• [Giveaway] Duff + Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza

    Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers! Click on the link in red for more details on how to enter to win one. Good luck everyone!

  • [Food Post] Bar Isabel

    Bar Isabel is a popular restaurant known for their Spanish-influenced tapas dishes. Its location on College and Ossington is easily accessible, and there's a paid parking lot nearby.

  • [Food Post] Trattoria Mercatto

    Trattoria Mercatto is a casual-fare Italian restaurant located inside of the Eaton's Center on the second floor of the mall. I was invited to attend the "Antipasti With Us" event in late August along with several local food bloggers.

  • [App/Tech] Tab Payments

    Tab is a recent Toronto startup that aims to make dining out seamlessly easy. They have partnered up with several restaurants where customers can pay their bills with the Tab app; eliminating the use of a physical credit card, or cash.

  • [Food Post] Jacobs and Co.

    Jacobs and Co. Steakhouse has a very sizable steak selection which are visibly displayed in a glass container at the front. The glass contains dry-aged beef with information tags on them (name, date, etc ...) for customers to choose from.

  • [Food Post] Sake Bar Kushi

    We were provided with a few items from their regular menu and June specials menu. Not only do they serve kushi (skewered poultry and non-poultry), but they also offer a great variety of tapas styled dishes that are meant to be shared

  • [Travel] Satsuki and Mei's House from Totoro

    My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 animated production written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It's a childhood favorite of many people and I have seen many shops dedicated to selling Totoro merchandise while in Japan.

  • [Food Post] Canoe Restaurant + Bar

    Canoe is one of Toronto's critically acclaimed restaurants offering upscale Canadian cuisine. It is located on the 54th floor of Toronto Dominion Bank Towers in the financial district. As it is relatively high up; its beautifully designed dining room offers a spectacular view of the city's skyline.

  • [Food Post] Au Pied de Cochon

    One of the great appeals of the restaurant is their extensive menu. The menu at Au Pied de Cochon offers concoction of dishes that entails the uses of animal parts that are not always found in other restaurants.

  • [Travel] Day #15 in Japan [Koyasan]

    A shukubo is an accommodation that allows you to stay in a Japanese temple or shrine for the night, and enables you to experience the culture. You are given your own personal room, and there are multiple washroom facilities throughout the temple.

Milestone's Grill & Bar

0 comments
We often eat at some of surrounding chain restaurants after movie date nights at the Queensway Cineplex. Although, my SO lives downtown, he likes to drive us up to the Cineplex on Queensway as it's painfully difficult to get parking downtown especially on Fridays and Saturdays. We have dined at various Milestone's Grill & Bar on a few occasions, and I have to applaud them for consistency. At times, I find that chain restaurants can be a hit or a miss depending on the locations, but Milestone's Grill & Bar has been consistent with both their service and quality of food.



We were slightly disappointed that they were sold out of Prime Rib that night. I am assuming that it's one of the most popular cuts on the Milestone's Grill & Bar's menu. We decided to still get steaks - just different cuts.


I opted for the 8 oz Top Sirloin ($23) - signature seasoning, served with red wine jus and seasonal vegetables. My choice of side from the list was the red skin fries. I ordered my steak medium, and it turned out pretty tasty. The seasoning wasn't overwhelming salty and the meat itself was tender. However, I didn't really like the small salad portion that came with the dish. It barely had any green lettuces in the mix, but rather large chunks of peppers and onions.


My SO got the 12 oz Rib Eye ($32) - signature seasoning, served with red wine jus and seasonal vegetables with the choice of a baked potato with house-made sour cream, horseradish and chive sauce for a side.

Milestone's Grill & Bar offers casual fare at comparable prices as their competitors such as Joey's, Kelsey's, Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, Moxie's Grill & Bar, etc ... The overall atmosphere at this particular location was more low key with ample seating in the dining room. I have been to the Yorkdale location twice, and that location was louder compared to the one on Queensway. Overall, I thought that the service was good as our server was attentive despite waiting on four other tables in our allocated area in the dining room.

Address: 1001 The Queensway Toronto, ON, M8Z 6C7

Milestone's Grill & Bar on Urbanspoon

Read More »

[Giveaway] Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza

0 comments
 Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers! 

I absolutely love to BBQ (especially during warm weather); whether it be wings, ribs, chicken, or shrimp. So when I heard about this giveaway; I didn't hesitate in wanting to share it with my fellow BBQ & food lovers.

How would you like the chance to win 1 out of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers?
Ontario Gas BBQ (World's Largest BBQ Store) is running an amazing contest right now called Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza. The five winners of the contest will get to take home a Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers, and this will be determined on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at their store (3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8).

Ontario Gas BBQ is a privately owned Canadian company, and is currently the World's Largest Barbecue Store. They have been serving Canadian barbecue lovers for over 30 years now. Despite their name, they don't just display and stock gas barbecues. Rather, they have over 150 different barbeques from propane, natural gas, charcoal, electric, smokers, pits, etc ...  In additional to barbecues and smokers; the large BBQ store also offers parts and accessories for sale. Everything for your BBQ needs.

Ontario Gas BBQ also has a large Charcoal Room, which is larger than many of their competitors' stores. The room features charcoal from around the world (such as Canada, US, Mexico, South America, Africa and Indonesia), and they stock over 10 brands of premium hardwood charcoal. What's so great about the charcoal they offer? Well, they contain no additives, no chemicals, no softwoods. Additionally, they undertook major expansion back in 2009, and the store now exceeds 50,000 square feet making them the World’s Largest Barbecue Store.

The Prize

5 lucky winners will be randomly drawn at the Ontario Gas BBQ store, and will win 1 of 5 Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smokers (pictured below). Perfect for the 2015 BBQ season next year! 

Grill Pro Traditional Horizontal Offset Smoker
How Do I Enter?

Go to this page at http://www.bbqs.com/up_in_smoke_ballot for the ballot form. Print out the ballot, and fill out all of the required information. Bring the completed ballot to the Ontario Gas BBQ store located at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8, on Saturday, October 25th, 2014 between 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm to be entered into the draw.

Winners do not have to be present at time of draw, but you do need to get your ballot in before 12:30 pm though. However, it'd be great to stay to enjoy all of the festivities that Duff & Ted's Up In Smoke Extravaganza has to offer.

Draw Details

Date: Saturday, October 25th, 2014
Time: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Location: Ontario Gas BBQ at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8

Giveaway Start

There will be 5 draws (first draw is at 12:30 pm and last draw is at 2:30 pm) on Sat, Oct 25, 2014.

Free Sandwiches

You don't have to be present during the draw (as long as your ballot is in between the set times of 12:00 pm to 12:30 pm). However, you should definitely stay as Ted Reader's Hoptimus Prime Fire Truck will be in the lot giving away FREE pulled pork sandwiches to the first 200 people who donate a minimum of $5 to Camp Bucko. It's for a good cause as it's a camp for children who are burn survivors.

Hope everyone can make it to the Ontario Gas BBQ Store at 3310 Langstaff Road, Vaughan, ON, L4K 4Z8 on Oct 25th :)

Get Connected with Ontario Gas BBQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OntarioGasBBQ

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE :)


Read More »

Reds Midtown Tavern

0 comments
 Reds Midtown Tavern is an upscale tavern and is the second location of the original Reds Tavern that's located in the Financial District. Additionally, the two locations actually share the same menu. Despite its namesake, it's not exactly located in midtown, but rather at Yonge and Gerrard. I came here for a friend's birthday, and his girlfriend booked the private dining room that was located in the back of the restaurant for us. 


The menu was printed on a double-sided board with the average casual fare such as sharable appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, etc ...


While perusing through the drinks menu, I realized that they have an extensive list of alcoholic drinks. They have roughly 20 or so beers on tap, various cocktails ,and wine bottles. To toast the birthday boy, the table got a bottle of Domain Luquet Roger (price's unknown).


Three of us at the table decided to share a platter of freshly shucked oysters (1/2 dozen) ($14) - served chilled on frozen river rock with freshly grated horseradish, green apple mignonette and wasabi cocktail sauce. The oysters were indeed fresh and was priced fairly.


The steak frites 14 oz rib eye ($34) - AAA Canadian‏ Beef, truffle parmesan frites, wild mushrooms, Madeira jus, was a lot larger than I expected. However, the steak was mighty tasty as the steak itself was tender and full of flavor. I really enjoyed this dish and recommend it.


I love chicken wings a lot, but unfortunately the ultimate chicken wings ($13.25) - Buffalo butter sauce, fresh market vegetables and blue cheese dip, didn't do it for me. The wings themselves were of a decent size, but I wasn't too fond of the taste of the butter sauce.



I was able to add a fresh sidecar salad to my chicken wings order to make it into an entrĂ©e for an additional $5.95. I added a knife & fork Caesar which was tender romaine lettuce with mild white Spanish anchovies, shaved Parmesan, bacon and garlic confit dressing.



Mediterranean braised lamb shank ($22.95) - 8-hour slow-cooked lamb with creamy polenta, green beans, orange gremolata and black olive relish.


Lobster cobb salad ($26.95) - East Coast lobster with crisp pork belly, 63-degree egg, fresh croutons, cherry tomato and a poached shallot dressing.


Chicken carbonara ($17.95) - a creamless twist on a classic. Rigatoni, sweet garden peas, confit garlic, smoky bacon, chives and a perfectly poached egg.


One waitress was assigned to our table for the entire dinner. Overall, I thought that she did a wonderful job of managing everything by herself. She was friendly, conversational, and our glasses of water were constantly refilled throughout the night.


Address: 382 Yonge St, Unit 6, Toronto, ON, M5B

Reds Midtown Tavern on Urbanspoon

Read More »

Trattoria Mercatto

0 comments
Trattoria Mercatto is a casual-fare Italian restaurant located inside of the Eaton's Centre. I was invited to attend the "Antipasti With Us" event in late August along with several local food bloggers. This was a collaborated event between Trattoria Mercatto and Toronto Eaton Centre. We enjoyed an afternoon of delicious antipasti and cocktails at Trattoria Mercatto.

** All photography taken by Mauricio Jose Calero courtesy of Toronto Eaton Centre. **


Trattoria Mercatto's contemporary decor with its high ceiling, large bar, and spacious seating provided a very welcoming atmosphere. The space was bright with the natural lighting shining brightly into the restaurant which was a nice change from the trend of dimly lit establishments even during lunch time hours. 



 We started the afternoon with a refreshing glass of Nonna's Little Secret - vodka, hibiscus, rosehip, house-made peace tea, lime. The sweet tasting cocktail was good to start the meal off with, and compliment both the Barbabietole Arrosto and Carpaccio Di Manzo dishes.


 Next up was the Barbabietole Arrosto ($11.95) - beets, burrata, arugula, almonds, aged balsamic. The roasted beets were topped off with fresh burrata cheese to create a surprisingly good contrast of sweet and zesty.


 The Carpaccio Di Manzo ($13.50) - beef tenderloin crudo, brandy crema, pickled onions, grana padano, arugula, was a well presented dish and the thinly sliced crudo went well together with the tanginess of the pickled onions, and arugula


My personal favorite dish from Trattoria Mercatto was the Calamari Fritti ($12.95) - fried calamari, fennel and garlic crema. The calamari were perfectly deep fried without being overly oily, and the portion was rather large for an appetizer dish. Additionally, the garlic crema was creamy in texture and delicious with the calamari. I could actually eat the entire plate by myself; it was that good. I thought that this particular dish complimented well with the chilled Prosecco Serenissima - Italian bubbles.


The Frutti Di Mare ($11.50) - marinated shrimp, bay scallops, calamari, red onion, crostini, was the second seafood antipasti dish that was served. The overall presentation of the seafood in the jar served on a wooden board was seemingly creative.


The dish was also served alongside with a large cup of Estrella Damm - Spanish lager. It definitely complemented the two seafood dishes that were served especially the Frutti Di Mare as the light and smoothness of the lager balanced out the dish. Trattoria Mercatto offers various kinds of alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages to go with your meal, so there's something for everyone.


The Short Rib Crostini ($12.50) - sticky beef short ribs, fior di latte, grilled sourdough, basil, was a flavorful dish. The beef short ribs was slowed cook which made the meat very tender, and the accompanied sourdough dough was tasty.


The Polpette - veal and pork meatballs, roasted eggplant and tomato caponata, grana padano, was served in a small pan, and contained three large meatballs. 


The last dish of the day was the Diver Scallops ($13.50) - fennel, orange, pine nuts, chili, agrodolce, which was wonderfully seared and seasoned. It's always nice when the dish is also aesthetically pleasing in addition to it being tasty.


Overall, I had an enjoyable afternoon at Trattoria Mercatto with my fellow bloggers. This is a great place to eat when you're in the mood for some tasty Italian comfort food made with fresh ingredients. The staff and owners were all friendly, and attentive. They also have a few communal styled tables so it's very accommodating for larger parties or you could pop in after a long day of shopping. A big thanks to everyone who made the wonderful afternoon of antipasti possible.

Address: 220 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M5B 2H1 (inside of Eaton Centre)
Website:  Trattoria Mercatto and Toronto Eaton Centre
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mercattoTO and https://twitter.com/toeatoncentre

** All photography taken by Mauricio Jose Calero courtesy of Toronto Eaton Centre. **

Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

Trattoria Mercatto on Urbanspoon

Read More »

The Big Chill

0 comments
The Big Chill is a small yet very colorful ice-cream parlor on the corner of Manning Ave & College St. It's situated in Little Italy, and they only take cash. However, there's a BMO right across the street from the ice-cream parlour so that's convenient. They have a decent selection of ice-cream flavors but what caught my eyes was their fresh waffle cones (made to order).

 

The Big Chill offers other kinds of desserts beside ice cream such as cookies, banana split, crepes, ice-cream sandwiches, and sundaes.



 The overall space was bright, colorful, and very reminiscent of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor of the past. 


I ended up getting two scoops of black raspberry cheesecake. I may be petite, but I sure love food and definitely sweets ;) I am not exactly sure of the price but I paid a little under $7.00 for the ice-cream cone ($5.95 for two scoops + tax). The reason for the higher price was due to the hot and fresh waffle cone. I believe that the regular cone or in a cup is substantially cheaper. I am not a huge fan of waffles, but the one from The Big Chill was really good and crispy. 


My SO got one scoop of their coconut ice-cream flavor, which had some coconut shavings. The coconut flavor wasn't very strong but it was still a nice treat if you like coconuts.

Additionally, the service was quick and friendly for the few times that we have been there. Summer is officially over, but the weather has surprisingly been rather lovely last week. Let's hope that it stays that way for a little while longer.

The Big Chill on Urbanspoon

Read More »

Congee Wong

0 comments
 This is going to be an extremely short review as it was a pick-up order for my family. Congee Wong is my family's go-to restaurant for some Chinese food uptown. They offer quick service, consistent food and the prices are good for what you get. It's not amazing by any means, but it sure gets you full as the portions are big. Congee Wong has an extensive menu offering a wide variety of Chinese dishes between $10-20 each. I called for pick-up, and the entire food order was ready in 20 minutes (all packed to go), which was nice. The overall food quality that night was pretty good, and my favorite was the stir-fried lobster with ginger.

 Bean beef rice noodle ($8.25)
 Stir-fried lobster with ginger ($17.50)
 Deep fried wonton ($5.50)
 Spice & pepper salt ($7.50)
 Crab meat and fish maw soup ($11.95)
Seafood chow mein ($10.95)

Address: 10 Ravel Rd, North York, ON M2H 1S8

Congee Wong on Urbanspoon

Read More »

Day #18 in Japan [Hiroshima]

0 comments
 It took less than an hour to get from Okayama Station to Hiroshima Station by JR train. We arrived in Hiroshima around lunch time, and decided to try out okonomiyaki; one of the city's specialties. 

Fri, Dec 27, 2013 (Day #18)

Fukucyann (lunch)

The okonomiyaki in Hiroshima differs from the ones made in Osaka, as the ingredients here are not mixed in with one another. Instead, the ingredients (noodles, egg, beansprouts, cabbage, etc ...) are stacked on top of one another to make the savory pancake-like dish. Located nearby the locker area of JR Hiroshima Station was Fukucyann; they serve various okonomiyaki.

Located conveniently inside of JR Hiroshima Station (upstairs).
The kitchen is opened so you can watch the okonomiyaki being made.
Niku-tama and shrimps okonomiyaki (udon) (¥930).
Oysters okonomiyaki (¥1200).
Hiroshima's Maple-Oop Bus (JR Rail Pass)

 Since we were already at JR Hiroshima Station and holders of the JR Rail Pass; we decided to go to Hiroshima Castle using the Maple-Oop bus. The Maple-Oop bus is a loop bus that runs every half an hour from Hiroshima Station to several tourist destinations in the city of Hiroshima.


The bus can take you to the following tourist spots:
Hiroshima Station (Shinkansen-guchi Entrance)
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum (Shukkeien Garden)
Hiroshima Museum of Art / Hiroshima Castle
Kamiya-cho
Genbaku Dome(A-Bomb Dome)
Peace Memorial Park / Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum
Yokogawa Station
Hiroshima Prefectural Art Musuem (Shukkeien Garden)
Hatchobori
Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art


Cost: ¥200 (adult) per ride or ¥400 for a 1-day pass (unlimited). However, it's FREE if you have a JR Rail Pass. You need to show the pass to the driver when you exit the bus; he will either document the number or take a photo of it for documentation purposes.

Hiroshima Castle


It was raining extremely hard when we left Hiroshima Castle. It pretty much rained into the night, so once again we had to cut our plans short.


Matsuya (dinner)

Due to the heavy rain, it kind of ruined our plans. Additionally, we had a limited amount of data that we can use for the rest of the trip. So we didn't spend our time wandering cluelessly around the city looking for a restaurant. The good thing was that I didn't plan for us to go to any particular restaurant in Hiroshima so no reservation needed to be cancelled. However, one block away from our hotel was Parco Mall which was located in the city center of downtown Hiroshima. We ended up at Maysuya; a set-meal establishment where you order from a machine.




I got myself the pork cutlet meal set (¥580). This was probably the cheapest meal that I ate so far in Japan, but it was pretty filling. I love how affordable some of the hot meals can be compared to Toronto. After dinner, we went back to the hotel and just relaxed after walking a lot in the rain.

Address: 2-3-23, Higashisendamachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima, 730-0053

Read More »