Monday, January 30, 2012

Scandal Queen by Fairydrops

dance the minuet
:LashStash Buy:

I heard about Fairydrops back in 2009 while I was in Asia.  I am telling you, some of the BEST products come out of the Orient and the world has caught on. 

Fact: The MAJORITY of mascaras do not play nice with Asian eyes.
Fact: This was lost on most people in the industry.
Fact: The industry changes. 
Fact: Change happens.  The proof is in the pudding: Sephora started carrying Fairydrops in February 2011.  (Although admittedly I didn't rush to pick up a tube.  I have stockpiles of MJ and Benefit in my vanity.)

Now imagine the happiness I felt when I open by LashStash and there it was.  What makes Fairdrops so special?  Personally, I think it starts with the bling packaging.

It also the most unique brush I've ever seen:
Three puffs.

Bare lashes

Tada! Fairy-ed.
How she delivered overall:
Water-resistant - check
Lengthening - check
Volumizing - check
Curling power - soso
Longevity - soso

I'm a fan (perhaps not a superone).

Like it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toronto: Real Sports Bar

no love in this club

Don't you love that I can go from eating a $200 meal on a Thursday to munching on footlong hotdogs on the Friday.  It's how I roll.  You want to roll with this.

So, a few weekends ago I rolled into North America's #1 sports bar.  We Torontonians thought it would be superfun to show some out-of-towners Real Sports before the game.

Unfortunately, as soon as I walked in I realized I should have done my due diligence.  It seems sometime in the intervening timeframe since I was last there, Real has turned into a club.  No, not literally, but you wouldn't know that just by walking in. 

My senses were expectedly overstimulated, but my ears, my poor ears - tremendously overwhelmed.  It was so loud the hostess couldn't even hear me.  When I finally made it to the table, my ears were ringing.

I'm not pulling a Debbie Downer, the music was legitamately too loud for a bar; screaming across the table doesn't really work at 6 pm on a weekday. 

Now, other than that, the service was average and the food was tasty.  I especially enjoyed my hot dog:

Footlong goodness of wiener, pulled pork, coleslaw and a bun
(with fries...always with fries)

Real Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara by tarte

:Lash Stash Buy:
I'm not here looking for absolution

I know I've already called out the "best" mascaras (right sidebar), but they're facing some stiff competition.  I feel the need to have another mascara throwdown.  Oh this could get dirty.

The other obvious fact could be that my lashes have just grown.  If they have, I owe tarte for that.

For now, I will just expand my list of loves, and leave the "best" intact because truly, MJ and Benefit still rule.

I'm making my way through the LashStash, slowly.  I am 2 for 3.  (Loved Lashgasm and will post all the misses in one.)

Tarte's Gifted Amazonian Clay volumizes your lashes and has longevity.

I love it even more now that I know it repairs your lashes.  The Amazonian clay hydrates and replenishes to prevent fallout (a natural daily occurrence).  The clay also absorbs oil which helps keep the volume in your lashes without the mess.

I'll also point out the obvious: what a pretty tube...I'm a sucker for presentation/packaging.  Love it.
Time elapsed: 5 hours
Elements encountered: Wind and a wee bit of snow
Love it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Toronto: Spring Rolls

you can't make your heart feel something it won't
:Yonge + Bloor:

I'm not a Spring Rolls eater.  I make the odd exception for newness - they started serving all-you-can-eat lunch for about $15 (Monday to Friday) per person.  Bana was excited about ordering some gyoza and cheese dumplings.  I was excited to see Bana

The menu has a wide assortment of dim sum, thai, chinese, and sushi.  No wait, I take that back, they don't actually serve sushi.  The spicy tuna roll had some random hot sauce, and the dragon roll had smoked salmon.  It's highly offensive.

Calling this sushi is like saying Madonna is humble.
You got that right?
Nevetheless I am still taking five minutes out of Monday to tell you that about their lunch buffet because it was 50/50.  50 percent of me didn't mind it, and the other 50 percent of me wants to delete his post.

The shrimp rolls were yummy. Shrimp rolls are always yummy.
But like all 50/50s, if you order with a crtitical eye, you can have a decent meal.  Stay away from the sushi, expect less than authentic and you're guaranteed a quick, diverse meal. 

Mango salad
Shanghai noodles

Spring Rolls on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 13, 2012

Toronto: Splendido

like a shooting star
:The Annex:

I don’t 'fine dine' as much as I’d like because it’s terribly costly. Not to mention that most of my friends who appreciate food snobbery (in all its ostentatious  glory) don’t live in Toronto. That said, I do it enough.  I've tried Auberge, once, Canoe, once, Sotto, once...and so on and so on.

The exceptions to the "once" rule are what I consider the best, because I walk to the beat of my own drum.  Perhaps I just don't understand the rating systems or the opinions of arrogant know-it-alls who work for some publication (unless, of course, said know-it-all is Andrew Knowlton or Jeffrey Steingarten, my two critic crushes).

Splendido is such an exception. I have eaten here three times. My favourite item on the menu is the lamb. It's always amazingly spectacular.

Generally I find it difficult to write about restaurants in this category because there is only so much one can say without sounding repetitive or pretentious. I have read enough reviews about Toronto’s “top dining destinations” to know that reviews are often hoity-toity, difficult to understand and occasionally have an air about them – “subtle and pleasing flavours...smoky and texturally appealing with a soft finish...lingers on the palette...", etc.

I will keep mine as monosyllabic as possible.

Let me set the stage.  Last week a group of us gathered in the private dining room and prepared ourselves for pre-set menu 3. Do keep in mind that the opinion expressed herein includes feedback I received from everyone, and I was eating in the company of some serious foodies. They’re all about Michelin Stars and Red Hats and other ranking systems I know nothing about.


Vickie’s Veggies Early Fall Greens Salad
Apple, Walnuts & Blue Cheese
British Columbia Chanterelle Mushroom Salad
Celery Root Puree, Truffle Vinaigrette, Triple Crunch Mustard
Roasted Sunchoke Soup
Black Truffle Coulis, Pickled Sunchoke, Sunflower Oil & Granola
Victor’s Foie Gras Parfait
Niagara Bose Pear Puree, Walnut Oil, Pickled Mustard Seed & Chayote

Pumpkin & Ricotta, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds & Amaretti
Parmigiano Reggiano & Burgundy Black Truffle

Pastured Veal Tenderloin and Smoked Brisket
King Oyster Mushroom, Cippolini Onion & Bone Marrow Jus
Mediterranean Sea Bass
Roasted Endive, Confit Grape, Verjus & Pine Nut Vinaigrette
Wild British Columbia Mushrooms

Chocolate & Caramel Verrine
Peanut Ice Cream & Caramel Espuma
Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Cranberry, White Chocolate and Concord Grape Granite

Each guest orders one item from each group. Amongst all of us, we pretty much covered the whole menu, save and except the Fall Greens Salad and Pappardelle. Personally I love pappardelle, but if I see bass on a menu I get tunnel-vision.

Service was excellent. Charming and relaxed, instead of pompous and polite.

The canapés were stellar. The oysters blew my mind. I generally prefer my oysters plain but their apple-garlic mignonette was a perfect pairing.

Poseidon's present to mankind, gingerly prepared by Splendido
The potato-leek soup with rosemary biscuit and parmesan tuille (cheese baked into a chip).
Warm, subtle and creamy.
Victor's Foie Gras Parfait was plentiful and served with a nice buttery brioche. 
I love foie gras.
The linguine was rich and earthy.  The general consensus was that they could have been less generous with the truffle.  There was so much it was a bit overpowering. 

Linguine - I slurped it up in about a minute

Agnolotti - Sweet & Cozy

I stole bites of the tenderloin where I could, much to the chagrain of my friends.  I can't help it - I steal food.  Both the tenderloin and bass were perfectly cooked and delicious.

Beneath that skin was beautiful, tender, soft, milky white meat.
Panna cota.  Didn't quite reach the bar that Buca set.
Think Peanut Butter Parfait to the Power of 100
Everything was amazing. Beautifully plated, perfectly cooked, well-seasoned, and a nice mix of traditional flavours and contemporary ideas.

The average cost was about $200 per person, including wines and drinks.

Applying my system,I asked myself was it worth the money? My response, absolutely.

Will I be going again? Yes, but not this year. I can only wrap my head around spending that much at one restaurant a year. It’s how I stay accountable for the things I choose to spend money on.

Splendido has been a fixture on Toronto’s fine dining scene for a long time. They focus on locally sourced, seasonal, high quality food. They have had a few changing of hands (the last time I went, in 2009, David Lee was the co-owner and Chef), but whether there are new faces front or back of house, the food and experience has remained consistent. Fine dining should start at Splendido...

So you can end here.
Food heaven.
Splendido on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 12, 2012

LashGASM Mascara by Too Faced

i'm hot just like an oven

The name is so childish...LashGASM.  Then again, this mascara has me all hot and bothered.  Against all odds...

The odds: 

  • I came close to chucking without trying.
  • I'm not a fan of Too Faced.
  • The wand is thin and skinny. came out a winner (for length, not fullness):

These are 100% unadultered photos. My lashes. Insane right?
Please ignore the lifeless eyes.  I am a walking zombie right now.  In fact, today is the first day in about a month I have NO PLANS.  Zero.  Nada.  Except I am going to watch Vampire Diaries and message Cracker in tandem.  I miss her.

Love it.

Toronto: Pantheon


I don't come out this way often enough.  I really should.  There's so much love in Greek food - you have savoury souvlaki, flaky and gooey spanakopita, and cheese flamed with cognac (a personal favourite).  Greek food was my favourite cuisine between 1996 and 1998.  Of course my mother seems to think it still is.   Then again she also thinks Esprit is my favourite store.  I don't fault her, it's us daughters, we change our minds so often and ten times over as we grow and learn about ourselves.  (Actually, it's a little too early in the morning to have this heart-to-heart.)

This past Tuesday night was the birthday gathering for an old "friend".  I use the quotations because in the interest of full disclosure, she and I used to be quite the opposite.  But that was the past.  Today, I enjoying seeing her, she's quite funny.  Fight as children, forgive as adults I say.

There were about 20 of us and we got seated in their "semi-private" room with a fireplace (The fireplace is indeed one of their selling points?!?)

Pantheon is exactly what a family owned restaurant feels like; it even has grumpy grandpa, who, unfortunately, served our table.  Crotchety.  Not exactly the appetizer I wanted for my meal.

Moving on, the dishes were baseline good...some, barely. 

The garides saganaki appetizer was delicious.  But how can you screw up garlic butter sautéed shrimp melted in cheese?  Really, you can't.

 The salad that comes with the souvlaki dinners:

Nothing special, but very fresh.
I asked for pork, but got chicken.  There were 20 of us and it was hectic so I decided to be agreeable and just ate the chicken:

Plate of Mediocrity
Nothing on that plate tasted any better than the Jimmy the Greek I used to eat at the food court (before the Urban Eatery, dirrtttyyy) of the Eaton Centre.  It wasn't as greasy, but I'm not convinced that Pantheon deserves the accoldes I've seen and heard - "best Greek in Toronto".  Those are fighting words and necessarily need to be backed up by knock-me-off-my-feet food.

Oh look, I'm still standing. 

Pantheon did have one saving grace, its tzatziki.  One of the best I've had and it made my night.  The taste just pops and your entire mouth fills with creamy cucumbery garlicky goodness.  I've always thought the best tzatziki should zing.

Pantheon on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Toronto: Pita Q Restaurant

peeta peeta

Were your holidays full of feasting and fatness?  I hope so.  I don't want to be the only one who ate a family.  I kid, I kid.  After eating at friends' I got back to true form last week.  I spent most of it eating out, starting with one of my all-time favourites, Splendido. I hope to post that within a week or so.

For now, guess what I ate yesterday? The same thing I had the day before. That's right - two days in a row!?!

Late Sunday afternoon I was running errands along Bloor, near Spadina, when I realized I was starving because I hadn't had time to eat all day. Then I remembered that my dear Jimmy Neutron likes Pita Q. I had never gone in because of their signage. It's horrific.

But I trust Jimmy, and he likes it. Chicken shawarmas are 1 for $5 or 2 for $9. I had one on Sunday (and then two on Monday...). It's simple, flavourful, and garlicky. Four sauces - hummus, tahini, hot sauce and some other garlic infused goodness – shaved chicken, turnips, pickles, fresh lettuce and tomatoes. I prefer to skip the onions and parsley.

Then they toast it. Not everyone does that. Everyone really should.

It was delicious. Cheap and cheerful. I really need that right now. I spent the last two-and-a-half weeks having way too much fun. Too much fun means my pants don’t fit and I'm haemorrhaging money.
But good times are priceless, aren't they?

It's good to be back. I said that already...didn't I.

Pita Q Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Lash Stash by Sephora

better in bulk
Happy new year! I've missed this, it’s nice to be back. Sorry for the extended delay but I have been crazy busy. I just found my bearings again and have so much to share I could burst. No stomach is about to blow, I’m so full. Last night I was at a gathering of about 20 old faces for two birthdays and the farewell of my BFF. I ate a lot.  I’ll share more later.

So my holiday haul was extra extra. I just kept buying, so expect a lot of product reviews, including all the mascaras in this baby:

Multiple mascaras in one beeeaauutiful. Tear.

I love that Sephora releases this every Christmas. I look forward to it like I used to look forward to Christmas morning.

The smudges are my excited little paw prints...
Love it.  Love them all?  You'll soon find out.