Saturday, February 25, 2017

Khao San Road reopens with a Bang Sue Bar

Media Event - Opening of the new Bang Sue Bar
Where: at Khao San Road
Date:  February 23, 2017
Location:  11 Charlotte Street, Toronto
Website: Bang Sue Bar/Khao San Road

I got an invitation to check out the new Bang Sue Bar that just opened at the new Khao San Road location on Charlotte Street near King and Spadina.  Khao San Road just had a free opening preview the week before so I knew all about it and wanted to check it out.

I have been to the former Khao San Road in it's previous location not far from the Bell Tiff lightbox.  It was a very small space and it always had a lineup out the door.

This new space is 2 levels.  The main level is the Khao San Road restaurant with a lot more space than the previous location and on the upper level is the new Bang Sue Bar which is meant to be a space to go to late night or when you are waiting for a table at the restaurant.  The bar has a different smaller menu of Thai Street Foods which are meant to be simple small bites of food.

I sampled a number of items off the menu starting with their Morning Glory Daiquiri which has kaffir lime in it.

Some of the other items I sampled included:

Tom Yum Nuts, flavoured like the soup
4 Flavour Caramel Corn to represent the spicy, salty, sweet and savoury flavours of Thai food
Shrimp Chips and Dip of Roasted peppers
KSR Potato Salad, not what you would think.. it's more like a hickory stick looking salad.
Pickled vegetables - I really liked this option, it's nice to see something healthy and light
Vegan Spring rolls with tamarind in them for a nice surprise
Steak Tartare on shrimp chips which was my favourite bite of the night.  I asked for seconds of this.
Chicken Satay and peanut sauce, fairly mild compared to others I have had before but good.
Pandan Chicken- Chicken wrapped in Pandan leaves.  A bit messy to eat because the leaves are not edible so you have to unwrap the leaves from the chicken inside.
Pork Jowl - this one tasted like fatty bacon.
Fried Chicken - This was really great chicken that comes with a remoulade and sriracha sauce.

Khanom Krok a coconut custard in a donut like pasty with green onions inside.  This is a very strange concoction that is kind of weird when you first take a bit and then you kind of love it after a few minutes when you realize what it is.
Gelato from Millies- It comes in 3 flavours, I tried the coconut and a taste of the Pandan one which tasted a bit like the tea you get in Japanese restaurants, the other flavour was Thai tea which my table mates said tasted like nesquick.

The bar is really cool looking with great wall art from a local artist.  The wooden seats are a bit hard if you are planning on sipping cocktails for a long time so be prepared for that but overall it's a cozy space.

The staff were super nice and informative and explained the dishes and the concepts.  I could see some products come out of their bar food menu that could be sold as packaged snack foods so will see what happens there.

I still need to revisit Khao San Road downstairs and maybe the next time I go to see a movie at the Lightbox I can pop over for dinner beforehand.

There seems to be a lot of Thai places downtown but this one was extremely popular before and it was full by the time I left so I expect it to be very busy in the spring months when people are out and about again.


*Disclaimer - Food and drinks were provided by Bang Sue Bar but the opinions and photos in the blog post are my own.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

New Sustainable Dim Sum Festival



Toronto welcomes it's first Sustainable Dim Sum Festival.

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017
Rotunda - City Hall
Tickets $55 - includes all dim sum items and all beverage

In partnership with Live Green Toronto!

Make a delicious difference and support Environmental Defence!

Save your appetite and feel good about over-eating at this event! Some of the city's and province's best chefs will put their spin on delicious dim sum items using only fresh, local and sustainable ingredients from our environmentally conscious partners.

Overfishing is the biggest issue our oceans face today so all of our seafood options are Ocean Wise recommended. You can get more information about Ocean Wise at

Meat, poultry and eggs are provided by Rowe Farms and Yorkshire Valley Farms.

All guests will receive a passport to try each Dim Sum item from each of our vendors!
Cafe Belong
Daniel et Daniel
Kana Snack Bar
Lake Inez
Hawthorne Food + Drink
Bruce Wine Bar
Saturday Dinette
Pork Ninjas
C-fu Foods
Centennial College

Meat, poultry and eggs are provided by Rowe Farms and Yorkshire Valley Farms.
Pair your dim sum items with local and independent wines, beers and ciders, all in support of Environmental Defence; defending clean water, a safe climate, and healthy communities. 

Some of our alcohol partners include:
401 Cidery
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.
Brickworks Ciderhouse
Mill St. Brewery
Muskoka Brewery
Walter Caesar
George Brown College (Mocktails)
And more!

Local artists will feature their "Environment-themed" works of art for auction, in order to raise money and awareness for Environmental Defence. PLUS a LIVE art installation onsite with artist Mark Grice. You don't want to miss it!

BRING YOUR OWN PLATE or use our biodegradable options! Each guest will receive a pair of reusable bamboo chopsticks as a take home.

Please note tickets will go off sale March 7th at 10pm or when they sell out (whichever happens sooner). There will NOT be tickets available at the door. Get your tickets now!
Click here for tickets: Ticketfly

Rotunda - City Hall ( 100 Queen St W, Toronto ON M5H 2N2)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Hosting an Afternoon Tea Party

Here's how this Tea Party happened and a few tips that you can try to host your own Tea Party.

It started as an idea from a gift that I received from a gift that I received from my blogger friend Mary (Maryshappybelly) at a pre Christmas Gift Exchange dinner with my other blogger friend Natalie (cooking quidnunc).  It was supposed to be a bigger group but because of a snow storm we were down to just the 3 of us.   We had a great time anyway and in between dishes we exchanged gifts.  I got a gift of Pepperidge Farms jams and shortbread from Mary and I said that would be great for a tea party and they both thought it was a great idea.  I like having tea parties because it can be a relaxing Saturday or Sunday afternoon thing and simple or elaborate.  That began the idea and Mary said she wasn't available until the beginning of February so that's when I decided to do it but I decided to wait a bit to invite everyone else to see how the weather would be this time.   I decided to have it at my place because I am on the subway line and if everyone cancelled I didn't have to go anywhere for nothing.  I also had so many food gifts from Christmas that I couldn't possibly finish that I knew I already had the makings for a great tea party, plus I have lot's of teas because I like different teas.

As is turns out Mary wasn't able to make it because she fell the week before and her family plans got pushed to the weekend of the Party but I decided to go ahead because a lot of other people were available and the weather was going to be not too bad.

(Nimu, Sue, Martina, Amanda, Natalie, Loren, Cliff, Domenica, Denise, Adam & Jenny)

It started as an idea to get some of the bloggers together but I decided to invite the ones that I know pretty well and some that were close to where I live.  It was also Superbowl Sunday so a few weren't available so I opened it up to other people.  I decided to include a couple of friends other than food bloggers but ones that would really enjoy the party.  One of my friends works with one of my blogger friends and one of my other friends' daughter works with them.  One of my Tiff friends works in a hospital and one of my Gastropost friends is a radiologist.  There were all sorts of connections I didn't even think of.  I invited a couple of my Tiff Entourage friends and a couple of my best friends, some who have met each other and some who had some sort of connection in one way or another.   One of my friends lives in the same area as one of my blogger friends and as it was pointed out many of my friends at the party were Gastropost contributors who I met through Gastropost or otherwise.  It was kind of ironic that there were so many as days later Gastropost announced that they were ending.  It was almost like a farewell party.

TIP 1.
What made it work was that they were all friendly people who love food and can chat without me having to make the connections.  I was the connection but some knew of each other already.
The other thing that worked was that there wasn't anyone who dominated the party.  Everyone just jelled really well.

TIP 2.
Because I live in an apartment I had to buzz people in and then open the door to greet them so I was constantly answering my phone and busy so I tried to set up as many things that could be self serve as possible.
I opened the closet door so that people could hang their coats if I got distracted by other things.

TIP 3.
I set up stations for different things so that people could help themselves to the Hot water and Tea in the kitchen and the table with the plates and utensils.

TIP 4.
I placed white linens on 3 tables where the food was being placed.  I also had 2 3 tier stands to elevate the food vertically to save space. It's good to have things at different levels to present better.

TIP 5.
I tried to have all sorts of platters and utensils at the ready for anything that people would bring to the party.

TIP 6.
Prepare as much as you can in advance but know that there will always be something that happens to throw off your timing.
One of my friends decided he wanted to bake his frozen appetizers at my place earlier but of course I had to set him up with trays for it.
Another friend offered to pick up any last minute things I needed but he arrived as people were coming in so I had to stop and cut the ends of flowers to put in a waiting vase and transfer milk and orange juice into other containers.  I also tried to set up water and I had a Hot water thermos beside the kettle to keep the hot water flowing.

TIP 7.
The Tea Cups.  I asked everyone to bring their own tea cups for a couple of reasons.  I thought it would cut down on the amount of dishes that would accumulate in my kitchen along with all of the serving platters after the party but also I thought it would be a good ice breaker hoping that everyone would bring interesting cups or mugs that would get conversations started and it did.  Of course there were a few people that didn't bring cups so I had to provide them with one and I wish I had the time to set a few up around the tea area but time got away from me as usual.

TIP 8.
Don't do what I always end up doing.  I try and do too much.  Make too many things, plan to make too many things and then run out of time and energy to do them.
Case in point.  I wanted to make finger sandwiches but I didn't want to make them too far in advance because they become stale quickly and I didn't end up making them until most of the people actually left because I didn't have the time and there wasn't any room to put them.
I also made Tea Pot shaped cookies that I would have liked to decorate but that takes a lot of time to do so I skipped the decorating part.

TIP 9.
Prepare things that you know might be safe for people with restricted diets.  I made mini quiches using prepared tart bases but had some extra filling mixture so I made fritattas using the mix in a muffin tin so they were single servings without crusts which would be great for people that can't eat gluten products.

TIP 10.
I never seem to have enough time to sit and chat with everyone because my friends stagger in and out at various times even though I try to get them all to come at relatively the same time.  This is why I try and prepare as much as I can in advance so that I can have some time to enjoy the food and the people.

And not so much a TIP but an FYI... know that there will be people that might be offended because you didn't invite them to the party.  My place only holds about a dozen people comfortably and although I would love to invite all of my blogger friends, film fest friends and other friends there is only so many people that can fit in a small space so try and choose people that will bring something to the party and make it fun for everyone.

Friday, February 17, 2017

OCIC launches Transformations

What: Transformations: Stories of Partnership, Resilience and Positive Change in Tanzania
When: Monday, February 13, 2017
Where: Metro Hall - Rotunda, Toronto, ON)

This week I was invited by my friend Lisa Swainston, who works for OCIC (Ontario Council for International Cooperation) invited me to the launch event for a photo exhibit of Transformations: Stories of Partnership, Resilience and Positive Change in Tanzania.
The stories presented were documented by OCIC and Allan Lissner, Praxis Pictures, during a visit to Tanzania in November 2016.
Allan, Lisa and her coworkers travelled to Tanzania to partner with CPAR Canada  and the photo exhibit coincided around the time of International Development Week (IDW).  

Transformations is an award-winning collaborative photojournalism project intended to increase dialogue and further understanding of international partnerships that address complex global challenges.

In this exhibit you will learn about the work of CPAR Tanzania and CPAR Canada to empower farmers and their communities.

The exhibit documents how farmers in rural Tanzania are addressing issues of climate change, food security, gender equity and youth skills development programs. The farmers working with CPAR learn to work with Biogas to create sustainable farming practices to provide for their communities.

Photographer Allan Lissner

Lisa Swainston (OCIC)
The exhibit will be up at Metro Hall until  February 18th

Alternatively, the full exhibit is now available online at: there's a short (approx. 6 mins) accompanying video that can be viewed at:

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Gastropost says farewell

I have been blogging for over 5 years and somewhere along the way when I first started I came upon something online about Gastropost and how people were posting photos from Mission Challenges that the people at Post Media/The National Post were  creating each week. I thought it would be a fun thing to do to post my photos to the online community and join others.  I thought it might be fun to see if my photos got published in the National Post once a week from a selection of the photos that were posted online by a growing food loving community.
For about 5 years I posted photos of food I made and food I ate at restaurants and events around town and shared them with the Gastropost community.

This was probably my first post that got into the newspaper.  I was told I was the only one at the time that included myself and a friend in the photo.  That's because it was so new I didn't know exactly what everyone else was doing.  Mine is the 4th image from the left in case you can tell my popsicle stuffed face.

I never imagined what it would grow into and how it would affect my life.  In about 5 years they created over 240 different weekly challenges and I probably submitted photos for over 200 for sure.

My photos were probably published in the National Post maybe over 60 times.  I lost count but the first time it was published I ran out and picked up the Newspaper because I thought it was such a cool thing.

My dentist who is also a family friend commented about seeing my photos in the paper and my cousin thought it was the coolest thing.

I have even had people come up to me at events and know who I was because of seeing my photos in the paper because they were accompanied by a sketch of my face that Gastropost would create for everyone at the beginning that would be posted under the photo along with our Twitter or Instagram handles.

The Gastropost team would organize events at restaurants in the beginning and I can remember going to Little Anthony's for the first one and meeting the team at the time and them knowing who I was and presenting me with a Gastropost pin to wear so that each of us could meet each other and know who we were in relation to what was posted in the online and in the newspaper.

There were a handful of events where we got to know fellow Gastroposters face to face and the most notable one was for the 100th Mission that was held at a now defunct huge restaurant on Jarvis Street.  Our Gastropost sketches were posted on the walls and on tables around the restaurant.  There was a screen posting live tweets and a presentation of some of our work.

There was also contests to win things like Food Movie tickets, tickets to Food events and things like a Chef apron and a smart phone which I won.

But most of all I met some really great friends because of Gastropost and at a Tea Party that I hosted in my home recently someone pointed out how many of the people were Gastroposters.  I think there was about 6 of them.  I didn't even think of that when I invited them.  They were just my food loving or blogging friends.  

That's the thing that happened.  From posting random photos online to having life long friendships in real life.  

I am truly sad that it is the last week for Gastropost because it has brought so much creativity and friendship into my life.  It has challenged me to seek out interesting food and create more interesting plates of food.

I will miss the Gastropost team and the weekly missions but at least I have some great friends to continue sharing great food with.

And it is fitting that some of the Inspiration Team's photos appear in the Final Last Bite Mission.

THANK YOU GASTROPOST for 5 Great years.

(Image from the National Post/Post Media)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day Cheap and Easy Gifts

Five Cheap and Easy Valentine's Day Gifts

If your significant other expects you to buy them expensive jewellery or take them out for expensive dinners when you don't normally do that then I think you may be with the wrong person.

I am no expert in the romance department but I think that Valentine's Day should be about showing people you LOVE that you are willing to show them how much you care and it could be in simple easy and inexpensive ways.

Here is a list of things that I would suggest you could try.  You can do 1 or a few of these in a day.
They are all simple and show that you have made some sort of effort to put some thought into doing something nice but you aren't trying to buy their Love.

1.  EASY and CHEAP -  Make a simple breakfast for your special person.  Make the effort in presentation.  Fry and egg in a piece of bread that you cut a heart shape out of the centre with a cookie cutter and toast the cut out piece as well.  Shape your bacon into a heart shape.  Decorate the plate with Sriracha or Ketchup with love symbols or their name.   Serve with fresh orange and blood orange juice.  And if you can get a Heart shaped placemat from the dollar store like this one it will make it look like you really went all out in thinking about this breakfast.

2.  SIMPLE LUNCH -   Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make Avocado toast and top it with bacon and grated cheese or even cherry tomatoes would be great.  Serve it on a pretty plate to make it more attractive.  You don't even have to be a cook to do this.  You can buy the microwave bacon or skip the bacon and add other toppings.  It's tasty and easy to make.

3.  SO YOU CAN'T COOK DESSERTS -  Cherry Black Forest Parfait -  You are clueless in the kitchen but you want to make a spectacular dessert?   Try this one.   If you are really culinary challenged you can buy cherries in Syrup and the whip cream in the can and just make layers in an attractive glass and add chocolate shavings to each layer.  You can add Brandy to the cherries to add more luxurious flavour.   
For this one I made Vanilla whipped cream and I used frozen Cherries and added Brandy and the chocolate shavings were made with a vegetable peeler.   I added a chocolate heart on top for a decorative touch.

4.  YOU GOT COOKING SKILLS BUT NO MONEY -  If you have eggs and an extract and sugar you can make these pretty meringues.

How to make these meringues:

4 egg whites
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of Vanilla extract or flavoured extract.
Food coloring if needed *optional

Whip the egg whites until foamy and then add the sugar and keep whipping until the eggs become thick and then add the vanilla extract.   In mine I added a reduced juice of a blood orange instead.  You can do this with lemon, lime or oranges.  Cook it down until it reduces the water content and concentrates the flavour.  Whip until it forms a stiff peak.  Add food coloring if needed.  I had to add a bit of red food coloring to these ones.   Use a Star tip in a piping bag or a ziploc bag and bake in a 200 Degree oven for about 2 hours.   Store in an airtight container once they are cooled.  You can use them to top your 


I love getting SQUISH gummies if I don't know what to buy someone because you can buy different shapes and they have different gift packs all the time.  For Valentine's Day they have these 3 flavour lip gummies.  In Cherry, Watermelon and Grape.  They taste delicious and a little bag like this is only $6.   You can get them at the little Kiosk at the Bay on Queen St. W. in Toronto and I am not sure where else.  Give them in the packet and maybe add a flower with it, or put them in a fancy glass bowl or dish and wrap it up in cellophane with a ribbon for a fancier gift and they get to keep the container.  

See there is no excuse not to do something thoughtful even if you don't have a lot of time or money.
It really is the thought that counts.  Show them you care and you think of them and are willing to go out of your way for them.

You can even do these things for your close friends.

Other ideas of things you can do that your loved ones would appreciate could be:

1.  Clean the house or hire a cleaning service.  Always nice to come home to a clean home.
2.  Likewise do the dishes.
3.  Cook or order a fantastic meal that isn't pizza.
4.  Go grocery shopping and buy all the basics and maybe heavy items.
5.  Help with physical things like laundry or moving things.

This should get you started if you can't think of anything.   Take it from here and do as many of these as you like or I hope they inspire you to get creative.

Show the people you care about them while they are here because you never know how much time you will have with them.