September 5, 2014

Belly Monster Battle: Panaderya Bakeshop

Justin: So a month ago, Chanry tells me about a cute new Hamilton Cafe that just opened up. We stopped into Panaderya Bakeshop for a couple of treats. I'm not huge on dessert, though I have to admit my tastes are changing of late. I'm either learning to appreciate dessert or my tastes are changing as I get older. Get off my lawn etc.

Chanry: I’m pretty sure I had something to do with the change of heart Justin. It’s either have dessert, or watch me give you stink eye from across the table. 

Justin: Always with the stink eye. Anyway, we decided to stop in for lunch (and more dessert). Panaderya Bakeshop cooks an assortment of items catering to the lunch crowd. As usual, Chan and I decided to try a bunch of items and share. I've come to call this "I order things I know and she makes me eat stuff I don't."

Chanry: Hhahha, next week, Balut! 

Justin: I don’t even know what that is. I’m scared already.

Chanry: Justin from Eating Your Content and I rarely ever go out for Asian food together. The man is not a fan - so I was pretty thrilled when I could finally drag him out for some Filipino food. I wouldn't say I'm brand new to Filipino food but a majority of my encounters with it usually involve some form of karaoke so I was a little disappointed when we walked in and there was no karaoke machine in site. 

Justin: LOL can you imagine karaoke in this cute bakery? It’d be so random.

Chanry: It would be a goldmine! Are you listening Panaderya?! Anyways, onto the food..

Coconut Curry Chicken with Steamed Rice - $7
Justin: Any time I see Curry Chicken is available it's an automatic buy. As soon as I took a look at this particular choice, I was reminded of the Curry Chicken I order every time I'm at Pho Dao Bo. Yes... I order Chicken at a Pho restaurant. Stop looking at me with those disapproving eyes.

Chanry: *disapproving eyes*

Justin: Not only did this look like Pho Dao Bo's version, it tasted IDENTICAL! The major difference here is that Panaderya Bakeshop uses all parts of the Chicken. No complaints from me in that regard. I like when a restaurant cooks with the bones in. All that delicious flavour comes through. The Chicken was accompanied with Potatoes and served beside Steamed Rice. It was a solid portion of food, especially at that price. I figure this'll be my lunch time go to if I stop in again.

Chanry: It tastes identical because they both probably use the same Aroy Curry Paste. I’m not hateing, I use the same one at home too! Kudos to Panaderya for serving up curry with the bone still on the meat though. That is exactly how mama makes it at home! So many times you get shavings of “chicken” or “pork” and I’ve purposely used quotation marks because meat should never look that pretty. You know what I mean right? 

Chicken Adobo with Glass Noodles - $7

Justin: This was Chanry's choice. I didn't know what "Adobo" was so I cowered in fear while she's all "IT'S SO GOOD WE'RE GETTING IT!" Truth be told it didn't really taste like anything to me. It was a lot like any "stew chicken" you'd get in a West Indian household. It tasted fine but nothing I'd be gunning for if I came in for lunch again.

Chanry: To be honest, adobo isn’t really my favourite but it’s such an iconic Filipino dish we had to have it. Cambodians have a very similar dish as well and it’s all very nostalgic. Again the portions were hearty and everything was bone in. Big thumbs up from me. Yes it’s a little messy to eat but everyone knows the meat closes to the bone is always more flavourful! This was a pretty safe choice for me - next time something way more adventurous! 

Chicken & Pork Spring Rolls - $6

Justin: Things kind of take a "meh" turn with these Spring Rolls. The wrapper was crispy but both Chanry and I couldn't discern a difference between any of them in terms of taste. You'd bite into one and go "OK this is Chicken" and then try another going "Uh... OK this one is too so these MUST be Pork" only to find it all tasted the same. If it wasn't for a texture change, I'd have thought they were all Chicken. The Spring Rolls were also sold cold. I assume they'd been sitting in the steam tray for a while. Meh…

Chanry: Justin nailed it. I couldn’t tell between the two, I understand why spring rolls are on the menu but if they’re gunna be that “chaunced” why bother? They were too tiny to even make a dent in flavour. Either beef them up - not literally, or take them off the menu. They’re too labour intensive too. Don’t even get me started on the frozen ones..

Chicken & Pork Skewers - $3

Justin: These were a step up from the Spring Rolls but still lacking. Like the Rolls, these Skewers were dead cold. It's a tough spot to be in when you're pushing cafeteria style and items sit too long. These tasted fine and I enjoyed the BBQ sauce but again, nothing I'd gun for again.

Chanry: These would have been a bit better if they were warm. They had some really good colour on them and the bbq sauce was fine enough but having them served at room temp made the meat hard. I can only assume these skewers and the spring rolls are on the menu as a stepping stone into the more authentic dishes. Fair enough - I see what you’re doing. 

Desserts (Assorted)

Justin: Alright now let's get to what will draw you back to Panaderya Bakeshop again and again. Their desserts are GAWDLIKE! They cover an absolute gauntlet of delicious sweet items. Chan's more of a fruit lover while I tend to dive into Chocolate. Anything that wasn't filled or covered in Chocolate I took a bite and then passed along. I found the non chocolate items VERY sweet. In cases like the Strawberry Cream Puff, there was a lot of natural sugars and then more sugar (powdered, drizzle, etc).It was an overload for me. The Chocolate on the other hand was right in my taste pocket. Items like the divine Beignets were rich, but not overwhelming. Filling on most of the treats carried texture akin to Mousse. I couldn't get enough.

Chanry: That’s it? One paragraph?! I could go on and on about how fantastic and over the moon the desserts are. Francis, the 27 year old owner bakes everything in house with one assistant. From the beignets to the three layered taro cake - these ladies are kicking some major butt in the kitchen!

Justin: Give me a bucket of Fried Chicken and I'll write you a novel.

Chanry: There seems to be a rotating menu of sweets in the window so make sure you come by often. I am hoping she expands further into traditional Filipino desserts - like the jackfruit and plantain spring rolls. For a dollar apiece these puppies are pushing me further and further away from my bikini body.

Justin: You can have all the Jackfruit. I’ll take the Chocolate… fruit? WHATEVER! 

Justin: There are two distinct impressions I get from Panaderya Bakeshop. In terms of lunch food, I don't really care for it. Everything ranged from "fine" in the Coconut Curry Chicken to unappetizing with the Spring Rolls. On the other side though, the desserts are outstanding. I'd lose all my teeth eating Chocolate Beignets every day forever. I've also found myself buying fresh Baguette on the two occasions I've stopped in and have been happy with it. I'd say try the lunch menu to see if it's to your liking but absolutely take the time to eat any and all desserts. They're all delicious and priced stupidly cheap at $2.50 or LOWER!

Chanry: The purple yam cake is what brought me to the door and it’s definitely what’s keeping me coming back. The desserts are without a doubt there specialty. A few things need to be tweaked with the lunch menu - for starters the temperature. Nothing was served hot! The lunch offerings are a great option for something quick and cheap and I think once they get into a good groove with the menu, it could be a really sweet lunch option. I’d come back and try some more authentic dishes because J and I definitely played it safe with the hot food. At $7 a plate - you can’t really hate though. The desserts are an excellent bang for buck and you get quality up the ass too. Sorry, probably should not have used that saying when describing desserts. What I’m trying to say is, it’s a great place to get quality hand crafted desserts without breaking the bank. It’s nice to see Hamilton ahead of the game when it comes to food trend. I think Filipino food is the new Korean.

Justin: There’s authentic Korean coming in my future isn’t there? =/

Panaderya Bakeshop
275 James St North 
Hamilton, On

August 19, 2014

Waffles & Wine with Fresita

I don't know about you guys but lately I've been feeling like I've spent most of this sumer running in circles trying to get things crossed off my "To Do" list.  But I always find I'm adding to the list more than I'm crossing off!
With that in mind, every once in a while, when things get too hectic I like to take a few moments to breathe and "treat yo self" - I pretty much turn off my phone and only do things I want to do.  

This weekend was one of those weekends. I went to the market in the morning, I stopped into LCBO for a few bottles of Fresita sparking wine and called it a Wine & Waffles weekend. I'm trademarking that by the way! Those two go together better than No pants & Netflixs. Don't judge me. Who doesn't love staying home on a Sunday night with no pants on marathoning Mindy's Project? Who?! Who?! Show me. 
Anyways, back to my treat yo self weekend. First off, a trip to Burlington Farmers Market. They're not lying when they say good things grow in Ontario - I picked up these beauties  and the weekend before that we went raspberry picking too. When you're not being a total dink mother nature - you are the bees knees. I am going to purge on summer berries while I can. And so should you!
Ya'll know I'm not much for wine and probably couldn't even tell the difference between a Riesling and a Chardonnay - but I am all for girly drinks, que Fresita - a Chilean Sparkling wine that combines Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Moscatel and strawberries.  This stuff was made for drinking outdoors under a beach umbrella with a cabana boy by a saltwater pool... ok I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's reel it back in. This stuff won't exactly put hair on your chest - but it'll put pillows under your feet and sun in your eyes. Seriously! Get me to a beach already! 
Because I'm a bit of a Diva, I couldn't just have any old Waffle & Wine night - pshh nuh uh, not for this Hungry Gnome. I wanted to kick things up a notch and thought the strawberries from the market would make a pretty bang on coulis for the waffles.  I decided to incorporate the Fresita wine into it as well, cause I'm feeling fancy. You already know. I'm in the fast lane - ok, okay I'll stop. From LA, to Tokyo.  *feel free to yell at me if you have that song stuck in your head now 

Here's how to make my Lazy Girl Coulis:
  1. Combine a handful of chopped strawberries
  2. Tear up a few springs of fresh mint
  3. Add a table spoon of brown sugar (to taste)
  4. A cup of Fresita 
  5. Let it all come to a boil 

Once the strawberries are cooked, pour it all into a blender - and pulse till you get a liquid consistency. If you don't mind it a little chunky you can skip the next step but I prefer mine smooth and thick so I strained all the extra little seeds and flakes of mint I couldn't pulse. 
Next up - the waffles. Not going to lie, I totes used a boxed premix waffle batter.  You know I am all about Lazy Girl recipes. Sure I could have whipped this up from scratch but c'mon - I already worked so hard on that coulis, give a girl a break already!

Have I mentioned toasted coconut ice cream is one of my new favourite things?! I added some  cubed strawberries and drizzled the coulis all over that mountain of coconut ice-cream and then smashed the bejeezus out of it. 

I'm not sure if that's an official culinary term but you know what I mean right? Once all the ingredients got really friendly with each other I  threw it back in the freezer to set. 

Here comes the fun part - assembly!  Here we have the toasted coconut ice-cream which I garnished with some coulis and a few strawberries. As you can tell - I clearly helped myself to a glass or maybe two of the Fresita.  
In honour of my treat yo self weekend, I pimped out my waffle, just a wee bit. I used the smashed strawberries, coulis and coconut ice cream mix I threw together earlier, added a few slices of riped Ontario peaches and more fresh strawberries and BAM! -my ultimate waffle ice-cream sandwich.  The slight tartness of the peaches and the sweetness of the strawberries paired beautiful with my glass of Fresita. The perfect kick-your-feet-back-and-turn-on-Netflix kind of weekend. 
Be warned. These sandwiches get extremely messy, so take off that dolce & gabbana sweater and pull out something you can get messy in. In fact, it's a treat yo self weekend so don't even bother putting pants on! 

I hope you guys are enjoying your last few weekends before the summer ends. Hashtag #NomTheGnome and #FresitaCA if you're having a waffle & wine weekend.

Happy Eating! 

*this was a paid post sponsored by Branding & Buzzing. As always, opinions expressed are my own and words & pictures belong to The Hungry Gnome. 

August 18, 2014

Vito's Pizzeria

So after all of that boozing - you can imagine how famished I must have been! If it wasn't socially frowned upon, I would have eaten my own arm off. Thankfully, at the conclusion of our first night, Tish brought the whole gang out to Vito's Pizzeria. 

Italian really isn't my go to meal. In fact, I rarely ever crave a bowl of pasta - but after the morning we had - I welcomed a heavy hardy meal. And man, did Tish deliver! 
I had an ex boyfriend once from Windsor and he use to always rave about how "Windsor has some of the best pizza ever" After this meal - I might have to agree with him - might. 
For starters we ordered the Bruschetta - grilled homemade bread with vine ripened tomatoes , garlic and fresh basil ($7.99) - this usually wouldn't be my first choice - but I'm glad we ordered it. It was light, refreshing and proved to be a great example of some of the exceptional dishes to come. 
The meat & cheese platter,  Piatto Freddo - meats, cheese, olives, seasonal vegetables, and crackers ($15.99) that we ordered to share was incredibly underwhelming and over priced. It reminded me of the lunchables you use to get as a kid. But not in a warm, nostalgic, I could-eat-this-everyday kind of way, more of  is-this-it-i'm-still-hungry kind of vibe.
Now these puppies were phenomenal. I am not a huge fan of arancini at all, but these, Arancini di Riso - Sicilu's Golden Orb's - rice croguettes filled with ground meat, peas, parmigiano cheese served with a bolognese safe ($11.99) were on point! Flavourful, moist, cheesy and plenty of meat to go around.  I could have had one of theses on my own but to be polite I shared it. Still regretting that decision to this day. 

Did you think we forgot about why we were all there?! Whisky cocktails for everyone!
Gnocchi - fresh homemade potato dumplings served with homemade meat sauce and panna ($16.99) was what Christine ordered. I enjoyed it - although they weren't pillows of heaven as I expected, it was still pretty good. She thought it was aight.
Next up, Tish ordered the Pasta Carbonara - slow rendered bacon, white wine, and garlic blended with cream, egg and parmigiano ($15.99) which she swears by, and orders every time she's here.
This beauty was mine, fresh array of mussels, scallops, shrimp, calamari in white wine pomodoro sauce ($17.99) - the pasta was a smidgen over cooked, but I prefer it that way to be honest. I know that is comonly taboo and I'm sure all of my Italian readers are shaming me right now but I'm sorry! 

I can tell the pasta either came in fresh or was made in house because once fresh pasta is overcooked it becomes really sticky and almost gelatenious. I kinda like it that way. Please do not throw things at me when you see me on the streets. I'm not a pasta connaisseur.

Enough with the pasta, the dish itself was overflowing with seafood. Lots of plump chunks of squid, shrimp and mussels. This is my favourite combo - seafood, tomato sauce and a nice piece of crusty bread to sop up all the juices with! 
If that wasn't enough, Christine and I shared a Prosciutto Fungi - eggs, prosciutto and mushrooms pizza ($13.99) That's right, we had appetizers, our own mains and then we shared a pizza. #GetOnMyLevel. We might have shared a few slices of pizza with Margaret too.

Oh, c'mon ya'll know I can't say no to a pizza with egg on it! And of course it was fantastic.  Crispy and flakey crust, warm and gooey egg and salty shavings of prosciutto. Pshhh, you would not have turned this down either!
Now - on to what everybody else ate. I did not have any of the following - they were all too far away from me to pick off their plates. But I heard no complaints and judging from these pictures they looked divine. They were generous with the toppings and the crust was consistently nice and golden.

Above is the Norwegian smoked salmon, asparagus, pesto sauce and parmesan cheese ($15.99)
Caramelized onions, roasted red peppers. black olives, chicken feta cheese and basil ($14.99)
Shrimp, calamari, mussels with pesto sauce and parmesan cheese ($16.99)
Christine and I ready to chow down! Stella, Andrew and Ken all smiles for the camera. I may have sent my camera down the line and it may have come back to me with a few selfies or two!
And of course our gracious host, Margaret, Steph and Tish!  See you guys next Monday for the conclusion of my CanadianClubTour series!

#CanadianClubTour: Part 1: The Tour  | Part 2: The Tasting| Part 3: The Mixology Lesson 

Vito's Pizzeria

1731 Wyandotte St. East
Vito's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

1731 Wyandot

*this exclusive two day tour of the Canadian Club Brand Centre was sponsored by PraxisPr - opinions expressed are my own 

August 12, 2014

#CanadianClubTour: Mixology

Part of our tour included a brief mixology class with Tish on all the ways you can use CC Whisky. So now that we're all whisky experts - lets get to the nitty gritty stuff - how to get your whisky on.  Here are a few of my favourite cocktails we made.
The CC Berry
  • Fill a highball with ice
  • Add 1oz CC Whisky Premium
  • 1/2 oz of cranberry juice
  • top with soda water
  • garnish with berries

CC & Ginger Ale
  • Pour 1.5 oz of Canadian Club over ice in a lowball glass
  • Top with 4oz of Ginger Ale
  • Garnish with a slice of lemon
Had to capture the moment; Stella, Mark and Andrew channeling their inner paparazzi 
The CC Caesar
  • Rim your highball glass with a caesar spice blend
  • fill your highball with ice
  • add 1.5 oz of Canadian Club Reserve
  • 4 dashes of Tabasco
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce 
  • pepper & salt to taste
  • top with clamato juice and garnish with your favourite pickled item or  celery
Naturally, after "class" was over - Tish let all the kiddies out to play. And man, oh man, did we play. That's Christine pictured above getting her groove on and reminiscing back to her old bartending days.  I took the lazy girl route and made myself a CC caesar - my all time favourite drink! I was not bout to start muddling stuff and squeezing fresh OJ, nuh uh
Of course, you get a few drinks in and all-of-a-sudden everyone is comparing pet pictures and gushing over who has the cutest fur baby. That's Margaret peeking in the background!

What, that doesn't happen at your social gatherings?
Well that wraps up Canadian Club Whisky month .. just kidding! See you suckahs next week for the grub that went down during this whisky tour - we're talking carbs, carbs, carbs, at a primo Italian joint and boas & feather caps at another. 

#CanadianClubTour: Part 1: The Tour  | Part 2: The Tasting| Part 3: The Mixology Lesson 

*this exclusive two day tour of the Canadian Club Brand Centre was sponsored by PraxisPr - opinions expressed are my own