Tag Archives: foodie

Review: The Sony Centre Partner Neighborhood Restaurant – Real Mo-Mo’s


Before or after a performance at The Sony Centre check out Real Mo-Mo’s. It can be found across the street from the Sony Centre for Performing Arts – think European, relaxed and delicious. Be sure to grab a special discount off your food/drink receipt when you show your Sony Centre for Performing Arts ticket before or after your show! A perfect way to stretch your dollar, feed you and your guests and keep the good energy flowing!

Monique and her team do the most gorgeous High Tea. It is probably the best deal in the city.  Offered daily between 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. for $30 (for two people) you will be fed Speculaas, Dutch stroop wafel, selection of cakes and a scone with fruit compote and butter, Cucumber and tzatziki sandwich, Dutch chicken curry salad sandwich, smoked salmon & goat cheese brioche and Dutch bitterballen.  Make it a Cream High Tea (add two glasses of Pink Prosecco).

We swooned over the Dutch chicken curry salad sandwich which was fresh, tasty and fragrant. It was filling and not too strong that it took over the flavours from the other goodies on the tier tray.  I wish I could eat a bowl of this as a midnight snack some nights.

The smoked salmon & goat cheese brioche was just as exquisite. It even came with a bit of attitude and flair in presentation with an onion cutting waving us a hello upon entering our mouths.  The smoked salmon was luscious and clean.  The goat cheese brioche just melted in one bite.  The sizing in the portions was grand and not typical for High Tea fare.


The most decadent savoury item was the Dutch bitterballen with mustard. Who knew such a tasty little item the size of a ping pong ball would be so flavourful and curious.  How did the meat stay so lush in the deep fried ball, we wondered?

For our tea choice, we went for the traditional Earl Grey leaves to linger upon and enjoy with our casual conversation. We loved the glassware tea service.  It was modern and very Dutch in its clean lines.  Throughout the meal we would stare up at the crown moulding ceiling, lavender walls, comfy furniture and natural wood.

For some quick additions to the High Tea we ordered Mo-Mo’s Tibetan Dumplings which were crispy vegetable dumplings with mango chutney. Think lil packages stuffed with mushroom, ginger and cabbage.  We loved the mango chutney which had touches of tamarind in each bite.

Moving on, we tried out the Down Under Sliders which consisted of (wait for it) grilled kangaroo, caramelized onions, granny smith apple, creamy brie, homemade beetroot jam on buttery brioche buns. Talk about a surprise and indeed something different.  We were told by Monique, the owner, that the kangaroo is ordered in advance from the butcher and is certainly unique in flavour.  We were not disappointed.  It was certainly a rich experience.  The beetroot jam would be a perfect ally for a Sunday in bed with tea and toast.

Another win was the Bison Burger. Think Goat cheese, pickled red onions, mustard aioli, tomatoes served on a warm soft pretzel bun.  The Zucchini Spears were the perfect addition.  The batter was crisp, not oily and awesome to crunch on in between sips of tea and laughter.  The hot cross bun styles made us smile and hugged the burger.  The Bison Burger was satisfying, tender but pretty heavy for a High Tea addition.

As we carried on with the sweets portion of the meal we tucked into the Speculaas, Dutch stroop wafel, scone with fruit compote and butter with ease. Light, fairy like and decadent.

As Monique says, ‘ The hospitality at Real Mo-Mo’s is not profit-driven, but rather, focussed on establishing meaningful relationships with our clients. With this, and additional luxury of delicious brunches, lunches and dinners carefully prepared for them, I am certain that my guests will feel right at home at Real Mo-Mo’s.’

Don’t forget to visit Real Mo-Mo’s during Winterlicious in Toronto from January 27 – February 9, 2017.

Bonne Appetite!



Toronto Symphony Orchestra Dining Partner: ‘Azure Restaurant & Bar’ at the InterContinental Toronto Centre


Featuring contemporary Canadian cuisine, the Azure Restaurant & Bar restaurant in downtown Toronto offers an innovative dining experience. Showcasing the city’s diverse culinary influences in a pleasing modern environment, Azure Restaurant & Bar offers a distinct selection of dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Chef de Cuisine Grace DiFede creates a tempting culinary journey, using the ingredients to take your taste buds off the beaten path. Stylish private dining rooms provide intimate spaces for parties and private dining, and Azure Lounge offers the ultimate space to unwind. For a delectable buffet breakfast, inspiring business lunch or lingering dinner and drinks, Azure is a sophisticated and inviting option loved by locals and travelers alike.

Located in the open lobby of the luxurious InterContinental Toronto Centre, the Azure Restaurant & Bar is a modern urban escape. Soaring floor-to-ceiling windows meet a gorgeous glass canopy, letting diners look out onto the cityscape. Enjoy the ambiance of outdoor dining all year long, and experience superior service from a knowledgeable, attentive staff. Stunning blue glass artwork from Stuart Reid floats above the bar, which serves signature martinis, organic local beer and thoughtful wine selections. Pamper your senses and indulge your hunger for serene, contemporary dining at Azure Restaurant & Bar.



Upon entering the modern and relaxing space we were guided to our seats which overlooked the Azure Restaurant & Bar. The hanging sconces and dim lights were romantic but at the same time offered us comfort. The city lights shone into the window and the music playing was gentle to the ears.  We viewed fellow guests enjoying intimate conversations with one another, a few were quietly eating their meals on their own with a glass of wine and some were just taking in the moment.

Glancing at the Cocktail List at the Azure Restaurant & Bar is a sight to behold. We sipped our Azure Blue cocktails which had flavours of coconut and pineapple (white rum + malibu + pineapple juice + lime juice + blue curacao) and Apple Ginger Punch which was laden with ginger, spice and everything nice (bacardi black + galliano + angostura bitters + thyme syrup + apple cider + ginger beer) quietly.  They were beautifully hand crafted and potent in the first sip.

To begin we ordered the Crisp Pork Belly & Chive Blini which consisted of red cabbage slaw, sour cream and fig marmalade. The pork belly was beautifully cooked. Although solid in placement, when consumed it was fluffy and buttery.  Almost cloud like.  The crust was nicely baked and tender.  The sour cream and fig marmalade indeed took a back seat to the pork belly but illuminated its flavour once it hit the palate.

The Quinoa & Endive Salad was zesty and humorous. The granny smith apple, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds were laced elegantly with pomegranate yogurt.  The Quinoa & Endive Salad was a wonderful introduction to the meal.  Light, airy and yet brimming with delight in its crispiness and subtle flavours.

If you are stopping in for a quick bite or before a performance at The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, order the Charcuterie Board. It consists of cured meats, pickled vegetables, olives, mustard and crostini. Think rustic and ‘oh so’ Italy meets Canadiana on a piece of slate.  Put a slice of salami on the crostini with a dash of the spicy mustard.  It was divine, powerful and must be had with a wine or beer from the bar.  The Mezze Platter or the Cheese Board will also make great first dates for the evening.  Wonderful additions if you are looking to prolong your evening with good company.

For the mains, the Pomegranate Glazed Duck Breast came to the table sat politely on an island of beetroot mash, squash, brussel sprouts and drizzled with cherry jus. The Pomegranate Glazed Duck Breast was majestic, rich and generous.  Filling but not to the point of exhaustion.  The beetroot mash could easily been eaten on its own sat in a reclining chair looking out at your back garden in the summer.  This dish was picturesque.  The mini brussel sprouts were cheeky and plumped up the plate.  The Pomegranate Glazed Duck Breast can be dwelled upon over conversation or satiated even further with a glass from Organized Crime’s ‘Break In’ (Pinot Noir).

If seafood is your fancy, the Grain Mustard Coated Salmon requires a gentle introduction. The salmon was beautifully cooked and was a substantial size as it said hello on a freshly made bed of couscous, fennel, radicchio and blood orange nage.  Truly ceremonial.  Flavourful, tantalizing and romantic.  This plate was all glamour but subtle.  It definitely stayed in its own lane.  Pair the Grain Mustard Coated Salmon with Cantina Rauscedo’s (Pinot Grigio).

For the steak lover in your life, the Striploin Steak and Fries had the best fanfare. Think Wellington County Beef drizzled with jus, caramelized onions, double smoked bacon, bbq aioli and corn bread.  This plate immediately transported us to a back country smokehouse with all the trimmings.  Woody, aromatic and yet no nonsense.   From the beauty of the meat – simple and uncomplicated.  To the dancing caramelized onions and double smoked bacon – this dish popped.  The bbq aioli was quietly noticeable.  The Colores Del Sol ‘Malbec’s’ was the perfect pairing with the Striploin Steak and Fries.

Dessert was just as verbose and refined at Azure Restaurant & Bar. The Lemon Cheesecake consisted of graham crust, candied lemon, citrus segment salad and toasted sesame seeds.  The Lemon Cheesecake was the perfect end to a rich, tantalizing adventure in modern Canadian cuisine at Azure Restaurant & Bar.

Grab a reservation with Azure Restaurant & Bar over Winterlicious in the weeks ahead. You will be guaranteed a beautifully curated meal and an authentic foodie experience before you trot off for a date at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Azure Restaurant & Bar

225 Front Street West




Review: The Sony Centre Partner Neighborhood Restaurant: Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge


After the Batsheva performance at The Sony Centre on Saturday night, we went for a delicious dinner at Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge. Found across the street from the Sony Centre for Performing Arts – the vibe of the space was sleek, sophisticated and fun. Be sure to grab a special discount off your food/drink receipt when you show your Sony Centre for Performing Arts ticket before or after your show! A perfect way to stretch your dollar, feed you and your guests and keep the good energy flowing!

Upon entering Vagabondo we were greeted by a server who guided us into the restaurant. The space was dimly lit but with grandiose chandeliers that sparkled above our heads.  The seating was modern but very comfortable.  Cushioned chairs and leather partitions provided privacy and a respite if you wanted to canoodle with a loved one or just hang out with friends after work or during a sports game.

We sat in the bar room area which gave us a wonderful view of Berczy Park. After the performance we were hungry but needed space and time to debrief the show.

Our server, John, was polite and made wonderful suggestions for food and drink pairings. He was attentive but also didn’t neglect us.  Our plates and cutlery were replaced after each sitting and a mild check in on what our thoughts were after each meal was gently queried.

We started with the Antipasto Di Mare (Grilled Calamari, Fried Calamari, Coconut Shrimp, Smoked Salmon, Cocktail shrimp. Minimum 2 people). The plate was like a fruits de la mer.  Abundant.  Tasty.  Succulent and meaty.  We were in love.  Just this plate alone could be a wonderful ally for a pre-show snack with drinks.  The smoked salmon was luxe, sweet and beautifully sliced.  The capers were salty and mesmerizing.  We felt a glow coming off us as we laughed and got stuck in.


The Gnocchi Pomodoro (Potato dumplings served with basil and garlic in our homemade tomato sauce) were nicely portioned. A petit bowl housed the soft ‘melt in your mouth’ gnocchi.  Filling but not a feeling like you over did it.  The homemade tomato sauce was gentle and married well with the basil, garlic and a dash of parmesan.

The Penne All’Arrabbiata was awash in the same home-made tomato basil sauce, jalapeno, garlic, green onions and a splash of white wine. I encourage you to add kalamata black olives & sun-dried tomatoes to make the dish even more verbose.

The Vitello al Taglio Francese consists of a 12oz Provimi French cut veal chop marinated with herbs and garlic, grilled to perfection & served with a portobello demiglaze sauce. It had all the makings of a grand Sunday brunch pleaser.  I encourage you to drink this with a large pint from the bar.

The Filetto di Salmone consists of a filet of salmon which is encrusted in sesame seeds and pan seared and served with fresh tomato, capers, vegetables and a butter lemon sauce. The salmon was a perfect size, delicate, beautifully cooked and golden. The seafood at Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge could easily be graded 10/10.  It was generous and satisfying.

We ended with a chocolate gelato and raspberry sorbet. Easy, breezy, sweet and no nonsense.  We had no more words left; we just leaned into the ecstasy.

Don’t forget to visit Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge during Winterlicious in Toronto from January 27 – February 9, 2017.

Bonne Appetite!

Vagabondo Italian Ristorante + Lounge

32 Wellington St E

Toronto, ON

Phone: 416.862.1999

Business hours

Mon – Wed: 11am – 10pm

Thu: 11am – 11pm

Fri: 11am – 12am

Sat: 12pm – 12am

Sun: 12pm – 10pm

http://vagabondo.ca http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=e0e8a417e9dd2410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD /


Royal Ontario Museum: ‘Friday Night Live – Light’ (Friday November 20, 2015)

If you have not yet caught one of the Royal Ontario Museum’s ‘Friday Night Live’s’ – you are missing out.  It is clearly the hottest ticket in town even when it’s 1 degree Celsius outside and you are trotting up Bloor Street West in the cutest cocktail dress, heels, your hair polished and make up on point.

Upon approach to the Royal Ontario Museum we were greeted with a line that was wound tight around the city block.  People were bundled up and ready to pile in.  With a 7 p.m. start people were clearly waiting for a good 30-45 minutes in the cold.  They didn’t look bummed in the slightest.  All we could see were smiles.

As we entered the space our coats were taken, we were directed to where we could buy ROM drink and food tickets and were given a map of the best exhibitions to take in.

The night’s theme was ‘Light’.  A perfect motif as the amount of daily light is slowly starting to diminish due to the season.  Perhaps this is about celebrating the light that we do have and reacquainting with it in a different way during the day.  In the mean time ‘Light’ shone on us inside the ROM as we started our evening in good measure.  The vibe in the space was upbeat, fun, filled with nostalgic tunes from a cool DJ and the scent of hot food.

As we ate some spicy buns, teriyaki and sipped delicious cocktails we watched as the crowd from the outside slowly start to bellow into the ROM.  People were in chipper, full of laughter and clearly ready to party.  The Fall chill had nothing on us.

As we glided up stairs to see the featured exhibition of Wildlife Photographer of the Year.  The space was heaving with people getting lost in the vulnerability, tenderness and raw emotion of the photos.  It was a sight to see so many people having deep emotional connections to the photographs.

It seemed every floor we tip toed into had a Nuit Blanche feel.  There was always a treasure to be found.  Be it musicians playing upbeat tunes, delicacies like haute couture cupcakes, volcanic ice creams, chic hamburgers, specialty drinks and healthier vegetarian options.  Check out Fidel Gastro’s and Randy’s Roti – they were a hit!  Clearly, next time we don’t eat dinner before we come to Friday Night Live at the ROM.  The ROM has curated a night that is for a discerning customer that is sophisticated, well travelled, a foodie and only the best will do.

Like in Alice in Wonderland, we got lost looking for Sergio Hernández Martinez’s ‘Day of the Dead Ofrenda made for the ROM’.  But when we did find it we were greeted by ROM staff that were exuberant to tell us all out the exhibit and also invite us to have our glamorous photo taken with the Pixel Stick in the adjacent space from The Museum out of Kitchener.

It was a gobsmacking experience as we revelled in the Ofrenda’s flowers, cut outs, bottles of beer, ornate crucifixes, angels and various sweets and foods left for those returning souls who once appreciated personal moments with these pieces when on earth.  At one point we were feeling extremely over stimulated but we shook that off after we paid our respects at Sergio Hernández Martinez’s ‘Day of the Dead Ofrenda’ and then took off for our next adventure.

Musical performances from Countermeasure, Repartee and Common Deer offered us a nice reprieve as we sipped our Peroni’s and chuckled about the past week.  What a lovely civilized way to have fun with your friends in the company of gorgeous art, succulent eats and drinks a plenty.  We all have to grow up at some point don’t we? Why not do it with the ROM in the heart of the city and then head off for fun and frivolity after 11 p.m.?  Lastly, there are two more FNL’s left for the year – get on it!


Review: Field Trip Music & Arts Festival (June 6th and 7th 2015) at Fort York & Garrison Common

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For the past 2 years Arts & Crafts ‘Field Trip’ has being giving us warmed sonic vibes to launch us into the summer.  If you live in Toronto, you know the winter was extra-long for us this year and there has been an ache to have ‘Field Trip’ 2015 to come to Fort York already!

We love Fort York.  It’s a perfectly accessible Toronto location for a festival; it’s on the TTC line and has enough room to watch bands at each stage.  Now come 5 p.m., its gets a tad congested.  The throngs of people navigating between the Garrison Stage (the larger one) to the TD Fort York Stage (the smaller one) always ends in a bottle neck on the path connecting both stages.  That said this year; the Fort York Stage was built a little further along to allow for a VIP drinking lounge area and a massive food, shopping and activities area.  Even though there were line ups for food, washrooms and drink – everything ran smoothly as the rain steadily fell on the Sunday afternoon crowd.

There were a number of upgrades from last year’s ‘Field Trip’.  The family friendly ‘Day Camp’ area for kids and their peeps was immense.  Sharon & Bram, Girls Rock Camp, Toronto Music Camp and children’s sets from other Field Trip performers all showed up for the party, and were within ear shot of the popular bouncy castle, hula hoops, temporary tattoo stations, kids haircuts, ping pong tables and more.

One of many things ‘Field Trip’ does well is their nod to local cuisine vs. food trucks.  Tucking into the likes of FOOD DUDES: Captain Crunch Fish tacos, Smoky Rueben Sandwich, Dirty Chili Hash, Nutella balls*, Mac & Cheese Balls* and DEAVA’S FEED YOUR SOUL: BBQ Korean Short Ribs, Pork Belly Sandwich, Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Sandwich (all farm to table) were things of beauty after long days in the sun.

The Mess Hall was brought back with Ivy Knight.  On June 6th we witnessed a Cake Decorating Contest where participants played cake boss with plain cakes and buffet of colourful candies and sweet goodness.   On June 7th, Ivy and her team of brave Field Trippers came together to build the biggest hoagie – relay style!

The roster of bands that were on ‘Field Trip’s’ schedule this year was sure to excite.  With diversity in musicians reflecting the diversity of Toronto included of ‘From Jamaica to Toronto’, ‘De La Soul’, ‘The War on Drugs’ and ‘Purity Ring’ on Day 1.  We felt the afterglow well into ‘Alabama Shakes’ set.  Day 2 was even more of a love in with ‘Father John Misty’, ‘Temples’ and ‘Marina & The Diamonds’.  If your body wasn’t aching after all of this you weren’t partying hard enough.  Then again for some of us, it doesn’t take much.

We had a great chuckle at the Laugh Barracks which was presented by Mail Chimp as the day wound down. It is a hilarious new addition to Field Trip, with performances from two of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows, Laugh Sabbath and Chuckle Co.  Sometimes you need to take a break away from the music.

Fort York is a wonderful home for ‘Field Trip’ and we hope it continues to be.  The rustic Canadiana vibe, locals meeting out of towers and familiar soothing tunes as it christens us into the summer’s arms is a big hit!  The detail, love and camaraderie that go into putting on ‘Field Trip’ from the Arts & Crafts crew makes us look forward to 2016.


Poppy Restaurant

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Walking into Jerry Traunfeld’s ‘Poppy’ Restaurant on a chilly November night, whilst in Seattle I was greeted warmly just like an old mate.  This is a great feeling when travelling alone and having not spoken to a soul all day because of solo independent pursuits.  After a little chat with the hostess she sat me close to the window so I could take in the restaurant layout and feel the delicate ambiance.   But most importantly warm up.

I had read about ‘Poppy’ a few months back when starting my research for my time in Seattle.   I was staying in Capitol Hill and saw that ‘Poppy’ was just up the street from my accommodation.

Jerry Traunfeld opened ‘Poppy’ at 622 Broadway East (at Roy) in 2008 appropriately after his mother, Poppy. “Food will still be inspired by herbs, and will delve deep into spices. Rather than the rarefied Herbfarm style, it’ll be food we can eat on an everyday basis — and with Traunfeld’s track record of deliciousness, we just might.”   This sounded incredibly intriguing to me.

The restaurant serves Traunfeld’s local and seasonal-emphasized cuisine in a pattered small dish tasting format, inspired by Indian Thali.  “Thali,” is a platter served to each guest holding a variety of small dishes.  Poppy’s menu borrows the idea of the Thali to present Jerry’s own style of northwest cooking, highlighting seasonal ingredients, fresh herbs, and spices. It’s a modern northwest tasting menu served all at once.

I noticed that the space was full at ‘Poppy’ the night I chose to dine with them.  I glanced at my menu but felt distracted by the northwest meets NYC upper west side stylings.  It was a stunning space.  The staff was bustling around and I observed them to be attentive with guests but not overly.  I instantly felt comfortable and was eager to eat as I saw steaming dishes with meals being delivered to just as eager patrons on the floor.

To Start

The Friend Mussels with Lovage Aioli is a must try on ‘Poppy’s’ menu.  The Fried Mussels were simply prepared and ached of its original essence.  They were boisterous, tender and required a slice in half to eat them with as much grace as they suggested.  I had texted my sister at the time as I ate this gorgeous dish to tell her that the mussels were the size of Silver Dollars.  Immense!  This dish should not be shared but needs to be eaten slowly, deliberately to truly appreciate its delight.

The Grilled Smoked Trout with Fennel Salad and Salsa Verde was the recommendation of my server Benedict.  I was a tad nervous that perhaps the Grilled Smoked Trout would be too big a portion but it was perfect in every way.  Portion, preparation, taste and texture.  The Trout was not overly smoked but had a slight accent so you could enjoy the fish for which it was.  A perfect marriage between the Fennel Salad and Salsa Verde.  Their notes brought out the flavouring of the Trout without letting you forget that the Trout was the headliner.  I enjoyed the sweet and savouriness of the Fennel Salad and Salsa Verde.  The overall dish made a perfect introduction to the entrée that followed.


The cocktails I ordered to sip throughout my meal were again great recommendations by the hands of my hostess.  They were allies but did not take away from the purity of the food.


Gin, Chartreuse, St. Germaine, Lime, Orange Bitters.

The Loveless cocktail was certainly not Loveless.  This lady was all romance.  It took me awhile to finalize my menu choices because of the love this drink was extolling onto my heart.

Wild About Saffron

Vodka, Brandy, Rose Geranium, Saffron, Lemon, Angostura.

The Wild About Saffron was a tad strong but a nice way to transition my meal from Starters to Entrée.


Thali is a perfect choice if you are looking to heighten your senses while trying a little bit of everything.  What you may not realize at the time is that each segment on the Thali stage is speaking to one another as soon as it is placed in front of you.  I was taken by the colours, textures and gentle voices I heard coming off my Thali platter.

My server, a young fellow who at first wanted to quickly tell me everything on my Thali and get out of there warmed up to me when I asked, ‘Hmmmm…where should I start?’.  He cracked a smile and simply replied ‘Anywhere you like, Miss’.  Thank you for the permission I thought.

Indeed I started with the Red Pepper, Apricot and Walnut Soup.  The soup was resplendent.  It washed down my throat easily and its warmth opened up my belly.  I felt instantly recharged and reawakened for what was to come.  I was present.  The Soup was fresh, thick and it could stand alone as a mate on a Saturday afternoon at home with a simple spoon and large soup dish in bed with a book.

The Satsuma, Pea sprout and Fennel Salad was next.  Even though I had some Fennel salad before with my Trout – I was not ready to let it go.  Again, fresh, beautifully curated and a perfect bonjour as I began to deconstruct my Anderson Ranch Lamb Osso Bucco with Malay Flavors.

So began the dance.

The Anderson Ranch Lamb Osso Bucco with Malay Flavors was the genius.  I was ready for protein and this was my star in the sky for the night.  The Anderson Ranch Lamb was humble as it was dynamic.  Fall off the bone moist, tasty, and delightful.  I could feel my legs twitching under the table.  This is kind of lamb you want for your Sunday dinner, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  It is posh and it has all the makings of, ‘Now that you’ve had it prepared this way.  You can’t go back to any other way.’  Transcendent.

There was a few back in forth between the Winter Squash with Rosemary, Chili and Lime, Pomegranate Red Cabbage and Carrot, Lemon, Ginger Pickle.  These characters were the jewels on my plate.  Think about rubies, emeralds and canary diamonds on a “The Royal Maharaja”.  It was all decadence.  I think if I was sat with my Indian Mom at the table that night she would have been cajoling me to ensure I was having a relationship with my Nigella-Poppy Naan.

The Nigella-Poppy Naan was bountiful, poofy and the smile on my plate.  Indeed I tore into her gentle consistency as I added the lamb and variations of the Winter Squash with Rosemary, Chili and Lime, Pomegranate Red Cabbage and Carrot, Lemon, Ginger Pickle onto her.  They were each vying for my attention and not at all upset as I took my time with each.

There is the odd time you eat a meal at a restaurant and feel transformed.  In a sense taken away to another place and time.  I don’t mean this in an overly verbose sense.  But what I do suggest is that this meal at ‘Poppy’ educated me.  This meal was perhaps one of my best meals that I had captured whilst travelling in a long time.  I felt satiated, enlightened and also deeply appreciative of the finely curated plates.


Have you ever been to the Opera and needed a little sweet to get you into bed so you could reflect with ease?  Well I found the Lemon Verbena Cream Tart with Huckberries and Candied Ginger Ice Cream was my girl.  This dessert was sweet and yet stood on its own as it took a bow.  I enjoyed the lovely Lemon Verbena Cream Tart.  It had a homemade texture but with a wink of royalty.  The Huckberries and the Candied Ginger Ice Cream will be ceremoniously spoken about to friends and family as the dessert that kept on giving without any pomp or circumstance.

As I licked the last bits of my Candied Ginger Ice Cream off my spoon, I reflected on the space again at ‘Poppy’.  It was modern but also had some formidable northwest tones.  Sexy origami chandeliers, met with reclaimed wood ceilings and furniture, a statement brick wall by the bar that makes for a wonderful meeting place for friends, family, co-workers or just a solo meal and drink.  It was uptown meets northwest chic but all the makings of an authentic small town vibe.

I found the staff warm, inviting and eager to give suggestions which were proven to be trusted bang on choices.

I highly encourage you to check out ‘Poppy’ Restaurant on Capitol Hill.  Be it if you are travelling to Seattle or a local, you will guaranteed to leave this impeccable tucked away resto with not only  a full Buddha belly but some enlightened thoughts on your experiences.   Most importantly you will be wondering when you will be booking your next seating.

Poppy Seattle

622 Broadway East

Seattle WA 98102




Cacao: Drink Chocolate

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You may watch Portlandia and think ‘Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein sure have an affinity for that “Cacao!” Safe word’.  I was intrigued. Chocolate or ‘Cacao’ as a safe word – it makes sense.  I’ve had many a rendezvous with chocolate where I’ve eaten way too much in one sitting.  A safe word would have served me well.

In my hunt for cool and interesting chocolate businesses in Portland – I came upon a delectable little shop simply called Cacao near my hotel.  Perfect – I was on vacation, I needed a fix.

Cacao features a handpicked selection of chocolate from around the world, including the best premium solid chocolate bars from small producers, select chocolate from the best local chocolatiers and North American makers, and their very own house-made drinking and hot chocolates.

When you walk into the shop you will be greeted by a warm and sweet dwelling.  The aroma of chocolate and a simple set up will easily start a swoon and a wonder of what you can put into your belly to satiate the rumblings a brewing.

Cacao has book cases causally laden with the best in haute couture chocolates, boutique blends, demure packaging, plates of easy to pop into your purse chocolate fare and blocks of chocolate that would make an excellent date in bed with a book on a Saturday afternoon.  The luxury abounds.

Cacao is a specialty chocolate shop with a focus on North American craft chocolate makers and North West chocolatiers. Founded in 2006 by Jesse Manis and Aubrey Lindley, Cacao is a collection of the best chocolate in the world. Each item is carefully selected based on a range of different criteria—value is placed on areas of focus like small manufacturers, chocolate made in countries where cacao is grown, organic and fair market practices, transparency of operations, value pricing, and limited chains of manufacturing and distribution. Ultimately these gentlemen care most about flavor and quality and are always seeking out new and exciting flavors in cacao beans and chocolate.  They have stated that they never want to forget that chocolate is meant for the pleasure of eating.

I’m a fan of a chocolate hot drink.  Now that we are heading into winter, what else can be the ultimate in self soothing from the bristle of the cold?

I encourage you to indulge in Cacao’s chocolate bar where you can sample their lovely specialty chocolate drinks.

On offer are:

1) Cinnamon Infused:   A Venezuelan Dark Chocolate meets cinnamon.  It is a lighter fare, great for kids and if you are feeling like you need a tiny rush.

2) Rivoli:   A Classic Dark Chocolate, 72% Arabic from Ecuador.  It is grand, bold, epic and a luscious knock you to your knees mate.

3) Spicy:  Think ground paprika, cayenne pepper, ginger and coconut milk.  The Spicy drink is for when you need a spicy kick to wake you up, get ready to run a marathon or at best get hustling.  I could easily sip this drink with my dinner.

Manis and Lindley are painting a portrait for you to step into.  To indulge in some unique and delicious flavours of chocolate but to have a slower rendezvous with them.  Their small but beautifully lighted shop encourages a place to dwell, sip your Cacao Drinking Chocolate and reflect, be soothed, let an experience wash over you and still have some extra cash in hand to grab another drink and snack before heading out for the day or home to bed.

The Cacao drinking chocolates are affordable and can also be bought in a beautiful glass jar to take home with you simply labelled ‘Premium Drinking Chocolate’….’dark and rich’.  No sell necessary.  The product stands on its own.

The best love affair you can have at Cacao is sampling the marriage between local chocolate wizard Sebastian Cisneros ‘Craque’ from his sweet brand Cocanú and Portland’s famous ice cream shop, ‘Salt & Straw’.  The marriage of the Arbequina Olive Oil ice cream, Craque and Cacao’s Caffé Vita espresso will make you want to worship at the altar of Cacao.

The olive oil and Craque pairs perfectly with Cacao’s drinking chocolates or Caffé Vita espresso to make a decadent pour-over.  Adding Craque for added textures truly is an addictive treat in the form of candied cacao nibs. The satisfying crunch and perfect level of sweetness make for ideal snack or as a topping for ice cream, salads and roasted vegetables.

The warm, rich chocolate combining with the cool, fruity, lightly salted olive oil is transcendent.  It will transform you.

If you want to swoon and appreciate some of the best chocolate, chocolate drinks and desserts – please visit Cacao in Portland.  They are a game changer on the scene.  Their wares will satiate your chocolate appetite upon every visit.  They are also happy to pack up their sophisticated sweets for en route and home love affairs.  Just give them the safe word.

Cacao Locations


414 SW 13th Avenue

Portland, OR 97205


712 SW Salmon Street

Portland, OR 97205


Tasty n Alder

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I heard great things about John Gorham’s ‘Tasty n Alder’ restaurant when I was researching my Portland, Oregon trip.  I was eager to try it out as it was just down the road from my hotel, the Mark Spencer.

Tasty n Alder sits pretty besides it sister restaurants, Toro Bravo and Tasty n Sons.  I picked Tasty n Alder mainly for its relaxed vibe and foodie options.  Plus being a girl travelling on my own, I thought it would be a great fit to have a nice meal and still have time to do something after.  Three hours later…

My dinner reservation was for 7 p.m. and I was greeted with a full restaurant on a Thursday night.  People were eating, having drinks and having a laugh.  Perfect, I could slide into a side booth and have a quiet meal.  But I ended up being sat beside a sweet couple who had driven over an hour and half to have a meal at Tasty n Alder.  They stated their dog was waiting for them in the car.  It was the sweetest thing.  I was eager to hear more – why ‘Tasty n Alder’?

They proceeded to tell me ‘what was good’ on the menu and why they kept coming back to Tasty n Alder.  For them it was all about the tasty food, reasonable prices and a feeling like their service was always appreciated.  Wow!  For a couple that said, ‘they don’t eat out’ a lot.  They had firm ideas on what they liked and didn’t like on the menu.  That said, there wasn’t much they didn’t like on the menu.

With their suggestions in hand, I placed my order.


Grilled Spanish Octopus

The Grilled Spanish Octopus was beautifully prepared.  It was cooked just enough that upon biting into it, it was tender to the palate.  No rubbery texture.  Just supreme.  I noticed I kept staring at it like it was a painting in a gallery on my plate.  I appreciated the minimal dressing and sautéed garlic. The garlic brought out the flavours of the octopus and took it to another level.  Simple.  Gorgeous.  I could have had 7 plates of the Grilled Spanish Octopus and called it a night.

Saigon Brussels Sprouts

I’m not a huge fan of Saigon Brussels Sprouts but these prepared by the Tasty n Alder crew were robust and had a kick to them.  In terms of portion size – the plate was full.  It could have been easily shared between three people.  Even after I had finished my Grilled Spanish Octopus  and was heading onto my main, I was being distracted by the juiciness of the brussel sprouts.  It just kept on giving and giving.


Rawhide-  bourbon, salted bonal honey, genepy, lemon, boker’s bitters

The Rawhide will take you out.  I’m not kidding.  It is a powerful liquid potion guaranteed to make you smile.  I adored the bourbon and mix of the salted bonal honey and lemon.  It punctuated the flavour of the drink.  Tasty n Alder are employing the best Mixologists behind that bar of theirs.  This drink was the recommendation of my waitress who it seemed everything she gently suggested was bang on.  It always helps to pick the brain of good wait staff.  Thanks Kristen and Manager Katie!  They know what will make for a fine dining experience time and time again.

Improved Whiskey Cocktail- rye, maraschino, bokers bitters, herbsaint, demarrera

I sipped the Improved Whiskey Cocktail during the course of my entrée.  It was also very tasty and married well with my meal.  I liked the mix of the sweet and sour.  It made for a nice end note as I transitioned between my starter and entrée.  But again, it will take you out.


Seared Scallops with mint pesto

I encourage you to order the Seared Scallops with mint pesto the next time you are at Tasty n Alder.  The scallops were larger than a Silver Dollar coin.  Plump.  Full of intent.  They require time to dwell upon and pay homage to.  They were thick and juicy.  Cutting it gently into quarters was only kind.  I enjoyed the mint pesto sauce as well.  It was fresh and aromatic.  I felt like I could have been eating this dish sat on the side of a cove because it was so alive.  A true gem.


Steakhouse Brownie with vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel

I was craving a decadent dessert and opted for the Steakhouse Brownie with vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel.  The brownie was royal and Beyonce epic.  It was made from scratch and had the layers of flakiness to prove it.  It was pure chocolaty joy.  The vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel pulled the warm, cool and sweet flavours into a dance.  Even though I had already eaten an appetizer and main, this dessert was the perfect end.  I could have easily taken the Steakhouse Brownie with vanilla ice cream & cajeta artisan goat caramel home with me and gotten into bed with it with a book and a big spoon.  It was all romance.

In terms of pricing at Tasty n Alder plates will cost you the following:  Smaller plates, $5-$15; meats, $12-$30; larger plates, $14-$19; desserts, $6-$7.  Indeed very affordable.  For the food quality and quantity you are leaving with not only your belly full but your senses opened to possibly trying out more dishes the next time you are at Tasty n Alder and whispering your good times to friends and family so they can join you next week.

If you find yourself travelling and want to feel like you are in a cool, family friendly with a dash of hipster resto – Tasty n Alder is for you.  The wait staff was great and left a lot of room for recommendations without the hustle to sell.  I appreciated their authenticity and genuine approach.  I also appreciated that the staff gently checked in on my progress without pushing me out the door.  Like a true family establishment they encouraged me to stay, keep enjoying and just take my time.

Lastly, the space at Tasty n Alder was warm and friendly which was amplified by their young, hip and trendy staff.  The re-claimed wood type table and chairs created a modern space but a space you can get stuck into with fuss.  The restaurant was lighted perfectly and the music albeit loud was not club pumping.  Tasty n Alder is a place for everyone.  Give them your business – you won’t regret it.

For the price, ambiance, service and food quality, Tasty n Alder gets a strong 5/5.

Tasty n Alder

580 S.W. 12th Ave.; 503-621-9251; http://www.tastyntasty.com


Mother’s Bistro & Bar

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“At Mother’s, we take traditional homemade favorites and refine them with classical cooking techniques, so they’re like mom’s cooking, only a bit better. Slow-cooked foods that take hours to prepare—hand-made dumplings, stews, roasts and braised dishes.

We make everything from scratch, using the best possible ingredients Pacific Northwest wild salmon, Carlton Farms pork, Painted Hills beef and the finest European-style butter in everything we cook and bake.

The best meals of a country aren’t in its restaurants. They’re found in its homes, made with love by mothers cooking for their families. That’s why each month we feature a Mother of the Month (or “M.O.M.”), and bring you some of her special dishes prepared in our kitchen.”

Owner, Chef Lisa Schroeder

Mother’s Bistro & Bar is located in the heart of downtown Portland, easily accessible from all directions with lots of parking nearby. Separate dining areas provide warm and cozy atmospheres each equally inviting, with gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers glowing with warm light.

The bright and sunny dining room in shades of yellow and green with gold accents make for a warm and fuzzy dining experience for all, from families with young children (there’s even a play area!) to couples sharing a night on the town.

The Velvet Lounge, our sultry bar, is the “dark side” of Mother’s, with gold and black flocked wallpaper and comfy banquettes in addition to even more crystal chandeliers and mirrors, making it a perfect spot for a happy hour bite, pre- or post-theatre cocktail or late-night dining.


When I arrived to Mother’s Bistro & Bar on a Friday night around 8 p.m. the restaurant was full.  It was brimming with families, young couples, couples on a double date, older folks on holiday and a smattering of regulars. Right away I felt like I was in a family establishment.  People were on their best behaviour and were wearing their Sunday best.

This is a nice feeling when travelling alone.  Being able to fit in and slide into a nice table without being noticed but noticing everything safely around you.

When I was seated and looked around the Mother’s Bistro & Bar’s space I felt like I was sat in a brasserie in France.  The soft furnishings echoed of buttermallow, gold, warm wood and chandeliers with diamond like earrings.  It was luxe but also very comfortable.  Comfortable enough for me to be alone and also to be sat with a family of four from Eugene visiting for the weekend.

The waiter was pleasant and gave me the day’s specials.  Everything looked great and something indeed my mom could make for me from scratch on a Sunday if I was still living at home.  I’m sure a lot of people can attest to when they are travelling, there is a tiny ache of home when really all you want to do is run away from it and have an adventure.  Food is a safe choice to satiate that ache.

I ordered the familial, Chicken & Dumplings (slow-stewed chicken (mostly white meat) with herbed dumplings) and the Carlton Farms Pulled Pork (slow-cooked natural pork topped with country gravy, (or gluten-free house-made barbecue sauce served with smashed potatoes & seasonal vegetables).

As I waited for my meal I made myself comfortable and listened in to a conversation from an older couple beside me.  The gentleman was saying to his wife that perhaps they needed to walk off their meal.  Her reply was simply, ‘No, I’m good.  I just want to sit with it.’

It’s true.  Isn’t ok, to just sit with the meal?  I want to love it and I want it to love me.  I’m on holiday, I thought,  I’m going to sit with it too and sleep well.

When both entrees arrived they were perfect.  They were just the right mix of hearty, protein and warmth that filled my belly but also gave me that extra love that only food can do for you when you are in a city on your own in November.  Satisfaction.

I thought the service was very good.  The wait staff was attentive, authentic and gave a lot of space.  It didn’t feel like an oversell to purchase food and drink.  Instead it felt like you were at home and a member of your family were politely asking if they could get you a plate from the stove.  It was a nice feeling to sit back, have a meal, people watch and contemplate the day’s activities and what else I had planned in the days ahead.

Mother’s Bistro & Bar should be on your travel itinerary when you visit Portland.  It is a fine establishment, with earnest customer service, offering time to reflect on your travels but also feel part of a new city family.  Lastly and most importantly, the food is definitely worthy of writing home about.

Mother’s Bistro & Bar

212 SW Stark St.

corner of Second Ave.

Portland, OR 97204


Tufanos Restaurant in Vernon Park – Chicago

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When I was planning our Lollapalooza trip to Chicago I knew we would have one day to run around and pretend we were tourists.

Andrew only had three things he wanted to do in Chicago.  It’s so easy travelling with boys let me tell you.

He had seen a Food Channel episode where they had highlighted a mom and pop restaurant by the name of Tufanos Restaurant in Vernon Park.  Perfect – we had an opening on Saturday night.

After walking around all day in the sun and with achy feet we grabbed the blue line on the CTA, got off at Racine and walked up the road to a moon lit tree lined street which housed the tiny but beautiful brick restaurant.

We were greeted by Joe who warmly invited us in.  The restaurant was filled with regulars and families who look like they came there on a weekly basis.  They were familiar to the servers and there was truly a homey vibe to the space.  When we told Joe we were from Toronto and that we came specifically to his restaurant because of a Food Channel episode he was dead chuffed.  He told us about how we would come to Toronto and play hockey as a kid and that he liked Canada a lot.  That warmed us up all right.

When we were seated, Rachel our server gave us a wonderful snapshot of the menu at Tufanos Restaurant and exemplified great service by giving us a lot of space but also ideas to make our meal a good one.

We were starving – yet again.  Andrew ordered Mussels w/ Angel Hair (red) $13.00 and I ordered a Veal Picante w/ Pine Nuts $19.00. Andrew had a pint and I had a cocktail.

Again we hardly spoke because the food was all about Italian food courting.  I was not a big fan of Italian food walking into Tufanos perhaps because growing up I was exposed to such bad Italian food I tried to avoid it.  But Tufanos has wooed me back.  Honestly.  I am worshipping at their church.

Andrew stated that his Mussels w/ Angel Hair were fresh and extremely decadent.  The mussels were prepared just perfectly and he sopped up the meat of the mussel into the pasta and sauce.  The remaining sauce he scooped up into the crunchy fresh bread that was placed on our table – pure sweetness.  He stated it was a perfect meal.  For Andrew – that’s huge.

I also hearted my Veal Picante w/ Pine Nuts.  I had advised Rachel that I was not keen on a very tomato or creamy based sauce.  I wanted a veal dish that was yummy, not too filling but light enough that gave me my veal fix.  When she mentioned the lightly breaded veal picante, who knew cutting into it was going to be a dream.  This is the veal that I dream of at night.  I can never have veal again after my taste buds danced with this dish.  When it hit my palate, the veal melted.  The pine nuts added a nice texture and flavour to the veal and pasta dish.  The pine nuts really surprised me.

We were full when we finished our meals but we went for the gusto and ordered some lemon gelatos.  They were gorgeous and an awesome palate cleanser.  I also brought back to the hotel some cannolli.  Which let’s face it was a no brainer.

If you are in Chicago just for one night and need a lil something something for your belly and definitely a meal to write home about – please take the trek up to Tufanos Restaurant in Vernon Park.  Homemade Italian hasn’t tasted so good.  Good thing flights are cheap to Chicago from Toronto.  😉