Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston

Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston

Right before my trip to Boston, I was chatting with a friend from Sydney. I started telling her about my upcoming trip to Boston, and she instantly replied with "OMG, you HAVE to go to Flour Bakery. It is soooo good". She raved about it so much that I had to put it on my list of places to check out.

I took a mid morning stroll, and headed to the Flour Bakery at Fort Point Channel. It was just after 11:00am and the place was already packed with a long line up.

This place reminded me of a modern hippy, go green, cafeteria style establishment. The staff here are very friendly, and it was both fun and torture waiting in line.

Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston

It was fun because you kept busy reading all the fun stuff they had posted on the boards. I especially enjoyed their quote of the day "All sorrows are less with bread" - Don Quixote. However, it was torture because you had to walk by counters and counters of baked goods while waiting very patiently to place your order. There were so many goodies, it was hard to choose.

Flour Bakery + Cafe, Boston

When it was finally my turn, I ordered a light lunch with a dessert.

To start, I had the raspberry spritzer: a light and fizzy drink.

Raspberry Spritzer

My lunch was the roast chicken sandwich with avocado and jicama. This was DELICIOUS. The chicken was prepared tandoori style, and the avocado was infused with lime and cilantro. It was healthy, fresh, and flavorful...loved it!

Roasted Chicken Sandwich with Avocado and Jicama

If you want your sandwich toasted, it is $1 extra.

For dessert, I had the chocolate banana bread. This was also very good. I loved that it was not overly sweet, and the cake was packed with bananas. I think I tasted more banana than cake, which was a nice surprise.

Chocolate Banana Cake

I desperately wanted to go back here for a second meal, but my friends wouldn't allow it. Everyone had their list of places to try and there just wasn't enough time.

This is a great casual place with excellent food.

Flour Bakery, Boston

Flour Bakery + Cafe (Fort Point Channel)
12 Farnsworth Street
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Telephone: 617-338-4333

Flour Bakery + Cafe (South End)
1595 Washington Street
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Telephone: 617-267-4300

Flour Bakery + Cafe on Urbanspoon

Baan Thai Restaurant, Ottawa

Red Curry with Duck

I am a very caring person, but sometimes, I can be such a bad friend. My good friend BB is now 7 months pregnant, and I haven't spoken to her or seen her since she first announced her pregnancy. It is her first baby, and I always imagined myself, well, being more accessible to her.

We met up at Baan Thai restaurant in Centrepointe to catch up, and it was nice to see that she was doing so well. We had some good laughs, I prodded on the details of her pregnancy, and I filled her in on the musings of my life. I've also committed to taking a few prenatal yoga classes with her!

Baan Thai is a nice local restaurant with a very casual atmosphere. BB and I ordered three dishes to split:

This is her preferred local restaurant, and she cannot dine here without ordering the pad thai chicken: a stir fried dish of chicken, Thai rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, green onions, and peanuts. The noodles were almost candy sweet. This was perfect for BB because she has a big sweet tooth.

Pad Thai Chicken
Pad Thai Chicken

Next was the gaeng ped yang, a red curry dish with coconut milk, BBQ duck, fresh sweet basil, Thai eggplant, bamboo slices, sweet peppers, and kaffir lime leaves. This dish was a bit milder than I expected.

Red Curry with Duck
Gaeng Ped Yang

Last was the pad kra pow: beef sauteed with onions, sweet pepper, fresh chilli, and basil leaves in a spicy garlic sauce.

Beef in a Garlic Sauce
Pad Kra Pow

For dessert, we split the mango ice cream.

Mango Ice Cream
Mango Ice Cream

Overall, the food was decent but nothing spectacular. We've been here a few times together and each time, we've ordered something diferent. Some dishes are good, and some don't do it for me.
I have yet to find spectacular Thai food in Ottawa so if you have any suggestions, please leave me a comment.

Baan Thai Restaurant
261 Centrepointe Drive
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-226-7604

Baan Thai on Urbanspoon

Spotted - Fleurs Place, Moeraki

I'm very excited about this month's Spotted interview.

I not only dined at the famous Fleurs Place, but I got to meet Fleur Sullivan herself. She is somewhat of a culinary celebrity, and any foodie from NZ will know who Fleur is.

As I mentioned in my last post, Fleurs Place became known in other parts of the world when British chef and food writer, Rick Stein, picked Fleurs Place after he was told he could go anywhere in the world to write a travel article. Stein was right on the money. Fleurs Place is a charming restaurant with exceptional food.

This month's Spotted interview is at Fleurs Place, Moeraki, New Zealand.

Fleur Sullivan

Where are you from: Waitaki River, New Zealand. Waitaki is the new wine growing area.

Favorite ingredient to cook with: Any food of the region. In this case, it would be fish. I had a restaurant for 20 years before Fleurs and the only reason I created Fleurs restaurant was because of the fresh fish.

Most memorable dining experience: Ham and eggs with a lid on top. It was something different, and even the place was different. The walls were covered with Bohemian Dutch scarves. Another experience was when I was a young person, about 16 or 17. It was at the Waitaki hotel. I had lamb with bones and brains in it. But it was the whole dining experience that made it memorable: the service, the silver, the linens, and the well trained waiters.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Hokey pokey. It is a vanilla ice cream with toffee. There is a shop in Hamden that sells great hokey pokey ice cream.

Your last meal would be: Oh, you would need a very big table, rather laden. Hmm...I would have bluff oysters and some lemon, and...[after much thinking] you don't need much else, really [laughs].

Fleurs Place, Moeraki

Fleurs Place, Moeraki
Fleurs Place

Before I tell you about Fleur's Place, I have to make a confession. I turned our New Zealand trip upside down just to have one dinner here. It was completely out of the way, and reflecting back, it didn't make sense logistically.

But, I wanted to go badly, and being the super nice guy my husband is, he re-arranged our entire trip. In the end, we took a 1 day detour to Fleurs Place and luckily, it all worked out. Our meal at Fleurs was fantastic and our visit to Moeraki was heaps of fun.

The word about Fleurs Place first leaked out when British chef and food writer, Rick Stein, wrote about this restaurant. When Rick Stein was told he could go anywhere in the world to write a travel article, he chose Fleurs Place. After reading about it, I wanted to check it out for myself.

When you walk in, you are likely to see Fleur Sullivan sitting at a wooden table working away. She is extremely friendly, and divides her time between working and chatting up her customers.

Fleurs Place, Moeraki
Fleurs Place

Fleur's Place has a very eclectic feel to it. The reason for this is because every little bit of her restaurant is made of recycled materials and antiques from around New Zealand. For example, the foundation of her building is made of borrowed timber from a building at Kakanui wharf, her staircase comes from an old mansion in Dunedin, and her tables and chairs were found at the Oamaru racecourse.

Things didn't always come so easy for Fleur. She faced many challenges trying to open this restaurant, and there were days where she felt very unsure about the future of the restaurant. It wasn't until the day she witnessed a whale swim close to her restaurant that she knew everything was going to be alright. According to Maori legend, the whale was a good omen.

One reason why her restaurant attracts so many people is the freshness of her fish. The fish come straight off her boat and are still wriggling when they enter her kitchen.

CK and I enjoyed our fresh meal with wonderful live music playing in the background.

Fleurs Place, Moeraki
Wharf at Fleurs Place

My meal was the flounder with Whitestone cheese rarebit, smoked eel, egg, and salad. This dish is everything Fleur stands for: good food and plenty of it.

A small funny story here. This dish was originally CK's. But, when he saw the eel head sitting on top of his flounder, he freaked out and switched dishes with me. It all worked out in the end because this was my favorite of the two.

Smoked Eel, rarebit cheese, and fish
Flounder with Whitestone Cheese Rarebit, Smoked Eel, Egg, and Salad

After the switch, CK's meal was the trumpeter fish with caper & lime sauce. The fish was lightly breaded and pan fried, and underneath it was a slew of fresh veggies. The caper & lime sauce was light and incredibly fresh.

Trumpeter with Caper and Lime Sauce
Trumpeter with Caper & Lime Sauce

For dessert, the two of us split a Tunisian orange cake with yogurt sorbet. This was a perfect end to a great meal. I loved the citrus in the cake, and the yogurt sorbet paired nicely. I also loved the extra touches: flower petals, dark chocolate, and almond shortbread.

Tunison Orange Cake
Tunisian Orange Cake with Yogurt Sorbet

I really loved their rustic looking plate and cutlery. Simple and elegant.

Tunison Orange Cake

After our dinner, I purchased Fleur's book entitled "Fleurs Place". This is a beautiful book detailing Fleurs personal story. It also includes pages and pages of original recipes from both her restaurant and her home.

You can buy her book via fishpond.co.nz

If you are ever in this area, a great attraction is the Moeraki Boulders. They are large, spherical boulders that sit along a stretch of Koekohe Beach. The Moeraki Boulders are on the AA Travel's 101 Must Do Things in New Zealand for Kiwis list.

Moeraki Boulders
Moeraki Boulders

Most were easy to climb but the one below was 5 ft high.

Moeraki Boulders
Moeraki Boulders

Fleurs Place
At the Old Jetty
Moeraki, Otago, New Zealand
Telephone: 03 439 4480

Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Icing and Coconut

Pumpkin Muffin with Cream Cheese Icing and Coconut

Happy early Halloween everyone!

I made these pumpkin muffins a few days early JUST in case you were looking for that last minute pumpkin recipe before Halloween.

I'm sure some of you are pumpkin and apple'd out, but October is not over yet friends.
These pumpkin muffins are good for you, very filling, and full of spice. They are good for any occasion, and the cream cheese icing and shredded coconut add a very nice touch. I brought some for my sister and her boyfriend, and they each ate two on the spot.

I was in a festive mood, so I decorated a few with a Halloween theme.

Pumpkin Muffins with Coconut and Cream Cheese Icing

This recipe yields 16-18 muffins.

Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour, sifted
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour, sifted
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1 tsp of baking powder
- 1/2 tsp of baking soda
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp of all spice
- 1/4 tsp of ground clove
- 1 cup of pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
- 1 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- sweetened shredded coconut to garnish

Cream Cheese Icing- 1 (8oz, 250g) package of light cream cheese at room temperature
- 1/4 cup of butter at room temperature
- 1 cup of icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla pod

Method for Pumpkin Muffins with Cream Cheese Icing and Coconut

Make the Pumpkin Muffins:1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

2. In one bowl, mix the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and dry spices together. In another bowl, mix the pumpkin, milk, egg, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and ginger together. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix well with a fork.

3. Line a muffin tray with baking cups. Spoon the muffin mixture into the baking cups until they are 3/4 full. Repeat until all the muffin mixture is used up.

4. Bake the muffins for 18-22 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until they are fully cool.

Make the Cream Cheese Icing:
1. With an electric mixer on high speed, mix the butter and cream cheese until smooth.

2. Slowly add in the icing sugar while mixing.

3. Add the vanilla extract. Cut a vanilla pod in half, and scrape the vanilla seeds into the icing. Mix until evenly distributed.

Assemble the Muffin:
1. Using a butter knife, smear a thin layer of icing over top of the muffins.

2. Place the muffin on top of a plate, and sprinkle shredded coconut over top of the muffin until completely covered. Tip the muffin upside down to allow any loose coconut pieces to fall off.

Using low fat cream cheese for the icing will result in a slightly thinner consistency. If you want a think and creamy icing, it is best to use full fat cream cheese.

Here are some of the Halloween muffins I made:

Halloween Pumpkin Muffin

Halloween Muffin

Halloween Muffin

Halloween Muffin

For the next little while, you will have to excuse my posts. I have such a large backlog of travel posts, I'm not sure where to start and finish! I just got back from a short trip to Boston, so stay tuned for a mish mash of posts from Ottawa, Sydney, New Zealand, and Boston.

Prasits Thai Take Away, Sydney

Heaven Beef

The entire time I was visiting Sydney, CK could not stop talking about Masaman curry. He wanted to have it, and he wanted it badly.

We finally satisfied his craving the day before I left. We went to the original spot where he first tried masaman curry, Prasits Thai Take Away in Surry Hills. He was nervous when we finally decided to go because he was worried that our dinner would not measure up to the euphoric experience he had the first time he visited the restaurant. Luckily for him, it was just as good as he remembered it.

For starters, we had the tofu tamarind. This was deep fried tofu pieces topped with a tamarind sauce and peanuts. The tamarind sauce was fresh, and went very nicely with the tofu. CK, who normally does not care for tofu, really enjoyed this dish as well.

Tofu Tamarind
Tofu Tamarind

I ADORE tom yum goong, and was excited to order it. Their tom yum goong was a hot and sour prawn soup with fresh mushrooms, ginger, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Every ingredient in this soup was extremely fresh.

Tom Yum Goong
Tom Yum Goong

When made well, you will be able to taste the many layers of flavors in this simple soup.

Tom Yum Goong
Prawn in Tom Yum Goong

And for the next dish, drum roll please....I present you the long awaited Masaman Lamb Curry! It was a lovely mild and sweet curry with tender lamb pieces, potatoes, and peanuts. Masaman curry is a Muslim influenced dish that incorporates ingredients from the Middle East & India such as cardamom and turmeric. This curry is rich, sweet, and peanuty.

Massaman Lamb Curry
Masaman Lamb Curry

The last dish ordered was the heaven beef: BBQ scotch fillet (aka rib eye steak) with a sour dressing of kaffir lime, lemongrass, chilli, garlic, and mint. This dish is larger than it looks, and the dressing is very garlicky (not a bad thing). CK said this dish tasted amazing the next day after it sat in his fridge overnight. I wasn't around to try it so I'll have to take his word for it.

Heaven Beef
Heaven Beef

Prasits Thai Takeaway
413 Crown Street
Surry Hills, NSW, Australia
Telephone: 02 9698 5522

Prasits Thai Takeaway (Taylor Square Branch)
3/185 Campbell Street
Taylor Square, NSW, Australia
Telephone: 02 9357 5530

Din Tai Fung, Sydney

Din Tai Fung, Sydney

Din Tai Fung is the place to go for world-famous xiao long baos.

I was so excited when I heard one had opened up in Sydney, and it immediately made it on the top of my list of places to eat while in Sydney. There are restaurants in North America that have borrowed Din Tai Fung's name, but do not be fooled my friends. Outside of Asia there are only two original Din Tai Fung branches: one in Los Angeles California, and one in Sydney Australia.

Din Tai Fung is figuratively synonymous with the Chinese xiao long bao. Xiao Long Bao is a Chinese steamed dumpling that is made in the shape of a mini bun. The traditional filling is pork but vegetarian or seafood filling is sometimes used.

BUT, it gets better. These dumplings are filled with a solid gelatin, which melts into a flavorful broth when steam-cooked. This results in a dumpling filled with soup broth. The more broth within the dumpling, the better.

Mural at Din Tai Fung, Sydney
Bamboo Basket Wall Mural at Din Tai Fung

CK and I had an amazing lunch at Din Tai Fung, and I'm already dreaming of my next visit...whenever that may be!

We started out with the vegetarian delight. This was a cold salad of seaweed, bean curd, and beansprouts. The salad was tossed in a chilli and sesame oil dressing. It was light and yummy.

Vegetarian Delight
Vegetarian Delight

Next came the famous xiao long bao. I ordered the steamed pork, crab and roe xiao long bao. This was a limited time menu item, so I took the opportunity and ordered it. The regular pork xiao long baos are available all the time. These were dipped in a vinegar sauce with shredded ginger pieces.
If you look closely, you can see that the broth fills more than half the dumpling.

Crab, Pork, and Roe Xiao Long Bao
Pork, Crab, and Roe Xiao Long Baos

To get our veggie intake, we ordered a serving of the vegetable dumplings.

Vegetable Dumplings
Vegetable Dumplings

Look at the wonderfully chopped veggies.

Vegetable Dumpling
Vegetable Dumpling

Something new to the menu is the pork + vegetable won tons in spicy sauce dish. The spicy sauce was divine, and had the perfect balance of spicy, sweet, and sour. Surprisingly, this was my favorite of all the dishes we ordered.

Pork and Vegetable Won Tons
Pork and Vegetable Won Tons in Spicy Sauce

*Drool, Slurp*, can't get enough of them.

Won Tons in Spicy Sauce
Pork and Vegetable Won Tons in Spicy Sauce

Last was the dan dan noodles served in a spicy peanut and sesame sauce. I had never tried dan dan noodles before, and I'm glad I did. It is a peanuty dish that is slightly on the sweeter side.

Dan Dan Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles

To finish, we ordered the deep fried red bean paste bread. I love any type of red bean dessert so no complaints from me.

Deep Fried Red Bean Bread
Deep Fried Red Bean Paste Bread

One other thing to mention is their excellent service. The staff here are very professional and extremely attentive to their customers. The wonderful service really made the experience that much better.

I highly highly recommend you try this place. While the xiao long baos are great, the spicy won tons are a must-try.

Din Tai Fung
World Square Shopping Centre, Level 1
644 George Street
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Telephone: 02 9264 6010

Din Tai Fung on Urbanspoon

Mulled Apple Cider

Mulled Apple Cider

The definition of mull is to heat and spice. That's exactly what we're going to do with fresh apple cider today. Spice it. Then heat it.

As I mentioned in my cinnamon apple chips post, Fall is a great time for apples. I went to my local Apple Orchard, Pinewood Orchards, this past weekend and picked up some fresh apple cider.

I have decided to cut coffee out of my diet for a while, so hot cider, is a great substitute. Luckily for me, I drink coffee for the taste and not the caffeine. I love holding my mug of hot apple cider on these cool Fall days.

Mulled Apple Cider

This simple recipe yields 4 cups.

Mulled Apple Cider
- 4 cups of apple cider
- 3-5 whole whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 small pinch of nutmeg
- 1 small pinch of all spice
- 1 small slice of orange or lemon

1. Stir all of the ingredients into a pot, and heat over the stove on low heat.

2. Let the cider heat for 20-25 minutes, making sure that it does not boil. Discard the cloves, cinnamon stick, and citrus slice. Serve hot.