The Keys to My Heart: Spaghetti, Portuguese Chicken (Po Gok Gai), and Warm Mugs of Ovaltine at Goldsor

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I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Hong Style restaurant that I didn’t love.  The baked spaghetti and rice dishes, the crushed ice fruit drinks, the awesome tea time snack menus; every café offers something different and I have so much fun trying out new places.  I’ve been noshing at HK style eateries on a regular basis since I was 15 and thanks to family and friends, all over town!  First Markham Place, Metro Square, Finch & Leslie, Peachtree Plaza, the list goes on. 

Even though The Phoenix holds a ton of high school memories, my first memory of HK style food was actually from the age of 9.  It was a such a special day.  My aunt and uncle were taking me for a night on the town for Christmas to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and they had bought me a cute little dress for our outing, they were taking me out to dinner with them before the show, the whole nine yards.  I remember that fun night so clearly.  After the show, they took me for a late night nibble and we went to place called the Ritz Restaurant back in Scarborough, closer to where I lived at the time.  Sadly, the restaurant is no longer around, but I remember getting my first taste (literally!) of HK style food and loving it: baked spaghetti in cream sauce with shredded ham, cheese, and peas.  OH.MY.GOD.  I was hooked.

My dad is on his A-game when it comes to hunting down HK style cafés.  Him and his Chinese newspapers are best friends.  He snatches so many free newspapers at every Chinese place that offers them that my mum has just become exasperated and tells him to constantly stop bringing back “junk”.  Oh, the parentals, how funny they are, haha.  The newspapers turn into goldmines though when they advertise store and restaurant openings, promos, and great places to eat!  And that is how we found out about Goldsor, located in Richmond Hill and nested within the Times Square plaza on Hwy.7 and Leslie St.  A new HK style restaurant to try?  YAY!

Three of my favourite yummies EVER are spaghetti, Portuguese Chicken, and ovaltine!  And lucky for me, HK style is never without any of these three things.  I love pasta like peanut butter loves jelly and spaghetti makes me all wiggly with happiness.  Like I’ve said on numerous occasions, I always love trying new things and picking out more unique items off a menu that sets the place apart from others.  However, sometimes you just want to eat what you love most and that’s what I did when we went back in Novemer: I ordered spaghetti with Portuguese chicken and a warm mug of ovaltine.  Colour me a happy camper!

You must be wondering, “how the heck does Portuguese anything end up in Chinese eateries and cuisine?”  It’s okay, I wondered that myself.  Especially considering I’ve been having this type of chicken dish since I was little, thanks to mum’s cooking.  “Po Gok Gai” has been one of my long-time favourite comfort foods and I love that HK style places have taken it up and put their own unique spins on the dish.  In a nutshell, Portuguese influence infiltrated Chinese culture and cuisine in Macau as a European colony and many dishes are a fusion of the two cultures.* 

Now, in Chinese Portuguese style chicken dishes, two components are key: curry and coconut.  This is what makes it so amazingly DELICIOUS like you wouldn’t believe.  The sweetness of the coconut is subtle but it hits you in the sauce, mixed in with your rice, spaghetti, or whatever you’re eating it with.  Goldsor’s version has the normal vegetable components: chunks of potato, green bell pepper, and carrots.  It deviants in one special way though.  The chicken is crispy with a light breaded coating and together with the delicious sauce and soft potatoes and vegetables, it is so freakin’ satisfying.  It is such a savoury dish and it is the perfect combination of crispy and soft, and the sweetness of the coconut and savouriness of the chicken and curry rounds everything out.  If there was one way to cook a chicken for life, this would be mine.  Yummy, yummy, and more yummy 😀

I had a great experience at Goldsor my first time there and I’m so looing forward to going back!  The quality of the food was fantastic (my dad ordered a breaded fish dish that looked at though it came out of a gourmet kitchen) and the prices are very reasonable and in keeping with HK style cafés where meals are, on average, around $6-$11.  It’s got that hustle and bustle that I love with the clang clang of dishes and glasses and orders being brought to tables, and I am so glad I get to tuck away another great meal in my mental scrapbook.  HK style, spaghetti, and Portuguese chicken are keys to my heart ❤

*****

Goldsor Restaurant is located at  550 Highway 7 East, at the intersection of Hwy.7 and Leslie St.  It’s not located inside the Times Square mall, but rather within the complex of stores and restaurants behind Times Square in the central parking lot.  Goldsor faces south toward the back entrance of Times Square.

*source: Sunflower Food Galore

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Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy – Fish Fillets & Mum’s Home Cooking

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I hope everyone’s long weekend has been going fab so far despite the baffling weather!  Yesterday morning people were in t-shirts and restaurants temporarily re-opened their outdoor patios.  By sleepytime, snow was blowing around the streets like a cyclone, and I was huddled under the covers with the blankets pulled up to my nose, scared to death my roof was going to blow off from the wind.  Other than that, things are for the most part, peachy 😀  I’ve been spending a ton of time scrapbooking my little heart out (12 pages in 3 days, not bad at all!) and I can’t wait to dish out the new layouts to show you all real soon!  Not to mention I’m working on a few new additions to the blog which I hope to have set up in the next week or two.  I’ll be setting up a Twitter account (oh the joys of technology) and I’m also adding an “Address Book” feature where restaurants and eateries will be organized by category and arranged alphabetically for your perusing pleasure.  Kind of like my mini version of the Yellow Pages!

In the meantime, it’s fishy time!  It’s been awhile since I last posted any photos of my dinners at home, so here are a few recent fish fillet dishes my mum cooked.  My mum will normally keep the marinating for the fish really simple.  A lot of the time she’ll use some garlic, a bit of cornstarch, black pepper, and a little lemon or lime juice.  Up top we have fresh fish with a bit of soy sauce and lots of roasted garlic, green onions, and black pepper, and down below is fish seasoned with thyme and served with sautéed onions, carrots, green bell pepper, and lots of fresh flat leaf parsley!  Lately we’ve been eating carrots like bunnies and adding them to everything!  They really liven up a dish with colour and I loooove carrots steamed so it’s win-win for both me and the camera 😀

Stay warm everyone and hopefully the bright colours from the pictures will remind you that spring WILL come!   

Weekly Feature: The Grad Lounge – Chicken Quesadilla & Pub Fare

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I may have a sweet tooth, but other than cupcakes and all that jazz, I don’t often eat things like fries and burgers and pub food.  I have mega weaknesses, but I try my best to limit my intake of “junk food” to only once a month, at best.  It was a decision I firmly made during my undergrad when I was surrounded by fast food.  Things like Taco Bell, KFC, Popeye’s, that’s kind of thing.  And although I do enjoy a fries supreme with the refried beans every once in awhile, everything else is just ick and I was mortified with the thought of eating that type of food on such a regular basis.  So I would bring fruits and snacks from home and seek out healthier alternatives for lunch at school.  Given how my income was pretty limited at the time (a little bit of lunch and spending money from my part-time job), I worked with $5 a day for a long time within these confines and I think I did okay!

 

Everyone has their “junk food” weaknesses though, so it’s all a matter of moderation and making sure that these choices don’t become a habit.  And this mentality has continued to stay with me throughout grad school.  When I do have pub fare, ohhhh man do I ever have my indulgences!  At The Grad Lounge, I have happily enjoyed the chicken quesadilla and veggie cheeseburger, and my boyfriend’s weakness lies in the chicken fingers and fries with plum sauce.  I loooove quesadillas and my indulgence is a soft, gooey, cheesy quesadilla with lots of bell peppers, beans, and sour cream.  Mmmm *tummy rumbles*.   The Grad Lounge’s version has diced tomato and red onion, green and red bell pepper, and plenty of melted cheese. 

As well, every so often I love a good cheeseburger, and pictured below is my veggie burger with plenty of romaine lettuce, tomato, melted mozzerella, and mustard.  YUM 😀  I enjoy these foods because you can totally make them healthier with lots of vegetables and protein if you want to.  They’re versatile and they can cater to whatever eating mood you’re in.

Pub fare is available daily in the Grad Lounge’s permanent menu.  Burgers can be ordered as veggie or meat, with the addition of cheese or bacon, and quesadillas can also be ordered with or without chicken.  I hope everyone enjoys their long weekend!  Family Day for my Canadian lovelies and President’s Day for my American lovelies.  And if you don’t have a long weekend, I love you anyway and still wish you a fab weekend.  See y’all tomorrow!

*****

The Grad Lounge is located at 166 South Ross at the York University Keele campus and have extended their hours to 9pm in the evening from Monday to Thursday, and until 7pm on Friday.

“We Can Go to the Tropics, Sip Piña Coladas”…Or Eat Coconut Lime Cupcakes

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Remember last week when I posted the recipe and photos of the Almond Orange cupcakes and how I told you all that my mum and I baked 4 dozen cupcakes?  Well, the almond orange ones only comprised half of that total; the other half was made up of these tangy, crunchy, creamy coconut lime cupcakes! 😀  Out of all the ones we’ve baked so far, this one is my mum’s personal favourite (my brother, who isn’t a huge fan of fruits or nuts, is surprisingly partial to the almond orange ones!).  I thought it would be appropriate to blog about these today given the rise in temperature and mild weather.  Okay, so it’s not beach weather.  And you could definitely sip piña coladas, but not outside.  It’s muddy out.  And the snow is slushy and melting and a cross between gray and brown.  But hey, you can walk outside and not wear mittens!  Eh, who am I kidding, my current version of tropic weather resides in these cupcake photos.

These cupcakes are fantastic when it comes to zingy flavour and texture.  You get that amazing crunch of coconut in the vanilla cake and a whopping zing of lime zest in every bite; you can actually see specks of lime green inside the cake and they turn out beautifully with golden brown tops.  Although I would probably add an extra tablespoon or two of creamed coconut to enhance the coconut flavour even more and to make the cake even more moist, it’s a total winner 😀  Break out a little booze and have yourself an indoor beach party!

Recipe for Creamy Coconut Cupcakes

Ingredients (Makes 12)

  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour (I actually just used regular all-purpose flour and they turned out fine for me)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried coconut
  • grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons milk (I used 1%)

Frosting (optional)

  • 5 oz. cream cheese (a little over half a cup)
  • 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted (or icing sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • coconut shavings

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Line your cupcake pan with 12 paper liners.
  2. Beat the butter, coconut cream, and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy, then beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and fold in.  Stir in the dried coconut and lime zest, followed by the milk.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the paper liners, then bake for about 17 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. To decorate, beat the cream cheese, confectioner’s/icing sugar, and lime juice together in a bowl.  Swirl the frosting on top of the cupcakes, then sprinkle over the coconut shavings.

*****

Again, I apologize for the lack of frosting >_<  Y’all know my situation *sigh*  I swear that when I make cuppycakes for you all and when I have a little home and kitchen to call my own, I will have so much frosting that my house will be nicknamed “the gingerbread house” and you all can come over and snowboard over it.  I think that’s fair.

Recipe taken from from Cupcakes by Susannah Blake, 2007.  Photographs taken by me.

Sweetheart Sushi From The Sushi Shop & A Beautiful Valentine’s Memory

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Given the positive response, I take it you all loved looking at the Valentine’s sweets I posted yesterday!  I had just as much fun eating them and part of me wanted to gobble up as many Valentine’s treats as possible because everything is so sweetly decorated and tasty.  Today I’m sharing photos of my special Valentine’s sushi.  YES!  Valentine’s sushi!  I don’t think a dish could be any more perfect for me!  My boyfriend and I had plans to go to my favourite sushi place, The Sushi Shop, on Monday for a light sushi lunch and oh my goodness, I was over the moon when I walked in and saw the special promo poster for the “Sweetheart” maki!  I’m talking excited, heart fluttery, bug-eyed happiness.  It was just so perfect: maki rolls constructed to look like 2 halves of a whole heart.  Genius! ❤ 

They were incredibly delicious.  The sweetheart rolls were big and plump with a mish mash of spicy salmon woven into a smooth tempura crunch mixture with plenty of red fish roe.  The texture was fabulous because the smoothness of the salmon meshed with the crunchiness of the tempura crumbles and fish roe into spicy, flavourful mouthfuls of happiness.  It’s a wonderful, thought out combination that I really love and I think the way the salmon and tempura is mixed and the spiciness is what makes these rolls a hit.  As one of the sushi chefs said, “Kind of like love…you get a bit of everything!”  So true and so clever; the rolls had a little bit of everything rolled into one.  You have that fiery spiciness (passion), the crunch (stuff you have to work at), and the aesthetic sweetness of romance and love. 

My sweetie ordered the Boston Sumomaki rolls and an order of chicken spring maki and everything was so vibrant and colourful and fresh!  The Boston Sumomaki rolls remind me of a freshwater fish market with its large chunks of crab meat and shrimp with lettuce, matchstick cucumbers, light mayo, and plenty of red fish roe.  The spring maki are kind of like mini wraps with different types of meat, fish, and vegetables wrapped in rice paper.  The chicken spring maki that my boyfriend ordered has a mixture of lettuce, cucumber, chicken breast, red bell pepper, rice, and sesame. 

As for myself, to go with my sweetheart rolls, I ordered one of my favourites: the Akanasu, rolls of sundried tomato and cream cheese.  ABSOLUTE YUM.  Cream cheese is in my top 10 list of foodie things that make my heart go boom-boom, and combine that sushi and you have yourself a very happy Deb!  The cream cheese is plentiful and it’s deliciously creamy and tangy, and the sundried tomato has a hint of heat to it with that great taste of cured saltiness.  The flavour is VERY punchy and the cream cheese mellows out the strong sundried tomato flavour.  Forget bagels and cream cheese; cream cheese and sushi is where it’s at!

I want to switch things up a little right now and tell you all a story about why this past Valentine’s was so special and heart-warming for me.  I absolutely loved the food and goodies, but there’s more.  My boyfriend and I visit our favourite garden in the city several times a year.  It’s an indoor conservatory garden called Allan Gardens, and it’s so beautiful and breathtaking.  We go several times a year because the flowers and plants change seasonally and my boyfriend and I love taking pictures.  We go snap happy!  One of the things we love is taking photos of different gardens and parks around the city (as well as artistic graffiti) and Allan Gardens holds an extra place in our heart because it’s where Richard took me on our first date.  Aww.

We hadn’t been to Allan Gardens during the month of Febrary before, so I thought it’d be wonderful to go on Valentine’s Day.  Beautiful flowers, sprinkling water fountains, and quiet time with the boy?  Doesn’t get any sweeter than that.  The conservatory is split into 4 different areas, each with different plants and flowers and as I walked into the section with the ever-changing seasonal petals, I did what I always do: gasp and squeal at how beautiful everything was.  I was greeted with tulips, snapdragons, Easter lilies, and fragrant hyacinths and I skipped along identifying all the flowers I knew and learned about from all those years working in a flower shop, and I was just delighted.

As we were clicking away with our cameras and admiring all the prettiness, we saw an elderly couple and asked if they could help us take a picture.  The husband took our photo and the husband and wife, Bill and Mary, began talking to us about photography and flowers and gardens, and we stood there talking with them, sharing photos and sharing stories.  Mary smiled at us, looking at Richard and I knowingly, like she somehow knew just by looking at us, how much we loved each other.  It was Valentine’s and we were all there enjoying everything beautiful life had to offer, quietly, peacefully. 

Bill then took out a small photo album from his coat and showed us photos he had taken this past Christmas at Allan Gardens and I “awwed” at the sweet photos, lamenting that I had missed going this past year.  I had gone during Christmas 2 years ago, but not the past holiday and there were new and different things I had missed.  He then did the sweetest thing.  He took the photo out of the album sleeve, handed it to me and said, “here, this is for you”. 

I get teary-eyed just thinking about it because it was such a sweet gesture.  My heart felt so full and it still does.  All I could think was, “they get it”.  They understood.  They understood, within minutes of speaking to me, how important pictures were and are to me in my life, how much I loved documenting memories.  As we went on our way, Mary touched my hand and wished me, “happy valentine’s day”.  Strangers come in and out of your life at the drop of a hat.  But Bill and Mary came into mine as sweet and wonderful people, and this memory will stay with me forever.

*****

The Sushi Shop is located at the intersection of Yonge and Carlton St. (3 Carlton St.), with 2 other take-out locations serving the downtown core, one being in the GO train station concourse and the other near Maple Leaf Square at 25 York St (closed Saturday and Sunday).  According to Google map, there is also a location on Bloor St. E at 175 Bloor St.E (Saturday and Sunday closed as well).  For more info on their menu, promos, and shop, check out their official website here.

Valentine’s Day Sweetness – A Rendition of “All I Want Are Cupcakes & Sugar Cookies!”

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I am still on such a high from my amazing, wonderfully memorable day yesterday.  And yes, in part because of all the amazing goodies I was able to go yummy-yum-yum over!  😀  My boyfriend and I managed to snag some sweet treats from both The Cupcake Shoppe and Chocolatease Chocolates and Pastries by Yonge & Eglinton on Valentine’s of all days!  I was so excited to pick up a few Valentine’s themed cupcakes, and sugar andshortbread cookies.  It’s the novelty of it that I love and I bask in the hustle and bustle.  After working in a flower shop for 3 years a number of years ago, I know the nuttiness that is Valentine’s Day better than anybody!  The Cupcake Shoppe was offering all their cupcakes in special Valentine’s outfits; some were adorned with red and pink hearts and sprinkles, others with a spicy cinnamon heart (rawr!), and others had a red jube jube candy or gummy bear lounging out, waiting to be seduced by a cupcake lover.  Like me.  I chose a double chocolate sweetheart (aka. James Brown) for my sweetheart of a boyfriend, and a vanilla temptress (aka. Yonge & Eligible) for me.

Sharing a Read My Lips tea at David’s Tea, my boyfriend and I lost ourselves in cupcake amour.  The Cupcake Shoppe was totally on their A-game!  My Yonge & Eligible vanilla cupcake was even more delicious than usual, with the fluffy vanilla buttercream sitting atop the golden brown and lightly toasted cupcake.  It was the embodiment of yummy golden brown, vanilla fluffy goodness *hugs cupcake box*.  Ahh, to be in love.  And those two heart shaped sugar cookies you see are courtesy of Chocolatease, a sweet chocolate and pastry shop 2 blocks north of The Cupcake Shoppe, offering beautifully crafted Belgian chocolates, fudge, cupcakes, cookies, and macarons among many other sweet nibbles.  Cupcakes are $2.50, sugar cookies (like the ones pictured) are $1.40, and macarons are $2.  After perusing their selection after a recent trek from Lawrence station down to Eglinton, I knew I had to get my tooshie back soon.  I was a lean, mean cookie monster with a craving and a mission!

And might I add, the sugar cookies were so lovely.  Sugar cookies can sometimes be too dry and crumby, with the taste of dough stuck to the roof of your mouth, and not in a pleasant way.  These sweet cookies were so perfect.  Keep in mind that sugar cookies aren’t meant to be chewy, so you will get a bit of that crumbiness flavour and texture, which may or may not be everyone’s preference.  But let it be known that these wonderful cookies were not overly sweet in the least and so soft and moist.  I am so looking forward to coming back for more sweets in the future because I was really happy with my cookies from yesterday!  Not to mention the girl who served us was very sweet to me.  Me: “I have an odd request.  May I take a picture of the display of sweets?”  Girl: “oh, sure!”  A+ in my book, baby 😉

*****

EDIT: Chocolatease has changed locations!  It is no longer present in the Yonge & Eglinton neighbourhood and is now located at 2700 Dufferin St.  You can view their website hereChocolatease is located at 2489 Yonge St., just south of Keewatin Ave.  The nearest main intersection is Yonge St. and Eglinton Ave. and the shop is about 4 blocks north of Eglinton.  The Cupcake Shoppe is located at 2417 Yonge St., north of Eglinton Ave.  Photos taken at the nearby David’s Tea on Yonge.

Happy-all-things-pink-and-sweet-Day!

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Happy Valentine’s, everyone!  It’s really important to me to write and post in my blog every day, so I wrote this as a draft this morning because I was unsure if a morning Happy Valentine’s post would be necessary: “In case I don’t get a chance to write or post pictures tonight (either because I can’t organize my photos in time or because I’m too full and can’t get up, I just want to wish everyone a very sweet Valentine’s today.  Oh, and I want shortbread cookies like nobody’s business.  Lots of cupcake love to everyone!”

Okay, so there’s no way I can whip up a cute scrapbook layout of today’s photos, much less get photos of the layout itself – that would be insane and I’m not THAT much of a superwoman!  So the scrapbook pages incorporating some of today’s photos will have to wait and as much as I hate making separate posts of food stuffs and the respective scrapbook pages, I HAVE to show you all a few pictures from today.  Today was SO much fun and I am so full.  Of food, yes, but also of love -from my boyfriend, my friends, family, and from sweet strangers who have become friends.  Today was a Valentine’s to remember in so many ways and I am so happy.  A much more thorough written post about the food and sweets tomorrow, but for now, here are a few teaser photos 😉  I hope everyone’s day was sweet and happy, as it should be every day of the year ❤

"The Sweetheart" - Two Halves of the Same Whole ❤

Special Valentine's packaging!

Best of both worlds - vanilla & chocolate!

The start to a wonderful meal ❤

Much more to come tomorrow.  Good night everyone! ❤