Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bites and Nibbles @ Churrasco of Portugal

Hubby and I were driving in our neighborhood one night looking for a new restaurant to try. Just a couple of blocks from our home is this new gem of comfort food - the Churrasco of Portugal.

The atmosphere is very nice - it has a huge takeout counter and a dining area furnished with dark colored wood tables and chairs. What caught my attention was the simple yet elegant table setting - white cloth placemat with matching white cloth table napkin. The perfect accent on every table was the Piri-Piri hot sauce!

Once seated, were served with fresh bread and black olives. There were plenty of choices from the menu but my appetite was clamoring for the grilled chicken and Portuguese rice and Parisian potatoes. Hubby ordered fried breaded white fish that came with rice and garden salad. We glad we came hungry - the portions were big and really delicious. While enjoying our food,  I saw the Arroz de Marisco {seafood rice}from the next table. It looked tasty too { I will try this next time}!

95 Middlecote Drive Ajax, ON

Churrasco of Portugal on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 27, 2013

Newmarket Farmers' Market

Visiting various farmers' market on weekends is on our to do list this spring, summer and fall. We started our "market adventure"last Saturday along Main Street in Newmarket. Aside from the usual local produce like veggies, eggs, maple syrup, honey and cheeses, there were gourmet coffee beans and teas, stone-baked pizza,  crepes and pies. While the parents were busy shopping or sampling baked goodies {like hubby and I did}, the kids were having a great time playing in the water fountain. There were live music too!

Aside from the scenic 45 minute-drive to Newmarket from our place, we really felt good supporting local farmers in our own little way!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Growing Your Own Herb Garden

Aside from the colorful flowers and nesting birds that grace our backyard in springtime, planting my herbs is the highlight of this beautiful season. Every year, on Victoria Day long weekend {celebrated every last Monday before May 25} my handsome gardener {a.k.a. as my dear hubby} would tenderly plant my favorite herbs in "mon petit jardin d'herbes aromatiques" {my little herb garden}.

I keep my herb garden to a maximum of five different herbs every year. Aside from the fact that we don't have enough space for all the herbs I fancy, we only plant what I frequently use for my summer recipes. This year I have ....

Rosemary  for my grilled lamb or beef, savory scones and to die for lemon-rosemary iced tea.

Basil for my pasta dishes, pesto sauce and home-made pizza

Mint for my fresh summer fruit salad, mint-yogurt chutney, mint julep and mojito

Oregano for my Greek salad and kebob

This year, I tried this pineapple mint. I don't know yet where use them {maybe a chicken dish} but the aroma and taste look very promising.

Hubby and I are no experts. But for the past 6 years we learned some helpful tips we want to share with you if you are starting your own "petit jardin d'herbes aromatiques"

Tip #1.
Start by planting seedlings rather than planting your own seeds. We normally buy these little starter plants/herbs from Home Depot,Walmart, grocery stores with garden area or from the local nursery. They are usually available mid May and the price ranges from $2.00 to $2.50 per herb.

Tip #2
For your first small herbal garden, choose herbs that are easy to grow like basil - this is perfect trainer herb, You can also add rosemary, thyme, oregano and mint in your garden. All of these can grow indoors too. Cilantro is a hit and miss for us, so I wouldn't recommend it if you are a neophyte.

Tip #3
Good soil is a must. We always plant our herbs on pots and other containers using potting mix, rather than potting soil. Potting mix  is lighter, usually made from organic matter and designed to give container plants the texture and drainage they need. 

Tip #4
Make sure the pots and containers has a nice-sized hole and {if you can} add rocks at the bottom of the container for good drainage  because herbs' roots can't stand sitting in too-wet soil.  

Tip #5
If you recall, herbs originated in sun-drenched regions like the Mediterranean.  Be sure you will choose a spot in your garden where the sun shines at least 4-8 hours a day. If your pots are indoors, they should be placed on a very sunny south-facing windowsill.

Tip #6
Herbs need watering too. But unlike ordinary houseplants that need only one solid watering per week herbs need a moderate amount every other day particularly during the peak of summery.  You can check by sticking your finger into the soil. If it feels dry an inch beneath the surface, it's time to water!

Tip #7
Feed your herbs. Add a slow-release or organic fertilizer when you plant. Some potting mixes come with slow-release fertilizer pellets already mixed in. If this is the case, fertilize after  month. {Do not use fertilizer that promotes flowering}.

Tip #8
It's all about the leaves! Harvest often. Harvesting promotes growth. It keeps plants in their growing cycle instead of letting them mature and finish their life. You can harvest up to a third of the foliage. And if you see a flower, clip or pinch it off. Once an herb flowers it’s trying to finish its life cycle.

Tip #9
Enjoy your herbs by using them in your recipes!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bites and Nibbles @ Chako

I'll say it up front ... if you love meat {and I mean lots of meat} and don't mind grilling them yourself, this place is for you!

CHAKO BBQ.Sushi.Izakaya : This is how the reaturant position itself, a three in one sort of thing. But we come here mainly for its grill-and-eat-all-you-can Korean tyle BBQ.

There are 3 branches across GTA but I prefer the ambiance at the Scarborough branch. The dark wood furniture and bold yellow-orange hanging light accents made the place more upbeat and modern with a casual feel.

There's a limited selection of wines and draft beers but they have quite an extensive list of sake {a true Izakaya in that sense!} Once seated, various Korean banchan {small dishes of food or side dishes} will be served on the table. The tofu and seaweeds are my all-time favorites.

Did I mentioned there's a lot of meat? Aside from beef {including short ribs}, you can also have chicken and slices of pork. All the meat came marinated. They are tasty, no doubt but it would have been perfect if they have different kinds of marinades to distinguish the pork from the beef. After sometime, they all taste the same. You can also have squid, salmon, fish and shrimp. A small selection of vegetables are also available.

My hubby can have all the meat but what I truly love at Chako is their kimchi - slightly spiced and a tinge of sweetness. Kimchi + sticky rice + marinated tofu = PURE BLISS!

2190 McNicoll Ave 

Chako Barbeque Izakaya on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Ruins at Elora

I was walking on a path through the woods in Elora hoping to get a better shot of the of the old Elora Mill Inn{which was the purpose of our 2-hour drive} when I stumbled upon this gorgeous ruins.

As soon as I got home, I  searched about it and found out that the ruins used to be a factory in the early 1900. This unexpected beauty plus the Elora gorge made the trip so worthwhile.

Shared with : Weekly Top Shot

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sakura in Bloom

Number 10 on my bucket list is to attend the Miyako Odori performance in Kyoto. This is a very special "cherry blossom dance" by Geiko and Maiko which marks the beginning of spring and is only presented once a year during the month of April.While it remains a wish for now, being at High Park in Toronto last weekend where cherry blossoms were in full bloom was good enough for me!

Someday ... soon....

Saturday, May 11, 2013


"Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom, while discouragement often nips it in the bud. Any of us put out more and better ideas if our efforts are truly appreciated." - Alex Osborn

Sharing with : Weekly Top Shot

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lemon And Calamansi Bars

One of the many things that I truly miss from my motherland is the Calamansi fruit {a small round dark green fruit that is available in the Philippines whole year round}. It is a perfect juice drink on a hot summer day or I use  it in savoury and sweet dishes in the same way I am using lemon here in Canada. It is not easy to find them here so you can just imagine how happy I was when a I found a small bag of frozen calamansi in the Asian store one weekend. I wanted to make a dessert out of it so I tweaked Ina Garten's Lemon Bars recipe. 

The citrus flavour was intensified by the mixture of calamansi and lemon and perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess! It was a hit in the office and hubby can't have enough of it!

Lemon-Calamansi Bars
Crust Ingredients
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling Ingredients:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon and calamani zest 
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed calamansi juice
1 cup flour
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon and calamani zest, lemon juice, calamansi juice and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into square and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

We {heart} nature : Lynde Shores Conservation Area

We don't mind waking up at 6AM on a weekend just to be a part of this "community"  at the Lynde Shores conservation area wetlands.

This is our piece of heaven on earth!

Shared with : Rurality Blog Hop

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bites and Nibbles @ Buster's Sea Cove

On Saturday morning hubby and I went to one of my favorite places in downtown Toronto - the St. Lawrence Market. After buying my usual treats {freshly baked sourdough baguette, cheeses, hummus, and eggplant spread}, hubby and I grabbed lunch and I got mine from Buster's Sea Cove. The line was already building up at 11AM and I was ready to give up and get something else. I'm glad I stayed!

Just watching these guys prepare the foods from the other side of the counter was already a treat!

There were so much to choose from. First I was leaning towards the grilled octopus then to lobster bisque but in the end settled for this ...

The mahi-mahi was grilled to perfection and flavored with a hint of lemon and other spices without masking the delicate flavor of the fish. The bread was crunchy on the outside but soft and meaty of the inside. My order came with a generous serving of hot and crispy fries and coleslaw. I have to say it's not cheap (I paid $16 bucks, without drinks}but it was worth every penny. I will be back and the octopus is next on my list!

St. Lawrence Market
93 Front St. E Toronto

 Buster's Sea Cove on Urbanspoon

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