Fall Break – Train ride to Toronto, World’s Biggest Bookstore, Spadina Gardens, Toronto Symphony, and Utsav

Train to Toronto

On Thursday, October 13, we took an early train from London Ontario to Toronto.  Here is a picture of Anya and Dubba dubba on the train:

World’s Biggest Bookstore

After we arrived in Toronto, we visited the World’s Biggest Bookstore (that’s the name of the store).  Here is a picture of us in front of the bookstore (we are on the very left, and dubba dubba is on the right).

Mommy was trying to get a picture of the entire sign but it was too wide.  We are collecting a series of Lucky Luke comic books and were hoping to pick up a few of our missing comic books (volumes 6, 11, 12, and anything after 28).  Unfortunately, there was only one volume and we already had it!!

Spadina Garden

To cheer ourselves up, we lunched at Spadina Gardens, a Chinese restaurant.  We ordered the chive pancakes, house special fried rice, hot garlic shrimp and vegetables, and their famous spicy chicken with peanuts.  The dishes also came with hot and sour soup.  Here is what they looked like:

Top Left:Hot and Sour Soup, Top Right: Fried Rice, Middle: Spicy Chicken, Bottom Left: Shrimp and Vegetables, Bottom Right:  Chive Pancakes.

We arrived in the nick of time because it soon became very crowded.  In fact, it was so noisy that we had to yell at each other to be heard.

The Hot and Sour Soup was very warm, so we had to try to avoid burning our tongues!! Overall it was pretty good, though. It was spicy (see the red color). The Fried rice was tasty. This was Anya’s favorite dish. The Spicy Chicken was  pretty good, but if we went there again, we would probably not order it. Perhaps we were expecting a little too much because we were told that it was their most popular dish (and it seemed that nearly every table ordered it!). The sauce in the Shrimp and Vegetables was so sweet and salty so do not be surprised if it is not to your liking.  We would definitely not order this dish again.  The chive pancakes, however, were delicious.  They came with a honey sauce.

Smiley Face rating, on our scale from 1 to 5 (with 5 being best): 🙂 🙂 🙂

Overall, we felt that Spadina Garden lost a few smiley faces because the food was mediocre and the atmosphere was very loud.  On the positive side, the food came very fast and the service was efficient.  If you are in a rush and in the mood for Chinese food, this might just hit the spot.

Toronto Symphony and Glenn Gould’s Piano

We arrived at Roy Thompson Hall for the symphony a little early so that we could see Glenn Gould’s piano.  Glenn Gould is Mommy’s favorite pianist. He was from Toronto.  When we arrived, the piano was missing!  We asked one of the volunteers about it. The volunteer’s name was Mr. Douglas. Mr. Douglas told us that it had been moved because of a special event the night before.  He was very gracious and took us “behind the scenes” to see the piano.

This is a picture of the front of the Roy Thompson Symphony Hall.  We had tickets to a 2pm matinee with pieces by Bach (Passacalgia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582), Mozart (Piano Concerto No.25 in C Major, and Beethoven (Symphony No.3 in E-flat Major, Op.55 “Eroica”).  There was a solo pianist named Louis Lortie who played the Mozart piece.  The concert was AMAZING!!


Above is a picture of us with Mr. Douglas and Glenn Gould’s piano.   On the right is the sign that tells you that it is Gould’s piano.  We would like to say special Thank You to Mr. Douglas for giving us a “personal tour” of the piano.

 

 

Dinner at Utsav 

After the symphony, we met our father (who arrived in Toronto that afternoon). After much discussion about dinner and advice from two concierges, we finally decided to take him to a small and wonderfully delicious Indian restaurant called Utsav. We learned that in hindi, “Utsav” means festival or occasion.  We definitely had occasion to celebrate!  We were on fall break!!!

Here is a picture of Anya and Papa at the restaurant.

The owner’s name is Mr. Suresh. He will often stop and chat at your table. He is kind to all customers. Here is a picture of Mr. Suresh:

When we arrived, we were quickly seated. Mr.Suresh then gave us our menus. They looked like this:

We first ordered Onion Bhajia. Onion Bhajia are like Indian onion rings.  They were crispy, not greasy, and absolutely delicious.  They came with a mint chutney, a tamarind chutney, and a mango chutney:

Top Left: Onion Bhajia

Bottom Right: Chutneys

 

 

 

 

Anya liked the tamarind (imli) chutney.  Mommy liked the mint chutney best.  And Karsen (who is very wishy washy) decided that he didn’t want the mango chutney to feel left out so he liked that one best.

 

Then we had Lacha Paratha (top), Chicken Tikka Masala (left), Saag Paneer (middle), and yellow daal (right):

Lacha Paratha is an Indian bread that flakes when you eat it.  It was delicious and we had to fight for the last piece.  Mommy finally cut the last piece in half.

There is also a picture of us enjoying the food:

 

 

The Chicken Tikka Masala is a house specialty and recommended to us by Mr. Suresh.  It was perfectly spicy, and creamy.  Saag Paneer is a spinach and paneer (Indian cheese curds) dish, and Daal is a lentil dish that is very popular in North India (where Papa is from).

Anya’s favorite was the Chicken Tikka Masala. You could see that the chicken had been cooked properly in a clay oven called a Tandoor. It is often used by people on the Indian Subcontinent. Karsen said that ALL of the dishes were his favorites.

One of the best things about Indian food is that you can eat it with your hands!!!  Here is a picture of Karsen eating with his hands:

For dessert, Mr. Suresh presented us with Kheer. Kheer is a rice pudding with cardamom.

The kheer was cooked perfectly.  Not too sweet and just milky enough.

If you are lucky, you will might spot a glimpse of the Chef. He is from New Delhi. Here is a snap of the Chef, Mr. Suresh, and Karsen:

(On the Very Left is the Chef, Middle is Karsen, Right is Mr. Suresh).

Smiley face rating ( 1 to 5 with 5 being AMAZING ): 

Anya: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Karsen: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Overall: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

This was a great way to end our first day in Toronto!  Thank you, Mr. Suresh!!  If we are ever back in Toronto, we will surely pay you and your restaurant a visit.

 

Our Canadian Fall Break – Apples, Niagara Falls and Poutine

We are enjoying our fall break visiting our Dubba Dubba who lives in London, Ontario, Canada.  Our previous post showed our Canadian Thanksgiving meal.  On the morning of Canadian Thanksgiving (October 10), we also went apple picking at Appleland.  We picked 27 pounds of apples!  Here are pictures of Karsen picking apples:

In the first picture, Karsen is on Dubba Dubba’s shoulders. In the second picture, Karsen is climbing the apple tree to get at the best apples.

The next day (October 11), we went to Niagara Falls.  Here is a picture of the Canadian side.

We took a boat ride called “Maid of the Mist.”  This is the same boat ride that mommy took 30 years ago – when she was a kid.  We wore blue ponchos because the water splashed in our faces.  If you ever want to see what it feels like to wear a trash bag, the blue ponchos give you a good idea.  The Canadian side is so much more spectacular-looking than the US side (and this is from the point of view of two American kids).  The Canadian side gives you a 270-degree view of waterfalls (Mr. Weaver, my math teacher, would be impressed with my ability to measure degrees). On the boat ride, we learned that a 63 year-old woman fell down the falls in a barrel and lived!!!   Niagara Falls (and the Maid of the Mist boat ride) is a must-see for anyone visiting Canada.

On Wednesday, October 12, we went to Stratford to see Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  We got there early so that we could enjoy the town.  While getting fresh lemonade (shaken not stirred), we found out that Justin Bieber is from Stratford.  In fact, there are tourist maps with his favorite places in town.  The entire town has Bieber fever and since we were there for a Shakespeare festival, there were t-shirts that said:  To Bieber or not to Bieber:  That is the Question.   Mommy that it was hysterical.  Maybe it’s a grown-up thing.

We wanted to experience a very-Canadian lunch.  What could be more Canadian than POUTINE?  Boomers Gourmet Fries was the perfect answer to our lunch needs and wants.  That’s exactly what the sign looks like (crossed out)- here’s a picture:

This is what the menu looked like:

This side of the menu lists the different kinds of poutine offered.  We ordered the 2-cheese poutine (their most famous) and the goat cheese and basil (truly delicious)

The second side of the menu has the different burgers. Everything is made fresh and our server recommended the one with guacamole.  So that’s the one we ordered.

This is a small and cozy place with only 8 or 9 chairs.  The restaurant is managed by a nice lady named Sue.  Here is a picture of Sue:

Sue is also the only chef.  She makes EVERYTHING fresh – even the mayonnaise and other sauces.  She works very hard and the food is high quality.  It tickles my tongue and tummy (that’s alliteration if my English teacher, Miss Gale is reading this).  Here are pictures of our poutine orders:

Traditional poutine has cheese curd and gravy.  The one on the right is basically the classic poutine with cheddar.  This is Sue’s most famous poutine.  Anya adores the one on the left.  The basil oil tastes like fresh pesto.  The goat cheese, basil oil, and french fries made a nice combination of flavors.  Because we are Americans, we started eating these fries with our fingers.  This is not a good idea because you will need a lot of napkins (called serviettes in Canada).  We asked for forks and recommend that you do so also.  Everyone should try poutine!

We also had one of her burgers:

This was excellent.  Sue sliced it in two for us so that we could share.  You can see that Sue is generous with the avocado chunks.  The meat was well done but still juicy.  The bun had sesame seeds and was soft and puffy.  There were also fresh tomatoes.  Anya described this as a taco in a bun.

On a scale from 1-5 smiley faces we give this place the following rating:

Girl:     🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Boy:   🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Adult:  Mommy liked this place so much she wanted to come back for dinner after the play to try the fish and chips.  We are sorry Sue – we didn’t have time.  But if we’re in the area, we will most certainly be back.  Also – it’s important to note that Boomers Gourmet Fries is a cash only establishment and both US and Canadian currency are accepted!

P.S.  Twelfth Night was our first Shakespeare play.  It was hysterical!!!  Karsen’s top four favorite characters were Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew, Fabian, and of course, Feste.  Anya thought Olivia was a really good actress.

The end.. . . .

Canadian Thanksgiving

It’s fall break for us.  So we don’t have to go to school! We decided to visit our friends (our godfather and family) in Canada. Monday (October 10) was Canadian Thanksgiving!  It was DELICIOUS!! We had mac n’cheese, mashed potatoes, ham, and green beans.Here is a picture of our Canadian Thanksgiving:

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!!

Andreoli’s Italian Grocer

Andreoli’s Italian Grocer is one of our favorite places to eat in Scottsdale.  We enjoy eating there multiple times a week.  In fact, papa jokes that mommy’s entire paycheck goes straight to Andreoli’s.  We always go to Andreoli’s on Wednesday because it is Pizza night.

The owner’s name is Giovanni Scorzo. He is the head chef and sometimes comes out to talk to regular customers and his Italian friends. Here is a picture of him:

Giovanni always makes us feel at home!  As usual, we arrived at Andreoli’s this past Wednesday (October 5, 2011) for pizza.  Here are pictures of all of our pizzas:

The first pizza is papa’s and Anya’s favorite.  It has prosciutto and arugula and parmesan cheese. The second is mommy’s favorite.  It is an artichoke and truffle pizza. He especially makes that one for us. You have to specially ask for it because it is off the menu.The third is a sausage and mushroom pizza. This is Karsen’s favorite and the fourth is a spicy salami pizza. All of us LOVE the spicy salami pizza. Once you have that pizza, you’ll never go back to normal pepperoni pizza.  Giovanni makes his own dough and it is delicious!

Andreoli’s also offers an antipasto platter. It has cheese, and an assortment of different salamis. here is a picture of it:

There are also olives and peppers.  The peppers are quite spicy.

Of course, mommy and papa have wine. You might find it surprising that a small and welcoming place like this, would have such an excellent selection of wine. This is what they had:

Below is a picture of some of our favorite people at Andreoli’s.  The lady on the right is Giovanni’s daughter. Her name is Francesca. She is the best at coming out with the latest hair style. The man on the left, is Rosario.  Rosario is our favorite server, and has known the Andreoli family for years. He speaks spanish and is really kind to everyone – especially kids. He is a favorite of the customers.

(Scale from 1-5)

Boy:5

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Girl:5

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Adult: Best thing ever!!!

So come join us at Andreoli’s!!!  Giovanni is a GENIUS!

Michelin Star Restaurants We Went to this Summer

This summer we got very lucky. We dined at 3 “Michelin starred restaurants”. One was in London and 2 were in Paris.

The one in London is called Benares. It had delicious Indian Food.  We ate with Mommy’s friend, Uncle Henry, there. He has a big appetite. Benares might be the only michelin star restaurant with authentic indian food. The chef there is named Atul Kochhar. It was very spicy.  But we could hack it.  Here’s our only picture of the restaurant – it’s of us with Uncle Henry.

The ones in Paris are called Taillevent and L’Ambrosie. We had to dress up for those ones. Karsen had to wear a tie, and Anya wore beautiful dresses. Taillevent is the restaurant that the movie Ratatouille is based on. Remember when Chef Gaston dies in Ratatouille and the restaurant loses a star?  The same thing happened at Taillevent.  We are happy to say that we think the restaurant remains delicious.  We had lots of amuse bouches, and multiple courses.  Here are some pictures of our food.  The first picture is of our amuse bouche.  Amuse bouche means to tickle the tastebuds.  It’s also a gift from the chef.  We love these tasty gifts.

The next three pictures are of our appetizers.  The first is wild mushrooms and egg.  The second is a fish carpaccio dish.  Carpaccio means that it is not cooked.  The last dish is cantaloupe and prosciutto flavored mousse on top.  All three of these dishes were delectable.  The mushroom/egg dish is melt in your mouth!!

Next came our main courses:

This is a fish dish with juicy tomatoes.  The tomatoes were cooked perfectly.  If you bite into them, the juices just burst in your mouth.

This was the steak dish.  The steak was cooked medium rare – just the way we like it.  The side dish is the ratatouille.  This was our favorite.  In fact, we like it so much we took a bigger picture of it right below.

This was our third entree.  You’ll notice that the presentation is beautiful.  It looks like artwork.  But it is the most delicious artwork.

There were two main desserts offered.  One with strawberries and the other with chocolate.

Of course, mommy had to have her cappuccino.

The food there is scrumptious!!! The manager of Taillevent was impressed with us – he gave us a menu as a souvenir and his card so we can make reservations whenever we want.  We also had our vegetarian auntie with us; they were quite accommodating with her dietary restrictions.  Finally – here is a picture of Anya with one of the servers (there were a lot of servers!).

 

One of our last meals in Paris was also our best – at L’Ambrosie.   In fact,  L’AMBROSIE MIGHT BE  THE MOST DELICIOUS AND AMAZING MEAL WE HAVE EVER HAD IN OUR LIFETIMES!!!  Even mommy says so – and she has had a lot of meals since she is MUCH older than we are.

We were the only kids in the restaurant but we were treated with care, respect, and dignity (maybe because we were dressed up).  The atmosphere was cooling (it was hot outside), very elegant with large windows.  Below is a picture of Karsen with one of the servers.  Notice that Karsen has a tie on.  It’s his only tie.

Here is a picture of Anya with the bread server.

Here is a picture of the place setting.  Karsen has a theory that michelin-starred restaurants place their forks and spoons upside-down.  Next time you are dining at a fine establishment, please see if Karsen is right.

Next was our amuse bouche.  We love these tasty gifts from the chef!!!  This was a gazpacho with sweet pepper mousse. If you have never had gazpacho, you might be surprised when you have your first bite.  It is a COLD tomato soup.

Karsen had a delicious pea soup with shrimp. Anya had the foie gras de canard. It was the best foie gras  ever!!!  And mommy had a langoustine, curry, with pastry.  Everything was perfectly cooked – nice and light.  It was an explosion of flavors in our mouths.   Mommy thinks these appetizers were among the most amazing flavors to ever grace her mouth!

Before our main courses arrived, we were given a sorbet as a palate cleanser.  It was a cherry sorbet.

Our main courses were also delicious.  Karsen had fish and caviar (there are two pictures of this – one is a close up).  Anya had the red snapper and mommy had the lobster.  Mommy is obsessed with lobster.

For dessert we had the DESSERT EXTRAVAGANZA.  This was an ENTIRE table of desserts – I think there must have been 12 desserts.  It was like a real-life willy-wonka experience.

The one above is called the ORANGE BOMBE.  It was the bomb.

Even mommy’s dessert wine was delicious.  She let us have a sip.  When we are grown up, we are going to have this dessert wine with dessert.

The end!  Have fun if you ever go to Paris and London.  We highly recommend these restaurants – especially L’Ambrosie.

From a kid’s perspective, we give all these restaurants a 5 out of 5 (with L’Ambrosie at 5+++++++++++++).

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

our first post (technique restaurant)

On Thursday night, September 22, 2011, we went to Technique Restaurant in Scottsdale for dinner.  We were celebrating Bilbo’s and Frodo’s (from The Lord of the Rings) birthdays.  Technique Restaurant is run by students from Cordon Bleu – it is their capstone 6-week course.  Cordon Bleu is a cooking school.  A nice lady named Renee gave us a tour of the cooking schools.  It was the student’s last day of the course.  So they had the most experience and they made no mistakes.  Everything was perfect!  We were lucky, the President of Cordon Bleu, Chef Lloyd came to say hi.  We had our picture taken.  Here is a picture of Mr. Chef Lloyd with me and my sister.

You can choose a three-course ($12) or a four-course dinner ($15).  Everyone at the table needs to agree.  I convinced everyone to have four courses.  The first course is a cold starter.  I had nicoise salad.  This means tuna and olives with other vegetables.  This is what it looks like.

My hot starter was a flatbread pizza.  It had bacon, sausage, basil, and mozzarella.  The sausage was my favorite topping.

My main course was a veal shank risotto. You can see the bone marrow in the picture.  The bone marrow has a lot of juices in it.  It has gremolata.  I learned that gremolata is a bunch of herbs with lemon zest.  It added a lot of flavor.

My dessert was ice cream and cookies.  The ice creams are made fresh everyday.  The flavors were raspberry, balsamic, and vanilla.  I also had two chocolate chip cookies. I liked dessert best.

My meal was delicious!

This is ANYA now.  My brother left out the best part of the meal.  Because it was the last day for the students, they were celebrating too.  And my brother and I were invited to join them in their kitchen.  It was the oyster and lobster kitchen.  Here is a picture of Karsen doing an oyster shot.

And here I am:

The oysters are raw.  That might sound EWW! to lots of people, but it is actually delicious.  It taste refreshing – it is cooling.  Here is a picture of us with the lobster.  Chef showed how to crack the lobster perfectly!

We also learned that the number of pleats in a chef’s hat (called a toque) is the same as the number of ways to cook an egg.  Jared, our server, told us that number is 101.  Here is a picture of Jared.

Jared will be starting a job at the Talking Stick Resort.  You can say hi to him there.

I also had a great meal.

My first course was a grilled fruit and arugula salad. It tasted like crispy prosciutto with a hint of warm peach. I don’t usually like cooked pineapple but this one was delicious.  The proscuitto was crisp and warm.   It looks like this:

 

My second course was the shrimp risotto. That was warm and it felt good in your stomach. I thought it was a great combination. This is what it looks like:

My third course was a fillet mignon with tomato hollandaise. It came with fresh french fries. It was hot, but when it cooled down, it was easy to eat and boneless. I like my steak medium rare – this means it is very juicy.  They cooked it perfectly.  It was nice and juicy.  The french fries were very hot and crispy.  The ketchup tasted homemade.  They both looked like this:

 

My fourth and last course was a salted caramel pot de creme. A pot de creme is like a pudding.  Imagine a caramel flavored pudding.  It was a fantastic way to end a meal. After I finished I was full. Here it looked like this:

P.S This was the BEST dessert they had!!!

We would like to give a special thank you to everyone at Technique for inviting us to their kitchen.  In the kitchen we learned the secret to good food:

“Butter is good.  Butter is fat.  Fat is our friend.”

We also want to thank Jared (our server), Renee (our hostess), and Chef and President Mr. Lloyd.

This was a great place.  We recommend it and would surely come back if we are lucky!!

We are starting a rating system from a kid’s perspective – with a scale from 1-5, with 5 being best.  This was a 5.

WE GIVE IT 5 SMILEY FACES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂