February 22, 2014

Restaurant: Atelier (Ottawa)

On any work trip to Ottawa, I usually go out to a nice restaurant with a previous manager. (Hi Sylvie!) This time, I chose Atelier... and Sylvie has a new favorite restaurant. The food here was unapologetically molecular - super reduced sauces, nitrogen, liberal sous vide and so on.

A tasting menu is all that's available and cutesy names (not a fan, but whatever, the staff seem to enjoy them) tell you almost nothing about what you'll be eating. The dishes are described as they come to the table, however. Nothing was less than interesting/beautiful and a lot of it was really tasty. Service was personable and they had a half-portion-wine pairing that Sylvie enjoyed. On the night we went, we were the only guests, but apparently they can get quite busy.

Highly recommended and good value for an admittedly high price ($110 for the tasting menu). Since I'm not often in Ottawa, I'll be sure to return to see what new creations are produced.

Atelier Restaurant
540 Rochester Street
Ottawa ON K1S 4M1

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February 20, 2014

Restaurant: Beckta (Ottawa)

I took a solo trip to Beckta, one of Ottawa's most popular fine dining restaurants, and did their eight course menu ($110). The food was all simply and competently prepared, but it was perhaps not the most exciting experience. Atmosphere and service were first-rate. Though I was one of the first to arrive, the restaurant was fairly busy by the time I left with couples on dates and out-of-town diners.

Enjoyable, but perhaps not my thing.
226 Nepean Street
Ottawa, Ontario

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September 07, 2013

BBQ Beef Ribs and Corn

Still learning. Gotta reduce the salt I think because smoking (cherry wood) seems to add salt. But look at that smoke ring! I enhanced the corn with a sugar brine - it was REALLY good, no butter needed.

September 05, 2013

BBQ Everything

Steak, eggplant, pineapple.
Gotta dial down on the smoke - these steaks tasted like bacon. And they were a bit overdone. Good, but...

August 31, 2013

Weber Performer BBQ

Got this at a great price - a charcoal grill with propane igniter. Might still get a chimney, though... It's the incidental purchases that add up! My sister picked it up for me - a floor model with some cosmetic scratches in the tabletop. We cooked some steaks on it today... a bit overdone, but still pink.

Update: got the Weber cover, usually $50-70 for $15! Just in time, too - it started raining when I brought the cover home.

August 29, 2013


It's hard to get a picture of a leaping cat while holding the camera in one hand and swinging a feather with the other. I did get some video, though.

August 27, 2013

Lamb Curry

The lamb shoulder was simmered in large chunks till super tender. I removed almost every bit of fat by chilling, which also took out a bunch of curry flavor, which I guess is mostly fat-soluble spice compounds. Next time, maybe I'll add back some fried curry paste.

August 26, 2013

Steak and Salad

"Platinum Angus AAA" steak from Metro was disappointing. Good ratio of veg though - the zucchini was fresh from Jen's garden, which I raided after visiting TImmy.

August 23, 2013

Pizza and Salad

Domino's half price pizza sale will be the death of my diet. I've been eating it with salad (here with some apple that my neighbor picked). But I can't stop gorging on pizza. I've frozen the leftovers in 2-slice packets, which is more reasonable.

August 20, 2013

Eggplant Fried Rice

Fried rice cooked at home is actually pretty healthy. I also found some 'beef rib meat' - trimmings from around the beef ribs that the grocery should LEAVE AROUND THE BEEF RIB. It's good, but pretty hard to trim once off the bone.

August 18, 2013

Range Hood

I got seduced by a cheap stainless steel range hood ($99). It took me WEEKS to get set up because I'm not very handy - it was hard to mount because there was very little clearance from the underside to screw it in. Plus I was doing it solo. I'm not sure how long it'll stay up for!

August 17, 2013


When we were younger, we used to dive for mussels at a friend's cottage. This is what we would make with them - grilled mussels with cheddar cheese. They don't taste as good as I remember them being.

August 16, 2013

Shrimp Curry

This curry is relatively low-cal - around 200 calories/serving.

August 15, 2013

Pineapple Pizza and Salad

The pizza's not homemade, it just has pineapple, spicy salami and mushrooms added to it.

August 12, 2013

Figs and Cheese

Figs from Costco, Manchego, Parmigianno, Cheddar.

August 08, 2013

Restaurant: Richmond Station

Richmond Station is headed by a winner of Top Chef Canada, Carl Heinrich. It's been getting good reviews and I admired what I saw of Carl's cooking on TV, so I couldn't pass up a chance to try it myself. Weekend reservations are a bit scarce, though.

The tasting menu is not listed on the menu, which is a shame. At $65 (we only saw the price afterward), it's very good value and a lot of fun. The couple beside us was gazing longingly as dish after pretty dish appeared at our table.

- A starter of raw oysters was fine with a standard but nicely executed trio of condiments.
- Charcuterie was more fun, with most of the meats prepared on-site.
- A tiny cup of gazpacho was bright and full of flavor

- Lobster roll was somewhat of a revelation. I had been considering trying a McDonald's lobster roll - they aren't usually available outside of the Maritimes - but this completely killed that curiosity. Briny lobster flavor dominated a very light creamy sauce. The toasted house-made milk bread was perfect, both on its own and paired with the lobster. I could have eaten a loaf of that. It was the dish of the night!

- Quinoa salad was about as good as a salad can be. Sweet corn kernels and nutty white beans were a perfect contrast to creamy hummus. House-made hickory sticks were a clever vegan substitute for bacon that worked really well. The ranch dressing was maybe a bit understated.

- Rabbit stew didn't do anything for me. It was too lean overall, I think. The rabbit was wrapped in prosciutto and cooked separately and the sauce was lightly thickened but lacked richness. The veggies were steamed separately and while perfectly cooked to tender-crisp, were kinda reminiscent of frozen peas and carrots. I prefer stew less as a composed dish and more of a savory union. An accompanying perogi, however, was delicious,

- Seared tenderloin with roasted veggies was a perfectly cooked surprise - the server had thought we only had dessert left and had thoughtfully offered a burger if we were still hungry (we weren't, we were just thoroughly enjoying the food). No complaints, except that I forgot to take a picture.

- Dessert was a bit too restrained for me. Rhubarb sorbet was packed with flavor but just a bit tart for me. Crumbled angel cake was a bit cottony and burnt honey is neat, but not very sweet. I'd like some sweet richness to go with all that acidity. However, it seems like the current fashion is for not-too-sweet desserts.

Service was great, with knowledgeable staff explaining every dish. The chef came out to check on things as well, likely aware of his minor-celebrity status. Refolding dirty napkins by hand still irritates me. (no touch! germy!) But overall, no complaints. A bottle of still water left at the table is appreciated, since I'm a guzzler.

Great value and a fun time. It even feels pretty healthy. Depending on how often the menu changes, I'd like to come back for each season. But also the Station Burger looks tempting. Recommended.

Richmond Station
1 Richmond St W
Mailbox 8
Toronto, ON
M5H 3W4

August 06, 2013

Google Hangouts Blows

I installed Android 4.3 on a Nexus 7 tablet recently and Google Talk was replaced by the horrible, awful Google Hangouts. Suddenly, my chat client sucks at IM!
- it doesn't show status... you can't see who's online!
- it breaks interoperability with non-Google IM standards, most notably Jabber/XMPP, so basically all those people who you could IM with before because their clients followed standards? Not available anymore.

Google product forum
Reverting to Talk (requires rooting your device)

WTF, Google? W.T.F.

August 05, 2013

My (New) Fitness Pal

Now that I have a smart phone, I can try using a calorie counter application. It's only been a few days but My Fitness Pal has already affected my behavior by game-ifying my eating, tracking my weight and exercise.

If I want a rich snack, I'm motivated to exercise to increase my calorie budget. I'm motivated to use less oil in cooking and less dressing on my salad. When I complete my daily entry, it tells me things like "If every day was like today, you'll lose 5lbs in 5 weeks!" Expensive restaurants will be a challenge to estimate calories, but I'm pretty good at that (chains post their calories and they're searchable from the app).

August 02, 2013

Dinner: Ribs and Kale

I bought a big salami that I use for adding to pizza - but also for frying up crispy strips for pan sautéed kale, which is super healthy. I do these ribs in the countertop oven. The sauce is added at the end, which chars and adds the smoky flavor.

August 01, 2013

Dinner: Spaghetti

The only pasta worth eating is Dececco. Heh, America's Test Kitchen never included it in their testing but when they finally did, it won handily. No surprise, it's not even close.