posts displayed by tag
Chocolateria San Gines is the churros destination in Madrid – if you do a little research, this chocolateria comes up in almost every search result. People from all over call it an institution… and it is. They’ve been serving churros since 1894. That’s a long, long time. If you had any doubts about commitment or worries that this place was resting on its laurels, you should know that they’re open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Damn.
People are going apeshit for donuts. You know what I’m talking about, Montrealers. The wave of trendy donut shops has not yet tided over – you’ve got Chez Boris, Leche and Saint Donut leading the charge in bringing gourmet donuts back to reality. Forget about Tim Hortons, Dunkin Donuts and what you thought you knew about how donuts taste. These guys are reintroducing the dessert in a way that will turn donut eating into your new bad, albeit delicious habit.
So you’re walking around the Distillery District, checking out art, spending time in Old Toronto, taking in the view… out of nowhere, the smell of warm chocolate hits your nostrils. It’s sweet and thick, fragrant and unmistakable. The smell makes the taste of chocolate almost palpable. You don’t know where it’s coming from or what exactly is going on, but you know you have to find the source. If you follow your instincts, you should end up in front of SOMA Chocolate. Go ahead. Take a look inside.
Noting the popularity of chocolate bars in parts of Asia and Australia, Easy Ying – the owner and the concept creator of Cacao 70 – was particularly surprised that nothing remotely similar had yet surfaced in Montreal’s diverse restaurant and culinary scene. So, he endeavored to create a unique and novel experience for those who had never been while bringing something new to the table for those who have. What differentiates the place from their competitors (say, Juliette & Chocolat) is the fact that all the raw materials used both inside and outside the restaurant are recycled and their selection of chocolate and raw cocoa is seemingly limitless and variety driven (their cocoa comes from Venezuela to Costa Rica to Tanzania to Ghana). While conceding to the fact that the restaurant’s look and concept seems to be more fitting for trendier areas like Mile End or the Plateau, it is their hope that Cacao 70 can perhaps kickstart the revitalization of the West end of St. Catherine street much like Joe Beef, Jane’s and The Burgundy Lion have done for Griffintown. They’re off to a good start, that’s for sure.
As we waited by the door to be seated at Holder, we were able to get a good look at the bar. The selection of wines and hard alcohol stocked behind the bar seemed endless and with that in mind, I asked for the cocktail list, excited by all the possibilities the bar apparently presented. To my chagrin, they didn’t have one! I feel like it would be a good idea for them to establish a section in their drink menu for specialty cocktails – I mean, they have the tools and the ingredients… why not?
Let me start off by saying La Fabrique is amazing. Everything about the place is perfect. The design, both interior and exterior is impeccable, the service was well-timed and the view from the terrasse at the Annexe was beautiful. Boasting minimalistic wooden chairs with ultra low backs, vintage/rustic decor (typewriter, spigot type faucets, warm wooden paneling) and a friendly and inviting vibe, the restaurant finds an optimal stylistic balance somewhere between antique and modern. On top of all of this, the food is great.
Lecōsho is located just off of Seattle’s downtown waterfront and offers a great indoor view to its diners as well as a terrace. The service was very friendly as well as helpful – I caught some of the banter going on with other diners and couldn’t help but laugh.
Yes, yet another all you can eat fancy buffet in Taipei, this one is within walking distance from the Dapinglin MRT station. The Splendor Hotel is particularly famous for its sashimi as well as its seafood section so that was one of the most consistently popular counters of the night. Particularly outstanding were the pig tail, (with the actual bone intact, you eat the meat around it), the frog legs and the moji for dessert. While the place does ask for a bit more cash for entry, it is well worth it – just check out the pictures – that should do the place some justice. The options as to what you can eat are endless!
Overwhelmingly cute, Hello Kitty Sweets is known for its Hello Kitty themed everything – that includes furniture, decoration, staff uniforms and of course, the food. I don’t have a particular affinity for Hello Kitty but I did think that going to this restaurant would be an interesting experience worthy of blogging about.
From what I gather, Sadaharu Aoki is currently the most popular Japanese chef in Taiwan. His minimalistic patisserie shops have been catching my eye since ever I’ve been in Taipei (once in the Regent and the other when I passed by Joel Robuchon’s Salon de The in Bellavita) so I was happy to finally stop by and pick something up at the location in the B2 level of the Bellavita complex. Everything looks amazing… good enough to make you actually semi-seriously contemplate buying one of each dessert and worrying about the calories later. We got one Valencia with candied orange and sugar on top and one chocolate cake. Pictures speak for themselves.
Located in the basement level of the prestigious Regent Hotel (incidentally where Lady Gaga chose to stay when she came to Taipei for a show several weeks ago), the Brasserie is an upscale all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant with a selection of foods wide enough to make your jaw drop. The sushi/sashimi bar features freshly caught lobsters, crabs and oysters, king mackerel, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, sea urchin among other premium raw seafood. The Japanese section also had cold soba and oolong noodles prepared on demand, just fried tempura (fish, potato, taro, shrimp), miso soup among many other choice selections.The “American” section featured some typical foods you would expect which for some foreigners may be a welcome relief from the rather different Asian foods you find most places in Taipei.
A chain store located all over Asia – mostly in fancy department stores and malls (the one I visited was in the basement level of the Ion Orchard in Singapore) – Awfully Chocolate attracts customers by advertising their most interesting item: poached chocolate. The sales associate kindly explained the process to me which involves the process of deep freezing the chocolate and letting it readjust to a reasonably cool temperature. I tried the Kahlua and Bailey’s poached chocolate on her recommendation as it was the bestseller of the house. To be totally honest, I was attracted to the shop due to its aesthetic appearance and tried the poached chocolate purely out of curiosity. Even after the first bite, I knew immediately that I wouldn’t be able to finish it alone due to its super rich texture and heavy chocolatey flavor. No one else I was with was interested so I had regretfully to leave half of it behind. Awfully Chocolate really is awfully chocolate – I would recommend it exclusively for hardcore chocolate fans.
The number of high tea places in the Shoppes at the Marina Bay Sands seems endless. After our pleasant foray into the world of high tea in Singapore with TWG, we decided to check out High Society. Featuring plush red velvet seats and curtains, gold colored chandeliers, black and white tiled floors, a bar full of nothing but Veuve-Cliquot and Moet, the place definitely gives off a more fancy and uppity air. Despite the setting, the service isn’t snobby at all and you can really enjoy a nice cup of tea or coffee and a dessert quite comfortably.
An hour and half away from Taipei city by bus, Shen Yen is located in the suburb of Yilan. It is a quaint little restaurant across from an elevated bike path with a gorgeous view of the lush green mountains. The owners of Shen Yen are dedicated to bringing their customers the freshest ingredients and the best food – this becomes quite obvious from the moment you even get a glimpse of the front of the restaurant as they have dozens of large pots full of fermenting soya beans so that they can make their own soya sauce. The garden out back is full of home grown fruits, vegetables and herbs.
World renowned French chef and restauranteur Joel Robuchon – the only one in the world who has received as many as 24 Michelin stars – has opened a Salon de Thé in Taipei’s Bellavita high fashion complex. Beautifully decorated with not a single item out of place, the furniture, the floors and the couches alternate between a jet black and a bright red, providing a stark contrast. We went around 11 am, a little early for afternoon tea granted, but we were anticipating waiting for a while, having heard that lines to get a seat inside are common. To our surprise, it was completely empty! We were the only customers until a few minutes before we left as some more groups started to trickle in. The place is gorgeous – as are the pastries served here.
Walking into Joe Beef, one immediately senses a kind of warm intimacy few restaurants are able to successfully achieve in terms of both physical space, ambiance and decor. The space out front is quite small; tables are set one next to the other with only a few inches separating diners from one another – for those who sit on the inner banquettes, tables must be pulled out for them to exit gracefully. Even in such close quarters, fellow diners have been the most friendly and cordial I have ever met. The owners have recently closed their luncheonette next door (McKiernan’s) in favor of expanding Joe Beef, creating an oyster bar in its place while at the same time increasing its capacity for more people to stop by. Due to the popular demand for the restaurant’s exquisite food, the terrasse out back has been opened up as well. I had actually never been in the area before and our lovely waitress Vanya was nice enough to show me around. The garden where ingredients are freshly grown and harvested lines the terrasse; adjacent to this, a separate plot of land is sectioned off by a fence – here they house a large metal smoker where they treat some of their meats and fish.
In search for something sweet after eating at Muvbox, we went down McGill street to Pizzaiolle for dessert. The clean cut restaurant setting with the semi open kitchen concept was quite nice. We got there just in time to get a spot – a few minutes after we sat down, the restaurant filled up quite quickly with tourists and fans of the Grand Prix; uniformed members of the British racing team sat next to us.