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 😀

When a truck and superfoodies collide…

Urban Smoke Eat St.What an exciting day for superfoodies!  Turns out one of our favourite shows, Eat St., was filming in superfoodies’ land today! The truck: Urban Smoke Fusion BBQ woo hoo! As you may know from previous posts, we have put some tasty BBQ joints to the test, so always great to get another chance to taste a different interpretation of one of our favourite meat treats.

Unfortunately L could not be with me for this, so I had to go it alone.  Of course he was missed, but I persevered for the sake of the blog. I arrived early to see what was going on and how things are set up.  Fun to have an idea about how a show that you watch all the time is actually put together and filmed.  Host James Cunningham was not there 😦 and of course I remembered that he does his always funny intros, and then the actual truck scenes commence.

I finally get into the longish lineup and after awhile, as I inched towards the coveted front of the line, I had to lean over to the filming crew and tell them about our passion for food, our travel around food, based on Food Network shows, and obviously the fact that we blog it too. I was asked if I really had a blog 🙂 so I handed over our superfoodies card. And I was in! Yay! Very excited to get to do this since it is a pretty big hobby of ours. I signed the release form with a hand shaking with anticipation, and then I got to order.

A Dirty Bob (“with attitude”, for those who like it spicier) was my request.  This bad boy is a Grilled Beef Brisket sandwich on Texas toast with Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms and onions. Yes.  Have to put that brisket to the test.  Came with a side, so went with the now traditional coleslaw that we usually choose, though it could have also been fries or beans, nice selection. $10 gets you a decent portion which I happily collected at the window, ensconced in it’s very secure, environmentally friendly, dome (the sandwich, not the window!).  I walked over to the filming area and kept it sealed until it was time for the camera to roll.

Got a quick, interesting run down on how it works (look at the interviewer, NOT the camera) and describe with enthusiasm, of course, what you have and how it tastes!  So I opened the container to find a crunchy, buttery looking sandwich and a good portion of vinegar based (not mayo thank goodness) coleslaw.  Let the biting begin! MMmmm yes, crunchy bread, medium sliced brisket, the toppings did not overwhelm the meat (good call Urban Smoke) and smokey enough.  Only would have put a little more “attitude” on it if I could have.  We do like things a little over the top spicy. The coleslaw was perfect, very fresh and LOVE the addition of celery seed.

I discovered eating and chewing and speaking, with a camera very close to the mouth zone that these things are happening in, is first, a study in self consciousness… that was immediately overshadowed by a need to get all my words out and have fun! And I did have fun, and a new experience AND some damn tasty food 🙂 Really appreciate getting to be a part of it. Very big day for a true superfoodie.

So half of Dirty Bob and some slaw made it home for L to sample, as I regaled him with my excitement of the day, which he also enjoyed thoroughly, while holding our Eat St. street sign that he had made for our house last Christmas…yes, we are fans!

Thumbs up Eat St. and Urban Smoke… from the next Food Network star??? LOL a superfoodie can dream………………………

K&L 😀

Bao Down to Banh Mi Boys

Banh Mi BoysWe took a trip to The Big Smoke (aka Toronto) recently to catch the Pat Benatar concert (excellent we might add!), which also resulted in us having the good fortune to be right in the vicinity of another Food Network’s “You Gotta Eat Here” establishments: Banh Mi Boys Sandwich Shop!

We’ve never had a banh mi, or bao for that matter, so as a morning after feed, why not opt for something new and interesting? Okay, well, sometimes the answer to trying new stuff is definitely a big fat “NO”… as hollered from the night before’s excessive drinks, that you have no choice but to obey in the harsh light of day. This day though, yes, new and interesting squeaked in, barely.

Off L went to procure, and as is tradition, I waited for the tasty (hopefully), new surprises to arrive.  As usual, since we often make deliberate, informed choices about where we eat, the food did not disappoint.  So, we tried 2 steamed bao buns, one with pulled pork and one with beef cheeks.  As a great added bonus, L decided that we had to have the kimchi fries!  Definitely appreciated from a morning point of view.

So, the official opinions on the food are: the two bao, good, but I would have liked the buns to be warm, they were quite cool, like they had come out of a fridge, and they were fairly small, so maybe a third would have been enough. The fillings though, were rich and tasty, and the consistency of the bite of the bao was soft and yet substantial.  The kimchi fries however, were (almost) perfection! Well cooked, just the right amount of crunch and skin left on them, the toppings were fantastic: kimchi, pulled pork, and mayo. The only note, if there is one, is L was asked about spice level, I’m not sure what part of the order they were referring to, the fries or the buns, but after indicating we wanted SPICY, none of it was particularly hot. If we were home, we would have remedied that on our own, but it was still much enjoyed and we would go back. Would definitely go for a banh mi sandwich next time, and would always include a re acquaintance with the kimchi fries. You can’t miss ’em if you don’t try ’em.

K&L 😀
Banh Mi Boys on Urbanspoon

Can Teddy’s Bear the Competition?

Teddys Restaurant & DeliAs is mostly a loosely established tradition now, when we reach each thousand click milestone (the more you click, the more we eat by the way!), we celebrate with some tasty adventure… and it usually involves food in bags, ferried home like treasure. Nine thousand wasn’t any different when we hit up Teddy’s Restaurant & Deli to put their smoked meat to the test against Schwartz’s and Caplanski’s. We ordered two sandwiches, full fat!, as we have learned this is our preferred experience with this particular treat (extra fat is always better flavour than too little, so we stay on the safe side). Also part of the package was a straight up salad with their memorable house dressing that I really wanted L to try, since it was so garlicky and delicious as I recalled. He had not been to Teddy’s since he was a teenager and it had been some time since I had been as well… as they have that lack of beverage licencing that I so appreciate.

Food home, unwrapped and in hand, it looked great… and different.  The smoked meat was much more thinly sliced than any of the others that we had tried elsewhere.  Big bites taken… wow! Really rich and flavourful, and the thinner slicing made it easier to bite without tearing out more than you want. Big thumbs up, and then the realization that we have fabulous smoked meat sandwiches available locally… any time we want them… even when we shouldn’t be eating them, if you get the drift of the problem 🙂 Onto the salad: good, standard salad, but it was the dressing that was to be the star.  Unfortunately it lacked something, maybe the old garlic level, I don’t know. L really liked the bits of cheese in it though and enjoyed it more than I did, since he wasn’t making the same comparison that I was. Still good of course, but not something I would now go out of my way to have again soon.  But the smoked meat… well, that one is still unfortunately? fortunately? a taste that will keep us going back for that full fat.

K&L 😀
Teddy's Restaurant & Deli on Urbanspoon

This Lobster (suprisingly) Rocks!

McLobsterThrowing in a quick post from today before getting back to the last post from Ottawa, since we just HAD to sample this time limited product: the McLobster! We have had lobster rolls in Salem at the Lobster Shanty, and Buster’s Sea Cove at the St. Lawrence Market, and of course they are high quality tasty treats, so we tried to keep an open mind about trying the McLobster from McDonalds.

One little bag in hand that cost over $7, we rushed home and carefully evaluated the packaging, to the product itself, before the taste test.  Cute, very small, lopsided filling, basically what you’d expect, including the contrast of the sandwich that you get vs. the picture used for advertising it, of course.

Now onto the taste: it was GOOD.  For what it is, there was a decent amount of lobster, the bun had the wonderful sugary quality that most McD buns have, the sauce was not over done or over powering, and the bits of green onion were a nice touch. We then debated how many we could each consume, since they are not very filling.  I went with at least 6, L couldn’t peg any number except “a disturbing amount”, knowing that we will never actually find out, nor do we want to. So two claws up from superfoodies if you want to try something a little different in fast food land.

K&L 😀

May the Schwartz be with you!

Schwartz's DeliWe recently made an excursion to Montreal to see L’s other kiddo in his natural habitat (since he always heads our way. Well, at least since I’ve known him!) and naturally in the course of a visit, one must eat, so we decided to hit up a legend in the smoked meat world: Schwartz’s! (when in Montreal, eat Montreal smoked meat… it’s a no brainer, though hometown Montrealer and vegetarian kid had never partaken before, and decided it was time to take the plunge and try a bit. That’s the power of the Schwartz!) We made our way there on a Saturday just before noon and stood behind a few people outside (it was a beautiful day… finally!) waiting to get in.  I was kind of surprised, as this place is the place to visit. Where were the masses I expected to see??? Is this place not all it’s cracked up to be?

So about 10 minutes later at the most we were led into the very small and very full restaurant, sporting decor that would support the claim of 80 years in business. Plain, not modern, but clean, and gets the job done of serving people well, and fast. As our table had 6 seats (most did) another couple was tagged onto the end, unexpected, but that’s how it works there, they fill every last seat and it isn’t designed for the leisurely or those who need their “space”.  Server arrived with pad, pen and waited for someone to say something! My mouth opened, but I didn’t know what to order, I just knew there were terms for what to get and I had forgotten what they were.  During the awkward pause he asked us if it was our first time. YES!!!! So he explained that you order a sandwich lean, medium or fatty and that medium was most popular.  You also had to have the black cherry soda (kiddos did, we had our usual soda soda haha) and of course had to have the fresh cut fries… and he told us we were getting a pickle… and a coleslaw! It was funny to be told what we were ordering, but that’s part of the pageantry I think.

Food arrived fairly quickly and looked delicious (FYI there is no spicy mustard, just mustard. What would you want to screw it up with spicy mustard for, which I wanted to, but now understand why they don’t carry it.)  Now I have had lots of pastrami and smoked meat sandwiches in my day, but truly nothing compares to this meat.  It was rich and flavourful and, well, greasy isn’t the word, but it has a fatty taste (a good one!) that makes you instantly realize that the stuff you’ve eaten your entire life is now going to taste like crap! And what needs to be said about fresh cut fries, they are a wonderful treat as always and attempting to fool yourself into thinking you will just split an order is really just a big unnecessary lie that will only last until the plate is approximately half empty. One more order please. Pickle: top notch. Coleslaw: good, but was not the star of their menu.

Devouring took very little time, and we left feeling happy to have made it to another food adventure on our list, full of deliciousness…. AND GRATEFUL WE SHOWED UP WHEN WE DID! Now there were the masses I was expecting to see, waiting outside, saying with their eyes: hey, another table just opened up! Only 45 more minutes to wait now! The early superfoodie catches the smoked meat!

K&L 😀
Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

Subway Hackers

LSubwayHackThere is a very interesting site (to superfoodies at least) on the interwebs called Ikea Hackers, where people take Ikea products, and do really cool, interesting, functional things to the original products. Brilliant stuff for sure!

So, in addition to our delicious exploratory food expeditions and culinary adventures, is our post workout staple: the Subway sub… cue the angelic music! What… not interesting enough?? sounds like the wrong thing to be eating?? Not the case!  It turns out to be a fast, yummy, calorically and nutritionally viable choice for us when we are done with the gym, if you pay attention to what you put on it of course. 

The bread is great for our carb intake, but cheese? Forget it, it has no taste from Subway… just a caloric fee for no flavour (sorry, that’s just the facts, and if you can taste their cheese buried amidst what you are probably eating on your sub, any standard meat sub, please correct me.) Meat choice is usually, but not limited to roast beef, and for L it is triple meat, which seems to CONFOUND most employees. We don’t know why.  Single is 3 slices soooooo triple, NINE! Easy math. There seems to be equal difficulty in how to charge for that particular request as well, every time/location, it varies. No sauces are added, just our choice of veggie compliments and some green olive slices for me and home we go.

This is where the “hack” comes in.  We have a massive arsenal of sauces and toppings that are all healthy and calorically friendly.  Once home, L makes 2 over easy eggs and adds them on top along with any combo of a hot sauce, or a Thai green chili mix that I make, some fresh green onions, cilantro and often some kimchi that we now make here… in mass quantities… since our restaurant that we used to get it from closed We have since perfected a very tasty, low sugar version of it.

I know it may not sound terribly brilliant, but for a reasonably healthy meal, that you can track the calories and nutrition of, try it yourself. Skip the cheese and sauces/dressings (mustard and  hot sauce excepted of course, no problem with those) and take your oblong treasure home and add the things you love from your own kitchen (that may even include a cheese that counts, a cheese with substance! Like a blue, some feta, a nice old cheddar, you get the idea) and enjoy! Food that you bring home from takeout can always be made even more delicious when you put your own spin and taste on it! Happy Hacking food lovers!

K&L 😀

MMMMilestones!

Sinatras VealAnd we don’t mean the restaurant! We decided when we hit 5000 views/clicks we would indulge in either an old favourite we hadn’t had in awhile, or a new place we had been meaning to get to.  Oldest kiddo got a gleam in her eye when she heard this, and she was instantly instructed to not artificially inflate our numbers (though the unspoken offer of acceleration was appealing haha).

A couple of weeks ago we hit that number! (… as always, thanks for viewing!). We had already written the names of the places on pieces of paper, folded them up, and put them in a tupperware bowl, awaiting the draw.  L got to choose… well, he held the container and my younger kiddo plucked one out… which was quickly unfolded, and the winner was: SINATRAS!!!! a small Italian sandwich shop making a classic veal sandwich that we had not tried, but had heard a lot about.

L made a trip there while I waited at home.  I gave some input as to what I was looking for, but since he was picking it up, he had the final say. I will add that I was pretty sure what would be his input.  He returned with a sandwich-filled heavy brown bag full of delicious promise.  As I suspected, although the sandwich is already a monster, he still got double meat, and also had every topping available added as well.  I wanted an order of the spicy olives and they did not disappoint: firm, with a light oil and perfect level of spice.  Will be going back for those at the very least. He also got the soup of the day, pasta fagioli, which was good, but not the highlight.

So onto the sandwich.  It was huge and delicious, the veal was quite tender, the toppings were tasty, the only thing we would do if ordered again was get more sauce on it, but it wasn’t a deal breaker. We will Sinatras again another day, but not for awhile… it is a heavy hitting sandwich that needs pacing on it’s consumption intervals.  The name did not go back in the container, the rest still await, and we will draw again when we hit 6000 so click away 🙂 and of course “try the veal!”

K&L 😀
Sinatra's Italian Sandwiches 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