Friday, 27 March 2015

BQM

It's Burger Week again! 
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To get the $5 Chipotle Burger at BQM, you had to buy a drink and fries.  
I didn't feel like drink pop, so I decided I should just get a burger. 
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The BQM Burger with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, garlic aioli and horseradish.
The burger was okay and the fries were pretty good, but a little soggy.  I got the small size 4oz. for $6, which is a little pricey in my opinion. I've had better burgers (including Zet's).

Overall: An okay burger, nothing amazing even though I had their signature burger. I wasn't a huge fan of the horseradish though. By the way, the lighting in the picture does not reflect how I saw the burger or meal.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Baumkuchen from Tokyo

This post is really all about Nenrinya's Baumkuchen - Click here for others. 

March 26, 2015
It's been a while since I've updated this post, but I have been eating some baumkuchen in between. However, the flavours haven't really changed, so I haven't been updating the post.
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Green tea and Cherry Blossom
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I love the seasonal flavours and I couldn't resist doing another Cherry Blossom post. 
The cherry blossom flavour is really light, airy and delicate and I'm happy to say that Nenrinya does an amazing job infusing the flavour beautifully into the baumkuchen. 
I've been eating more of the ring baumkuchens (mostly because they're better value for money) than the Mount Baum baumkuchens, but I still think my preference is for the Mount Baums - that extra coating of glazed sugar just makes it so much better. 

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This was a good compromise for me! The ring shape and the Mount Baum with the glazed icing on the outside.  The only downside? The matcha green tea flavour - which was light, but it still tasted like matcha (which I'm not really a fan of).

February 11, 2013

The Original Baumkuchen flavour from Nenrinya
OMG is it ever good! WOW - I've really missed original Baumkuchen: I totally forgot how delicious it was just by itself. The different flavours are nice and all - but at the end of the day, this is my favourite souvenir from Japan. The outside of the round ring doesn't have sugar like the other flavours; instead, it has this moist crust-like layer of the cake that's just SOOO GOOD. 

March 30, 2012
Here we go again, this time we decided to try another Baumkuchen place and then compare Nenrinya's baumkuchen to a different place to see if it really is the best we've ever had.
The Baumkuchen store next to Nenrinya's Tokyo station store was Tokyo Banana, so we tried their signature Banana Baumkuchen:

It's great to have a different company's baumkuchen ring so we can have a basis for comparison.

Tokyo Banana: The baumkuchen was soft and moist, but in comparison to Nenrinya - it was a little more crumbly and it just wasn't as delicate in taste and texture. There was a heavy glaze on the surface of the banana baumkuchen and I felt it detracted from the layers of cake of baumkuchen. The banana flavour was great and very distinctive. It was really good but after eating it, I thought for sure that Nenrinya is definitely the better baumkuchen maker. 

The Cherry Blossom Baumkuchen! Eating the full baumkuchen allows you to fully taste the cherry blossom flavour baked into it. Absolutely delicious - soft moist cake, great texture with the sugar crystals and the taste is light, sweet and fragrant with a tiny hint of coconut. It's really yummy!




 In addition, the packaging and appearance of the Nenrinya baumkuchen totally trumps Tokyo Banana - so clearly they're the winners here!

February 10, 2012


Satsuma (Tangerine) Baumkuchen Ring on the left and a Straight Green Tea Baumkuchen
Green Tea and a slice of the Cherry Blossom Baumkuchen
I'm usually not a fan of green tea flavoured stuff - but this was good! There was definitely a matcha taste, but it wasn't overwhelming. If I had to choose between the Green Tea and the Cherry Blossom - I would definitely choose the Cherry Blossom, there wasn't really a cherry blossom taste since the flavour is so light. On the other hand, you could really taste the normal baumkuchen cake which is AMAZING. It's soft and yummy and if anything, I thought the Cherry Blossom theme was more obvious in the pink colouring than the taste. 
Side note: So after our second attempt at requesting baumkuchen from my mom's coworker who visits Japan more frequently than we do, we realized that the Nenrinya Baumkuchen makes SEASONAL baumkuchen! (Shocker right?). Since it's Spring and getting closer to Cherry Blossom season, they made a Cherry Blossom Baumkuchen (logic!). Now the Sweet Potato Baumkuchen in November (which is Harvest season) makes sense!


Inside the Baumkuchen ring (and the Satsuma sugar)

Delicious! I can't praise the Baumkuchen from Nenrinya enough - this is probably my favourite food request from Japan (If you could bring back fresh sushi from Tsukiji fish market that'd probably be a favourite too). 

November 29, 2011
My mom's co-worker went on a Japan trip a few weeks ago and before she left, my mom asked her to bring back some baumkuchen from Japan. Especially after the trying the Baumkuchen in Berlin (which turned out to be a disaster), I really wanted some AMAZING fresh Baumkuchen from Tokyo. 

What is Baumkuchen? Baumkuchen is a traditional dessert in Europe and popular in Japan; in German, it translates to "Tree Cake" or "log cake" because of the rings in the dessert. According to the Juchheim website, in the history of Baumkuchen, a confectioner cannot earn the title of Meister (pastry chef) before mastering the baumkuchen process since the baumkuchen is the "Der Konig der Kuchen" or King of cakes. 

We loved the Nenrinya brand because (1) it was close to our hotel in Ginza when we were there and (2) because we could see it freshly made in the store windows. We tried a few other brands when we were in Tokyo, but nothing measured up (maybe next time we'll try the Juchheim brand since it was the original baumkuchen place in Japan). 

So my mom's co-worker found a Nenrinya store in Tokyo station and she tried it and LOVED it (so much so that she bought a ton to take back home to Canada) and we got our baumkuchen!!! You can't quite see the layers here, but this is what it looks like when you're about to bite into it. I think the Tokyo Station Baumkuchen was different than the Ginza Store Baumkuchen, according to my mom's co-worker, it's because they were made in different Prefectures. Chiba vs. Ginza? All I know is that this one was slightly more coffee flavoured than the one in Ginza...curious.
Update: My mom's coworker read the ingredients list...and apparently they make the cake with SWEET POTATO! (Yay! another use of one of my favourite vegetables!)

This is the actual ring box - or the "Straight Baumkuchen". It had an orange flavour to it and crystals of sugar on the outside. It was soft and yummy and absolutely delicious - my family ate it all in one sitting.
 The inside of the box! Japanese companies put so much effort into the packaging...

The actual orange-flavoured baumkuchen ring! So soft and moist and delicious...

Lovely pictures from the Brochure from Nenrinya (of course I can't read the Japanese)

Apparently they have a green tea one (I'm not a fan of Japanese Green tea - so I stayed away).
Overall: Super YUMMY even though it was 2 day old Baumkuchen (why can't someone invent faster airplanes so that the Baumkuchen doesn't have to lose a day in freshness when it's making the trip from Tokyo to Toronto???)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Fernando's Hideaway

I still remember back in the day when Hernando's Hideaway was the best Mexican place in the city and my mom used to take me downtown on Sundays to eat their half priced nachos and other delicious Mexican food.  It used to be south of Wellesley on Yonge in the basement of an office building (and I believe it was under the LCBO). More recently, it moved to 591 Yonge and still serves the same Tex-Mex Food. 
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Salsa and Chips
I must say that I was kind of disappointed by this. The flavours of the salsa were there, but since it was so watery it got a little washed away.  Also, it was a pretty small portion for two. 
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Enchilada and Burrito combo $16.99
One chicken enchilada, one cheese enchilada and one beef burrito
I definitely don't remember this from my earlier memories.  The burrito was large, but the enchiladas were quite tiny. It was nice that there was so much sauce, but I felt like they were covering up the burrito and enchiladas rather than enhancing the food. In a way, I kind of wondered about this because we could have walked down to Burrito Bandidos and had two burritos.  This seemed a little pricey and not as satisfying. 

Overall: the whole meal didn't really stand out to me and I don't think I'll be back considering the pricing and the quality of the food. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

BB Cafe

With my more recent obsession with Persian food and add that with my fascination with desserts, it was really a matter of time before I started looking for places that would serve Persian sweets.
We happened to be in the Thornhill area and so we went to BB Cafe for lunch and sweets.
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Pot of Tea and Pistachio Milkshake
 If you've been following my blog, you probably know I absolutely LOVE pistachio things.  So when I'm offered anything pistachio related - I will always get that option.  Part of the reason why I think I could become addicted to Persian desserts is because they put pistachio in everything.  The milkshake was rather creamy with tiny chunks of ground pistachios in it and it was topped with a whipped cream and sprinkled with pistachios - so it really was made for the pistachio fanatics. I liked it, but I felt that it was too heavy on the cream and didn't really have that amazingly sweet pistachio flavour I was looking for. (It could have done with a little more sugar and a little less cream).

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Chicken panini and salad
The panini was great! Perfectly seasoned and juicy grilled chicken breast with some mixed greens, roasted peppers and tomatoes on a focaccia bun.
The salad was tangy from the balsamic and the tomatoes were ripe and sweet which made the salad quite nice.

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Croque Madame and Salad
It looked a little sad on the plate...the salad was really good at least.

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Pistachio Napoleon and Saffron Pistachio ice cream
Also a little heavier and creamier than I would have liked my dessert and there was some crushed pistachios on top of the dessert but not as much inside the dessert. The pastry was flaky and had a nice light touch.  The saffron pistachio ice cream was really cool! It was aromatic and really quite different from your typical ice cream.  The saffron flavour was a lot heavier than the pistachio.

Overall: Good desserts at BB Cafe - lots of pistachio varieties! The food was pretty good too and reasonably priced. The service was a little slow though, but it was difficult for the waitresses to have to deal with two floors of customers - so it was a little understandable.

BB Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, 20 March 2015

Sassafraz

Sassafraz used to be the hot spot for celebrity sighting in Toronto during TIFF. The last time I was here at Sassafraz was years ago for Winterlicious and recently they decided to promote their business with Groupon. The promotion was 3 courses for 2 people for $69, which I thought was a great deal to go back and eat at the iconic restaurant in the heart of Yorkville. 

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The distinctive yellow building

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Gorgeous interior with a waterfall!

Appetizer
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Ontario Artisan Beef Tartare
Amazing! The tartare was delicious and it was almost too pretty to eat. I loved the sunnyside up quail egg on the beef tartare and the taro chips were a nice touch.

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Quail
Deliciously spiced with chermoula - tasty and succulent. Very yummy!

Main courses
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Wild Mushroom Ravioli
Rich and earthy pasta dish

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Atlantic Halibut
The fish was nicely done with some great garlic orzo and broccolini on the side.

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Alberta Bison Striploin
Delicious! The meat was tender and the sauces were so tasty.  I liked the added crispy taro chips to give the dish some more texture and subtle flavour.

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Ginger Frappe
Very interesting dessert - I didn't think I'd like it because it was a ginger dessert, but it was actually quite lovely.

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Milk chocolate mousse
Milk chocolate + Mousse = Enough Said :)

Overall: Great meal at Sassafraz and it was even better value with the Groupon! I would totally recommend it for excellent food, service and ambiance.

Sassafraz Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Richmond Station

Ever since it opened in 2012, I've always kept Richmond Station in the back of my mind as a place to try eventually.  For some reason or another, it just never worked out in the past (either my friends' schedules wouldn't match up, or I couldn't make the reservation in time for our group, or something else would come up).  I finally got them all together for a birthday celebration. 
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If I didn't know to look for it, I might have thought Richmond Station was a tunnel to the Go Station or Parking Lot or something. 
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Menu

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Charcuterie Board
Beautiful presentation, but rather small portions for our table to share.

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Muscovy Duck
Duck was nicely done, but rather on the expensive side for just a leg.

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Braised Beef Ravioli
Yummy and pretty!

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Brown Butter Poached Halibut
A lot of flavours and textures on this plate.

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Stn. Burger

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Sticky Toffee Cake
Interesting presentation - but I wasn't sold on this dessert.

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Dark Chocolate Mousse

Overall: I found it to be a novelty to eat at Top Chef Canada Carl Heinrich's restaurant. The food was all plated beautifully, but I don't think the dishes or the experience really stood out for me. It was nice, but I found that the meal was rather on the pricey side and not particularly filling.