Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chihuly at the ROM

We were incredibly fortunate to be invited to the Royal Ontario Museum's media preview for the Chihuly exhibit. It was amazing. It truly was so beautiful that I won't say much because my words can't add anything.  Click on any picture to see it full size.

I don't have words for how beautiful this art is. As you walk from exhibit to exhibit, each piece is striking.

The only frustrating part is not being able to touch the glass. This is, of course, reasonable, but if there hadn't been any guards around...

The pieces that made up what I'm calling the undersea forest was my favourite.


The pictures above and below are a ceiling! These were taken as we were lying on the floor, reclining on the giant beanbags thoughtfully provided by the ROM

Who could blame me if I sang a verse or two from "Let It Go"?

We got engaged last January. We have done nothing to plan or prepare for a wedding, but if the ROM would let me get married under here, I'd show up tomorrow.

The reflected colour by this bowl was just stunning.

We loved this exhibit so much that we are going back to see it this weekend. This is so worth the trip into Toronto.  I think you'll be as amazed as we were.

Monday, August 08, 2016


47 King William Street
Hamilton, Ontario L8R 1A2
(905) 777-9999

FSH & CHP is one of the newest additions to the Hamilton dining scene. We visited on our own not long after their opening and we were impressed with the food and drinks - so we were super excited when they invited us, along with other #HamOnt bloggers, to dinner!

When we arrived, we were offered the Pimm's Original cocktail.  I haven't had a Pimm's in about 5 years, and after tasting this, I'm not sure why I haven't.  It was delicious, fresh, everything I want from a summer sipper.  On our previous visit, we tried the Black Beard and the Summer Song, and were equally impressed.   It's clear that much thought has gone into the flavours of the drinks. This might actually be one of the best cocktail menus in the city.  Pricing is also very good on these.

First up were oysters, with peach migonnette.  These are not going to be everyday menu items, but will be offered as a special when the market allows.  The oysters were amazingly fresh, and Mr. HitH really enjoyed the fresh grated horseradish.  I didn't try the oysters (damn vegetarian) but I did the peach migonette and it was so good. The peaches were marinated in peach cider, and it is very clear how much care goes into each dish. 

Next up was this very special Boil in a Box.  On Friday, August 12th, FSH & CHP will be having their grand opening. This Lobster Boil in a Box will be one of the stars. Pricing will be market prices, and after Friday, it will only be available as the market allows.  If you need a reason to go visit the grand opening, this should be enough. While the other boil in a box, featuring cod, mussels, shrimp, chorizo, potatoes and corn is a permanent menu item, this one is outstanding!

Besides the lobsters (can I start calling it lobstah now, because it just feels right?), the Boil in a Box came with chorizo sausage and corn roasted with Old Bay seasoning. I had some corn (yes, I am a terrible vegetarian, as I'm sure it was cooked with the lobstah) and it was delicious.  Clearly local, so fresh, so juicy and I loved the Old Bay on it. Mr. HitH wanted all the chorizo, and I was told that the lobster was luscious.  Perfectly cooked, sent to the table cracked so there was no trouble breaking in and consuming every bit of the goodness.  The house made hot sauce was a hit and was so flavourful. Melted buttah (or butter, but with lobstah, we say buttah) was served for dipping.

Then the fish and chips came out!  With it, came the hush puppies.  I've had hush puppies down south in 'Murica (or America, for those of you who don't speak American). They were good, but nothing I fell in love with.  On our first trip to FSH & CHP, we ordered them as an app, and I adored them. They came with what I'm going to call a remoulade (now a chef is going to come and yell at me), and every bite was a joy.  These hush puppies are a little bit sweeter than I'm used to, but only in a cornbread-y kinda way.  I was so excited when the came out with the fish for this dinner, and dipped in tartar sauce, they were every bit as good as I remembered.

Along with the fish came fries, tartar sauce (housemade and amazing. Seriously.  I almost could eat this as a meal), and coleslaw.  I enjoyed the coleslaw.  It's fresh, and true to the flavours of the ingredients.  Mr. HitH thought it could use a bit of heat, but he's wrong. The fries are terrific, and I am a big fry connoisseur (that is an utter lie.  I love all fries, and think they are all good, but these ones are pretty amazing).  You could use ketchup, but dipped in that tartar sauce - so good!  The fish was battered perfectly.  Not too thick, but fully covered and with a great crunch.  Amazingly, not a single piece was greasy.  You don't need to wrap this stuff in newspaper because there isn't oil to absorb.  Perfectly cooked, perfectly delicious.

NOW THE BEST PART (for me), the Vegetarian Fish and Chips!  They have made veggie fish and chips by taking halloumi cheese, which they then dust with nori. It gives it that oceany taste, to the point when Mr. HitH tasted it, he commented on how fishy it was.  It's then battered, fried and served.

It's time for real talk. Being a vegetarian is awesome and I love it - but it sucks when I go with my friends to a restaurant, and they get to eat delicious fried foods and I have to eat something healthy.  Being a vegetarian shouldn't mean we are denied the pleasure of something battered and deep fried. FSH & CHP has figured this out and this dish ticks all my boxes.  The texture of the halloumi is perfect in this, and I truly loved every bite.

So, side note about me.  I hate beer.  I think it tastes awful, unless it is the darkest porter possible, and even then, I can have maybe half a pint before I'm done. However, my family disagrees with me, and forces me to go to beerfests with them.  Not because they love me and want to include me, but because then they have a Designated Driver (and on that note - beerfests, stop charging designated drivers high prices to come in.  We're not drinking, we're eating and giving food trucks money - seriously, a 5 dollar bracelet is complete reasonable). 

Now that my rant is over, Brickworks Stadium Island Peach cider was only available at beerfests or their brewery (cidery?) in Toronto.  I enjoyed it so much that at the last beerfest, I refused to be DD so I could drink this. This is a local brew, and is just so delicious.  The ingredient list is just two things - peaches and apples.  Outstanding, AND literally the day that FSH & CHP treated us to a tallboy, it was announced it will be coming to the LCBO.  Booyah.

And that finished our delicious dinner. In summary, we're really impressed with FSH & CHP. The food is incredibly well-prepared and equally as well thought out.  The flavours are fantastic.  The decor is very cute (see fish heads above!).  They've clearly gone out of their way to ensure vegetarians can enjoy their food too, and they offer gluten free fish and chips for celiac and gluten intolerant friends! Perhaps the highest compliment that I can provide is that, in a very short time, I've recommended them more times than I can remember to friends and family looking to grab a bite. I'd recommend the same to you - but be warned.  The restaurant is tiny and there are no reservations.  Either go early, or bring your e-reader so you will be amused while waiting for your table.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Knob Creek Bourbon Night

Earlier this month, we were lucky enough to be invited to the Knob Creek Bourbon Night. We both enjoy a delicious cocktail, but neither of us are connoisseurs of whisky, so we jumped at the chance to go and learn (and, of course, enjoy some drinks and food!).

The night began with a welcome cocktail, Black on Both Sides.  Made with Jim Beam Black, blackberry juice, lemon and black pepper, it was a refreshingly delicious beginning.  Thank you to Andrea of I'm Mad Hungry for enhancing my picture!

While we sipped our cocktails, canapes were passed. The Mule is one of my favourite restaurants, and their food was the perfect accompaniment to our drinks.  We started with oysters garnished with low country mignonette and cornbread topped with strawberries and whipped cream. Mr. HitH found the oysters to be luscious, and I adored the cornbread with strawberries, to the point that the next time that I make strawberry shortcake, I'm going to leave out my grandma's bicuits (sorry, Grams) and make cornbread instead!

The Mule loves me.  I know this because while everyone else was enjoying house country ham with red eye gravy, they sent me out this delicious sweet potato bite.  It. was. awesome.

We then moved onto the educational portion of the night. Matt Jones is the official whisky ambassador for BeamSuntory in Canada. He is also an amazing teacher, and he knows the story of whisky, and specifically Jim Beam and Knob Creek whisky, cold. You may wonder, from the picture, if he is an angel, sent to earth to provide us with delicious, delicious booze. That is a possibility and as the night proceeded, seemed more likely. He also taught us the origin of the word 'cocktail'.


Tutored tastings were next.  We had four different styles of bourbon to try.

We started with Jim Beam Black. It was a gorgeous amber colour, and very smooth.  I'm not a straight alcohol kinda drinker, but I could see sipping this. It also had hints of sweetness, and had a bit of caramel flavour to it.  Next, we moved onto Basil Hayden's. This wasn't a bourbon I was familiar with before the event, but we were taught that the addition of rye into the corn mash during fermentation makes for a unique drink. Darker in colour than our first sip, it definitely had a bite of pepper as you sipped.

Our last half of the tastings started with Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon. This was a strong alcohol - too strong for me to enjoy sipping. With that said, I could really taste the vanilla coming through, and it made it the perfect choice for the cocktail I was to craft later!  We finished sipping by sampling the Knob Hill Creek Single Barrel Reserve.  This was a serious bourbon.  It's 120 proof, and it hits you with the alcohol. The colour was deep amber and gorgeous. The predominant flavour for me was the smokiness. I can only imagine the amazing cocktails you could make with this. Old Fashioneds, anyone?

Then, onto dinner!  We started off with watermelon and peach salad with spiced pumpkin seeds and chow chow,  with shrimp on the side.  Fried quail was the main, and was perfectly cooked. Creamed corn was a delight - perfectly smooth and delicious.  We finished with a Rudy's Banana Pepita Paleta.

As we ate, we sipped this Be Healthy cocktail, made with Knob Creek 9 year old, orange flavoured liqueur, honey-ginger syrup, and lime juice.  On paper, it didn't really appeal, but when tasted, it was outstanding.  I want to sit on the dock at my cottage and sip this on a cool September night.  Please note, I don't own a cottage. If anyone wants to buy me one, or allow me to use their dock to drink this, please let me know.

The end of the evening was a mixology session.  We got to design our own cocktails, and then Matt Jones helped us to make them.  Mr. HitH and I have a remarkably healthy relationship, in which there is no competition and we support each other to be our best.  Also, that is a filthy lie.  This was a flat out competition for who could make the best cocktail.

My drink, called 'Sweeten Your Cherry' started with Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon, It was sweetened with vanilla-infused simple syrup, accented with maraschino liquor and garnished with basil.  It was outstanding.  Whisky chef Matt Jones didn't want to hurt Mr. HitH feelings, but I could see in his eyes that my drink was the better of the two.

Mr. HitH's cocktail was called 'The Don Draper', and was also made with Knob Creek 9 Year Old Bourbon, with orange bitters, maraschino liquor and garnished with an orange peel.  It was everything you would expect - brash, strong and very Mad Men-esque.

And that wrapped up our evening.  Thank you so much to Knob Creek and Jim Beam for having us out, and Matt Jones for educating us.  It was a night to remember!