Angostura Bitters

Angostura BittersTime for a quickie superproduct! superpost. Many of us have spotted the mysterious bottle on restaurant bars with the bright, yellow lid, and the badly applied white label. What exactly is it?? Angostura Bitters! And the oversized, badly applied label was a mistake when first manufactured, so they decided to keep doing it.

Anyway, as recommended by the good folks in Aruba, to soothe a troubled tummy, a few drops in some soda water (our go to beverage) was their prescription. Don’t know if it works in that regard, but we do love the taste, a different little kick to our usual soda that isn’t the standard lemon/lime, but still no added sugar/calories.  The first taste was jarring, and I didn’t think I’d like it… same for L I believe, but now we happily shake a few drops in our soda when the mood strikes, and enjoy it very much. There are also lots of different varieties of bitters as well. I’m sure you can find some delicious adult beverages that include this unique ingredient as well… this page: mybestcocktails seems to have quite a few! So get bitter for the holidays!

HI and HI Again

SeaBKsteakAnother long overdue post! So overdue in fact, that we have visited twice now, and I will in fact be heavily referencing the original visit, since I wasn’t able to get to all of the things that I wanted to revisit on round 2. And where is this place that I speak of? Aruba of course, and the Holiday Inn Resort more specifically.

Originally, we did some recon last March/April to check out the “updated” Holiday Inn, and to give an all inclusive a try, with the hopes of maybe bringing all the kiddos with us in the fall. It went so well, that we booked a trip for the seven of us for the fall, right from the hotel room via Skype.

Since this is a food blog, I’ll leave the long hotel description to our TripAdvisor post, and focus on the food/beverage situation.

Where to start! Well, drinks were plentiful, as creative as could be if requested, and more than strong enough.  Banana daquiris and sangria were always great treats, and they always had plenty of Pino Grigio on hand for me, vodka and sodas for L. I was particularly fond of their sangria recipe, as it had lots of bits of fruit, a nice taste of cinnamon, and not too sweet.

The food was more than satisfactory, delicious on the whole in fact, but lets be honest, not gourmet, nor did we need or expect it to be.

Here’s the 411:

Corals Buffet Breakfast: Plentiful, lots of variety, with the highlight being little arepas, as well as shredded beef, which made appearances at most of our AM adventures.

Corals Buffet Dinner: Standard fare, good for families and kids, and they had Bitterballen! Dutch treat of scalding lava meat/gravy balls. *for goodness sakes wait till the damn things cool down before biting!*

Oceanside Bar: Spent quite a few afternoons there, delicious Greek salad with sooooft pita and tasty dressing (this was not on the menu on our fall trip), overly heavy, greasy fish and chips, wings, which I liked, but L wasn’t as keen on, they remind me of the Fried Chicken TV Dinner! Giant chocolate chip cookies, that were okay, but not quite worth the calories/sugar coma, hot dogs and quesadillas also very delicious. Gyro which we tried in the fall: Superb!

Seabreeze Restaurant: Great for lunch or dinner, wonderful open wall restaurant, fantastic service, enjoyed the salmon, steaks, fried chicken, the Aruban Cuban sandwich and many other dishes, all presented beautifully and no real gongs on anything… oops except the tuna tartare, which just had a little too much sesame oil on it. And the desserts! Wow, we don’t usually indulge, but… coconut creme brulee, cheesecake, pineapple carpaccio with ice cream, and who could forget the key lime pie.  Just amazing, and don’t forget to add a delicious espresso to round out the flavours. Special mention to Eddy, he goes above and beyond and we were grateful for his extra assistance when we needed it.

And now the unexpected best for last: Pizza Now! A service at the Seabreeze and Oceanside Bar where you can get a million pizzas (okay, not that many, but L did try to hit that number) brought to you whenever you wanted! Oh the joy of the thin, crispy, hot crust, topped with either a standard assembly from the menu, or design your own. I cannot do the taste of these things justice here. The brilliant bonus for us was the fact that they have big bowls of chili flakes on request, and the spicy deliciousness of this was almost too much to bear. They haunted us from spring until our recent revisit weeks ago, where L recreated the million pizza munch.

So, although the food scene outside the resorts in Aruba is delicious and exciting as we have detailed in a previous post, the Holiday Inn with the all inclusive option proved to be quite rewarding too, and doesn’t stop you from venturing out to your favourite offsite treats for a couple of nights.

Those pizzas aren’t going to eat themselves (though they would if they could!), get to the HI Aruba as soon as you can!

K&L 😀

Two years already??? Absolut(ely)!

2nd AnniversaryHard to believe that it’s been 2 years since superfoodies said: “Let’s Eat!” I mean: “I do”… but there it is… I started plotting our celebration awhile back, and when L mentioned a vague question about what were we going to do, I said I was already on the case! (And that he could have next year exclusively). A good plan, we decided, so that our general nature to surprise each other didn’t result in a clash of events.

Last year was a super fun time at Pravda in Toronto, and I thought it would be easy, fun, to keep up the theme. My plan was to stay home this year, and have a vodka tasting party. And then the choices began… there are so very many vodkas and it was hard to narrow it down to 4, but I managed to choose brands that I thought we would appreciate most, and hadn’t tried before.

Right in the middle of my purchases (which happened over several weeks), L developed a taste for gin… right about the same time that the liquor stores started highlighting the stuff, with big displays!… and interesting, new varieties! Maybe next year… we were committed to our vodka past at this point.

After much research and shopping, I settled on: Pravda (no mistake, a nostalgic nod to year one fun), Chopin, Absolut Elyx, and Russian Standard Platinum. The next step was to make up score cards, since you can’t do a legit tasting without some scoring! After picking up and numbering 4 small carafes and 8 small glasses, my next dilemma was how to get the vodkas into the carafes without me knowing what they were. Kid L to the rescue. She came over and poured, and then wrote up the “vodka key” and stuck it on the basement fridge for us to open when we were finished.

In the meantime, I had shopped for, and then arranged, an awesome charcuterie plate! Meats, cheeses, pickled onions, rye bread, crackers, spicy pickled green beans, olives, asian pear… all of our favourites… which were eagerly consumed during the tasting. I made sure not to look at L’s scorecard and he did the same, so we could have a fair assessment. So how did they all stack up??

1st Place: Pravda, 2nd: Russian Standard Platinum, 3rd: Absolut Elyx and 4th: Chopin. Pravda really was the stand out for sure.

What to do next?? Well, the night was young, many drinks were already consumed, and L was now on clean up crew for all the carafes of poured vodka. Sensing this might be the logical flow after the tasting, I planned for us to make perogies from scratch! A needed and forced break in the imbibing, if you will…

Again I researched, and actually found a vareniki recipe (click here) that sounded very delicious and interesting (note: I did change the filling to potato/cheddar). I sprung the plan on L, and I’m sure that he did NOT see THAT as the next activity, but he sure was happy about it. (we have always said we’d make perogies from scratch) As I started the set up, L continued to scarf the entire rest of the charcuterie platter… and vodka… then he was up, stuffing the dough as I cooked. L is a champion vareniki stuffer, gets waaaay more in than I do! We boiled them and then fried in a whack of butter and onions… yes we did.

They turned out fantastic! Puffier than regular perogies, and as tasty as any I’ve had in a long time. We ate as many as we could, which was considerably less than our usual intake of course, after the giant meat/cheese fest.

It was nice to be home this year, and be able to waddle over to the couch after the remaining vareniki were safely tucked in the refrigerator. What on earth will next year hold??? L… anniversary #3 is in your court 😀

K&L 😀

 

superproducts! sodastream

sodastreamWow, it’s been awhile since a superproduct has been posted so here we go! While this is not a food or drink itself, the sodastream is the creator of fantastic, on tap, low cost soda.  And when we say “soda” we actually mean just plain old, straight up carbonated water.

We were buying, and lugging, and storing, and consuming, and of course disposing of many bottles of soda every week.  Lots of bother, lots of space consumption, lots of waste, and lots of $. I had mentioned picking up one of these slick little units a while back… but L was not particularly enthusiastic, so we just didn’t bother. Eventually though, I pulled the idea out again and by this time, enough hassle had gone on that L was getting downright chipper about the prospect.

sodastreamI did a bit of research and price hunting and ended up buying the Genesis model, as I wanted to be able to use both the large and small bottles. Wow, what an immediate love affair! We just fill the bottles and keep them in the fridge, takes only a few seconds to turn them into our favourite beverage that doesn’t carry and alcohol percentage. We don’t drink from the bottles so we don’t need to wash them every day, and the sodastream itself really requires no maintenance, it doesn’t even require power. The only requirement is to pop in a CO2 cartridge once in awhile, and we get them as an exchange at Home Outfitters, and use a coupon, so the cost is only around $17 or so.

If you happen to like flavoured sodas, they have over 60 to choose from. We don’t drink em, so we can’t comment on the taste, but perhaps one of you good readers could send us any comments you may have from that side of the glass? Pick one up today and get your fizz on…

(To check out all of our superproducts! just click on the “superproducts!” category below)

Up in Smoque!

Smoque ShackAn apt title for this 50th post that brings good food and bad news.  On our recent trip to Ottawa, we visited quite a few exceedingly delicious new (to us) food spots. At the end of the trip, unfortunately, my camera card became corrupted (thank goodness I regularly put my pics on my computer) and while I used free software called ZAR 9 to recover the data, the newest pics did not come back very well, and I had not transferred those yet 😦 . So what this all means is that there will be posts of the adventures, but you may notice the pics are few and a bit funny looking, since I will still include whatever was still there, for better or worse. Now onto the post!

Lets start off with the Smoque Shack, as seen on one of our go to food shows: You Gotta Eat Here. We had been contemplating where to get some good bbq and this place didn’t disappoint.  It was fairly quiet in the restaurant, we were there around 2:30 though and started with some meat filled bloody caesars. Wow! So glad this pic was saved. What a treat, and practically a meal in itself.  L got his usual vacation beverage treat, sangria. Now I should mention that we were supposed to be going to the ever included Alirang for dinner in a few hours, but that didn’t stop us. We’re superfoodies dammit! I have to mention the service was excellent and helpful.  We chose a sharing platter with 3 meats: L chose the pork side ribs, kiddo chose the jerk pork and I wanted the burnt brisket ends.  Tangy coleslaw and fried pickles made up the sides.

The food arrived quickly, and we appreciated the large hand wipes included with the napkins, anticipating how messy we would be at the end of the feast. Portions weren’t bad, could have had more ribs of course, and we all gravitated to one of the meats, and surprisingly not the ones we chose, so no fights broke out over the last piece of pork. Having limited experience with bbq restaurants, but lots with food in general of course, I (and the others) thought the food was great. One recommendation vs. a criticism though, would be to substitute the mini cibatta buns with some type of biscuit that is a little more appropriate to the bbq experience. While cibatta is delicious, it was a bit small and out of place.  In one of the messed up pics below, you can just see the part of the big plate of meats and one of the buns.

That’s the Smoque Shack… thumbs up on the food and service, but down on the malfunction with the pictures!  We have now decided to double up on the blog pics between L and I when we are going to do a post to avoid this problem in the future. I guess this just means we will have to make a return visit to click more pics and Smoque again.  And now below: the pics as they were partially recovered.

K&L 😀
The Smoque Shack on Urbanspoon

Superfoodies celebrate “schmaltzy” first wedding anniversary!

Cakeface2013Wow a year has flown by since superfoodies’ wedding last June 1st! So the question of how to celebrate was unexpectedly upon us.  I would have been content with a fabulous dinner on the home front with a special wine selection, but we decided to go a bit bigger than that, and why not?  After some brief discussion, we decided to head back to a place we had stumbled upon on an earlier trip to Toronto and make a night of it.  A reservation at Pravda Vodka House for June 1st was booked. Vodka, perogies and A LOT of red Russian decor was the order of the night. As was rain…ugh… just like last year.

First stop in Toronto however, was a rushed visit to the St. Lawrence Market, since we were running late and it was going to close soon (which means the stands start putting away stock and closing up). It is not open Sundays, so going on our way out of town was not an option.  We grabbed a big tub of cilantro pesto, some sea bass and some veal chops plus a few other interesting odds and ends.  Before leaving, we quickly shared a delicious lobster roll and fries from Buster’s Sea Cove, then stuffed all the perishables into our portable electric cooler and checked into the hotel.

Onto Pravda! Made it there with only a half hearted attack by the rain.  A warm greeting and a short walk to a comfortable table near the street side window, and we were ready for our vodka number one… of many… I won’t go into all of the specifics, but bacon and cucumber vodkas were among the crowd. We shared a tasty charcuterie board and ahi tuna with perogies. All hit the spot (good flavour, well presented) and went well with the various vodkas.  A nice change from our usual wine accompaniments.

A highlight I would like to mention though, was the exceptional service.  They struck a perfect balance of engagement and leaving us to ourselves. I don’t think our glasses were ever empty.  They gave us a little tasty bite to sample when we had our first drink (trout tartare on a cracker with beluga lentils and crispy trout skin).  Surprisingly good when stuffed in all at once, and a lovely glass of champagne at the end to celebrate our anniversary.  I really recommend this place for an overall enjoyable experience.

Pravda Vodka Bar on Urbanspoon
Which brings us to “shmaltz”? “schmaltz”? I know there are other variations of the spelling and meaning, as I had a look around the internets on this one.  We had 2 kinds on the weekend: some sappy love stuff and of course some delicious chicken fat, as delivered by Caplanski’s Deli! Toronto’s answer to Schwartz’s in Montreal.

With some lasting effects from the previous night’s beverages, we were anxious to get some solid, meaty, fatty foods into us… and to finally see if we had a great smoked meat sandwich closer than 5 hours away in Montreal. Place was busy, but no wait, excellent service also.  Had regular smoked meat sandwich, fries, a smoked meat knish (first time trying, wow what a rich, gravy laden treat), slaw (agreeably one of the best ones that L and I have ever tried) and lots of pickles!!! Absolutely great! It deserves it’s reputation.  However, we felt that the regular smoked meat was just lacking a bit under Schwartz’s.  So after cleaning our plates, we ordered one more sandwich, full fat.  That was the ticket! On par with Schwartz’s, just needed the extra level of fat when at Caplanski’s.  They make a mean caesar too or two 🙂 hair of the dog works almost every time. We will definitely be going back there.


Caplansky's Delicatessen on Urbanspoon
So that’s our year one celebration! Oh and of course L recreated “cake face” when he happily defrosted the piece of year old wedding cake that had been hastily thrown in the freezer.  Same face… same taste.  Now lets see where year two takes us.

K&L 😀

We couldn’t bypass the Heart Attack Grill!

Nurse Brianna Heart Attack GrillFinally, here is our post about the heavily anticipated visit to the Heart Attack Grill. We wanted to get there fairly early into the trip so that we wouldn’t run out of time and miss it, so we set out by cab to Fremont Street, located in the older area of Vegas (cab cost close to $30, would have been smarter to have figured out public transit!)

There it was in front of us! The huge entrance, the massive scale out front, broadcasting your weight to everyone if you dared to step up! (of course L did… and he wants it noted that he had heavy things in his pockets).  It would also verify the weight of anyone claiming to be over 350 lbs, who then gets to eat for free.

On to the inside, where we were immediately given our hospital gowns before entering.  Comfortable and lets be honest, keeps your clothes food free! I have no idea why anyone would put up a fuss about putting one on, if you are going to a theme restaurant, be willing to play along! We were seated, and noted that it was quite spacious, with lots of TVs playing great music and music videos (if you like music from the 70s, 80s, etc… which we do!), and very bright and basic. Brianna, our nurse for the visit, came to take our order: had to have a vanilla butterfat vodka milkshake and a glass of wine for backup, as well as 2 single bypass burgers and one order of fries cooked in lard of course.  She was engaging, informative, and accommodating of our requests for pictures etc., oh and a great server too!

Our drinks arrived, the shake was fantastic! Very rich and lots of flavour including being able to taste the vodka through all that frozen goodness. Love the old style metal blender shake container that it was served in as well. Might I add that the glass of wine was large, no skimping on the portions! The food followed very quickly after.  The burgers were some of the most slippery, greasy, delicious burgers we have had outside of what we make at home (not many restaurant burgers win against ours).  The bun was wide, the picture on the menu doesn’t do it justice and the patty was a good size and it included 5 pieces of bacon.  Standard toppings round it out. We were incredibly pleased with the taste.  The fries I found, as I have read in other reviews, to be a bit limp, but L was still loving them, much more than I was.  I’ll call the fries a draw. Also during our visit, we got to see how the nurses treat birthday boys, which was to put them over a chair and hit them with a very large wooden paddle, as hard as they could, about 3 times.  You could hear the bat crack throughout the restaurant with every smack, this is definitely not just for show, these girls mean business!

We left about 1/3 of the shake, it was more than enough for us to share, the wine of course was completely consumed. Also left unfinished was half a burger for each of us.  We had to make the call: go all the way and stuff ourselves silly, or quit while we still felt good and have the rest to enjoy later… we took option 2. So off we went with our future snack in hand. L weighed himself on the way out… a 2 pound increase, seems like we had enough to eat! It was a fun time, with basic, but tasty food and some interesting things to see and hear.  I would recommend a visit there, but only if you have a sense of humour and you aren’t expecting the place to be something it doesn’t claim to be.  And grab a 5XL souvenir shirt before you go as well, it costs the same as the other sizes available, but will be more comfortable to wear in case you decide to tackle bigger portions than we did!

K&L 😀
Heart Attack Grill on Urbanspoon

Wastin’ Away

Margaritaville Vegasin Margaritaville! Our first Vegas post since it was the first place we ate… mostly because it was across the street, we were tired, and figured why not??? So it was time to put our new ideas about how to eat on vacation to the test. Our strategy was to split dishes/drinks, leave things that weren’t delicious, or should be delicious, and were sub par, and generally not eat if we weren’t hungry. That being said, we ordered one Havanas and Bananas frozen drink (banana, baileys, rum, coconut etc.), one crab corn chowder and one cuban sandwich with fries.  Oh and a glass of wine of course.  The drink, was divine, partly because we don’t usually indulge in those types of sugary concoctions and partly because it was just damn delicious.  We finished that no problem, it wasn’t terribly large.  Then onto the soup, also quite good, not 5 star quality, but tasty none the less, it didn’t stand much of a chance. Finally the cuban sandwich. Quite standard and did the job, but not one we would rave over.  The fries, well, they were underdone, not hot enough, and a little limp.  We managed to do the right thing and eat a few and then wait (as patiently as possible) for the rest to be removed from the table before old habits kicked in and they started to disappear one by one.

I would call our first exercise in restrained eating a success.  We had enough, we had things we wanted and we did not eat what wasn’t worth the calories.  I would recommend Margaritaville mostly for the name, but the food, and I say this of course with limited knowledge, I would only rate as passable.  I will add that the service was good.  All in all a happy start to the trip. Stay tuned for the rest of the Vegas posts, they are on their way as soon as I can write them!

K&L 😀
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville (Flamingo) on Urbanspoon

Havanna Banana MargaritavilleCrab Corn Chowder Cuban Sandwich

What happens at Rama stays at Rama

…mostly…except for this post! So we said we gotta get out more and that’s what we did.  After seeing Seinfeld on Friday night in Toronto (he was GREAT, hilarious from start to finish, see his show if you get a chance) we stumbled across a vodka bar, downtown while searching for a quick post show drink.  If you are a fan of the product, check out Pravda. Interesting decor, and the knowledgeable servers will set you up with something interesting to try if you feel adventurous.  I particularly enjoyed the Reyka and will likely pick some up as a change from Ketel One.

Now onto Casino Rama times! The next night we had tickets to see Amanda Marshall. As is becoming tradition, we booked to go to St. Germain’s restaurant in the casino. We usually like to book early, but could only get a table for 7:30 with the show starting at 9.  I thought it would be cutting it close and it turns out I was unfortunately right. Anyway, we were seated at our now favourite table: 46, which is in a corner and provides a bit more privacy than the other tables seem to.  When our waiter arrived, we realized it was Michael, who had served us the last time we were there. He assures us that next time, he will remember us!

St. Germain's FoodWe mostly had our choices planned out, as we are always watching what we eat now, but that doesn’t mean it has to be plain and uninteresting! We ordered the scallops and lobster bisque to start.  Scallop dish was different than last time, but WOW still just as delicious and surprisingly, they were sitting on a thick slab of double smoked bacon.  They were just as soft and perfectly cooked as the last time.  The bisque was also a treat. So rich tasting and not something we have often, so another rewarding choice.  We were also enjoying a bottle of Amarone wine… always an excellent selection to compliment fabulous food. After that we had ordered prime rib (with just vegetables, no starch), but as I mentioned, time was getting tight and the food arrived about 10 minutes before show time, so we wolfed it! Not the most comfortable way to eat a full dinner, but superfoodies persevered. I was however wearing a new white blazer and well, splashing meat is not your friend in such times.

Amanda Marshall at Casino RamaWe raced off to the show, she did start slightly late luckily for us, and she was spectacular! One of the best shows I have seen and her voice is beyond compare… I can’t do it justice, you will just have to go and see her if you ever get the chance! After the show we had some beverages with friends and after they left, I saw the mane of hair that gives her away instantly… Amanda Marshall was just relaxing in the lounge, and stayed there the whole evening.  We were lucky to get a pic with her (I was very excited to be able to say hello and how much we enjoyed the show!) Also enjoyed “a few” beverages and an interesting chat with drummer Al and pal Gary. What a fantastic night! And of course the rest of the night stays between superfoodies and Rama!

K&L 😀

The Buttertini is REAL!

ButtertiniOkay, so while we were enjoying Little K’s reactions on fear factor food night awhile back, we had some leftover lemon garlic butter from the lobster… and what better than to combine delicious buttery goodness with another favourite treat: alcohol!  So that’s exactly what we did… after googling to see if anyone else had beaten us to the weirdness 🙂 .  Turns out I could find no other internet indication of it’s existence (that didn’t involve butterSCOTCH) so onward we went. Used the butter remnants which, as mentioned, had lovely fresh squeezed lemon and fresh garlic in the mix, and combined it with Ketel One Vodka… the smoothest vodka I know (save your Grey Goose pleadings, I am a Ketel One convert! But use whatever high quality vodka is your preference.)

Mix a 1/2 to 3/4 ounce of the butter mixture, and again, the ratio of lemon, butter and garlic is up to your taste, with 1 to 1.5 ounces of vodka, which needs to be warm room temp if not a little warmer to keep the butter in a melted form.  No crushed ice in the shaker for this drink! Just shake well and pour! I would definitely serve it with some shrimp, crab or lobster for a tasty side of the glass accent to nibble while you consume. Hopefully you’ve stopped thinking “ew” by now and will give it a try… we dare ya!

K&L 😀