Reader. Writer. Romantic.

Archive for February, 2016

Adoration

It feels as though it’s been so long
For I know not what it’s like
To be in love

How long has it been
Since my heart has been filled with such joy
And my nights of sleepless bliss

Thinking of you
Has done all that and more

I look forward
To what the future might hold

For I know in my heart
That I want someone as kind as you in my life

For beauty fades
And that’s not what I fell for

You are the kind of man
I’d be proud to say I knew
And I’d be prouder yet
If you fathered my children

Restaurant Review: K & B Pho

Location: 806 Centre St NE

We used to come to this location back when it was Happy Hill Restaurant for dim sum. Though it was often on the noisy side, this place was always packed and served some of the most delicious dim sum I have ever had. Unfortunately that closed down and became a sushi restaurant, which I never ended up visiting and now it’s a Vietnamese restaurant.

While scanning the menu, the Cambodian Noodle Soup caught my eye. The last time I had had this was at Giang Nam before it closed down. For those who have never had cambodian noodles, they’re very similar to sweet potato or tapioca noodles (also called crystal or glass noodles), but they’re not nearly as chewy. So of course, I had to order this. Little did I know I was about to be sorely disappointed. My sister had her usual: Bun Bo Hue and my dad ordered his usual Beef Stew with rice or egg noodle (only he said the wrong number and ended up with a Seafood Noodle Soup). My mom went for a rice dish, the BBQ Pork Chop on Broken Rice.

Lately, my dad has a thing with ordering a starter when we go for Vietnamese food and it’s always spring rolls. The spring rolls here were actually quite decent and filled with meat rather than fillers (cellophane noodles, vegetables, oil).

For those who have had pho, Cambodian noodles, or Chinese rice noodles, you would know from the second you put it your mouth that something wasn’t right. There was something off about the texture. It wasn’t exactly mushy, but it was soft. And though it didn’t “bleed” into the soup, it was starchy. They didn’t do too badly on the soup. It both smelled and tasted exactly as I had remembered them. There was a fairly good meat to noodle ratio (but of course I prefer more noodles to meat so there was too much meat for my liking). Unlike most places that serve Cambodian noodles soups, they chose to use kidney rather than liver and slice it thinner than I’m used to. I think the choice to do that is because kidney has a much milder taste than liver and is a lot smoother. Valerie’s Bun Bo Hue wasn’t at all like the one we usually have a Pho Huong Viet (I haven’t done a food review on this place because I usually forget or so packed that we just want to eat and get gone so I don’t have time to take pictures, but it is a really good restaurant like my favourite Vietnamese restaurant of all time). It wasn’t spicy like it should be and the noodles were too soft. My dad’s dish was ordinary, so I have nothing really to say. It’s honestly just noodles and seafood, which everyone knows the taste of. The broth was just the same as the staple in all Chinese noodle houses, so it was decent. My mom’s dish was the highlight of the evening. It was huge for our/her standards. In fact, she was unable to finish it all. The rice came with a “salad” on the side and I’d have to say that it’s one of the healthier feeling options on the menu.

Having said all that (or complained about it), I would return to this restaurant to try the vermicelli and woven vermicelli dishes. Since it’s days as Happy Hill Restaurant, it’s remodeled the dining area and now looks very sleek. However, the bathroom has not been remodeled and remains the dirty, dingy, dungeon it was before. From this experience, I’d rate this place a 3/5.

spring rolls

Spring Rolls

bun bo hue

Bun Bo Hue

Broken Rice

BBQ Pork on Broken Rice

Cambodian noodles

Cambodian Noodle Soup

 

Cafe Review: Al Forno

Location:222 – 7 St. SW
Website: http://alforno.ca/

We originally came at around 10:30am, the place was packed. We scoped the place for any available seats, but there were none, so we headed to Cafe Blanca. After an hour or so we headed back here and found a table pretty much immediately. With one person saving our spot, the other two headed down to order. My first impression of the place was that it was very similar to Corbeaux on 17th Ave (that has sadly since closed down). As Valerie and I stood in line, waiting to place our order, a line formed behind up, ending up with people pressed up against the door. Though we had already eaten, we decided to get ourselves some sandwiches and a tart, while Yulin ordered a flatbread.

The duck sandwich from Al Forno is pretty much exactly the same as the Duck Confit from Vendome, which makes sense since that’s what Vendome has become known for and is one of the best things they have on their menu. Unfortunately, unlike Vendome, Al Forno’s duck sandwich was drenched in enough oil to save Alberta’s economy from disaster. The porchetta sandwich I ordered was something that wasn’t something available at Vendome. It consisted of roast porchetta (of course), hazelnut gremolata, some kind of greens (I’m thinking arugula, but I’m not completely sure), and a lemon aioli. Despite this sandwich being very oily, it definitely was not as oily as the duck sandwich. The lemon aioli was a refreshing addition to the panini instead of the typical garlic or truffle aioli which can be quite heavy. The lemon is a good contrast to the richness of the porchetta. This was my first time having a gremolata, so I didn’t know what to expect, but really, I didn’t taste much of it and I’m still wondering what it’s supposed to taste like. My only other complaint was that there was a thick layer of fat that could have been removed from the porchetta. And I’m not sure if this is expecting too much of them, but the skin could have been crisped up like the Chinese do with their roast pork (which is pretty much the same). Yulin’s veggie flatbread wasn’t all that special. I liked that it was full-bodied in its flavour because so many healthy options just don’t get enough seasoning. I also like the combination of herbs used in the flatbread that helped to provide more complexity to the dish.

The chocolate ganache tart was the featured tart of the day. At first I was concerned that it would be too rich and from the moment I cut into it I knew there was something wrong. The ganache stuck terribly to my fork, which I expected, but the entire crust fell away and crumbled everywhere. It was admittedly a delicious crust containing oats and coconut flakes, but awfully inconvenient to eat. The ganache wasn’t as sweet and overwhelming as I expected, but it was about $5 for a slice (look below to see how small it was).

Though this cafe is brighter, more modern, quieter, more spacious, less noisy, and slightly cheaper than Vendome in some aspects, the amount of oil in the sandwiches is a bit off putting. However, I’d like to try out some of their other food (pizzas and pastas and small stuff) before I make a final decision about my return. For today’s visit I’d rate it 3.75/5.

al forno.jpg

Top: Duck Sandwich; Bottom: Porchetta Sandwich Right: Chocolate Ganache

al forno 2.jpg

Veggie Flatbread

al forno interior 2

Al Forno Interior

al forno interior

Al Forno Interior

Cafe Review: Cafe Blanca

Location: 240 Riverfront Ave SW
Website: http://www.cafeblanca.ca/

I’ve heard and passed by this place many times. This is by far one of my cousin Yulin’s favourite places if not her very favourite. Our original intention was to go to Al Forno, but it was so packed there was literally nowhere to sit (as you’ll see in the next review we ended up returning there later in the afternoon and eating something there too).

In contrast to Al Forno and it’s sister restaurant Vendome (both owned and run by the Teatro Group), Cafe Blanca was nearly empty. As much as I enjoy Vendome, I like restaurants and cafes on the quieter side which leave me to my thoughts and inspires my imagination. There was a slight delay in service, but we didn’t mind; it gave us time to decide what we wanted. I ordered a London Fog (which has become one of my go to lattes) and originally a Grilled Caprese, but as they ran out of the type of cheese for it I went with the Chicken BLT, my sister Valerie ordered the Chai Latte with Almond Milk and the Smoked Salmon Croissant, and my cousin Yulin had the Short Rib Sandwich with an Americano. We were told that there’d be a delay with the croissant because it would be made to order. We found a spot in the second room near the back of the cafe and immediately spotted the games.

We grabbed taboo and started playing, which helped to pass the time a lot quicker. We didn’t have to wait long for our drinks to arrive. Unlike Good Earth, the London Fog isn’t all that sweet; both a good and bad thing. The Earl Grey and vanilla didn’t really come through as much as I would have liked, but it was good nonetheless. Surprisingly, Valerie’s sandwich was the first to come. I hadn’t expected that it’d be accompanied by a salad, but I didn’t mind. It looked fresh and delicious and I was excited to dive in. The lady who brough over Valerie’s sandwich asked if Yulin wanted the sandwich to be mild or spicy to which she replied mild. So, next to arrive was Yulin’s. It tasted like a banh mi. It too came with a salad. In my opinion, I think the spicy option would have made it taste even more like a banh mi than it already did and I would have definitely preferred the heat in the sandwich. After a few more minutes of waiting, we decided that we should probably check on my sandwich since Valerie had already demolished hers and it turned out that they had completely forgotten about it! Now usually, if I was in a restaurant I would have made a big deal out of it and criticized the hell out to the place, but today I didn’t feel like that. I just shrugged it off and made light of it. Even the other barista joined in with the joking saying “If you wanna post on yelp that we forgot your food, her name is -.” He never actually told me her name and really it doesn’t matter. We’re human, we forget things and in the end, how would things have turned out if I had made such a huge fuss? My sandwich finally came with a profuse apology. She then offered to give me a free macaron of my choice; I chose to have the pistachio. We found out earlier from talking ot her that the macarons had come from Mon Plaisir in TD Square/The Core shopping centre. We had tried them before, so I knew they’d be good. The sandwich was actually pretty good and more filling than I expected. The salad was dressed with what looked like olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It was good, but I feel like there was a bit too much oil on my salad.

All in all I quite enjoyed this place. It’s a cafe I could spend hours at, writing or just observing those around me. And as I found out, they also host Paint Night and maybe next time I’ll go there for it. The staff are friendly and the food good. I would most certainly return. For today’s experience, I’ll give it a 4/5.

cafe blanca

Chicken BLT, London Fog, and Pistachio Macaron

Happy Valentine’s Day?

When I was a kid celebrating Valentine’s Day for the first time, I didn’t really understand the point of this day. What kind of holiday involved buying expensive gifts you couldn’t afford for people and eating mountains of chocolate?

As I grew up, I felt as though Valentine’s Day was more about the commercialism and less about love. Valentine’s Day promoted values I didn’t believe in: buying people’s affection. I can understand how effective that might be in the short term, but in the long term…ehn…not so much. This day was supposed to be about the loved ones in our lives, the people who mean the most to us. There was a time when Valentine’s  Day would make me feel absolutely worthless because I’d look around at all the couples, all the people who had someone else to love in their lives and think that I’d never be one of them. And sometimes I still look at people like this and think that I’ll be forever alone, but I no longer look at this as being a curse or something terrible. In time I’ve grown and learned to love myself and build my self-esteem, I’ve learned that dependency on others isn’t the way I want to live my life. I can be happy without someone. But of course that means the opposite as well, just because there’s someone in my life doesn’t mean I’m gonna be unhappy about it. Life isn’t black and white.

So what I’m saying is today is not the only day you should be expressing your love for those around you. And showing your love isn’t just about buying them expensive trinket. Sometimes all someone wants or needs is your time. It’s the memories you make that cannot be captured, but will be forever remembered that make all the difference. So next Valentine’s Day, just think about the people you love and spend some time with them, listen to the stories they have, or just do something you all enjoy.

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