How To Make The Perfect Grilled Cheese

The ironic thing about my last post (get it? IRON-ic??) was that the majority of you seemed to just breeze right past my laudable domestic accomplishment, and instead focus solely on the photo of the delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

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I can’t say I blame you.

In fact, I was actually pumped you guys asked, since this particular sandwich involved serious time, effort, and months (yes MONTHS) of planning.

Let me start by saying that those of you who found my last post “too domestic” might want to turn back now. Also, this is not your typical, Kraft Singles noise, so you grilled cheese purists also might want to sit this one out.

But if you’ve got an adventurous palate and like eating delicious things, then read on to see how it’s done.

And when it’s finished, I PROMISE you will say:

 

1. The Bread

We used a nice sourdough from BlackBird Baking Co. in Kensington Market here in Toronto:

but  you can really use any artisinal or store-bought variety you want, provided that:

  1.  it’s not too holey (you don’t want to lose any of that sweet, cheesy nectar); and
  2. you don’t slice it too thick (otherwise the cheese won’t melt. Duh)

2. The Cheese

There are times in life when one should exercise restraint. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Feel free to pile on as much cheese as humanly possible. We used a combination of old cheddar, and habanero havarti.

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I briefly considered adding a third cheese, but then I thought

Each cheese needs its moment in the sun. (And by that I mean, in my mouth)

3. The Bacon

Oh yah. I went there.

We fried up some applewood smoked bacon for a little extra flavour and it was DELICIOUS.

4. The Tomatoes

In a rather unconventional move, we added roasted tomatoes to the mix.

We made these guys a while back using a recipe similar to this one,  using beefeater tomatoes from the farmer’s market. After roasting them for 5(!!) hours, were planning to preserve them in olive oil, until we heard that can cause botulism

so we froze them instead.

If this roasting tomato business seems way more effort than it’s worth (trust me, I had that thought too)  then you could always use store-bought sun-dried tomatoes instead.

5. The Spread

We used fresh pesto from Saint Lawrence Market, but again, you could also use store-bought. I honestly never met a pesto I didn’t like.

6. The Assembly

Heat up a heavy pan (we used a cast iron skillet) with a bit of oil. When that’s ready, take the bottom slice of each sandwich, and spread generously with butter (if you’ve made it this far, you’ve given up on being heart-healthy long ago). Set the bread butter-side down on the pan until it is evenly browned.

Make sure you watch carefully. We had a few casualties on this step.

Next, load up the cheese tomatoes, and bacon. We took another unconventional step here and broiled cheesy bread in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

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One the cheese begins to melt, remove from toaster oven.

Then, take the top slices of bread, and spread generously with butter on one side, and pesto on the other. Place butter-side down on the pan.

Once browned, flip over and place pesto-side down on top the sandwich.

Press down gently, and behold the delicious ooey gooey goodness.

If you really wanted to, you could probably do another flip of the whole sandwich on the pan- but ours were melty and delicious enough already.

So There you have it- a deconstructed, pesto and roasted tomato grilled-cheese on artisinal sourdough.

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Can you tell I’ve been watching too much Food Network lately?

We paired ours with tomato basil soup (I can’t remember the brand but we bought it at Loblaws) and some pickles and olives on the side. Perfection.

Like this aerial shot? Ive got mad photog skillz
Like this blurry aerial shot? I should totally be a full-time food blogger

 

Now, for once on my blog I can finally say- you guys should ABSOLUTELY try this one at home. And make one for me too while you’re at it.

Question of the Day: What are your tips for the perfect grilled cheese?

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A Million and One Things To Do With Leftover Pumpkin

I was deep in the middle of my Saturday morning routine (painting my nails and watching PRV’d weight loss shows), when my boyfriend announced he wanted to make pumpkin muffins.

“Great!”I said, “Love pumpkin muffins!”

“Want to help?” he asked

My immediate reaction was:

 

…but, in an effort to be more domestic, I decided to bite the bullet. Plus, he has  been watching a lot of Pioneer Woman lately, and I’m starting to develop a bit of a complex.

Damnit, Ree Drummond! Stop making the rest of us look bad!

“Sure” I responded, Tis the season right?

Since canned pumpkin just “wouldn’t do”, step 1 was  heading to the market to pick up an actual, real-life pumpkin. There, I entertained myself by taking autumnal instagrams

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while my boyfriend agonized over the perfect gourd. Since they were all $2, we ended up walking away with the biggest pumpkin we could find. Literally, it was like, country fair-winning, radioactive isotope variety.

It could happen.

With the help of a wheelbarrow, some patience, and a LOT of complaining on my part, we eventually got the beast home and set about de-gutting the thing.

“You want to do the honors?” he asked me

In my head, I was like:

But deep down I knew that the Pioneer Woman wouldn’t be afraid of a few pumpkin guts. She’d get her strong, ranch hands in there and tear those guts out with her award-winning southern smile. So, I got myself a rubber glove, and was like:

Suffice to say, it was not pretty- but in the end, we got the thing cleaned out, and used the pumpkin flesh to whip up these delicious muffins:

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Only problem was, even after making the muffins, we still had about 98% of the mutant pumpkin left.

“So, what are we going to do with the rest?” he asked “We can’t just throw it out”

Both my patience and will to live were severely compromised at this point, but instead of getting down, I thought to myself: WWRDD – What Would Ree Drummond Do?  B*tch would get in there and whip up some more delicious pumpkin specialties.

“Of course we won’t throw it out!” I choked, “let me Google some ideas!”

I found a website devoted to “50 things you can do with leftover pumpkin” and my mind was literally blown. Up until that point, my experience with pumpkin was  limited to pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, and the occasional Pumpkin Spice Latte, if I was feeling frisky. This website had everything from pumpkin risotto, to pumpkin flavored margaritas.

I found a recipe for lamb and pumpkin stew that sounded delicious, and decided to attempt it. Guess what? It turned out AMAZING.

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Next, I roasted the pumpkin seeds with some olive oil, smoked paprika and cumin:

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But despite these two further recipes, we had still barely made a dent in the pumpkin. I knew I had to take drastic measures, so I decided to roast the remaining pumpkin and make pumpkin puree.

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At this point, I was starting to get really into it.  I had become obsessed with using every last inch of the pumpkin – even the peel. My boyfriend looked at me with shock and awe as I peeled off the skin of the roasted pumpkin for later use.

“It’s for facials,”  I said, “Did you know pumpkin is amazing for your skin?”

“I think I’ve created a monster,” he replied.

With the pumpkin sufficiently disposed of, the only question remaining was: what to do with all of this damn pumpkin puree?

Um.. smoothies obviously!

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I started with this pumpkin pie smoothie recipe and it was damn delicious.

Ree Drummond better recognize!!
Ree Drummond better recognize!!

Things were going so well, I decided to try another smoothie- this time a “Green” variety. This one included pumpkin, spinach, frozen banana and almond milk.

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Uhhhh… guys- do not try this one at  home.

When I told my best friend about all of this, she couldn’t believe my domestic prowess, and challenged me to use the leftover pumpkin for her birthday cake.

Even though I had never baked a cake in my entire life , I’m not one to back down from a challenge- so I got my apron on and set to work.

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I won’t lie that the process was a little touch and go….

 

But with a LOT of help from my boyfriend, we did it:

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A three-tiered, pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese frosting:

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The cake was a big hit at the party (mostly because I forced everyone to eat it while repeatedly yelling “Can you believe it?? I MADE that sh*t!!” in their faces) – and thankfully I have used up most of the remaining pumpkin (I was seriously starting to worry I was going to turn orange there for a while).

Do I have a future in food blogging? Probably not- but I’d still like to think I could give the Pioneer Woman a run for her money.

Question of the Day: What is the most ambitious thing you’ve ever cooked?

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The Most Interesting Man In New York

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I took a trip to New York City for his 30th birthday.

 At least that was the “official” reason. In reality, the sole purpose of the trip was to eat as much delicious food as humanly possible.

 We ventured deep into Brooklyn for the best pizza I’ve ever eaten:

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Seriously. DiFara. Go.

… schlepped all the way to Harlem for delicious, Obama-approved fried chicken at Red Rooster, and put away our fair share of bagels,

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New York Cheesecake, and delicious, sugary street nuts.

Mmmm. street nuts.

The pièce de résistance , however, was the special birthday dinner at Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant in Greenwich village. 

This was a big deal for us. Not only was it the first time either of us had set foot in a Michelin-starred restaurant, it was also owned by a famous TV chef.

I mean, when the dude gets away with wearing this outfit 24/7:  

 

you know he’s a boss.

The maître d led us to our table upstairs in a quiet corner of the restaurant, and introduced us to our server for the evening, Paul.

Paul was about 6’2, with sandy blond hair and electric blue eyes. He wasn’t what you’d call “fat”; more “pleasantly plump”, with a pot-belly suggesting more than a few indulgent staff meals. With laugh lines crinkling around his eyes and a broad smile that just wouldn’t quit, he looked sort of like Bradley Cooper’s less successful, lesser known older brother. I pegged him at about 35.   

“Welcome to Babbo!” he bellowed, barely containing his enthusiasm. “Will you be enjoying the tasting menu today?”

Startled, we looked at each other, then at our menus. “There are two choices,” he continued; “the Chef’s menu, or the 7-course pasta tasting menu”

A pasta tasting menu? 

“We’ll have that one” I said, instinctively “Great Choice!” he shouted “You can never have too much pasta. And will you be having the wine pairings?”

Even though I am no wine connoisseur and knew the value of such an expensive add-on would be wasted on me, something about his eager, hopeful eyes made it virtually impossible to say no. Plus, he already thought I was a good chooser- I didn’t want to let him down.  

“Sure,” I responded, trying to quiet the chinging dollar signs in my brain.

As the evening unfolded, it became clear that Paul was quite the entertainer. Every course was accompanied by a well-timed story or joke, and his award-winning smile never ceased. Plus, his knowledge of food and wine seemed infallible. He described our mushroom ravioli in exquisite detail, even citing the origins of decorative floral garnish. (Hilsbury Farms, West Haven, Connecticut. Organic, obviously.)  Our second course wine pairing, a Casina Ebreo, was “unctuous” with a “cacophony of aromas”, and our Italian Montefalco Rosso “confident” and “playful” with some “nice legs” on her.”  

If anything, Paul’s descriptions were a bit overzealous; as evidenced by his explanation of our fourth-course pairing.

“This is a 2008 Terredora di Paolo,” he explained, “the summer of record high temperatures in Italy, where hundreds died from the heat. The heat, however, was excellent for the grapes, and produced some extremely fine wines”.

“So it wasn’t all for naught,” said my boyfriend, jokingly

“It certainly wasn’t” replied Paul, deadpan.

The real kicker, however, was when he described our fifth course pairing, an Italian Tabborini, as having “hints of potting soil”.

Both of us looked down at our napkins, trying not to burst into hysterical laughter. “He must be an actor”, I said after he had left, “because he has got to be making this shizz up”. 

I was sort of joking, but once I had the idea in my head, I couldn’t let it go. As I’ve learned from my visits there, everyone in New York has an angle- and everyone has to pay the bills. Maybe he was a struggling stage actor, trying to crack the big-time with his heartfelt, groundbreaking one-man show. Maybe he had his sights set on Days of Our Lives, auditioning to be the next possessed, resurrected evil-genius heart-throb. Or maybe he was angling for his own reality show, having amassed legions of social media followers with his clever and relatable series of YouTube videos on what men are really thinking. 

 I had intended to ask him, but after my seventh pasta course and seventh glass of wine, formulating any kind of coherent thought became impossible. So I guess I’ll never know the true story behind Paul, the server-sommelier-Broadway/soap/reality star; but I do know I enjoyed his performance that night.

Question of the Day: Ever had an extremely colorful server?

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_assignment/writing-101-characters/

 

5 Hipster Food Terms Deconstructed

If there’s one thing we humans have in common, it’s that we all gotta eat.

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And since I have yet to master the art of cooking anything beyond a can of soup and the occasional Toaster Strudel, for me this means eating out. A lot.

Seriously. It's that bad.
Seriously. It’s that bad.

Lately, I’ve  been noticing some strange menu items on my pilgrimage across the many hipster bistros, brasseries and gastro-pubs of this fair city. Obscure ingredients, pretentious food-related adjectives, you name it.  So much so that I have often had to consult Google, and on more than one occasion have been reduced to simply pointing at dishes I dare not pronounce.

This, my friends, is embarrassing. And extremely damaging to my hipster cred. So to save the same fate from befalling you, I thought I’d share with you all a few hipster menu items I have successfully decoded.

1. “Heirloom” Tomatoes

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While I have since come to love these multi-coloured, misshapen delights, the first time I saw “heirloom tomatoes” on a menu, I had a number of questions. Like:

  1. Who keeps a vegetable (fruit?) as an heirloom?
  2. Won’t it go bad?
  3. Were these tomatoes bequeathed to the chef personally? Or were they purchased at auction? (and if the latter, why haven’t I seen a TLC show about this yet?)

…. And, most importantly:

4. How much is this sh*t gonna cost me?

My fears of mouldy $300 tomatoes, were, however, dissuaded by a quick Google search, which informed me that heirloom fruits or vegetables are actually old varieties of plants that were commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture today. The seeds of heirloom tomatoes, in particular, have been passed down through generations due to their distinct color and sweeter taste.

Huh. Who knew?

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2. “Massaged Kale”

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When I’m too lazy to make my own lunch (aka: every day) there’s this yuppie salad place in my office building I sometimes like to go to. It’s one of those Organic/Wheatless/Meatless deals, where everything on the menu somehow involves Tempeh or Quinoa, and the motto is “Substitutions Welcome!”

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Anyway, recently, they introduced a new $14  “seasonal hot box” which featured “Marinated Sesame tofu, served over a bed of massaged kale”.

Uhh.. massaged what now?

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Apparently, however,  kneading kale in your hands for a few minutes prior to preparation helps the tough cellulose structure break down, which turns the coarse, hard leaves soft and silky (and easier to eat without breaking a tooth). The pronounced bitterness also mellows, and the kale reveals some sweeter flavours.

Man, no wonder this place is so expensive.  They have to pay some mustachioed hipster just to stand out back and rub kale leaves all day! (I picture him listening to Bon Iver while he does it. He might even close his eyes).  Oh well, that sh*t is delicious so I guess what I really mean is, massage on hipster gentleman – massage on.

3. “Artisan” Bread

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about/have eaten “Artisan Bread” recently.

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The image of a young minstrel in medieval attire springs to mind; whipping up loaves of designer ciabatta in one hand; strumming a lute with the other.

As it turns out,  “artisan” is really just a fancy word to describe bread that is crafted, rather than mass-produced. In theory, artisan bread differs from prepackaged supermarket loaves in its lack of preservatives, fresher ingredients, and a special attention to detail.

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Given the number and variety of places offering these loaves, however, I’m guessing this definition hasn’t been strictly adhered to.  ‘Cause while I’m sure your local Subway Sandwich artist likes to think of him/herself as an “artisan”, I have my doubts.

4. “Craft” Beer

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The first time I saw the word “Craft” on a beer menu, I didn’t think much besides:

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But as I started hearing it referenced more and more in popular culture, my interest was piqued.

Craft beer, or “microbrew” as it’s sometimes called, is any beer with a distinctive flavor, produced in small quantities and distributed in a particular region. (Generally by bearded,-plaid shirt wearing men who also specialize in witty Facebook statuses, amateur furniture making and liking everything “before it was cool”)

Ok so I can’t back that last part up. But it’s probably true.

 5. “Deconstructed” Anything

Recently, I attended a work dinner where the dessert course was a “Deconstructed S’More“. This consisted of an “organic graham cracker”, “house-made marshmallow” and a block of semi-melted Valrhona chocolate.

While it was delicious, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed. I mean, isn’t the whole point of a s’more, it’s entire essence, in its construction?  That ooey-gooey, sticky handed goodness?

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Alas- I’m going to have to deal, because deconstruction- the idea of breaking apart ingredients traditionally combined together to make a dish, and serving them separately in a unique way- is a trend I’ve been seeing a lot more of lately.

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Deconstructed cakes, deconstructed sandwiches, you name it.  Someday soon I fully expect to be buttering a plate of yeast and enriched flour and calling it “deconstructed breadrolls”.

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Mark my words.

Question of the Day: What Hipster and/or Pretentious Food Trends have you noticed lately?

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Throwback Thursday: Halloween Candy

Halloween is right around the corner, and since I’m too lazy busy deciding which ironic Halloween costume to wear (Miley Cyrus wrecking ball?

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Or Baby North West?),

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I thought I’d go into the vault and pull out this little gem I first published back in October, 2011.

Originally part of a feature I did called Turn Up The Good: Turn Down The Suck, where I profiled a few things that were good, followed by a few things that sucked (genius, I know), this post is all about my favourite thing in the world (besides wine) – Candy! enjoy.

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Halloween is by far my favourite holiday of the year. Not only does it give you free license to wear whatever the hell you want and call it a “costume”, it’s also the day on which such A-List celebrities as Vanilla Ice, Rob Schnieder and (drumroll please)…. yours truly, were born. So that’s why, for this edition of Turn Up the Good, Turn down The Suck – I thought I would focus on one of the best parts of this glorious day: CANDY.

Halloween breezyk circa 1989

As a child, I put the “anal” in “analyze”. This was especially true of Halloween. I would return from trick or treating, dump my goods on my bedroom floor, and proceed to spend hours poring over my loot and categorizing its contents; determining which pieces were to be consumed first and which saved for later. By the time I was done constructing all of my little piles, my room looked like an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive– but it was worth it. My rationing ensured that I would be adequately supplied with candy until Christmas (or at least until my older brothers got a hold of it.)

Sure they look cute… but these boys CANT BE TRUSTED

Anyway- as evidenced by my story, not all Halloween candy was created equal: so here I present to you a list of the best (turn up the good) and worst (turn down the suck) of Halloween candy:

Turn Up the Good

1. Full Size Chocolate Bars: otherwise known as the holy grail of trick or treating. Like unicorns (yes, exactly like unicorns), these were scarce. Neighbourhood kids would discuss which houses were giving full-size bars away, and make special trips just to get them. God bless these generous individuals.

2. Reese Peanut Butter Cups: I realize this one is slightly subjective. You can feel free to insert your favourite fun-size chocolate bar here- but damn I loved me some Reeses. Guaranteed to make the top cut of any sorting round.

2. Full Cans of (NAME BRAND ONLY) Pop (None of that No-name cola shit): I hesitated to add this one, simply because of the sheer weight these puppies add to your treat bag. However, it’s a cross I was always willing to bear in order to have unlimited cans of Pepsi at my disposal throughout November….

4. Homemade Shit: This makes the list due to its elusive nature. Homemade cookies? Quaint little bags of popcorn tied up lovingly with ribbons? CANDY APPLES? Sure they all looked amazing- but kid, you might as well just forget about it. If your parents were anything like mine, all that gloriousness was being thrown in the trash faster than you could say “this isn’t actually a costume“.

Homemade halloween treats- I salute you. Though your creators may be creepy, and you may contained concealed razor blades- your potential deliciousness transcends.

Turn Down the Suck

1. Rockets: AKA a cheap-ass waste of valuable treat bag space…. or, as a friend of mine rightly clarified: “a waste of EARTH space”.

2. Mollases Kisses: You know the ones I’m talking about. A sort of caramel/tootsie roll/ black licorice hybrid that have been around forever, and for some reason still persists. These choking hazards shouldn’t be given to CHILDREN- they should be reserved for old men who are missing most of their teeth so they can kill some time. I’m not feelin it.

3. Unmarked bags of potato chips: This was always a crapshoot. Emblazoned only with the “Hostess” or “Humpty Dumpty” logo all over them, you never knew what you were going to get. You risked wasting potential treats if you opened it up and didn’t like that kind, and for the weirdo kids like me, this created a nightmare for categorization.

Like this… EXCEPT NOT

4. Non-Food Related Items

Pencils, erasers, religious pamphlets… basically anything that made you roll your eyes behind the mask of your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume and go “REALLY?”

Bitches be fundamentally misunderstanding the concept of Halloween, yo..

Question of the Day: What were your favourite/ least favourite Halloween Treats?

I Ate New York

A few weekends ago I went to New York City. Ostensibly, to visit my friend Jane for her birthday…in reality, to eat as much delicious food as humanly possible.

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Our weekend of gluttony began on Friday night with not one but TWO (count ’em) dinners – the first at a Japanese restaurant in the East Village called Taishu-Izakaya Kenka.

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Since the look of the menu nearly gave me an aneurysm:

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I left Jane in charge of ordering. She summoned up a delectable feast for us including deep-fried calamari, delicious noodles, and of course, Japanese beer.

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Dessert was do-it-yourself cotton candy from their COTTON CANDY MACHINE.

I love New York.

Although I was already pleasantly full, Jane insisted we check out a hot dog place down the street called Crif Dogs. I’ll admit I was slightly confused as to why we NEEDED gourmet hot dogs after ingesting a full delicious meal, but of course, I wasn’t about to say no (we are talking about food here, people). 

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We walked into a bustling underground hot dog diner filled with hipsters drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon around tables made from upturned arcade games, and I was convinced I was having a true New York experience. 

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Just as I began studying the menu and deciding what hot dog would be getting in mah belly, Jane beckoned my friend Alex and I into to an old timey phone booth at the side of the restaurant.

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Confused, we followed her inside, where she picked up the receiver and dialed “1”.  After a couple of seconds, a trap door on the other side of the phone booth swung open to reveal a  SECRET SPEAKEASY! . 

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I’ll admit I was pretty excited, but also kind of bummed because, well  I kinda wanted a hot dog.  “Don’t worry,” said Jane. “They serve hot dogs in here too”. A private speakeasy that served HOT DOGS? I must have died and gone to heaven. 

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I ordered a specialty Kimchi dog:

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And we shared an order of the world’s most delicious tater tots..which I totally hogged.

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(Don’t worry, I saved some for later.)

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We also sipped on just a few cocktails named after old-timey men involving different varietals of bourbon. 

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When the taxidermied bear on the wall started talking to me, I knew it was time to go; so we stumbled into a cab and went home to crash.

The next morning, we awoke with one thing on our minds: more food. (I told you guys I was on a mission).

Knowing another full day of eating was in store for us, we tried to minimize our caloric impact with a run across the Brooklyn Bridge……which, let’s be honest, mostly involved posing for instagram-worthy photo ops:

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Then, we headed to Smorgasburg, an open air food festival in Williamsburg.

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You guys, I thought places like this only existed in my dreams. Each tent was filled with a delectable culinary masterpiece: malt ball milkshakes; gourmet mac and cheese;

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truffle fries;

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DONUTS

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I didn’t take many pictures because, well my hands were kind of full stuffing my face incessantly… but I think this gif pretty much sums up the whole experience: 

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The big draw of the day was the Ramen Burger, a gourmet burger with buns made out of ramen noodles. The line was over two hours long!!

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I was feeling pretty seedy after already ingesting a year’s worth of cheese, so we decided to pass on that one. (I’m sure it will become popular in Toronto in like, 2016 anyway.)

Pre-food coma
Pre-food coma

From there we rolled back over the bridge to Manhattan where we did some lazy shopping before heading to our next feast at Fatty Crab in the West Village.

Behold: The Big-Ass Bowl Of Crab:

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Unpictured: The most heavenly pork buns that I made QUICK work of.

I wish I could say it ended there, but there was also a bit of this:

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A little of this:

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And a lot of this:

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I can no longer fit into any of my clothes, but you know what?

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Question of the Day: What’s The Most Delicious Thing You Ate Lately?

My Life Through Instagram Vol. 2

What up, homies? I know my blog has been about as active as a Giant Panda on Valium lately, and for that I apologize.

Side note: did you know Giant Pandas spend approximately 16 hours a day eating?? 

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We have so much in common.

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Anyway, it’s been a busy few weeks for your girl BreezyK here: weddings, parties, cottage weekends, and most importantly- a new job!

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(Do I get points for the timely Shoppers Drug Mart gif? No? Ok.)

It’s still in law, but no longer in private practice… so I expect the quality of my life to improve drastically to have more regular hours and thus more free time for blogging. (When my busy schedule of grooming and beauty related appointments permits, of course.)

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Those pictures were completely gratuitous.

Anyway, I know I owe you guys a real post (and to read and comment on some of the great stuff you’ve been writing), but as mentioned above, I’m in panda-mode. So in the meantime, I thought I’d give a little update on my life through my favourite fleetingly popular social media platform: instagram.

(You can see my first installment of My Life Through Instagram here.)

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, then you definitely should: @BreezyK1. I am extremely self-absorbed and post a lot of pictures of my manicures. Who doesn’t like that in their newsfeed??

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1.    Someone’s been making mixtapes!

2.    See, I told you. (Hey, when it takes as long as this did, it deserves to be instagrammed) 

3.    Summer BBQs. If you can believe it, there was actually way more food unpictured.

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4.    We clean up aiight 

5.    Sunset over Sugar Lake

6.    Wine and Cheese with a view.. oh you fancy huh  

7.    This album has been getting me through a lot of tough runs lately. Kanye- you may be a crazed egomaniac with questionable child-naming skills, but your beats are solid and your lyrics genius. So thank you for that.  

8.    Champagne celebrations

9.    I challenge you to name me a treat more delicious than s’mores

You just peed in your pants a little, didn't you?

You just peed in your pants a little, didn’t you?

10.  So I joined a softball league this summer- considering the ability to play softball entirely irrelevant. The only thing worse than my batting average is my attendance- but I do contribute to the team by taking glorious, sunset candid shots like this one.. so I think I’m pulling my weight.

11.  My lovely friend Danielle looking fierce at her wedding

12.  Cottage Adventures

13.  Do you… canoe? (Ok that was lame. Forgive me guys, I’ve been out of the game for a while) 

14.  Little father’s day tribute to my pops.. (and some inadvertent product placement. Mmm. Veggie Thins) 

15.  Delicious Sangria by the pool… I am just noticing now how many of these pics involve alcohol.

foodgif3

16.  A lifesize “The Claw” arcade game set up in the financial district as part of Toronto’s Luminato festival for the arts and creativity. There was actually a dude inside who, when you put money into the machine, tried to retrieve a toy for you with oversize claw-like implements. Everyone cheered when he got one, and when he missed they played the sad fail music from the Price is Right. 

Umm this Youtube video has had over 3 million views. I don’t know why, but that’s awesome.

Question of the Day: What has been the highlight of your summer thus far?

Mine’s probably a tossup between drinking that Sangria and watching the new season of Big Brother.. but I expect that to change when I head to Nova Scotia this weekend!

It’s Not A Party Until Somebody Busts out an EpiPen

“Someone call 911!!” my Father shouted, “and for God’s sake would someone go calm down your mother??!”

It was Thanksgiving 2007, and I was standing in the upstairs bathroom of my childhood home, staring down at the (seemingly) lifeless body of my older sister Marija.

Just a few moments before, she had returned from her annual Thanksgiving 10k run and  gone upstairs to take a shower. The rest of my family and I were busying ourselves in the kitchen when suddenly, we heard a telltale “THUD” . We rushed upstairs to find my sister, passed out cold on the bathroom floor, sweatband and dry fit gear still firmly in place.

What she had neglected to tell any of us was that for the past four days, she had been subsisting on nothing but a cayenne pepper and maple syrup concoction (laced with speed, evidently) in an effort to pare down for the holidays. Apparently, this was a diet Beyonce swore by.

Right. So that makes it a good idea.

Unarmed with this essential information, we all feared the worst and launched into full-scale panic mode. My brother hit the floor, attempting to revive her like a scene from a bad Nicholas Cage film, while my mother screamed bloody murder in the background. I, in my usual helpful fashion, did nothing but stand there and sob uncontrollably. My father had just gone to send up an emergency flare in the backyard when my sister came to, staring into the faces of 6 crazed lunatics.

“Guys, I’m fine” she said. “But can someone get me a Gatorade or something?”

I wish I could say that this story was one of a kind; a blip on the radar of an otherwise unblemished Thanksgiving history. But sadly, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Growing up the youngest of 5, Thanksgiving, much like any other holiday, was basically a shit show. If someone wasn’t passing out, they were splitting their hand open with a carving knife, or arm-wrestling over the last drumstick. Just getting us all in one place was cause for celebration in and of itself.

Despite all of this calamity,  I continue to book the overpriced ticket and go home for Thanksgiving every year. Why? Because there’s always the distinct possibility of one of my siblings getting their head stuck inside a turkey. And if so, I’d really like to put sunglasses on it.

Another Thanksgiving debacle in our family is the annual debate over who will say grace. The pre-dinner prayer was a necessary precursor to every Thanksgiving meal growing up, and one my siblings and I avoided like the plague. My Father would take up his post at the head of the table and ask, “Now, whose turn is it to say grace this year?” And inevitably, 5 collective heads would lower, eager to escape this cruel and unusual punishment.

I’m not really sure why we hated it so much. You reference the grub, thank the Big Man upstairs and move on. I mean, sure, there are are some weird, Latin old-timey words in there, but it wasn’t like you had to announce that you still wet the bed or something. Regardless, it was an unwritten rule that the one who had to say it would be forced to carry around a lifetime of eternal shame.

As the youngest, I was often the scapegoat. My siblings would team up against me and insist “It’s Bree’s turn! It’s Bree’s turn!” conveniently “forgetting” that I had recited it the previous 5 years in a row. If I ever thought about objecting, I only had to look at my brothers to know that one peep would result in a year’s worth of Smurf bites and figure four leg locks. Inevitably, I relented, left to mumble “Bless us o lord, for these thy gifts…” into my mashed potatoes as my brothers snickered in the background.

Things only got worse for me when one year, I decided to make a Thanksgiving centrepiece. I was 11, and going through my short-lived “interior decorating phase”. I watched home decorating shows religiously, rearranged the furniture in my bedroom daily, and, if permitted, would have sponge-painted every available surface area in our home. I had seen an amazing centerpiece in a copy of Martha Stewart Living  and was hell-bent on making it, despite my mother’s objections about the mess it would cause and my brothers’ taunts that “no one cared about a stupid centrepiece anyway”. It consisted of fall leaves artfully arranged in a cornucopia made out of a single piece of birch bark: all sprinkled with a hefty dose of glitter. It was magnificent. I just knew having it on our table would make for the best Thanksgiving ever.

Determined, I set off  in search of the perfect fall foliage for my piece de resistance. What I neglected to consider, however, were my chronically severe seasonal allergies. About 20 minutes into rummaging through leaf piles, I was sneezing so hard I could barely see straight, hives popping up on every inch of exposed skin. Think McCauley Culkin in My Girl, minus the anaphylaxis. I was barely able to stumble back home and limply drop my leaves onto the table before my mom gave me a hefty dose of Benadryl and sent me to bed. This was not, as Martha had suggested, A Good Thing.

Luckily, I only had to wait one year for my embarrassing Thanksgiving moment to be eclipsed by my brother Kristin performing what was perhaps the most notoriously stupid act in our family’s history.

We were celebrating our first Thanksgiving in a brand new home, and my mom brought out her gold-plated wedding china for the occasion. We had all been served, and were just about to sit down to dinner when my brother decided to warm up his turkey dinner in the microwave.

Not being an idiot, I of course knew that the combination of gold plating and microwaves did not mix, but despite this did nothing to stop it. Why? Because the irony was much too sweet. My brother; the self-described “science prodigy”. Boaster of many a math and science accolade. Dropper of frequent and unsolicited periodic table-related puns. This was much, much too good.

Just as I (and every known law of physics) predicted, within seconds sparks began flying and the Microwave lit up like a fourth of July picnic. He quickly rushed to press “cancel”, but not before leaving a sizeable hole in the newly microwave and a strong sulphuric tinge in the air. I had never felt so validated.

Shockingly, the mayhem is showing no signs of slowing down, and year after year, our house continues to resemble another instalment in the National Lampoon series. Just this past Thanksgiving, my mother claimed to have taken an allergic reaction to my sister Sherene’s homemade preserves, and proceeded to fan her face and sneeze dramatically throughout the entire meal. She says it was because of the nutmeg. I say it’s because they sucked. Oh well, I guess the old adage is true: it’s not a party until somebody busts out an EpiPen!

           Question of the Day: Any Good Thanksgiving Fails to Share?

*Ok so I know it’s not technically Thanksgiving for me. But I thought I would share this one for all my Amurrican friends. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Thanksgiving 2012: The Highlights

I know, I promised you all updates on my enthralling visit home and never delivered…but hey, better late than pregnant as I always say! (I actually never say this. I read it for the first time yesterday on becomingcliches blog and liked it so much I decided to steal it. Oh well, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? At least that’s what I tell my friends when I copy their outfits).

I kept trying to blog when I was home, but then I’d get all distracted by other really important things… like watching 8 episodes in a row of Ex-Wives of Rock (not joking. I actually did this… with my sister.. on Saturday night. We shared a king-sized Twix bar. )

Eating an entire pumpkin pie also took 5 minutes a lot of time.

And trying to figure out all the rules to every dance genre on Dancing With the Stars. Did you guys know that the only dance that involves a lift is the Argentinian Tango? I bet you didn’t. There’s your value added from reading my blog right there.

Oh, and also not exercising. I successfully used my lingering cold as a diversion tactic by reaching for a kleenex every time my mother asked me to go to the track and proceeding to blow my nose loudly and dramatically until she gave up and left.

I did, however, feel well enough to pose for glamorous instagram shots with her:

Love you mom!

That’s a lie, I actually did make it to the track one day… although I didn’t really “exercise” so much as take pictures and goof around with my niece, Lola. We did cartwheels and listened to One Direction while she taught me cool dance moves she learned in her HipHop Class.

For those of you considering trying this at home, make sure you wear a high quality sports bra, because there is way more jumping up and down and flailing your arms than I anticipated.

My sister (pictured right, actually exercising) also convinced me to take this crank groundbreaking new formula called “Alli-Max” to help combat my cold. I shelled out $30 for these pills at some weird health store that are pretty much straight up garlic. You are supposed to take, like 100 of them a day (ok, 10) and let me tell you.. it’s not pleasant for anyone involved. After three days of stomaching them down, my breath could’ve killed a small child. No change on the cold though.

The one other time I left the house was to accompany my sister, brother, sister-in-law and my two nieces to a gigantic corn maze in a neighbouring town.

Whoever came up with this idea is a certified genius, because that, my friends, is a gold mine. The place was just crawling with kids. (Literally. Many of them were crawling.)

This place had everything- from a game of Clue within the maze where the suspects were all barnyard animals (Spoiler alert: it was the Chicken. With the Rake), to hay rides, to a pumpkin u-pick. A pumpkin u pick!!

Plus it was just nice to spend time with the fam and be outside during that glorious time of year where everything looks like it’s naturally washed with an instagram filter.

…. but that didn’t stop me from instagramming it anyway!!

Lola, my sister-in-law Jill and baby niece Maeve.. the hand-holding kills me.

Me, being the picture of maternal instinct
Demonstrating the power of positive thinking
Siblings
Lola, fearing we might not make it out of the maze alive.
Love on a hayride. Brought to you by diet pepsi.
I ate these
Family love. Maeve still hates me. We’ll work on that.

Somehow I didn’t manage to take any pictures of Thanksgiving dinner itself?? Guess I was too busy eating. A lot. Anyway, here’s a pic I found of some random happy family eating Thanksgiving dinner instead:

I’d like to join them. Mostly because they have at least two different wine selections.

Oh, and if this post seems a little disjointed to you, that’s cause I wrote most of it on the plane while sitting in the row directly behind the first-class passengers. I kept losing my train of thought while trying to peek between the curtains. I was also distracted by the smell of their complimentary in-flight meal. It smelled like my own failure mixed with a slight hint of Asiago.

Question of the Day: How was your Thanksgiving?

…. or, if you didn’t celebrate it – have you ever been to a corn maze? This one was apparently used to film the movie Signs. I think that makes me officially more legit now.

OH and p.s. for those of you who asked- Our new sidewalk:

Is that fabulous or what?

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