I heart a good brunch. There are just so many reasons to fall in love with brunch:
- It’s an excuse to have a lot of bacon
- Brunch specific foods like the perfect runny eggs benedict
- The major girlfriend bonding over the major food groups of sugar, fat and carbs
True story, I used to go for brunch every single weekend to do all the above with my girls, M and P. We exhausted nearly every Vancouver brunch spot back in 2008-09, and in that time we also perfected the timer selfie with a ketchup bottle. No more brunches together now, we live in different cities. Instead, we “toast” each other with milkshake-looking emojis on Whatsapp (ok, the ice cream sundae one is the closest).
Plus, it’s tough to brunch with a baby. Brunch usually isn’t that baby friendly! The brunch restaurants are usually crowded, smaller spaces and then there are the line ups. Either you go super early and wait, or you go at brunch hours and wait for likely over a hour for a good place.
Here is a secret, not all brunch-only places have a good brunch. Super mommy blogger Yashy asked me to join her and fellow moms at Bareburger where they do brunch – it’s all organic, all natural, and all delicious. Here is what I tried and recommend:
French toast stuffed with duck bacon and cheese! I wouldn’t have minded more duck bacon and more fruit on the side.
Super decadent, rich chocolate and raspberry milkshake. They do NOT mess around, this was one of the best milkshakes that I’ve had ever had. The ice cream comes from Greg’s Ice cream, one of my favourite spots in the city.
I was so full by the time the ice cream sandwiches came around, but I couldn’t say no to this. Soft chocolate cookies with creamy peanut butter ice cream. The key is the SOFT chocolate cookies, I hate ice cream sandwiches with hard cookies – no, just no.
Lucky me, I ate and ate because Yashy and Pereina held Baby D – thank you! Also, thank you to Bareburger for treating and indulging me in my love for brunch complete with *duck* bacon, all the right sugar and carbs plus new mom friends to share it all with. <3
I think dim sum actually means “touch heart” – so, it’s like Chinese soul food. And, I love it for so many reasons:
– It’s the kind of brunch that I grew up having as a Chinese kid
– It’s undeniably delicious (except the chicken feet, IMO)
– It’s traditional and yet there are ever evolving dishes and fusion flavours
– It’s meant for sharing
Recently, my beautiful and hilarious friend Andrea and I shared dim sum at Fisherman Villa. I love it there because it reminds me of the old-school dim sum places (a little too crowded, and noisy) but without the push carts. Plus, the food is simple and tasty – and cheap! Usually, it’s safe to order 3 dishes per person so naturally…we ordered more than that. Here is what we filled our tummies up with:
Standard orders of har gow (shrimp dumpling) and siu mai (pork dumpling) were good. You can’t go wrong with these!
Extra sweet soy sauce on the cheung fun, please! We ordered the beef and watercress cheung fun and my very favourite wu tao gok (deep fried taro dumplings).
Lastly, we polished off the lau bak go (turnip cake) and ngao guk (beef balls).
Don’t come here if you want fancy dim sum. Come here for your simple dim sum items and their fresh char siu bolo bau (BBQ pork pineapple bun) – and for the value that it provides. Expect to pay around $7 (you eat a little) -15 (you eat a lot)/person depending on how stuffed you want to be.
At the end, we were stuffed and happy. So, dim sum really does “touch heart”…and my stomach!
Cy takes after his mom – looks, organization, creativity, and his love for classic rock and guitars. Both of them have cool looking glasses too. Last week, she visited us and new baby D!
With the frigid temps, we haven’t really gone out (plus, I was house bound by Chinese tradition – no going out for 30 days post baby’s birth). Jail time was over, and we decided to go out to eat in Japan Town’s Shiso Tree Cafe. We shared a bunch of dishes (family style of course), and here are the verdicts:
Verdict: Order this, it’s like a fancy Japanese Caesar salad. They didn’t skimp on the smoked salmon!
Verdict: Order this once to try. I liked the sauce, but the fries weren’t the best – they were fried for too long and hard.
Verdict: You must order this, it’s kinda life changing. It’s creamy, and the barbeque eel was meaty and flavourful.
Verdict: You could pass on this one. It’s good but doesn’t compare to the Unagi Don (I took the leftover Unagi Don sauce and dumped it on this dish).
We were stuffed by lunch end, I mean look at those portion sizes – they were pretty big. After lunch, we went to Pacific Mall to look for cool, red glasses for Mom. You can never had enough pairs of cool glasses!
Shiso Tree Cafe
3160 Steeles Ave. East – Unit 1
Markham, ON L3R 4G9
I’ve always been the world’s slowest eater according to family and friends.
- I take tiny bites to draw out the time that I spend with a really good chocolate cake.
- I distract myself by chatting and forgetting that I have to eat even if it’s delicious dim sum.
- I sometimes pick at my bento boxes and eat the good parts (ie. not the rice) then slowly eat the not-so-good parts (ie. the rice).
Then, D came along. He is the boss, and he won’t put up with my slow-eating habit. In fact, cooking and baking has to be done in ultra speed too.
So during the holidays, any baking had to be made with easy-to-find ingredients, quick and super delicious. Here is the recipe that did the trick:
Brownies! But, brownies with a secret weapon: Persimons®.
Growing up, my mom bought the short and stout persimmons for the family. They took awhile to ripen and sweeten, but Persimons from Spain are different.
So, here is the recipe! Most of the ingredients are likely already in your fridge and pantry:
1 Persimon®, peeled and chopped
⅔ cup (150 mL) sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon juice
Place the chopped Persimon® in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour the puree into a saucepan. Add sugar and lemon juice stirring slowly over medium low heat until the consistency of jam. Approx. 5 minutes. Set aside.
½ cup (125 mL) unsalted butter
5 oz. (150 g) bittersweet chocolate (70%)
⅔ cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50 mL) Persimon® jam
3 large eggs
1 pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
¾ cup (175mL) all-purpose flour
Grease an 8 X 8 inch (20cm) baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch (2.5cm) overhang on two sides. Place butter and dark chocolate in a sauce pan over low heat and melt until smooth. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the Persimon® jam, stir and remove from heat.
In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs with a pinch of salt and vanilla until slightly foamy. Add sifted flour and blend until just incorporated. Being careful not to over mix. Pour the brownie batter into the baking pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and spread the remaining Persimon® jam over the top of the brownie while it is still hot. Allow to cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares.
Makes 9 servings
Tah-dah! Easy peasy brownies with Persimons. Cy helped me with the garnishes – sliced persimons and some lemon!
NOW, THE BIG CONTEST
Roundtrip charter airfare for two (2) to Spain from the closest available gateway offered by D.O. Kaki Ribera del Xúquer.
- Accommodations for two (2) for seven (7) nights at a 4-Star Hotel, located in downtown Valencia, based on single room double occupancy.
- Breakfasts for 7 days for 2 people.
- Transfers in destination country (From and to Airport /Hotel only)
- Taxes are included.
Contest closes: January 31st, 2015 at 11:59 P.M. E.S.T.
Little D made his way into the world on December 11th!
Things are settling down at home, and it is a huge help to have my mom from Vancouver here with us.
So far, the little guy is finally sleeping ok, eating well, pooping the stinky diapers, and loving his YouTube playlist including Baby Beluga and Elmo’s song.
It’s been awhile, I know. The last 9 months, I’ve been growing this baby bump. Cy and I are expecting a boy later this month. We are a mixed bag of excited, scared and farts.
Did you know? Pregnant women fart more and sometimes they smell like funny eggs.
How do you feel? Pretty good. No morning sickness, and now it feels like there is a bowling ball in my tummy.
Do you have any cravings? No, how boring!
Have you finished the nursery? We are now! We turned the office into a nursery. Out went the desks, and in went the crib, change table, baby stuff and a forest curtain on a steel rod along the glass wall.
Do you have a name? Yes, we will share that once the little guy is born.
Are you ready? We’ve watched Youtubes, downloaded the apps, and read articles. Last weekend, we just finished our child birth classes where we learnt about everything from dealing with contractions to cuddling your baby. We may or may not be ready, but we will try.
Special thank you to Anooja, Sagar and Sandy for the special gift of a maternity shoot – and a newborn shoot!
Poutine has this special little spot in my heart. There are only good memories that came served fries, cheese curds and gravy.
Friendship Poutine One of my best friends, Pia, loves poutine as much as me. When we have a serious catch up, I’d message her on the way to her place and ask, “what do you want?” She almost always says poutine, and I’m glad. So, I call it friendship poutine.
Ottawa When Cy lived in Vancouver and I lived in Toronto, he had a work trip in Kingston. It was perfect meeting place to start a mini trip to Ottawa together. It was in the middle of the winter, and all I remember was the bumpy Rideau Canal skate, hundreds of layers, and Smoke’s Poutinerie shared as a snack and breather from the cold.
Giant Poutine I dare you to find someone who loves poutine more than my friend Say who layers it with a pack of bacon in giant aluminum pans.
A new memory was made recently at La Banquise. Cy and I drove almost 6 hours to Montreal for a mini getaway and to eat some poutine. No kidding, we checked into our Buddhist Temple (thanks Air BnB), and walked over to the “best poutine place in Montreal” in the Plateau Mont-Royal neighbourhood.
We go there, and no line ups! It was late afternoon, way after lunch and a bit before dinner so go then. We were seated right away, and we had choices to make with the menu of over 28 poutine kinds.
Forget it, I went with the traditional poutine, La Classique. That will give you the real benchmark of a good poutine.This was all mine, a regular-sized portion of fries, cheese curds and gravy. There was a generous amount of squeeky cheese curds and an even amount of not-too-salty gravy all over the fries. Together, it was good but not the best poutine because of the foundation ingredient aka fries could have been more crisp and less burnt. Plus, some of the cheese curds could have been layered into the fries so that they melted a bit.Cy got something different, and he ordered Le Elvis. Look at that, it’s a bit of a heart attack with the ground meat, green peppers and mushrooms. It’s a hamburger poutine (that’s what Cy said)! The toppings really made the poutine taste far different than mine, and a bit sweet. Look at our excited faces. There is no after shot, but we really did finish our poutines and washed it down with some San Pellegrino. And, it just cost us over $20. Not bad for a good poutine, and another good poutine memory for the brain bank.