food is sacred.

Soy Lime Marinated Beef, dressing made with Chef Rossy Earle's Diablo Verde hot sauce on rice noodles (a dish I made recently)

Some recent conversations about food I’ve had with friends in Toronto and New York prompted me to write about it today. I was raised with an almost sacred view of food. I realized how much this has contributed to my perspectives, love and respect for food of all types as an adult. Some of the unwritten rules around food in my childhood were:  

 · try everything once (especially food you’re afraid to try; there were very, very few exceptions)

· never scoff at food you don't necessarily care for (esp. when at people's home cooked dinners or even restaurants) because that would be extremely disrespectful to whomever prepared it – and to food, in general

· meals are enjoyed together and talked about at length

· nothing is ever wasted (before the ‘nose-to-tail’ was ever a trendy thing, poorer countries practiced this as a given), so excess was frowned upon

· processed/packaged food wasn’t readily available in the Philippines and also more expensive. Therefore nearly everything was cooked fresh (thankfully) 

· you ate everything on your plate because so many children around go hungry everyday so a clean plate was a sign of gratefulness

· when dining on the beach, you ate with your hands on picnic tables lined with banana leaves 

All of this taught me to enjoy and respect food as much as I do today. I think it’s normal to have personal preferences. But a narrow-mindedness about food and scoffing at food you didn’t like was looked down upon and simply not allowed when I was growing up. So it drives me crazy when I see narrow-mindedness now. I feel lucky and grateful to have had the upbringing that I had. I love that I was brought up this way. I love seeing children who are growing up with a wider palate and an open-mindedness about food. I have my parents —especially my mom— to thank for this. I was never the kid who was fixated by eating candy. Nor was I allowed to be picky. I was always more interested dinner (not to mention, dessert). Filipino culture centres so much around food in many ways too. So none of this is a surprise. I lived there until I was almost 12 before moving to California. Food was the other religion. Meals were, in essence, pure love and joy. Meals were everything. Not much has changed today.

Living in New York starting in 1999 only helped enhance and widen my perspective and palate. I'm surrounded by even more people over the past two+ years who regard food in this same way in Toronto. It's an endless journey of discovery. It's so fantastic and I wouldn’t have it any other way. 


inspiring a move : sam james coffee bar

Moving to a new city (not to mention country) involves not only the tedious process of re-establishing your staples, it also requires learning all new
neighbourhoods. Well this week, I found my new coffee joint. My go-to spot, if you will. Sam James Coffee Bar in the Bickford Park neighbourhood
of Toronto near the Annex (I believe) was supposed to have Toronto's best coffee. Of course, I had to find out for myself. With my sister Christine's apt
being very nearby, it was on my list.

It's owned and run by the highly-revered and award-winning barista, Sam James. He's this young, fresh-faced, tattoo-covered guy who was so passionate
and knowledgeable about coffee, he opened this little bar just over a year ago. I tried the cappuccino – apparently Sam James' favourite one to make –
and it literally blew me away. It might just be THE best and most delicious cappuccino I've EVER had. Perhaps on par with, if not better than Café Regular's
in Park Slope or Stumptown at Ace Hotel (my personal favourites in New York). It is perfection. The croissants are also quite amazing. They're apparently
made by a soon-to-open French restaurant across the street called ICI.  

Judging by the steady stream of people (often with lines going out the door), I'd say I'm not the only fan-turned-addict. Not only is the coffee unbelievably
good, the friendly Sam James staff already know me by name. Who doesn't love that? They even let me take a pastry home without paying when I was short
on cash the first time I came in. Everyone there is just so nice. This IS Canada, after all. All the rumours are true.

So the other question I have is this: would it be completely irrational of me to choose a neighbourhood to move into based on where I know I can get amazing
coffee? I'm inclined to think not. Being a newbie makes the little things that help acclimate you to a new place important. Great coffee is important! 

Don't you agree? 


montreal gastronomie

Here are just SOME of what we ate in Montreal. I consumed my share of cream, butter, sugar and bread for the
remainder of the year. How indulgent! How fun. So much more left to try... next time. 

Bacon, egg and swiss cheese crepe topped with maple syrup (very French-Canadian, I thought) at Quoi de Neuf? on Rue Notre-Dame 

These frites had to have been deep fried and lightly dusted with brown sugar. Perfectly savoury and sweet. Amazing. Quoi de Neuf?

Egg whites with spinach, chevre, salmon, mushroom and capers. Divine. Also at Quoi de Neuf?

Cupcakes we purchased a sleek gift box for the cast of People Power from Itsi Bitsi (they loved them!)

I didn't try these, but they definitely looked interesting.

This salad from Creperie Chez Suzette looked more like dessert but it was delicious (the yoghurt/strawberry dressing was
actually more savoury than sweet – contrary to how it looks)

Escargot with plenty butter and cheese, Creperie Chez Suzette

Creme de la Creme cafe where we spent at least four hours straight

Enjoyed glasses of this wonderful wine in Old Montreal following a leisurely afternoon exploring 

We had an amazing deal on Moules et Frites three different ways at L'Academie. My personal favourite sauce/broth
was: cognac, cream and green peppercorn. It was to-die-for!  

food truck drive-in fun

The NYC Food Film Festival event this past Saturday was the World's First Food Truck Drive-In. Thanks to two guest tickets via my friends at Whimsy + Spice, I was able to attend the "sold out" event. It was held in Dumbo, Brooklyn – literally under the Brooklyn Bridge. It was food truck and locavore foodist's heaven. I'm not certain why they limited entry to a free event. As a result, they had fewer than expected attendees. It was a great idea that all of NY should have been able to just walk in to. The food was wonderful and the weather cleared up to make a really lovely evening of outdoor summer film viewing. So much fun!

Here's some of the great food that we ate: 

Banh Mi style hotdog from Asia Dog
Squid Ink taco from Choncho's Tacos
Green Pirate juice from The Green Pirate Juice Truck
Crostini with Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts and Honey from Pizzamoto 
Apricot and Chamomile People's Pops courtesy of The Cooking Channel truck
Tangy Pork and Chicken Sliders from The Krave Korean BBQ Truck
Everything Cookie and Earle Grey Cookie Sandwiches by Whimsy + Spice

Check out the NYC Food Film Festival site for info on next year's events.


hot in red hook


Last Saturday, I joined my friend Dave Pinter for opening day of the Red Hook Food Truck extravaganza. I had been hearing about the trucks for a few years but had yet to try. It was worth the wait (and the walk). So food trucks lined the street corner around Red Hook Park serving all manner of latin food. It cost $5 for this huge (and very tasty) beef huarache and $3 for fresh watermelon juice. There are picnic tables that line the edge of the park too, so you can enjoy the food like civilized human beings.
The day turned into an epic walk through Red Hook, Ikea and the waterfront. Lovely and quiet with a great view of, well, everything: Manhattan, Staten Island and New Jersey.
Go check it out. Tomorrow.
the (badass) juice truck
Dave's pork huarache and tamarind juice (so GOOD)
the incredible shrimp ceviche – I can still taste it, yum
heat supply