Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Santa got run over by a reindeer?!

No. But he did encounter some unexpected turbulence on his long flight from Vancouver.

This chocolate art sculpture by Thomas Haas (my favorite chocolatier!) was a belated Christmas gift from my good friend Liz. Despite a valiant effort from Liz to keep Santa safe during his flight, he still sustained several injuries along the way.

Poor Santa. But nothing I couldn't fix with some melted chocolate and a tube of white icing.

Well, I'm happy to say that Santa and his chocolate house have been restored to their former glory :)

Happy New Year!


Monday, December 21, 2009

The best kind of gifts are the ones you can eat...

I got a wonderful surprise in the mail last week, a container of homemade fudge, sent by my friend Erin and lovingly made by her mother-in-law, Lois:

I have to admit I was skeptical at first when Erin told me about her mother-in-law's famous fudge. I'd never really been a fan of fudge before, all the varieties I've tried have either been too sweet or artificial tasting. But Lois' fudge, which she's been making for the last 30 years, was melt-in-your-mouth AMAZING, especially the white almond flavor. So good in fact that I was forced to ration out the remaining pieces so we wouldn't devour it all in one sitting (and so hubby and I wouldn't fight over it).

The next day I called Erin and pleaded her to get the recipe from her mother-in-law...

Lois' Famous White Almond Fudge
(makes 3 lbs)
3 cups sugar
3/4 cups butter (margarine will also work but butter is better, see note*)
2/3 cup or 6oz evaporated milk
1 12oz package of white (vanilla) chips
1 7oz jar marshmallow cream
1 cup sliced almonds, crushed (see note**)
1 scant Tbsp almond extract

Combine sugar, butter and evaporated milk in 2 ½ qt saucepan. Bring to a FULL ROLLING BOIL stirring constantly. Continue boiling and stirring for a full 5 minutes over medium heat. Use a timer, don’t guess. Remove from heat and stir in chips until completely melted. Add marshmallow cream, nuts and almond extract. Pour into a buttered 9x13 pan (I like to use glass pans). Cool at room temperature. I like to cut the pieces just before they are completely cooled but don’t try to remove them until they are completely cooled.

Phyllis' notes:
*I detected a hint of salt in Lois' fudge so I used salted butter
**I substituted chopped slivered almonds because they were all I could find in our local supermarket (try shopping for baking supplies the day before a blizzard hits the Northeast). But I really loved the results using the skinless almonds, it gave the fudge a lovely milky white color throughout:

Perfect for the holidays...

Thank you to Erin and her husband Dan for sending us the fudge (and for not eating it all before it could make it to the post office).

And a special thanks to Lois for sharing her easy and fabulous recipe.

Thank you so much for thinking of us :)


Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Raining Bulgogi

Have you seen
Ninja Assassin yet? This movie is NOT for the faint of heart, possibly the most violent movie I've ever seen, with buckets of blood and severed body parts flying everywhere. Gratuitous violence is not typically my thing, but I owed hubby Kris a movie after I forced him to watch New Moon (the 2nd movie in the Twilight series) with me last week.

While the plot kinda sucked and the supporting actors were really annoying, I found myself completely captivated by the lead actor, Korean R&B/pop mega-star
Rain (in his first starring role in an American movie). Although his lines were minimal and consisted mostly of 5-words-or-less sentences, I couldn't ignore his magnetic on-screen presence, although hubby would argue that I was just mesmerized by his sexy abs (hubba hubba). Seriously, Rain's body is SICK in this movie (I'm talkin' zero percent body fat, people!)

I guess I must've been living under a rock or something because prior to watching Ninja Assassin, I'd never even heard of Rain, who apparently is one of the biggest stars in Asia. He's also a frequent player on the
Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world - currently ranked #9, right below the Pope!

Over the past few years, Rain's been involved in a heated 'rivalry' with his Time 100 arch-nemesis, political satirist/comedian
Stephen Colbert. Check out the Colbert/Rain rivalry in this hilarious video from Comedy Central (be sure to stick around till the end of the clip for a dramatic 'Dance Off' between Rain and Colbert):

The Colbert Report
Stephen vs. Rain
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor

So wait a minute, isn't this blog normally about food? Hold on, I'm getting to it...

A couple days ago I had a sudden craving for
bulgogi so I decided to make it for dinner that night. I haven't made bulgogi at home in a very long time, so of course hubby got a little suspicious and accused me of craving Korean food only because I had "Rain on the brain". LOL! Guilty as charged :)

(Ninja Assassin-style, inspired by Rain)


4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/3rd cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp brown sugar
Juice from 1/2 of an Asian pear, grated
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 red onion**, roughly chopped

1 - 1 1/2 lbs thinly sliced ribeye steak***
2 tsp vegetable oil
splash of Coca-cola****
cornstarch slurry, 1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp of cold water (optional)*****


Puree marinade ingredients till smooth in a food processor or blender.******

Place sliced ribeye into a gallon-sized ziploc bag and pour marinade over. Tighly seal bag and lightly 'massage' the marinade into the meat. Marinate for at least 4 hours, refrigerated, flipping the bag over half way through the marinating time.

Drain excess marinade from ribeye. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet/frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir fry for 3- 5 minutes till meat is is almost cooked through and edges start to caramelize a bit (if your pan isn't large enough, fry in two batches to avoid over crowding, you don't want to end up boiling the meat).

When meat is almost cooked, throw in a splash of coca-cola for some extra sweetness and flavor and let simmer for a minute.

If using the cornstarch slurry, add now and simmer for another minute.

Serve immediately, over white rice. Or make a bulgogi lettuce wrap with Boston lettuce, white rice, and a dab of Asian chili sauce (
kochujang, sriracha, or chili garlic sauce).


*this is not meant to be an authentic version of bulgogi, just a yummy one :)
**traditional bulgogi recipes usually use green onions/scallions but I find sometimes that gives the bulgogi an grassy unappetizing flavor so I use red onions instead
***I buy razor-thin frozen slices of ribeye at my Asian food market, if you can't find it pre-sliced, freeze your steak for 10 minutes to make it easier to slice thinly
****I just happened to have coca-cola around so I thought "Why not?!" Actually this isn't really that strange because I've seen people marinate their meat in 7-up or cola before!
*****totally non-traditional, but I like to thicken and shine up my sauce a bit with cornstarch, but you can leave the sauce thin and it'll still be delicious
******I puree the marinade because I hate having garlic or onion chunks in the finished product


Monday, October 26, 2009

NYC: The High Line & The New Amsterdam Market

The High Line

Have you checked out the
High Line yet? This cool elevated city park (30 feet above ground), located in NYC between 10th & 11 Avenues, was formerly used as a freight railroad till 1980.

Section one (b/t Gansevoort & 20th streets) has been open to the public since June 2009, with plans to extend the park all the way up to 34th street.

You can still view the train tracks in between the plants and the wildflowers:

10th Avenue Square, a wooden amphitheater with a view of 10th Avenue traffic (and a giant billboard of Posh & Becks in their skivvies):

The River That Flows Both Ways" by artist Spencer Finch, 700 colored glass panes inspired by the Hudson River (located in the Chelsea Market Passage, where the High Line cuts through a building in Chelsea Market):

But my real reason for visiting that day was to try the cinnamon sugar donuts at the newly opened
Craft Sweets on the Highline, located in Chelsea Market Passage (do I ever go anywhere unless it's food related?!):

"It tastes a little dry", grumbled hubby Kris. "Sorry, honey, did you say something?" Wasn't going to let grumpy gus ruin my mood as I stared out at the Hudson River on a gorgeous fall day, perfectly content while sipping my hot apple cider and munching my donut...

The High Line

Section 1 (Gansevoort Street to 20th Street)
Open from 7am to 10pm daily
Street access from:
Gansevoort Street
14th Street (Elevator under construction - not yet open.)
16th Street (elevator access)
18th Street
20th Street

New Amsterdam Market (Oct 25th 2009)

"Reinvented for our present time and needs, New Amsterdam Market will incubate a new and growing business sector: purveyors who source food directly from farmers and producers whom they trust to be good stewards of our land and waters. Centered in this Region - once called New Netherland - New Amsterdam Market will foster a renewed appreciation for our natural environment and its ongoing potential to nourish. And as true of public markets, New Amsterdam Market will be accessible to all, striving to diminish the economic, social, and educational impediments to sound nutrition."

- from the New Amsterdam Market

The New Amsterdam market is currently operating as a monthly outdoor event in South Street Seaport, next to the old Fulton Fish Market. Yesterday's event ran from 11am to 4pm and we arrived around noon to a crazy jam-packed market. While I tend to enjoy the energy of a bustling market, hubby found it way too chaotic. Luckily, I convinced him to stay by bribing him with some gelato from The Bent Spoon:
Roasted pumpkin cocoa nib ice cream (YUM!):

Next up, a sandwich from
Porchetta, filled with roasted pork (complete with crackling pork skin):
We loved the flavor and tenderness of the meat, you could really taste the seasoning and herbs. However, hubby didn't love the overly crusty bread and the hardness of the pork skin (Kris said he almost broke his teeth when he inadvertently bit down too hard; but as a pork skin lover, I actually enjoyed gnawing the heck out of it).

After the sandwich we found ourselves craving something sweet, but instead came across some tempting savory pastries at
We just couldn't resist the visual appeal of the potato, leek & cheese pie, especially the vibrant contrast between the pickled onions and the yellow mustard:
Tasty and filling but I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was warmed up. Kris disagreed, saying it was perfect at room temperature.

We also stopped to chat with the friendly folks of
Stone Barns after noticing that they sell hard-to-find leaf lard:

Leaf lard, rendered from the fat which surrounds a pig's kidney, is considered the finest lard for baking because of its neutral taste. Stone Barn's product is made from their pasture-grazed Berkshire pigs. I was really tempted to buy some and bake the perfect pie crust with it, but ended up walking away empty handed (didn't want to carry around a pound of lard in my purse during a unseasonably warm day).

And check out the line up for lobster rolls at Luke's Lobster:

New Amsterdam Market
South Street, between Beekman Street and Peck Slip
On the East River waterfront in Lower Manhattan
11:00am to 4:00pm

Future 2009 market dates:
Nov 22nd, Dec 20th


Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Wanna Pisa Me? Wise Guy Burger at Red Robin

The limited time only Wise Guy Burger at
Red Robin. Savory seasoned burger, spicy pepperoni, zesty marinara, cheesy mozzarella sticks, and tangy banana peppers…how could I resist?

Hubby Kris tried the limited time only Chicken Caprese burger, charbroiled chicken breast, balsamic-marinated tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, romaine lettuce, and pesto aioli on ciabatta bread:

My parents split a Sauteed 'Shroom Burger (mushrooms, swiss cheese, garlic parmesan butter):

Signature ‘bottomless' steak fries accompanied every burger. Check out this giant mutant fry:

And a visit to Red Robin is not complete without an order of Towering Onion Rings (oink!):

You wanna pisa this? The Wise Guy Burger and the Chicken Caprese Burger are available at all U.S.
Red Robin locations until November 8, 2009.
(Canadian locations are not offering these specialty burgers at this time)


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chocolate Honey Cakes from Bee Desserts!

A couple weeks ago, Heavenly Housewife sent me a link about these tempting chocolate covered honey cakes. So I swung by Bee Desserts (located inside La Palette restaurant in NYC's Greenwich Village) before meeting friends for dinner on Friday night.

Bee Desserts' chocolate honey cakes are handmade from a family recipe, contain no preservatives and are baked with honey instead of white sugar - YUM!

So lovingly packaged:

The smell of sweet honey seduces you as carefully unwrap the golden parcel:

Moist, cakey, with a mild honey flavor (and literally gone in two bites):

Hubby Kris says they're like a gourmet Ring Ding (or Ding Dong) with the flavor of a Honeymaid graham cracker. Can't wait to try the marshmallow and liqueur versions :)

Bee Desserts
94 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10001



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Poutine-Palooza Part 1: Festival de la Poutine 2009, Drummondville QC

"Fact: Poutine is from Drummondville, a pee stop town just between Montreal and Quebec City. - http://www.festivaldelapoutine.com/"

This comment was left a couple months ago by an anonymous reader on my post on
12 Poutines in 12 Days (Vancouver Poutine Showdown).

A festival devoted entirely to poutine?! Where can I sign up?

The 2nd annual
Festival de la Poutine was taking place on September 4th & 5th in Drummondville, Quebec and would be featuring 6 different 'poutiniers' (4 local restaurants, 1 invited guest chef from Sherbrooke, and 1 famous poutinier from Montreal).

I immediately started pestering hubby to take me on a road trip to Montreal over Labor Day weekend, with a stop in Drummondville for the Festival de la Poutine, of course!

Would we survive a 7 hour drive each way? And could we eat that many poutines in one day?

(Sept 4th and 5th, 2009, Woodyatt Park, Drummondville, QC)

Before we left for our trip, I'd done some research on the regional differences of poutine. Unlike the more savory light brown gravy commonly found in Montreal (and other parts of Canada), poutine sauce in Drummondville is sweeter from the addition of tomato sauce. To get familiarized with this sweeter style gravy, we made a pit stop at the famed
Le Roy Jucep restaurant, "L'inventeur de la poutine", to try their signature 'L'authentique' poutine (more details about our visit below).

We arrived at beautiful Woodyatt Park on Friday Sept 4th just after the festival gates opened at 4pm. When we stopped by the press booth to say hello to Amira, the festival's press officer, we were both given press badges to wear :) Hubby and I felt pretty smug as we walked around with our fancy badges, but they really just gave us exclusive access to the VIP concert seating area which we didn't even notice till we were leaving. Most of the locals seemed to be there for the entertainment (concerts starting later in the evening featuring Quebec artists Daniel Bélanger, The Lost Fingers, and many other local bands).

We made a bee line straight for the poutine stands...

1. Restaurant Du Boulevard

small poutine (petit régulière):

The gravy was a reddish orange and kind of looked like ketchup, sweet and super tomato-y, tiny bits of carrot pieces, well seasoned, not too salty. Generous amount of fresh squeaky cheese curds (this is Drummondville, after all). The fries were a little soggy, but overall this was a delicious poutine.

Restaurant Du Boulevard
1645 boulevard Lemire
Drummondville, QC J2C 5A5
(819) 472-2122

Restaurant Auguste

reversed poutine (poutine inversée):

Featuring official guest chef of the second annual Festival de la Poutine, Danny St-Pierre, who was introducing his 'reversed poutine', cute little potato croquettes filled with melted cheese curds and gravy. Kris said it reminded him of Burger King's cheesy tots. Tasty, but we still prefer poutine the original way.

Here's a video showing how the poutine inversée is made (featuring Chef Danny St-Pierre):

Restaurant Auguste
82 Wellington North
Sherbrooke, QC J1H 5B8
(819) 565-9559


3. Fromagerie Lemaire

small poutine (petit régulière):

Fromaerie Lemaire, a family run cheese factory, offers warm freshly made cheese curds (right out of the basin) at their two locations daily. After we got a chance to taste their delicious fresh cheese curds at the St-Cyrille location, we had high expectations for their poutine. And it did not disappoint, crispy fries which tasted so good I could have sworn they were fried in beef fat (nope, they're fried in vegetable oil). The gravy was initially a bit salty but became addictive as I kept eating, especially as the flavor soaked into the fries. Not really sweet, but carrot-y, with a hint of onion and celery (mirapoix flavor). And gigantic fresh squeaky cheese curds! (More on our visit to Fromagerie LeMaire below)

Fromagerie Lemaire
2 locations:
2095 Route 122
St-Cyrille (Quebec) J1Z 1B9
(819) 478-0601

182 Industrial Blvd
(exit 170, Highway 20)
St-Germain (Québec) J0C 1K0
(819) 395-5327


4. Chez Louis Poulet et Pizza

I was almost tempted to try the poutine aux doigts, the first time I'd seen poutine with chicken fingers on top! You couldn't help but notice the giant banner announcing "Goûtez à notre toute novelle poutine aux doights!" which means "Try our new poutine with fingers!" (notice the actual human fingers with the scissors in the photo):

We ended up sticking with the regular poutine (small poutine/petit régulière). The crinkly fries were a bit dense and not really crispy enough. The sauce was a translucent orange color, reminding me of Roy Rogers barbecue sauce. Interesting flavor but I tend to like the milder poutine sauces sans barbecue spices. Cheese curds were generous and squeaky fresh:

Chez Louis Poulet et Pizza
2815 boulevard Lemire
Drummondville, QC J2B 8E7, Canada
(819) 474-3494


5. Horace Poutine

small poutine (petit ordinaire):

The staff at Horace Poutine get the prize for the coolest uniforms, complete with tall white chef toques. Unfortunately, my order of fries was slightly undercooked and the gravy had a bit of a strange aftertaste (again with the barbecue spices?) But the cheese curds were still super fresh and squeaky.

Horace Poutine
1000 110e Avenue
Drummondville, QC J2B 7T9
(819) 478-2516


6. La Banquise

small poutine (régulière classique):

The self-proclaimed 'la meilleur poutine aux Québec' (the best poutine in Quebec) and the only Montreal poutinier at this year's festival. Have to admit I was a little disappointed. Fries were pretty good, nicely browned and crispy in parts, gravy was decent (savory without tomato), but the cheese curds weren't super squeaky or as fresh as the others we'd tried that day. Perhaps they'd been refrigerated or previously frozen? (gasp!) To be fair, La Banquise did have the disadvantage of having to schlep their stuff 100 km from Montreal, so maybe some of the quality suffered during the trip. I'll definitely give them another shot on my next visit to Montreal, would love to try some of their 25 varieties of poutine.

La Banquise
994 Rue Rachel E
Montreal, QC H2J 2J3
(514) 525-2415


Overall, our favorite poutine of the festival was Fromagerie LeMaire, closely followed by Restaurant Du Boulevard.

But none of them could top the poutine we had at Le Roy Jucep!

Le Roy Jucep

A visit to Drummondville is not complete without stopping at Le Roy Jucep to try their famous poutine and an orange jucep (a frothy orange juice similar to an Orange Julius with less vanilla flavor, described on the menu as 'mousseux et savoureux' or 'sparkling foamy and tasty'). The original owner of the restaurant, Jean-Paul Roy, claims to be the original inventor of poutine. We realized how proud Drummondville residents are of Le Roy Jucep and Jean-Paul Roy's contribution to Canadian cuisine after we received several appreciative honks from passing cars as we posed for photos in front of the restaurant!

We ordered the L'authentique (the original poutine) and 2 orange juceps. After reading so much about the tomato based gravy, I was surprised to see that their sauce was brown just like the poutines I'd had in the past. But the difference was in the taste - wonderfully sweet amd tomato-y, making me nostalgic for spaghetti-os. Hubby said it reminded him of cream of tomato soup, which he loves. The cheese curds were very fresh and squeaky, with a lovely mild creamy flavor.

After asking our friendly waitress where they sourced their delicious cheese curds, the current owner, Daniel Leblanc, came out carrying a sack of fresh curds to show us. "See the milk inside? That's the sign of freshness!" They get shipments daily from a local fromagerie and keep the curds at room temperature for the ultimate squeakiness. Le Roy Jucep's poutine was better than any of the poutines we had at the festival and one of the best we've ever had! And I couldn't leave without buying a souvenir t-shirt:

Le Roy Jucep
1050 Boulevard St-Joseph
Drummondville, QC J2C 2C6
(819) 478-4848

Fromagerie Lemaire

We also were lucky enough to taste some freshly made cheese curds at Fromagerie Lemaire (one of the participants at this year's poutine festival) in nearby St. Cyrille. You can get freshly made cheese curds every afternoon at both locations of this family run cheese factory. Fresh curds, straight from the bin:

We purchased the smallest sized bag of cheese curds to try for $3, but while we were tucked into a booth enjoying the squeaky goodness, we noticed that most customers were buying several bags of the largest size!

Look at the size of this cheese curd compared to my thumb:

Fromagerie Lemaire
2 locations:
2095 Route 122
St-Cyrille (Quebec) J1Z 1B9
(819) 478-0601

182 Industrial Blvd
(exit 170, Highway 20)
St-Germain (Québec) J0C 1K0
(819) 395-5327


We had a fabulous time in Drummondville and at the 2nd Annual Festival de la Poutine! Thank you all the wonderful people of Drummondville for making us feel so welcome (even when I butchered all my French pronunciations!)

After consuming 7 poutines in one day, you'd think we're finally done with poutine, right?! Au contraire, this was only Part I of Poutine-Palooza. Stay tuned for Part II: Poutine Crawl in Montreal! (Et oui, nous avons mangé le foie gras poutine à APDC!!)

2010 update: After procrastinating for several months (bad blogger, bad!), have decided to save Part II until after our next trip to Montreal .