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Ally’s Guide to Ottawa- Foodie edition

So every year for the Remembrance Day, we get the day off as a Bank Holiday. And since this year it happened to fall on a Monday, I figured what better to do a weekend getaway? (Do you really need an excuse for a weekend getaway though?!) So I packed up my bag… yes I only packed one – and was off on a 4.5 hour drive to Ottawa, Ontario.

And of course, being the foodie that I am I definitely wanted to check out some good food spots, and figured why not check to see what Halal options they have. To my surprise, they had A LOT! And, my fiancé sent me the sweetest email of recommendations of places to go based on his research (he didn’t even come on the trip with me – but it was the BEST surprise getting that in my inbox before my trip!) So, going with some of his suggestions and some of my own research, the first meal I had was none other than Middle Eastern! So first, we walked in to Salang Kabob House, looked around and the atmosphere just didn’t do it for us. So we walked out and went across the street to see if Shawarma Palace would be a better choice and boy were we happy we went there! The food was delicious and the portions were large! We had two plates between 3 people and it was more than enough.

Shawarma Palace – they have multiple locations but we went to 2949 Carling Ave

$$ /  8/10  / Halal, no alcohol on premise

We ordered

  • Kafta Kabob dinner – $15.95
  • Mixed Plate Dinner – $15.95

We also came back the day we were leaving for take out (yup, it was that good!) so we also tried

  • Chicken Shawarma $6.75
  • Beef Shawarma $6.75
  • Small Garlic Potatoes $5.50

We continued out foodie journey the following day with brunch at The SconeWitch, which, I have to say the food was good but the service was terrible. I was really disappointed with the experience. Firstly, it was quite difficult to find since there is no signage outside to indicate that the restaurant was inside an office building, but the security guard was helpful when I asked for directions. When we went in, it wasn’t too busy so I took two small tables, put them beside each other for my parents and I to eat comfortably. As we sat, the place continued to get busier and the staff continued to serve for dine in, when there clearly wasn’t any space left to dine in – not a comfortable experience to say the least! Once the food came, I went to ask for an additional plate and set of cutlery because we were sharing our 3 meals, and the lady behind the counter said “here – and don’t come here again we have knives back here” while shoving a plate in my hand not even letting me ask for cutlery. Now, I am all for safety and there were no signs to say not to go beyond a certain point, in fact it was open space – but even if I wasn’t supposed to come to that area – there is a way to speak to your customers. Then, before we could even finish our meal, another man came to ask if he could take away our plates. We said yes, gave up the second small table we had, finished the food we were still eating and quickly hurried out of there. We left with a rather unsatisfied feeling solely on the experience – it really goes to show what terrible customer service can do. The food was good, but the experience – nothing shy of terrible.

The SconeWitch – 150 Elgin St, Ottawa

$$$  //  2/10 // Terrible Service

Portions were small and overpriced for what you’re getting, food was tasty but not worth the hassle or the lack of service and the attitude

We ordered

  • Brunch – Cheddar scone with smoked salmon (was suppose to come with jam, but it didn’t)
  • Cheddar scone with Mediterranean vegetables with goat cheese
  • Vanilla Cream scone with Devon Cream and wild blueberry raspberry jam

Then in the evening, we carried on our foodie journey to Moe’s BBQ! I had heard about Moe’s BBQ from a friend and I had it on my radar for when I visit Ottawa and it was definitely a good decision! They have brisket, which I had never tried, so that itself sold me! The Chef, Mubeen or Moe, was super friendly and is planning to open in Toronto soon, so keep an eye out if you’re a Toronto foodie looking for some smoked Brisket! I have to say that my favorite dish, hands down were the ribs! Oh. My. God! They were delicious and I would definitely go back just for those Ribs! The Pulled Chicken was a little too sweet for my liking, but that’s just me. The platter was a good mix and gave us a chance to try a bit of everything, definitely a good choice to get some variety.

Moe’s BBQ – 2446 Bank St

$$ /  8.5/10  / Halal, no alcohol on premise

We ordered

  • Pulled Chicken Burger
  • Sample Platter with 3oz Brisket, 3oz Pulled Beef and 1/4 Chicken
  • 2 AAA Beef Back Ribs
  • Came with 4 sides, we got Fries, Gravy, Mac and Cheese & BBQ Rice

And that took us to the end of our foodie adventure. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the foodie scene in Ottawa, the people were friendly and we enjoyed out stay.

And I can’t forget to mention our accommodation, we stayed in Kannata not far from the city. The hotel had a golf course, spa, and all the amenities! Definitely somewhere I would want to come back to in the summer to enjoy the outdoor adventures, but this trip was way too cold! But hey, that just means I’ll need to come back again! If you have any tips or places to try in Ottawa, or try any of the above let me know your thoughts in the comments below, or pop by to say hello on my instagram – Adore2Ally!

xo

Ally

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Bhai’s Bites

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This all vegetarian gem in Richmond Hill was amazing! Chef Sanjeev is famous for his show Khana Khazana, so growing up having it in the background on weekend mornings when making breakfast with my mum, it was natural that I had to try his restaurant! Bhai’s Canteen is the newest addition to the Host Hospitality Group umbrella, and I have to say it didn’t disappoint!

From the moment we stepped in the door, the décor just took my breath away. It was simplistic, but done tastefully. The vibes of India showed through from the wall art to even the bathroom décor.

Indian food is done best family style, so we decided to stick to that and ordered a variety of dishes. We started off with a pani puri competition! We had so much fun, and the pani puri was the best we’ve had in the city! Although I can’t quite say that I won, I can say that I enjoyed each and every one of those 6 pani puri’s to the max! The pani puri came with the cutest presentation, with a syringe in the ‘pani’ portion which made the competition that much more fun!

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We then had the rest of the dishes come out together, which included

KHUMB MEIN SEEKH – Tandoori Mushrooms

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PANEER SHANEER

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MASALA DOSA

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CHILLI PANEER

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CHOLEY BHATUREY

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HAKKA NOODLES

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The food was all presented well, and the taste of each of the dishes was exquisite. The traditional thali style servings were authentic, keeping true to both the street style food and maintaining a fine dining experience! My favourite dish, though difficult to decide, would have to be the choley bhaturey! I enjoy spicy food that’s not over the top, and this dish was just the perfect amount of spice! It didn’t compromise on flavor at all, and although I was full I still wanted to eat a bit more! (That’s when you KNOW the food is good!)

My only regrets of the evening were that I didn’t try the karak chai, or the traditional Indian deserts! Because it was a friends birthday, we did have a delicious cake from one of my favourite bakeries in the city; Nadege! We had the Marie Antoinette Macaron cake which was AMAZING! The restaurant was very accommodating for the birthday, providing plates, forks and even candles! Overall, an incredible dining experience and I was very happy with the service too!

I definitely recommend you give Bhai’s a try as well! Let me know if you decide to go, and what your favorite dish was!

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Happy dining!

Xo, Ally

Lost in Thought

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Recently I’ve been cooking, baking and eating A LOT, and been so terrible at posting what I’ve been up to! I blame it on a busy summer, but I promise I will get back into it! As summer winds down, I will be spending more time cuddled up with my Pumpkin Spice Latte’s and writing up lots of new material! I also have decided to branch more into a lifestyle type blog, where I will still be putting out recipes, but will also include a lot more. A few of these are guides in different areas of food/coffee/TEA/things to do etc around Toronto, the GTA and anywhere life decides to take to for life & travel! I also want to include a few of the things I have a passion for which includes fashion, make up, hair, healthy lifestyle choices, working out, etc.

Working in Yorkville, I tend to put up a lot more pictures on my social media (particularly Instagram) of places that I frequently visit or try out. It’s such a gorgeous area of the city, and I will be dedicating a few posts specifically to Yorkville.

I also recently went to Vancouver, BC and had the most incredible time! I’ve been asked by a number of my friends and followers of suggestions of where to eat, sleep, visit, and what was and wasn’t worth it in the city. I have so much I want to share and can’t wait to get started!

I will be re-branding my blog likely in the near future, but will also be posting here until then. I’ll keep you all posted with that as soon as it happens! If you have anything else you would like me to do, please do comment and reach out to me, I would LOVE to know! Or just pop by and say hello!

In the meantime, check out my Instagram to keep updated on what I’m up to on the norm, and I’m looking forward to bringing you a lot of new material!

Tata for now,

Ally

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough & White Chocolate Rosebud Pistachio Bark

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Recently, I have been baking up a storm and haven’t had any time to blog about it! I have tried to keep my Instagram page updated with pictures of the goodies (@Alyiar27) and now it’s time to go back and give some recipes to some new & old favorites! Currently, I’m obsessed with chocolate bark! I’ve made a variety of types (rosebud & pistachio, double chocolate Oreo, chocolate peppermint) but this one reminds me of the perfect ice-cream flavors! So for the hot weather we’re currently getting, I figured let’s start with this one (with a bowl of ice cream by my side of course)

So what’s the flavor you ask? Well, what can be better that cookie dough? Cookie dough stuffed in between two layers of chocolate and topped with cookie pieces! The best part, you can eat it as is or put it in any flavor of ice cream to take it to the next level! Currently my bowl is vanilla with chocolate cookie dough chunks; heavenly!!

BUT if you’re going for something a little fancier, I’m giving the recipe for two varieties! How does white chocolate pistachio rosebud bark sound? I made these for my best friends baby shower and they we’re a gorgeous addition to the sweet table! Not to mention they taste amazing!! If you’ve never eaten rosebuds or rose petals before, I highly recommend it! (I also highly recommend rosebud tea) Especially with chocolate!

Here’s the recipe to both, hope you enjoy!

A few Useful Tips:

  • Melt the chocolate in the microwave instead of a double boiler, I found the extra moisture made the chocolate a dryer consistency and more difficult to spread
  • Prep all the ingredients in bowls beforehand so you can work quickly
  • When working with white chocolate, keep in the fridge longer & work swiftly as the chocolate tends to melt quickly

Ingredients:

Cookie Dough Bark

  • 1 pkg Chocolate melts light (12oz)
  • 2-3 Butter cookies
  • Cookie dough

Cookie Dough

  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • 1/3 granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • Handful mini chocolate chips

Directions:

Cookie Dough

  1. Cream together the butter, brown and white sugar until light and fluffy
  2. Add in salt, vanilla and milk and mix until combined
  3. Add in flour and mix on medium speed until smooth
  4. Fold in chocolate chips and form into a ball
  5. Place in the fridg
    e to cool

Chocolate Cookie Dough Bark

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. Melt half the chocolate and spread evenly on cookie sheet
  3. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes
  4. Remove the chocolate and the cookie dough from the fridge, spread cookie dough evenly out on the chocolate and pat down to make a flat layer
  5. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes
  6. Remove bark from fridge, melt remaining chocolate and spread over the cookie dough layer
  7. While chocolate is still warm, break up butter cookie pieces and decorate the top of the bark
  8. Place in fridge for 15 minutes
  9. Remove from the fridge, break into pieces and enjoy!cookie.jpg

White Chocolate Pistachio Bark

  • ½ cup pistachios
  • ½ cup dried rosebuds or dried rose petals
  • 1 pkg white chocolate melts (12oz)

Directions:

  1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper
  2. Chop pistachio up finely
  3. Heat white chocolate in microwave
  4. Pour white chocolate onto cookie sheet
  5. Break up the rosebuds and pour on top of melted chocolate keeping a few buds as well
  6. Evenly pour pistachio pieces on top of bark and slightly press in larger pieces
  7. Place in the fridge for 3 hours
  8. Remove from fridge and break apart the bark
  9. Place on a pretty & enjoy!

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Blueberry Crumble

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I have not met a person who has told me they did not like this crumble as of yet. I even had one of my co-workers (who swore she wouldn’t eat fruits unless they were blended in a smoothie) asking for more! They literally taste like you just had a tiny piece of heaven, and they’ve become a Sunday morning baking routine.  I love making it first thing in the morning, it makes the house smell amazing and its ready in time for brunch. And we all know that’s the favorite meal of the day! So let me know if you give this a try and have a new staple in your house as your go to dessert!

Another bonus for this recipe, the crust and the crumble is the same. Which means less work, and you can choose how much you want as the crust or the topping, depending on which part is your favorite. Mine personally: lots of crispy crumble topping yum!

A few Useful Tips:

  • I used my trusty Vitamix to pulse the rolled oats a little bit to make the texture a little smoother
  • Don’t use instant oats, that will make the mixture very dry and hard to work with

Ingredients:

IMG_4236.JPGCrust & Topping  

  • ½ cup butter (salted)
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

 

Blueberry filling

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ¼ – 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp water

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350F. Choose your pan of choice, line with parchment paper and/or cooking spray
  2. *Optional* Use your vitamix or food processor and pulse oats once or twice for a second
  3. Mix dry ingredients together (flour, sugars, oats) in a bowl and add in melted butter
  4. Mix together and allow mixture to form clumps which will be used for the crumble topping
  5. Line the bottom of your pan of choice with the mixture and pack down to form a crust (keep aside about 1-1.5 cups of the mixture for the topping, depending on how thick you want the crust)

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Blueberry filling

  1. Add blueberries to a bowl and pour sugar and cornstarch on top evenly
  2. Pour lemon juice and water over the blueberry mixture and carefully mix together, trying not to crush any of the blueberries
  3. Pour blueberry mixture evenly over the crust and make sure all the liquid is poured into the layer
  4. Sprinkle the remaining crust mixture over the crumble, using your fingers to make clumps
  5. Bake for approx. 45 minutes – 1 hour at 350F, until golden brown. The blueberries will look like a jam texture.
  6. Cool for 1 hour completely before cutting into squares & enjoy!bb crumble.jpg

 

Mongolian Beef

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After a busy day, I like to come home and throw a quick meal together that looks like it’s gourmet, but only takes me about half an hour! The best part is that everyone is happy because it’s a little sweet, a little sour and just as good as a dish from PF Changs (if not better!) I make mine I bit spicier than your traditional Mongolian Beef, but that can easily be taken down a notch if you’re not a huger fan of spice. I personally used red pepper flakes and a few jalapeños, but I recommend adding in green peppers for the colour without the kick.

A few useful tips

  • If you buy untested sesame seeds, just add the desired amount to a sauce pan or skillet and turn on medium heat for approx 3 minutes to allow them to ‘toast’
  • Don’t allow the meat to cook completely in the wok, as it will finish cooking when you add it to the sauce & you want the meat to stay tender
  • If your sauce begins to get too thick while its simmering, feet free to add another 1/4 cup of water, as you still want it a thin liquid for the next step
  • Once you add the meat to the sauce, try and get the sauce to a medium simmer, this will allow the sauce to thicken due to the cornstarch mixture the meat was covered in

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs thin steak pieces, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 1/4 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce (vegetarian)
  • 1 tbsp hoisen sauce
  • 1/4 yellow pepper
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 jalepeno (optional)
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • a few leaves coriander
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions

  1. Cut meat into 1 inch pieces and set aside
  2. Cover pieces of meat with a coating of cornstarch and let sit for 15 minutes
  3. In a medium saucepan, add soy sauce, water, vegetable bullion, brown sugar until boil
  4. Turn heat down to maintain a simmer, add in oyster sauce & hoisin sauce & red chilli flakes and keep simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes
  5. In a wok or skillet, turn on medium heat and add 2 tbsp of oil
  6. Take the meat and allow to just cook until slightly pink
  7. With a slotted spoon, remove meat from oil and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil
  8. Once meat is all cooked, rain oil from the wok and return over medium heat, adding 1/4 tsp of oil
  9. Add broccoli, yellow pepper, jalapeño, & spring onion into the wok & add 2 tbsp of the sauce
  10. Add the meat to the sauce and turn heat to medium to allow the sauce to thicken
  11. Saute the vegetables for approx 3 minutes, and add the vegetables to the sauce
  12. Finally, add coriander & sesame seeds on top and serve over rice

Chocolate Cheesecake Easter Eggs

That’s right! These little eggs are filled with a cheesecake filling and the “yolk” is a passion fruit & clementine mixture to add that perfect bit of tang! They remind me of Cadbury Cream Eggs, but to be honest I’m not really a fan. So with easter around the corner, I was super excited to make these. I mean after all, who doesn’t like cheesecake?! These treats were a huge hit for one of my close friend’s birthday celebration instead of a traditional cake, and everyone was able to have one of their own to enjoy.

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A few useful tips:

  • Buy a few extra eggs, a few of mine over hatched (pun intended!)
  • Don’t over whisk the whipping cream, it will turn hard and won’t be easy to fold into the mixture
  • Instead of using piping bags, I use a ziplock bag to put the cheesecake mixture in instead of using a spoon to fill the eggs. It makes it SO much easier to fill, and it ends up being a lot less cleaning too; win-win!

Ingredients

Yolk

  • 1 fresh passion fruit
  • 2 clementines
  • 1 tbsp butter

Cheesecake eggs 

  • 16 – 20 hollow chocolate eggs
  • 1 pkg (8 oz) room temperature cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

Yolk 

  1. In a small saucepan, melt butter
  2. Remove skin from the clementines and add in pulp to the saucepan
  3. Add in passion fruit to the mixture and continue to stir until simmering
  4. Mash the pulp and remove from heat
  5. Using a sieve, drain the liquid from the mixture and keep aside
  6. Place in liquid in the fridge for at least an hour to thicken

Cheesecake eggs 

  1. With a sharp knife, make a whole in each of the eggs and peel off tops of the egg
  2. Pour whipping cream into mixing bowl and use whist attachment, turn on medium speed and allow to whip into medium peaks (approx 3-5 minutes)
  3. Set whipping cream mixture aside
  4. In a mixing bowl add cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, icing sugar and whisk on medium speed until smooth (approx 1 minute)
  5. Fold in whipping cream mixture into the cream cheese mixture in three sections until just combined
  6. Transfer mixture into a piping bag or a ziplock (refer to useful tips) and fill chocolate eggs with cheesecake filling
  7. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour to cool and set
  8. Remove from the fridge and make dent in the cheesecake with a small spoon or your finger
  9. Add the “yolk” mixture to the dent and place in fridge for half an hour to set
  10. Remove from fridge & enjoy your chocolate cheesecake eggs!IMG_4969.jpg