Tea Shops Review 1

4 06 2010

Today I started doing what I’ve always needed to do but kept running out of time on: finding a place that sells good Earl Grey tea.

Ever since buying that really expensive earl grey at Afternoon Tea in Japan (about $2/bag), I’ve been craving superb earl grey here in Canada. But considering I know nothing about tea and I don’t do that thermometer and timer thing, I can only fumble my way through this all tea sampling thing. Regardless! I tried the earl grey from two shops with a friend today and here is my review!

Tealish:
50g bag for $5.50, free of tax (or included) and staples (staple-less stapler for the receipts).

Great scent, better than the Tetley crap you get at supermarkets but a bit… impure. It smells like there’s something else mixed in with the earl grey, a faint whiff of something that resembles preserved Chinese plum fruit thingers. The tag says the base is a Chinese black tea and has blue mallow blossoms and yellow sunflower blossoms as highlights.

Taste-wise, it’s okay. You can’t really taste (what I think is) the bergamot and there’s no bitter tea taste (that I actually really love). But it’s not bad for the price. Comes in a silver reseal-able bag with a label that describes the tea and some steeping instructions.

The Red Tea Box:
1 pot for $8.75, sit down tea. 2oz. bag for $12, paper bag then wrapped again in plastic. 1oz. tin for $9 (or something).

Because this had a sit down place we chose to have a pot instead of buying more leaves that’ll take me years to finish if I didn’t particularly like it. The smell again, was nice, and purer than Tealish. Leaves look to be pure tea (no flowers) and all they could tell me was that it’s a normal Ceylon for the base. The tea was just as bland but with more bitterness to it. I’m not too crazy about this one either.

The good thing is, they had some nice sandwiches in their Mad Hatter Sandwich Set ($25). The set included an Indian spiced chicken sandwich with avocado and romaine lettuce (I think, I’m not into lettuces) on raisin bread, chicken wellingtons with curry potatoes on it, carrot cake with berries on top, scones, banana bread, and.. some other cake/bread thing.

The amount was decent for the price but still a little pricey for afternoon munchies. The scones were definitely too sweet for the tea they served but it may just be me. Tea is served with milk and honey and tiny shortbread cookie squares. Decor is lovely but the dishes, utensils etc are very mismatched and confused.

Verdict:
Buy tea at Tealish if they have what you need, at least in terms of earl grey. But that’s not set in stone until I actually try the teas side by side one day. Go to The Red Tea Box for some dainty but filling munchies in the afternoon and don’t panic when you’re getting out of the bathroom (read the unlocking instructions under the knob).

I know the lack of pictures makes this a boring review but I didn’t think to bring my camera today so maybe next time.

Shops found through this, feel free to suggest others.





Cooking Chinese: Fried Rice

27 03 2010

So this is super long over due. If not for the fact that I’m in hermit mode AND bored out of my mind I’d still be putting this off.

This is how I like to make my fried rice. It turns out golden (yellow) and smells delicious. You can cook this up in bulk and store it for a couple of days as you slowly eat through it, perfect for students! It even has all the food groups in it! =)

Ingredients:
1) Veggies that aren’t liquidy like tomatoes – I used celery, mushroom, and a bag of mixed veggies from the Green Giant which contained green beans, corn, carrots and peas.
2) Meat – I always use bacon for the smoky flavour it has. Other stuff I use depending on what I bought would be ham, cured turkey leg, Italian sausages, and the like. I don’t recommend any other uncooked meat other than bacon because it’s annoying to cook.
3) Cooked rice
4) Eggs – enough to coat your rice in
5) oil, black pepper, salt etc.

*The amount really varies depending on your preference. Guestimate the ratios you’d like to consume everything in and you’ll be fine.

And now:
1) Chop up your veggies and meat into cube or square shapes (bacon cannot be cubed). You can see that I didn’t do that for the mushrooms because they shrink. And I forgot. But they’re soft so it’s okay.

2) Fry all your veggies and meat, separately. I cooked the bacon first, took it out then in went the mushrooms. Then the celery, which are undercooked because I was starving. If you’re using frozen ones like I am, boil them and count that as cooked. Once everything is done, set them aside and deal with the rice.
3) Beat a couple of eggs and smush it all into the rice, yolk and all. It’s what makes the fried rice ‘golden’. Make sure you have enough eggs in it that your rice has no more white parts, but not too many that it’s.. gooey.

4) Then, fry the rice until the egg looks cooked and dump all your veggies in.

5) Stir around and put in all the things you want, like copious amounts of black pepper, the reason there’s lots of black dots in my fried rice. I don’t put a lot of salt in because the cured meats and bacon are all really salty and I usually use this as an upgraded version of plain rice. Plain rice isn’t salted so why should this be?

All Done! Yum! This is really simple and really fast. Also gets rid of bacon that you can’t consume fast enough if you’re living on your own. =D





Finally, Failday Report

22 01 2010

Okay, so after almost a week of procrastination I’m going to post about my last Saturday…

The day started out lovely, all sunny and stuff, making me really reluctant to do anything other than lying in puddles of sunlight and nap, but alas, I was determined to get a lot done despite the one day weekend this time.

I was browsing some blogs and they were talking about making cute pencil cases out of felt and wool and general cuteness out of a handmade product made for an etsy store. So I thought it’d be a good idea to make some, but first I needed a doodle book to doodle my ideas. That’s when my day started to go down hill. Instead of BUYING a sketchbook or finding some scrap paper like a normal person, I had the brilliant idea to MAKE my sketchbook.

Let’s all from my stupidity now and never have that as the reason to start making a book from scratch okay? You’ll hate yourself, and me.

It started well, with me grabbing some of the free computer paper my cousin didn’t want anymore and prepping it by getting rid of the holey things on the side.

Now fold in half and cut. I don’t have a paper trimmer so I’m doing this the hard way, with a craft knife using a ruler as guide.

Now fold those half pieces in half again.

Now put a couple of these folded things inside one another consecutively. I put 4 of them inside one another for this book. Each of these little things are called a signature by the way.

Now measure the signatures on their spine and divide it into 5 parts, at ratios of approximately 1:1:1.5:1:1. You can make both end divisions larger if your book is bigger. Pictured here is some dental floss which is good for a very budget book. Otherwise you’d want bookbinding thread and I’ve even heard that the pearl stranding strings work well too.

Now poke some holes where you marked to make sewing your signatures together easier then sew it up!

The sewing pattern is easy but I don’t want to explain it at this moment (because I’m tipsy) so you’d have better luck at looking at the one here. But It’ll look up like this.

Now, you’d want to finally put your textbooks to use by using them as paperweights to squash down your sewn up thing so you can smush some glue on that spine. Be sure to rub in good. Oh, yeah~. (I used white glue but I don’t recommend it since it dries hard. But it’s not like it’s unusable.)

Now the fail part starts. At the beginning, I wanted to like, cover the cardboard with a collage of magazine cutouts like so. But because I was using white glue, things dried slowly and into a hard page that I can’t fold into a cover. I also screwed up on the layering and there was glue on top of the pictures as well. Ugh. I spent my whole day on this too! I was so mad.

In the end, I just stuck some cardboard on for the cover, and left it unwrapped. It now looks super ghetto and I definitely glued the spine piece wrong.

Now, I also tried to make a spice cake on Saturday and uh, forgot that I was supposed to use two pans so the whole thing  bubbled ominously like lava and overflowed.  I was freaking out trying to scoop glops of it off the bottom of my oven before I managed to find another pan to put it in.

This beautiful piece of work has now been reduced to a very large pile of crumbs courtesy to a 2-hour ride in my bag on the train.

By the way, this is what I did with the holey strips that came off the paper.





Of Ice cream and Tea

18 01 2010

There’s not a single day where I curse my bad luck to have developed allergies to ripe fruits last summer. You might think it’s weird but it’s a normal, or rather, not unusual, phenomenon. It kinda is like an extrapolation of tree pollen allergies according to Google’s search results but it definitely SUCKS. Especially considering I’ve become allergic to most ripe TROPICAL (… and some normal) fruits which are my favourites, melons of all kinds, mango, kiwi, papaya, persimmon, banana… RAWR!

But yeah, I sobbed in my heart when I saw this recipe. Ice cream that is really just frozen ripe bananas?! Nooooooooooooo~~~~~

Regardless, it looks delicious so I will make it when I go home next and see if I can still eat it.

If you’re wondering how I plan to eat things I’m allergic to? Well, to tell you the truth, I’m really irresponsible when it comes to dealing with my food allergies. I love fruits and I prefer to eat them not so green, especially melons, kiwis and mangoes which are really sour/tart/astringent/gross in general. Since my allergy is rather mild, as in my mouth itches and my lips swell a bit normally, and if I don’t rinse my system out by drinking a lot of water, I feel like I’m ABOUT to get an asthma attack. So the solution is, drink water with and after the fruits. =) If this method ever fails me, I’ll let you know. But don’t try this ever. Never Ever. OKAY?!

On the bright side, I found a proper-tea-brewing thinger that was linked through LollyChops‘ blog, which is hilarious and teal. While this is how I’ve always made my ‘western’ teas, it doesn’t seem like not everyone knows how to do it properly. So here it is, the proper way to brew black tea. This is not the correct method for Chinese green teas by the way, or the Japanese ones either I don’t think. You have to let the water cool to a certain temperature first.

I now need to make a tea-cosy thing just because. Even though I have no teapot at rez and don’t use one at home.





The Return to School is Such a Hassle

7 01 2010

My life is going back into the pointlessly-stressful, frequently-boring, and 100%-money-eating type of life an university student life is bound to lead at one point of their nerdy, studious career. While I’m not quite sure what I just wrote in the previous sentence, I can promise a more coherent report for the remainder of this post. Maybe.

During the break I bought a book for making bread. It’s a simple recipe book without all the interesting but useless narratives ‘real’ cookbooks have and was on sale at Chapters. Unfortunately, the lack of narratives should have been my warning sign instead of the factor that influenced my purchase. Something was horrifyingly wrong with this book:

I realized now that maybe it would have been a good idea to take a picture of what was wrong with this book but it’s too late, I’ve already returned it. Anyways. Can anyone guess what could be so crucially wrong with this book that I’m writing such an elaborate, round-about hate-review for a book that you will never ever purchase even without this review?

It was missing ingredients.

Yeah. A recipe book missing ingredients in the ingredients list, but the missing items show up in the NAME of the bread and the instructions… The sales clerk who did the returns for me was speechless too.


On the other hand, I bought Vogue Collections Winter/Fall 09/10 when I returned the bread book. It had no price tag on it since it was an import so I nearly cried when I went through the checkout:

It came out to be $50. Quite the sob story.

I think the reason it was so expensive was that it had no ads, which I rather enjoyed. The magazine had a pretty nice overview of a large number of designers and was close to the comprehensive type of thing I’ve been looking for.

Chanel got 4 pages, which was heavenly in my opinion. I love Chanel and what Karl Lagerfeld does for it. My only gripe? Oscar de la Renta, my god of evening gowns, only got one page. I spent an entire evening ranting to everyone I saw.


I recently subscribed to a new load of… blogs and stuff. Amongst which, The Business of Fashion is a really nice thinger majiger to follow. It really pertains to my interests since I’m a business student who likes fashion so it’s always nice to read about the business side of Fashion. I highly recommend people who want to look beyond the glamour to follow this site.


PS. I just downloaded a daily resolution record thing from The Small Object to keep track of which dates I’ve kept up my 2010 resolution. It’s a simple little thing but will be a great help in keeping you motivated and on track. My 2010 resolution is to run a marathon by September so I’m doing a lot of cardio training on top of my dragonboat practices. You can get the calendar here.





Make a Reservation Now!

24 12 2009

What I really don’t like about the holidays is that most large restaurants stop taking reservations. It was such a pain last night when I needed a table for 10 and Moxie’s screwed up on the waiting list. Ugh.

On the other end of the reservation..spectrum, there is Japango, a Japanese place that you pretty much NEED a reservation to get a spot. It’s a tiny little place off of Dundas Street near Eaton Centre. Tiny. I think it’s half the size of Konnichiwa.

This is a place that’s more focused on sushi than anything else. There’s a decently sized list of fish available along with some choices of donburi and noodles. It’s a no nonsense menu that doesn’t really have all the little things that a lot of other places have. You can say ‘choice is limited’ or ‘dedicated menu’.

Food-wise it wasn’t too spectacular. I ordered an oyako-don, ‘parent-child’ rice bowl. It has chicken (parent) and an egg (child) on top of hot rice sprinkled with seaweed strips. It’s a crude joke but I find it endlessly amusing, especially when the ‘grandparent-child-grandchild’ version has mayo added. Heh. Anyways, the dish was around $12 and was rather average in taste. I also had some salmon skin rolls and they were good but again, not spectacular. That was around $6 I believe.

The dishes my friends ordered were on the average side too. They ordered: katsu chicken, beef donburi, spider roll, dragon roll, salmon roll and grilled salmon belly. The only complaint that I have is that the grilled salmon belly doesn’t have enough salt on it. All of us each had a roll and a main dish and paid around $25 each including tips.

The service was really friendly and happy but they tend to forget to follow up on the status of your drinks. We ran out of tea five minutes into the meal and didn’t get more until the very end.

Other than the minuscule size of the place and the average tasting food, Japango have things that I don’t see often at other Japanese places. One was the oyako-don. I haven’t seen it on the menu at all the places I’ve went to this year I don’t think, other than you know, in Tokyo. The other was o-toro sushi. It’s bluefin tuna belly and from what I gather, very expensive. This is the only place in Toronto that I’ve seen have it. Although I haven’t been to any pricier establishments to really have a say in this. An order of o-toro sushi is $16 I think and an order of sashimi is $20. All the other types of fish have single digit prices here.

Food quality: 7
Food quantity: 7
Price vs. Portion: 7
Price vs. Yumminess: 7
Atmosphere: 7
Dressiness: every day or after work

Japango
122 Elizabeth St.
Toronto, Ontario
M5G 1P5
416.599.5557 Reservation HIGHLY recommended

Even though I rated it a bit lower than Konnichiwa, I would still go again. Mostly to try their o-toro but also because it’s slightly cheaper than Konnichiwa and located at a more convenient place.





Procrastinating with Pointless Rambles

20 12 2009

I wanted to post something meaningful today but unfortunately, I’m not interesting enough to have meaningful posts everyday.

Commercial shampoo got rid of my dandruff but it turned my hair back into straw. Is there no such thing as a perfect hair… washing thing?

The cafeteria is closing in 3 day when the building closes for the winter break, meaning, I now have to eat strange things they pass off as decent food. Right now I’m eating a chicken leg with fake curry sauce brushed on as you would a maple glaze. At least this is not processed chicken…

The only thing the caf produced ever that I really love is this strange breakfast fruit bake. It has berries on the bottom and oats, brown sugar, and other things on top. I’m going to try and see if I can recreate it at home. It’s truly a delicious way to start the day, especially eaten after a solid breakfast sandwich.

Speaking of breakfast sandwiches, does anyone know where places like Tim Hortons get their sausage patties for their breakfast sausages? I’m dying to make some myself. The school caf uses the same thing so I know it isn’t just a Timmy’s thing.

I don’t want to study…