Monthly Archives: June 2015

Cats Love Seafood

We are starting to run out of “best of” places near us, to the point that soon we will not be able to walk and will have to take transit.

Last week we found ourselves walking back to our old neighbourhood, to Chiado, voted best Portuguese restaurant. Walking in, I felt so fancy, even moreso when they asked if we had a reservation.

We had looked at the menu online beforehand, but it had changed. The dish I had been wanting to order as my main was no longer available, it was only served as an appetizer. My back-up was the octopus, which Brent had also had his eye on. He was left debating between the salted cod and tiger shrimp. However the tiger shrimp had gone up quite drastically in price, the debate shifted to whether or not we should split the appetizer version of the tiger shrimp. In a moment of indulgence, Brent decided we should go for it.

The shrimp was amazing. Because we were splitting it, the kitchen staff were nice enough to split and plate it for us separately. The shrimp was giant, and every time Brent pointed that out I giggled. I have never been a big fan of shrimp, but I was blown away.

The octopus was just as amazing. However I did have a moment of “ACK!” when one of the suckers fell off the tentacle and I was reminded that I was eating a once-living octopus. The moment passed quickly however, as the meal was delicious.

We opted out of dessert, as I had a secret agenda to stop at Bang Bang Ice Cream on our way to 2Cats Cocktail Lounge (best lounge). It was an overcast day, with threats of rain. However this did not dissuade the public. The line at Bang Bang was huge, at least 30 people long. As we passed by, I stared longingly at the ice cream sandwiches being eaten. One lady had an ice cream sandwich made with pound cake!! Pound cake!!! These were no ordinary ice cream sandwiches and I was heartbroken.

We wanted to get to 2Cats right at open so as to avoid the busy rush, even still getting there less than an hour after open seemed fine. However when we got there we saw that it was not actually open yet. Turns out they need to update their website, as they now open at 9pm not 8pm. We back-tracked to Il Fornello so I could finally get my dessert fix. Drowning my ice-cream-less sorrows, I found myself sitting on a bench outside eating cookie after cookie. I stopped myself from eating the third one, opting to save it for later. We walked back, passing right at 9pm. Still no signs of life. We kept walking one more block, I ate the last cookie, and we turned around and headed back.

Now there was a bouncer outside. As we started for the door, he warned us that there was no one actually inside yet. This was perfect, my idea of a bar/lounge. Empty and therefore enjoyable. Apparently we were there for happy hour, drinks were half price. I ordered an old fashioned however the bar tender did not know how to make one. She asked me and I guessed that it was Scotch, triple sec and bitters. She did not have bitters, so she made just a Scotch and triple sec mix. Brent googled it, turns out it is rye or bourbon not Scotch, and a sugar cube doused in bitters and a dash of water. I was right about the cherry garnish though!

The place was nice with good music. We had a seat on some couches by the front and chatted. We liked it so much, and it was so cheap, we stayed for another round. By this time the place was starting to fill up. This time I opted for simplicity and ordered a long island iced tea, I had seen the mix behind the bar.



Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 7

Thurs. June 11, 2015:

We had the saddest breakfast ever, because it was our last one together for a long time. Plus we were all tired from staying up so late. The only way to cheer up was for us to wear our chicken hats, with the bachelorette cowboy hats on top of them. Needless to say, we turned a lot of heads in the airport. One lady correctly identified it as a hen party. After taking ridiculously silly photos, we took a few normal non-hat-wearing ones. We left our chicken hats strewn about, including one atop a TSA warning sign. Marianne’s chicken was flopped on its side, it looked hung-over, and especially because of the tiny cowboy hat it was wearing.

The US safety screening was gruff, everyone was grumpy and people in the other lines did not understand how it fully worked. I had to get patted down because of the rhinestones on the chest of my tank top. The lady did not seem amused. The airport did not have a Dunkin’ Donuts, so I had to settle for Starbucks. I was tempted to get something fancy, but it was too early in the morning. We still had half an hour before boarding, so we took turns browsing the duty-free shop. I ended up getting a bottle of Canadian Club for way cheaper than in Canada.

When we tried to board there was a problem with mine and Camilla’s boarding passes. Apparently at security check-in they had put us under the same name. Such are the perils of traveling with someone who has the same last name. The lady at security check-in had been distracting by trying to pronounce my last name, and laughing at it when I said it correctly.

We were so close to home, 10 minutes away from landing and for some reason the pilot decided to take a detour to Markham. We were never told what was going on, but it was a stressful 15 minutes of “what is the pilot doing?! What is going on?!” coupled with turbulence. Leaving the airport, the lack of humidity was stark and jarring. I had become used to it.


Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 6

Wed. June 10, 2015:
I’m not sure what was going on, but this time I woke up at 7am. I was not having it. I grabbed a sleep mask and went right back to sleep for another 3 hours. Even still I was the first one awake. As I waited for someone to wake up, I snacked on cold fried chicken leftovers. Not exactly the healthiest breakfast, but then again I was waiting for others to wake up so we could go to the Au Bon Pain in the lobby of the building. I had a hankering for some coffee, complete with a cookie (or two). Soon enough Lucy and Ela were awake. I walked Ela downstairs, since she was on her way to the gym. I opted to eat cookies instead. I was torn between getting a slice of lemon pound cake a palmier cookie, I chose the latter because apparently they had a new and improved recipe. It was a good cookie, however very crumby so I had to eat it over the sink. It was also very sticky. Once everyone else woke up we played Bananagrams and watched Friends as we waited for Ela to return.

Driving back to Davie we hit some bad traffic. We went off the highway and took surface streets until we got past the traffic and got back on the highway. Since the previous day we had been secretly conspiring to throw Camilla a bachelorette party. It was nearly impossible for the four of us to get together to plan it without alerting suspicion. And so we had a bit of a chain going, were a few of us would discuss, and then inform the others and so on, passing messages between ourselves.

Due to the impromptu nature of the plans it took a lot of fussing and secrecy. For a while we were stuck without the car, so we sat around talking and catching up on things missed. Because we did not have the car we wondered about taking an Uber car to Hollywood Beach for the evening, it was our last night in Florida (this was the excuse we used to cover the bachelorette party). We ended up getting the car at the last minute and so our plans shifted a little bit. Marianne and Ela took Uber to pick up the car from their mom’s work. Camilla, Lucy and I walked over to Publix and then to Dunkin’ Donuts. On their way back from the pick-up they would stop and get bachelorette party supplies.

At Publix we stocked up on flight snacks. I finally found my beloved Speculoos cookies (here called Biscoff) and grabbed a pack. The plan was to eat them on the flight. They did not make it past the Dunkin’ Donuts patio where I tore the package open. This time around at Dunkin’ Donuts I had ordered a Chips Ahoy Coolata (like an iced capp). And it was too sweet. For iced coffee drinks there is nothing good, so far, at Dunkin’ Donuts. I have learned to stick with the brewed coffee. Back at the house, as we were leaving Marianne filled me in on their plan to go to the party supply store on their way to pick us up. Camilla asked what we had been talking about, in a panic, I said Marianne had been putting in a donut order with me. And so we sat there on the Dunkin’ Donuts patio, eating cookies while a delicious Chips Ahoy donut beckoned to me from its paper bag as a giant storm loomed over us. On our way to Dunkin’ Donuts we watched in horror as a monster truck sped down the road and nearly slammed another car turning out of the parking lot into a ditch, it only reinforced my impression that people in Florida are terrible drivers. Almost every day we passed an accident, saw a near accident, or a wrecked car.

Once we got to Hollywood Beach, Lucy and Ela got out of the car as we searched for parking. Camilla had assumed that Lucy was still mad at her from earlier and so she did not try to tag along, saving us from awkward “no wait, stay with us… erm.. because..” and such. They went ahead to set up the party. Because I had not been to the store, I myself had no idea what to expect. When we went looking for them on the beach, I noticed that the lifeguard tower they were on had been wrapped with caution tape. I was worried it might be rickety and unsafe. As I got closer I noticed it said GIRLS GONE WILD. Still I did not clue in. Only as I rounded the corner and saw Ela and Lucy wearing little pink glittery cowboy hats that said “party posse” did I finally clue in.

To celebrate we gave Camilla a sash to wear and a tiara with a veil. We sat on the tower and ate red velvet cake and fruit. To counter all the sweet, we munched on popcorn. We talked and had music playing. We also had on our matching shirts, made to commemorate the trip and 15 years of official friendship. There was no way we were going to spend the entire evening sitting up there on the guard tower. We simply had to walk the boardwalk, plus we had to go refill the parking meter too. Camilla got a lot of congratulations and one very confused happy birthday. One guy tried to high-five us and at the last minute I reciprocated. He seemed a bit taken aback. He returned later and asked us if we partied. We said it was a hen party, ladies only. Another guy offered to give us all a ride on his bike, which made me picture a ridiculous high-wire circus act.

We walked by Ben & jerry’s and I could not help myself. Even though I had been eating cookies and cake, I found myself ordering a kid-sized scoop of Phish Food. It’s just that good. I noticed that they had candles for sale, but I don’t love Ben & Jerry’s enough to spend $7 on a small candle.

Back at the house we put our mini cowboy hats on our chicken hats and had a good meta-laugh. We rounded out the evening with a game of Kolejka. As usual, on our last night there we stayed up late.


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Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 5

Tues. June 9, 2015:

I woke up at 8am and decided it was way too early to be awake, even if I was on vacation. Even at 9am no one else was awake. At about 9:30 I got bored and got out of bed. There was no point in waiting around for everyone else to wake up and maybe go with me on a coffee run. I tore open my Dunkin’ Donuts caramel coffee cake coffee and brewed a cup. Things soon got interesting. There was an iguana in the yard and Przemek thought he could sneak up on it. As the iguana got near the lake, Przemek got brave and approached it. With that it whipped its tail and slid into the water. Przemek thankfully was just barely far enough away to not get hit.

I sat around not doing much of anything, sipping my coffee and waiting for everyone to get ready. We were heading back to Miami because Ela had work that evening. We did not manage to leave until 1pm, the more people involved the harder it is to coordinate. On the way we stopped at Dunkin’ Donuts, as it had been a few hours now since my last coffee. I caved and ordered an Oreo iced coffee. It was not very good, as the syrup did not mix well and had amassed at the bottom. Rather than each give into our cravings, Marianne and I split a Chips Ahoy cream donut- each bite was heavenly. The cream in the middle was like cookie icing. As we waited for our drinks, a guy tried to start prophesying to us about crossfit, but Ela shut him down by saying it is too complicated to explain in such a short amount of time.

The drive to Miami was not nearly as bad as the previous day, plus I was nursing a coffee and coffee makes everything better. We hung out at Ela’s apartment for a while, having lunch and then playing Bananagrams. We were waiting out the rain storm. When it showed no signs up of letting up we headed out. The thunder had passed, now it was just light rain and we were not going to let that dampen our plans.

We drove to South Beach, I was really excited about getting to gawk at the art deco hotels. On the way we passed by giant million dollar mansions, that brought to mind yachts full of bricks of cocaine and rap stars singing. This daytrip had not been planned out, it was a last minute addition as we needed to drive Ela to Miami to work and find something to do until she was done. The art deco hotels brought to mind the video game GTA: Vice City. One of the highlights of the walk was seeing Versace’s house. Their mom went up to the m’aitre d to confirm if in fact it was the house. Before she could finish her sentence he confirmed, apparently everyone asks him about it. The rain soon let up and once we were done the art deco walk we walked back along the beach. Along the way we saw the funniest thing ever. There was a guy taking selfies with a selfie-stick. These were no ordinary selfies, oh no. These were epic. He would lounge provocatively in the sand as the waves washed over him. He also took some underwater selfies, complete with sunglasses.

We grabbed our blankets from the car and sat on the beach. It was nice to just sit back and relax, especially because my legs were sore from walking for so long along the beach coupled with the workout from a few days before. This did not last very long, as on the horizon there were big dark storm clouds closing in. Off in the distance there were flashes of lightning. We watched the clouds come closer, you could see it raining far away. At some point the clouds seemed to part over one lone ship on the ocean.

On the way back we stopped because there was a lizard on the fence, just beckoning to be photographed. How could I resist? He was totally working it for my camera. It was more of a success than when I tried to photograph the lightning. I took a bunch of photographs and not one had a streak of lightning.

For dinner we went to a restaurant near Ela’s apartment that they swear by. Yambo is a Nicaraguan restaurant, where everyone only speaks Spanish. We resorted to just pointing at what we wanted from the hot table. For $6 I got an incredible amount of food, easily 2-3 meals worth. The fried chicken was amazing and the pieces were huge. The beans were overly salty though. I had a bite of fried cheese and it was amazing, I did not know that cheese could taste that good. We all ended up with leftovers, which was good because that meant breakfast was taken care of.

Back at the apartment we settled in and played some more Bananagrams and watched Friends on Netflix on my iPad. Camilla, Ela and Lucy went clubbing when Ela got back from work. I was not having it, I have been clubbing once in Miami and that was more than enough for me. I had fun staying in and playing another round of Bananagrams with Marianne. However we only lasted for one game, as we were both exhausted.


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Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 4

Mon. June 8, 2015:


Our plan for the day was to head to Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami. We were going to take the commuter bus to Miami and stop off at Ela’s apartment to drop off our lunches and put on sunscreen. The last bus from Davie to Miami was at like 8:30am or so, we had to rush to catch it. The bus lulled me to sleep, the express lanes were closed so we slowly inched our way in the morning rush hour. The point of taking the bus was to avoid said traffic, as the bus usually speeds by in the express lane. Ela’s apartment was around the corner from the bus stop and the train station.

I kept calling the elevated train a subway from force of habit. It was decidedly not a subway, as in Florida you cannot dig very deep. From the train station to Vizcaya there was a nice little nature trail. Well it was nice, until we saw a giant spider sitting on a web. It made the spiders I am afraid of back home seem like mere ants.

In an effort to avoid the searing Florida sun, we started out in the house. It was enclosed and air-conditioned. The only downside was that there was no photography allowed, which was terrible given how gorgeous the sunroom/courtyard in the middle of the house was. We did not go on the tour, instead we took turns reading the info panels in each room (provided there was no one else in there). The rooms were all styled differently, we got to see a wide variety of things. One room had a gorgeous plaster ceiling that was done in the style of Wedgewood porcelains (light blue with white detailing, matte finish). Alas there was no information about it and I was left wondering.

Before heading out to the gardens we stopped at the café and gift shop for a break. Along the way we passed the pool which was an iridescent green. It looked interesting but did not beckon for a dip. I was far too tired and run-down from my allergies to browse the gift shop. I ordered a coffee and cookie and planted myself at a corner table. Apparently they had all fallen in love with a hand scrub in the bathroom, which was for sale in the gift shop.

Even with starting in the house and taking a lunch and shopping break, we found ourselves starting on the gardens at high noon. At first it was fine, we were by the bay looking out over the water. We sat there for a while, enjoying the cool breeze, looking back at Vizcaya as seen from the bay. At one point a police boat zoomed in from the distance, circled the wave breaker (which was shaped like a sunken ship) and left. We were very confused when we saw it in the distance. What could a police boat possibly want from Vizcaya? Turns out it was two cops trying to impress some ladies in their boat. For a split second I really pictured something out of CSI: Miami involving bricks of cocaine in the water. It was a total let-down to see these two dorks trying to look cool.

In the rest of the gardens it was boiling hot, even with the shade. In all of our photos we are squinting and shining from all the sweat. I don’t understand why there were 2-3 separate photo shoots happening at this time. There was a fashion model and two girls having quinceañera photos done. I can only imagine their misery in their poofy prom-style dresses. The sun was beating down on us mercilessly. I was getting really tired and sluggish. I was starting to look forward to the bus ride back so I could have another nap.

When we took the train back to Ela’s apartment we exited to the other side of the street. We were going to visit the new 7-Eleven and get Slurpees, as the tradition goes. However we had a small detour, as it was discovered that there was a small library in the station. Camilla and I were left bewildered as one by one, Lucy, Marianne and Ela all went in. We were getting antsy and bored outside. Things only got worse when a creepy old man walked by and stared at us.

The 7-Eleven was brand new and on the hospital campus. My hunger got to me and I wound up getting birthday cake M&Ms. We sat on the patio outside (yes, that is how nice this 7-Eleven was) and munched on our snacks. A man from the table next to us leaned over and slipped Marianne a note as he was leaving. He had made a silly joke about her tattoo. I found it adorable that he wrote a note, it was nice that he did not try to interrupt us. Back at Vizcaya we had gone into a maze. Lucy said that before going into a maze you are supposed to focus on a question or trouble you are having: at the end of the maze you should have your answer. My question had been: what flavour Slurpee will I get? Cherry, was the answer. Luckily they had that flavour, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. Go back to the maze?

We barely had any time back at the apartment, we hurriedly ate our sandwiches. No sooner were we done, we had to head out to catch the bus, the next one would be in 40 minutes and we were far too tired to wait. Like clockwork, I dozed off on the bus. Marianne poked me in the leg to wake me up, I had been in such a deep sleep that it actually startled me and I got all bug-eyed. We had a good laugh about it.

Driving back we stopped at The Grove for the best key lime pie. While there we also found local Florida honeys, which made for the perfect souvenir gifts. While there I found out that Florida oranges are out of season, only available in the winter months. After an eggplant lasagna dinner we dug into the pie. We were going to have a campfire later with smores, so we each intended to only eat a small slice of pie. That did not happen. We wound up eating almost the entire pie- it was that good. It was not a horrible bright green and not overly sweet. It was made with actual key lime juice, no fake stuff.

My allergies were only getting worse. I started to wonder if maybe this was a horrible cold? While they were picking up the fire pit for our campfire from a neighbour I snuck in a quick nap. I soon realized that I was in desperate need of some new medicine, something that would work. We needed campfire supplies and I gamely volunteered to tag along. For two reasons: cold meds AND another chance to stock up on Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

At Publix I hit a gold mine in the clearance section: cherry Dunkin’ Donuts coffee! We also found a hamster dance singing birthday card for Ela. We were so easily distracted, tempted to buy gobs of candy. It was time to head back and get the campfire going. The fire was slow to begin. I went inside to get the bug spray and 5 minutes later, I go back outside and they have a roaring fire going. Maybe it was just me? I sat there poking at the fire, only to realize that the stick I was using would make a good roasting stick… if we sharpened the end I had been holding.

We classed it up at our campfire. Instead of the usual crappy hotdogs, we cooked apple chicken sausages (which tasted as good as they sound) and for our smores we used actual chocolate squares. We had always used Nutella which was easy to spread. Chocolate squares not so much, I still prefer the Nutella. The chocolate barely melted and thus was uneven. We had also bought one king size bar, which between the five of us, quickly disappeared. I resorted to eating chocolate-less smores.

The firepit was old, the bottom had rusted out. We periodically had to monitor under the pit, putting out the small fire burning below our campfire. We ended up keeping the hose nearby and just spraying every time it got out of hand.

We tried to tell scary stories but that did not work out too well, partly the silly mood, partly the tiredness. By the end we had seared a black ring into the lawn and burned through our entire wood supply. I was in desperate need of a shower: the sunscreen, with a layer of sweat on top, followed by bug spray had all been cooked to a crisp layer on top of me and I felt so gross.


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Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 3

Sun. June 7, 2015:
I awoke to find Przemek (the cat) asleep on my foot. I started petting him and he stretched out over my leg and started making the world’s laziest biscuits, barely able to keep his eyes open. Pretty soon my leg started to go numb, and even though everyone else was still asleep I got out of bed. I was tempted to go read outside, the sun seemed so inviting, but I knew that as soon as I went out there I’d turn into a sweating sunburnt mess. Thankfully Camilla woke up soon after, as we waited for everyone else to wake up we watched season two of Orange Is The New Black, as I finally had Netflix!

Despite, or maybe because of, our ice cream binge the night before, everyone was keen on doing a workout. I’m not sure how, but somehow I survived the workout, even though in addition to the aforementioned ice cream binge, I had not worked out for quite a while. It was much better than last time we visited Florida, when we tried to go running. Even at 9am it was unbearably hot.

Being a lazy state afterwards, we decided to spend the day finishing off the shopping we had not done the day before. We were supposed to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts by their house, but we all forgot about it. As we were driving to Designer Shoe Warehouse (aka DSW) Camilla pointed out another Dunkin’ Donuts. It just so happened to be in a plaza with Goodwill. At DD they did not have medium sized plastic cups, so they gave Camilla a free upgrade to large. It was obscenely large and we could not stop laughing at it.

It was incredible the amount of high quality stuff at Goodwill. I found a Wedgewood dish set, which no one else seemed to care about at all. This was later redeemed when I told their mom about it and she was surprised that I found that at Goodwill. My heart was broken, I had found a beautiful wooden chest with metal rivets around the edge and a small lion head where the lock would be. It was in perfect condition… except for the fact that it was in Florida. I decided it would be too complicated and expensive to ship it home. It really killed me because it was listed for $30, which was a steal of a deal. Things only went downhill from there for me. The dust set off my allergies, and it was quick. It started with one sneeze and by the end of it, I was sniffling and sneezing and itchy.

Some girls came in, greeted the whole store, and asked where the sock section as. The cashier answered that Goodwill doesn’t sell socks. She responded, great the one thing I need, Goodwill doesn’t sell and they all left. I could not resist buying stuff, I reasoned I had room in my luggage because I brought stuff for Marianne and Ela. I resisted the Wedgewood dish set, and settled for a hollowed out book and a beautiful blue glass bottle.

The shoe store was in a plaza with other stores. I went next door to Old Navy looking for pajama shorts, but no luck. I joined them at the back fo the shoe store in the clearance section, aka shoe heaven. They mentioned that there was also a TJ Maxx, so Camilla and I set off for there. Success! I found reasonably priced pajama shorts. I was worried that were taking too long in the store, and so we rushed back… only to find that they were nowhere near done. There were piles of shoe boxes all around, they had one clerk calling other stores, and debates ensued about which (of two almost exact pairs) was the better shoe. It was not looking good for me. I had been tempted by an absolutely gorgeous Michael Kors purse (on sale no less), and it was all the more tempting as I was still nursing my Goodwill chest heartbreak. The longer we were in the store, the more reasons I came up with to buy it. I took to distracting myself by finding ugly shoes and trying them on. The winner was a leopard print, hot pink, fuzzy pair of at least 5 inch, heels. I put them on just to take a picture, and even that was too long, it was killing my foot by contorting it. It worked however, as I did not end up buying the purse (even though I now sorely regret it and doubt I will ever find one as good).

We were getting really tired and hungry. We spent a lot more time in Goodwill and DSW than had been anticipated. Originally we were going to visit The Grove, to pick up the best key lime pie. However that was not going to happen, which was not a tragedy as were still recovering from the night before. Not having key lime pie was not the end of the world. We had only one last stop left: Walmart. I needed to stock up on all things American that I cannot get back home. The hunger was distracting, I kept wanting to buy snacks. I found smore-flavoured Oreos. They did not have a wide selection of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. There was only one flavour I had not yet tried: coconut. Thankfully they also had the caramel coffee cake, which might be my favourite one.

At this point I was a sneezing, sniffling, glassy-eyed, red-nosed miserable mess. I took an antihistamine and just sat there in a haze, waiting for it to kick in. Dinner that night was the antithesis of the “kitchen sink”: fresh veggie salad, fresh mozzarella, avocado salad and homemade bread followed by a broccoli cheddar quiche. There was no dessert, that surely would have destroyed us.


Dosas For Dinner

I had no idea what to expect when Brent said we were going out for best dosas in the city. After a quick google of the restaurant, Udupi Palace, I was salivating. It sounded so delicious!! A thin crepe filled with potatoes/veggies and spices!

I had no idea what I was in for. The dosa arrived and it looked enormous… until I actually started eating it. I forgot to account for one very obvious fact: it was a crepe and therefore really thin! The spiced potatoes and onions were piled in the middle of the crepe, so around the edges it was just empty crepe. This was more than fine, as the crepe came with mango chutney and another sauce. Plus the filling did not stay in the middle for very long- at all.

We did not trade plates halfway, as we both had the same filling just different crepes. Brent had a bite of mine, and I of his. After a while the spiciness starting getting to me. My sinuses were no longer stuffed and I was sniffling. The spices were slow-burning. The more I ate the more the spice built and compounded. By the end I could not even eat the crepe on its own. Turns out the crepe itself was spicy. Brent thought I was being a baby, until he finished off my crepe. It was a nice slow burn, but spicier than his crepe.

Overall it was a very affordable, delicious and healthy dinner. The service was quick, even with the server warning us that my dosa would take some more time to make. We were out of there in under an hour, maybe even under half an hour? Who can say.


Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 2

Sat. June 6, 2015:

It was decided that because we would be tackling the “kitchen sink” (read: 44 scoops of ice cream, give or take) we would have a lazy beach day. We grabbed our beaching supplies and headed out. Marianne had mentioned a great place to stop for bagels on the way. I pictured stopping at a little bakery and each of us getting a bagel and some coffee. I had no idea what I was in for. We went to Einstein Bros Bagels and ordered a baker’s dozen, thirteen bagels and three cream cheese ”shmears” as they are hilariously called. The guy tried to short us one bagel, but Marianne fought for it and Camilla got her garlic bagel.

Sitting on the beach at John U Lloyd park we tore into the box of bagels almost as soon as we sat down. A bagel brunch on the beach, it really was quite lovely. I had chosen sweet bagels (blueberry and cinnamon sugar), but I was still curious to try some “shmear.” Turns out that blueberry bagels and salmon spread really truly do not mix, not even the slightest bit. I don’t know if it is being on vacation, or that we were having breakfast and lunch, but I was voraciously hungry. Whereas back home I would eat half a bagel, I wound up eating both of my bagels. By the time we were through with the box, there were only two or three left.

Having eaten our fill of bagels, we slathered on the sunscreen and headed out into the water. From there we still had a good view of our bags. At first it was mildly disconcerting; people kept stopping by our bags. Then I realized it was because we had set up camp near a turtle nesting spot, oops. Even in Florida, with the sun behind clouds, the water was not that warm. I dreaded the cold water in the belly button, just about the worst feeling you can get when swimming. We lounged about, letting the current slowly push us and then swimming back to our original spot. Eventually I got cold and bailed, I left for land. When I went to the bathroom, there were a bunch of kids warning me that there was a raccoon. At first I thought, haha silly kids. Then lo and behold, a raccoon came out of the women’s bathroom. The kids scared him off, when I thanked them they looked at me a little puzzled like why is this lady thanking me? It was nice to lay down on the beach and listen to “How Ocean Currents Work,” especially given I knew exactly what Josh & Chuck were talking about.

We eventually got restless and headed back to the house. It felt so good to shower and wash off the layer of sunscreen before it managed to get into my eyes, as it always does. Once everyone was ready, we went to the mall. We had all been craving some shopping and there was no better time than a rainy afternoon. Alas I had no luck, not even with the Victoria’s Secret pre-sale. The sales lady even pulled out her stock boxes from under the table and started pulling stuff out for them, alas I was out of luck. We stayed at the mall while Ela went to pick up their mom from work. The nerves were starting to set in, were we going to be victorious against the “kitchen sink”?

The mood in the car was tense, full of dread and anticipation. We were on our way to Jaxsons’ to tackle a behemoth of ice cream. The mood was temporarily lightened when we accidentally drove to the airport. Many “don’t send us away, you can have all the ice cream” jokes ensued. We were momentarily distracted by the new elevated runway which had a highway underpass. There were four of us in the backseat, thus we were not wearing seatbelts and all crammed. A sheriff whizzed by and scared us all, Marianne had to duck down. Luckily the sheriff had more pressing matters to attend to. No sooner had the tension passed, we saw another cop. This one drove behind us until we pulled into Jaxson’s.

In our planning we forgot that an ice cream parlour/family-style restaurant might be kind of busy on a Saturday night. Might. The line-up was fairly long, but we busied ourselves by taking turns going to the nearby dollar store. We wound up waiting for maybe 30-60 minutes. It is really hard to say, as we were distracted. Part of the reason we had to wait so long was because we were a group of 6, and thus we had to wait for a larger table to clear out. At first we were distracted by two girls behind us in line taking duck-face selfies. I joked that it was a “face-off.” There was also a guy selling balloons and a guy with a monkey. As we waited we could hear a siren ring a few times inside. We figured it was people ordering the “kitchen sink.” Just how many people were in there eating “kitchen sinks”? I counted at least 5 rings. The feeling of competition was growing, I imagined us being surrounded by other people all with their own “kitchen sinks.” As we waited we watched a promotional segment on a TV mounted above the door. The video showed the making of the “kitchen sink” and only added to “we will never make it” mood. We did figure out that each person chooses one flavour and they serve monster-sized scoops. I had originally thought you get to choose up to 44 flavours, which in retrospect does not make sense as it would take forever to prepare. To save time, and aprtly because we were bored, we decided on the six flavours as we waited in line: coconut, vanilla, mint chocolate chip, rocky road, pecan praline, and chocolate brownie. Everyone was counting on me to do the bulk of the eating, I made sure they were aware that 1.) I refuse to eat the bananas and 2.) I would not even touch the vanilla or mint chocolate chip ice creams. Blech.

Once we were inside we found out that the siren was for birthdays as well. No one was eating a “kitchen sink.”

The restaurant serves complimentary popcorn and we devoured the bowl within a few minutes of sitting down. We had not eaten much that day in anticipation of the “kitchen sink” and so we were starving. When the waitress asked if we wanted a refill we had to decline, it was a bad idea to fill up on popcorn. When the girls at the table beside us heard our order, they looked amused and asked if they could take a picture of it upon arrival. Before the ice cream behemoth arrived, we had managed to sing “Happy Birthday” twice, to two different parties. We joked about saying that it was all of our birthdays just for kicks. Where we were sitting I had a great sight-line of the kitchen, I could see them making it. The sheer sight of the monstrosity off in the distance made my mouth water. As they paraded it through the restaurant to our table, we garnered a klot of attention. When they server brought it to us, she asked if it was anyone’s birthday. At the last second we all simultaneously chickened out of claiming our own birthdays and all at once shouted and pointed that it was Ela’s birthday. This was not a lie, her birthday was in fact a week away. She was caught off guard to say the least.

At the beginning it was fun, it was novel, the ice cream was served in a plastic “kitchen sink” with a giant serving spoon. There was a bowl of walnuts on the side. The ice cream was beneath a pile of whipped cream and maraschino cherries, flanked on the sides by bananas. We passed the spoon around, serving ourselves a few scoops and whipped cream. Each person searched for the flavours they wanted. Camilla worried that they had forgotten the mint chocolate chip, just as had happened in her dream the previous night. It emerged in round two of serving. And so it went, we passed the serving spoon around, the idea being that by the time it got back around to you, you were ready for your next serving of ice cream. This method fell apart quickly. Not everyone made it to round 3. As I as on bowl 4 some people had thrown in the towel, others were still nursing bowl 3. Marianne and I were out in the lead, Lucy was trailing us. The coconut ice cream turned out to be a total flop. It sat there, a sad mountain amidst almost-completely-eaten ice cream puddles. I had to dig around the mint chocolate chip, however the spoon had been tainted with mint flavour. The pecan praline added some much needed crunchy and lightness. The chocolate brownie was too rich for this dish. The rocky road came out on top as the clear winner, made with really good marshmallows. I finished off bowl 5 and folded up my napkin. I was on the verge of throwing up; one more bowl would have done it. Lucy, eating bowl 4, looked over at me in utter shock. Had I really been beaten?! (Previous record: two and a half servings of soft serve, if that doesn’t count, then half a pint of Ben & Jerry’s). Lucy intoned that if she were to eat one and a half more bowls she’d beat me? I pointed out she had ot first finish her current bowl. That did not happen. I had a few more spoonfuls from the sink itself, but I was done. Marianne was the winner by a few spoonfuls. Having been defeated, we smashed down the coconut mountain, so it would not look as bad, and called the waitress over. She had stopped by two times before, but we persevered, unable to accept defeat. I was getting the ice cream sweats, feeling dizzy and I wanted to go back and just lay there and not move for the rest of the evening.

In the end we had made an incredible dent in the “kitchen sink”, having eaten 3/4 to 4/5 of it. We had eaten a lot of ice cream, 2-5 bowlfuls each, if not more (you’ve got to count the spoonfuls directly from the sink). It was a long slow and quiet drive back, we were exhausted.

The trouble with ice cream is it is not that filling. Soon after we got back I was feeling peckish. I was not alone in this, Lucy was also hungry. We snacked on cucumber and avocado sandwiches, in an attempt to balance out all the sweet. Their mom told us that one of the cats, Przemek loves avocado and so we entertained ourselves for a bit, feeding him pieces. Not to be left out, we also fed Kazik (the other cat) his favourite vegetable: steamed asparagus. Tired and suffering ice cream comas, we settled in and played Ticket To Ride. Marianne wiped the board with us, I lost miserably, coming in a paltry last place. Instead of going to bed, I found myself catching up on Pinterest.


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Florida 2015- The 15 Year Reunion- Day 1

Fri. June 5, 2015:
Toronto flying to Ft. Lauderdale

We got the airport with barely any time to spare. We were lucky that Air Canada was not fully enforcing their new baggage restrictions. There were supposed to be employees posted somewhere between check-in and security actually measuring the size of carry-on luggage to ensure it met the restrictions. Even without that, and breezing through security and customs, we still barely had any time. After a quick pit stop at Tim Hortons (how could we possibly deny Marianne and Ela a box of timbits?!) we had to rush to our gate, which happened to be at the other end of the terminal. We got there with about 10 minutes to spare before boarding was to begin. After 15 minutes had passed I began to wonder- what was going on? I checked the board and it said our flight was on time, and there were no announcements explaining, nothing written on the Pearson website. There were other delayed flights in the airport, but no news about ours. Finally after about 20 minutes they announced that our flight had been delayed due to the lightning preventing the ground crew from getting our plane ready.

groom plane

We had enough time to start an episode of Wayward Pines. I had bought a coconut creme donut at Timmies to eat on the plane, I had to, it was National Donut Day, plus I’d be hungry later. That donut did not make it, no sooner had we heard about the delay and started watching TV, I was halfway through it. As we watched they announced that the crew had to “groom the plane,” I immediately pictured the nose of the plane with a giant fancy head of hair, and the crew in cherry pickers having to comb the mane.

On the plane they had a few episodes of The Jinx, however they did not have episode one. Instead I watched Gone Girl which lasted almost the entire flight. After that I tried watching a knock-off of the Angry Beavers about woodchucks but it was difficult to watch, so I resorted to staring out the window.

Once we landed we had no idea if they had been waiting for us for a long time, we had been delayed almost an hour. We wanted to wear our chicken hats to surprise them, but wanted to minimize the amount of time spent wearing them out of context (i.e.: not as a group of silly ladies). They had looked it up online and knew we were delayed, and the airport had wifi so it was easy to coordinate. We wound up standing outside by the taxi stands in our chicken hats as they drove up. After we were done screaming and hugging we piled into the car. It used to be much easier to cram four people in the backseat when we were children. Now not so much.

It felt so good to be back in Florida, starting our adventure off with our official dinner: super-duper spaghetti. Marianne and Ela had never tried Nanaimo bars and wanted us to bring some, as it is the Canadian dessert. Somehow the Nanaimo bars had survived the flight without melting into a giant mess. Dessert was as Canadian as it gets: Nanaimo bars and timbits and Smarties. A tonne of sugar is just what we needed before bed. Between the sugar and the catching up and the “OMG I can’t believe we are here! We are all together again!” it was a long while before we all fell asleep. Just like old times.


Back for Brunch

We had a bit of a break from our fooding adventures, as Brent was away for a week-long bachelor party, and as soon as he was back I was headed out the door to Florida. But we’re back now. For a few weeks anyway.

While we were away the best of lists had been updated and new ones posted. Best Irish pub and best Irish pub patio happened to be the same place: Ceili Cottage on Queen East.

I had forgotten about the pub part, and wound up ordering coffee. In my defence I had woken up with a pounding headache, and we still had to walk home with the sun beating down (yes, we both got sunburnt). Even with the late start, due to my after-sleep couch nap to battle the headache, we managed to get a seat on the patio.

For brunch I was torn between my go-to French toast or opting to change things up with steak and eggs. I chose the latter. The eggs were served atop the steak and a fried tomato, which I ate around. Thankfully the eggs were well cooked and I therefore avoided the worst thing possible: runny yolks spilling all over everything on my plate. I had a few bites from the breakfast platter that Brent ordered, the soda bread was the clear winner. The black and white puddings were also really good, as was the sausage.

We had also split a plate of oysters. The dish came with little fancy forks, so rather than slurping it out of the shell, I classed it up by eating with a tiny fork. It was nice because I could eat it in two bites and try the oyster plain, and with sauce.

Even though a week ago my friends and I had tackled the kitchen sink, a plastic sink with over 40 scoops of ice cream (story coming soon), I still had a craving for ice cream. On the way home we stopped in at Ed’s Real Scoop for dessert. The last few times I had ordered my ice cream in a cup, afterwards lamenting, having forgotten about my love affair with waffles. This time I did it right, I ordered my ice cream in a waffle cone. Partly because just outside the shop smelled like fresh waffles. And after about 15 minutes I was reminded of why I never order cones. My hand and my shoes were covered in dripping, melted ice cream. Cones are not perfect, they leak. And until the plastic drip catcher for holding cones becomes a universal standard, I will stick with cups thank you very much.

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Posted by on June 14, 2015 in Fooding

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