Great Eats and Treats in Ontario and NYC!

This trip happened earlier in the spring, and I’ll admit that it took me forever to drag my fingers to the keyboard to write this thing up, because frankly, I ate a crapload of food on this trip.

It was a great time of catching up with some familiar faces and stuffing our bellies with fantastic food.  Spending some time visiting in Ontario and then a week in NYC, we had the opportunity to truly define what it meant to be gluttonous.  Here’s a rundown of some of our highlights that we recommend you try!

Barley Vine Rail Co.

Our first top on the trip was to Orangeville, Ontario, where we spent a few days visiting some dear friends on ours.  They had told us that Barley Vine had made the cut to be featured on “You Gotta Eat Here,” and so me being a reality food show junkie, we had to give it a try!  Everything was soo delicious.

We had some duck fat fries and pork belly perogies to start.


For my entree, I went for the bacon wrapped meatloaf, which was featured on the show.  Again, super delish.



After a day of wandering around Toronto we were looking for a dinner spot and my googling took me to a Pantheon for some Greek Food.  The ratings were good so we decided to give it a try, and we were super duper impressed with the quality of the food, as well as the awesome service from the staff there!


Complimentary veggies with 3 different dips


Grilled calamari


My moussaka

Complimentary cake with chocolate sauce.  We believed it was because Evalie, our friend’s daughter was just so cute (especially when we got her to say “opa!”)

Now onto the NEW YORK eats!!


Some could call it a tourist trap, and it probably is considering every table surrounding us was of people from a different visiting country.  And how did we know that?  Well we happened to hit up Sylvia’s on a Sunday, which featured a gospel singer going around the restaurant interacting with restaurant patrons, asking all of them where they are from.  Trap or not, the food was great, but be prepared to wait with a huge crowd of people.  As J said “it’s like standing in line at a concert with general admission.”


Complimentary cornbread


Smothered chicken and waffles


Collard greens and mac and cheese on the side

Momofuku Noodle Bar

Hearing many things about David Chang, his restaurants, as well as his feature on “Mind of a Chef,” we wanted to try out his Noodle Bar in NYC.  After going to the interactive play “Sleep No More,” we went to Momofuku for some late night ramen.  I was happy to see that they were also serving his pork belly buns (which we saw many times on TV), so we got those to share, and for myself, I ordered their Momofuku Ramen bowl.  YUM!



Spot Dessert

Loved this place.  Love it so much I went twice during our time there.  It carried your more typical desserts, but also offered some asian inspired treats and beverages, which I loved.  Totally recommend this place if you love desserts with Asian twists!  Their green tea lava cake has been featured numerous times, and after eating it (twice), I know exactly why!


Lychee green tea bubble tea


Green tea lava cake with green tea ice cream.


Fried toast with condensed milk ice cream


A strawberry shortcake/ trifle thing that looks like a flower pot!

Le Bernardin

J and I decided to pull out all the stops and treat ourselves to the Chef’s Tasting at Le Bernardin, a 3-star Michelin Restaurant.  Our meal lasted about 3 hours from start to finish and their service was like a well choreographed dance.  The only reservation we could get during our time there was for a 9:30 seating.  It goes without saying that this dinner is definitely not easy on the pockets, but is definitely a great experience.  Crossed that off my bucket list.


Our tasting menu.


Some complimentary bread to start from a huge basket they kept circling around.


The start of our formal tasting menu. The pictures follow the sequence of the menu items.


A bonus treat not on the menu, some petit fours.


The last course on the formal tasting menu.

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Some bonus treats that weren’t on the tasting menu to finish off our meal.

Peacefood Cafe

My cousin in NY part owns Peacefood Cafe, a vegan eatery, so I had to check it out.  Now, I really do love my meat, but I have to say the dishes were quite tasty and I really enjoyed my meal.  We went there for brunch, where I had the grilled vegetable panini sandwiches with chickpea fries to share.  J had an “egg” scramble, and a super healthy power green drink.  It was a great lunch with great service and it didn’t hurt either that one of the guys working there was nice enough to send me off with some delicious vegan cookies!


Roasted vegetable panini sandwiches


Chickpea fries


Their baked treats, all vegan!

Carlo’s Bake Shop – Hoboken

Another big highlight of the trip was finally being able to go to Carlo’s Bake Shop in Hoboken, after watching countless episodes of “Cake Boss” at home!  Easily accessible by the NJ train, we got there early in the day, worried we would see a long line up, but it was quite empty when we got there.  However, after about 10 minutes the place had a really long line up.  We got there just in time!  Needless to say I spent a good chunk of change there, not just on the cookies, but on the Carlo’s t-shirt, mug…yeah.11076762_10152780475631560_3540644984485467500_o


Our chocolate hazelnut linzer cookie, black and white cookie, and cannolis, all so good!


Open view of the kitchen!

EN Japanese Brasserie

Also recommended by my friend, we met up with a different friend who also was in NYC for school to have dinner at EN Japanese Brasserie.  The vibe is modern and sleek, with really good service, and noticeably a lot of serving staff.  There were some items that were found in typical Japanese restaurants, but then some also unique dishes that we got to enjoy.  The qualify of the food was fantastic and very very well done.  If you like Japanese food, this is a great place to go to.



House made tofu, served with soy sauce.


Spicy tuna roll.


Garlic fried rice with seaweed on top. Looks simple, but really flavorful.


Grilled cod – very tender.


Black sesame tofu mochi donuts! Tastes like it sounds but tasted so good!

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The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

After EN Japanese Brasserie, we walked over to the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop for some ridiculous ice cream cones.  The selections were modest, but they were sure fun.  You really can’t help but smile when you go up and say you want to order the “Salty Pimp.”  I opted for the American Globs because I was lured by the chocolate dip and the pretzels.  Win.




Joe’s Shanghai – Chinatown

I’ve visited Joe’s Shanghai everytime I’ve been to New York, specifically for their soup dumplings (Xiaolongbao), and I knew I had to take J there as well.  After a visit to the Statue of Liberty, we walked to Chinatown for a quick stop there.  I always get their soup dumplings and their red bean pancake, they do both so well there!!  11048692_10152780480551560_7073191282529020272_o


Tofu and trying to keep up with some veg intake.


Fried red bean pancake, so good!


Their famous xiao long baos!

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory

I didn’t make it to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory the last time I went to NYC, so I made it a point to visit it this time around.  I love how their “regular’ flavors are the asiany flavors such as lychee, pandan, red bean, etc, but they also feature “specialty” flavors like chocolate, vanilla, etc ;P

J and I got two flavors each: I got lychee and durian, J got red bean and pandan, all the flavors tasted so legit!

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Lobster Place

We spent the rest of the day wandering around and making our way back to Chelsea Market, becuase we wanted to have dinner at the Lobster Place, located within the market.  I wished we had more places like the Lobster Place.  There, you can buy fresh seafood to take home but also eat there, like their oyster bar.  There’s also a sushi counter to take out freshly made sushi and sashimi, or you can eat there right on the spot.  Tucked towards the back is a lobster tank where you can eat a freshly steamed lobster, or again, take one to go.  Basically, it’s awesomeness to be found in one place.


We shared delicious lobster roll at C&P Galley.

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I then made my way to the oyster bar and sushi counter while Justin saved us some (standing room) dining spots to finish off this seafood lover’s meal.  Everything was so awesome and fresh!


Freshly shucked oysters.


Shake Shack

After watching a bball game at the Barclay’s Center of the Nets vs the Raptors, we went for post game eats at the Shake Shack, one of the must go to burger places in NYC.  I had the shack stack burger, which includes a fried portobello mushroom cap (YUM) with a “fudggedaboutit” concrete (like their version of blizzard, but with custard)

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Smorgasburg in Brooklyn!

On our second last day, we ventured back to Brooklyn for Smorgasburg, a famous outdoor food market, and the origins of the ramen burger.  Normally filled with tented areas, the vendors had to go tentless becuase it was ridiculously windy.  We knew our first line had to be for the infamous ramen burger, and from the vendor that started it all.



We continued wandering up and down the stalls, and found some ramen…

Along with some Japanese/Mexican fusion vendors, like the spicy tuna nachos. 11160559_10152780482986560_226422104506793176_n 11159879_10152780483146560_1191071434546156376_o

We eventually made our way back to the Chelsea Market to have a few more bites, and stopped at the Doughnuttery for some mini donuts (one of my weaknesses)


I picked the PB&J and the Paris Time flavor; both of them tasted exactly like the menu.  It was ridiculous.10298841_10152780483351560_6218898390416529058_n 11154719_10152780483506560_19957810320863435_o

I also knew I couldn’t leave NYC without having J try a slice of NYC pizza, so we knew to take him to Artichoke.


Not a bad size for $5.11128840_10152780484776560_4283726326231090661_n

We continued to wander around and went to Yakitori Taisho for late night japanese skewers.

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We ordered a bunch of things, including the salmon cream yakisoba, which was SO GOOD, and an assortment of skewers.
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On the day we left, N took us to one of her fave brunch spots, for one final meal of awesome:


The table got a some complimentary bread and some DELISH strawberry butter.  I opted for the Benedict Jane – poached eggs on crab and crawfish cakes, and the three of us decided to share their vanilla bean french toast with creme brulee batter – so awesome.

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Dominique Ansel

The time had come – the cronut.

I had PREORDERED these a week ahead of time (which was sold out within minutes online) and it was finally time to pick them up!

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Such a cute box.11160027_10152780486366560_2962729949143241834_o

The flavor of the month was Strawberry Rhubarb and Thyme Ganache (with citrus sugar).  YUM.10917947_10152780486416560_8359703292246492337_o

I was super impressed by all the layers and the strawberry filling in all the layers.  It was really good, though I think I’m glad I was able to preorder these, because I’m not sure if I could’ve had the justification to stand in line for hours.11146395_10152780486511560_2265406199888278738_o

Georgetown Cupcake

After a quick run into DASH (just to say we went to the Kardashian’s store), we stopped at Georgetown Cupcake as N instructed.  I went for their Hummingbird cupcake (which got squished on the way back to the apartment)

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Whew.  And there you have (the most of) it.  The long and short of it is that there is definitely no shortage of fantastic food to be found in the big apple.  Not sure about you, but I feel like I’ve gained about 5 lbs just writing this thing.





Mini Donut Cookies


If you’re anything like me, you probably subsrcibe/like/favorite/stalk a bunch of talented bakers out there.

Or not.  Whatever.

I recent had a go at these mini donut cookies that Sweetambs posted a tutorial on.  What is it about things being mini sized that make them so much more awesome?

Seeing how adorable they are they were, I decided to make some for a get together I was going to.

I followed the recipe for the dough, but truthfully, I found my dough a little too stiff than her video showed.  I had doubled the recipe and wondered if that had anything to do with it.  I was able to still pipe out the batter, but it definitely wasn’t as smooth as hers.



Out of the oven.

I started with the cinnamon buns.  IMG_5738

I didn’t take any pictures of the rest of the cinnamon buns, as Sweetambs video shows the entire process, so here were my completed cookies.

One thing I did different was actually flavor the pink icing with a raspberry extract so that they would “taste” pink.  What I’ll do next time is also sprinkle some cinnamon into my glaze for the cinnamon bun cookies, and add a bit of honey to the icing for the crullers, that way all the cookies was “taste” like they look!

Love how little they are!  Give these cookies a try if you’re looking to make these adorable bite sized treats (and then you can say you ate a dozen donuts, and not feel too guilty about it)  HAVE FUN!IMG_5753

Painted Bulldog Birthday Cake


I love, love LOVE bulldogs (what is it about those scrunched up faces??), and it’s been an ongoing debate with my husband on having one join our family.  So consider me super jealous when I learned a coworker got an English bulldog of her very own!

Meet Clementine, and apparently she’s got quite the following on Instagram (@clementinethebully)


Adorbs, right?

Some colleagues at work wanted to surprise her with a birthday cake, and asked me to make her a cake with Clementine painted on.  I was super happy to oblige!

I made a chocolate cake with a coconut buttercream, covered in white fondant.  Once the fondant had a chance to set I started on trying to make this cake as cute as the bulldog it was inspired by.  I used my Americolor food gels, water, a palette, and food safe brushes to do the work (I may have also used my projector to help me a bit, that thing keeps paying for itself each time I use it).





The finished cake.IMG_5658The cake appeared to be a big hit and Ally seemed to enjoy seeing her adorable puppy on it!  Happy Birthday, Ally!  Hope you had a wonderful time celebrating with Clem!!

Peter Cottontail Painted Cake

A chocolate cake, with a filling made of coconut, pecans, condensed milk and egg yolks.  My simple version of a German chocolate cake.  

Covered in fondant and painted with edible food gels.  It was my first go at painting a full image on fondant so there’s no progress pics as I was too focused on the task.  Next time!!            


Spiderman Inspired Birthday Cake

Kim was planning an Avengers themed birthday party for her son Nathan’s first birthday and asked if I could do a birthday cake as well as a smash cake, and I was happy to oblige!

I baked up 2 8″ round cakes for the birthday cake, and 2 4″ round cakes for the smash cake, and sliced each one in half to get 4 layers for each cake.

Before placing buttercream on each layer, I brushed some homemade chocolate syrup to keep some moistness in the cake.



Then a layer of coconut flavored buttercream.


Crumb coat.

While I let the crumb coat set set, I worked on the smash cake, working in the same fashion.


Kim asked for a ruffle cake which she would elevate on a stand during the party.  Working from the bottom to the top.




And then working from the outside in for the top of the cake.


I then worked on the birthday cake, prepping the table with corn starch before rolling out the fondant.


My cake was 8″ wide, and 4″ tall, which meant that I had to roll my fondant out to 16″ to ensure that it’s large enough to cover the top and down both sides of the cake.


Now, I didn’t have the hands to document this, but I rolled up the fondant on the roller and unrolled it onto the cake.  Working relatively quickly, I used the fondant smoother to smooth down the fondant at the top of the cake, and down over the edge of the cake before it dried out and risked tearing.

Working in a circular motion, I stretched and pulled the fondant and smoothed it down working around the cake, from top to bottom.  Use a pizza cutter to trim off some of the excess fondant to make it easier to smooth out.IMG_3532

I then went in and used a small knife to trim the fondant right along to the edge of the cake.


I also sometimes find it helpful to elevate the cake on a smaller cake pan while smoothing the fondant to allow the excess fondant to hang off for trimming.


For the eye I drew a template of it on paper before rolling out the dark modelling chocolate.


I placed the template on the dark modelling chocolate and used a sharp knife to cut out the shape.  I repeated the same step for the inside using fondant for the white.


I used a simple sugar syrup to glue the white fondant piece to the dark chocolate piece.

Then to let the eyes set at the proper curvature, took my 8″ round pan, taped some parchment to it, and attached the eyes using shortening on the pan to let them harden with a slight curve, so that they would curve with the cake when I attached it.

While I let the eyes set, I started sketching the spiderweb design.  It’s not easy to tell from the pic but I used a dull butter knife to lightly draw on the fondant.  I then painted over the lines with black food coloring gel slightly diluted with water.  I also etched out where the eyes would loosely go.


Then goes on the first eye.


And the second.


And the finished cake!


Kim sent some pictures my way from the party and the party she put together looked awesome!  I love all the different superhero touches (especially those Hulk beverages!)


And look at the wonderful stand and topper that was made for the smash cake!  She is definitely crafty!

And how great are these pictures of the birthday boy?




It looked like Nathan had a good sugar rush of a time at his birthday party and I was touched that Kim considered me to help celebrate such an important birthday.  Happy 1st of many birthdays, Nathan!!



Greats Eats and Sweets in Seattle 2014

I had the chance to hit up Seattle when J went on a conference back in the fall.  Seattle’s known for some having some great food and I took full advantage of my week there.  We stayed at the Hyatt Olive 8 downtown so I was in great walking distance of some great food places.

Some of my memorable faves:

Taylor Shellfish Farms – A little place where you can get fresh seafood to go, but also has a small menu of fresh oysters, chowders, and other edibles.  A great place if you’re looking for a light lunch, or in our case, a pre-dinner snack!



Clam chowder with geoduck and bacon.


An assortment of various oysters.


Geoduck sashimi – very good!

The Crab Pot – This place has basically been on my bucket list every since I heard about it from friends.  You can’t really turn down the opportunity to put on a bib and eat with a mallet and your hands as you crack open a table of delicious seafood in front of you, can you?  We went all out and got the Pacific clambake which pretty much had everything!


Leave your fancy clothes at home, cuz it gets good and messy!

Pike Place Market – Being within walking distance was awesome because I got to check out all the fresh seafood, produce, handmade goods, and all the different food vendors.  I didn’t get a chance to hit up too many places but I did get a chance to go to Pike Place Chowder, and Beecher’s Handmade Cheese.



The biggest lobster tails I’ve ever seen!


Pike Place Chowder – dungeness crab roll and clam chowder


Beecher’s mac and cheese!


Eating my mac and cheese while watching them make cheese curds.


Dog Japon, a few blocks away from the market, tried by Andrew Zimmerman.


Marination Station – I first found out of this place on the show Eat St, and I guess it got so popular that they opened up a bricks and mortar location, which we had a chance to go to for dinner.  The food was casual and the flavors were great mix of that Hawaiian-Korean fusion (but I love Korean food so I might be biased!)



A very simple but tasty looking menu!


spam sushi, miso ginger chicken taco, kalua pork slider, and kimchee fried rice with kalbi beef.


Kimchee fried rice close up.

Matt’s in the Market – a delicious dinner, located right by Pike Place Market.  Don’t be too scared by the prices ’cause the entree portions are huge, we could barely finish our meal and I actually wasn’t able to finish my pork chop *sob*



Charcuterie board


Duck egg salad


My (humungo) pork chop


Justin’s half chicken.

The Walrus and the Carpenter – out of all the dining experiences, this might have been one of my favorites.  The food was great, and the vibe was cool.  We sat at the bar so it was fun watching the staff mixing up drinks and plating up dishes.  It was definitely a popular place.  They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait during prime time; we waited about 45 minutes for our spot on a weeknight.




Assortment of fresh oysters


Scallop carpaccio


Fried oysters


Steak tartare


French onion soup

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery – my FAVORITE place the entire trip.  Totally being biased here, because I love lava cakes and I love dessert places (since we don’t have too many back home).  The Molten Chocolate Cakery pretty much combined all my favorite elements into one spot!  It was a 10 minute walk from the Walrus and the Carpenter so we headed there after dinner.



J’s sampler of ice cream flavors and different sauces underneath


My super amazing dark decadence molten lava cake with vanilla bean ice cream and toffee bits!

Japonessa – J’s birthday happened to be on one of the days while we were in Seattle so we decided to go for a nice meal to celebrate.  With us both being fans of Japanese food, we went to Japonessa for dinner, which I came across when yelping various places.  The food was so great and had some interesting dishes, including a green tea tiramisu!  I would recommend it to any Japanese food lover.


Crab tower


Octopus and seaweed salad


Octopus tataki


some pumpkin/squash dumplings




Fresh sashimi


One of the amazing different types of rolls they have


Green tea tiramisu!


4 different flavors of mochi filled ice cream: mango, chocolate, strawberry, green tea.

Sitka and Spruce – one of our last meals was at Sitka and Spruce, a very farm to table type restaurant that uses really rustic type ingredients.  Admittedly, some of the dishes look and sound quite odd on the menu (like having flowers thrown on my food), but the flavors were really great!10683596_10152471605401560_9033713962433157055_o


house made celery soda – very refreshing!


Sourdough bread with soft butter.


Black trumpet mushrooms, rutabaga, mussels, and horseradish


Shaved matsutake, scrambled eggs, mustard seed and greens

Macrina Bakery – having read an internet article recently on the “top 24 bakeries” to visit in the world, I knew I couldn’t pass up a chance to hit up Macrina Bakery, which made it on the list.  Famous for their caramel turtle brownie, I went for a morning walk to the bakery and picked up breakfast.  Delish!1509733_10152471603046560_6298405879571626554_n



Apple turnover, a morning roll (like a sweet croissant), and their giant caramel turtle brownie.

And there you have it, happy eating!