Friday, June 25, 2010

DiorShow Powder by Dior

poof, like magic

:Pricey at $39:

Flirty and fun.  That's how I feel when I break out Dior's Spotlight Peach. And apart from the cute puff applicator, this blush smells delightful, almost like baby powder. The ultra-light formula leaves a soft peachy glow. Simply dab, or poof as I like to say, onto your face for an instant touch of colour. It’s delicate and girly, just like me...but for the price, you could skip it and go for Benefit's Georgia.

Skip it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Toronto: Torito


People love Cava. I love Torito. It’s a little cheaper and much more hospitable. I marked my first visit of the summer with a pitcher of white sangria. It was the perfect thing to banish the humidity – refreshingly fruity, sweet and tangy. Red or white it’s so good you may find yourself on a third or fourth pitcher (shared amongst friends of course).

My buddy, Saltine, accompanied me and we were so excited we ordered a little too much. I would recommend four to five dishes for two people. We had six.

After a couple glasses of sangria I got a little camera happy. Let me walk you through our meal.

I always like to start with something fresh to wake up my taste buds. Ceviche is one of my favourite dishes and Torito makes a classic white bass ceviche - a mishmash of sour, salty, meaty and tart. We covered our vegetable intake by adding a beet and lentil salad. There was a little too much goat cheese for me, but it a great pairing nonetheless.

One of the shining stars of the night was the piquillo peppers stuffed with salted cod and served with an olive tapenade. It was so good I almost ate my friend's share...but then the sausages came...

I’m a huge chorizo fan so I had to order the patatas brava (fingerling potatoes) with chorizo. Good chorizo is like fireworks – an explosion of flavour followed by a slow simmering heat.  
We tried the daily special of pork sausage with flat bread. It was a softer and milder meat, which was a good thing because I needed to undo my belt at this point.

Our last dish was the pescado in a basquaise sauce. You can never go wrong with prefectly cooked and well seasoned fish. Theirs is light, flaky, and flavourful.

Finish with some more sangria and cheers to the official start of summer. Tapas on, tapas on.

Torito Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lashes: Growluscious by Revlon

grassy green and lush
:Bargain at $10:

I actually got it for $8.99; Shoppers was having a sale (plus I got bonus Optimum points). It’s been three weeks and my lashes are long and lush.

My bare lashes:

My Growluscious lashes:

Do you see a difference?  I see a difference.  If you don't, then you have bigger issues to contend with...

Akin to the Cargo one, it does two things at once, and I’m all about efficiency. Here are some before-and-after photos. It’s a great lengthening mascara, and it fills my heart with content to know that my little wonders (aka my lashes) are being ‘conditioned’ all day.

I have one issue – it’s a bit wet. My preference is for lighter, dryer mascaras to prevent smudging, particularly in the summer. I sweat easily which is never a good thing, but sweaty racoon face is just plain bad.

Like it.

Vancouver: Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar

raw and responsible

Yaletown is one of Vancouver’s most vibrant neighbourhoods. It’s lined with chic colourful restaurants, stores, salons and bars. Blue Water Cafe, with its highly regarded Executive Chef (Frank Pabst), is right in the heart of it. BWC is known for serving brilliant West Coast food and respected for being a part of the sustainable harvest movement.

A handful of meals here have swept me off my foodie feet. Their pork cheek appetizer, arctic char and black cod are my favourites.  I dream about that cod.  It’s so delectable I leave with an extra bounce in my step and a song in my heart.

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Ajisai

the best

This is my favourite sushi restaurant in all of Canada. No trip to Vancouver is complete without dinner at this hideaway haven. Let me make it clear – this is the best SUSHI restaurant so don’t spread the news to those who don’t appreciate what that means. Ajisai does not take reservations and seating is limited. I would actually be quite content if no one else ate here, but I believe that everyone who loves sushi should eat here.

The menu is daunting so it's hard to guide you. A few tips would be that you can’t go wrong with the Chef’s recommendations. The other tip is to order in spurts.  Order a few dishes and then see where your stomach takes you.  Everything on their menu is fresh and mouth-watering delicious.  Personally I have a penchant for tuna belly, uni, salmon and roe.

I really, really, really love this place.

Ajisai Sushi Bar on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Gyoza King

ruling since 1993

:Robson-West End :

The popularity of izakayas has finally infiltrated Toronto with the opening of Guu. I won’t bother comparing it to Vancouver’s, as the disparity between sushi in the east and west is obvious. Guu has a fanatical following, as evidenced by how quickly it has expanded. I like Guu, enough, but that’s because I’m partial to izakayas. They’re generally loud, obnoxious and fun – just like me - only they serve delicious food and sake cocktails.

Vancouver is ground zero of izakayas. And with so many to choose from, why does Gyoza King reign supreme? It may have to do with its eternally loyal patrons. I have been one since I first went in 1997. Restaurants generally wax and wane as their popularity grows, with their baseline eventually falling far below where they started.  GK set the bar high, and more than a decade later, it continues to meet or exceed it.

It has been around longer than newer brazen versions like Guu and Hapa Izakaya. While the latter are hip and trendy, the small and dimly lit ambience of GK is the perfect setting to let food shine. I think the menu is understated genius. The dishes are perfectly executed and while some would say overly simple, I disagree. The flavour combinations are always in harmony and the dishes are charming. My favourites are ebi mayo, negi toro, okonomi, yaki udon and the Chef’s daily special. I didn’t actually try the gyoza until last year’s trip, and it didn’t disappoint.

GK is simple elegance served in the hustle-and-bustle of an izakaya. Enter the kingdom, and leave a devoted citizen.

Gyoza King on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Cincin Ristorante + Bar

traditional meal + exemplary dessert
:Robson-West End:

My Vancouver trips always play out like clockwork. I usually get to eat everything I thought about eating while on the plane...and that usually includes this Italian institution.

I usually go to Cincin with an old childhood friend. Both are rare – old friends and great Italian – when you bring them together, it’s epic. My friend loves Cincin for its elegant accents and high standard of service. I love it because it’s reputable and reliable; I am always welcomed back with open arms, not literally – they have no idea who I am.

After feasting on their ingredient-driven menu and sipping on a selection from their extensive wine display, I always save room for dessert: Cincin’s pastry chef is Thierry Busset. If that name means nothing to you, just take away this: he is of the highest calibre and has the respect of chefs around the world.

CinCin Ristorante + Bar on Urbanspoon

Vancouver: Japa Dog

fad or fixture?
Japa Dog is definitely Vancouver’s best “street meat”. It started out as a couple of stands and now it’s about to open its first restaurant. Word of these hot dogs spread like wildfire so on my last trip I tried it. Put simply, it’s a hot dog with Japanese fixings: Kewpie (aka Japanese mayonnaise), seaweed, bonito flakes, etc.

Although the furry with which Japa Dog came in with has subsided, this fad seems to be staying.  Although, Toronto's hot dogs are still Canada's best.

Japadog (Burrard & Smithe) on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 21, 2010

Lashes: MultiplEYE Lash Enhancer by tarte

beauty is painful

:Pricey at $85:

I never emailed tarte to see if this product was supposed to burn; it does. Rather than be put off by that, I got excited. I figured it MUST be doing something. After two months my lashes are noticeably longer and full. Nothing extreme, but enough that it’s got people talking.

I’ve found that it eventually plateaus, so I thought it prudent to stop (since it still burns). I wouldn’t use this on a regular basis, but maybe twice a year, or any time I accidentally rip my lashes out again (oh dear, let’s hope not).

Bottom line: great investment. I stopped using it about two-and-a-half weeks ago and my lashes are still receiving compliments. Be jealous.

Love it.

Toronto: Summer’s Ice Cream

people watching and ice cream eating

One of the most anticipated days of the year, according to yours truly, is the day Summer’s opens for the spring/summer season. For those of you who care, this place has served the likes of Brad Pitt...but I’m not a celebrity monger...I’d rather peddle ice cream. Oddly enough, I don’t usually order their ice cream. Although I will partake in sampling them; I’m onto the sorbets now. After many free bites, I order the same thing: Wow Cow. It’s fat free, non-dairy softserve that's about 50 calories, and really, really tasty.  This way, when you eat it in one of their homemade waffle cones, the two cancel each other out.

Grab some, sit outside and watch the people pass by. Yorkville has by far the best human traffic in Toronto.

Summer's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lashes: LashBlast Length by CoverGirl

hello my love
:Bargain at $9:

This is my absolute favourite bargain mascara (for now, I have make-up ADHD). Since the day I started using it in March, the compliments have been flying in.

According to the public, my lashes look “amazing”, “fake”, “so long”, “holy wow”...that’s right, vanity can be so good.

Love it.

*I'm posting this just as I'm about to head out and go pick up CoverGirl's newest blast: Lashblast Fusion - evidently it's Lashblast Length meets Lashblast Volume.  C'mon, really?  The added bonus for me is that the tube is purple.  I love purple.

Toronto: The Best Facial EVER

a diamond in the rough: Pure + Simple
If we flashback to 2000, I would have been in the throes of a spa addiction – my substance of choice was the facial. I tried every spa in Toronto that met the following criteria: clean, reputable, fashionable decor, and quality products. Those few factors narrowed down the field a lot. My extravagant hobby imparted the following lesson: money disappears like water and most spas don’t know what they’re doing.

Let’s come back to the present. I came across Pure + Simple about a year ago. I read about them online and decided to give it a try. I went to the King Street location and saw Amy, a senior aesthetician. It was the best facial I’ve ever had. Here’s why:
  • Expertise: Being an expert is more than regurgitating what you read. The staff KNOW what they’re talking about.
  • Principles: They take an Ayurvedic approach to skincare, and while I personally don’t put much weight in naturopathic medicine, Pure + Simple’s holistic approach is based on real health principles and regular aesthetic practice.
  • Knowledge: They don’t push products, they push knowledge. I have been seeing Amy for a while now, and I trust her. While she occasionally recommends products, she never 'sells'. She takes the time to explain what I should do and why.
  • Products: They sell a wide range of products, including their own line, which I really like.  They have high quality natural ingredients at an affordable price point. I am addicted to their Detoxifying French Clay Mask. It reduces redness, helps with skin circulation and can be used a spot treatment for pimples.
  • After-Care: Most times when you leave the spa after a facial, your skin is red and blotchy. Immediately after my Pure + Simple facial, Amy handed me a mirror: my skin was glowing.  In the following weeks my skin continued to look smooth, bright and hydrated. I was hooked.
  • Value. Their services are reasonably priced. One could always argue that steep fees at haughty places such as Stillwater are for quality service and the ambience of a first-rate spa, I would say you are wrong. Inferior service is everywhere, and snobbish personalities run rampant in places like this. Pure + Simple proves that quality shouldn't come at a premium.  The attention and care you receive far exceeds the money you pay. They also have monthly specials – how can you not love a sale?

Pure + Simple does one thing and they do it perfectly. I challenge you to find another spa in Toronto that does all of the above.
This month the Extreme Clean Deep Pore Facial was on sale for $79 (from $99). I had my appointment this morning. It was an hour of complete decongestion for my skin, and relaxation for my scalp, décolleté, arms and legs. My skin was lovingly poked, prodded and pampered. I’m so happy right now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Face Color Accent by Anna Sui

it's more than just an option
The only other thing I need to put on before I go out is blush.  Meet "600", isn't she fabulous? 

If you're Asian, and you've got a bit of a tan, you NEED this vibrant orange blush.  There's something Parisian about it.  It's playful yet sexy.  The best compliment I received came from one of my homeboys: "wow Anabel, you look look fresh!" 

Love it.

Lashes: Lash Stiletto by Maybelline

party time lashes
:Bargain at $9:

It's Friday night, and it's one of the rare occasions I'm going to go out.  Perfect opportunity to share a story with you.  Once upon a time, Maybelline made Illegal Lengths, the ultimate lengthening mascara. Too bad it had an unhappy ending when it spontaneously disappeared from store shelves. Lash Stiletto is the sequel. This mascara has crazy lengthening properties likely from the brush – “Grip & Extend" – which reaches each lash to coat them evenly in a black-patent shine.

Maybelline may help you enhance your beauty, but I believe you were just born with it. Put on your three-inch patent leather pumps, apply this mascara, and go shine.  That's what I'm about to do, except I'm wearing boots (I have blisters...).

Oh, I'd say these eyes are ready to go party...

Like it.

Lashes: Best Falsies

fake boobs, no; fake lashes, absolutely
If you ever need to bring your A-game or step up the playing field, fake lashes are the way to go. If you’ve already thrown up your hands to this idea, don’t. Go to Holt Renfrew and head to Shu Umera’s Tokyo Lash Bar. With the purchase of any set, they will give you a free one-on-one tutorial.  It's probably the best lesson I’ve gotten. I just so happened to go during a showcase and their world renowned make-up artist volunteered to teach me.  In case you’re wondering, yes, he is Japanese.  

I told my friend Aerie about them because I know she's fascinated by lashes as much as I am.  I was so on the mark.  She is now a Shu Umera convert and owes me one (right Aerie? She's going to disagree; she says I owe her because I fuelled a new obsession).
The most natural lashes they have look like this.

I know it’s funky, but trust. I wore them to a wedding three months ago and got so many compliments my head wouldn’t fit out the door.  Also got some numbers, just sayin.

Love it.

Clinique Even Better Clinical

they made even better, even better
:Pricey at $65:

Now that my rash has gone away (until another comes another day) I have these brownish-grey patches all over my fat little cheeks. It’s sad. Previous rashes just disappeared leaving no trace on my skin, but this one had some furry to unleash. It showed up at a time when I was contending with one of life’s annoyances. Coincidence, maybe. But what surrounds you affects your face. I was being fed a lot of BS during this period and I think it incensed my face. I have no problem accepting intrinsic flaws for my problems or admitting that I put something on my face I shouldn’t have – but that wasn’t it – like I said, this rash was something else.

About two months ago (in the midst of the worst of my rash) I went out and bought Clinique’s revamped version of Even Better. It was a pre-emptive strike because I knew I would need something post-rash – something that WORKED. This “clinical” version is supposed to be more effective. It is.

Yesterday morning I had a follow-up with my dermatologist.  She was surprised at how much better my skin looked. So I’m sticking with this until it gives me a reason not to. Objectively, it’s hard to gauge whether my scars are disappearing any faster, but my skin’s overall texture is more even.

My dermatologist concluded that I was experiencing a reaction to the sun, compounded by an allergy to sunscreen, exacerbated by stress. I told her that this was like nothing else and can't understand why it was so bad. She paused and then asked me if I had introduced anything novel into my life? I said, yes, a loser. She laughed. My treatment plan is to find a gel or alcohol-based sunscreen, limit exposure to the sun and/or wear a hat, and avoid douchebags. Her words, not mine.

Love it.

Toronto: Edward Levesque’s Kitchen

maybe we can sleep in, I’ll make you banana pancakes...


It's Friday...who knows what will happen this weekend, but I know what's happening Sunday morning...I'll be screaming and shouting  for some pancakes.

This place is most famous its banana pancakes, and did you know that this breakfast treat even inspired a song (see lyric above), although I doubt Jack Johnson was referencing this place, though he ought to.

Ed Levesque otherwise serves up a good brunch. Nothing to scream and shout about, unless you like banana pancakes as much as I do.

Edward Levesque's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Toronto: Pizzeria Libretto

share a table, share the food
This area gets more action than a bar on UFC night…crazy I know. Libretto probably fuelled that when it first opened its doors. I’ve never seen so many sober people wait for pizza – that sentiment will be lost on you if you’ve never walked by a downtown pizza joint at about 3 am.

If you like Neapolitan pizza Libretto is a lively, down-to-earth place to eat with friends. The seating (they have some communal tables) fosters a carefree environment and service is great, oftentimes entertaining (there are some characters here I tell you).

If I had to recommend something it’d be the beef carpaccio with shaved piave cheese. It’s a great prelude to what’s going to be a great meal. My two favourite pizzas are the Duck Confit and Margherita D.O.P. The first because I’m a raging carnivore, and the second because basil and mozzarella is a winning combination.

Finish with the Vanilla Afogato, pat your belly, and roll on home.

Edward Levesque's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Toronto: The Grilled Cheese

eat like a kid

There’s something to be said when food can make you feel young again. The most beloved childhood classic is the grilled cheese.  For me it brings back memories of my mom melting Kraft singles between two slices of 60% bread (I never had white bread until I was 19 years old, true story).  It’s love on a plate.

When I first heard about The Grilled Cheese it seemed like something I’d find in Soho or the West Village, not Toronto, much less Kensington market. My instinct was right – the restaurant was conceptualized in New York and brought to Toronto. It’s now settled comfortably into its new digs and seamlessly melds with the inviting and casual air of our vintage village. This wood adorned restaurant took the grilled cheese as we know it, and “adultified” it by creating sophisticated variations with optional additions like Portobello mushrooms and bacon. Add the daily soup and you have a lip-smacking lunch.

This place fills your hunger gap with youthful exuberance so throw calorie counting to the wind, your hips won’t care.

The Grilled Cheese on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Georgia + Flush + Orgasm

united colours of blush
So my bias is joining us again today. I wanted to just warn you that many of my colour suggestions re: blush will be for darker Asian skin tones - usually shades in the brown, coral, or plum families.

That said, today I’m going to share an insider tidbit:  every company has a colour or two that universally suits women of different races. Here are my top three:
  • Georgia by Benefit. It doubles as a face powder. This warm peach warms the cheeks and leaves a sweet sweep of colour.
  • Flush Cheek Stain by tarte. I really love this. It’s a gel blush that leaves a natural radiant, flush (hence the name).  It’s alcohol and oil free and has a soft scent of fruit (the blush contains the company’s trademarked fruit complex – a mixture of five superfuits – goji, acai, marcacuja, acerola and pomegranate).
  • Orgasm by NARS. We (as in me, myself and I) love everything NARS, including this lovely rose shimmer. It doesn’t hurt that the name is also universally appealing.
Beyond these, the rest need to be taken for a test drive. You never know what you’re going to get, and whether you’re going for the cutesy anime look, the natural sunkissed glow, or a hot and heavy flush…you have to try it on.

It’s always good to have a wide collection of blushes so that you can dress according to your mood and/or adapt to your changing pigment.

It's getting hot out there and soft pale pinks don’t work as well when the sun has left you a shade or two darker.

Crème de la Mer

holy batman, pow, crash, punch
:Crazy at $300:


Let me break it down for you. If you find yourself in the position of having to manage, deal, accept, or cope with skin irritations you will discover that money is NO object.

As I revealed in my mini biopic, my mid-20s came with a price – my skin became extremely reactive to the elements, products, stress, etc. I have had to contend with rashes of all sorts for about five years now. The worst of which happened three months ago, and has only JUST gone away. Now I’m battling brownish-grey spots, but that’s another story.

The point I’m trying to make is that I’ve had to contend with a least 50 episodes in a number of different variations: tiny white bumps, itchy red inflammation, big red boils (okay, not really, I exaggerate, but I think I’ve painted you a clear picture), etc. The problem with rashes is there’s really nothing you can do. Get a good dermatologist and avoid the mirror. The more you stare, the more you pick. I should know, how else do you think I got the brownish-grey patches?

I turned to this inordinately pricey moisturizer for one reason – I needed something to hydrate my skin that would not serve as a catalyst for whatever mess was exploding on my face. Something to soothe and comfort both during the rash, and after.

Miracle Cream

Crème de la Mer is luxury at its best. It’s touted as a “miracle” cream and its ingredients are a highly guarded secret. Dr. Max Huber, a NASA scientist, developed this cream.  Get the full story here.  You need to emulsify the cream (they will show you how, if and when you go to buy (or inquire)) before applying it to your face.

My face has reaped the benefits of this cream. During a rash it calms my skin without clogging my pores. My normal face (the one I wear most days of the year – rashless and smiling) is brighter and more even.

I rationalized this purchase, but I do not buy it on a consistent basis. One jar may even last you a whole year. In Canada it’s available at Holt Renfrew (where else?).

I won’t continue espousing the benefits of this moisturizer because I’m not going to encourage you to spend the money. If you try it once, you will love it, but only circumstance should dictate whether you buy it.

Love, try, or covet it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

HD Blush by Make-Up Forever

summer flush
:Pricey at $29:

I love blush.  Although finding the right shade becomes something of an art as the summer progresses.  Right now, I'm darker than usual because of the anti-sunscreen regimen I'm currently subjected to.  I'm supposed to wear a hat and stay out of the sun until I find an SPF that doesn't make my face angry.  A month or so ago I discovered I was allergic to sunscreen, who knew?  I'll tell you all about rash number 176 another day. 

While bronzers are the norm, sometimes I want colour.  Back in February I heard that Make Up Forever was coming out with a line of HD blush.  It took sometime before it finally arrived to Sephora's shelf. 

I love this blush.  The colours are vibrant enough to add colour, and the texture is perfect to make it natural.  Although the pump is a little awkward, after a few tries you master the amount of pressure you need.  This cream literally melts into your skin and leaves a natural flush.  The added bonus for me was that I prefer to apply makeup with my hands, so this really fit my routine.

I recommend #4 (see below) or #14 for Asian skin.  Don't be alarmed at how bright and rich the colour is, after all it is HD.  It will blend flawlessly into the apples of your cheek to deliver a sexy, summer look. 

There are so many colours to choose from.  Try them before you buy them.  That's what Sephora's for.

Like it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cross-Cultural Polish

the world cup of summer
I love Toronto right now. It is football fever/soccer mayhem. The excitement and sense of community and pride (for one’s country of origin) is palpable. One can only imagine what the rest of the world is like. It is my absolute favourite sport to watch.

In the spirit of all the races and countries involved, I thought I’d get colourful and gather the best summer polishes that OPI and Essie have to offer. Yes, I just created a random relationship between football and nails, as if from nowhere. I was originally going to rattle off my favourite hues of each of the participating country’s colours, i.e. blue and gold for Australia, red and blue and white for Korea, yellow and green for Brazil, etc. But I vehemently disagree with the idea that grass green polish is “fashionable”, even if last month’s In Style said otherwise. After being stuck on Brazil - I couldn't post a green polish if I don't believe in it - I decided I’d much rather introduce you to my favourite summer hues.

The sixteen below are brainless. They suit everyone, go anywhere and work with every outfit. How is that possible? Summer is the only time you can get away with being bold, bright, soft, classy, tacky. No one cares, it’s summer. Go crazy.

*Left is Essie; Right is OPI*

Watch football, have a beer and cheer. It doesn’t matter who you’re rooting for...when your nails are perfectly polished you’ve already won.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Drying Lotion by Mario Badescu

out, out damn spot!
:Pricey at $20:

It's pricey for pimple cream, but it lasts so long that it's probably the most economical cream/lotion one could buy.  My bottle lasts so long the label wears down well before I finish it.  Now that I got that out of the way...

This is the secret weapon in the war on pimples.  It's a two layered solution that smells a bit like chamomile lotion.  Do NOT shake the bottle.  You simply dip your Q-tip in and then dab it onto your pimple.  It immediately works to dry it out.  Big pimples shrink, red ones become less inflammed, etc.  Put simply, it just works to get rid of the zit you've probably been ruminating about since it reared its ugly head.

If you're not familiar with Mario Badescu, I can tell you its one of my favourite lines.  Simple packaging, quality products.  The great thing about them is that they offer you a sample kit suited to your skin for free.  Just visit their website and fill out the skincare questionnaire.  In about a week a customized skincare solution kit is mailed to you.  I warn you though, you will probably love at least one of the several things they send you and be hooked. 

Pir Cosmetics in Yorkville is the only place in Toronto (that I've found so far) that sells it as well.  I usually order online, but it's nice to know that I can go get it if I need to.  Truth be told, I always have a reserve bottle on hand, just in case.  You know how pimples operate - they show up at the worst possible time when you least expect it.  Thank goodness for the Drying Lotion...take that pimple.

Love it.

Vancouver: Kintaro


:Denman Street:

A week or so ago while I was in Vancouver I had lunch at Kintaro's.  The Robson + Denman hub houses several good ramen places, including Benkei and two offerings by Daiji Matsubara.  

Kintaro's is arguably Canada's best ramen.  I'm not one to put too much weight on accolades.  I like it because it's delicious, service is polite, and the restaurant is shabby, not in a bad way, but in a comfortable, welcoming one.  A few stores down is what I refer to as Kintaro's sexier sister, Motomachi Shokudo.  The latter is more intimate and the decor is poshier.  Not unexpectedly items on the menu are each a few more dollars.

I prefer the familiar and inviting wooden tables of Kintaro's.  I had their special spicy garlic ramen.  As you can see, there was no shortage on garlic.  The broth was rich and savoury.  The noodles are perfect and the chasu (pork) was fatty, just the way I like it.  For the more conscious palate there is a choice of lean or medium.

The garlic seeped out of pores for days.  Thank goodness I slept alone.

Kintaro Ramen on Urbanspoon

Lashes: Lancôme collection

a family of mediocrity
:Pricey at $30ish:

I used to be a HUGE fan, especially of Extencils, which got discontinued or replaced. I really wish companies would stop doing that.

I’ll keep this short.
Défincils. Basic mascara: some lift, some length. But there are bargain brands that are way better so why pay more?
Hypnôse. Wet and wack.
L’Extrême. Good length, but not better than my bargain brands.
Ôscillation PowerBooster. Was really excited when I saw it Miami because it had yet to come to Canada. One of the most useless mascaras I have ever bought. I fell for the “7000 oscillations per minute”. I could kick myself.


Lashes: Lash Activator by Cargo

surprise, surprise
:Standard at $28:

I was at Sephora (I’m there a lot…too much maybe) and saw this while perusing the aisles. I’m not very familiar with Cargo but my sister’s friend recently got their eye brightener. This was a random purchase that made my week. It does exactly what it says. It markets itself as a primer and/or mascara. These are my lashes with one coat of Lash Activator.  You can see they're curled and lifted (and I'd estimate they're 25% longer than my bare lashes).  It's a weightless natural look. 

But I like LONGER and dramatic, so I added a coat of Lash Plumper in blue:

After about a month my lashes appear stronger and thicker. It’s a great everyday mascara that leaves my lashes full and separated. The fact that it treats your lashes while it’s on is genius. Two great things in one application.

*Today it's only $9 online at Sephora. I'd be excited, but I think it's a bad sign; likely another fantastic product that is about to get discontinued.

While Sephora no longer carries Cargo, you can still buy it from The Bay or Sears.

Love it.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Toronto: Pizza Nova

no, really...

I am so serious. Look at my face. This is barnone the best fast-food pizza I have ever eaten...ever.  And I grew up eating at celebrated joints like Papa Ceo Pizza and Amatos.  But Pizza Nova beats them all.  It's the best pizza to ever come out of a mass-produced box. 

Pizza Pizza (and the rest) should be ashamed. So ashamed they should pack up and go home.

Toronto: Black Hoof

calling all carnivores
:Dundas West:

The exterior is plain, the interior is dark. Just the way I like my charcuteries. If you don’t know what a charcuterie is, let me enlighten you with the simple definition I use for my friends since they don’t care for specifics – it’s a branch of cooking that is dedicated to prepared meat products – think sausage, terrine, pâtés, etc. Their dishes are rich and earthy. Everything they make (with the exception of a few things) is made in-house and includes duck confit and pork belly.  But the charcuterie platter is my favourite.  It’s an intelligent offering of perfectly paired items. 

You need a bigger wallet and some patience (because they don’t do reservations), but it’s worth it. The only thing I didn’t like was the bone marrow, not because it wasn’t made well, just because I realized I don’t like bone marrow.

Black Hoof on Urbanspoon

Lashes: StimuLashFusion by Fusion Beauty


:Pricey at $98:

Let me state at the outset that I’m not a fan of this company at all. I didn’t like them when all they had was lip balm. But someone (who? why? please stop) obviously does, because now there’s GlowFusion, LiftFusion, etc. I did, however, feel compelled to try the mascara and serum. I’m sorry I did. I threw away a hundred plus dollars that I could have spent on food. Grumble.

Fusion says that overtime this product will give you “never-before-achievable lash enhancement”. To them I say, sure, sure, and I’m a 6’ Brazilian model.


Oxygenating Mask by Bliss

bubbles make me giggle
:Pricey at $58:

This mask is like a bottle of sunshine. Every time I use it I smile. The liquid that comes out turns into a bubbly foam as it comes into contact with oxygen. Five minutes is all it takes. Wash it off and your face is left feeling fresh, clean and bright. An instant perk-me-up.

Love it.

Lashes: BADgal by Benefit

it's good to be bad
:Standard at $26:

This mascara is better than average; the plum version gets bonus points. On a scale of one to ten I’d give it a seven. I like it because it does what it promises.  I don’t ever get the length I can achieve with other (cheaper) brands, but I really like the brush. It’s full, fat and fuzzy.  Actually, I think I'll bump it to an eight.

Like it.

Lashes: Coloured Mascara

life is better in colour
Coloured mascara is one of my trademarks. It's usually purple, but sometimes I do blue. Finding the right shade for your lashes is trial and error. And not everyone can pull it off. The only way to know is to try it out and see what feedback you get. Or be like me, so long as you like it, do it.

MAC used to have the best purple mascara…used to. You guessed it, they discontinued it and never released a parallel product.

In my search for coloured mascara I found three I love: Sephora’s Lash Plumper in Blue, Benefit’s BADgal in Plum, and Physicians Formula’s Shimmer Strips for Brown Eyes. The latter is a double-ended tube with purple and black (I never even opened the black side because I don’t like their mascara otherwise).

FYI: purple accentuates brown eyes. I’m not sure what blue does, but it’s fun!

I think I’m going to try teal and see how that works out for me. I’ll let you know.

Keep in mind, coloured mascara compromises length, but it's negligible. You can do what I do: My first coat is my basic mascara, and the second is colour. I find that tones down the tint a bit. Just be careful because mixing mascaras decreases their lifespan. 
I have a tenancity for mixing/layering make-up, clothes, men, just kidding.  Well not about the first two.  I think mixing colours is the best way to find the perfect hues and tones for your face, just don't go crazy.