Stick to Pub Food

IMG_0465.JPG What: Smoke House Burger
Where: Amsterdam Brewhouse [on the Lake]
Cuisine: Pub/Bar Affordability: $15+ per dish


- Amsterdam Brewhouse is probably best known for their microbrew, but they also sport a very well decorated lodge-like, casual, friendly atmosphere that is great for meeting friends to enjoy the patio by the lake on warm days or sit in the restaurant area after a long work day, or in our case, lunch.

- I had the Smoke House Burger which consisted of two beef patties, and stacked up to the max including fried onions. It was very tasty and perfectly compliment a hops-type beer. They have suggestions of their own brew next to the menu item so the guesswork has been done for you. If you can manage to hold it together to eat it, good for you. After a few bites, I had to resort to eating it with a knife and fork. The bun just couldn’t hold its size and hold the moisture. But definitely no complaint here.

- The others felt differently, however, hence the title. Our tip: stick to the pub style food. One of my co-workers had the the risotto, and well, we don’t think it was. It resembled a rice dish but not risotto. It was ok (I had a scoop) but it wasn’t the right consistency or what you’d expect risotto would be. So to be on the safe side and really enjoy the beer and food, stick to the the pub style norms – burger, fries, pizza, poutine and wings. You are supposed to be here for the microbrew anyway. Keep in mind as well, this gets a little price-y!

Amsterdam BrewHouse on Urbanspoon

Jolly As A Bee!

What: Various breakfast meats with garlic fried rice and fried eggs
Where: Jollibee’s San Jose, CA
Cuisine: Filipino Fast Food
Affordability: $10+ per meal

Jollibee is a fast food chain originally from the Philippines. Not unlike McDonalds it serves burgers and fries, plus fried chicken and spaghetti.

We ordered one of their best sellers Chickenjoy, deep-fried chicken served with rice and gravy. Skin is crispy and meat is juicy without being too salty. It’s not unusual to see folks pouring some gravy on their rice, which is what we did. Not recommended if your counting calories.

One can also opt to get a classic combo of Chickenjoy and spaghetti. Note that Filipino spaghetti tends to be on the sweet side.

We came back the next morning to try their Filipino power breakfasts which consists of garlic fried rice, fried eggs, and choice of meats: Corned Beef, Longanisa (sweet-cured sausage), Tocino (sugar-cured pork), or Tapa (beef jerky). We had the first 3 and enjoyed our meals.

After 2 visits to this branch, we found service can be a tad slow. Prepare to wait 15-20 minutes.

Jollibee is set to expand in Canada by next year. We’ll definitely check it out when it opens its first Toronto restaurant.

Calgary Culinary Adventures

First foodie blog post ever – I look forward to sharing my culinary adventures with you all. As a brief intro, my job brings me to various parts of North America, allowing me to experience new tastes, and share those experiences with you, canuck foodie.

Caffé Artigiano

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Being new to the Calgary area, I did what any coffee addict would do – I searched across all sorts of blogs to find the city’s best coffee place. This led to find all sorts of glowing reviews about new found favorite coffee shop in Calgary, Caffe Artigiano. As soon as you walk into the place located along 6th Ave, you’re greeted by the beautiful aroma of fresh ground coffee beans – definitely a great way to start the day. Being my first time I decided to play it safe and go for staples items such as their regular latte, walnut muffin and veggie breakfast wrap. After ordering I joined the queue of suit clad drones waiting for their fix and after a few minutes I got my fix. Their lattes were quite good, with a good mix of espresso and foam, blending together for some beautiful latte art – the barista did it with such ease!

The breakfast wrap was also quite good, however about 10 minutes to prepare – and if you visit the other location on 4th St. and 6th Ave., you may be greeted by a wait time of over 20 mins – enough time to finish your latte and probably walk to work and back. They do serve the wraps with sour cream and salsa, which added a bit of flavor to an otherwise average breakfast.

Upon a second trip, I tried their Spanish latte which was a pleasant surprise – it’s basically a latte made with condensed milk providing for a more creamy and slightly sweeter taste although not overbearing. Just stopped by a couple days ago wanting some good tasting coffee – not lattes, not espressos, just coffee. I tried out their clover coffee maker where I got to choose whatever beans I wanted (I chose Guatemalan), which were freshly ground and brewed into a great cup of coffee (for a premium of course). The beans provided for a very fruity and flavorful coffee, much better than the typical drip coffee which is usually out there for hours on end.

All in all, great coffee place, and I’ve yet to find a better one in Calgary – although I look forward to finding a worthy competitor! Now if I could just find a coffee shop that does pour-overs…

Caffe Artigiano on Urbanspoon

Not So Awe-Struck at Awestruck Food Truck Fest

This was the scene at this weekend’s Day 2 of Awestruck Food Truck Festival 2014 held at Wellington and Portland this year. Now it may be because there were also about 10 other events in Toronto including the CNE and Fan Expo just next door, but this is just low attendance. It was so low that by 6:30 PM, the food trucks started leaving the premises for an event that was supposed to go on until 8PM. But when there’s more staff in your truck than there are people buying, business should be taken somewhere else.

What: Frankie’s Fettuccine
Where: Frankie Fettuccine Food Truck Co.
Pointers: Rather disappointed with such a large serving of pasta for $12. It was very bland even with sun dried tomatoes, artichokes and mozzarella cheese on it. The peas added a bit of weirdness as a whole to this “Italian-fusion” dish. We’re not sure what the attempt was with the peas but it didn’t do anything overall. If there were salt and pepper around, we would have salted that thing just add a flavour to it. Rather disappointing so we threw most of it away.

What: Nachos
Where: Curbalicious Food Truck
Pointers: This one is a new discovery for us and glad to have found it! Curbalicious offers a rotating menu but today was an Indian-inspired dish that had a lot of flavour in every bite. Served with the same concept as a nacho, Curbalicious offered a base of crispy-fried naan bread topped with cheese curds, shredded chicken, tamarind sauce and mayo. So it was more Poutine than nachos, if you ask me. The different flavours complimented each other and perfect for the crispy naan bread. We’d love to check out this food truck again and try the other dishes.

What: Fish Tacos
Where: Rancho Relaxo
Pointers: I referred to them as fish sticks on a taco. But it’s not all that bad. For $10, you get three small taco with a deep fried breaded fish stick topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, etc. The toppings themselves had a “refreshing” taste similar to one you would on the streets of Mexico, so I give these guys chops for that. But we weren’t fans of the fish stick idea. For us that would be more of a Po’Boy approach.

What: Jerk Chicken Wrap
Where: Caribbean Provisions on Da Go
Pointers: We thoroughly enjoyed Caribbean Provisions on Da Go Jerk Chicken wrap. It was mildly spicy with tender chicken on a bed of Caribbean rice. It was meant to be enjoyed by the masses so we enjoyed that it’s not overpowering like traditional jerk chicken. We would prefer more chicken next time.

What: Barbequed King Cole Duck Cakes w/ Spicy Corn Relish
Where: Localista
Pointers: Thoroughly enjoyed the duck cakes from Localista. The corn relish bed was a perfect pairing for this crispy on the outside, moist on the inside duck cake. We would have preferred some kind of tangy drizzle of sauce over the cakes just to bring it another flavour profile. Don’t get us wrong, it was still good, just felt it needed something tangy to balance out flavour.

What: Chocolate
Where: Chimney Stax Baking Co.
Pointers: After an onslaught of savoury dishes, we needed some sweetness to balance the palate. There were 3 food trucks offering desserts but we decided to go with Chimney Stax. We had both the Classic Sugar Stax and the Chocolate Stax. It’s a hallowed-out baked good dressed on the outside with sugar, sprinkles, and so on. It has a nice crunchy crust yet soft and chewy underside. For more adventurous patrons, you can stuff the hollow portion with ice cream. It’ll likely hold the ice cream. We certainly thought of it!

Other food trucks that need no mention on our blog in this event were Me.N.U, Fidel Gastro’s and Buster’s Sea Cove. All of which haven been blogged on previous events.

Overall, a pretty disappointing turn out and nothing really exciting at this year’s event. Our hope is that next week’s ticketed event for the awards night at Celebration Square in Mississauga has a better turn out for these food trucks.

Taste Of Manila, A Tale of an Epic Fail

The first Taste of Manila in Toronto opened today to a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of mostly Filipinos seeking to reminisce laid back life “back home” with samplings of Filipino food. The unfortunate part is, although the use of the word “taste” hints food, Taste of Manila offered little for the foodie at heart.


There were about ten food stalls, if not less, all serving Filipino cuisine. Taking up about two blocks worth, limiting Bathurst Street to one lane for each direction of traffic, Taste of Manila is a hodge-podge of real estate vendors, insurance agencies, discount clothing, satellite TV offerings and the like. There was also an entertainment stage setup on one end where performers took turns strutting their stuff whether it be dancing, singing or a fashion show. The two day event even promised a visit from a celebrity from the Philippines.


Going back to the food, we strategized a divide and conquer seeing how the lines are really long for the food vendors. One by one, upon reaching, or at least close to the ordering, two food stalls we lined up for has ran out of food. We lucked out in one but can only order fish balls (pictured above) and shumai (pictured below). Other than these two, we couldn’t be bothered to try anything else. People at the lines were getting aggressive in that they jump the lines by pretending to be looking at what’s available. Even the Colonial mindset (in this day in age) from food vendors was practiced in the event; white man gets served first. It was utter chaos and a total turn off.


As much as we like Filipino food, this event was an epic fail as a food event. It failed in that it didn’t showcase savoury, and often considered delicacy, that is Filipino streetfood. Instead it was a collection of existing local Filipino restaurants in the area bringing their menu to a tent. We felt it was a missed opportunity here to highlight what Philippine street food is all about. The food vendors offered combos (often rice with 1 or 2 side dishes) like the ones they offer in their restaurants instead of a sampling of authentic dishes that is more conducive to these types of events. There was no opportunity for legit food event goer to get a sampling of dishes. Instead, the food vendors banked on monopolizing the business by offering a slew of dishes in a combo. One to note is the Kabalen Restaurant’s food tent, which offered a buffet table style service. You get a serving of rice and 2 sides of your choice for $9. In fact, Kabalen was such a turn off for us with just overall bad servers (one decided to be mute to patrons but not to fellow staff) and food running out, that we left the queue. Another one to note was Bella’s Lechon, who wasted an opportunity to advertise their lechon (roast pork) by not serving any at all. Just as bad was Grill Heaven, which has ran out of their own specialty (Filipino style skewered pork and chicken) just as the crowd was gathering. We just don’t think the food vendors and organizers get what a “taste” festival means. If this is the Filipino community’s translation of the word, it is an epic fail.

Overall, Taste of Manila was a big disappointment. Even though attendance was in droves, it just wasn’t up to par with other cultural events in the city. We think the organization missed the boat here on possibly highlighting food from the Philippines. Our hope is, should this continue next year, is a thought out plan that will satisfy the foodie in all of us.