First

This is officially my first real post of 2013. I’ve been trying to finish my Foodcation 2012 posts for like the last 3 months. FAIL.

Since my vacation in September, I’ve started a new workout schedule, come to the realization that I no longer want to live in NYC, gone to Mammoth twice and attended a funeral.

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Part of my workout schedule consists of Pure Barre classes Tue, Thur, Fri-Sun. I started Pure Barre classes when I saw a friend post on FB about how great of a workout it was. At that time, I hadn’t worked out consistently in a very, very long time. I would run on sporadic occasions, but was never able to maintain a schedule. This really all changed with Pure Barre. One class and I was hooked. I’m about to finish my 5th month and be part of 100 club (100 classes completed)! I’ve made it this far and plan to continue because I absolutely love the workout and the class schedule just fits perfectly with my work schedule. And though I’ve taken classes for a while now, the exercises are still challenging. They haven’t gotten any easier. TRUST. If you take a class and don’t feel the burn, you’re probably not doing it right or you’re not working hard enough!

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In addition to Pure Barre, I’ve been taking Turbo Kick classes on Mon and Wed at 24Hr Fitness. I used to take these classes like 3 years ago, but stopped because of my work schedule. Now, 3 years later, the class schedule has changed and I’m back! I loved it then and I still love it now. The best part is that Turbo Kick doesn’t feel like a workout, but I always leave the class DRENCHED in sweat!

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J, A and I visited V in NYC this past December. It was a great trip filled with delicious food and late night talks. It was also an eye opening experience for me. I was in love with the city after my first few visits. I was in tourist mode. Everything was new and exciting. I loved the fast paced nature of NYC. I wanted to move there! But my love has waned after subsequent visits. This last visit made me realize that at this point in my life, living in NYC is not for me. First, I don’t think I could afford to live comfortably AND enjoy the finer things in life. I don’t want to share an apartment with anyone and I don’t want to live in tiny studio apartment. I do want to go out and try all the fantastic restaurants and maybe catch a Broadway show, hockey game or the Opera sometime. Living in NYC and not being able to enjoy it is pointless. Second, I’ve always thought that NYC public transportation was really great. And to a certain extent, it is. But from my last visit, I realized that it’s not as fast as I previously thought. On my last day I went to Laduree in the UES and round trip from Stuyvesant Town with a stop at Halal Cart took over an hour and half. Third, Henry hates NYC. So yea, for now, I’m fine with just visiting NYC and delicious food like…

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Uni at Soto

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Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai

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SmokeShack and Frozen Custard at Shake Shack

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Miso Black Cod at Gotham Bar & Grill

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Halal Cart!! We had this twice during our trip and I even brought two orders home!

Right before my trip to NYC, Henry and I had our first Mammoth trip of the season. And seriously, what a difference a season makes…

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It was early December, but coverage was great since it dumped the weeks before. I’m happy I rekindled my love for Mammoth’s backside!

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Our 2nd trip to Mammoth was during MLK weekend.

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We were fortunate to stay with our new snowboarding pals, B and P. They’re great to ride with because they’re fast and they have endurance! And they have the cutest, most well-behaved dog ever!

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Henry doesn’t want any dog besides a Husky or Chow Chow so for now, I’ll just have to obsessively lurk on Instagram for Bulldog or Corgi pictures. πŸ™‚

And onto the sad news. Last week, I attended Henry’s grandma’s funeral. She lived a full life, for sure, passing away at the age of 100. It’s really sad to think that she won’t be at our wedding, I mean, if we decide to have one that is. Henry’s cousin liked to joke that I was grandma’s favorite. And while that probably isn’t true, it was nice to feel the love from her when she would hold my hand while we watched TV. RIP β™₯

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Foodcation 2012: R&R

…continued from the 3rd leg of Foodcation 2012

The last destination of Foodcation 2012 was Mont Tremblant, a beautiful mountain resort about an hour north of Montreal. We came here for some R&R… well, our form of R&R anyway.

Mont Tremblant offers a variety of summer and winter activities for adults and kids. We really had trouble narrowing down the list, but we ended up picking two: Via Ferrata and Go Kart!

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I would describe via ferrata as… assisted rock climbing. A steel cable, in which you hook yourself onto, runs throughout the entire route. There are also iron bars, steps, ladders and bridges that aid in your ascent, or descent. No rock climbing experience is necessary, but I would suggest that one be in good physical condition.

There are three options available at Mont Tremblant:

1. The Excursion – 500 meters, approx 3 hours including 20 minute walk back to departure point
2. The Excursion (family) – same length and time as above, but allows for younger children
3. The Grande VirΓ©e – 1000 meters, approx 5 hours including 40 minute walk back to departure point

We went with the Grande VirΓ©e!

The tour started with a short walk from the activity center to our first obstacle (below). After a brief introduction of via ferrata and explanation of the basics, we climbed up and crossed the wooden plank bridge.

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On the other side of the bridge, we were given additional instructions and had an opportunity to get more comfortable with hooking and unhooking our carabiners.

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Then we were pretty much on our own … eeeekkkk!!

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My legs felt kind of wobbly after the climb, which made the hike back to the activity center a little difficult. I slipped and fell a couple of times!

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We did it!!!!!

Via ferrata at Mont Tremblant was a really cool activity. It was fun AND safe! Sure, I got nervous a few times, but I’m just a wuss πŸ˜‰ The one time I did seriously panic was when I was trying to climb up a rock wall and my bungee lanyards got twisted up with an iron bar. This prevented me from hooking my carabiner onto the next iron bar and I was sort of stuck in limbo. I spent so much energy trying to sort everything out that I was too exhausted to climb up any further. Luckily, a man in the tour group was able to help me to the top of that wall.

Speaking of my tour group, there were 4 couples (including us) and we were definitely the youngest! All were French-Canadian and spoke French most of the time (even our tour guide) except when speaking to us. At the beginning of the tour, our guide apologized in advance for her English. You could definitely tell that English was her second language, but I didn’t have any problems understanding her.

A tip: Rock climbing gloves aren’t listed on the “What to Wear” list, but I definitely recommend them or whatever gloves that will protect your hands without compromising on grip.

The next day, we went go karting!

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I ain’t gonna lie. This activity was more for Henry. I mean, racing is fun and all, but I’m definitely NOT a speed demon. Quite frankly, I was terrified of fish tailing out of control or crashing or some combination of the two.

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We paid for 2 sessions and I think it was about 5/6 laps per session. But I was so slow, I had 1 less each time. 😦 I was very timid and hesitant during the first session so it was no surprise that I finished last. Well.. ok, so I still finished last in the 2nd session, but I improved my fastest lap by almost 30 seconds!

A tip: Layer up! Even when sunny, it could get cold since it’s outside.

Since go karting didn’t take up that much time, we had the rest of the day to explore Mont Tremblant.

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Fun activities right outside our balcony

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Such a cute mountain town

We took the gondola up…

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… and hiked to the panoramic lookout. Taking the panorama picture below was actually pretty painful because it was EXTREMELY WINDY AND COLD at the top of the lookout. I could barely breathe. After a quick picture, we continued hiking until we reached the next lookout point.

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We didn’t hike for too long since during the summer the gondola closes around 5PM so we made sure we got back in time for a ride down. It was still bright outside and I didn’t want to end the day so I convinced Henry to squeeze in one more activity: Skyline Luge!

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I first noticed the Skyline Luge the day we arrived; the luge course was right outside our balcony. I became more interested when we passed by on the way to the gondola. It looked like so much fun! Henry, on the other hand, wasn’t really interested because he thought it looked too childish. But after a bit of whining from yours truly, he caved and you know what… he’ll be the first to tell you that he’s so glad he did!!!!

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Taking the lift to the beginning of the course

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Luges

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Oh, hellooooo

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Luge course

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Skyline Luge’s tagline is spot on: Once is NEVER enough!

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The next day, we set out for a SEVEN hour drive back to Buffalo. We didn’t leave as early as we should have so we barely made our flight. I was so so so stressed out!!! Note to self: no more long ass drives!

Foodcation 2012 was wonderful. All the food we consumed was delicious, but I especially enjoyed our time outdoors at Mont Tremblant. Instead of Foodcation 2013, I’m considering a trip to Banff or going back to Mt. Rainier. Any tips or hiking trail recommendations for Banff are appreciated! πŸ™‚

Foodcation 2012: Gluttony

…continued from the 2nd leg of Foodcation 2012

Our next destination was Montreal. Flights were really expensive between Toronto and Montreal ($700+ roundtrip for 2) so I had decided that driving would the best option. However, I didn’t realize, or rather, I didn’t think to check how much gas cost in Canada.

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Yikes

With the exchange rate at the time, this came out to about $5.26 or so for regular! This was when I thought $4.20 for regular at home was crazy!! As far as total cost was concerned, it was definitely still cheaper to drive, but I’m sure Henry would have rather flown than drive 5 hours to Montreal and 7 hours back to Buffalo at the end of our trip.

When you drive through Ontario, Canada, you will find these cool, modern rest stops with gas, food, restrooms and free WiFi! The best part… they were CLEAN!

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ONroute… get it? hehe πŸ™‚

After about 5.5 hours on the road, we finally checked into our room at Hotel du Fort. This was probably the most dated hotel we’ve ever stayed in.

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Exhibit A

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Somebody please explain this to me…

Now, this doesn’t mean we had a bad experience. Our room was really big, the location of the hotel was great, the bed was comfortable, the towels and linens were clean… I mean, you really shouldn’t need much else right? Anyway, we got a great deal that included parking so I was happy with our experience. My only issue with Hotel du Fort was that the hallway seriously smelled like ASS. Only the hallway!

The main reason we came to Montreal was Au Pied de Cochon and this is where we had dinner our first night.

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We wanted to order so many things, but our waitress put her foot down and said no. It’s a good thing she did. Everything was rich and heavy, even the clams! It was really difficult to finish our meal.

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Clams (appetizer special of the night)
Foie Gras Poutine
PDC’s Melting Pot
Duck in a Can

Given the foie gras ban in California, I wanted to consume as much foie gras as possible at PDC. So obviously, I was a little disappointed when we finalized our order and I knew we would only have a couple of pieces (in the Poutine and Duck in a Can). Turns out, it was more than enough.

For first timers to PDC, I definitely recommend the Melting Pot since it gives you a little bit of everything: pork belly, pork loin, pork sausage and boudin noir served over creamy mashed potatoes. Man, I love me some blood sausage! The Foie Gras Poutine was just how I imagined: cheesy, creamy, melt in your mouth goodness.

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By the time we were served, Duck in a Can (the can is opened table-side), I was already stuffed. So stuffed, in fact, that I actually found it to be unappetizing after a couple of bites. Blasphemy, I know. First of all, I’m not a fan of fat that isn’t rendered down so the huge slab of fat on top of the duck breast? Yuck. Second, the duck breast itself wasn’t as tender as I thought it would be. And lastly, I prefer my foie gras pan seared. Apparently, I was the only one that felt this way because Henry really enjoyed this signature dish. To each his own.

Because we felt extremely guilty after eating this overly indulgent meal and also because I wanted some coffee, we rented bikes from BIXI and rode to a cafe that was open late.

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Umm yea… no English option 😦

It’s a good thing we rode bikes in DC because had I not been familiarized with the rental process, I would have no idea what was on the screen. And by the way, not only are the BIXI kiosks in French, the street parking signs are as well AND IN MILITARY TIME!

The next day was a mixture of eating and exercising. We rode our BIXI bikes to lunch spot #1, Resto La Banquise.

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La Petite vie (ground beef, onions & corn)
La T-Rex (ground beef, pepperoni, bacon & hot-dog sausages)

When in Canada, right? πŸ˜‰ I β™₯ poutine!

I used to think that Henry and I had big appetites, but watching everyone around us finish their poutine while we struggled to finish half of ours made me think otherwise.

After checking delicious poutine off our list, we rode our bikes to lunch spot #2: Schwartz’s.

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There was absolutely no way we could each eat a sandwich, so we decided to share. Sharing is caring.

At Schwartz’s, you have three options for your smoked meat: lean, medium or fatty. We left it up to our waiter and as you can see above, we got fatty. Personally, I would have ordered either lean or medium, but Henry likes the fattyness so I compromised. The meat was flavorful and tender and to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the fattier cut. Now, I have to say, Schwartz’s smoked meat > Katz’s pastrami. I would’ve thrown Langer’s into the mix, but I’ve never had a plain pastrami there so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. Another thing in Schwartz’s favor is the price! A sandwich at Schwartz’s only sets you back $6.30 CAD while a sandwich at Katz’s is more than double at $15.95.

To fight off food coma, we rode our bikes to Mount Royal and hiked up to the summit. There are quite a few trails you can take up to the summit and I’m pretty sure we took the most difficult way up.

We started at the Sir George-Γ‰tienne Cartier Monument…

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… followed random trails…

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… until we reached Camilien-Houde Lookout…

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See Olympic Stadium in the distance?

We thought this was it and started our hike back down when a local informed us that we hadn’t actually reached the summit and that there was another lookout. So, on we went. Once at the summit, we were rather disappointed to find that it didn’t offer any views so we started our trek down to the famous Mount Royal Cross via Ch. Olmsted…

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So so so pretty at night when illuminated

… from the cross, we hiked through what seemed to be a forest…

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… until we found the Chalet and Kondiaronk Lookout…

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Much better view!!

I’m really glad we continued from the first lookout because at that point, I wasn’t impressed and pretty much felt that the hike wasn’t worth it. But taking in Montreal from Kondiaronk Lookout totally made up for it!

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Hiking down Mount Royal towards the Rue Peel entrance was so much easier with the stairs. If you’re OK with stairs, this is definitely the fastest way to and from the Kondiaronk Lookout. The leisurely way would be to follow Ch. Olmsted all the way around.

Check out Henry’s shirt after our hike…

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A new deadmau5 shirt! hahahhahahahahahhahahhahaa

Our last dinner in Montreal was at Joe Beef. Unfortunately, it was so damn dark in there, we left without any good food pictures 😦

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So, here’s my beef with Joe Beef. The menu is written in French on a chalkboard and only the chalkboard. This meant that before we could even sit down (in cramped quarters, nonetheless), we had to stand behind people eating at the bar, look up at the chalkboard and try to translate the menu so that we could have an idea of what to order.

It is dark.
The chalkboard is small.
The menu is extensive.
I DON’T KNOW FRENCH.
WHY SO DIFFICULT!?!?!

We were able to make out some foie gras items (ie. Foie Gras Double Down, Parfait de Foie Gras), but PDC foie gras’d us out so we kept looking. After 5 minutes or so of cranking our necks to look at the chalkboard, I gave up and we took our seats. I was really hoping our waiter could help us out with a recommendation, but unfortunately, our waiter wasn’t much help. Like, AT ALL. When we asked for his recommendation, he actually said he didn’t like giving recommendations. WTF?!?!?! Instead, he referred us to the specials for 2 that night: suckling pig and lamb shank. We got the lamb shank. It was… OK…

After a disappointing dinner, we walked down to the Starbucks on the corner for some coffee and to get a Montreal Starbucks Cup. Yes, I collect them!!! πŸ˜€

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Tip: half and half is Creme 10%

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The next morning, we prepared for the last leg of Foodcation 2012. I didn’t know if we would find any markets near our last destination so we picked up some groceries a block away from our hotel. As we were walking back to the car lugging several heavy bags, a bottle of olive oil somehow fell out of one of the bags, shattered right by my feet and showered my legs with oil.

Awesome.

… to be continued.

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Montreal Eats (+our verdict):
Au Pied de Cochon, 3.5/5
Resto La Banquise, 4/5
Schwartz’s, 4.5/5
Joe Beef, 3/5

Foodcation 2012: Lobsta, eh?

… continued from the 1st leg of Foodcation 2012

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Crossing the border into Canada was pretty much a breeze (in contrast to returning to the US). It could have gone even more smoothly if Henry was able to answer the border agent himself when she asked, “What is your business in Canada?”. Sure, Henry can easily remember lines from Predator, Commando, and every Rambo and Rocky movie, but simple vacation plans? No, that’s crazy.

The first thing we did in Canada was stop at Tim Horton’s for some coffee and donuts. I’ve always thought that Tim Horton’s was exclusive to Canada, but I was wrong; they do have locations in the US, just nowhere near me. And I ain’t gonna lie guys, Tim Horton’s coffee > Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (but this really isn’t saying much… :P).

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Decent coffee, Boston Cream donut

After our coffee and donut fix, we continued our drive into the Toronto area. It was a little frustrating that we could see Toronto on the other side of Lake Ontario but could only get there by driving all the way around! Instead of staying in downtown Toronto, we booked a room at Monte Carlo Inn & Suites in downtown Markham, about 30 minutes north of Toronto. Two reasons: 1) save money and 2) eat at Omei Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant that serves lobster 4 ways! Residents of Markham and neighboring Richmond Hill are predominately Asian. Being from SGV, I felt right at home. Henry and I even spent an hour or so in an Asian market stocking up on snacks and candy πŸ˜€

Well, I’m not ashamed to say that my favorite part of visiting Toronto was NOT the Hockey Hall of Fame… it was eating LOBSTER!!!!

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1. Steamed
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2. Sauteed
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3. Deep Fried
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4. Fried rice (with the innards/liver)

6 pounds, 4 ways. 2 people. YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. My favorites were the steamed claws and fried rice.

Our agenda for the next day was packed! We only had 1 full day to check out Toronto so that meant a lot of stuff to do and a lot of stuff to eat. Henry hates this, but sometimes, I just can’t help it!

For lunch, we picked up from two places… killing two birds with one stone, I guess?

Porchetta sandwich at Porchetta & Co.

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The fatty pork belly layer just melts in your mouth. We added truffle sauce (+ $0.75) which made the sandwich extra special.

Haddock, halibut and poutine at Fresco’s

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For each fish, one piece was fried with regular batter while the other piece had Miss Vickie’s (the chips) extra crisp batter (+ $1). I really liked the crunch from Miss Vickie’s batter so I would recommend spending $1 more for that. And of course we substituted poutine for regular fries (+ $2)…I β™₯ poutine!

We pretty much ate our lunch in the car on the way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Limited time, you know.

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During the Fall, the Hockey Hall of Fame closes at 5:00PM on weekdays. I was sad at first because we were only going to have about 3 hours or so to visit, but it turned out to be just the right amount of time.

Main floor:

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Luuuuuuuuuuccccccccc β™₯
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We sat in this theater for a while and relived the Kings 2012 Playoff run… yes, I cried, again.

Esso Great Hall & NHL Trophies:

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NHLPA Be A Player Zone:

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Here, you can test your goalie or shooting skills (no slap shots). Henry was really good at blocking shots while I was better at shooting.

After a fun afternoon at the HHOF, we stopped for coffee at Second Cup before making our way to dinner at Hoof Raw Bar. Initially, I had planned to eat next door at The Black Hoof, but it is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and unfortunately, our final plans had us in Toronto on a Tuesday. As a reference (for those from LA), Hoof Raw Bar is to The Black Hoof as Son of a Gun is to Animal.

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Raw Scallops
Smoked Mussels
Ceviche
Shrimp & Toast
Smoked Octo & Grits

Everything we ordered was delicious! From the light and refreshing scallops topped with apple to the incredibly tender octopus and deep fried grits, we LOVED every bite. My favorite was the Shrimp and Toast because the juicy shrimp and sous-vide egg reminded me of my favorite childhood dish, scrambled eggs with shrimp.

While we were finished with dinner, we weren’t quite done with Toronto yet.

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Even though both Henry and I had been to the CN Tower as kids, it was so long ago and I wanted to go back… together.

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Yes, we’re lying on the dirty glass floor πŸ˜€

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You have no idea how long it took me to grow a pair and walk out onto the glass. SO SCARY!!!

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Before we left the Toronto area for our next destination, I had to pay a visit to one last place: Pacific Mall.

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Pacific Mall holds a special place in my heart because I came here with my grandparents during one of my summer breaks. It was just as I remembered and walking down past all the different shops made me feel close to them again β™₯.

… to be continued.

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Toronto Eats (+our verdict):
Omei Restaurant, 5/5
Porchetta & Co., 4.5/5
Fresco’s Fish & Chips, 3.5/5
Hoof Raw Bar, 4.5/5

Foodcation 2012: Crabby

Even before the start of the 2011-2012 NHL season, I had planned to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Obviously, when the Kings won the Cup, this trip meant a hell of a lot more. And though the presentation cup wasn’t on display while I was there (since it was still traveling with the Kings organization), it was nice to see the case dedicated to the 2012 Champs and to relive the Kings 2012 playoff run in the Hartland Molson Theatre (aka Stanley Cup theater). More on this later…

Our trip began with a weekend in Washington DC. We were fortunate enough to have a friend house us and take us around. We arrived late Friday afternoon and after settling in a bit, Henry and I went to dinner at Blue Duck Tavern while our host and his brother went to a ballgame. They totally missed out on an AMAZING meal.

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Wood Oven Roasted Bone Marrow, Creamed Corn
Muscovy Duck Breast, 12 Hour Roasted Suckling Pig
Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Goat’s Milk Caramel

The bone marrow with truffle shavings and roasted garlic was TO DIE for. BEST. EVER!!! I also LOVED the creamed corn side. The jalapeno added a refreshing aspect to the dish without the heat (surprisingly). I thought the presentation of our sweet corn ice cream dessert was so so so cute. Our waitress was kind enough to give us the goat’s milk caramel on the house so our dessert became caramel corn ice cream! πŸ˜€

After devouring our meal, we decided to take a post-dinner walk to the Lincoln Memorial.

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Apparently, the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial had been out of commission for a couple of years due to renovations and was just reopened 2 weeks before our trip! Woooooooo!

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There’s just something about seeing these famous monuments and memorials at night… so so beautiful!

While we were sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, our friend CN called us up. He was back from the ballgame and wanted to take us to the infamous Ben’s Chili Bowl. We’re not ones to turn down food and besides, we just walked off our dinner πŸ˜‰

At first we took the car, but parking in DC is seriously impossible so we dropped off the car and took the Metro.

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Luckily, the line at Ben’s Chili Bowl at 1:30AM wasn’t too long since we beat the bar crowd. The four of us shared 6 Chili Half-Smokes and Chili Fries.

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There’s no denying that the chili dogs were deeeeeelish, but the price for one is a little ridiculous… $5.70 for one chili dog!!! whattttttt the whattttttttt??????????!!!!!!!! Still… I would recommend visiting this landmark if you’re in DC and you’ve never been.

The next day, our friends led us on a bike tour of DC.

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We used the Capital Bikeshare system, which for those familiar with BIXI is pretty much the same thing. For those not familiar, here is a brief guide for travelers:

* Membership fees: 24 hr = $7, 3-day = $15
* For 24 hr or 3-day memberships, a security deposit of $101 per bike will be held on the card you used for the rental. 2 bike maximum on 1 card.
* To complete rental, an unlocking code can be viewed or printed. Pick a bike and enter the code.
* The first 30 minutes is included with each bike that is rented. Extra time with the same bike is at an additional charge (see website for rate table). In other words, for the most affordable experience, consult the station map and plan accordingly. No matter where you want to go, I assure you, there will be a station on the way. If your destination is clearly more than a 30 minute bike ride away (and you really want to use Capital Bikeshare), just check in the bike at a station along the way and rent out a new bike.
* Downsides include 1) not having an empty bike dock available to return a bike and 2) not having bikes available for rent. The fix for both is to find another station – for returns, if you come across a full station, you can add 15 minutes free to your rental to avoid additional charges.

Despite the downsides above, I think these bike systems (Capital Bikeshare, BIXI) are a great alternative to walking, driving or public transportation. You get to exercise, sight see and have fun, all at the same time!

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We rode the bikes along the Potomac River to the Jefferson Memorial.

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Another view of the Washington Monument

We were supposed to stop at Maine Avenue Fish Market to snack on some crabs, but CN wanted to show us Washington Nationals Park first. The day started out bright and sunny, but as we rode towards the ballpark, I noticed dark clouds and thought to myself, geez, that can’t be good. And it wasn’t…

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… we were caught in a crazy storm!!!

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People running for their lives!!

Luckily, the high winds and rain started right after we checked in our bikes and ran across the street to take cover.

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The storm passed relatively quickly, but it held us back enough so that we weren’t able to get crabs. Our friends had another ballgame to go to and we had dinner reservations at Rasika, a swanky Indian Restaurant.

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I’ve always tried to steer away from fancy schmancy Asian restaurants. I’m spoiled because I live in an area where I have access to yummy Asian food ON THE CHEAP! So why would I want to pay a 100% mark-up for essentially the same thing just dressed up? Well, with almost 1000 reviews on Yelp confirming Rasika as the best Indian restaurant in DC, of course I had to try. And honestly, I didn’t know it was upscale until I arrived. Sure, the prices listed online seemed a bit high, but weren’t to the point of being ridiculous (FYI, $$$ on Yelp).

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We ordered the dishes that our waitress highly recommended and added an appetizer because we wanted some lamb. For starters, we had two barbequed items.

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Mango Shrimp – fresh mango / cashew nut / ginger / coriander / mint chutney

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Seekh Kebab – minced lamb / garam masala / mint chutney

The shrimp was good, but at $12 for 4 pieces, not good enough. Our waitress warned that the minced lamb was really spicy, but when I took a bite, it wasn’t too spicy at all. I actually liked the amount of heat and it had good flavor.

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Palak Chaat – crispy baby spinach / sweet yogurt / tamarind / date chutney

This baby right here is Rasika’s signature dish. As I browsed through reviews on Yelp, I noticed that almost every review mentioned the Palak Chaat. Even after reading these reviews, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, how could fried spinach be that good? But man, it was. It really was. The Palak Chaat was unlike anything I’ve ever had. Crispy, light, a mixture of sweet and spice. So simple and delicious!

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Black Cod – fresh dill / honey / star anise / red wine vinegar

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Chicken Makhani – broiled chicken / tomato / fenugreek

The best dish of the night came next: black cod. OMG, I DIE. It was MELT IN YOUR MOUTH AMAZING. The only other experience I’ve had with fish that matched this was when I tasted Roy’s Misoyaki Butterfish (Black Cod) for the first time (subsequent experiences have been sub-par).

One of my favorite Indian dishes is butter chicken and Rasika’s Chicken Makhani was pretty damn good. The chicken was incredibly tender and the sauce had a nice balance of tomato, butter and cream. I only wish the dish had more heat.

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Date & Toffee Pudding

I love sticky toffee pudding, but many restaurants make it way too sweet. This is usually masked by serving it with ice cream. Rasika’s sticky toffee pudding was moist and not too sweet. Just… perfection.

As with the night before, we took a walk after dinner. This time we made our way to the opposite side of the National Mall, the Capitol.

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To get home, we were going to walk back to the Metro stop by the restaurant, but Henry was struggling with a sore calf. The night before we flew to DC, Henry thought it would be a good idea to run a couple of miles, ya know, so that he wouldn’t feel as bad for all the food we would be consuming on our trip. The problem was, Henry hadn’t run in a very long time. So yea, instead of walking back to the Metro, we biked back. Good thing for Capital Bikeshare! πŸ˜€

Our last full day in DC was museum day. I’ve been to the Museum of Flight in Seattle, USS Midway in SD and Intrepid Air & Space Museum in NYC. So, of course I had to visit the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum while I was in DC. For those on a budget, the Smithsonian Museums are great because they’re FREE! Sure, the Air & Space Museum was dated and didn’t have the “cool” aircraft that the other museums have, but I still enjoyed the few hours that I spent there.

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Since we had a few hours to kill before dinner, we went to get crabs with CN. The crabs usually take some time to prepare so instead of just waiting around, we stood in line for oysters thinking that we would snack on them while we waited for the crabs to cook. Well, we were STILL in line when the crabs were ready and ended up waiting an additional 20 minutes for the oysters. There was only one shucker and the people ahead of us probably ordered 10 dozen oysters combined!

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Appetizers πŸ˜‰

After indulging in a seafood feast, we reluctantly cleaned up and headed to dinner. I had high expectations for our last dinner in DC. Not only because we’ve had delicious meals the nights before, but because this was the only dinner CN could make and we wanted to treat him out for being such a great host.

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Amuse Bouche, Eggplant w/ Lamb Shank
Pappardelle w/ Smoked Duck Breast, Raviolini w/ Braised Veal Shoulder

Unfortunately, dinner at Siroc turned out to be one of the worst in recent memory. Hopefully this was just an off night because I don’t see how Siroc is deserving of a 4 star rating on Yelp. Even though the restaurant was not busy, service was lacking and the food was mediocre at best. My dish, the raviolini, seemed to be the only one that turned out as the menu described. There was definitely something wrong with the eggplant w/ lamb shank and we all think it was the cheese; it tasted and smelled rotten! At first I thought, perhaps this is a type of cheese that I’m not familiar with, but when I looked at the menu again, I was surprised to see, “Pecorino Romano”. I’ve cooked with pecorino romano! The pappardelle was overloaded with mushrooms and had very little duck. I don’t understand how this pasta with mushrooms and duck bits cost $20 while the fabulous Muscovy Duck Breast at Blue Duck Tavern cost $28!

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We had a great weekend in DC with great company. I wish we could have stayed longer!

The following day was a travel day. We took the subway to Union Station and caught the MARC train to BWI Airport (Baltimore). All this to save money because flights from BWI to BUF (Buffalo) were much cheaper πŸ™‚ The ride on the MARC took about 40 minutes.

Untitled UntitledTip: MARC runs M-F and will cost $6 from Union Station to BWI

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From BWI, we flew to BUF and then drove to our next destination, Toronto πŸ˜€

… to be continued.

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DC Eats (+our verdict):
Blue Duck Tavern, 4.5/5
Rasika, 4.5/5
Ben’s Chili Bowl, 3/5
Siroc, 1.5/5
Captain White’s Seafood City, 4/5

Utah, Day 7: Time Flies

The Bird had been good to us so that’s where we spent our last full day in Utah.

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We knew we weren’t going to take the tram so we parked at Creekside (parking lot 1) instead of parking near Snowbird Center (parking lot 2).

The conditions had become spring-like as the week progressed so we stuck to the top half of the mountain where the snow wasn’t completely slush. In fact, there were still great stashes of powder in upper Gad Valley and Mineral Basin. For the first part of the day, we were in search of fresh lines in upper Gad Valley, which proved to be difficult because of the rocks that were in the way.

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Little Cloud Lift

After a quick lunch at the Birdfeeder, we took Peruvian Express lift up and then took the Peruvian Tunnel to Mineral Basin. Yes, I said tunnel. SNOWBIRD HAS A TUNNEL.

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Awesome, right?!?!?! πŸ˜€

It took about 4 minutes to go through the tunnel. We spent the rest of the day in Mineral Basin.

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I tried to get a picture of Henry jumping over rocks, but I didn’t bring my DSLR and my phone camera is too slow. FAIL.

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Even though it was another great day at the Bird, I started getting bummed out because I knew we would be going home the next day. Time flies when you’re having fun.

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Our last dinner in Utah was at The Copper Onion.

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I was nervous because we didn’t have a reservation, but there happened to be two spots available at the counter when we arrived. I love watching chefs in action so I thought we lucked out. An interesting thing I noted was the number of gloves the chefs blew through during our time there. One of the chefs wore a glove over a glove and kept changing the top glove after prepping certain foods. Is this standard food safety protocol?

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Looking over the menu, I saw bone marrow, pork belly and mussels offered as appetizers; three of my favorite things! How could I say no?

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Pleasant Creek Ranch Wagyu Bone Marrow: Parsley, Caper, Fennel salad, Charred baguette, $13

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Braised Kurobuta Pork Belly: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Parsnip, Preserved Cherries, $11

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Mussels: Creamy Black Pepper Sauce, Toast Points, $15

The bone marrow and pork belly were AMAZING, probably the best I’ve ever had. The mussels were perfectly cooked, but the pepper sauce was a little overwhelming.

We decided not to be complete fat asses this time around and only ordered one entree. πŸ˜€ It was tough because I was really interested in the poutine!

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Lamb Riblets: Warm Cauliflower and Potato Salad, $18

The riblets were fall off the bone tender and less gamy than I’ve experienced elsewhere. I really enjoyed the side salad.

For the first time in a long while, we actually had room for dessert. Usually our buttons are popping off and still, we would order dessert.

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Special of the Day: Strawberry, Grapefruit and Basil Sorbet, $3

The sorbet was definitely light and refreshing. I first tasted the strawberry and the slight bitterness of the grapefruit came through at the end.

After dinner we went on a night walk around the State Capitol Building, which is just a few blocks away from our condo.

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If you look closely, you’ll see people sitting on the front steps and on the surrounding wall. I guess it was prom night or something because we saw lots of kids in fancy dresses and tuxes. Damn, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school. πŸ˜₯

After a week in Utah, Henry said he still prefers Colorado. Given how horrible this season has been, I don’t think a fair comparison can be made. I really do hope this season is an anomaly and I’ll get a chance to come back and fully experience why Utah has “the greatest snow on earth”. So for now, I’ll just say that I ♥ Utah as much as I ♥ Colorado.

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SLC Eats (+our verdict):
The Copper Onion, 4/5