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Sweet, Spicy, and Sour: BLOOM Review!

Happy Family Day long weekend, Canadian friends! Today, I’m sharing an extremely delayed post that I should have shared weeks ago. I went to Bloom, a restaurant in West Toronto, for their Winterlicious meal.

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Bloom is located on Bloor Street in West Toronto. They serve Nuevo Latino cuisine, which is essentially a beautiful blend of Latin American and Spanish cuisine. The restaurant itself is warm, modern, and friendly, with a small team of chefs dedicated to creating tasty dishes using simple ingredients with bold flavours.

SOPA DE SETAS

Puree Of Wild Foraged Mushrooms With Roasted Poblano Peppers

This soup was made with tons of chewy mushrooms, onions, garlic, and potatoes. It was flavourful, rich, and almost ‘meaty’ in flavour, despite being a vegetarian option. The mushrooms added plenty of texture and flavour, and was surprisingly not pureed (as the menu had stated). I had been expecting a creamy soup, but this was a lovely surprise.

I also received a pot of tea with sugar and milk. Delicious addition to the meal. Thanks to Chef Pedro for this!

FRITURAS DE MAIZ (V) (GF)

Corn Fritters & Wild Mushrooms Escabeche, served With Chili Avocado & Piquillo Pepper Jam

Y’all probably know I love fritters (for some reason, I just typed BLISTERS… okay). These were some of the best I’ve had, and extremely photogenic too. The sweet chili jam was the cherry on top. Everything in this meal was extremely flavourful, and I wish there were more fritters.

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A great view of Bloor street, lovely customer service, and seriously Instagrammable meals. What’s not to love? Plus, you haven’t seen dessert yet 😉

PUDDING DE GUAYABA CON SALSA DE VAINILLA

Guava Bread Pudding With Vanilla Creme Anglaise

Guava! Cool! The only thing I knew about guava before this meal was that my dad liked unripened guava… dipped in Taiwanese sour plum powder. Weird. I know. This dessert was unbelievable. It looks small, but it sure was mighty. I loved it!

Overall, a phenomenal meal with excellent service, and a great location. I will certainly be back!

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Foodie February

Let’s get started!

Spinach, banana, peanut butter smoothie topped with homemade cashew granola.

Another smoothie made with the same ingredients and topped with the same yummy granola. This turned out a little too green for me.

Frozen banana with cocoa powder and a splash of milk to make a creamy chocolate banana pudding. Topped with more granola (I’m addicted) and a drizzle of hazelnut-almond butter.

A tasty apple-caramel danish from Gloria Cafe, along with an unpictured tomato and cheese sandwich that I adored.

Coconut bo lo bro from Lucullus Bakery with Thai green curried eggplant, mushrooms, cauliflower, and tofu

Baked vegetable eggs topped with four Italian cheeses, with roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips. The thyme added excellent flavour!

Winterlicious/Summerlicious retweeted by Canoe post on Twitter! This made my day.

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Chocolate beet brownies (recipe coming soon) with yogurt, granola, and almond butter for a quick and delicious dessert.

Mashed banana and cocoa powder made this oatmeal bowl extra-yummy. Crumbled sweet potato spice muffin on top, with a big ‘ol scoop of almond butter.

Sweet potato oatmeal topped with peanut butter, and a side of yogurt with granola. YUM!

I’m such a granola and yogurt addict. I want this with every meal!

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Roasted sweet potatoes with salt and pepper, maple-soy salmon with garlic, and the tastiest sautéed broccoli with lemon.

Baked broccoli eggs topped with a mix of pecorino romano and grana padano, on top of toasted multigrain buns for a yummy, nutritious dinner.

Cartwheel! It was my first time learning to cartwheel. Even as I child, I NEVER cartwheeled. Fun!

That’s it for today, y’all. I can’t wait for the weekend – it’s about time to add to my Toronto Eats page!

My Food Philosophy

“Are you vegetarian? Gluten-free? Vegan? What the heck is paleo? Are you paleo?”

As a nutrition-obsessed foodie who loves to cook, I often hear questions like this one, and my answer is simple: none of the above. My philosophy to food and healthy eating is all about savouring every bite in a balanced, forgiving way. Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, though it is slowly becoming the enemy, something we blame and fear. When fresh ingredients (and love!) are used to make anything from kale salads to triple chocolate cakes, they all belong in our diets.

If you want to wrap yourself in a blanket and have a bowl of a caramel ice cream, do it. And if you overdo it this time, forgive yourself and move on. Given the fact that humans spend five to six years of their lives eating, a single meal mishap is nothing to stress out about.

As for the said diet labels, there are days where I am completely vegan (most of the time, it is unintentional!), and other days where I’m the biggest carnivore. Sometimes I’ll enjoy dairy-free meals, and other times I’ll make yummy paleo or grain-free desserts. Every diet has great benefits and shortcomings.

Of course, there are days where my diet doesn’t fit into a box at all! For reasons explained in a couple pages, I am 90% vegetarian, with an emphasis on plant-based ingredients. While I strive to enjoy a variety of seasonal produce, unique grains, and other delicious things like salmon, nuts, eggs, and yogurt, I don’t like to label myself a vegetarian. When Mom spends hours salting, basting, and roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving, I will happily help myself to a piece… or five. During the summer that I lived in France with my sister, I devoured steak tartare (raw beef topped with uncooked egg yolk) and frequently found myself ordering crispy fried duck. If Grandma lovingly prepares a beef stew, I will certainly not refuse the juicy chunks of meat that she cooked with so much care.

Cooking and enjoying food need not be complicated, time-consuming, or restrictive.

A healthy diet = balance = cook at home as much as possible + variety of minimally-processed goodies + occasional indulgences

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The 54th Floor: CANOE Review!

On Saturday, I had a relaxed morning (which involved a haircut!) before heading to Canoe, a restaurant in the Financial District of Toronto. Canoe is located on the 54th floor of the TD Bank Tower and has over twenty years of serving Toronto.

I decided to go to Canoe, a contemporary Canadian restaurant, because of Winterlicious, a Toronto event that allows anyone to order three courses from a set menu for a fixed price. Canoe’s lunch was $28 for three delicious courses – you’ll see!

While I waited for my 1:15 reservation, I wandered around the lobby, where there was an Inuit art gallery. It was my first time exploring Inuit artwork, and I found it both fascinating and simplistic. The carvings were lovely and vaguely reminded me of the ancient Hindu statues I saw when volunteering in Nepal last summer.

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After a long elevator ride, I arrived at Canoe! There was a glorious view of the CN tower and Lake Ontario. I was lucky to have a seat at the high bar, where I could watch the chefs and servers work together quickly and efficiently. The restaurant itself is decorated stylishly, with copper accents, unique light fixtures, and wood chandeliers.

As for the food, Canoe is inspired by the raw, rich, and diverse lands of Canada. The dishes served here are not only seasonal, but also reflect our country’s history, environment, and culture.

I was greeted with a plate of warm bread. There were two large chunks of pumpkin seed and spelt bread, and two big pieces of potato sourdough. Both breads were incredibly tasty, and the texture was spot-on. I’m not normally one to finish all my bread at a meal, but I devoured the entire basket here!

I was actually lucky enough to speak with Coulson, the chef, as well as Robyn, Canoe’s social media manager. Both were very welcoming, patient, and gracious, and it was truly a pleasure to meet them both. I found the staff to be both friendly and extremely productive (especially considering the fact that it was a Winterlicious Saturday at noon), and before I knew it, I was handed my starter.

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fogo island salt cod rillettes: dill cornichons, roasted dulse mayo + molasses crumble

One server recommended this tasty appetizer to me. After scanning the menu, I was debating between the heirloom squash soup with pesto, toasted fennel oil, and crème fraîche (doesn’t that sound incredible?!) and the radicchio and bibb lettuce salad with smoky onions, daikon, bannock, and a creamy mustard dressing. I was more than happy to order the waiter’s personal favourite, despite never having heard of cod rillettes before.

I was very pleasantly surprised by this dish, which was creamy from the flavoured mayo, crunchy with the dill cornichons (pickles), crisp with the crumbled molasses, and flaky with the cod. This dish encompassed a large variety of flavours and textures, which is a win in my book. The presentation was also exquisite.

foie gras parfait: Niagara grape jelly, walnut butter + pie crust crisp

I am certainly not one to order foie gras, a luxury food made from the fattened liver of a duck or goose. I was lucky, however, that the chef brought me a plate of this starter to try. It was my first time eating foie gras, and I enjoyed the sharp, tangy flavour reminiscent of a strong parmesan cheese. Savoury, rich, with a silky melt-in-your-mouth texture, I was very impressed by this appetizer.

The foie gras was adorned with a smear of walnut butter, jellied grapes and some sweet halved grapes, as well as shards of crispy pie crust. The pie crust added excellent texture, and I loved how each piece shattered in my mouth. The walnuts and jam provided hints of fruitiness and nuttiness to the creamy foie gras, and I took my time to savour each bite of this flavourful dish.

leo’s paccheri pasta: fresh mozzarella, creamed celeriac, fried capers, charred rapini + Tamarack chili oil

I watched the kitchen staff prepare many schnitzels, salmon filets, and beef dishes, but surprisingly, not many people seemed to order the vegetarian pasta. As I sat at the counter, watching kitchen staff carefully create plate after plate of chuck flat and pork schnitzel, I started questioning my choice of ordering the pasta dish.

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Turns out, I had nothing to worry about. Chef delivered this main dish with a smile and a great description: smooth paccheri (large tube-shaped pasta), smoky rapini and creamy celeriac, sprinkled with salty crisped capers, and a drizzle of chili oil to add some heat without overwhelming the dish.

Every bite of this dish was divine. The rapini was cooked perfectly, and I loved how there wasn’t too much pasta. Instead, the ratio of toppings-to-pasta was just right. In my experience, this is rare, because restaurants try to bulk up dishes as much as they can with excessive amounts of pasta, then load on a heap of bland sauce. This was certainly not the case at Canoe, where each topping had been carefully-chosen and delicately-placed. The crunchy capers added blasts of flavour, and the crisped breadcrumbs atop the dish provided the right amount of contrast. The capers were actually my favourite part, and I wish there were more. There was a generous amount of freshly-torn mozzarella decorating the dish, adding a velvety texture. Goat cheese would have also been heavenly with the flavours in this dish!

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious dessert problem. On Saturday, how was I supposed to choose between toffee pudding, a flourless chocolate cake (with peanut butter and espresso meringue!), and yogurt with honeycomb?

This is what I finally decided on…

sticky toffee pudding: caramel mousseline, seed tuile + Muskoka cranberry compote

… and it was phenomenal. Every bite was a blast of flavour. Sour cranberries. Rich, golden caramel with the perfect velvety texture. Nutty shards of pumpkin seed tuile and whipped vanilla chantilly. The toffee pudding itself was pleasantly sweet, but balanced by the juicy and tangy cranberries. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every bite of this well-balanced dessert.

I was stuffed and super-satisfied after this meal, in the best way possible.

Unrelated to my experience, but Canoe is even having a Valentine’s Day feast! You all need to check out their menu. From salmon with caramelized yogurt, pumpkin, and chestnut chickpea fries to tarts with peanut butter, hazelnut mousse, and honey hazelnuts… drooling. Dessert lovers beware – you have to CHOOSE from a caramel budino, a chocolate tart, and a strawberry-rose cheesecake!

I loved my experience at Canoe and can’t wait for the Summerlicious edition of this post. 🙂

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The Beet

A couple of weeks ago, I went to The Beet in the Junction (an area in Toronto) for lunch! The Beet is a vegan/GF restaurant that serves brunch, lunch and plenty of seasonal specialties, many of them local and organic. Kicked off the meal with this incredible vegan Mexican hot chocolate. It was warm, super rich, and spiced perfectly.

I was feeling eggy and ordered the huevos rancheros, which is one of their most popular dishes. So glad I tried it. There were blue corn tortillas, refried beans, fried eggs, and aged Quebec cheddar cheese. The salad was dressed with a slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette and was topped with plenty of sunflower seeds and shredded carrots and beets.

For dessert, this quinoa chocolate cake called my name. It tasted like a muffin because it was hearty, extremely chocolatey, and went very well with the orange on top. This was an unforgettable dessert, and I’m already planning my next trip to The Beet. They have so many other entrees and desserts that I’m dying to try!

Happy February – let’s have some greens! If I could DIY a salad from this list, it would be made of:

  • arugula and spinach
  • seeds
  • roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, cheese, and rice
  • hummus, herbs, and dried fruit
  • beans
  • vinaigrette

How about you?

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9 Reasons Yoga is a Better Workout Than the Gym

You might associate the word ‘yoga’ with fit, flexible young women in tight clothes. Contrary to what you might believe, it’s not just an activity for bendy 20-somethings. Here are some of the reasons you should give yoga a shot!

  1. It helps you set goals. Many yoga teachers ask you to set an intention for either the yoga class itself or another aspect of life. Simply telling yourself “I’ll respect my body for one hour by doing only what I feel like” can have surprising long-term effects.
  2. It boosts confidence. On top of the uplifting spiritual values, meditation can release mental tension and form an internal connection with yourself.
  3. It increases flexibility. “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” is 100% untrue. No matter how tight your muscles may be, yoga will stretch your muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a safe way to increase mobility.
  4. Relieve stress. Yoga goes beyond training your body to reframing your mind. It allows you to see the bigger picture, unplug from distractions, and connect with your body and various sensations.
  5. Refresh your spine. Gentle spinal twists help to loosen up the many joints that compose your spine. In addition to improving your tennis game and golf swing, a healthy spine is critical for a long, salubrious life. This may promote detoxification and good digestion. Backbends, forward bends, and twists provide spinal disks with movement to keep them supple.
  6. Prevent injuries. Yoga reminds you to honour your body’s needs and limits, which change week-to-week, day-to-day, and even by the hour. In every yoga practice, it is important to do a mental scan of your body and take note of how you feel physically and emotionally. Exercises such as running involve rapid, high-force movements, which involve an imbalance of opposing muscle groups. Yoga focuses on balancing the body by honing in on muscle groups and engaging them in a safe, healthy way.
  7. Improve concentration. Clearing some room in your jam-packed schedule for a yoga class can help you slow down and take a moment to tame that endless stream of thoughts. Yoga offers the ability to be present, notice only the sensations that are happening, and develop the sense of calmness.
  8. Tone muscles. Yoga ditches barbells and machines to build strength using your own body weight – think squats, planks, leg lifts, and pushups. Because a yoga practice progresses from one series to another, different parts of the body are strengthened and lengthened without putting too much stress on specific muscle groups.
  9. It can be as easy or as hard as you want. For challenging classes, find one titled ‘Power’, ‘Vinyasa’, or ‘Flow’. Gentle, relaxing yoga classes include ‘Restorative’ and ‘Yin’.