Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Little Things

Autumn/Winter Colors

I was browsing the Essie nail polish collection, looking for "cold weather" colors when this dark, gorgeous gunmetal gray caught my eye. I thought it would look edgy yet sophisticated, and eventually spiraled into delusions of how this would become my signature look of the season.

But when I actually wore it on my nails, it looked off! And actually, quite terribly, it reminded me of the color when someone slams their thumb on a car door.

Solution: Sephora's clear gold top coat. I love, love, love this combination, and I don't think the picture does it justice at all. I'd like to dub these my "gold mine" nails, with the coal-like shimmering backdrop and the flecks and shards of gilded light on top.

Birthday Sparkle

It was recently my grandmother's 80th birthday, and since she is a very important part of my life I wanted to get her something special. They were a bit out of my price range, but the look she had when she got them (and she's very, very hard to impress) made it worth it.

Lee Garden

I've been going to this restaurant since I was in kindergarten, I believe. Amazing food. And as the sign says outside, no MSG. Their sauces are never thick, over corn starched monstrosities - always perfect, always delicious. Their daily soup is also always so sweet and fragrant. I always think a great fish broth should look milky, just like that. They don't take reservations so go early, there is ALWAYS a line up.

331 Spadina Ave.

The Classic Croissant + Coffee Combo

Whenever I've had a night out, it's always nice to force myself out of bed the next day and face the outside world-- rather than allowing my inevitable headache to consume me. Having a decent croissant with my friend Graham was just the pick me up I needed to face the day after a long night. Check out his theatre company,  Pressgang Theatre. They had a shout out on CBC radio the other day! I'm expecting great things.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Spring 2012


These are dresses fit for princesses. Ethereal, ever gracious, dewy skinned princesses. I can't stop obsessing over the waterfall detailing, the confectionary creams, and the pale dreamy blue-greys.

Click here for the whole collection.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Couscous, Jamie Oliver and Galette

My friend Samya is moving to Lebanon in a week, and I'll be so sad to see her go. She really inspires me though, moving away like that and pursuing her dreams. It makes me stay on track with my own goals.

The other day I casually mentioned that she should stay with me in Waterloo for a while, before she goes. "We could study, and cook and enjoy nature!" I prattled on, probably with some sort of insane expression. To my surprise and delight she actually took me up on my offer!

For our lunch menu, we went for Epicurious's Israeli Couscous with Roasted Butternut Squash recipe... although we had to make it student style - aka no preserved lemon (just a generous squirt of fresh lemon juice) and no cinnamon stick.

We were also too poor for pine nuts, haha, so we substituted them with raw crushed almonds... the golden raisins were fished out of a bag of trail mix I had... :|

I'm not crazy about regular couscous, I find the texture too fine and nubbly. But Israeli couscous? I adore it. Its pearls are just large enough to retain some bite, and yet it doesn't have the heavy starchiness that rice often has. I will say that I'd like to try a more untraditional recipe next time, something more savoury rather than the traditional dried fruit/nut route.

For dinner we tried out Jamie Oliver's Pan Cooked Chicken with Asparagus, Pancetta and Olives. Again, some alterations and substitutions were made. Try as I might I still don't like olives, so we cancelled those, and instead of pancetta we went for a more economical slab of President's Choice bacon. It's useful to note that when Jamie says "small knob unsalted butter" in the ingredients list, he really means "GOOD knob" like he says in the directions. The flavor really smoothes out when you're liberal with the butter.

And for dessert, Samya whipped up a yummy rustic berry galette. Délicieux!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Apartment Tour

For my MA I've moved into a cosy walkout apartment and I couldn't have asked for a lovelier place. It's a 30 minute walk from campus, but I love how quiet and picturesque the neighborhood it is. Hopefully my "peaceful morning walks" won't become "that dreaded stretch of time where I freeze to death in the winter".

My lovely entranceway

And on to where all the cooking happens...

My first Alessi item - the Mediterraneo napkin holder:

I'll be spending a lot of time in this room.

The bathroom

A glimpse into my bedroom... :o

Any visitors?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Nigella Lawson's Ricotta Hotcakes

I love Nigella Lawson.

I met her once at a book signing and she fumbled with my copy of "Nigella Bites" when handing it back. I airily made a joke about her ruining my book, and she smiled warmly and apologetically in return. In reality I was thinking "PLEASE LOVE ME."

I love her food, I love her writing, I love her charismatic presence. In "Forever Summer", she describes her recipe for Ricotta Hotcakes as "the flavour of cheesecake combined with a texture that's best, if wordily, described as a kind of souffled griddle cake." It was one of her recipes that I had yet to try, but needed to.



I disagree on the cheesecake flavor bit, but the moist, souffle-y texture is a welcome change, and (as she notes) they have a lemon flavor without having any lemon added at all! Fresh strawberries are a must with this breakfast, very little syrup required. This breakfast is totally up my alley. While I love syrup drenched pancakes and dense, breakfast sausages, I usually end up feeling quite sick and regretful afterwards. The lightness of these hotcakes allows me to reflect on them mid-afternoon with a glowing fondness.


Will winter breakfasts be as fair as this?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

23rd Birthday

I never like doing anything big for my birthday, I suppose I like to keep everything small and intimate. Or perhaps I'm clever and strategic - instead of one big party, each of my individual friends is forced to entertain me one by one!! All jokes aside, I prefer having the time to really talk to those who are dear to me.

So of course, celebrations started off with a little family dinner. I tried to get my grandmother to take a photo with me:

 My mom eventually acquiesced (note the tense expression)...

 My little cousin had no choice, really

And the rest of the clan eventually succumbed to peer pressure

Mario was also great enough to be there with me. Just in case the conversations in Cantonese became too rapid-fire for me to understand.

...Because he speaks the language fluently and makes a great translator.


I think it's common to feel this way when you're part of an Asian family, but mine can be so chaotic and combative. But ultimately, at the end of the day, I love them so much. And I couldn't have imagined a better way to kick off the celebrations. Mario took me to Local Kitchen & Wine Bar, located in Parkdale on Queen West, the next day-- but that's for the next post!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Ten Ren's Break

After hours and hours and hours of packing for my move on Monday, it was time for a break. Cue the Instagram app and bubble tea. Did I mention I had dim sum for brunch today? I guess I had to cover all my bases.

"I broke my finger playing basketball."

Steven and I talked about my feelings about starting at a new school and a new program... It made me think about that quote: "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." Steve Jobs used it to close his 2005 commencement address to Stanford, borrowing it from the Whole Earth catalog. The quote is sort of where my blog name, "silly hungry", stems from. I need to stay ambitious and I need to squash my fear of failing. Ugh. Learning.

I really don't like this photo but Steven was adamant that I post it. Sigh.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Little Things

Pretty colors.

Good friends. Shawn went to New York and speedily brought me back some gigantic macarons from the famed Bouchon Bakery. So awesome.

Having friends (i.e. the lovely Samya) over to cook and share a good bottle of wine. Last week I had milk and chicken in the fridge, so it seemed like a good time to try out Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk recipe: "The lemon zest will sort of split the milk, making a sauce which is absolutely fantastic." I cheated and added a little bit of cream and white wine. 

Starting off the day with a proper sit down breakfast.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Favorite local Japanese restaurant

Despite having a lovely time at the restaurants in Toronto's downtown core (Ematei, Nami, Blowfish, etc), Le Cafe Michi still remains my favorite local Japanese restaurant. It's tucked away in the most random plaza at Pharmacy and Sheppard, but if you love fresh sashimi and authentic Japanese home cooking, then you must come here.

You can meet chef and owner Toshi-san behind the sushi counter, and the little toy cats for sale by the cake counter are made by Toshi's mom!! Too cute.

The Cafe au Lait chirashi is the most expensive set item at $32.50, but most first timers like to initiate themselves with this since it allows you to try the most sashimi. Please believe me, the fish is all so silky and fresh here. Nothing tastes like fridge or resurrected death!

The yellowtail is heavenly and melts on your tongue, and I love the intensity of the sea urchin mixed with the comforting starchiness of the sushi rice. There's a layer of sweet salty BBQ eel tucked underneath all of these jewel toned treasures, as well as a paper thin sheet of egg.

I'm pretty boring (is loyal a better way of spinning that?) and almost always order the San Shoku chirashi - $27.50. This is only a third of it!!!! There's three compartments in total like this. This is just my favorite part because it features those lovely pearls of ikura (salmon eggs). I just love how they look - the picture really doesn't do them justice because they're so vivid and luminescent in real life.

I'm usually stuffed before dessert, but if I happen to have a monstrous appetite that day, I love starting my dinner with an extra appetizer. I'm all about the chicken karage and the cream croquette. The karage is crisp and incredibly juicy, served with an addictive spicy mayo. As for the croquette, it's traditionally and essentially a fried mashed potato ball. Toshi's kani cream croquette, however, is so much more than that. You bite through a hot, salty, crispy outside into a sweet, creamy flood of snow crab deliciousness inside. Amaaaazing.

All the set meals come with dessert like this - courtesy of Toshi's sister. They usually have around 8 cakes to choose from (green tea red bean mousse, chocolate sake, blueberry cheesecake, hazelnut meringue, etc), as well as amazing little English trifles, creme brulee, and creme caramel topped with ripe, seasonal fruit. The coffee is great here, PS!

Le Cafe Michi on Urbanspoon

Le Cafe Michi
1802 Pharmacy Avenue (Pharmacy and Sheppard)
Scarborough, ON M1T 1H6
(416) 490-9688
Closed on Mondays
Toshi is usually not there on Wednesdays, but has the very capable Sam working the counter instead