Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Blu Kitchen Bar

Menu: A little bit of 'big city prejudice' is going to show through in this post. This place is trying very hard to be a high end restaurant but the 'cutting edge' menu has become standard fare in the restaurant industry. This would be fine if the quality of the food was up to par but the food was bland, greasy, and unappealing visually. The beer and hard liquor selection is very 'bottom shelf' and I found it difficult to find something I wanted to drink

Vegetarian Options: A few salads, a wrap, a few pasta dishes. Nothing inspired.

Quality: I wasn't too impressed with the food here.

Cost: A touch expensive given the taste but not too bad. Drink and food specials. 

Service: This restaurant was extremely well staffed and the service was pleasant, friendly and fast.

Atmosphere: Besides the annoying loud club music, the atmosphere at Blue is pleasant. The dominate colours are dark brown/black and silver. The lounge side of the restaurant has several bar style tables and deep circular booths. It's clean and well lit with several large televisions that seem perfect for watching hockey games. The atmosphere (combined with the service) is the primary reason that I would return.

Blu Kitchen Bar
1630 Park Avenue

Blü Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: The Magic Bean

Located in small, aggressively friendly Carberry, this little coffee shop is the perfect anecdote to big city living. It serves all the standard cafe fair (espresso/cappuccino/steamer) but the staff seems genuinely friendly and helpful, especially to older customers. The locals come out in force to consume soup and sandwich lunches and to engage in the traditional small town gossip. The decor is a mix-match of styles but because they had a comfy couch and armchair in which to read I didn't mind. 

There are two big grievances I have with this coffee shop. To get to the washroom you have to walk by the kitchen, through the office, and past a storage room. Then to add insult to injury the washroom ceiling isn't completely closed in but at least they had a low-flow toilet. The other issue is more serious as the milk for any steamed milk beverages is stored in the fridge, taken out to be steamed and placed back in the fridge while still hot to be re-steamed for another beverage. This seems gross and unsanitary as well as resulting in a watery beverage. 

While not a must-visit, The Magic Bean is a nice place to meet friends for lunch, or to stop for a coffee while on the way through town. 

The Magic Bean
48 Main Street, Carberry Mb
8:30-4:30 Monday - Friday

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: Wok Box

Menu: Order and pay at the counter, take a seat and your food will magically (and quickly) arrive in front of you. Drinks are serve yourself. This is a fast food system but efficient.  

Vegetarian Options: All the main dishes can be made with tofu which results in this restaurant being very vegetarian friendly.

Quality: I've ordered many dishes but cannot distinguish their flavour from each other. This is not to say that the food is bad, it's just not memorable. I do like the multiple choices of noodle available.   

Cost: Affordable. The cost is consistent with the quality and the food is okay which makes Wok Box a nice place to go for a quick meal in Brandon. 

Service: The food arrives very quickly and is always piping hot. 

Atmosphere: Standard Family restaurant

Favourite Item: None.

Wok Box, 930 D 18th St

Wok Box on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Sushi Hut

Menu: I've only had the All-You-Can-Eat option. Using a grease pencil, you mark off what type and quantity of dishes you want to order. They do charge for uneaten food but you can order as often as you want and I doubt they would charge if you ordered one portion of a dish and didn't enjoy it for some reason so this policy is not an issue. 

Vegetarian Options: Quite a few. Ask the staff if you are unsure of what comes in a roll.  

Quality: Food is always fresh. A tip off quality raw ingredients is the state of the avocado served. At this restaurant the avocados always perfectly ripe - never under ripe or overripe.

Cost: I find the cost of this AYCE to be slightly high but the experience is pleasant and the food good so I will return on occasion.  

Service: Friendly and Fast. I have been to this restaurant at various times of day and week and wouldn't return on Friday or Saturday night as this is when they are busiest and the food arrives slowly (but still hot and delicious). I would go for lunch as the all you can eat is cheaper during that time and the service is very attentive and the food arrives quickly.  

Atmosphere: Kitschy interior but always clean. A portion of the kitchen is visible to the dining room so you can watch the chefs prepare certain dishes. Bathrooms could use a good update, but they are clean and functional.  

Clientèle: Every time I've been to this restaurant I've been witness to some extreme, unnecessary and ridiculous customer behaviour ranging from the benign but annoying (rubbing chopsticks together) to the outright rude (yelling at the waitress as they assume she doesn't speak English). Please note: No one made you go to a sushi restaurant, so if you are racist, please stay home.    

Favourite items: Mango Avocado Roll, Avocado Roll, Broccoli Tempura, Veggie Pizza, Edamame 

Sushi Hut, 2728 Victoria Ave

Sushi Hut on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 21, 2014

Flavoring Kombucha: Working with the Strong Flavour of Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented food so there are health benefits reaped from consuming it but kombucha has a strong vinegary taste that can be quite unpleasant for some people. The key to overcoming the strong flavor of kombucha is to work with it and not attempt to mask it. This means leaving delicate flavorings like grapefruit, lemon grass and mint to homemade soda recipes and focusing on stronger flavors like ginger and blueberries. Flavoring home brewed kombucha is as simple as combining brewed kombucha with flavor ingredients and letting it sit for a few days.

There are few other, slightly more interesting and complex ways to flavour kombucha that works with the vinegary taste of plain kombucha rather than fighting it.

Shrubs, or drinking vinegars, are flavoured vinegars used as ingredients in mixed drinks and cocktails. Shrubs are easily prepared at home as they merely are a combination of fruit, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. This mixture is shaken daily then stained after a week or so. As shrubs are frequently made with apple cider vinegar (a common descriptor of kombucha) they make an excellent addition to kombucha. I simply pour a little bit of shrub over ice, then top off with unflavoured kombucha.

If you brew your own kombucha you'll have two (or ten) extra SCOBYs floating around your kitchen. The next concept for working with the strong flavours of kombucha is coffee kombucha. Coffee kombucha is insanely easy to make (drop an extra SCOBY in cooled, sweetened coffee and wait) but it's flavour is very difficult to explain. It smells strongly of coffee but has a lessened coffee flavour. Its flavour is reminiscent of sweetened regular coffee while simultaneously being tart and having a slightly fermented flavour. Coffee kombucha definitely works with the flavour of kombucha to create an interesting drink but one that may not suite everyone's tastes.

Do you like the strong flavour of k
ombucha or do you prefer to mask it with complimentary strong flavours?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eating the Web: Gardening

This edition of 'Eating the Web' is pure gardening motivation. I'm really bad at gardening - as I have a tendency to kill everything I try to grow. Here are my garden goals for last year. I'm unsure of my garden plans for this year - what with the upcoming move to Brandon, Manitoba!

1. Send a Seed Filled Card: I've been really getting into snail mail lately and have joined several snail mail writing clubs (If you are interested, check out my hobby blog), so I love this amazing card idea!

2. 12 Easy Vegetables to Grow: Did I mention that I'm horrible at growing things? Maybe I should start with some of these easy vegetables. 

3. Seedy Zine: Do you need some growing related motivation? Check out this zine (available online for free here). ps. I'm a contributor! 

4. Citrus Recipes? Summer not quiet here but craving a bit of sunshine in your life? Take advantage of year round citrus. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Eating the Web: Brandon, Manitoba

When I moved to Ottawa to complete my MA in philosophy I did very little research. I knew where the school was and that's pretty much it. I've spent some time in Brandon in the recent years so I have a basic understanding of the town but I've also done a lot of research in recent days. Here are some of my favourite blogs and organizations from the Brandon/Winnipeg area. 

1. Oh So Lovely Vintage: I've been following this blog for a while now. This cute vintage blog is associated with a vintage/thrift shop in Winnipeg called Rhymes with Orange, which I have yet to visit. The vibe of the blog is cute, positive, and happy. 

2. Chicks and Peas: This food blog has absolutely beautiful food photography. The girls that run this blog are creating a wonderful, responsible food community in Winnipeg.   

3. Ramble and Feast: Another Winnipeg part journal/part food blog with an amazing, positive and motivational vibe.

4. Fruit Share: (The Brandon version of Toronto's Not Far From the Tree) I've already signed up to volunteer!

5. The Quill: I've been catching up on Brandon University issues by reading articles on The Quill. The recent SUDS (Student Union Drinking Spot) referendum has been interesting to say the least.      

6. Beer Crank: The very existence of this beer blog makes me happy.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Eating the Web: Maple Syrup, Alphabet Soup, and Self-care

1. My homesteading dreams loom on the horizon and making my own maple syrup is high on the 'dream list'. Check out Punk Domestics maple syrup round up here. 

2. I baked up a few slices of 'toast' the other day. They are super cute and I'll have to add some jam and glaze to finish them up!

3. One of my favorite food themed podcasts is back (after a 4 month hiatus) and better than ever. Alphabet Soup Podcast

4. It appears that I'm headed to Brandon University for more #graduateschooltorture. I've been reading up on the town and the University pub. I'm eagerly awaiting the referendum in reference to the University pub - the proposed levy is $10 per student which is VERY high. Fingers crossed they vote no! Check out the article here.

5. There's still time to submit to the food themed self-care zine I'm co-editing! Details

Monday, March 10, 2014

Paper Love: Recipe Box Perpetual Calendar

Have you seen those cute daily calendar/scrapbook things on pinterest? I loved them when I first spotted them but did not start one as my daily life isn't that exciting. I made one for my sister though and she's been filling in random days with small pieces of daily life (after all it won't matter in 10 years if every day is filled in or not!)

Then I saw an expensive five year calander aimed at cooks - with space to write down what they made or ate that day. I immediately went home and began filling out dates on bundles of index cards and my vintage recipe card box was the perfect home for my perpetual calendar!    


The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight. And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here

Majo Bautista / Tona Bell Louise Best Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Beka Buckley / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly Jenny D'Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood Amelia Woodbridge

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Feburary Favorites

Favorite Flavor: Kimchi
Favorite Food Book: The Organic Grower
Inspired by: The Country Grind
Drinking: Ginger Beer
Energized by: Punk Domestics
Fermenting: Beets
Researching: Homesteading
Writing: Monthly Minis