Scampo, Boston

Scampo, Boston

People are like onions. At first glance, they may seem plain on the outside, but on the inside, there are layers and layers to be discovered, and sometimes they may make you cry. That's exactly how I feel about my friend JM, who I appreciate more everytime we meet. I didn't have a very good impression of him when we first met, but I was proved wrong as I got to know him. He is a sweet person, extremely creative, and secretly likes musicals! On my last trip to Boston, JM (who is local) and I met up at Scampo to catch up. It is a great Italian resto in Beacon Hill's funky Liberty Hotel.

Liberty Hotel, Boston

Liberty Hotel was once a jail. After having gone through a major face lift, it now has a very grandeur feel with extremely high ceilings, oversized metal chandeliers, and granite wall murals.

As an appetizer, JM and I split the caprese salad. The tomatoes in this dish were ok but they made sure it was fool-proof by sprinkling a generous amount of fleur de sel and by coating the cheese with a light layer of finely chopped red onions.

Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad

I ordered the special of the day which was a soft shell crab BLT sandwich with fries and coleslaw. The crab was delicious and I loved the idea, but the bread was a little too crispy for me to eat as a sandwich. I ended up breaking it up and eating the different parts separately.

Soft Shell Crab BLT
Soft Shell Crab BLT

JM, who is Italian, wanted to try and critique the thinnest and lightest layered lasagna a la bugialli with cotechnino meatballs. JM was definitely impressed. Each layer was almost paper thing... I wonder how they do that!?

Thin Lasagna
Thinnest and Lightest Layered Lasagna

For dessert, I had Lydia's tiramisu. It was awesome and the rock sugar and coffee beans added a nice touch.

Lydia's Tiramisu
Lydia's Tiramisu

Scampo (in Liberty Hotel)
215 Charles Street
Boston, Massachusetts

Scampo on Urbanspoon

Fabulous Soy Ginger Carrot Salad

Soy Ginger Carrot Salad

I love when recipes just randomly pop into your head! And I love it even more when you make up a recipe on the fly with someone else! One afternoon, my husband and I just stared at each other blankly wondering what to have for lunch. All I knew was that I wanted something that would make me feel healthy and fabulous. We started rhyming off what we felt like eating and before we knew it, this carrot salad was our new creation.

And, in case you are wondering. This salad will make you feel healthy and fabulous.

This recipe yields 4-6 servings.

Soy Ginger Carrot Tofu Salad
- 5-6 carrots, julienned or shaved in thin slices using a peeler
- 1 chayote, julienned or shaved in thin slices using a peeler
- 250g of firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1/2 cup of raisins
- 1 large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
For the dressing:
- 2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 lemon, juice
- 1/4 tsp of grated ginger

1. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing, mix well and set aside.

2. In a lightly oiled pan, stir fry the tofu with a little bit of the dressing (approximately 1 tsp) for 4-6 minutes on medium-high heat.

3. Mix all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add dressing and mix well. Refrigerate and serve cold.

G for Gelato & Espresso Bar, Toronto

G for Gelato, Toronto

Someone told me about this place so I'm simply passing on the good word. G for Gelato & Espresso Bar has GREAT gelato!!!

CK and I split the cappuccino, pistachio and strawbery rhubarb trio. The cappuccino and pistachio were really good but the strawberry rhubarb is a must try! Tart and full of flavor. It was a new flavor they just started making, along with yogurt stracciatella.

Cappuccino, Pistachio and Strawberry Rhubarb Gelato

It all started in the 50's in Italy with Gerardo and Giuseppina Polsinelli, who ran a small gelato business using their own special technique and serving only 3 basic flavors. They did very well and their refrigerator on a bicycle business expanded to a truck business that served many different flavors. In 1967, they left Italy to start a better life with their 5 daughters. Decades later, the Polsinelli daughters bring back the family tradition with G for Gelato, which opened in 2011.

I love places with a story.

G for Gelato & Espresso Bar
75 Jarvis Street
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 416-792-1761

G for Gelato and Espresso Bar on Urbanspoon

Banh Mi Boys, Toronto

Banh Mi Boys, Toronto

If you're in downtown Toronto and wanted to eat something easy, fun, exotic and affordable, check out Banh Mi Boys. It is a contemporary Vietnamese banh mi shop with a twist. The Chau brothers, who own the place, know how to do it well. They should since they learned the tricks of the trade from their parents who also owned Vietnamese sub shops - the traditional kind.

The place is set up like a fast food joint. Fast fast fast. In addition to Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, you can get Chinese style steam bao sandwiches or Korean style tacos. Seating is limited so it may be hard to snag a seat during peak hours.

There were a lot of things that I wanted to try on the menu, but finally, I decided on the lemongrass grilled pork banh mi served with Asian bbq sauce, house mayo, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, cilantro and cucumber. The pork was char grilled to perfection and had just the right amount of lemongrass.

Grilled Pork Banh Mi
Grilled Pork Banh Mi

CK ordered the Kalbi beef banh mi filled with beef short ribs, kimchi, Asian bbq sauce and the regular toppings. He really enjoyed his sandwich.

Kalbi Beef Banh Mi
Kalbi Beef Banh Mi

We also ordered the kimchi fries. Unknown to us, the kimchi fries are covered with pulled pork in addition to the kimchi! While the fries were fantastic, I wished they posted the pork bit on their menu. Had I known, I would have ordered something smaller to make room for the heavy fries!

Kimchi Pulled Pork Fries
Kimchi Fries

We also got a jicama papaya salad to share. It was a nice light salad with a light soy sauce dressing.

Jicama Papaya Salad
Jicama Papaya Salad

Banh Mi Boys
392 Queen Street W
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 416-363-0588

Banh Mi Boys on Urbanspoon

Art Is In Bakery, Ottawa

Art Is In Bakery, Ottawa

Happy Canada Day everyone! Hope all you Canadians are enjoying the Canada Day weekend.

I'm continuing the Ottawa post trend with a feature on Art Is In Bakery. I almost feel like this post doesn't need an introduction. People from Ottawa know and love the bread here. Even if you haven't visited their shop, you have probably seen their bread at restaurants, cafes, or local grocery stores like Farm Boy.

Art Is In started out as a stand at the Ottawa Farmer's Market and grew from baking their bread at the Ottawa Bagel Shop to now owning a permanent shop in an industrial warehouse area. It almost seems like an odd place to have a shop when you first pull up, but you quickly forget where you are as soon as you walk towards the bakery. They have created their own unique funky atmosphere, and all the wonderful scents from the bread, sandwiches, pastries and desserts are sure to distract you from everything else.

Art Is In Bakery, Ottawa

The mango and aloe drink is especially good. It was a combination of aloe juice, mangosteen juice, and mango juice with chunks of aloe floating in the bottle.

Soda and Aloe Drink

The special of the day was the ginger beef banh mi with fennel, cucumber and pickled carrots. It was a really cool idea but the beef unfortunately was way too salty and overpowered everything else in the sandwich, including the condiments.

Ginger Beef Banh Mi
Ginger Beef Banh Mi

I'm a prosciutto lover so you can't go wrong with the warm prosciutto, ricotta, white truffle and arugula sandwich served on their dynamite kalamata olive bread. Delicious!

Prosciutto, Ricotta and Truffle Sandwich
Prosciutto, Ricotta, White Truffle and Arugula Sandwich

The eating area at Art Is In is alfresco style so they don't have a/c in the summer time.

They have a great selection of pastries and sweets including almond croissants and cookies. And of course, if you want to buy some of their bread before you go, there is a section where you can do that. Two favorites are the 12 grain fennel and the dynamite potato caramelized onion & dill bread.

Art Is In Bakery Bread

Art Is In Bakery
250 City Center Avenue Bay 112
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-695-1226

Art Is in Bakery on Urbanspoon