Friday, September 30, 2011


My boyfriend recently moved to London, Ontario to start law school and one of the few things making me feel better about him being in a different city is the thought of all the new restaurants to discover. After doing some review-combing on (you guessed it!) good sushi restaurants, we discovered O"zen, an adorable little japanese-korean fusion restaurant on the main downtown strip last week.

The restaurant itself is cozy (read: packed every time we passed it) with cool decor and the menu had an impressive assortment of standard and specialty rolls, appies and korean dishes.

We weren't starving when we visited, so we each grabbed an avocado salad ($3.95) with "signature O"zen dressing" - a great sweet and tangy japanese-style vinaigrette - and a couple rolls. My spicy tuna with avocado ($5.50) - while sadly unphotographed - came with an amazing spicy mayo (yes, I always order extra on the side) that had a similar spicy-sweet essence to the salad dressing. As a proud spicy-mayo connoisseur, I have to say it was one of the best I've had (HUGE deal). 

Glav had the black dragon roll ($13), which was barbecue eel and avocado on top of a dynamite roll (not an eel fan, didn't even try it) and I ordered the rocket roll ($12, pictured above), a masterpiece of spicy salmon, cream cheese, avocado and tempura bits topped with torched salmon, sweet onion and drizzled in spicy sauce. While I'm not usually big on salmon sashimi, everything here worked perfectly and again, the sauce brought it all together in the most divine way (need to find out what's in that stuff!) The torched salmon on top gave it a slightly smokey hint and the sweet onions were sliced thinly enough to impart just a touch of their flavour. Mmm.

In summary, we may have hit the jackpot for our favourite London sushi spot on first try. In fact, I'm visiting this weekend to experience the debauchery that is Western Homecoming, and if I'm presentable enough at any point in the weekend to be eating at a restaurant, I just might hit up O"zen for round two - no promises though. 

607 Richmond Street
London, Ontario
(519) 642-2558

Thursday, September 29, 2011

big fat burrito.

Sunday was a beautiful day, and by noon my best friend/housemate and I found ourselves wandering the ever-bumpin-on-weekends Kensington market. While the street performers and jewellery stalls were tempting, Big Fat Burrito was more so as we hadn't had time for breakfast before leaping out the door into the sunlight. Drawing consistent crowds since its 2005 opening, Big Fat Burrito is famous among Kensingtonians for dishing up big, fat, cheap and fresh burritos to the masses from their corner shack on Augusta. As a major 'rrito fan, it was shocking that in my years in the city I'd never been.

I immediately loved the price, and the fact that all the toppings on the right were included (hate places that try to charge you extra for the good stuff, like guac or sour cream - like it would be an option to have a burrito without guac or sour cream!) I chose the yam burrito, topped it up with everything and asked for both the burrito sauce -a garlicky mayo- and sour cream (too much sauce? I think not.)

 Gabbs' yam burrito was decidedly drier (read: she has more restraint) and prettier than mine, which was a downright sauce-y mess...

...But we do know that sometimes the messiest meals are the most delicious. The sweet yams contrasted wonderfully with the garlic mayo -much like a sauce you'd dip yam fries in- the rest of the veggies were fresh and crunchy and the size and poundage did not disappoint. When I go again, I'll up the spice factor, as I chose medium but could have definitely handled spicier. Nonetheless, I left the joint perfectly full and with a lot less spare change in my purse (yes, I was actually able to pay with spare change floating around in the bottom of my bag - the joy!) Next time you're in Kensington, grab a burrito at this place, if you haven't beat me to it - which you likely have.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

strawberries, brown sugar, sour cream.

If you're lucky enough to still have a few local strawberries kicking around (which we do in Ontario!) then make this before it's too late.

Strawberries, sour cream and brown sugar. The most effortless of dessert efforts (or snack or breakfast efforts... it's your life!) Something my nana used to make for my mom when she was a little girl. Three ingredients. Four simple steps.

1) Dip.

2) Roll.

3) Eat.

4) Repeat!

PS. Not sure about the sour cream thing? Don't substitute it with whipped cream or anything sweet. The brown sugar offsets the tanginess of the sour cream in the most wonderful way when combined with the juicy berry (and would be too sweet with anything less tart.) Trust!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Chances are you've never heard of Gjetost, and if you're wondering whether or not you've tried it, chances are you haven't. This is definitely not a flavour to be easily forgotten. I was introduced to this Norwegian goat cheese a few months ago at a friend's grandparents' summer home. We'd been driving up to Hornby Island for a weekend of camping and beaching and got very lost along the way - thus, we had to spend a night at her grandparents' place up-island (the laughs about just pitching a tent in the backyard and calling it a weekend were endless.) In the morning, they served toast, fruit and porridge to fuel us for the journey ahead, along with a thin slice of this strange cheese. 

"We tried it last night at our neighbour's place and loved it so much they gave us a hunk. It's a goat cheese but it tastes just like candy," her grandmother informed us as we sat, poised to pop this cheese in our mouths. My initial thought was that "candy" was a strange way to describe a cheese's flavour. Two seconds later, I realized just how spot-on her description was. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

the eatery.

For any sushi lover that lives in or near Vancouver, The Eatery is a holy, holy place. I mean, I recently made a journey across the ocean from Victoria to eat there, thinly veiled as a "shopping trip" (I bought one top.)

I don't even know where to begin with The Eatery. The decor is kooky and eye-catching enough that if you're on a bad date you'll barely need to converse, the ambience is casual-fun with a student crowd and DJs spinning on weekend nights, the drinks are delicious and the sushi is crazy creative (and cheap!) HOW DOES THIS PLACE EXIST?

Anyways, before I get scarily excited here, I'll cut to the food. I don't know who is responsible for dreaming up some of the ridiculous creations this place spits out, but I like them. Bacon, prosciutto, papaya, fried chicken or tempura banana in your roll, anyone? (Not altogether, obviously... I'm not that insane.) While these ingredients might seem a little out-there, they're always put together in a way that works, and there are tons of options for the tamer sushi-lover, too.

We ordered an outrageous amount of sushi during our last visit to the mainland, and took almost as many pictures.

Monday, September 12, 2011

eggs benny à la lockie.

I'll confess. I'm pretty sure I'm not a "Sunday Person." 

I know that that lovely little day is supposed to make me want to take my dogs on long walks through parks, sip seasonally-flavored lattes and smile and laugh and "catch up" with friends, but by the time Sunday rolls around, more often than not I'm lacking pep in my step. Maybe it's because whatever wonderful weekend I've just had is drawing to a close, or perhaps it has to do with the number of alcoholic beverages I've usually consumed the night before, but generally my mood is less than desirable.

Last Sunday, however, I opened my blinds to beautiful weather and my bedroom door to the heavenly smell of buttery onions and tarragon wafting from downstairs of my family home and knew it was going to be a good one.

My father cooks only on occasion, and when he does, it's sure to be magnificent. Having attended French cooking classes led by a Cordon Bleu trained chef in Vancouver a number of years ago, most of his recipes are indulgently French, sauce-y (read: amazing) and perfected to a T. His eggs benedict with sauce béarnaise is no exception.

Similar in a lot of ways to hollandaise sauce (but, I think, better!) my dad's béarnaise uses a reduction of green onions, parsley, tarragon wine vinegar and other delicious stuff to give it an extra flavour kick, while still retaining the artery-clogging goodness that comes from the typical hollandaise base of clarified butter and egg yolks. It is heaven on earth. Serve on a late weekend morning with fresh squeezed orange juice, and your worries (or Sunday blues) will disappear almost as quickly as the masterpiece on your plate. 

poolside pasta.

Some of the best meals, luckily for those of us who don't love to spend hours in the kitchen, are the simple ones prepared with good ingredients. The Spaghetti Aglio e Olio my mom regularly cooks (from the Barefoot Contessa cookbook How Easy Is That? that I recently purchased for myself!) is one of the above. A bit of garlic, good olive oil, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, parsley and freshly grated parmesan and you have yourself a pasta that feels straight-outta-Italy in it's "I'm not trying hard but I still taste amazing" vibe. Don't mistake the simple preparation for simple flavour; meek, this pasta is not.

My parents recently had family friends over and served this poolside on a warm summer night. Our friend Sally brought a gorgeous salad of grilled seasonal veggies (heirloom tomatoes so sweet and flavourful I finally understood why they're classified as a fruit!) with balsamic, feta and paprika-dusted crème fraîche to complete the perfect al fresco meal - light, effortless, divine. Obviously, don't forget the wine!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio recipe can be found here!

mutsuki-an and my ninety-four-year-old nan.

Mutsuki-An is an adorable little sushi restaurant perfectly placed smack-dab in the middle of my 'hood that serves some of the freshest sushi I've tried on the island. While they don't get crazy with their rolls (and there's no tempura on the menu! my poor arteries!) the quality-for-price of their seafood is unmatched, as far as I'm concerned, I love the staff, and the experience feels very "authentic" to me, like sushi you'd actually find in Japan.

My nana is an adorable (and brave!) little 94-year-old who had never before tried sushi.

Let the precious photos begin... (hint: watch for a spicy california roll being cut with a knife and fork).

capellini with shrimp and creamy tomato sauce.

While I've been crazy about good food for as long as I've been eating, I just recently started to put an effort into cooking (maybe when I came to the sad realization that eating out for every single meal while living on my own in Toronto wasn't an option unless I was planning on camping in McDs.) I don't have a lot of time to cook, but I'm obviously not going to waste that precious time making crap to mindlessly shovel in my mouth in front of the t.v.

Enter this pasta recipe that my boyfriend and I discovered while browsing the ten-minute-mains on (thank god for ten-minute-mains good enough for gourmet to put its name behind!)

Over time we've tweaked it perfectly to our liking by tripling the garlic (it was a little bland for me with the dose the original recipe calls for, just don't sit too close to me) and using canned, fire-roasted tomatoes for a bit more of a complex flavor. 

Recently, I jazzed it up a bit for my parents with fresh basil and shaved parmesan for a simple al fresco meal. My dad, who's currently attempting a "diet" and initially requested a miniscule portion could be seen scraping the empty pan it was cooked in with a spoon and proclaiming that had he been served the exact same dish at the Union Square Cafe in New York, he would be thrilled silly.

For those who don't know my father and his love for that restaurant, this is a huge compliment. Make this!

summer nibbles.

One of the first things that comes to mind for me when I think of summer, obviously, is food. Sadly, my dreaded bikini and the beaches/docks I plan to wear it on come second to the glorious meals that my tastebuds associate with the warmer months. 

Local melt-in-your-mouth berries and sweet, sunshine-yellow corn that comes at the end of August, almost as an antidote to the inevitable summer wind-down; burgers with ripe avocados, chipotle mayo and caramelized onions served poolside with my dad's old fashioned chocolate milkshakes; fresh prawns caught and barbecued on the back of our boat in Desolation Sound... I could go on, but who wants to read about good food when there are pictures to drool over? Here's a little sampling of what I've been munching on these past few months. Grab a bib. 

a salad of roasted local nectarines, gorgonzola and a simple honey vinaigrette.

heirloom tomato gratinee.

ahi grade sashimi marinated in soy, sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds for a quick DIY donburi bowl.

roasted chicken with mango, shallots, toasted cashews and a creamy peanut dressing over spring greens.

white spot monty mushroom burgers. if you live in B.C. or ever visit and have yet to taste this west coast chain of restaurant's heavenly burgers... please, please do.

al fresco appies with a view.

local berries at their seasonal peak.

mmm mmm mmm!