Category Archives: Restaurants

Pho The First Time

First and foremost I feel the need to acknowledge the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I have many friends over there right now, thankfully all of which are okay. I hope all of your loved ones there are okay too!! I can’t get over some of the unreal images being shown on the news. After experiencing my first earthquake last summer, I can’t even fathom how terrifying it would be to experience one of that magnitude. Having the earth lurch and shake beneath you is probably one of the scariest things I can think of.

Now if only we as a world could rally support for man made disasters like we do natural disasters. Sigh.

In other news, I got my cast off today!

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I finally got to look at my gnarly incision site for the first time. This is after I cleaned it off. It was way gross before.

As for life now without the cast, I’m instructed to start physio asap. I still can’t flex or extend my elbow or rotate my wrist on my own. So I have to get someone to hold my arm and gently lead me through these motions to get my joints used to moving again.

My surgeon said it looks like my bones are settling well. He said my elbow was so pulverized that he’s impressed with any progress at this point. I get the feeling that in any other case he would have immediately inserted a prosthetic radial head. But for some reason he feels my arm can heal on its own. He told me that apart from screws, he also used some kind of glue to piece my shattered elbow back together, which is apparently “unconventional.” There’s also an abnormally large screw in there that may give me problems further down the road and have to be removed.

My next follow up is two weeks from today back in Ottawa. I’m going to see a physiotherapist in Toronto until then. I’ll fly back to New Brunswick from Ottawa after my next appointment in a couple weeks – where I’ll stay to live!! I’ll have to find another orthopaedic surgeon and physiotherapist back home.

Oh, and I asked my surgeon about running. He said no. He doesn’t want me doing anything where I might accidently over extend my elbow. Moving it past it’s current range of motion (which is just a couple inches) can release unwanted fluids and re-injure the joint. Soooo walking it is! I still have to wear my sling when out and about. And he specifically instructed me to wear it on the TTC so assholes don’t jerk my arm around :P

I have to admit, it’s also kind of nice being back in Ottawa with my sis. My sister welcomed me back Thursday night with a dish the city is known for.

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I had no idea Ottawa was so pho obsessed. I’d been planning on trying my first bowl of pho in Toronto before I leave. But Sara said that was silly, seeing as Ottawa is a city that runs on this hot soupy dish.

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After reading a few reviews online, we ended up at New Pho Bo Ga La on Somerset. Not to be confused with Pho Bo Ga, Pho Bo Ga King and Pho Bo Ga La, all within 100 metres of one another.

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I was pleased to see it was a nice sit down restaurant and not some run down take-out joint. We immediately poured ourselves a cup of hot jasmine tea that was already on the table.

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The menu was giant, offering every combination imaginable for pho. Different kinds of noodles, meats and levels of spiciness.

Sara and I started with a shrimp rice roll. 

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Neither of us are fans of the deep-fried spring rolls. I love the sticky texture of the rice wrap!

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Stuffed with whole shrimp, rice noodles, mint and lettuce, dipped in a sweet peanut sauce. Very simple and incredibly tasty.

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The waiter brought us a plate of bean sprouts, thai basil, thai peppers and lime wedges. I knew the soup was next!!

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Sara, a pho expert by this point, went with something a little fancier. A pho with spicy tomato broth, peanuts and rare beef.

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I tried a taste and it was awesome! The peanuts were a perfect addition.

I on the other hand wanted to try something a little more traditional for my first pho experience. We both ordered large bowls and they were giant!

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With rice noodles, rare beef, chicken, green onion, bean sprouts, basil, and a few sprinkles of sriracha. I’ve never tried sriracha before and I think I should finally buy some since I put hot sauce on everything!

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For pho newbies such as myself, it’s a traditional Vietnamese dish made with a flavourful beef broth, rice noodles and thin slices of rare beef. The soup is served so hot that the beef cooks into tender sheets of meat in no time.

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When it comes to soup, I can take it or leave it. I’m usually pretty picky. But I loved this bowl! The broth was unlike any I’ve ever tasted. Not too salty, a little oily (in a good way!) and very bright tasting. The addition of lime, mint and coriander give it a very unique taste. The piles of noodles of course didn’t hurt.

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I only ended up eating half my bowl and brought the rest home for lunch the next day!

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I added an egg to the mix at home and it was oh-so-good. Also cheap considering I got two meals out of it.

I also want to thank you for the continued support from all of you over the past month as I recover from this injury. I’ve always been a hopeless optimist, but the comments and words of encouragement I get from you on a daily basis has played a large part in keeping me so upbeat. I sometimes feel silly yammering about my trivial woes on here when real trauma is happening elsewhere. But I at least hope my relentless optimism is contagious, and leaves you feeling hopeful at the end of the day too.

Have a great weekend!!

A Pub To Call Home

If you follow me on Twitter, then you’ve probably seen my daily menu postings. I’ve eaten out every day for over a week now in attempts to experience some of Toronto’s best food before I leave on a jet plane in a couple weeks. Menu consultations are serious business and they often require the help of my peers.

Tuesday’s menu came from The Queen & Beaver, a place some call Toronto’s best gastro pub.

I was expecting some dark run down pub in the downtown area filled with noise and sticky tables. Boy, was I wrong.

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Tucked between Yonge and Bay, just north of Dundas, is this old style British pub inside a house. Even though it was packed with people it still felt like a home.

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Okay, it felt like my home. My mom has always decorated with old English paintings, china, and has a set of creaky stairs to boot.

Navigating the menu however, was a little more difficult. I’m familiar with a lot of traditional British fare, but not quite this traditional.

 

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I came here with Cathy and Lauren whom I both met while working a Simply Bar event this summer. They’re some of the few people I know in Toronto who I didn’t meet through my Maritime or blogging friends!

We started with the Ploughman’s Platter. I was positively delighted when they brought out the plates.

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I love dishware like this. We have a bunch at my cottage and my sisters and I always used to argue over who had the “prettiest plate” as children.

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The platter was the perfect appetizer. Piled high with pickled goodies like eggs, beets, onions and other veggies. A slab of meat, hard cheese and soft bread.

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Cathy ordered the  Sea Bream & Fondant Roots without the cream sauce. I had a piece of the fish, mild and cooked to perfection!

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Lauren went for the Fish Cakes & Tartar Sauce. Surprisingly spicy with a thick breading.

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After reading multiple reviews, I was left with only one choice. I had to get the Q&B BLT.

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Served on buttery white toast with roasted tomatoes and romaine. The most interesting part was the bacon, which wasn’t really bacon at all but pork belly. The meat was positively delicious. A soft and smoky pork flavour that flaked with each bite. Despite its deliciousness, I would say it’s more of a pork sandwich than a BLT. In my mind, a BLT is made with cool tomatoes, crispy slivers of bacon, and oozes with mayo.

On the side was a small bag of Hand Cut Chips. So good!! Cathy gobbled them up while I wasn’t looking ;)

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We were all equally stuffed by then, but Lauren said their desserts couldn’t be missed. I must say, British style sweets are probably my favourite.

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We played around with the idea of getting almost everything, but in the end the Walnut Maple Butter Tart won out. Served with a scoop of Whiskey Gingerbread Ice Cream.

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The tart was like pecan pie, but with big chunks of walnuts. Absolute heaven. The ice cream super boozy!

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All chased down with a cuppa tea ‘o course. No Earl Grey though. I’m a rooibos girl.

Cathy and Lauren managed to escape my camera’s iris. I did however pose for an Instagram pic on Lauren’s iPhone rocking the one-handed sandwich.

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And check out my nails! I did them myself!

Many thanks to Cathy and Lauren for the amazing meal. The Queen & Beaver is a cozy little pocket of Toronto I could see myself coming to for a pint or two again. It’s easy to get so comfortable there you lose track of time. Just like we did last night, while eating tart and gabbing about Twitter ;)

Things I’ll Miss – Bloggers

Phew! I came back to Toronto this week with the intentions of resting up, packing up, and tying up some loose ends. Instead, the last seven days have turned into one big Torontonian feast. I have two days before my next doctor’s appointment in Ottawa and I’m officially stuffed.

I’ve been trying my best to get in some face time with my Toronto friends before I leave for good at the end of the month. Thing is, ALL of these dates involve food. That’s what I get for being a foodie who mostly associates with other foodies.

My best foodie friends of course, are my fellow Toronto bloggers.

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Friday night I took a break from my Toronto restaurant bucket list for a dinner party at Morgan’s with Kristin. I mean, for people who claim to love cooking so much, we don’t actually do a lot of it when we get together. So it was a fun way to break away from the ordinary!

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I’ve had to forbid myself from heavy duty cooking or baking. I did a number on my right and only good hand last week making banana bread. Because my left arm is in a cast, I get overuse pains in my right hand very easily. I had trouble lifting glasses of water for two days after the banana bread incident. So I have to be extra careful with it.

Thus, I brought store-bought hummus. Albeit, made in store at the Leslieville Cheese Market. It was kinda awesome and not that expensive.

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Homemade crackers have been on my “to-bake” list forever. But I had to resist and instead bought a package of locally made crackers. These were very expensive.

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Kristin brought her Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad.

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And Morgan made a Mexican casserole which I ate top of tortilla chips (Que Pasa, the best) with lotsa cheese.

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Oh yeah, and shortbread cookies for dessert! It was a fun and relaxing evening hanging out with two blog-world friends turned real-world friends. The best part is gossiping about the things that don’t make the blog ;)

Monday night we decided to venture out. I know I proclaimed to rarely eat at the same place twice. But by now I hope you’ve realized I’m a filthy liar.

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Many discussions between Callie and I have revolved around self-serve froyo. It’s the nature of our relationship. Toronto (and Canada!) has distinctly lacked such places until recently. We made a date to visit Menchie’s Monday night and realized a real meal first would probably be appropriate. Morgan joined us, as she too couldn’t turn down a solid vegetarian meal.

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Fresh, an all vegetarian restaurant, is conveniently located just down the street on Bloor. In the nine months I’ve lived in Toronto, I’ve been here six times. Just goes to show how much I love this place. Not only are the dishes creative and tasty, but they’re also all healthy. I can eat here any day of the week and not feel like I’ve gone of course with my healthy eating.

I ordered the Tangled Thai Salad: shredded carrot & yellow beets, jicama, napa cabbage, chopped peanuts, cilantro, cucumber & our high protein, omega rich * salad topper with peanut lime dressing
and crispy tofu cubes.

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The salad itself was delicious with the spiralized veggies and a crunchy salad topper made up of puffed quinoa, goji berries, currants, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds & sea salt. Divine. My only complaint is the bowl was too small and made the tangled salad incredibly messy to eat. I lost a lot of it to the table and do not eat off the table in restaurants!!

The salad also left plenty of room for what was arguably the main course.

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Of the dozen or so frozen yogurt flavours “on tap,” I went for the nonfat frozen hot chocolate. I taste tested a lot of flavours before committing to this one. It was just slightly more mild than the regular chocolate. There were even more toppings to choose from, including a hot and cold station.  I opted to go for a “s’mores” theme, topping with graham crumbs, marshmallows, brownie bits, cookie dough bits and chocolate sprinkles. My only regret is that I forgot chocolate sauce.

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Callie opted for a “banana split on crack.”

All I can say is, it’s probably a good thing I’m moving far away from this froyo place ;)

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Morgan, Callie and I ended up sitting here for a couple hours laughing our faces off (Morgan being brought to tears at one point) and admiring the “celebs” on the wall.

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It’s funny thinking back to the hot days of summer when I first moved to Toronto and was meeting up with these ladies for the very first time. My other friends in town would tease me for going out on these blogger blind dates. Like the first time I met Kristin, or the time I met Morgan on the brink of hangover death. Then of course, I got to know Callie pretty well during our 16-hour car ride together to Chicago and back.

Turns out I ended up with some pretty great friends. The best kind really, who understand my need to agonize over froyo flavours and appreciate a good tub of hummus.

Yup, “blogger friends” rank pretty high on the list of things I’ll miss about Toronto.

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