Lea says goodbye

It’s been a great semester, but I think it’s time to say goodbye.

It has been a pleasure writing about food and sharing with people about the thing I love the most.

It was fun making this blog even though I wasn’t able to post regularly. It allowed me to explore new places and meet new people along the way. I am planning to continue blogging, but this time, I will also make some videos.

I have learned a lot and more from doing this small project. This project also cemented the fact that I want to work in an industry where I can talk about food all day.

Cheers! 

All the photos used on this blog are all mine. 

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Lea’s New York Trip 2017: Food Edition

I ate my way through New York last summer.

I haven’t seen my bestfriend for 10 years. Can you believe that? I have known this person most of my life and it wasn’t until last summer when I finally got the chance to see her again. It’s one of the highlights of my year.

In true Lea fashion, I always try my best to eat my through a place that I’m visiting. I basically base my itinerary around the restaurants I could go to. Two things I always do when I’m travelling: Go to museums and go to restaurants/markets.

I did bring my bulky camera, but I never used it to take food photos because I forgot. That’s the reason, really.

All photos were taken by me using my Samsung S7. The quality of this camera is incredible if you want to travel light.

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Pastries from a neighbouring cafe around Queens.
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Fried dumplings and sticky rice from Now Wah Tea Parlour.
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top to bottom: shrimp and pork dumplings, xiao long bao, hakao from Nom Wah Tea Parlour.
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Iced Macchiato from Dunkin’ Donuts.
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Quail eggs deep-fried in orange batter, this is a common street food in the Philippines called Kwek-kwek, that is served in a FIlipino restaurant in Queens.
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Tofu and pork.
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Lava cookie dessert.
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I honestly forgot what this dessert is, but it’s really good. It is green tea flavoured, hence the colour.
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Me drinking the best iced coffee in New York from Blue Bottle Coffee.
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Shake shack, because why not.
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The most expensive slice of cake I’ve tried so far. This is a strawberry shortcake from HARBS cafe in Upper East Side. The cost of this slice is $10USD or $13CAD
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Takoyaki topped with bonito (fish) flakes in an underground mall in Queens.
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Takoyaki topped pork floss and seaweed in an underground mall in Queens.

Links to places I’ve been to:

Nom Wah Tea Parlour – This restaurant was a recommendation from Anthony Bourdain. First of all, this place is dark and dingy. My friend and I took around 30 minutes to find this place in Chinatown. It’s one of the longest-surving dim sum places in New York, and one of the best. It’s cheap and delicious. What more can you ask for?

HARBS – Heaven is a place on earth, and it is HARBS. HARBS is a European-style cafe that serves Japanese-style desserts. If you haven’t tried any kind of Japanese dessert, they tend to be mild in sweetness, but you can taste all the flavours. HARBS is famous for their cakes. One whole cake is $100. Was it worth it? Yes. If you happen to find yourself in Upper East Side, go to HARBS.

Shake Shack – Come on. I don’t like burgers, but after this meal, I will go back for more Shake Shack.

Blue Bottle Coffee – This is a coffee roaster and retailer that originated in California. Their coffee is amazing. I am picky with my roast, I want it dark and most coffee places in Calgary doesn’t have that. Calgary’s coffee scene is booming, but I think most places offer the same kind of roast, mild and a bit acidic. It’s basically water.

 

Lea tries matcha made in heaven

Okay, that was a really bad pun.

It’s that time of the year again, folks. It’s finals season. It’s that time where students cram in all their projects and study sessions during the last two weeks of the semester. Sad to say, I am one of those people.

It’s also the time where we drink insane amounts of coffee in a day. Have a 600-word news story due the next day? Grab some large coffee with an extra shot of espresso, and you are good to go. I would usually drink two to three cups of coffee, I prefer black (just like my soul). Once I hit my caffeine quote, I switch it up to tea.

Calgary is littered with coffee shops. Unfortunately, I’ve only enjoyed Analog coffee when it comes to their brewed coffee.

Anyway, Marco and I decided to go downtown and do some work. Around the Stephen Ave. are, there are a few coffee shops that you can go to and chill. Phil and Sebastian is one of my go-to places when I want to relax and be motivated to do work. The only downside is that they close at 4:30 p.m.

The aesthetic of the place is very Instagram-worthy, and I am a sucker for anything ‘grammable. So there I was, with my credit card in hand, spending $5 on a latte.

This time, I ordered some matcha latte. Matcha is basically green tea powder. It has a very strong taste and it also smells funny. Anyway, I swiped my credit card to pay for my overpriced latte yet again. I’ve lost count on how many boujie coffees I’ve had since this semester started, not gonna lie.

Finally, when we were satisfied with our photos, we sipped our drinks, and I quickly regretted picking matcha latte. It tasted very powdery and funky. It’s not bad, but I wasn’t expecting the strong flavours. Oh, it’s also very creamy. Which, I am not a fan. I mean, it’s a latte. What was I expecting.

To balance out the grossness I felt, I had some macarons to snack on. I got this one at Monplaisir over at the Core shopping centre.

You can get five pieces of macaroons for $13.50. WHAT A DEAL. Macarons are generally expensive because of how hard it is to make them. And I’m not going to make an effort to bake them myself that’s why I’m willing to spend money on them.

The flavours I got were pistachio, creme brulee, salted caramel, matcha (here we go again, it was good tho) and dark chocolate (which Marco had).

We spent four hours trying to finish our homework at the cafe. I don’t know what it is with coffee shops , but they just make you super productive.

Lea Makes Some Creamy Pancetta Pesto Pasta

What is pancetta? Whenever someone ask me that I always just say, “a really think type of bacon”.

You can eat it raw, like what most Italians do, or you can fry it. Just the way I like it. Pork belly is my guilty pleasure. One of my guilty pleasures, it’s so fatty and tasty, and I’m pretty sure it’s bad for you, but who cares?

My roommate/friend is vegetarian, but she kindly bought me some pancetta and other groceries since I’m busy with school. I’ve been craving for some pasta for a while now, so I decided to make my favourite recipe. It’s pretty basic, it’s just a cream-based pasta.

What you need:

  • Pancetta
  • Cream
  • Garlic
  • Spinach
  • Zucchini
  • Mushrooms
  • Butter (lots of it)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Parsley flakes
  • Flour
  • Pesto

So before you start cooking, prepare all your ingredients first. This is so important. It makes the cooking process easier because everything is already prepped.

Grease your pan with butter. Just enough to cover it, since your pancetta will cook on its own fat anyway.

What I always do is cook the pancetta first, you want all that juicy fat as your base for flavour. Honestly, I’m not sure, but it works for me. I am not a professional, I just like to eat and cook!

Add more butter. 1 spoonful, in my case. Or more. I don’t judge.

When your pancetta is brown enough, add some garlic. I used four cloves. DO NOT BURN YOUR GARLIC, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.

And then add your vegetables. I just used what’s available. So Mushroom, zucchini, and spinach it is!

And then add the cream. Maybe a cup, I don’t measure, so it’s really up to you. Add some flour to make it thicker. Salt and pepper to taste. Oh, Add thyme.

Just let it simmer, taste as you go.

And there you go!

Lea eats that famous peri-peri chicken

I honestly had no idea whatsover what peri-peri chicken is. I kept hearing and seeing (Thanks, Instagram!) Nando’s everywhere. No, I haven’t tried Nando’s yet. Am I missing out on something? Apparently, I was.

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So what in the world is peri peri chicken? I did my research (Thanks, Google!) and I found out that peri-peri literally means pepper. Like, a very hot sauce made with lots and lots of pepper called piri piri. Peri peri  or piri piri is actually a dish originated in Angola and Mozabique, and it was then introduced in Portugal when the settlers arrived with the gold mine of piri piri peppers.

In comparison, Tabasco is only 2,000 on the Scoville scale while Nando’s famous peri-peri hot sauce is at a whooping 25,000.  So if you think that Tabasco is already spicy, think again.

The actual chili used a.k.a. the piri piri is between 50,000-175,000 SHU. I don’t know why the range is so huge, but damn, that’s hot.I am in love with spicy foods. I would like to thank my siblings who influenced me in this journey.

I’m actually surprised how decently priced Nando’s is. It reminded me of that restaurant back in the Philippines called Kenny Roger’s Roasters. They have delicious corn muffins. I could eat 6 in one sitting. Kenny Roger’s roast their chicken to perfection, and they offer the best sides, cheesy baby potatoes. Yum!
 On a scale of 1 to did I burn my tongue off, it was on the “Oh, wow. This kicks hard” type of spicy.  To be fair, I got the medium spicy level, but I added more hot sauce after. The garlic mashed was really good as well. I’m a sucker for garlic mashed. And the fries, they are oh so crispy and it was seasoned right. Side note: I’m actually upset that my plate looks ’empty’, I wish I ordered more sides. Or a bigger serving of chicken. Regrets.
Was it worth it going to Nando’s? Yes. Is it right up my budget? Yes. Am I going to buy their hot sauce? YES. So if you haven’t gotten into the Nando’s bandwagon, I think you should start now.

Lea eats : Best of Montreal

Montreal is probably one of my favourite cities in the world. Granted, I haven’t really travelled that much, but I know for a fact that Montreal will always be one of those places that I would always go back to. They have great sense of fashion, the architecture and art scene is something that I truly appreciate, and the food. I’m always about the food. Oh, it’s such a lively city compared to Calgary.

Montreal is the city where my eldest brother and mom used to live. It was their home for a long time. The first time I visited was almost 8 years ago. I was into that food scene, but I never had the chance to document my foodventures. Yes, I know it’s not a word. Let’s move along.

This summer, I had the chance to visit Montreal with my mom to see family. And of course, to eat the famous smoked meat.

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Me and my mom in front of Smoke Meat Pete in Montreal

Smoke Meat Pete: We drove for almost 40 minutes to get to this joint and it was worth the wait. I was hungover from the night before, thanks to my cousins who indulge me with mojitos. It was my first time having smoked meat and it was glorious. The meat was juicy and it melts in your mouth. I think I had the quarter pound sandwich with fries and good ‘ole can of coke. It definitely hit the spot. My headache was gone, for a brief amount of time. I wanted to have a second one, but I decided not which was a good call since I had some Jamaican patties after. I have no photos of the actual food because I devoured it as soon as it arrived.

 

En Couleur – Crêpes Européennes + Donairs d’Halifax: We stayed at an Airbnb in the Gay Village. Pro tip: Book at an area where you are close to everything (metro, grocery store, restaurants, drug store, etc…) It will make your life easier. We got an apartment and it can fit four people in it. The first thing I googled were restaurants around the area. I found this place via recommendation of the host. Our apartment was kinda like a hotel, they have this small booklet of recommendations and it’s super convenient. Anyway, I was hungover that morning and I want to take my mom out for crêpes, so I did. I believe the owner of the place was the one who served us and he was super nice even though we didn’t speak a lick of french. The servings were huge. The ingredients used were fresh as well. Another place you should totally go to when in Montreal.

 

Izakaya Kabocha: Oooh, my mom kinda got annoyed at me for this one. I can’t blame her, I made her walk the hills of St. Laurent Blvd. Was it worth the trek? Yes. I actually had no idea where we were going to eat, I just want to explore the neighbourhood. I wanted something healthy. I spotted this restaurant with an open concept, and just my luck, it’s a Japanese Izakaya place. I have no clue if this place was good or not because I was dumb enough not to google it. I ordered a small platter of sashimi, which I wolfed down easily. My mom had the veggie yakisoba while I had the veggie stir-fry. I was trying to balance out all the greasy food and alcohol I would consume, okay? The place was rated 4.7/5, and honestly, the place deserves it. The ambiance was great, the interior of the restaurant is something I want to achieve for my own restaurant (if ever writing doesn’t work out), and the food is reasonably priced. They have a nice patio where you could drink your beer during the summer and it has a nice view to people watch.

 

Andalos: I was craving for crêpes when we stumbled upon this place by accident. I think we got lost and I was getting pissy, so I just told my uncle to stop when I saw this place because it said Boulangerie and Patisserie in big, bold letters. I was glad we stopped because this place is a huge bakery. I assume this is where some restaurants order their dessert. I’m not really sure. They have everything. I had a slice of tiramisu for $3 and it was heavenly. Are you kidding me? I would have another slice to be honest. The ladies behind the counter were super accommodating to my non-french speaking tongue. I had my fill of desserts for breakfast and my stomach was super happy.

Ahh, you might ask, where is the poutine, Lea? Well, I had it at this restaurant that I will not name, and it was sub-par. So yeah.

If there’s any other place I should go to the next time I’m in Montreal, leave a comment below. 

Lea eats that: Juree’s Thai Place

When you think of Thai food, you don’t necessarily think about curry or satay, it’s usually pad thai. It is basically the poster child for Thait food, but it’s not really what they are known for. The star of the show is their famous curries. Yes, you heard it right, Thai curry.There are tons of different types of curries available all over the world, and I’m on a quest to try all of them.

So I called my good friend, Christina, to take me to a good place to eat. Lo and behold, she presents me Juree’s Thai Place. I quickly googled the place to see their ratings and it is a stunning 4.3 on the internet. Not bad. To tell you the truth, I’m not really into Thai curry. I lean towards the Indian and Japanese style curry because Thai curry uses coconut milk. I don’t like coconut milk, at all. On the other hand, their coconut rice is the food of the gods. It’s amazing and I can’t stress enough how good it is.

We ordered two different kinds of curry, why? I thought the serving would be small, but it’s actually good to share with other people.

 

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Matsaman Curry with Chicken (Medium Spice)

The Matsaman Curry with chicken is what I had. When you order curry, they will ask you how spicy you want it to be, I believe there are 3 or 4 levels. I decided to go medium just so I could test the waters. It wasn’t spicy at all, but it was more on the sweet side. Weird. The curry overall is amazing. The flavours all mash-in together perfectly, especially if you eat it with coconut rice. I definitely recommend getting this dish if you ever go to Juree’s.’

 

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Red Curry with Chicken

Christina ordered the Red Curry. The taste kinda reminds me of a dish we have back in the Philippines. It’s probably the bamboo shoots. The taste is something you have to get used to because of the strong and distinct flavour of the bamboo shoots. She also got it in medium spice level, but for some reason, it was spicier than mine. I felt a tingle of heat inside my mouth.

 

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Thai dumplings with pork and herbs filling

Last, but certainly not the least, the beautifully made dumplings. I was expecting so much from this dish. The artistry on this one is 10/10. Sadly, I couldn’t really taste the pork or the herbs on this one. It tasted kind of flour-y than anything.

This place certainly didn’t disappoint me. The service was also superb, the lady who served us was super lovely! I wish I could try the chicken satay or their tom yum soup. Oh god, I would for sure come back. It is kinda pricey for me, as I’m on a budget (not really, who am I kidding). The meals are shareable, so you could split a couple of dishes with friends or with your date (if you have one, heh).