Nonna’s Oven

Hello, friends! Today’s post brings you to the wild land of Richmond Hill, where I recently embarked on a pasta eating adventure.

I’d actually eaten Nonna’s Oven before (the food, not an actual oven owned by a nonna!). My friend got takeout from here, as the over-the-counter service makes it extremely easy to take their food and bring it home. Anyway, this time around, I decided to eat in the restaurant. Get ready for some terrible pictures of beautiful noodles!

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I don’t even know if these were for sale or for show. They’re cute, though.

I visited the restaurant with four other friends, and we got five dishes, which was just enough! We started off with some fried calamari. The chipotle mayo and marinara sauce were excellent! I preferred the marinara.

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Then, we shared two pizzas and two pastas. The Hawaiian Inferno pizza was quite delicious, although most of the table had to pick off the hot banana peppers because they were just insane. The Prosciuttina pizza was described by a friend as “cheese bread with leaves and ham on top.” I will say that the leafy greens were a nice way to balance out the heaviness of all of our other foods! The parmesan cheese shavings also added a nice nuttiness to the pizza! (Also, according to wikipedia, parmesan cheese is “King of Cheeses.” That is pretty cool!)

We got the Nonna’s Homemade Lasagna and Pasta Carbonara as well. Truly delicious! Pretty good sauce to noodle ratio too – you don’t want anything to be too dry or soggy.

If you are ever in the neighbourhood and fancy some Italian cuisine, Nonna’s Oven is a good choice! It’s comfy and cozy, and a great place to enjoy a meal!

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Nonna’s Oven / 1285 Elgin Mills Road, Units 7 and 8, Richmond Hill / website

 

Tips for Eating at Grand Electric

On a brisk Friday night in what was supposed to be springtime, Dangerous Dan and I shared a delicious meal at Grand Electric in Toronto. Here are some tips if you are in Parkdale Village and decide to eat at this hip and cool restaurant/bar. (I feel like I need to use a wider variety of adjectives.)

1. Go on a nice day!

If you’re going for dinner, the wait can get pretty long and there isn’t really any room to wait inside. Thus, you will need to bide your time outside, exploring all the goodness the neighbourhood has to offer!! If you do end up needing to wait and the weather is bad, a public library and a Dollarama are across the street.

2. Dress in layers.

It was so cold outside and then we went inside and it was so hot. 

3. Order some chips to share.

I love tortilla chips at Mexican restaurants! They are obviously so much better than Tostitos (although I can finish a bag of Tostitos on my own, no problem). We got the Chips and Dip. It came with guacamole, onions, salsa, and refried beans with cheese. The onions will transform your breath into a monster so be aware. And I don’t normally like beans at all but these were so good, and the consistency was like hummus, rather than a lumpy, mushy mess. 10 out of 10 would recommend.

4. Don’t go for the insta…

… unless you are sitting by the window or it is daytime. As evidenced by my terrible pictures, the lighting is not very good. I also don’t put much effort into my photos, so maybe that is why my pictures are not great – like what is #vscocam? Is that still a thing?! Nevertheless, I stand by my tip, even though I feel like I first heard of Grand Electric through instagram!

5. Eat your own food. (Except the chips … see #3.)

Dangerous Dan got a quesadilla and I got two tacos. Usually, I reprimand Dangerous Dan if we go out and get the same menu item, because if we get the same thing then we don’t get to try more dishes! This cannot be a problem at Grand Electric, because it is just impossible to share a taco or a quesadilla with someone without looking like a burrito exploded in your face. It just would’ve been really messy. So eat your own food, order a bunch of different tacos for yourself, and don’t worry about the person you’re eating with! 


Grand Electric Toronto / 1330 Queen Street West, Toronto / website

Kub Khao

Kub Khao means “with rice” in Thai, but Dangerous Dan and I only had a tiny bit of rice during our visit to this hip happenin’ restaurant!

Getting to Kub Khao is interesting. The restaurant is located in the plaza of a non-brand-name gas station and the parking spots are sort of uneven. Once you get past the scary exterior appearance, you’re greeted by a nondescript, darkish eating area. From here, you need to make your way to the back of the restaurant where there is warmer lighting and prettier decor!

Now, on to the food! The food is excellent! We got some spring rolls to start and they were hot and crispy! Next, we ordered two mains: yellow curry (with chicken) and good ol’ pad thai (with beef).

My only complaint is that the rice to curry ratio is such that you either have to buy more rice to finish the curry, or you need to take the curry home to eat with something else. So it’s ironic that a place called “With Rice” doesn’t serve enough rice. But either way, the food is delicious and the ambiance of the restaurant is very warm and cozy! I think the benches were made out of old church pews.

Kub Khao / 3561 Sheppard Avenue East, Unit 1, Toronto / website

P.S. Another tasty Thai place in Toronto!

 

Comedy Bar

I’m cool and hip and in my mid-twenties, so I went to a comedy bar with a couple of friends, because that’s what you do when you’re cool and hip and in your twenties! The real story is, my friend found a (since discontinued) Groupon deal and thought it’d be a fun and different activity!

I’m not normally someone who laughs at comedic acts. I like comedy in film and TV because there’s context and I’ve had a chance to connect with the characters! I laugh a lot in real life because life is so funny and again, it’s situational. But whenever someone gets up in front of a crowd to tell jokes with the goal of making me laugh, the most I can muster up is often a weak smile. (I guess this is how my students feel when I try to make jokes in class …)

When we arrived at Comedy Bar, the exciting Groupon deal allowed us $20 to use at the bar. Dangerous Dan and I got ourselves some pretty yummy sandwiches that came with chips! Yum! My suggestion is to arrive 30-45 minutes before the show if you want to eat there. The seats fill up fast and if you’re waiting around for your food, then you’re not getting a good seat! (We sat at the back where there were no tables, so it was pretty difficult to eat and hold our chips.) Also, I crunched my way through the first half of the show, which I hope wasn’t too distracting!

We watched Catch 23, an improvisational comedy show. Three teams (each with two members) competed to win the competition. (I don’t think there was any sort of prize involved.)

There were 3 or 4 rounds, and at the end of each round, audience members would rank the performance by applauding. There was also a more professional judge who Dangerous Dan saw in a commercial the next day! (Yessss, professional actors!!!) The host of the show was also very funny, and he wore a crazy colourful suit!

My favourite group of the night (which also won, and had won the week before) did a whole multi-episodic saga that included a wizard and a motorbike. The beauty of improv and comedy is that this epic adventure sprouted from a simple skit of an adult party gone wrong. I laughed quite a bit.

I wish I could end this post with a joke considering the subject matter, but I’m just not funny so I’ll stop here.

Comedy Bar / 945 Bloor Street West, Toronto / website

Bean Around the World

I love a good pun! 

Even though I’ve lived in Markham for basically my whole life, and I went to school in the area, not once have I set foot in Bean Around the World.

The coffeeshop has a nice open space, complete with a tiny stage for open mic nights. There is lots of seating so it’s a great place to visit with a group of friends. Unfortunately, the plug situation is not so great, so I’d recommend a good charge on your laptop before heading over. 

I got a Mocha and it tasted pretty standard. Nothing really to comment on so I’ll just end this sentence here. (Serious question: How many people go to coffeeshops for the coffee? I personally go for the ambience and because I am extremely unproductive at home. Others go to coffeeshops for instagram.) 

Latte heart! 

The staff at Bean Around the World is truly amazing. They really care! My friend got a tea and one of the staff told her, “That tea bag is excellent quality; it can give you two tasty cups of tea with just one bag! Ask us for more water when you want that second cup!”

Another barista was obsessed with making sure everyone’s coffees were just as they desired. Let me tell you of an encounter I witnessed between the barista and a customer (with some added flair):

“Here, have a quick taste to double check that the sugar and milk levels are exactly as you want them!” the barista said excitedly. The girl took a sip of her drink. A slight grimace on the girl’s face indicated to the barista that he needed to add more foamy milk. (Actually, I think she just told him that she wanted more milk.)

The barista carefully poured that fluffy goodness into the girl’s cup. In his excitement and enthusiasm, however, the foam flowed too quickly, running over the sides of the cup and creating a white pool of milk on the table. 

“OH MY GOODNESS ME!” the barista screamed. “I AM SO SORRY!!!” He apologized profusely while fervently cleaning up the milky lava that had just erupted from the girl’s latte volcano. 

The barista cleaned up the mess, apologized once more, and the girl calmly brought her drink back to her table. 

Later on, I heard that same barista ask another customer to take a sip of his drink … 

Bean Around the World / 5762 Highway 7 East, Unit 3, Markham, Ontario / website

P.S. I am so sorry for that weird story; I was heading downtown and I had to do something exciting while I was on the subway!!!

Lights, lights, lights!

Apparently, winter light shows are the new, trendy thing! I was lucky enough to visit two light festivals this winter. My experiences at both events were quite positive so I shall do a quick recap here, with plenty of pictures!!!! (Also, I am posting this wayyy after I went to both festivals – Lumina Borealis is still running for the rest of this week, and Toronto Light Festival just finished this past weekend. OOPS. I’m sorry!)

LUMINA BOREALIS

During a quick trip to Kingston, my family and I visited Fort Henry to experience the exciting new light festival, Lumina Borealis. I really enjoyed the historic venue of the festival. Honestly, I don’t know how much the tickets cost because my lovely sister purchased them on our behalf.

What I really liked about Lumina Borealis was that there was one specific path that we had to follow. We started off just outside the fort, where there was a gift shop, as well as hot chocolate and warming stations! Next, we were allowed inside the fort, walking through the different exhibits: icy-looking things; glowing trees; bouncing animals projected onto the fort walls; campfire things with colourful images.

Another thing about Lumina Borealis was that it was interactive. There was one part of the festival that had microphones all lined up. Our goal was to scream/sing into the microphones, which would then change the beautiful, wavy, colourful lines that appeared on the walls. It was fun! The microphones were also adjusted to different heights so that the activity was kid-friendly as well. At the end of the walk, there was more screaming in microphones which was very exciting. There was also a ball-throwing game where we had to try to hit certain points on the wall. Basically, we ended the night by screaming and throwing balls, which was really fun and hilarious!

TORONTO LIGHT FESTIVAL

Ah, another thing to do at Toronto’s famed Distillery District! The festival was free this year, but I foresee this event costing money in the future (which happened with the Toronto Christmas Market). There were quite a few more people at Toronto Light Festival than at Lumina Borealis, so the squishiness did put a small damper on our experience. Nevertheless, it was still a good time! The Toronto Light Festival had a lot more art installations than Lumina Borealis, but because there wasn’t a set path to follow, my friends and I weren’t sure if we’d covered everything (we’re not so great at reading maps!).

There were some interactive moments at this festival too: taking pictures with butterfly wings and posting them on instagram; sitting in cocoons that look like Wall-E’s eyes; running back and forth underneath motion-sensor lights to make them spin and make noises; and we watched a kid bike so that an illuminated animation would move.

All in all, I had lots of fun being outdoors with my friends. (I really don’t get out much.) I’d recommend a visit at least once in your life! Until then, enjoy the snow and the cold before beautiful spring arrives!

 

 

Juniper Cafe

A few years ago, the province of Ontario tried to come up with excuses for holidays and so the result was Family Day, to be held on the second Monday of February, an otherwise cold and dreary month. For Family Day this year, my parents and I headed up to Kingston to spend time with my sister and her family!

Once we arrived, my sister took us to the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning, which was having an exciting Artstravaganza to celebrate Family Day. We listened to music, watched people do arts and crafts, pottery, and weaving, and we even saw kids performing in a little ballet recital!

We also ate at Juniper Cafe, which is located on the bottom floor of the Tett Centre, by the lake. It was cool and hipster and packed with people! The cafe had a very cozy feel to it.

My sister got some healthy-looking sandwich, while my parents and I each got a vegetable chowder. It was hearty and full of potatoes! I also got a hot chocolate which was super yummy, mostly due to the slight hint of peppermint from the fluffy marshmallow that the servers plopped into my drink.

The great thing about the cafe is that it’s right on the water. People were throwing stones into the lake to see how far they’d slide on the ice. Arts, warm beverages, and nature – such a great way to spend my Family Day holiday!

Juniper Cafe / Tett Centre, 370 King Street West, Kingston, Ontario / website

Fresh Off the Boat

I know, I know – Fresh Off the Boat has been kicking around for a while. But it was my first time there and I had a lot of fun, so I had to write about it!

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What a deliciously yummy spot! Fresh Off the Boat is a great place to grab a quick bite, especially if you live or work in the area. The first thing that welcomes you as you approach the restaurant is the giant crab on the window. Wow, would you look at the size of that thing?!?!?!

There is a whole nautical, seafaring explorer theme going on in the restaurant, which fits perfectly with the seafood that they serve! There isn’t too much seating, but Dangerous Dan and I managed to squeeze ourselves in at the “bar” along the wall of menu items.

Dangerous Dan and I both ordered the Fu-Schnicken (not sure if that’s supposed to be some sort of play on words) and it was the perfect blend of land and sea and Asia! The shrimp was good, the meat was marinated in a Korean-inspired sauce, and the kimchi had just the right amount of spice! Most of the menu items at Fresh Off the Boat come with broccoli slaw and fries. The slaw was alright; I just had a few bites after eating my sandwich to make myself feel more healthy. The fries were not bad as well, and I ate them with sriracha-infused ketchup due to the Asian influence of the restaurant! The food comes in handy paper containers which can easily be ripped up (unfolded) to create a flat plate.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about that! I will definitely be returning, and if you are ever hanging out in the Queen West area, I highly recommend stopping in at Fresh Off the Boat! The food is fresh and you feel like you’re on a boat!

 

Fresh Off the Boat / 404 Queen Street West, Toronto / website

 

Lettuce See If I Can Still Cook

I graduated from university one and a half years ago, and I haven’t really cooked since then. GREAT. It is a new year, and I’m trying to be more healthy! With that said, I decided to eat out at restaurants less, and cook for myself more. Dangerous Dan said I should eat less carbs (everything in moderation, I suppose!) and so we chose to make some LETTUCE WRAPS as our first cooking project of the year.

*Warning: The pictures are just horrendous. HORRENDOUS!

Here are my ingredients: a head of lettuce, half a white onion, 4-5 stalks of celery, and one carrot. We also got one packet of ground beef and one packet of ground pork.

Everything was very simple to make! We cooked the veggies (except for the lettuce), added in the meat, added some seasoning, and it was done!

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This is a picture of half-cooked veggies and meat. Do not consume meat if it looks like this! It is very unsafe!!!!

One of the more difficult parts of this recipe is ripping the lettuce. The lettuce we chose is not the right kind of lettuce for a lettuce wrap. Pieces came out all uneven; some were shaped like a giant star, while others were like little tiny leaves! Some friends have recommended butter lettuce or cabbage.

Finally, the fun part – constructing the lettuce wraps and eating them!

Simply spoon some of the meat/veggie mixture into the leaf, attempt to fold and close it up, then shove it all in your mouth! It’s important to have a plate underneath the lettuce wrap, as stuffing will fall out. Also, a napkin would be very handy, as this can get messy.

I found that this first recipe of 2017 tasted quite delicious, and I was even able to bring it to work for 3 days in a row, so it has great lasting power! (By the fourth day, the lettuce was not cooperating (it was basically a salad), so I just added rice to the mixture and that tasted great too!)

 

A Prayer of Gratitude

I’m a younger sibling. As such, I have an extremely responsible older sister, and I, as the younger, am carefree, lazy … and spoiled silly by my parents! I often feel spoiled by God as well. I live a life with no real problems.

I’ve been riding this high for a while, and I don’t know when God is going to send me crashing back down to earth, but in this moment, I am thankful.

David sums up my thoughts and feelings quite well in his Prayer of Gratitude (2 Samuel 7:18:-29). David didn’t even have a life free of worries (he’d spent a good amount of time on the run like a fugitive, his best friend died, his wife hated him, etc.), and he still prayed this prayer!

Who am I, that You have brought me thus far? What have I done to deserve all of these good things? I am no one special, and I have done absolutely nothing to deserve God’s love. But He carries me through this life simply because He is good.

What more can I say to You? All I can do is say thankyouthankyouthankyou a hundred million times over, and that still isn’t enough. I want to show my gratitude to God in my daily actions, in the things I say to people, in every aspect of my life. I fail all the time at this, but I will keep saying thank you to God for forever.

You know me better than I know myself! I am so thankful that God knows me personally. He knows what I need, and He provides at exactly the right time!

You are great, there is none like You. No one else can do the things God does, and I’m so glad He’s on my side!

According to Your own heart, You have brought about all this greatness, to make me know it. Because of God’s love, He fills my life with His glory and goodness (Friendships! Nature! Random things that make laugh and feel all warm and fuzzy inside!). God is present and I can’t forget it. I need to be constantly reminded of God’s greatness because I am so easily distracted, and I honestly pray that I will never forget how good God is.

I am Yours forever, and Your name will be magnified forever. Romans 8:38-39 tells me that there is nothing in or out of this world that can separate me from the love of God. I am His forever, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to bring glory to His name, so that people would know how good my God is!

Things are a-okay right now [insert the 100 points emoji here], but I really hope that I do not toss these feelings aside when things get rough. I want to pray this prayer always. It is a given and it is fact: God is good and He loves me!

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)