we made:

Homemade spicy pickles
Clams in sake with noodles
Mustard greens in chicken stock with salted and thousand year eggs
Fried prawn in Thai basil and salted egg yolk sauce
Crispy roasted chicken scented with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves

If this is not a full course Chinese meal, I don't know what is. After the meal was served, we went at it like a pack of hungry wolves. Ok. Maybe just a pack of hungry corgis.

The highlight was definitely the chicken which was ultra fragrant. And here is the recipe.
You first marinate the chicken with 4tbsp dark soy, 2tbsp rice wine, and 2tbsp sesame oil. Rub the inside and out with 2 tbsp of sea salt and stuff it with 4 stalks of lemongrass and a big handful of lime leaves chopped. Marinade it overnight in a ziploc bag. The next day, take out the chicken and wrap it in aluminum foil. It then needs to be roasted first at 250C for 90 min. After, remove the chicken and preheat oven to 520C with the cast iron pan. Unwrap the foil while trying to save the juices as the sauce. Remove all the lemongrass and leaves from inside the chicken and place the bird on the hot cast iron a la Bittman style. Roast it for 10-15 minutes. That's what gave it the perfect colour and crispiness of the skin. Let it sit for 10 minutes for all the juices to settle and then cut and serve with the reserved liquids. When you taste it, you can really appreciate the infusion of lemongrass and lime leaves.
This dish will surely be on the menu the next time my parents are over for dinner. Who knew a simple roast chicken can be so impressive.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Living room light

It took me a long time to find a light for the living room. There aren't any outlets on the ceiling and just to get that wired would have cost a fortune. This lead me down the path to find the perfect floor lamp for the space. My criteria included:

1) black shade to echo the drum pendant lighting in the kitchen
2) modern and unique design to fit in with the rest of the room
3) something that would not compete with the candelabra already in place.

After searching high and low, I ended up with two contenders:

1) BDDW's tripod floor lamp which looked super sophisticated

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2) Roll and Hill's Excel floor lamp by Rich Brilliant and Willing that was fun and casual

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The battle between the two went on for months but I chose the Excel floor lamp because the space should feel more relaxed. It is a unique piece and also quite a conversation starter. If I went for the BDDW, it would have been gorgeous too but likely wouldn't have stood out as much as it is sophisticated yet understated. The Excel floor lamp's cantilever drum shade also brought more light to the centre of the room. At the end I am super happy with this purchase and it will be something I continue to love whenever I see it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Vancouver

Here are my favourite photos from Vancouver. What a lovely city and I can't wait to visit again. Canada really has such diversity for travel.

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Chinese Detox

So our next vacation destination is Maui, Hawaii! I don't know if I can be any more excited. I love visiting cities but my inner granola also craves trees, water, mountains, fresh air, scenery ... all that natural goodness. But island setting also demands an island worthy body which I currently severely lack. We all know Christmas will be a lot of heavy boozing and eating so clean foods are on the agenda. For now. Less carbs and more clean proteins and vegetables. So to kick start a 2 month diet plan, I made steamed whole fish and winter melon soup on Saturday night. The wintermelon soup was tweaked quite a bit to include mushrooms, roasted duck, panchetta, dried oysters, dried shrimp, chicken stock and cilantro garnish. We had it 3 times over the weekend and finally finished it. The soup was super rich and nourishing. With all the added ingredients, there wasn't even a need for salt. The winter melon soaked up all the goodness and we managed to finish every less drop. Nothing like a meal that is tremendously tasty, good for you, and brings back a sense of nostalgia. Triple win!

Steamed whole fish with ginger, scallions, cilantro and soy Chinese Winter melon soup

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Vegas

People were overcome with shock when I tell them Vegas is one of my least favourite places to visit. When you are not into gambling, clubbing, or super high-end luxury shopping, there isn't much more to do. Luckily, I got to eat at a few good restaurants, got my outlet shopping fix, and saw a Cirque du Soleil show. The Cosmopolitan and Crystals shopping plaza did impress me though. The buildings are quite stunning and really redefined luxury in Vegas. It made it feel a little nicer than a Disney World for adults. All in all, I found a few things to enjoy but am glad to be back.

Crystals Exterior

Bellagio Chihuly Glass

Bellagio Fountain Show

Harrah's
 
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