March 04, 2006

Restaurant: Spring Rolls

Catching up a bit here... been a while!

I went to Spring Rolls with Dave for some Thai food. Upscale atmosphere with reasonably priced food explains why this restaurant chain is so popular. We started with an order of scorchingly hot shrimp rolls ($6) which were simply medium sized tiger shrimp tightly wrapped in spring roll wrappers, deep fried and served with a pungent fish sauce for dipping.


I ordered a spicy Szechuan style seafood dish with perfectly cooked shrimp, calamari and scallops and a large amount of brocolli. ($10.95) All the seafood was tender and juicy, though the sauce was a tad sweet for my liking and the brocolli was a bit large to eat with chopsticks. It was accompanied by a delicious side order of pad thai ($3.50). Excellent value for a large portion of food.

For dessert I ordered mango creme brulee ($4.99). It was rich and yummy and the torched sugar on top was pleasantly crunchy. The actual custard had curdled slightly (overcooked) and was a bit cold from the fridge.

Recommended, especially for the entrees. I'd like to go back and try some more of them.

Spring Rolls
40 Dundas St. W, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2C2
T 416 585-2929
F 416 585-7733

Posted by JAY at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

Movie: Nightwatch

Nightwatch/Nochnoi Dozor is a Russian supernatural thriller telling of the struggle between the Light and Dark vampire-like beings called "Others". Interesting cinematography, convincing acting and ambiguous heroes and villains make this a cut above the usual thriller. The narrative structure devolves from very organic at the beginning to somewhat muddled by the end. Every drop of suspense was squeezed from what had to be a limited (compared to North American movies) SFX budget.

A lot of fun, nothing too deep.
It should be fun to see the sequels.

Posted by JAY at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

Almost there...


(Still catching up on backlog)
Last week the house was shrouded in plastic, so I don't have any good pix of it. This week, though, it was unveiled. The house seems very close to done. The interior is drywalled (and locked up). There's a furnace in the basement that's filling the house with hot air so that the drywall paste can dry. Unfortunately, my picture is a bit blurry because I took it at night and filtered it to look brighter in Photoshop.

Posted by JAY at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

March 08, 2006

Staying at the Delta

Stayed at the Delta East hotel in Scarborough for a few days on some deathly dull training. The trainers tried their best but they were literally reading out of their notes as they weren't really subject matter experts (by their own definition). There were a lot of exercises, though, which made it more bearable. The hotel we stayed at had a huge pool and waterslide in its foyer. I didn't go, it was a bit exposed and pretty chilly. The hotel was pretty standard, and older than the other ones that I've stayed at. My favorite remains the Novotel in North York - it's close to everything so I can walk and get food/TTC access/whatever.

Posted by JAY at 10:55 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2006

Countdown Begins


Just the siding and some pillars to go. And... 4 weeks! More importantly, 2 pay cheques. I've been going through all sorts of heck around settling how much of a mortgage I need and all the tax info for RRSPs and income tax time. I met a couple in the house next door. Their closing date is only 2-3 weeks after mine but their house hasn't even begun to be bricked.

Posted by JAY at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2006

Recipe: Pecan Pie Retry

Since dinner was already cooked when I got home, I tried the pecan pie recipe again. Since it turned out well this time, I've put the recipe below.

Pecan Pie (based on Christine Cushing)

Pastry
1 1/3 C flour
pinch of salt
1/4 C butter, chilled
1/3 C shortening, chilled
1/4 C cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend everything but the water together with a pastry cutter.
Toss with the water, form into a disk and refrigerate for 1/2 hour.
Roll out, line with parchment paper and weigh down with pie weights.
Bake for 20 minutes, remove weights and lining and bake for 15 minutes more.
Cool on rack.

Filling:
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C corn syrup
1/3 C brown sugar
1/4 C melted butter, lightly browned
pinch salt

1 C pecan halves, lightly toasted

Whisk everything but the pecans together.
Lay the pecans out in the pie shell decoratively and pour the filling over it.
Bake in a 325 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
Cool before serving.

Posted by JAY at 11:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006

Discount Bike

So I found this exercise bike on sale at the Real Canadian Superstore for 1/2 price. It was only $80 and I'm really pleased with it's construction quality - tubular steel frame. It has magnetic resistance which makes it almost totally silent - ideal for watching TV with. It even has a pulse rate monitor and a water bottle holder and little touches like integrated floor levellers. The only frustration came right at the end of putting it together. The seat post wouldn't fit into the frame! I had to scrape a bit of plastic molding lining the metal chassis. Until I figured out where it was catching I was very frustrated, because it's the last thing to be done. Now, though, it's all set up and my parents and sister want one too!

Posted by JAY at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

March 20, 2006

Horses and Hotels

So I'm back at the Delta Hotel for more meetings and training. This time, for the same price, they put me in a deluxe suite which is much nicer. For one, free internet, which is how I'm doing this entry. Free bottled water (which they placed right next to the $4.50 Evian). And nicer sheets, which are much softer. Unfortunately, this time I'm just here overnight.

On the weekend, went to Georgian Downs to see horse races. It was fun, but there was cigarette smoke in the air - apparently smoking's allowed until June 1st. We had the buffet - they had an interesting pasta bar where pasta was made to your specifications (mine was cream sauce, seafood, mushrooms and garlic) but it looked better than it tasted. The other food was good, though. Most fun of all was the chocolate fountain - I ate an unholy-butt-ton of chocolate covered strawberries.

Posted by JAY at 04:28 PM | Comments (2)

March 21, 2006

Wireless Houseguests

So we've had houseguests for a few days. Uncle Chan-Q, Uncle Sing and David are here seeing about some stuff before they visit China. Houseguests can be a trial (I'll have to recount the story of Aunt C and her Demon Childe from Hell one day) but these guys are really considerate and nice.

So nice, in fact, that David waited for me to get back home to install Chinese fonts on the parents' computers instead of just doing it himself without asking (the parents have admin access to their computer). Now there's tact I can appreciate! He bought a whack of toys today to take to China, including a PSP and a good consumer-grade Canon digital camera. He brought over an Acer Turion laptop (the "ferrari red" model) which is overpriced but nice looking.

I was so impressed that I set up a wireless router for him to use his laptop with. I wasn't sure how much work it would be since it only cost $5... $65 with a $60 rebate. It's a Gigafast WF719-CAPR. I'm only using it as a wireless bridge to my network, so it's not routing Internet or doing DHCP. It seems to work well and now I'm writing this entry from the comfort of my bedroom as well. (Bleah, my desk downstairs is more comfortable.)

Posted by JAY at 10:58 PM | Comments (0)

March 23, 2006

Exotic Fruits


Our guests have left and they've left behind an assortment of fruit that I'm not all that familiar with. The one pictured to the right is durian. It has an unfortunate rotten smell that belies a very sweet, creamy vanilla custard texture. The one we bought was frozen so we had to wait for it to thaw. Sapodilla was kind of gross, kinda grainy and very very sweet. The guava wasn't ripe, and pretty bland. I've only had in in jams before. Pomelo is a larger sweet grapefruit without the bitter edge. I still haven't tried the fragrant pear ("fragrant" sounds like a euphemism for "not sweet"). Anyway, I'm not a big fruit person, so this was interesting and fun.

Posted by JAY at 02:24 PM | Comments (1)

March 25, 2006

Kitchen Cabinets

A construction site rep was kind enough to unlock the house and escort us around. The kitchen, which I've whined about being rather narrow, seems wider with the cabinetry in. Almost everything looks great, with 2 exceptions: the stairs are badly damaged on a couple of treads, and they mixed up the cabinets in the ensuite and the main bathroom. I also didn't see the rough-in vac that's supposed to be there.

I'm quite happy with how the kitchen is looking, though. The right corner bottom could've had a piano hinged corner cabinet, but they were kind of expensive. There are a lot of drawers - you can see the bay beside the fridge and the pots and pans drawers that I upgraded beside the stove. The upper corner cabinet has some knots in the wood - I might see if I can switch it with the one beside the fridge.

Posted by JAY at 02:07 PM | Comments (2)

March 26, 2006

Durian

Remember that exotic fruit I mentioned a couple of days back? I found a neat article on a website dedicated to the fruit. Sean also mentioned that he smelled one that was really, really bad. Apparently, smell varies depending on ripeness. But in some public places, durian is actually outlawed because of the smell! This New York Times author had a pleasant smelling one and a really rotten smelling one.

Posted by JAY at 11:45 AM | Comments (0)

Rubies and Sapphires

20060327Sapphire.jpg
I've always had a bit of a magpie complex. While I can't stand wearing jewellery, not even watches, I've always loved shiny, bright objects. Searching for bits of quartz in the playground was a common pasttime. Who can afford rubies and sapphires, though, especially in any kind of size and quantity?

Enter PehnecGems. Does anyone wanna split an order of 50 8mm round rubies for just $24? Sapphires? They're chemically identical to the real thing, they were just created in a lab. Heck, even the cubic zirconias are really, really cheap and look just like diamonds. 100 5mm rounds for just $32! (The trick to CZ is to get the small ones - because no one will believe you having a 10 carat diamond. Visually and hardness-wise, though, they're very very close and will look better than cheap diamonds will.)

See the thing is, I like variety... so we could get all shapes and sizes and share and mix them! It would be AWESOME. For about $40 each we could have a varied collection! Anyone? Leave a comment if you're interested...

Posted by JAY at 12:44 PM | Comments (5)