2017 August #1

Thanks to a work scheduling accident, we got more time together this week!

We watched Despicable Me 3 on Tuesday, and it was great in 3D! Compared to IMAX 3D, I actually prefer the regular 3D much more. The screen is brighter, the sound volume is less deafening, and the framerate seems smoother. It was a good movie.

Wednesday morning, Serena made some chocolate chip pancakes, loaded with lots of dark chocolate chips! It was surprisingly filling, that after eating about 1 pancake, we were already full…

For the rest of the day, we ended up eating out, but I forgot to take photos, so totally forgot what we had…

Thursday, as has been the trend for the past few days, I try to make shrimp scampi once again.


I should have blanched the beans instead of hoping they would cook as I stir fried the rest. The tiger shrimps were nice, but do seem to cause more allergies for Serena. I guess we’ll stick with smaller white shrimps in the future.

That night, we cooked long beans (more thoroughly) and sweet glazed chicken. The long beans came from Serena’s mom’s own garden, so they were really fresh and fleshy.



For Friday’s lunch, I whipped up some a quick pan-fried steak, and some cauliflower stir fry.


After lunch, the dumb bells arrived. Ah, let me tell you about the dumb bells. We first ordered this 2 weeks ago, which Canada Post was going to deliver out of Mississauga, then rescheduled for the next day, and got marked as “Delivered” without us ever receiving it. So after that happened, and Canada Post not being able to give us a good answer on what happened, Amazon sent out another set of dumb bells. So yesterday, it once again said “Out of Delivery” followed by “Rescheduled by carrier”. Fearing a repeat of what happened the week before, we called Canada Post, who put in a note to be sure to send it over to the right address.

Thankfully, it arrived today. They rescheduled it because they needed a two-men team to send larger or heavier parcels. I didn’t think 2 x 20 lb dumb bells were that bad, until I saw the packaging and had total sympathy for the postal workers… The shipper packed the two dumb bells into a long tube box, which was unnecessarily long, then bent and sagged in the middle. Well, at least they arrived, and were in quite excellent condition.

In the afternoon, we went to Sephora to spend $40 to get a free bag of samples. It was so crowded in there! Yikes, business is good there.

We had a Godiva soft serve ice cream before we left Eaton. It wasn’t that good. Their chocolate ice cream tasted just like the cheap no name brand of Napoleon ice cream from Food Basics, while the vanilla part tasted slightly better. The only part of that I liked was the waffle cone. Crispy, and with peanuts.

To be honest, Godiva doesn’t taste much different from Cadbury chocolate to me. The samples they gave us tasted just like Cadbury.

We rushed up to Koreatown and met up with my classmate again. We went to Tacos el Asador, which was right next to the Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu that we went to last time.

I wasn’t impressed with how salty everything tasted.

We ordered a goat burrito, which was okay but salty.

We also ordered a platter that consisted of pulled chicken tacos, mashed beans, guacamole, instant-noodle-flavoured tortilla chips, dry ground pork, grilled onions, and some leathery steak. I would have given the place a 1/5 or 2/5 rating, but Serena liked the platter enough.

We couldn’t let the evening end on that note, so we went to ShareTea for some drinks.

I got the Kiwi Fruit Tea with Aiyu Jelly.

Serena got the Ruby Graperuit Slushy.

It was a nice little cafe. Good for a drink and chat.

This weekend was full of food events. We went to St. Lawrence Market and to the Waterfront Night Market, but not to the Taste of Danforth.

But first, we went to G for Gelato and Expresso Bar.

We asked for 2 flavours, the pistachio and cookie & cream.

My goodness, pistachio flavour was strong! It was one of the richest we’ve had in any pistachio-flavoured product! On the other hand, I wasn’t a bit fan of the cookie & cream. It just tasted overly sweet.

At St. Lawrence Market, the actual food festival part didn’t have much. The interior regular shops were quite nice though, especially their fruits and vegetables. So fresh and ripe! We picked out some shiitake mushrooms to use for dinner that night.

We also grabbed some baked goods from Stonemill Bakery. I liked their raspberry cream cheese, but didn’t like their spinach as much.

Then we went to this Ukrainian vendor, and bought some Boneless Whitefish Stuffed w/ Crab & Melted Mozzarella, which they microwaved to heat up. It was … so full of MSG, and salty on top of that! I don’t know how long it was sitting in the window display, just … eek.

The Spinach & Mushroom Blintz was nicer though. It was wrapped in this egg-like cornmeal, which was slightly sweet. Not bad. I finished that one.

Going more high-end, we went to Pusateri below Saks for some sweets, which once again missed the mark.

The Grapefruit Champagne Parfait had no grapefruit taste at all. It was mostly white chocolate, and the custard inside had a very weird texture and taste…

The Chanel was better. Pistachio and Raspberry flavour in a sponge cake, surrounded by 4 barks of white chocolate.

The next day, we went to Serena’s parents for lunch.

Her mom cooked a lot. Some dishes were made using the air fryer. We’re definitely getting one of those when we get a house! Fast to use, and crispy food without tasting too greasy.

Since we got a day pass, we rode down to Bake Code for some fancy baked goods.

Serena got a cheese tart, which she enjoyed.

She got me a sponge cake. So sweet of her, knowing what kinds of food I like!

Chocolate almond croissant.

We then went to the Waterfront Night Market, which used to be at the T&T Supermarket, but moved farther away to Hearn Power Station this year. This required riding the TTC down to T&T, then either walking for 20 minutes along a dusty road with no side walk, or wait for this elusive shuttle bus. We walked for 20 minutes, and saw no sign of the shuttle bus…

The area was kind of small, but still very crowded.

We ordered some fried squid pancakes. Greasy, taste was actually pretty good.

The guys at the Hawaii barbecue booth had a lot of character, and is used to media attention!

We went for some more squid, in the form of teriytaki squid skewers. Chewy, and tastes just the way you expect it to.

The man cooking up the other meat skewers was such a boss. Just look at him!

 

To finish up the night, we bought some sweet roasted chestnuts.

The next day, back to the grind. McDonald’s for lunch!

Serena’s coworker joined us. He wanted to get just the smoothie, but ended up with a Big Mac combo.

I didn’t feel like burgers, so I grabbed a box from the Chinese restaurant in there. The portion sizes were huge, but unfortunately, the taste was very mediocre.

In the evening, we went to Lee Chen, a more upscale Chinese restaurant along King Street.

The had a special going on for set meals. We ordered that in addition to drinks and side dishes. The embarrassing part was how after we ordered 1 item, the hostess would start taking the menu away from us, but we weren’t done ordering yet! We ordered the set, *tried to pull menu away*, we ordered the side dishes, *tried to pull the menu away*, we ordered the drinks, *successfully confiscated the menus*.

We thought, gosh, we must look like really poor college students or something. Not only did the hostess not try to upsell any add-ons, she didn’t even give us a chance to finish ordering…

To be fair, I was wearing a white undershirt and shorts, with a backpack, while Serena wore a grey tanktop and a $30 skirt. Okay, I shouldn’t blame the hostess…

The salad was fresh, and had a good sesame-based dressing. It balanced out the other greasy dishes quite well.

A wonton soup. Serena didn’t like the fillings inside the wonton, the pork fat taste was too strong.

The steamed buns were pretty good! Juicy inside, and good flavour.

Fried dumplings were very nice too. The dipping sauce was too salty though.

My main course, seafood in a fried spring roll skin bowl. Once again, too salty, but ingredients had a good mix, and I enjoyed the spring roll, broccoli, and rice.

Serena had the ribs, which were quite well done.

The Passionfruit Custard Pudding. Quite nicely done! Smooth custard, and good fruit flavour.

Sesame balls! We ate them the next day, and they were still pretty good.

The atmosphere was quite good there, and if they rotate their set meal menu, we shall definitely revisit!

 

2017 July #2

We were pretty busy during the week, so the first shot I took of food was on Friday night. Serena made a honey-glazed steak stir-fry with mushroom and sweet peppers.

On Saturday, we walked part of the Lower Don Trail. Walked for about 2 hours, roughly 10 km.

It was good heading out early while it’s still cool outside. Even with full sun, it didn’t feel too baked.

I mistook the subway stations and we got off a station earlier. I meant to get off at Broadview so we can enter the trail from east of the Don River, but we ended up on the west side because we exited at Castle Frank.

Thankfully we did! There was construction on the original trail, so we were lucky to have taken the west bank.

Saw this giant artwork (graffiti?) on one of the supporting columns of the rails leading to Evergreen Brickworks. Amazing detail on the drawing.


I’d guess about 60% of the trail was in the shade from the trees, so we weren’t scorched too much. The temperature was actually quite nice. Warm and breezy.

After 2 hours, we exited the trail and drank some San Pellegrino while we took a break.

Beforehand, we agreed to not eat along Danforth so that we have our stomachs for Tinuno, the Filipino restaurant.

We ended up eating before we even reached Danforth! There was a patisserie along Coxwell called Mon K, and we ate some sweets there.

Lots of little mousse and layered cakes.

Some macaroon selection too.

We got this grapefruit pistachio cake. It was quite pleasant! Very subtly sweet and mellow.

Also got some… no idea what these are called. The 3 pieces on the left were not as good as we were hoping for, as they’ve been sitting in the display for a while, and tasted a little stale.

Came across this in front of a house. Very cute little box, as part of the Little Free Library program.

We then took the subway to Tinuno. It’s a small little restaurant near Sherbourne station. When we arrived, we got a seat but it was busy. They told us 15-20 minutes, but actually it took about 40 minutes for everything to arrive.

Since every diner there is basically getting the same menu items, they bring out the prepared food in rounds, all at the same time.

We liked the tilapia and the shrimp.

I liked the skewers which were too salty for Serena. The rice was good but I didn’t eat too much of it. Serena tasted some light seasoning in the rice, maybe garlic.

This white fish was too sour with too much lemon juice… It was the only piece we didn’t like.

Calamari was nice, and just when you thought it’s all seafood, you get a few pieces of pork chops.

The meal was really cheap for the amount of preparation and variety. Only $15 per person. No wonder when we left, there was a long line outside the store!

We spotted some $1.99 herbs at a nearby convenience store, so we bought some rosemary, parsley, and basil.

Before dinner, I went to Loblaws and got $62 in groceries, including 4 lobster tails which were on sale. Serena made Lobster Mac & Cheese. It was quite good! Crispy on the top from the oven, and soft and juicy below the surface.

In case anyone thinks the Mac & Cheese was too unhealthy, we had some orange, golden berry, and yogurt! (Okay, maybe I ate most of these. Ignore the bag of chips in the background…)

On Monday, I went to PAI to pick up some lunch. PAI is a really popular and busy Thai restaurant, so it’s usually hard to find seats. But they’ve started a PAI Market that makes take-out.

They offer 3 dishes each day, so you can choose 1 dish plus rice for $10, 2 dishes for $12, or 3 dishes for $14. Today was Khao Soi Chicken, green curry, and sweet and sour tofu vegetables. We picked Khao Soi chicken and the sweet and sour tofu with vegetables. The Khao Soi chicken was really good. The coconut milk curry sauce was really flavourful without being too salty. Chicken was tender, and went well with the flat noodles. The tofu fish was pretty bad. The pineapples tasted strange with chili sauce, and the tofu was hard and sour, possibly spoiled?

After work we went out for an indulgent meal at Barberian Steakhouse.

Listed as one of the 10 Most Expensive Restaurants in Toronto by BlogTO, the steak was much better than your average chain steakhouse, like the K*g or Milest**e.


The garlic bread was soft, and that garlic oil went really well with it.

The pickled vegetables Serena liked, but I thought were way too sour and overwhelmed the natural flavours.

The Porterhouse steak was wonderful. It was one of the softest and easiest ones to chew through, which I appreciated.

It had very minimal seasoning, just salt and pepper, and it was a joy to eat.

We asked for baked potatoes, which I didn’t enjoy as much. It had no flavour, and salt and peppers didn’t help to redeem it.

The mushrooms were okay. Buttery, but didn’t seem to taste as flavourful as I was picturing.

Overall it was a fairly good meal, celebrating 8 months together with my darling!

 

Post-Script:

For Serena’s dad’s birthday and upcoming trip, we bought a full-frame Nikon DSLR. Here are just some of my impressions about it.

  1. Low-light performance is noticeably superior on the full-frame to a cropped-frame APS-C size sensor. Allowing 2x the amount of light in, it allowed for fast enough shutter speeds even at twilight.
  2. Auto-focus was quite fast AND accurate.
  3. Operation of the camera was fairly easy. I expected it to be clunkier than on my mirrorless, but it was actually fine to use for normal operation. There are less options to customize, but it still worked better and easier than I assumed.
  4. So much heavier… The lens, you’ll notice, is fairly small and light. The body, on the other hand, hurts the wrists to hold for too long.
  5. Much more affordable than my mirrorless. This only cost $1200 (older model).
  6. The 50mm lens, which is newer compared to my vintage 50mm manual focus lens, actually produces different images, despite both being 50mm and F/1.8! My vintage lens makes sharper, less hazy, and higher contrast photos. That being said, the newer lens makes much more pleasing portrait photos…

Overall, it was an interesting experience trying out a DSLR, and a full-frame one at that. It’s not something I’d use day-to-day, as I still prefer the mobility and light weight of the Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless system, but it was fun to have the chance to try it out.