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Tag Archives: food

  • They Promised Us Jet Packs. They Promised the Bosses Profit.
    A quick look at how Google X operates – did you know they get bonuses for purposely failing a project? In a way, it makes sense…

    The idea of celebrating failure is a Silicon Valley cliché, but Mr. Teller talks about it in the practical terms of a management consultant. Say you have a team of 20 people working on a project that is not going anywhere, he said in a recent interview. In a year those 20 people will be 30 people. The company has to pay their salaries and health insurance, and the team will inevitably hire a few consultants. Worse, they will have wasted a year.

    How much money could the company save if you could get them to cut bait a year earlier?

  • I have found a new way to watch TV, and it changes everything
    After hearing about this approach, I want to use it when I watch videos (is there a button that I can do toggle this on YouTube yet?). Although one area where this wouldn’t work is if you’re watching music videos (is almost half of the videos that I would watch).

    In the 1960s, a blind psychologist named Emerson Foulke began experimenting with this technique to accelerate speech. A professor at the University of Louisville, Foulke was frustrated with the slowness of recorded books for the blind, so he tried speeding them up. The sampling method proved surprisingly effective. In Foulke’s experiments, speech could be accelerated to 250-275 wpm without affecting people’s scores on a listening comprehension test.

    These limits were suspiciously close to the average college reading rate. Foulke suspected that beyond 300 wpm, deeper processes in the brain were getting overloaded. Experiments showed that at 300-400 wpm, individual words were still clear enough to understand; except at that rate, many listeners couldn’t keep up with rapid stream of words, likely because their short-term memories were overtaxed.

  • Everything we love to eat is a scam
    On the one hand, I suspect that the findings in this article are true (I’ve experienced a wide range of quality in salmon sushi), but as an avid food eater (which I hope you are too), it really sucks.

    Farmed Cambodian ponga poses as grouper, catfish, sole, flounder and cod. Wild-caught salmon is often farmed and pumped up with pink coloring to look fresher. Sometimes it’s actually trout.

    Ever wonder why it’s so hard to properly sear scallops? It’s because they’ve been soaked in water and chemicals to up their weight, so vendors can up the price. Even “dry” scallops contain 18 percent more water and chemicals.

  • The brilliant mechanics of Pokémon Go
    This Pokemon Go article is about how it is a great freemium game and some reasons why it is so addictive. Of course, now we have confirmation that it is a fad and doesn’t have dominant staying power.

    In Pokémon Go, there’s no feature that allows you to extend the life of your playing session by inviting or reaching out to friends. In fact, the social graph is almost non-existent in Pokémon Go. Instead, your in-game social graph is an extension of a supplemented version of your real-world social graph. A smartphone owner sees someone playing the game, becomes curious, downloads the game and plays it — both interacting with other players and inspiring curiosity in other potential new players. And the rest of the time you’re looking at screenshots of what’s happening in the game in your Facebook feed, or texting friends when you managed to catch that rare Pokémon.

  • How Chromebooks Are About to Totally Transform Laptop Design
    Just because Chromebooks run Android apps, doesn’t make it that attractive to me – I guess I’m not bought into the hype yet and I have a lot of use cases which seem like they will need local storage. Maybe if I wasn’t very OCD about my data I could live with one. In any case, here is a short history of the Chromebook and where we are right now.

    “The first people who bought Chromebooks were people who were computer folks,” he says. “They looked at the Chromebook and said, ‘This is not a real computer, it doesn’t have very many settings!’” They hated that you couldn’t find your files, or change the time setting. But why in the world, Sengupta argues, would any rational person want to manually change the time on their computer? It should just know. “The amount of work it took to eliminate all the settings,” he says, “so that you didn’t have to care and feed for your computer, was the thing that really made it successful.”


  • Adventures in the Ransom Trade
    A look inside the interesting and thrilling K&R industry. What’s K&R? Why Kidnapping & Recovery, which apparently rich people pay insurance premiums for.

    Those feeling particularly kidnap-prone can buy in insurance from both sides. You can buy the conventional plan at annual premiums ranging anywhere from $10,000 to more than $150,000 per person. One South American billionaire has insured 90 members of his family; many insure their mistresses. Or you can buy a vacuna, or vaccination, directly from the kidnappers. In Bogota, a $60,000 vacuna will protect you from a half-million -dollar kidnapping. This saves both sides wear and tear.

  • The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success
    The history of MSG with a slight pro-MSG bias.

    The simple fact that has perpetuated the MSG stigma in our culture more than any other is that food high in MSG is almost always bad for you. Almost all of Ajinomoto’s MSG is bought by the processed foods industry — upward of 21 million pounds per year, according to one estimate. Only in poorer countries that lack industrialized food infrastructure is the sale of “over-the-counter” MSG for use in home kitchens significant, Smriga says. Simply put, the foods that provide an average American his or her FDA-estimated half-gram of MSG daily are not healthy. But not because of MSG.

  • Auto Correct
    A look inside the world of self driving cars, with a focus on Google’s initiative.

    It knows every turn, tree, and streetlight ahead in precise, three-dimensional detail. Dolgov was riding through a wooded area one night when the car suddenly slowed to a crawl. “I was thinking, What the hell? It must be a bug,” he told me. “Then we noticed the deer walking along the shoulder.” The car, unlike its riders, could see in the dark.

  • Inside the World of Competitive Laughing
    What the heck is competitive laughing? Well it’s a sport that held a competition in Toronto!

    The first challenge is the Diabolical Laugh. Nerenberg demonstrates the technique for the audience with an apt and villainous impersonation that resembles a melding of Dr. Evil and Gary Oldman’s Dracula.

    This laugh can best be categorized in three stages: the initial giggle, followed by an increase in pitch and animated body language, and then finally a near-maniacal crescendo, complete with floor strikes, yelping, and, in some cases, pelvic thrusting. The laughs range from several seconds to more than a minute, but if they seem prolonged or feigned a nearby referee steps in to end it.

  • Harnessing the Power of Feedback Loops
    This article talks about sensors in our daily lives and how feedback loops are going to be used to change behaviour. It’s already starting (with products such my Fitbit Force), and this area will just continue to grow. Here’s a good starter

    A feedback loop involves four distinct stages. First comes the data: A behavior must be measured, captured, and stored. This is the evidence stage. Second, the information must be relayed to the individual, not in the raw-data form in which it was captured but in a context that makes it emotionally resonant. This is the relevance stage. But even compelling information is useless if we don’t know what to make of it, so we need a third stage: consequence. The information must illuminate one or more paths ahead. And finally, the fourth stage: action. There must be a clear moment when the individual can recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act. Then that action is measured, and the feedback loop can run once more, every action stimulating new behaviors that inch us closer to our goals.


By chance, we ended up going to a bunch of Japanese places for food in NYC, although it was not the conventional sushi & ramen fare so was a bit more interesting!

The first place we found using Foursquare Explore function and was a place tucked upstairs in a little stretch of Japanese restaurants north of Times Square called Yakitori Totto. We arrived around 9PM on a weekday and had to wait for an hour before being seated, so it was quite popular! While waiting, we saw a bunch of people show up, and then leave because it was too packed. We also saw that they didn’t just pick the other Japanese restaurants nearby instead so that was a good sign for us!

We had some food beforehand (at Halal Guys) so weren’t that hungry, which bode well because the yakitori were like Tapas – you could go crazy and order a lot, but they were $3 a skewer so would quickly add up. We shared a bunch of them:

  • Chicken liver ($3) – meh
  • Chicken gizzard ($3) – meh
  • Asparagus wraped in bacon ($4) – good
  • Pork mustard with sauce ($3.5) – meh
  • Ginko beans ($2) – not that good
  • Skirt steak ($5) – good
  • Shiitake mushrooms ($3) – meh
  • Sukiyaki ($8) – meh

We wanted to get the Chickn Oyster (rare part of thigh) but they were out. I didn’t think the food was that great, but it was a fun experience and you can watch them grill the yakitori.

Later in our trip, we went to a fast-food Japanese burger place called Kobeyaki and tried their “kobe beef” burger ($9). It didn’t taste like kobe beef, but that was their only beef burger so maybe it was just a name. The burger had a chinese bun and was good overall, although not in the American burger way. they also had teriyaki ketchup and wasabi mayo which was pretty cool.

The same night, after some FroYo, we tried the pork katsu at Go Go Curry. Looks like this is a Japanese chain that opened locations in NYC. The katsu was really crisp and we finished it even though we were already full! The curry was not bad and the portion size for a “small” ($7) was pretty good too.


Nelson had mentioned to me that there was this great pizza place in Brooklyn with a brick oven called Grimaldi’s and since we were staying in Brooklyn during our recent trip to NYC; this was be a perfect time to try it out. I wanted to go sometime during the week after work, but we didn’t end up fitting it in until we were about to leave on Saturday. We showed up right when it opened, at 12PM, and there was already a line up out front. We didn’t make it in the first batch, so had to wait about half an hour for a table; we ended up getting a table when a tour group left (looks like they were seated before the restaurant opened).

Because it’s so well known, I think Grimaldi’s gets away with some weird rules. It’s cash only, there’s no delivery, there’s no slices, and you have to pay for each topping. We got pepperoni ($2), italian sausage ($2), and mushrooms ($2) on our small regular pizza ($14). We wanted to get oven-roasted sweet peppers ($4) but they didn’t have any (maybe because it was the beginning of the day and they hadn’t made them yet?) The pepperoni by itself was very good – it had a spicy flavor that didn’t come from the italian sausage. I didn’t notice the italian sausage or mushrooms much. The pizza itself was also really good, lots of cheese and flavouring with basil. The small pizza (6 slices) were sufficient for the two of us – although the slices were cut weird with some of them being real big (the table beside us folded the slices to eat them by hand).

Afterwards, we headed to the nearby Brooklyn Bridge park. It looks like it was recently redesigned and looked pretty good. The design with unfinished wood, gravel and metal wires contrasted well with the greenery. The park had a nice view of the Brooklyn bridge and the Manhattan skyline and a lot of chairs but the park wasn’t that full that day (it was drizzling). All the spring leaves had also come in so the foliage was a nice light green.


During our trip, we went to a couple of places for food that I was looking forward to.

La Banquise was a place that I heard was good for poutine. We went in the middle of the afternoon (3PM) and it was packed, with a lineup outside the door! That was a bit weird, because everywhere else in the city, there weren’t that many people. Guess it is popular with locals too and turns out that it is a 24 hour place, so we should have went at 3AM instead! We ended sharing 4 different small poutines: La Classique, La Mart (hot dog, bacon, mushrooms), La T-Rex (steak, pepperoni, bacon, hot dog), and La Reggae which was a special with jalepaneos, tomatoes and guachamole. The cheese curds are definitely better in Qc but overall I like the poutine in Toronto better – there’s more flavour.

I heard Union Pig & Chicken in Pittsburgh). By the time we got there (1.5h before closing on Saturday), they had run out of chicken and turkey (and ribs after someone else in our group ordered it) so we ended up with a pork sandwich, and a beef brisket plate with braised greens. The most noteworthy thing I had there was a Jamaican style ginger ale!

And a trip to Montreal is not complete without a trip to Schwartz. We arrived when they opened at 10:30AM, and was only able to order smoked meat (the other things on their menu was served starting from 11AM). There was also plenty of seating and no line up (even when we left shortly after 11AM there were still many open seats). One thing new on this trip is that Schwartz opened up a take-out shop beside their main store so perhaps that handled some of the overflow (there were individual seats at the back there).


I was in NYC last week to start with my new company. We worked a bit too later for me to catch Broadway shows or other events, so I ended up trying a couple of restaurants.

On Monday, I went over to the Momofuku Noodle Bar. I know that one opened up in Toronto recently, but I haven’t had a chance to go there ever since my son was born. So I might as well go to the original one.

It was tough getting there; there just happened to be a snow storm at that time and I had a fair bit of walking to do to/from the subway. But I got there and although it was packed, I was lucky to get a seat right away (the benefit of being a single eater).

I ordered the pork buns and the Momofuku ramen. The pork buns came first and were pretty good, although I’m not sure they were $5 each good. My pet theory as to why they are so popular is because the first bite into the buns are extremely soft (since you are biting through pork fat and soft dough) but still has the strong taste of pork belly. I think it’s kind of a cheat though because you’re eating pure fat!

I wasn’t that impressed with the ramen but then I was already kind of full from a bun.

Later that week, after dinner at Katz, I walked up to the Momofuku milk bar. I was already quite full from my pastrami on rye but wanted to try a milk shake. I ended up getting a chocolate chip passion fruit cake milkshake – whoa that was a mouthful and it tasted like a cake too!


As part of the course mark breakdown for my Korean language class, everyone had to do a solo presentation on one aspect of Korean culture. The teacher tried to motivate us by suggesting various KPop groups to do a presentation upon, but seeing as how I don’t know too much, I couldn’t present a KPop group (and surprisingly only 2 of the 10+ presentations I saw were on KPop). Instead I decided to do a presentation about 반찬 which are the small side dishes you get at the beginning of each meal.

This presentation was the first time I tried out the presentation capability of Google Docs Drive. It was better than I expected, and I was able to lay out all the text boxes and graphics that I needed. I think my only complaint was that the themes are limited and kind of boring. On the plus side, you can now see my presentation online.

In retrospect, I think it would be funnier if I had done a presentation on Starcraft, or at least the Koreans skill in it.


  • The Grandmaster Experiment
    This is the story of three sisters from (and who are famous in) Hungry who are all grandmasters, one of which is the eight ranked player worldwide. It’s a bit about how women have it tough in the male-dominated world of chess, and a bit about how their parents raised them to be such a powerhouse.

    There exist some downsides to being a female chess player that Kasparov may not be aware of. “There were many times when I felt faint at matches because of menstrual cramps,” Susan says. “When I was about 16, I did faint. I fell off the chair.” A room filled with older male adversaries is a horrible place for a girl to experience Judy Blume-esque moments. Tournament games are often six hours long, and extra time for trips to the ladies’ room is not allotted. In a game where every point is precious, even one minute of discomfort could jeopardize a woman’s score

  • How One Man Escaped From a North Korean Prison Camp
    I’m a sucker for articles on North Korea, and although what is described in this article is not new, it’s still a fun read.

    Single men and women slept in dormitories segregated by sex. The eighth rule of Camp 14 said, “Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately.” A reward marriage was the only safe way around the no-sex rule. Guards announced marriages four times a year. If one partner found his or her chosen mate to be unacceptably old, cruel or ugly, guards would sometimes cancel a marriage. If they did, neither the man nor the woman would be allowed to marry again. Shin’s father, Shin Gyung Sub, told Shin that the guards gave him Jang as payment for his skill in operating a metal lathe.

  • When Did Young People Start Spending 25% of their Paychecks on Pickled Lamb’s Tongues?
    This article summaries the culture of foodie-ism gone indie, whereby eating at the hippest restaurants is the cool thing to do. While I jest, I’ve participated in this hobby in the last few years too so I can’t make fun of it too much.

    Food’s transformation from a fusty hobby to a youth-culture phenomenon has happened remarkably fast. The simultaneous rise of social networks and camera phones deserves part of the credit (eating, like sex, is among the most easily chronicled of pursuits), but none of this would have happened without the grassroots revolution in fine dining. “You can now eat just as quality food with a great environment without the fuss and the feeling of sitting at the grown-up table,” says Chang’s friend Amy, who is, incidentally, a cook at the very grown-up Jean Georges.

  • How The Daily Mail Conquered England
    This article from the New Yorker is about the popularity of the paper, Daily Mail, in England; both the paper and online editions. I’ve never really visited the Mail Online aside from a few random articles, but it seems to have made itself quite popular by being filled with articles that the normal person would want to read.

    The Mail is the most powerful newspaper in Great Britain. A middle-market tabloid, with a daily readership of four and a half million, it reaches four times as many people as the Guardian, while being taken more seriously than the one paper that outsells it, the Sun. In January, its Web arm, Mail Online, surpassed that of the New York Times as the most visited newspaper site in the world, drawing fifty-two million unique visitors a month. The Mail’s closest analogue in the American media is perhaps Fox News. In Britain, unlike in the United States, television tends to be a dignified affair, while print is berserk and shouty. The Mail is like Fox in the sense that it speaks to, and for, the married, car-driving, homeowning, conservative-voting suburbanite

  • The Problem with buying Sports “experiences”
    It is worthwhile to pay a lot for a “better” sports experience? I’ve taken the approach of buying cheap tickets, so maybe I have already learned this lesson.

    A fan scans the upcoming schedule of his local (lousy) NBA team and has to pick an upcoming game — so naturally he goes for one featuring a star team or a star player. (Our editor-in-chief has been known to do exactly that when, say, the Thunder come into town to play the Clippers.) But more often than not, an unbalanced game results, one with little drama and that sees the star play only 27 minutes, much of it at half-speed. You expect a ticket agency to point that out before you shell out hundreds of dollars? Yeah. We thought not.


After 2 blogs about the food we had in Boston, you might be wondering where all the seafood is. Boston is known for its seafood right? Well wait no further because it’s all in this post.

The first place we went to was this little place in the middle of nowhere called Alive and Kicking Lobsters. They don’t even have a website! It’s also almost impossible to find if you don’t have Google Maps because it’s a little shed in the middle of a residential neighborhood, between two large residential buildings and away from the street.

It isn’t even a restaurant, it’s a shop selling seafood, but they also have a lobster sandwich which is what we went for. I’m not sure if was good or not relatively to other lobster rolls, but it certainly tasted good – although I think I didn’t have anything to compare it against since this was my first lobster roll. Lobster rolls are great and not too expensive either because you don’t have to deal with the shells. We also had the home made cream soda (they make a lot of other pop varieties too). The cream soda was smooth; it had the kick but it wasn’t overpowering.

Our next stop was Neptune Oyster which might be the most famous restaurant in Boston (it certainly has the most Yelp reviews). We showed up around 2PM on a Friday afternoon and still had to wait half an hour for a seat! at the bar! Here we had a couple of oysters, the clam chowder and the lobster roll (hot, unlike my first one). I’m not a big fan of clam chowder but Pauline said it was different in that it didn’t have a lot of potatoes.

The lobster roll is a bit expensive at $25 but it is too much food! Although we saw lots of people order a roll per person, but I still think it’s crazy. I thought this was just as good as the one from Alive and Kicking.

For dinner that night, we decided against Toro (a tapas place), and instead tried something close to our hotel. We ended up at Moksa and it turns out that it had only been open a week, lucky us. Moksa has an izakaya-style menu, but focused more on Chinese food (although there are other asian dishes). We had a couple of dishes, with the most unique one being chicken liver wrapped in bacon.

We’ve had chicken liver a couple times in the last month, on charcuterie and at Luma and both times it was kind of tasteless. Strangely, this was not – it tasted strongly like liver.

We stopped off at Boston Chowda in Quincy Market for chowder #2. And then it was off to our last meal in Boston at Legal Sea Foods. We didn’t plan this before hand, but found out about it using Foursquare during a coffee break. Its claim to fame is that it has been serving clam chowder at the presidential inauguration since 1981. Naturally, we tried clam chowder #3:

I really can’t tell the chowders apart!

For my main, I had fish and chips. Why something as boring as fish and chips? because they were spicy fish and chips! I liked it, the spiciness gave a nice kick. Also on this trip, I tried fiery hot chocolate (at Flour). That was not so good…

Pauline had the Cioppino which is a royal sampler – it had mussels, clams, lobsters, calamari and shrimp in a tomato broth.


After our lunch, we wandered around the Boston Back Bay before heading down for a snack at Picco. Picco stands for Pizza and Ice Cream company so we had one of their pizzas and some of their ice cream naturally.

We split their Alstian pizza which is their version of a tarte flambé There was no tomato sauce, but there was sautéed onions, and bacon! Very greasy but also very good. We also had their PB Chip flavour ice cream. This was surprising because it looked like vanilla but still tasted like peanut butter – and not an overly strong taste either.

Shortly afterwards we headed to our dinner stop which was a converted house in Cambridge, about a 20 minute walk from our hotel called Hungry Mother. Hungry Mother is a hilarious name for a restaurant, but it is apparently named after a state park in Virginia. We had the smoked beef tongue “au jus” with robinson swiss, dijion and crouton. This was really great, and much better than the pig’s head we had the night before at Strip T’s.

We also had the crispy pork belly & “angel” biscuits with bourbon barrel worscestershire glaze and b&b pickles. This dish unfortunately followed the beef tongue and was not nearly as flavourful as you would think pork belly would be. A bit of a disappointment

I had the catfish pecan meunière with carolina rice pilau, sea island red peas, and lemon brown butter. This is supposed to be a popular dish as it has been on the menu since they opened, but I’m not a big fan. The tastes were different and interesting, just not appealing to me. I also don’t understand the popularity of catfish in southern cooking.

Pauline had the braised lamb osso bucco with creamy grits, baby brussel sprouts, and smoked fig jus. I thought this main was better than the catfish, although I don’t really like grits. The figs were a bit weird to begin with, but felt like they belonged as I ate more of the dish.


In preparation of our trip, I lurked on Chowhound to see what interesting restaurants there were in the Boston area and then planned the trip around those places. The first place I wanted to try was called Strip T’s. Aside from the weird name, it was also in the middle of nowhere (ok it was in Watertown, but where is that really?). We took the bus over on our first night to try it out.

This place had some unique preparation and presentation, but we found everything was overly salty. We shared a couple of starters:

The pig head toast with aioli, radish, and iggy’s baguette. This was our first dish and it was decent as the baguette soaked up the juices (and salt)

The charred baby octopus with smoked tomato wasabi sauce and fennel. I thought this dish was decent and worked well together but Pauline didn’t like it much

The cauliflower with chorizo, cojita, and picked red onion. This dish looked cool, but I didn’t like it. The cauliflower was browned and thus dry which made it lose its normal texture. Not sure where the chorizo went either.

The Strip T burger was why I decided to come here. It was made with smoked miso, lemon aioli, pickled onion and fries. However, this burger was disappointing, primarily because it was too thick! I couldn’t fit it in my mouth as you can see below and had to resort to using a knife and fork. Because of this, the ingredients became separated and I couldn’t taste how it normally should be.

The next day at lunch, I had planned to go to Island Creek Oyster Bar, but they didn’t open until 4PM. Instead, Eastern Standard Kitchen was nearby so we went there instead. We had the market soup, which we were told was lobster bisque, but was actually cream of mushroom. It was still great though.

We also had the Raclette as this was the first time we’ve seen it on the menu outside of Switzerland. I actually prefer this one over the one I had in Switzerland.

We also had their special which was Berkshire schnitzel with horseradish mashed potatoes which was one of the better schnitzels I’ve had as it was not very tough or breaded.


My workplace is quite close to Auberge du Pommier and that seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to take advantage of their quite affordable $25 Winterlicious lunch. I had gone to Auberge almost exactly a year ago, during non-Winterlicious time, and their food was pretty good, so it would be interesting how that experience compared to the $25 one.

I called in a few days ahead and booked the reservation for a weekday – I was able to get a reservation without any issue, although they only had sittings at 11:30 and 1:30 (perhaps by plan, to get two sittings). I chose the 11:30 one since I didn’t want to come back to work from lunch at 3PM. The restaurant was not full by noon, but it got quite busy after that – I guess there were a lot of walk-ins as I could only identify one other table (you know, asians) who came there specifically for Winterlicious.

To start, I had the Fruits de Mer (mixed seafood, winter citrus, cucumber, soy bean, radish, chili-citrus vinaigrette, lavash) which was weird because of the chili-citrus vinaigrette. It was sour and tangy, which isn’t too odd because many salads are of that taste; but it is unexpected from a dish that looks like a soup and which has seafood in it. Pauline had the Soup de Céleri-rave Crémée (celery root soup, braised ham hock, apple, vadouvan spice) to start. This one was also different because the soup was very thick. The ham provided the flavour and contrast to the soup itself.

My main was the Truite Véronique (rainbow trout, brown butter almonds, red grapes, braised cabbage, tasting of cauliflower). The garnishes were quite good, but I was eating the fish and the garnish separately for a long time. The fillet of fish is not very flavourful so the different notes from the almonds and grapes make a good complement.

Pauline had the Crêpe Gratinée (buckwheat crêpe, braised chicken, mushroom ragoût, Tuscan kale, Comté Mornay) which was not too special – there’s only so much flexibility with those ingredients in a crêpe.

For dessert, Pauline had the Fruits du Verger (poached pear, parmesan cream, caramelized pastry, mulled apple cider). I didn’t like this one that much, mainly because it continued the trend of a dessert not being very sweet. I had the Bleu Bénédictin which wasn’t bad considering I don’t like cheese that much. The prune jam worked well with the cheese, but the granola was too hard to eat with the cheese.

For $25, it’s not a bad deal given the quality of their cooking (even if some of the dishes were not impressive).


On Friday, we were in the theatre district around dinner time and went to the new (to us) Oliver & Bonacini restaurant on the second floor of the TIFF Bell Lightbox called Luma. It also happened to be the start of Winterlicious and they were participating in Winterlicious, so we accidentally had a Winterlicious dinner!

Well one of did at least. I actually wanted their Pappardelle (with braised beef short rib, caramelized onions and horseradish cream) which wasn’t on their Winterlicious menu, and Pauline wanted to try the creamy semolina, chorizo and veal juice so I ordered that as a side.

The pappardelle ended up being a disappointment because it was too salty. The pasta was useful for picking up the juices, but you didn’t want to do that because you didn’t want to satisfy your daily sodium intake from one piece of pappardelle!

Since I never recalled having semolina before, nor what it is; I didn’t know what to expect. This dish seemed similar to mashed potatoes, although the semolina has a different flavour. The chorizo and veal juice were the best part of this I think.

From their $35 Winterlicious menu, we had the chicken liver & foie gras pâté (confit duck heart and braised lentils) to start. This was pretty good, and they gave a lot of pâté. The chicken liver was also quite good, but the portion was incredibly small.

For the main, we had the seared albacore tuna (braised sunchoke and heirloom bean salad, red wine rosemary vinaigrette). I liked how the tuna was prepared on those one, and it looks cool to boot! I felt this was much better than my main, but that could be because it wasn’t very salty (it’s almost like eating sashimi).

Finally, dessert was the apple & buttermilk panna cotta (maple granola and apple compote). This was an odd choice and I don’t know what to think (well at least wasn’t bad) because it wasn’t sweet! The buttermilk was too sour to eat by itself, but mixed well with the apple.

The Winterlicious dinner at Luma was decent, but I think the restaurant might have the same reputation for over-salting like the rest of the O&B chain.


Before going to the TSO last Saturday, we stopped by Fusia Dog (pronounced Fuschia – it would have been MUCH easier to pronounce if they spelled it correctly!) for a gourmet hot dog. The hot dogs at this place is in the style of Japa Dog although it’s not specifically in a Japanese style. They use a variety of other trendy words like healthy, kosher, local, etc to describe their dogs.

There is a lot of choice, and all of them not too conventional so we tried the safe choice, the aptly named “Fusia Dog” for $6.95:

It was a hot dog in a wrap, with Horseradish sauce, daikon, and cucumber. It sounds strange but it works quite well! While waiting, we also received a sample of their Power Slaw. Although it looks weird with all sorts of different ingredients which might seem to taste bad (like cauliflower etc), it again worked well together and I wouldn’t mind eating it as a real salad. This is an interesting place and we’ll head down and try another one of their dogs next time.


Pauline has always wanted to go to North 44, the restaurant by Mark McEwan near Yonge/Eglinton. North 44 has appeared on Winter/Summerlicious a couple of times, but we never ended up going then. When we did want to go, it didn’t participate in those events. Well, we decided to forgo the waiting and just visit it at a normal time.



(Pan seared Quebec foie gras with toasted brioche, braised leeks, spiced apple, praline and chocolate reduction)

We shared the foie gras to start. It was a bit different in that the edges were “glazed” (?) and had a strong duck flavor. Being of Chinese origin, it strongly hinted of Chinese duck; but of course once you got past the edges, the foie gras was smooth. I’m not sure whether my background influenced my taste, or whether the style of the restaurant was just a mixture of various cultures. The butter for the bread also had a Middle Eastern taste and the walls were decorated in a Japanese style amidst the otherwise non-denominational decor.

For my main, I had the special, which from my memory was a 6oz Beef Tenderloin with truffle risotto done medium. It was not bad, and actually came medium (well I would certainly hope so at this quality). With this I had a glass of Arresti Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate Selection” 2009, Curico Valley, Chile.

Pauline ordered the scallops which were also fine. The ravioli was a bit of a disappointment as there wasn’t much ox tail flavour – or again we could be conditioned by over-flavouring of the tomato sauce from the typical HK ox tail dish. She had a glass of Cave Spring Riesling 2009, Niagara as well.



(Seared sea scallops with oxtail ravioli, sunchoke puree, and crispy celery hearts)

While this dinner was not bad, and the quality was certainly “fine dining”, I don’t think it was special. Actually dinner at North 44 reminds me a lot of Coldplay, good but forgettable. I’d probably try another one of Toronto’s fine restaurants instead of visiting here again.


After seeing Captain America, we went to Southern Accent for dinner. I chose this place after looking through the Summerlicious restaurants, because there was an affordable $25 dinner here. Although apparently they have prix fixe menus through the year at around the same price, so it’s not necessary to go during Summerlicious.

Southern Accent is a southern restaurant, with New Orleans and cajun-style food; and a place that I didn’t know existed in Toronto if not for Summerlicious; so the program works, although even if I had known of this place, I don’t know if I would have bothered to try it out if not for Summerlicious (and its $25 menu). The restaurant is in a house in Mirvish village and you eat in one of the various rooms of the house. We were in a freaky room with many paintings of a blue dog at the back of the house.

For starters we tried the Kick Ass Alligator (alligator in picante creole sauce served with hush puppies) and the soup of the day. I forget exactly what the soup was, but it was a weird combination of things including yogurt. The alligator was spicy, and actually worked well with the yogurt soup to temper things. I had read somewhere (when I was a child) that alligator tastes like chicken. The sauce was too spicy so I couldn’t tell what it tasted like, but the texture definitely was like chicken.

For mains we had the Canal St Creole Jambalaya (A highly seasoned rice combination of chicken, smoked ham, andouille sausage, rice and tomatoes, served on top of seared collard greens with garlic grilled tiger shrimp and Creole sauce) and the Lafayette Shrimp Étoufée (Black tiger shrimps smothered in a spiced rich deep-amber seafood reduction sauce, served with cumin basmati rice and a side of grilled asparagus

Dessert for me was the Pavlova (Aussie style meringue served with fresh fruit and fresh cream) and homemade vanilla bean ice cream. I was waiting for the ice cream for the entire dinner because there was not enough air condition/air flow in the restaurant!

Overall I thought it was good value for $25, and it’s a change from the usual Italian/French/Canadian dining options that are available in the city.


I’ve wanted to go to Ruby Watchco for awhile and finally went this weekend. Ruby Watchco is named after a sign that says … Ruby Watchco. It’s second claim to fame is that its the new restaurant by Lynn Crawford, formerly of Truffles and Four Seasons in NYC fame (and some Food Network shows). What’s unique about the place is that there is no menu. Each day, the chef decides to make something and you pay a set price for a 4 course meal. You don’t even get your own dishes, the food is family style and your entire table shares the dishes. You can order whichever wines you want though.

The appetizer was BC organic smoked salmon with greens, pickled red onions, crispy capers and rye bread croutons. Picked onions were neat, not a lot of salmon though. In lieu of bread, we received cheese biscuits with homemade butter.

The main course was slow roasted ribeye with yorkshire pudding, asparagus with lemon salt, mashed potatoes with bacon sour cream, and tomato & arugula salad with basil dressing. Surprisingly, the vegetables and potatoes were good but the ribeye was uneventful. The portions here are too much though; I don’t know if they just have difficulty with two-person dishes (our portions were consistent with other pairs around us), or whether they just like giving American sized portions!

Then we had a cheese platter with country bread and apple slices finished with Guiness. Too much cheese and not enough bread, so we packed some of our cheese to go in a little doggy box seen below.

Dessert was Dad’s Saturday sundae, which was a collection of various sweet things including a brownie, ice cream and caramel.

The food here is great value, and prepared expertly. When we went, the place was full but accepted as walk-ins. By the time we left, it was packed. It is certainly popular, especially when the restaurants around it were empty!


I haven’t been reading as much lately, but did a bit on the weekend:

Where Did the Korean Greengrocers Go?
Mostly talking about NYC, it’s a predictable result of immigrant success, and high rents; with a dash of xenophobia as well.

The Physiology of Foie
An interesting dive into Foie Gras with the first part focusing on how Foie Gras is farmed. The latter half is also interesting as it explains why Foie Gras might not be inhumane as it seems to be – ducks don’t have a gag function, don’t chew and breathe through their tongues!

How a Remote Town in Romania Has Become Cybercrime Central
This small Romanian town is the Silicon Valley of cybercrime:

And just as in Silicon Valley, the clustering of operations in one place made it that much easier for more to get started. “There’s a high concentration of people offering the kinds of services you need to build a criminal scheme,” says Gary Dickson, an FBI agent who worked in Bucharest from 2005 to 2010. “If your specialty is auction frauds, you can find a money pick-up guy. If you’re a money pick-up guy, you can find a buyer for your services.”


When we went to Japan, I wanted to eat sushi yes, but really I’m tired of the usual stuff that you can get a sushi restaurants here in Canada. So my aim was to order and try weird things that you can’t get here (and that my stomach could handle). Here are some:

This was the first sushi that we had on the trip, which was bought from a train station in Mitaka I think (on the way to Ghibli museum). The inner two are scallop and I forget what the outer ones are.

This one is roasted duck. I don’t know if it actually was rare but it wasn’t too memorable.

Squid is fairly common, but this one is special in that they put some mayonnaise on top and the lightly seared it. I don’t like mayonnaise so either it is because it is Japanese mayonnaise, or how they prepared it, but I didn’t mind this!

This is lightly roasted beef I believe. I guess this is like your steak.

I’ve never seen or knew this before until I saw it on the menu. It’s herring roe and was pretty good! Doesn’t it look like a pear slice??

Finally the weirdest sushi I had was horse. I didn’t order this, but some Japanese people who were taking us around ordered it. The light colored one is horse neck and I forget what part of the horse that dark color one is from (actually I might not have had tried that one). The neck was chewy!


If you’re not Chinese (and I suppose Indian), it might be difficult to comprehend the strategy that goes behind certain things in life. For example, eating at buffets. Here is a look at how to strategically approach a buffet. Although it’s Indian, a typical Chinese person would do the same preparations and use the same strategy at an Asian buffet.

Now, once you’re at the restaurant and have been seated here, follow a game-plan. Stick to the water; don’t order any beverages off the menu. Scan the buffet area and commit all the dishes to memory. Then go back to your table, look at the menu and identify which entrées are the most expensive to order à la carte. It is inconsequential whether you like these entrées or not. The purpose of eating at a buffet is to get the most value for money by selectively feeding the face with the most expensive dishes. As a general rule, avoid the rice, samosas (and other fried food), raita, and dal. Gulab jamuns are usually microwaved straight out of cans, so don’t go near them. Paneer dishes never have any paneer, so you can avoid those too. At a quality buffet, there will at the least be a lamb, goat, or shrimp entrée. You should be good at fishing out only the high-value bits from the curry with an elegant, clean Azharuddin-worthy flick of the wrist.

It may seem satirical to the onlooker, but it is real and it is followed.


We were down in the Niagara area on Saturday and had dinner at the Stone Road Grille. We were debating whether to have dinner at a winery restaurant or not, but chose SRG as it had good reviews and was not as expensive as eating at a winery. Unfortunately SRG is popular and we couldn’t get a reservation, but we tried walking in and was able to eat at the bar.

Doing some pre-studying, the #1 thing we wanted to try was their Foie Gras Poutine. It is a weird mix of upscale and downscale food, which kind of fits for this the SRG. The restaurant didn’t seem upscale (it’s kind of like a better looking Fox & Firkin type), but it has a great reputation for its food.

It’s a strange combination but it worked. The foie gras adds a tastier flavour and accentuates the gravy, although it was not as good as the Foie Gras Parfait we recently had at Splendido. The other started we tried was the “Bacon Wrapped Scallops”. The name of the dish is in brackets, because it’s not actually bacon, but smoked duck breast.

The “Bacon Wrapped Scallops” was pretty much what it set out to be. We also had the wine pairing for this, which was a a Pinot Gris from the Calamus Estate Winery. This also happened to be the wine pairing of my main, which was the Duck Confit.

This was the other dish we wanted to try, and it was pretty good. The duck was loose, kind of like it was pulled pork. There was also a heck of a lot of duck fat, so it was tasty but could have been deadly.

Our other entree was some sort of Ragu. I didn’t take pictures of the menu because I figured that it will all be online, but they keep changing their menu and dishes slightly, and this dish was new. I believe it is the Pea and Morel Mushroom Ragu with Ricotta Gnocchi and it wasn’t particularly special. Probably because this was the vegetarian offering. We also got the wine paring with this which was a Chardonnay from the Malivoire Wine Company.

We didn’t try any of the desserts, but I noticed that you could get cotton candy as a dessert! There’s fine dining for ya.


When I get lazy with blogging, I just post links to some neat stuff around the web:

  • Etymology: Why we start sentences with ‘so’, who may have started the ‘my bad’ trend.
  • With the BP spill, should we be afraid of eating shrimp that comes from the Gulf? The answer is no, but the following is disconcerting

    Federal regulators also stress that seafood is safe. One toxicologist told USA Today that even if contaminated shrimp were reaching the market, oil isn’t highly toxic

    I guess mildly toxic is ok.

  • Thinking about writing an app for the Apple App store? Well don’t quit your day job

    Supercollider Blog reports on several levels of paid app downloads, the relevant number is that half of all paid iPhone apps get less than 1,000 downloads. The median point is under 1,000. Lets call it 999. That number times $1.95 per paid app gives the ‘most typical app’ the total revenues in its lifetime – the full two years of App Store existence – of $1,948 dollars. This is before Apple takes its cut of 30%, so we are left with $1,363 over two years or $682 per year. This is so ‘successful’ that half of all of the developers of the 164,250 apps – will actually earn LESS THAN THIS. Before you start to cry, remember, there is that Angry Bird game that had 4 million paid downloads and the Bewelled 2 game with 3 million paid downloads. Thats your math there, they are totally skewing the averages, and you are stuck in the ‘long tail’ indeed. Half of all developers will earn less than $682 per year. Do you still think this is a good business idea?

  • I read this headline, and my first thought was what? When do Chinese people have the last name Fat. Eventually I remembered Chow Yun Fat, which is one of the only 5 Asian people that Americans know; so I guess it does make a bit of sense.

On Friday, we enjoyed fine dining at Splendido. We decided to go to Splendido because it is highly thought of by the foodies on Chowhound, and was mentioned much more than the stereotypical high-end Toronto fare (i.e., Canoe, North44).

After scouring the boards for awhile, there were a few things we wanted to try, the first was the 88 Harbord:

The 88 Harbord, is also the address of Splendido and has the unique distinction for me of being even more bitter than alcohol itself! However, even though it mixes 3 different liquors, it doesn’t taste like alcohol and manages to go down smoothly (due to I assume the peach nectar).

For starters, we tried Victor’s Foie Gras Parfait which is one of their signature dishes. I think the head chef, Victor brings it out for you and describes the dish, but I forgot to study beforehand and remember what he looks like.

Since I’m not a connaisseur of foie gras, I can’t really comment on quality, but Pauline said it was pretty great. I actually thought the rhubarb purée that accompanied it was more interesting and tangy. I guess that is like how babies like to play with the box instead of the toy that came inside it.

The other signature dish we wanted to try was the Pappardelle with pulled rabbit. This is apparently the second time I tried rabbit, and I focused more on trying to remember the taste this time. There isn’t a lot of it actually, it doesn’t taste like chicken per se, but it is kind of tasteless. I guess you could say it’s like chicken breast. The texture was also like pulled pork, which makes sense doesn’t it?

Ironically, the first time I had rabbit (I think) was at Noté Bene whose chef (David Lee) was the former chef of Splendido.

Next was the Tagliatelle with Tunisian octopus. I found this dish more interesting since there was a combination of different flavours. The octopus were big and cylindrical while soft and chewy, unlike squid/calamari at all. I tried to think back to when else I had octopus; there were the octopus balls in Japan, but I can’t really differentiate octopus and squid in my memory.

The octopus was are second choice because we actually wanted to order the Orecchiette instead, but since Splendido hand rolls its own pasta daily, they had run out of it for the night (we had a late sitting – 8:45PM)!

The last dish we had was the Halibut. We weren’t a big fan of this, although it was prepared very well (juicy but seared on the outside), it didn’t have the wow factor in ingredients or taste of our previous selections.

I took these pictures with our new P+S camera, the Canon SD1200IS. I think it did OK in the low light; it took pictures at 0.8″ and 0.6″ which turned out alright (as long as you have a steady hand). However I found out later that Auto ISO only goes to ISO400. I could have had a couple of clearer pictures if I manually set it to ISO800 or ISO1600.


While planning our Chicago trip, we used a Google Map to plot the locations we wanted to visit. We had about 30 locations, which was a bit too many things to do in 2 days. Especially when 20 of them were food-related items!

But there were a still things that we HAD to try. One of these was Chicago deep dish pizza. We had a couple of places picked out, PIzzeria Uno was where deep dish pizza was first invented, Lou Malnati’s pizza is also well known, but we ended up going to Giordano’s.

We actually ended up at Giordano’s for a mid-afternoon snack, but even then I thought we should’ve gotten a couple of pizzas to sample different varieties. We ended up getting only one pizza, and it was a small! Good thing too, because the dish was deep and filled with cheese. I think you would puke if you ate a small pizza by yourself. In the end we didn’t try actual deep dish pizza, because Giordano’s is known for stuffed pizza, which is actually a variant.

The other thing we wanted to try was a Chicago-style hot dog. We originally wanted to go to but then we were hanging out at a McDonald’s we went to the website and learned that the restaurant would be on vacation while we were in Chicago! Bummer. Instead we went across the street and tried a hot dog at Portillo’s.

In the end, it’s just like a hot dog that has been “dragged through the garden”, but it’s still a hot dog! And plus, Toronto’s Italian sausages are still better!


A Chicago specialty.

* moblogged from my phone. How cool is that?