Oh. Hey. Hi. PHOTODUMP. :)

Delicious, delicious photodump.

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1. Hello. Bacon, onion, and spinach quiche. I know, so fancy. I made these because my eggs were going to expire and these quiches were supposed to last me a few days. However, after they came out of the oven, they smelled too good. So I ate one. And then another.

And then I ate all of them.

No regrets.

2. My vegetarian friend made too much spaghetti sauce so she gave me a bag of frozen sauce and I finally got a chance to use it. It was so hearty with some things that I’ve never put in pasta sauce before, like zucchini. Hahah. I had gotten home from one of my ridiculous days and was just starving. All I needed to do was boil pasta, brown some ground beef, and then dump in some sauce. Thanks Zizi!

3. I had some leftover pulled pork that I had made from the day before and a nice organic brie loaf and some cheese. What else to make but an inside out grilled cheese filled with pulled pork? I made one sandwich and left the ingredients on the counter because I knew I was going to make another one. And then I did.

And then every once in a while my mom comes over and cooks me food. Which is amazing. I mean, some of this Vietnamese fare, you just can’t get at a restaurant.

4. Bun thit nuong. She made me all the things and I just assembled it. The grilled beef though, I think I used this recipe off the internet. It turned out really nice, especially with a bit of lemon tang. Other than that, we’ve got nem nuong, carrots (no daikon -sadface-), cucumbers, and green stuff and vermicelli noodles.

5. Bun reu cua. She taught me how to make this and this pleases me. :D It’s an egg, tomato, and shrimp-based soup with vermicelli noodles and served with mixed greens with chili pepper and salt on the side.

Not going to lie, it’s been rough. Working too much, not sleeping enough, and not enough time to eat! That being said, it’s rare that I’ll fully get to go out and eat at delicious restaurants, and I can barely afford to either. The first three photos are from Utopia Cafe on College, west of Bathurst.

6. Utopia Nachos With tons of awesome melted cheese, chicken, beef and other nacho staples. They also serve with a side of salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. But, as always, there’s never enough salsa or guacamole, and they do charge if you ask for more (which we found out on the bill). Though the middle of the nachos are great, the edges were sadly neglected crispy chips. The nachos are piled on top of this crispy baked pita which was really nice as well. $15

7. Steak & Cheddar Burrito The burrito was a bit on the smaller size (this coming from eating Burrito Boyz burritos, those things are MASSIVE), and was served with a side of spinach salad (even though I’m pretty sure I ordered coleslaw.. but didn’t realize this till right now), and black bean rice. The burrito, though, was really good. The mayo was excellent and tangy, the meat juicy. The burrito just seemed a bit sparse and empty, like there wasn’t a lot of filling inside. The salad was great and featured a nice balsamic dressing on top. I was sharing the plate and did not try the rice. Overall, this was an okay dish, I probably wouldn’t order it again, but I hear the burgers are amazing.  $12.50

8. Flourless Chocolate Cake The waitress had told us that they were newly just trying out desserts at Utopia but they got this cake bang-on. Definitely couldn’t have eaten this by myself (oh who am I kidding, yes I could have.) Flourless means gluten-free, which is great for the new gluten-free diet trend* and for those who are sensitive to gluten or have gluten allergies. However, being flourless means they replace the flour with… more sugar. So diabetics, hyperglycemics, and people with generally high blood sugar should beware. Other than that, it was really good, it was a flourless batter thing on the bottom (I’m guessing made out of butter and sugar primarily), nice and crumbly, topped with thick chocolate fudge. Served with a side of whipped cream and berries. Very delicious. $5

9. This is the Riverside burger from BQM Burgershoppe. They have 3 different locations in Toronto, and the one I’ve been to several times is the one on Queen, east of Spadina, right near my school. The burgers are great, nice and juicy patties that aren’t too small. I was craving burgers and onion rings so decided to kill two birds with one stone. It was great, with lettuce, tomato, bacon, cheese, and garlic aioli, but while being great at the time, it did create some painful carnage on the roof of my mouth. BQM onion rings are really really crispy, which are great if you’re biting into them individually. Overall though, always a great experience here. Tiny seating areas though! Riverside Chuck Burger $9

*

Deliciously G-Free by Elisabeth Hasselback. ISBN 9780345529381

I’ve been seeing a lot of gluten-free diet books coming out at the bookstore lately, the most popular one being Deliciously G-Free by Elisabeth Hasselback, who everyone has been telling me was on that Survivor show that I never watched.

Okay, so what is gluten? It’s a protein found in a lot of wheat, rye, barley and other things. So, obviously, people with Celiac’s disease can’t actually eat gluten products because it causes their intestines to go all kinds of painful crazy. But what people don’t know, is that there’s a lot of people who are also gluten-sensitive. Humans ourselves can’t actually process gluten and wheat that well. It has less nutritional value and is a pro-inflammatory. So basically, giving up gluten is a really healthy choice and great for people who don’t have Celiac’s disease or a gluten allergy. It’s just one of those trends that I’ve been seeing popping up lately.

**

In other news, I saw this new beautiful book on display yesterday:

Meat Free Monday Cookbook ISBN: 978-1906868697

It’s this huge campaign going on in the UK started by Paul McCartney and his family, showing us that just by eliminating meat from our diet once a week has great environmental and personal benefits and effects. I’m a meat person, I really am, but this cookbook is actually amazing. And really beautiful.

What they do is they create a whole meal-plan for you, for each Monday in a year. If I recall correctly, they provide Breakfast, 2 snacks, a lunch, and dinner recipe for each day, which makes it incredibly easy to switch over to a meatless day. I mean, I know one of the major excuses for not participating is, “I wouldn’t know how to cook meatless” and now you do.

They also sort the recipes by season much like one of my other favourite cookbooks, Martha Stewart’s everyday Food Light, which makes it great when you’re shopping for your ingredients because all of them are in season, which means they’re cheaper and they taste better too!

Everyday Food: Light ISBN: 978-0307718099

Other than that, my favourite food blogger is coming out with a new cookbook on March 13, called Food From My Frontier, which is chock full of simple recipes, and knowing Ree (not personally), everything is going to be delicious!!!! :)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Simple, Scrumptious, Satisfying ISBN: 9780061997181

Cheerio and happy eating! :)

Hue

The trip to Hue was long, grueling, and mildly rewarding. Hue is what we call the central region of Vietnam. The country is split up into 3 distinct parts, Bac (North), Hue (middle), and Nam (South). Only us in the North speak proper Vietnamese, HAHAH. No, really, all them other Vietnamese people speak some kind of wackadoodle. Those in the South have an annoying high pitched whine that goes along with their speaking, and the Hue people seem to speak a whole ‘nother language. “English, motherfucker. Do you speak it?!” Or rather, Vietnamese. Seriously.

Our first stop was to visit my paternal grandparents’ village, where we, apparently, have a bunch of family that I’ve never heard of. Even my dad rarely go to see them. They live about 3 hours south of Hai Phong. It was weird seeing all these people. The village was very run down and poor, and their house, dark, as it is with most Vietnamese villages in the rural areas.

Both my grandparents were from this village, and way back, probably in the 30’s, they both left the village to go to the city of Hai Phong. They weren’t together, and I’m not sure if they knew each other, actually, but what I do know is that they met in the city and got married, had kids, and my grandfather started his bus business. That’s where my dad was born.

We didn’t stay there too long, just long enough for a short visit, and then we made our way further south to Hue. Including the 3 hour trip to my grandparents’ village, it was probably a 16 hour trip. This was our first food stop. Built on top of some body of water, it was a rather nice idea. We were suspended over the water, with a great view of the fish/shrimp/waterlife farms. My awe at the place didn’t last long though, because I had to pee.

What’s this photo of? What are you showing me? A room? with a little hole in the back? A white box filled with questionable fluid? I thought you had to go to the bathroom. Yeah, I had to go to the bathroom. WTF IS THIS SHIT. I walked in and out of the bathroom umpteen times, refusing to go to the bathroom in this forsaken place. However, we were 6 hours out from the city and another 10 hours from our destination. Yes, I had to suck it up and pee in this bathroom. You can’t even call it a bathroom.

How do you pee there, you ask? You squat, pee on the floor, and the floor is tilted back and the fluids go through that hole. What about the solids? What do you do about the solids?!?! I don’t know. I don’t want to know.

So I go back to our room to eat, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I sat there for the better part of the hour, utterly grossed out, and not having the stomach to eat anything there. It doesn’t help that it was seafood either, and I don’t particularly like seafood. Especially the kind that looked like it was fished out from the muddy waters beyond. I prefer to not know where my food come from k, thanks.

Fish from beyond, that was probably not half bad tasting.

Other food that I just couldn't eat.

Melodramatic, you say? You weren’t there, man. It was horrible. I am just very thankful that I don’t have to put up with that every day. It was a bit of a shock to my system, and I sat at the table, zombified. It’s times like that moment that I wish I were a boy.

In other news, when I got over that, and we got to Hue, we had some rather spectacular dishes. Delicious! A lot of North people don’t like the Hue way of doing things, but I’m down for different foods.

Noodles, bean sprouts, pork blood.

Bun Reu Cua. My favourite dish, Hue Style. Vermicelli with egg/crab mushballs, in a tom yum-like broth, with onions, chili sauce, and cilantro on top.

Chicken

Tofu

Front: boiled pork. Back: Pork and shrimp deliciousness. My favourite way that you can prepare pork, but I don't know what it's called in English. "Thit Lon Kho" though the spelling might not be right. It's a sweet and tangy sautee or something.

Fresh coconut juice (back) and fresh sugarcane juice aka "nuoc mia" (front)

Orange juice.

Passionfruit juice. Yes, I was addicted.