Learn to Live.Learn to Love

Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

All you really need to do to get to know someone is to let go of all your preconceived notions of them, let go of the stories you’ve heard or told about them, and forget all of your expectations for that person. Only then can you appreciate who they are. Only then will you let them surprise you.

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The more time I spend with my fiancé the more I learn about him, the more I find myself falling in love all over again. The more we do together, the stronger our relationship becomes. Who knew he was so handy? Not me, until we had to take apart my bed and bring my entire room into the basement. Who knew he had such good fashion sense? Not me, until he encouraged me to wear a pair of fancy floral pants that I had purchased a YEAR AGO and was unsure if I could pull it off. Who knew how good he was with kids? Not me, until I saw the way he acts with my our niece.

IMG_0484We had a mini-staycation in Toronto from Sunday to Monday of this week. Although he’s not a huge fan of traffic or a bustling busy city, he knows that Toronto ignites inspiration into my bones so every so often he takes me downtown. We explored Yorkville and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day and the surprisingly quiet city.

In the afternoon we stumbled into the Andy Warhol exhibit on Bloor. Colour popped off of the walls, reminding me how bright and beautiful the world can be. Although small, the exhibit is powerful, filled with life and passion. As I took a photo with Monroe I wondered what my stamp on this world would be. Much like art, words have an immense amount of power; are mine powerful enough to stick? To evoke change? To be remembered?IMG_0477 IMG_0478 IMG_0480

People need to be made more aware of the need to work at learning how to live because life is so quick and sometimes it goes away too quickly — Andy Warhol

For dinner we headed to ONE Restaurant, where my brother-in-law just happens to be the Executive Sous Chef. With a pitcher of pimms and a great spot on the shady patio, Alex and I enjoyed one of the best meals we’ve ever had. Each dish had such different flavours and were cooked to perfection. My taste buds didn’t know what to do with themselves but I’m sure they were happy.

IMG_0502 IMG_0503 IMG_0504Overall it was another successful trip to the city! My taste buds, heart, mind, and creativity drove home nourished and ready to tackle the short (for me) work-week AND get to work on my extracurriculars. You must make time for what you love, am I right?

Love Always,

Vanessa Xo

Chaos in the Kitchen [Wild Mushroom Fettuccine]

Chaos in the Kitchen

Last time on Chaos in the Kitchen, I whipped up a delicious clam, fennel, spinach, and white bean concoction from the cookbook Weeknight Fresh & Fast by Kristine Kidd. The other night I made a simple yet incredibly gut-satisfying wild mushroom fettuccine!

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Ingredients (for two servings)

  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon (I use Portuguese olive oil)
  • Pancetta, 1 and 1/2 oz chopped
  • Large shallots, 3 diced
  • Garlic glove, 1 chopped
  • Dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon
  • Wild mushrooms (portobello, shiitake, oyster, button)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Low sodium chicken broth, 3/4 cup
  • Butter, 1 tablespoon
  • Dry fettuccine, 6 oz
  • Parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup freshly grated
  • Flat-leaf parsley, chopped for sprinkling

Instructions

  • Warm the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until brown (about 2 minutes). Add the thyme, shallots, and garlic, cook until they start to brown (about 4 minutes). Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper to taste (put a lid on the pan if you have one, it’ll keep in the moisture). Sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Add the chicken broth and simmer until syrupy (about 3 minutes without the lid).
  • This wasn’t in the book’s recipe but if you add a tablespoon of butter to the “syrupy sauce” it’ll thicken it a little bit and add a velvety texture as well.

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  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).
  • Drain the pasta and add it to the mushroom mixture (keep a bit of the pasta water in case you find the dish too dry once plated).
  • Stir over medium heat until pasta is completely coated.
  • Divide portions, add parsley and grated parmesan.

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Although it doesn’t look as good as the photo in the cookbook, I have to admit that this is one of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten (and the first that I’ve made). There is so much flavour in every forkful, every mushroom has a distinct taste and when added with the pancetta, my goodness you’ve got an explosion of deliciousness in every bite.

My parents, sister, brother-in-law (who is an Exec. Sous Chef at One restaurant in Yorkville), my boyfriend, and my niece LOVED the meal and it felt satisfying to see six empty plates reach the kitchen sink. I can’t wait until the next time I get to take over the kitchen! I’ve got The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook coming my way and I’m hoping that my next recipe will come from there!

People who love to eat are always the best people!          — Julia Child

Love always, 
Vanessa XX

stop dickering around.

Lifestyle/Personal

I LOVE spending Sundays in Toronto, well in all honesty I love ANYTIME in Toronto. With every corner you turn you can see something new. It’s my kind of bliss — tiny adventures a block at a time. Yesterday afternoon I went to Gusto 101 with the bf and cousins. We sat on the patio and were pummelled with sunshine — it felt great. I had the burger and a glass of their white wine that’s on tap ($1 an ounce!) my mouth is still salivating. Whenever I’m in the city I tend to think big thoughts, dream big dreams. Everything about Toronto is so much BIGGER and FASTER than anything in Bolton.

This is how it is, you’re stagnant for so long and then all of a sudden everything happens at once. All of a sudden your dreams shift and mould into something completely different. All of a sudden life is catching up to you and you can’t seem to understand how quickly you turned twenty-five. You feel like you were nineteen last week instead of six years ago. All of a sudden every single choice you make has an immediate result and impact on your life. All of a sudden you’ve got to stop dickering around and grow the eff up.

IMG_7942I’m not the type to dick around. I want different things than I wanted last year and I’ve got to work hard in order to get them. Patience is a virtue but persistence is a necessity. Changes are immediate, with no end in sight. I don’t want to press pause, rewind, or even fast forward because I’m enjoying the uncertainty of my life right now. My story is just getting interesting…

ENJOY LIFE AND KICK ASS, 
VANESSA XX

 

Saturday Road Trip to Paris

Categories, Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

Have you ever been to Paris — the prettiest town in Canada? The Cobblestone Capital of Canada thanks to its unique cobblestone buildings? No? Well, if I can be honest you aren’t missing much. It’s not as modern and developed as Burlington, it doesn’t have as many quaint shops as St. Jacob’s, and it isn’t as relaxing as Niagara On the Lake (if I may compare it to the places I’ve been to). BUT it does have a certain charm that may just make you fall in love with it.

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They were having a street sale when we got there. Loads of vendors, face painting, a jumpy castle, dog treats, singing, and dancing. It was a the perfect day for it too, barely any clouds and beaming sunshine.

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Their only hotel just went under some major indoor renovations — we took a peek inside and I must say it is gorgeous. I believe the outside is still the original brick but inside is modern, fresh, and super charming.

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Inksater’s is the ONLY store I really wanted to go into and it closed down, which is really unfortunate because I love hard cover books and greeting cards.

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This little spot was absolutely breathtaking. We pondered really serious things while standing here…

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…and then we took a selfie.

IMG_7416We went for lunch at The Cobblestone Public House — I had fish and chips the size of my head. It was super greasy and delicious. The root beer was the best part of my meal, I wish I ordered a float. 
IMG_7418 I don’t know if you’ll find me back in Paris, Ontario. It was a lovely day and the town is so charming I felt like I was in a different era. The trouble is that I thought it was more like the other towns I’ve visited. It is uniquely its own and I wouldn’t discourage you from visiting BUT after two hours of driving it left me feeling unsatisfied. But then I had this deliciously creamy strawberry ice cream from Eskimoo Joe’s and all was right with the world.

Until my next road trip,

Vanessa Xo

P.S. Know of any quaint town in Ontario? I’d love some suggestions for where should the bf and I go next? LMK in the comments!

Living for the Weekend…

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Restaurant Reviews

Although I love my busy weekdays, nothing compares to a weekend filled with great food, great company, an interesting book, and a sun that won’t stop shining. During the week I don’t see much of my family, sometimes it’s two or three days before I actually see my brother, so I love spending weekends in their company. On Friday my sister and bf came over and we had a movie date with my dad — Django Unchained is the best movie ever!

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My niece is getting big (or so I would assume by the way my sister’s stomach is expanding) and she has the softest, sweetest kicks/punches. You really have to press down on my sister’s belly to feel Izzy’s punches or her heartbeat but it is the most beautiful tap I’ve ever felt. Next time Jess comes over I’m going to read Izzy a story, my favourite in fact (The Balloon Tree) so she can get used to hearing my voice.

Yesterday the bf and I went for a little drive and ended up at Katz’s Deli near Yorkdale Mall. My mouth is watering just thinking about the warm corned beef sandwich on rye bread, topped with mustard, that we demolished in about 30 seconds. It’s a great place with deliciously fresh food and fantastic coffee. It’s been around since 1970 and is the perfect Saturday meal. They have an eat-in and take-out option and their cashier is a wonderful old man, using an old-school cash register, cracking jokes at your expense. I will be back more often than I should now that I know how close it is to the subway.

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I hope you all enjoyed this beautiful sunny weekend.

I hope you spent it with the people you love, with wonderful food, and with the comfort that comes from having a great book waiting for you whenever you get home.

Love Always 

Vanessa Xo 

When I dip, you dip, we #ChickNDip [Event Recap]

Just for Fun, Products and Brands, Toronto Adventures

Remember when I got to participate in the #ChickNDip conversation at the end of February? Well, now I’d like to tell you more about it. Brand and Buzzing Media hosted a fantastic event showcasing Yorkshire Valley Farms Organic Chicken Nuggets, as well as, 11 AMAZING sauces. I’ve read some pretty scary stories in the newspaper lately about antibiotics in chicken and how they affect US and I must say that it’s wonderful to find a company that believes in ORGANIC chicken. I feel safe eating their products.

“At Yorkshire Valley Farms we raise your food the way nature intended. Our organic, free range chickens are fed only the finest certified organic grains, with no antibiotics, hormones or animal bi-products added.

We raise our chickens on certified organic farms in Ontario in the most natural and healthy environment possible, open to sunlight and fresh air. Processing is done to exacting standards in an organically certified facility.”

From Left to Right: James Sculthorpe (President (Yorkshire Valley Farms), Rossy Earle (Owner of SupiCucu) and Nike Ahrens (Farmer & Owner Betolianni Organic Farms) — at SubZero Wolf Showroom.

From Left to Right: James Sculthorpe (President Yorkshire Valley Farms), Rossy Earle (Owner of SupiCucu) and Nike Ahrens (Farmer & Owner Betolianni Organic Farms) — at SubZero Wolf Showroom.

I tasted the nuggets with and without the sauces and I must say that even after eating 10-15 (okay more like 20) of them I didn’t get that heavy or bloated feeling that I usually get when I eat chicken nuggets. They tasted wonderful on their own and I think they’re going to be a frequent addition to our freezer.

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Now on to the sauces…

I got to dip my chickn’ into Bumpercrop’s Green Tomato Garlic Jam, Bonne Maman’s Plum Spread, Eudora’s Fine Foods Khaldin, Billy Bee’s Honey, McEwan’s Own Bacon Jam, Killer Condiments’ Sweet Pepper Relish, Rossy’s Diablo’s Fuego, DA Foods’ Southern Blues Original BBQ Sauce, Neal Brothers Toasted Sesame Salad Dressing & Honey Dijon Salad Dressing, AND Maggi Canada’s Hot and Sweet Sauce. I swear I have never tasted so many unique and wonderful sauces in my life!

My favourites were McEwan’s Own Bacon Jam, Neal Brothers’ Toasted Sesame Salad Dressing, and Rossy’s Diablo’s Fuego. They all had rich and intense flavours that kept me coming back for another dip — seriously, I stuck by them all night. The Toasted Sesame Salad Dressing is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted, it’s sweet but not overly so. It make my taste buds swing dance! Rossy’s Diablo’s Fuego has a wonderful kick to it but it still provides FLAVOUR. Your mouth isn’t burning so much that you can’t taste your food, it teases you with heat and goes away leaving a sweet and sour flavour to enjoy. The bacon jam is simply perfection.

Each sauce complimented the chicken nuggets in their own way and I must say that all of the attendees complimented the event even more so. It was great to attend a foodie function and to talk to people who know food on a different level than I do. I met a lot of inspiring young people and had great conversations with them. Thank you to Yorkshire Valley Farms and Brand and Buzzing Media for a fantastic event!

It really was a wonderful evening and I urge you to test out any and ALL of these dipping sauce.

Have your own CHICKNDIP soiree with your besties!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

“Make it the best it can be.” Mark McEwan #Winterlicious #Fabbrica

Just for Fun, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

Yesterday evening my boyfriend and I tried out Winterlicious for the very first time! Our place of choice was Fabbrica, a Mark McEwan restaurant. We’ve been a fan of Mark McEwan since dining at ONE Restaurant and Bymark Restaurant — the food is always amazing and the service is phenomenal.
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Their Winterlicious menu was difficult to choose from but we finally decided on the following:

Arugala salad with poached pear, walnuts, apple balsamic dressing and pecorino romano.Bruschetta with lamb bolognese, chickpea and minted ricotta.

Arugala salad with poached pear, walnuts, apple balsamic dressing and pecorino romano.
Bruschetta with lamb bolognese, chickpea and minted ricotta.

Porchetta di fabbrica, pear mostarda, roasted potatoes with rosemary.Risotto with mushroom and truffle.

Porchetta di fabbrica, pear mostarda, roasted potatoes with rosemary.
Risotto with mushroom and truffle.

Unfortunately my photo of dessert isn't uploading BUT we had tiramisu di fabbrica and chocolate bread and butter pudding.

Unfortunately my photo of dessert isn’t uploading BUT we had tiramisu di fabbrica, chocolate bread and butter pudding, and two cappuccinos.

I’m happy to report that the atmosphere was as romantic and soothing as it appears in the photos and the food was as delicious as it looks — maybe even better. Each dish was like a story, with only the finest characters included. Every bite ignited my taste buds. Every morsel was eaten and the plate that held my risotto was nearly licked clean. Every dish was presented elegantly, each portion was hearty, and at the end of the meal my taste buds were still asking for more — even though my stomach was full! $35 a person, not including coffee, wine, taxes, or gratuity was an absolute steal and I am so glad that we participated in Winterlicious this year.

Mark McEwan and his staff do it right every single time! I’m looking forward to checking out North #44 Restaurant sometime in the near future (maybe for my birthday) so that we’ve tried them all. I think my favourite of his restaurants will always remain ONE Restaurant, but that might be because my brother-in-law is the Executive Sous Chef there :P.

Thank you for the wonderful meal and the incredible service, Fabbrica.

Have you tried a new restaurant for Winterlicious? Let me know in the comments!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Fabbrica is located on 49 Karl Fraser Rd. Don Mills. 416-391-0307

"Make it the best it can be." Mark McEwan #Winterlicious #Fabbrica

Just for Fun, Restaurant Reviews, Toronto Adventures

Yesterday evening my boyfriend and I tried out Winterlicious for the very first time! Our place of choice was Fabbrica, a Mark McEwan restaurant. We’ve been a fan of Mark McEwan since dining at ONE Restaurant and Bymark Restaurant — the food is always amazing and the service is phenomenal.
image

IMG_2221

IMG_2227

IMG_2226

IMG_2222

IMG_2219

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Their Winterlicious menu was difficult to choose from but we finally decided on the following:

Arugala salad with poached pear, walnuts, apple balsamic dressing and pecorino romano.Bruschetta with lamb bolognese, chickpea and minted ricotta.

Arugala salad with poached pear, walnuts, apple balsamic dressing and pecorino romano.
Bruschetta with lamb bolognese, chickpea and minted ricotta.

Porchetta di fabbrica, pear mostarda, roasted potatoes with rosemary.Risotto with mushroom and truffle.

Porchetta di fabbrica, pear mostarda, roasted potatoes with rosemary.
Risotto with mushroom and truffle.

Unfortunately my photo of dessert isn't uploading BUT we had tiramisu di fabbrica and chocolate bread and butter pudding.

Unfortunately my photo of dessert isn’t uploading BUT we had tiramisu di fabbrica, chocolate bread and butter pudding, and two cappuccinos.

I’m happy to report that the atmosphere was as romantic and soothing as it appears in the photos and the food was as delicious as it looks — maybe even better. Each dish was like a story, with only the finest characters included. Every bite ignited my taste buds. Every morsel was eaten and the plate that held my risotto was nearly licked clean. Every dish was presented elegantly, each portion was hearty, and at the end of the meal my taste buds were still asking for more — even though my stomach was full! $35 a person, not including coffee, wine, taxes, or gratuity was an absolute steal and I am so glad that we participated in Winterlicious this year.

Mark McEwan and his staff do it right every single time! I’m looking forward to checking out North #44 Restaurant sometime in the near future (maybe for my birthday) so that we’ve tried them all. I think my favourite of his restaurants will always remain ONE Restaurant, but that might be because my brother-in-law is the Executive Sous Chef there :P.

Thank you for the wonderful meal and the incredible service, Fabbrica.

Have you tried a new restaurant for Winterlicious? Let me know in the comments!

Love Always

Vanessa Xo

Fabbrica is located on 49 Karl Fraser Rd. Don Mills. 416-391-0307

Lemon Zest, Dill, Basil: Flavour, Fun, and Friends @ONE.

Just for Fun, Lifestyle/Personal, Toronto Adventures

Sometimes it’s nice to get dressed up, put on some makeup, and head downtown to have a lovely meal with a few of your favourite friends. It’s even better when your brother-in-law happens to be the Executive Sous Chef (Richard Hakim) said restaurant.

Here’s him in action – CLICK HERE.

And here’s him posing for the wedding photos (just so you can put a face to a name).

Isn’t he DASHING?

Okay, so I’m not a foodie or much of a food blogger but I took pictures of all the food we ate, in hopes that you might start to drool and have to go over to ONE Restaurant in Yorkville to try it out for yourself.

Round one: fried calamari and a mixed green salad with strawberry dressing.

Round two: pierogies, tomatoes with a balsamic glaze and buffalo mozzarella, and a platter of cured meats.

Round three: Vince’s burger, Lina’s ricotta gnocchi with buffalo mozzarella and basil, onion rings, creamed corn, and truffle frites.

Alex’s LAMB.

Close-up of the gnocchi I waited 5 years for.

Round four: blueberry parfait and I forget what the second one was call but it was full of ice cream, brownies, caramelized bananas, and POP ROCKS – ultimately the most entertaining and delicious dessert around.

After three hours of food, wine, laughter, and a walk around the kitchen, the four of us left completely stuffed, satisfied, and in dire need of a treadmill. I never realized how intense flavours can actually be. Everything I ate literally woke up my taste buds – total party in my mouth! And it was like everything melted once it hit my tongue – how does that even happen? *DROOL*

It was a fantastic meal and I am now convinced that a truffle frite will turn any horrible day into a day worth living.

It was really cool to see my brother-in-law in action and I don’t know if I’ve ever told him this, but I am truly proud of where he is today. I didn’t think much of the skinny-long-haired boy my sister brought home over 5 years ago but I am happy that he made a fool out of me. He is a prime example of where a little passion, tonnes of hard work, and about a million hours a week can get you! Congratulations on all your success at ONE, Richard.

Hope you all had a fantastic Saturday!

Oh and thanks to my wonderful dates for coming with!

Love Always
Vanessa Xo