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Today was mostly a disaster as far as healthy dietary planning was concerned.

Keto went out the window at breakfast, as I found our fridge lacking in eggs.  The alternative was the Polish equivalent of Cream of Wheat -kasha manna.  I would normally say it could be worse, but I also neglected to pack a healthy lunch.  My self-control was in need of reigning in and I opted to check the salad choices at the local grocery store.  I found a rare alternative to the average green salad I would usually consume – a three bean salad with dressing and flakes of Parmesan.  Paired with hard boiled eggs, this felt surprisingly healthy and was very appetizing!

I can’t say that my day was rescued entirely, but at least I discovered something different.  🙂

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Ten Sushi Grad

My middle daughter graduated from grade eight today.  For several weeks I have been pestered by “We’re going to Ten Sushi for my graduation, right?!?”

Despite my protestations, a promise is a promise!  So, following the three hours of presentations, awards (my daughter won a dance award) and photos, my four children, my sister and I piled in the van and headed down Bank Street to Ten Sushi.

I had never been before and was somewhat curious as to what my eldest and middle daughters saw in this Japanese buffet restaurant.  My first expectation went out the door as soon as we entered.  To me, a buffet usually entails a shmorgazborg of foods of varying freshness sitting under warming lamps.  Ten Sushi offers an alternative style where each table was provided with a tablet menu and the selections were sent directly to the kitchen, prepared fresh and served directly to the table.

A cautionary note at this time, Ten Sushi is very explicit that they do not want food wasted.  There is a per person rate which, unfortunately, had increased to about $25/person (after 15:00:  the lunch price is about $15/person).  However, if any of your dishes are not finished, you may be charged for the dish.  So, we were careful not to order more than we could finish at our table.

We had a variety of dishes, including several vegetarian choices:  mango crisp rolls, cucumber and avacado rolls, sweet potato tempura and a stir fry vegetable plate.  My non-vegetarian kids chose salmon rolls, chicken dishes and green onions rolled with beef, along with bacon rolled asparagus.  We all were full.

Now, I was not holding up much hope for the service, but I was pleasantly surprised.  The food was served fast and hot and was generally well-received.

To finish, we each had various flavours of ice cream: green tea, mango, vanilla and chocolate.  My eldest daughter insisted we try deep fried milk.  Wow!  As strange as it sounds, it was quite good!

My daughter was happy with her celebration and I got to try something new.  It’s probably not for everyone – you’d better be confident with chopsticks! – but if you’re in the mood for a buffet style without running back and forth, Ten Sushi could be for you.  A solid 3.5/5.

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Anniversary dining in style

My husband and I celebrated our anniversary today – 22 years together and 17 as husband and wife.  As a special treat, we revisited a classic Italian restaurant in the heart of Little Italy on Ottawa’s Preston Street.

From the moment we arrived for our 6 pm reservation at Giovanni’s, the service was sublime.  My coat was artfully taken and hung at my request and – no sooner than when we were seated – the server promptly took our drink orders.  Although we were chauffeured by our eldest daughter to the restaurant, I was not immediately inclined to start imbibing.  The first choice was the water:  my preference for bubbly water was accommodated with a personal  bottle of house water with a side choice of lemon or lime served in a small glass.

For starters, I chose bruschetta (crisp baguette was more akin to a cracker than bread, but the fresh and tasty tomatoes and basil were delectable!). I asked for the remainder to be wrapped and was accommodated graciously.  My husband raves about his escargot and – even as a vegetarian – I have to acknowledge they looked good…  bubbly cheese topping browned ever-so-slightly!.

The service was well-paced and accommodating.  The server we had our previous visit three years’ prior stopped by our table and remembered our event.  Very special.

As an entree, I did not have to search long to find a vegetarian option that called to me…I chose the Mafalda Alla Norma in honour of my late mother, Norma.  Fried eggplant, basil, and smoked provolone cheese.  Tender, flavourful and light, I brought half home for later.  My husband chose a veal dish with artichokes that he enjoyed immensely.

It was about this time I ordered a light cocktail called a Summer Colada- a cool drink with vanilla vodka and pineapple juice.  Very smooth.  My husband tried several recommended red wines throughout his dinner.

For desserts, we each had our own.  My husband enjoys tiramisu and I had crème brûlée.  Both were spectacular!  The tiramisu was served in a glass and had a subtle flavour with delicate texture. My crème brûlée did not disappoint…  even my husband raves about the flavour and he doesn’t like crème brûlée!

My husband enjoyed his Monte Cristo coffee while I appreciated a B52 coffee.  Lovely end to a wonderful meal!

The atmosphere is lovely, the service wonderful…  there is the small matter of price.  Good food comes at a price and it was not cheap.  At just over $250 for two (including tip), you get what you pay for – a quality meal with top-notch service.  Not your average weekly fare, it was worth it to splurge for a lovely anniversary dinner.  Maybe next year we’ll do it again!  5/5

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Thai one on?

Today was about the kids.  In particular, my youngest graduated from grade 6.  We avoided most of the offerings at the school reception to get take out Thai food.  It’s difficult to truly offer a legitimate overall opinion of a chain, but here goes.

I’ll admit that Thai Express is one of my favourites as far as fast food options are concerned.  That being said, not all locations are equal.  The location we visited today was a newer (the newest?) spot at Herongate.  I chose the mild tofu pad Thai (my staple), while my son had medium chicken pad Thai and my two younger daughters had Thai soup – one chicken and the other beef.  We picked up some spring rolls and a couple of fried bananas.

As far as pad Thai is concerned, it was everything I expected.  The take out container divided easily into three portions with two of my sisters also having a spring roll and banana portion.  In other words, they give you too much for one person to realistically eat without overdoing it.  If you’re watching what you eat, I’d suggest dishing your portion out accordingly.

One of my daughters was okay with her Thai soup, but the other daughter made the observation the the onions were raw.  This was a disappointment.

The spring rolls were fresh, as was the fried banana.  The flavours were traditional and the same as you’ll find at every other Thai Express.  I do like the decor and will very likely eat there again. My biggest complaint with the new generation of take out is this trend of tipping for no service.  It seems that we used to tip for a waiter’s service.  I am now faced with a forced tip option everywhere I go- even when I am taking the food with me.  It makes me wonder what service they believe they are providing?  Taking my money?  It is less difficult for me to accept the tip being given to the cooks, but I do take unction with it being forced.  I still believe that tips should still be the domain of the service industry as a reward for quality service and not just an expectation from otherwise underpaid employees.  Just my opinion.  For the price, it was relatively good value for the money (even with the forced tip, less than $60 fed 6 people with left overs).

Only complaint concerning the food was concerning the raw onions in the soup.  Maybe it is traditional, but I don’t think it would hurt to perhaps preboil for a minute before adding the broth.  A very average 2.5/5.

 

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Just a typical Father’s Day Bbq

Father’s Day!  The time for backyard basics like barbecue, ice cream and fruit.

Admittedly, the ice cream was earlier in the day.  We dragged my Polish husband to Polish Day at Landsdowne Park where we indulged at Bocatto in the Agriculture building.  Sweet, but not too heavy, I stuck with my zesty lemon flavour from yesterday while the husband did pistachio and the kids ranged from very berry, vanilla and mango.  Averaging around $5 each for single scoops, not the most affordable, but a special treat.

Our barbecues vary somewhat, but this time, my husband chose steak.  I don’t do steak, of course, so while my brood of carnivores chowed down on the poor, defenseless cow (purchased from AAA butcher on Uplands Drive), I had a veggie burger (Cardinal Vegetarian burger from Produce Depot) and portobello mushrooms seasoned with olive oil, Himalayan pink salt, garlic, oregano and feta cheese.  We also had a selection of vegetables cooked with seasoning and olive oil.

Sweet Castle was the source of the tiramisu my eldest daughter chose for her father.  Always a delightful treat, although I was less then enthusiastic about their service today.  (I’m probably too sensitive in this instance.  A man walked in after me, but was served before me.)

All in all, a very pleasant and typical backyard meal.

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The Journey Begins

My husband is a pretty good gauge of character most of the time and he appreciates my opinions on some things.  After having posted several times on TripAdvisor, he encouraged me to try my hand at blogging.

My thoughts were, “If it encourages my husband to offer a date night, I’m in!”  🙂

For our first foray into the blogging life, we opted for a local venue – Colonnade Pizza on Bank Street in Ottawa.  For those of you unfamiliar with the location, the building was once a Burger King location and, although renovations both inside and out have improved the decor somewhat, it has never joined the upper echelons of fine dining.  The fare is mostly pizza and some basic Italian dishes.

My husband chose the 9” Mediterranean pizza (Bonus!  He ordered vegetarian too!) and I chose the Prima Vera fettuccine.  I will admit, we have eaten their vegetarian lasagna very recently and I was tempted by this tasty menu option.  However, tonight I wanted a few less carbohydrates than expected from the lasagna.  Truly, any pasta is going to push you over a low carb diet, but today was cheat day.

The food arrived quickly and my husband wasted no time in chowing down on his pizza.  Crunchy, but not overdone, with a lovely blend of artichokes, peppers, olives and cheese, the Mediterranean pizza is delicious and probably one of the best menu options.  I was a little less enthusiastic about my fettuccine.  The vegetables were the way I like them (crunchy and almost raw), but there were too few of them – almost an after thought by the chef.  Flavour was perhaps also a bit underwhelming.  As much as the flavour was not unpleasant, it was also a tad bland.  I tried adding the pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, but I truly believe that the chef should at least put some effort into ensuring the food is flavourful without having to add extras.

As a finisher, my husband and I shared a lemon mousse cake.  The premise of this cake is thin layers of cake with lemon mousse interspersed between.  Although the overall cake was charming and light (vaguely resembling the flavour of lemon meringue pie), the actual cake was slightly dry and needing the mousse for moisture.

At just over $50 for the two of us (I drank water, my husband had beer), this was not a “cheap” dinner, it was more or less what I expected.  The service was polite and the food was palatable.  Always a reasonable option without going downtown.

We may go again sometime… 3.5/5

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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