Turning 27

20171019_160653
Top, COS | Skirt, Banana Republic, thrifted

I turned 27 yesterday! Mikaius planned a lovely day for us, with the trip to the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit at the AGO bookended by food – thank you, my love, for the effort that you put into this date!

20171019_104933

Breakfast was at Yonge and Wellesley, at a restaurant called The Coach House Restaurant. We’ve eaten here before and had a grand old time, so we decided to come back. Mikaius had pancakes (super fluffy and delicious, by the way) with sausage and bacon and a milkshake to wash it all down, and I had the spinach and feta omelette with a cup of coffee. A wonderful and hearty start to my birthday!

20171019_142751

We then walked to campus to visit the Trinity College Annual Book Sale, and on our way there, this adorable little ladybug decided to hang out with us for a little while. It particularly enjoyed Mikaius’ Misfits patch.

I got myself my first Ian Fleming book, an unabridged 1959 edition of From Russia with Love – it’s this exact one, although I only paid $3 for my copy! I’m going to hold off from reading it until December, but I’m pretty excited.

20171019_145141

Afterwards, we hit up the Krispy Kreme at the Kensington Market for a snack: a Pepperoni Pull-apart, a Pumpkin Spice donut, an Original Glazed donut, and a Triple Chocolate Frozzé that we couldn’t finish because it was so thick. We had to walk around Blue Banana for a bit to try and shake things down, we were so full of food.

We made our way to the AGO for the exhibit, fairly buzzing with excitement. IT WAS SO COOL. Photos will honestly not do it justice, so I only selected a few to show here, but I was so glad that this was what he had chosen to take me out to for my birthday. I adore Guillermo del Toro – Pan’s Labyrinth is one of my favourite movies!

20171019_16074620171019_160208
20171019_160309

We headed out to Mo Ramyun, a short walk from the AGO, after the exhibit. Mo Ramyun is a favourite of ours, and we both tried something new: Mikaius had a bowl of the Chicken Ramyun, while I tried the Don-Gol Ramyun. Both delicious and so very filling – we had plenty of leftovers to take home.

20171019_171814

All in all, a wonderfully relaxing day: I stayed off of my email and messages for the most part, and didn’t do any schoolwork. I’ll get back to it again tomorrow, but oh my goodness was it wonderful to not have to think about everything that I needed to submit and all my looming deadlines.

Kitchen Adventures: Overnight Oats!

Two of the days in my school week begin at 1PM and end at 8PM. My one hour commute means that I have to leave before lunch, and I come home so late that my appetite is gone. I’ve taken to bringing lunch, but nothing too complicated – fried rice made out of whatever was left over from dinner the night before is filling, easy, and super convenient.

A couple of weeks into the semester, I realized that I was going to need more food than that single packed lunch. There I was, sitting in my evening classes with a stomach so grumpy,  I could barely concentrate on the lectures! Being a broke college student, my food fund was also rather limited. I don’t really like sandwiches (I know, I know), and salads haven’t gone too well with me, so I wanted something that I could prepare the night before and just grab out of the fridge before leaving. I was also quite certain I didn’t want rice for that second meal/snack; a girl’s gotta have some variety!

This list of Overnight Oats from Buzzfeed gave me some much-needed gastronomic inspiration. I’ve now been bringing oatmeal as a snack for the past week and it is the perfect food to tide me over because it doesn’t need to be heated and it’s a breeze to change up!

10949726_10203138052204482_78474523_n
I even managed to find an empty jam jar that was the perfect size to pack in my bag!

This is my current favourite way of making overnight oats:

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup of milk
  • a dash of cinnamon
  • a dash of brown sugar
  • 1/2 of an apple, diced

Instructions:

  • Slice the banana into little rings, then mash them with a fork to whatever consistency you prefer. I like mine with little chunks – it makes for a mini flavour-bomb in my mouth while eating. Place the mashed banana first into an empty jam jar (or tupperware container!) so that it goes in the bottom.
  • Pour in the oats, then the milk.
  • Sprinkle cinnamon and brown sugar on top of the banana-oats-milk mixture. The amount depends on how sweet you like your oatmeal. Personally, I find that the banana sweetens it enough, but a little brown sugar gives it an interesting layer of flavour.
  • Sprinkle the diced apple on top – go crazy with your toppoings! You can add berries and nuts on top, or maybe even halved grapes!
  • Make sure the lid is tightly closed, then stick it in the fridge overnight to let them spend quality time with each other. 4-5 hours together really makes those ingredients play nice.
  • Wake up the next day and be happy, for you have made yummy, yummy overnight oats! Enjoy!

Toronto Bites: Cora’s

Disclaimer: I am very much a loyal Cora’s fan. It is my go-to place for brunch whenever I can, because their serving sizes are great, all the dishes I’ve had there were amazing, and my family (who, as I’ve mentioned before is very Filipino in their tastes) loved the restaurant enough that there were no complaints at all when I took them there for Family Day. My go-to order? Their ham and cheese crepe-omelette: moist, flavourful, and doused with a liberal amount of their beautiful hollandaise sauce. I usually have it with orange juice, or a cup of coffee on the rare days that I really need that blast of caffeine.

IMG_20140711_091212730_HDR
Cora’s, I love your food. You will always have a lifelong customer in me. Please never go away.

Mikaius and I had breakfast at the Cora’s at Dufferin and Steeles, and (as always), it was a great experience. It’s such a treat to go and have breakfast there, and it’s not just because of their food! The restaurant was immaculate, and I love the wall murals featuring some of the menu items. It gives the place a homey atmosphere, almost like we’re having breakfast at some beloved aunt or grandma’s place. The combination of the well-maintained interior and the cheeriness of the staff, plus the general high quality of their food means that I am a repeat diner, and will probably be so until the foreseeable future. We were also seated promptly – no matter how packed the place is, wait times are never over the top.

We were pleasantly surprised when we discovered that they had a new section in the menu! Mikaius usually orders something sweet for breakfast because he loves their custard, but he was sufficiently intrigued that he ordered from the new section. He had the hotdog-and-bacon stuffed crepe with breakfast potatoes served with spicy hollandaise, and a latte bowl. The latte was indeed served in a cup that was almost as deep as a bowl, but in my haste to dig in I forgot a photo of his coffee. I only had a bite or two of his food, but it was tasty! The dish is very rich, what with both bacon and hotdog in one bite all wrapped up in the tasty crepe. It might not be for you if you prefer a lighter breakfast, but if you’re ravenous and you feel like having something heavy, I would definitely recommend this.

IMG_20140711_093155828
Hotdog and bacon stuffed crepe, spicy hollandaise, and breakfast potatoes. Heavy? Yes. Tasty? Very much!

I also ordered from their new menu and had the breakfast poutine: breakfast potatoes, red bell peppers, chunks of bacon and sausage, cheese curds, hollandaise sauce, and topped with a perfectly cooked sunny side up egg. Beautiful, beautiful dish. Everything worked together and was a taste explosion in my mouth. It was totally more than I could eat, of course, and I ended up taking the rest with me to work so I could have it for lunch, but what I had was oh so delicious. There was just the right amount of everything and the cheese curds were wonderfully melty. It also reheats beautifully, and although the sauce did break (I don’t think hollandaise was meant to be popped in the microwave and heated up) the flavours were still beautiful. I would definitely order it again, for sure!

IMG_20140711_093142112
Breakfast poutine: breakfast potatoes, red peppers, chunks of bacon and sausage, cheese curds, hollandaise sauce, and topped with a sunny side up egg for good measure!

An immaculate and homey interior, the friendliest and most helpful of servers, delicious food, and a consistently great experience? Why yes, I shall come back as often as I can. Cora’s is always a treat for the tummy, and an option that is sure to please when I want to take people out to brunch. It has a lot of options, even for the pickiest of eaters. This restaurant is definitely on my list of go-to breakfast and brunch places.

Overall rating: 5/5, would go back again and again.

Toronto Bites: Fran’s Restaurant

My best friend Kenneth and I had brunch at Fran’s last Friday morning. We hadn’t seen each other in months because of school, and now that we were both on break for the summer, we were trying to steal time between my internships and his job. It was hard trying to find a time that was good for us both, but when we looked at each other’s schedules, we realized that the only day and time that would be great for a date was Friday morning from 10A-1P. Brunch? Heck yeah, brunch!

Kenn is an amazing person to go out with because the awkward “where do you wanna eat? I don’t know, where do you wanna eat?” dance never happens with him. Once you suggest a place, you go there, no complicated questions asked. Or, say you haven’t decided where you want to eat yet, he gives a suggestion, making the choice easier. Kenn is wonderful at all these social interactions that I have never – and probably will never – mastered.

I haven’t been to Fran’s before, but he had, and the diner was highly recommended. Actually, the moment he said that they served breakfast all day I was sold. I adore breakfast food of all kinds: the various incarnations of the Filipino –silogs, french toast, hash browns, eggs, pancakes and waffles, quiche, bacon, sausage… The list, my friends, is endless. Take me out to a great breakfast place and you will have earned a lifelong friend.

Fran’s has a pretty facade. The patio had tables and chairs that were unavailable for use at that moment because of Toronto’s extended cold snap, but looked like a fun option should it be given as a choice. Kenn and I were seated almost at once, and our server immediately asked what our drink of choice would be so we would have something to sip on while perusing the (extensive) menu. He was also incredibly cheerful, which just added to the restaurant’s friendly atmosphere.

To start with, Kenn and I both had a cup of coffee and water. The coffee was really good, and was also at the perfect temperature to start drinking as soon as it was served. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I’ve had bad experiences with gulping down scalding hot coffee. I immediately beelined towards the breakfast section of the menu and was overwhelmed with the choices. Man, I thought, this was going to be a tough decision.

10155428_10201719930992338_378503746988193603_n
I take my coffee with two creams and three sugars, in case anybody was interested. (c) DM

I decided to go with the Corned Beef Hash with scrambled eggs and white toast. When the plate was put in front of me, I was amazed at the serving size! It was massive, one that would probably have comfortably fed two people on a lazy Sunday morning. I got two pieces of buttered toast, two individual servings of strawberry jam, two scrambled eggs, and a whole lot of corned beef. Oh, and the tater tots. Those taters were the star of my meal. I know that the corned beef was supposed to be the centrepiece, but after having had breakfast at Cora’s a lot of times, having tots instead of home fries was a great change. I think that my euphoria over those bite-sized potato pieces was more than a little enhanced by the surprise. Overall, I still prefer Cora’s home fries over Fran’s tater tots, but that day, the tots reigned supreme.

10313376_10201719930752332_8553475731924760557_n
My giant plate of breakfast. (c) DM

So, how was the food? As you may have gathered from my over-enthusiasm about the tots, I loved them. They weren’t amazing, but they were certainly good. The toast was a little too buttery for my taste, as in my fingers became slippery while I was spreading jam on my toast, and I also didn’t like that I wasn’t given a choice over what jam I wanted on my bread. The corned beef was a bit dull, although the onions in it did help with the rather lacklustre flavour. The eggs were okay, the coffee was good. The server was amazing though, service was prompt, and the waiting time for food was really short. All in all, I’d give it a 3/5. I would definitely go there again, although I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I’ve been to better places.

Overall rating: 3/5, would try again.