Food Collages by Julie Lee

There is something that is so satisfying about seeing an array of food arranged in collage format. I love things organized neatly, so when I came across artist Julie Lee’s work, I was enamoured instantly. The bright coloured fruits and vegetables compliment each other while promoting sustainability and healthy eating.

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City of Gold

Jonathan Gold is renowned for his compassionate, fair writing. A food critic for the LA Times, Jonathan is not afraid to review a restaurant that calls a strip mall home. Unlike other food critics, he will go where no other man has went before, and be happy to share the tale. When you read one of his reviews, it feels like you're catching up with an old friend. In the documentary City of Gold, everyone who makes a cameo paints the same picture of jonathan: that he's as passionate about food as he is people.


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Rose and Sons

When I made the move to Toronto one thing I anticipated more than anything else was the restaurant scene. It seemed like every cuisine under the sun had a place to call home and the inclusivity and thoughtful approach excited me. When I for a place to eat, I often peruse instagram and blog to for honest reviews and suggestions. Keeping that in mind, I have decided to create my own archive of restaurant reviews and highlights in the city.

Let's start with Rose and Sons at 176 Dupont street.

rose and sons via jamie sarner
{image via Jamie Sarner}

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Grabb and Go

In a world where convenience is key, Grabb is the number one purveyor in getting your food to you as quickly as possible. For Torontonians, this is a game changer when it comes to ordering food. Grabb is a mobile app that allows you to pre-order and pre-pay for your food, so you never have to wait in line. Showing you a list of restaurants in your area, you can look at their menu, pick what you want, pay for it, and pick it up when the timer on your phone tells you to. Partnering with a wide variety of restaurants such as Hero Certified Burgers, Bacon Nation, Fresh Off The Boat, and more, you have plenty of options. I had the opportunity to ask Grabb’s Vice-President of Growth, Keely Turner, a few questions about the app, food, and the future of food-ordering.

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Toronto as a Tourist

The eye has to travel. How can you say you’ve truly lived your life if you haven’t taken in what the world has to offer? There is an endless stream of beauty in this world, you just have to look for it. Knowing this, I took it upon myself the last few weeks to take in some of the most notable sights and sounds in my new home, Toronto. I’ve lived here for three months and they have been the best months of my life but that’s not to say they’ve come without their own set of trials and tribulations. For every bump in the road though, there is always something better after it. Wanting to take advantage of my newfound optimism brought upon by the hustle and bustle of life as a Torontonian, I made a list of a few attractions I wanted to see: the Ripley’s Aquarium, the CN Tower, and attending a Jays game.

When news first came out that Toronto would be getting it’s own aquarium, I was ecstatic. I have loved marine animals my entire life and I have always wanted the opportunity to see them up close. I went to the zoo when I was a child, and the Central Park zoo in high school, but they don’t have the same focus as an aquarium. When my best friend Sam came to town last week, she was as eager as I to check out the aquarium. I can’t stress this enough: you have to check this place out. With an adult ticket costing $28, it’s the same price range as the zoo, and it’s HUGE inside so it’s worth every penny. The aquarium is separated by the different habitats but you get to see every animal under the sea: sharks, sea turtles, sting rays, lobsters, octopuses, coral, crabs, and much more. My personal favourite were all of the tunnels that allowed you to get photos while the sharks swam around you.

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The CN Tower was something I’ve had on my bucket list since I was five years old. I remember coming to Toronto then with my parents and brother and seeing it in all of it’s glory but not having the opportunity to get up close and personal. Every time I have been downtown in the city, I get overwhelmed by how beautiful the tower is. It’s a beacon of Canadian history and I love saying that I have the opportunity to look at it whenever I want. My other friends had already seen the view so I was alone on this escapade. Paying $36 felt like a lot, but I knew that this would be a once in a lifetime (unless I come back for the 360 Restaurant!) visit. Going through the tower to walk to the elevator to the Observatory Deck made my stomach churn. I have a terrible fear of heights so not only was I marking this off my bucket list, I was conquering one of my biggest fears on my own. Going up the elevator I felt nauseous but once I stepped outside, I felt like I had entered another world. I have been to both the Empire State Building and the Rockafeller Centre in New York City but this view was a completely different experience. Perhaps it’s because this is a city I am proud to call home, or that I was feeling a natural high (no pun intended), but it was incredible. I took in all of the buildings, the islands, and the lakes taking mental pictures along the way. There is nothing like seeing a place you have wanted to after fifteen years to make your soul feel rejuvenated.

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Last, but not literally or least, was attending a Jays game. I have wanted to see a Blue Jays game since I moved here because it feels like the one experience that solidifies you as a true Torontonian. A beer in one hand, a hot dog in the other, what could be better? Although I skipped the $10.50 tallboy, I shared a hot dog with the amazing person who took me to the game. It came with grilled onions and peppers and although I’ve had better hot dogs, it was the experience that I wanted to pay for. We had great seats because we were behind the plate yet we were high enough that we could see all of the plays going on below us. Although our area was rowdy, I was able to take in the game. I learned the rules fairly quickly and realized that baseball isn’t nearly as boring as people make it out to be. I may have felt differently if I wasn’t sitting live at the game, but at the time it was better than anything I could ask for. The icing on the cake was that the Blue Jays beat the Seattle Mariners 8-2! My first game ever and our team won on our own turf, talk about a great afternoon.

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These are only three of the many experiences I have planned to take in while I live in Toronto. I want to say thank you to Sam and Drew for being a part of this with me and putting up with how excited I got as a tourist. Thank you to everyone who works at Ripley’s, the CN Tower, and the Rogers Centre for making these locations worthwhile places to visit. And thank you everyone for reading this far, I didn’t realize I would have so much to say about my city, but I’m happy I do.

Foodography

As a food blogger, it can be pretty embarrassing when an onlooker scratches their head while they watch you arrange your meal so it’s Instagram worthy. On countless occasions, I’ve spent more time setting up my meal than eating it (note: this is also because I devour my food). I must not be alone in this because Tel Aviv restaurant Catit has partnered with Carmel Winery to create Foodography, a set of plates that make your meal look as appetizing as it tastes.

How does it work? The dinnerware has slots for smartphones on one end with the opportunity to rotate and create backdrops on the opposite end. After seeing the image of the prototype, I’m eager to see how it does in Tel Aviv. I hope Foodography makes it’s way to Canada because I could use another tool to show off my #foodporn in style.

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Sugar Series // Colors Organized Neatly

One of my guilty pleasures is things organized neatly. I don’t know what it is but I love looking at pictures of things in a neat order. Maybe it’s because I’m a firm believer that everything has it’s place, but pictures of things organized neatly gives me an overall calm feeling. When I came across Emily Blincoe’s Sugar Series on Tumblr, it took my interest to a new height. Emily is an artist and a photographer. For this series, she paired sweet treats in an organized manner assorted by their colour. This is a great blend of art, food, and organization, which are three of my favourite things. Check out more of her work on her Facebook page or her Flickr.

colors organized neatly colors organized neatly 2 colors organized neatly 3 colors organized neatly 4 colors organized neatly 5 colors organized neatly 6 colors organized neatly 7 colors organized neatly 8 colors organized neatly 9 colors organized neatly 10{images via Tumblr}

Thanksgiving Special

If you’re an American, you’re getting ready to celebrate Thanksgiving. As those of us in Canada had our fill of turkey last month (until Christmas!), it’s your turn to start thinking about all the delicious eats coming your way. Now let me ask you a question: do you plate your food in any particular fashion? As a hopelessly devoted fan of Hell’s Kitchen, I constantly hear Chef Gordon Ramsey explain the importance of presentation. A plate of food should look like art. Artist Hannah Rothstein has  created the food art series Thanksgiving Special, imagining how famous artists like Piet Mondrian and René Magritte would plate their own Thanksgiving meals. Can you guess who inspired each dish? I’ll list the answers at the end of the post!

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{from top: Jackson Pollock, René Magritte, Piet Mondrian, Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso}

images via Laughing Squid

Salad King

Out of all of the restaurants in Toronto, Salad King has earned a top spot. Known for their exceptional Thai cuisine, this hole in the wall is anything but. Located upstairs at 340 Yonge Street, once you enter, you’re transported to paradise. Yonge Street is a mecca for anyone looking to surround themselves with good food and fun. Only steps from the entertainment district and Ryerson University, Salad King is in a great location.

Let this be a disclaimer: I have never had Thai food before. Although I have watched my friends eat Thai Express time and time again, I am stuck in my ways. When I told my cousin that I would be eating Thai food, she laughed, and recalled when I used to only eat Chef Boyardee and peanut butter cups. Long overdue for change and going in with an ‘I’ll-try-anything-once’ attitude, I let my friends Will and Kami take me to a restaurant I won’t soon forget.

banquette area salad king{Banquette area, image by Renée Suen}

After having Will tell me about all the amazing dishes and times he has had at Salad King, I was looking forward to experiencing it for myself. When we walked in and down the stairs, Kami was already seated at a table in the corner. I had never seen anything like it – rows of tables with seats, almost like an open bar, giving a communal feel to the restaurant. Even when we arrived, Kami was mingling with another person seated at the end of our table. I like that Salad King has a comfortable atmosphere that makes people feel free to talk to strangers while they wait for their flavourful food to arrive.

salad king communal dining{Communal dining, image by Renée Suen}

Our waiter was very nice and took our orders right away. Will and I split the ‘Sea Queen’ as an appetizer, which was breaded squid with thyme and chili with a honey and lime juice sauce, while Kami opted for the ‘Satay Chicken,’ grilled chicken on a skewer with peanut dipping sauce. I have never tried squid before but like I said above, tonight was all about the ‘I’ll-try-anything-once’ point of view. Once I got over the initial feeling that I was eating squid, I quickly devoured my portion. I thought that it may taste weird but it was full of flavour and I was thinking about it all night long.

sea queen{Sea Queen}

For our entrees, Will ordered the ‘Thai Basil Noodles (veggie)’ which consisted of rice noodle, egg, carrot, bell pepper, bean sprout, and a sauce made from garlic, chili, shallot, and dried shrimp. Always one to kick it up a notch, he ordered 5 chilis on the dish. Something you need to know about Salad King: they aren’t afraid of heat. They have their own Spicy Scale so you can add more spice to your dish, ranging from ‘medium – a little kick’ to ’20 chilis – may cause stomach upset.’ Will said that the chef has even went as far as 50 chilis, but with that dish, you can touch it to your tongue and you’re finished… it’s that hot. Kami went for a less spicy but equally amazing dish, ‘Shrimp with Cashew,’ which had shrimp, carrot, onion, bell pepper, celery, cashew nut served in a mild sauce. For myself, I ordered the ‘Garlic Shrimp’ which consisted of breaded shrimp with garlic, carrot, onion, and bean sprouts, served in a mild sauce. All of our dishes were served in a timely manner and after our first bites, we were sold. The flavours, textures, and colours came together to create dishes that made our taste buds come alive.

garlic shrimp{Garlic Shrimp}

shrimp with cashew
{Shrimp with Cashew}

Overall, my experience at Salad King was a terrific one. I truly believe that there is nothing better than dinner and drinks with a few friends and Salad King is the perfect environment to have the best of both. With phenomenal food, a great location, and overall comforting atmosphere, I fully understand how this spot has become one of Toronto’s best.

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar

I am a self proclaimed foodie. Honestly, other than fashion, food is one of my major passions in life. You know how some people ask the question “if you weren’t a ___, what would you do?” My answer would be a chef. Although I plan on sticking with a future in fashion, food has always been something I’ve been interested in. Beyond the taste of different cuisine, there is a lot of history behind ingredients, cooking techniques, and restauranteurs and the chefs, waiters and waitresses, servers, etc who they employ. Based on this, I have decided to add a new category to Lost in Reverie. My goal is to share some restaurants I believe you would all enjoy, recipes for delicious meals and treats, and other information about food. If you have any post suggestions within this realm, please let me know in the comments.

First on the docket is a review of one of my favourite restaurants in the ByWard Market, The Grand Pizzeria & Bar. Opened on May 1, 2009 in the same location as the historic ‘The Grand’ hotel, the building was given new life. With 150 seats inside, in the summer the patio gives more room and can seat up to 170 people, making it the largest seating in Ottawa. Mixing old traditions with modern decor, this Italian restaurant has a wood burning oven giving every pizza that crisp taste that makes it perfect.

header_logo{The Grand Pizzeria & Bar logo}

The special thing about The Grand Pizzeria & Bar is that it’s more than a restaurant, it’s an experience. I have only been there a handful of times but I feel like I leave my every day life behind and enter a more sophisticated atmosphere. The service is impeccable and immediately when you walk in the doors, the up scale environment gives you a good feeling right off the bat. The array of dishes are in Italian but the descriptions are mouth watering and the list of pizza’s are a dream come true.

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{outside of the restaurant}

I went this past Saturday with my friend Zach and it cemented why I love this restaurant so much. Soon as we entered, we were seated immediately in a window seat with a view of the patio and market. Although the weather wasn’t the best, our server’s cheery disposition made us both feel like we chose the right place to eat. He ordered The Grand pizza which came with mozzarella, scamorza, fresh basil, and prosciutto and I ordered the Angus Cheeseburger which was an 8.oz patty topped with white cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. The food arrived quickly after we ordered but the quality was out of this world. Zach’s pizza was a great size for the price and looked amazing, and he deemed that it tasted as good as it looked. After I had ordered, I was second guessing getting a cheeseburger at an Italian restaurant but I was not disappointed. The burger was so big it needed a toothpick to hold it together and after the very first bite, I was sold. The fries were a tasty side and overall it was a wonderful meal.

I would definitely recommend The Grand Pizzeria & Bar to anyone who lives in Ottawa or is making a trip to the city and is visiting downtown. The price is right and not only do you get to have a terrific meal, you get to experience a taste of Ottawa’s history.

photo2 photo3{interior shots of the restaurant}

The Grand Pizzeria & Bar is located at 74 George Street and is open everyday from 11:00AM to 2:00AM.