Posts Tagged ‘review’

[Review] Motorola Moto X 2014

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My first phone was a Motorola. I still remember that Motorola C333.  We’ve come a long way since then, but my love for Motorola hasn’t wavered. If anything….with the addition of Android, it’s grown! I was very happy to get my hands on a Moto X 2014 to take with me on my trip to Japan earlier this month. I’m already a happy owner of a Moto X first generation.

One of the things that I loved about the Motorola X in the USA was that you could customize the back with wood, leather, or whatever colour you wanted. I was a little disappointed that in Canada, the first gen Moto X only came in black and white. When I was sent a Moto X with a bamboo back, I was thrilled! (Get one here!) (more…)

Dinner at BIVY Cafe

I was really excited  to be invited to try out BIVY Cafe. As an east end girl, I don’t get the chance to travel to the west end all that often.

After visiting BIVY Cafe, a Brocton Triangle french inspired bistro,  all that might change. The space is very intimate with eclectic touches like the wooden deer heads on the wall. Towards the back of the restaurant, they sell fresh pastries and made-in-house cookies. They also have a small shelf that sells jams, jellies and chocolate.

The cafe serves brunch and lunch, and has now made the jump into serving dinner from Tuesday- Saturday.

 

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I started with a hearty bowl of the soup of the day, Butternut Squash Soup ($4.80). Very creamy and rich. I wasn’t expecting the soup to be so large- careful, it’s filling!

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We couldn’t resist ordering the Picnic Platter for $15. The platter is huge and comes with Chef Pascal’s own in house smoked salmon and in house pate.

The Charcuterie also featured Jambon de Bayonne (Curred ham form Bayonne – Basque county, France) and Salame Gentile (italian Gentile salami made in Toronto by Paganelli). I loved the salami and the fact that it was locally made.

The cheese include Ermite Blue cheese from Quebec, Asiago cheese from Ontario and Gruyere from Switzerland. To finish off the platter was whole grain bread, savoury cheddar shortbread, crackers and a sun dried tomato hummus.

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For my main, I had a Pulled Pork on a Bun ($7.50) with BBQ pulled pork, emmental cheese and baby spinach. We shared the fries, and my partner had the in-house made Duck Confit served with arugula & chutney. Both of our meals were extremely good. I loved how the crispy bun complemented the slightly sweet and juicy BBQ pork. We fought over the perfectly seasoned fries and were stuffed beyond belief but still had room for…

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This ice cream sandwich was $4 and it was amazing. The chocolate cookies were specially made for this ice cream sandwich. It had the texture of a brownie but wasn’t overly soft. Yum!

We couldn’t get over how reasonably priced the food was. For the high quality of the food, paying $7.50 for a pulled pork or brisket sandwich almost feels like you’re getting away with something. I’m too used to paying $15 for a burger to not be gleefully happy about these prices.

BIVY Cafe is the perfect place to take a first date (it’s romantic!) and we also saw plenty of families and group of friends spilling in and out of the busy resto on the Friday night we visited. I know we’ll be back!

BIVY Cafe is on 1600 Dundas St W,  Toronto. Check out their menu!

Dinner at Reds Midtown Tavern

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Reds Midtown Tavern is unexpectedly larger than I thought it would be. The elegant split level restaurant has beautiful exposed brick and genuinely friendly staff.

Dark mahogany tables sourced from McGill University  are scattered throughout the restaurant.  The shuffleboard table in the corner give the restaurant a modern luxe library feel.

You might be wondering…why is it called midtown? The name is a playful interpretation of where two friends might meet if they were coming from opposite ends of the city. Get it?

 

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Tucked away in a corner is a beautiful private dining room.

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Classic Peach Bellini

The culinary team at Reds is led by Executive Chef Matt Robertson.

 Here are some of the yummy apps we started with.

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P.E.I Mussels: ($16.50)  Steamed in Sauvignon Blanc with fresh fennel, saffron threads, tomato and herbes de Provence.

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The Crispy Potato Flatbread ($10.50) is a house specialty, and was the fan favourite of the evening.

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Topped with fresh arugula, shaved Parmesan cheese, sweet garlic, chimichurri aioli, slow-roasted tomato
and balsamic gastrique. The combination of the spicy aioli and the Parmesan was delicious.

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Baby Kale & Quinoa Salad ($9.50) Tossed with sweet spiced pecans, dried cranberries, caramelized sweet potatoes, smoked Manchego cheese and a light citrus vinaigrette. This salad also had diced green apples. It was a very eclectic salad but all ingredients worked really well together.

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Pictured is the hearty Knife and Fork Caesar. ($10.25) Tender romaine lettuce with mild white Spanish anchovies, shaved parmesan, bacon and garlic confit dressing.

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Steak Frites ($34) 7 oz Filet Mignon of AAA Canadian Beef, truffle parmesan frites, wild mushrooms, Madeira jus. The steak was perfect and melted in my mouth. I loved the wild mushrooms.

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Pan Roasted Salmon ($23.45) with sweet pea purée, sugar snaps, fingerling potatoes and heirloom carrots with a light butter sauce

At this point, we were all crazy stuffed but still had room for dessert!

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The Grasshopper Parfait ($7.95) was like a grown up Girl Scout mint cookie. (remember those?) The minty peppermint mousse was thick and just below it was dark chocolate mousse. On top were thin slices of delectable chocolate crisps.

With it’s perfect location and varied menu, Reds is the perfect place to mingle after work or a trip to the Eaton Center.  Take a look at the menu here.

Reds Midtown Tavern is located at 382 Yonge St., Unit 6, Toronto, ON M5B 1S8.

 

Whale Watching with Fundy Tide Runners

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The morning that we were supposed to go whale watching, with the Fundy Tide Runners, it was cold and skies were gray. Captain David Welch deliberated if our small group should go or not. He eventually decided that we should. The Captain has 45 years of water experience, so I trusted his judgement! I was really glad we went, as it was my last day in St. Andrews.

Bright orange suits were rolled out, and I then got my first shock of the day. We were going in a zodiac boat. I had been whale watching before but always in a boat. So this was new. The suit was actually a Mustang© life preservation suit, and it covered us from head to toe.

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Like this! My awesome guide agreed to pose for this pic.

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Before we headed out, the Captain told us what to expect. “The whales we would see today would most likely be Minke whales and Finback whales.” It hadn’t been a good summer for Humpback whales, so we probably wouldn’t see those.

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Finally it was time to load into the custom made Zodiac to check out some whales!

We traveled for about eighteen minutes in the incredibly choppy waters. The waves were only 3 feet tall, but they felt like 6 feet! We did get splashed by the salty Atlantic water occasionally, and I was really grateful for my warm orange suit.

When we arrived there were other whale watching boats cheerfully radioing out boat to tell us where they’d seen whales that morning. I was really impressed with the comradeship among the tour operators and the easy way that they were sharing information.

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We were taught how to spot when a whale blows. The blow is when the whale sends out a jet of water through it’s blowhole- a sure sign that whales are near.
The afternoon was a lot of fun! Everyone went into a flurry of activity and snapping cameras when a whale would surface and then vanish below.

Although we didn’t see a whale leap over our boat or anything like that, it was majestic to see the Minke whales and to know that they were sharing the water with us. Minke whales can be up to 30 feet long!

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It was pretty hard to take photos, so this is my best one! Do you see him? Whales weren’t the only creatures in the water. We also saw tiny dolphin like Harbour Porpoises. They were so cute!

If you ever go to St. Andrews, I would absolutely recommend Fundy Tide Runners. You’ll have a whale of a time. 😉

My only suggestion would be to go in the warmer summer months. That way, you’ll be able to see Harbour SealsAtlantic Puffins, Bald Eagles, Razorbill Auks, Black Guillemots and other pelagic sea birds.

 

Fundy Tide Runners at 16 King Street, St. Andrews, NB.

Tours are 2 hours long. Adults $58.00, children between the ages of 5 and 12 $40.00.

oTENTik Camping at Thousand Islands National Park

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Growing up, my family never went camping. We would take road trips, have barbeques, go to parks…but the thought of camping would never cross our minds. Much to the surprise of many, I’ve started to enjoy the outdoors! I wanted to find a way to share that with my family.

When I read about Parks Canada’s new oTENTiks, I knew I’d found my answer. An oTENTik is a cross between a cabin and a tent. Currently in Ontario, the only park that has these structures is Thousand Islands National Park..

Some of the oTENTiks are on land, but some are on McDonald and Gordon island. We stayed on McDonald island. You must have your own boat or you can call a water taxi to get to the islands.

The island was busier than I thought it would be, with many boaters hopping on and off of the island. The oTENiks were a few minutes apart, with ample space between them.

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The oTENiks are well built with lots of space inside. Inside, there are bottom and top bunks. The structure can sleep 6. There were 4 of us, so there was plenty of room. Mattresses are included, but no bedding, so bring your own! There’s also a set of tables and chairs, and a handy solar light.

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Outside you have a firepit with a beautiful view of the lake, deck chairs, a covered eating area, a picnic bench, coal grill and a metal storage container for food

It was a great camping experience. My family really liked it, and we were able to pack lighter because of all the things that were included. It was actually pouring rain one night, and the oTENTik did its job- no leaks!

Activities to do include hiking and swimming. There are no flush toilets, but the composting toilets are clean. You have to remember to bring your own drinking water, as there is none on the island.

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You can also visit the visitors center (generally open until Labour Day) at Malloytown Landing. They have cool things to explore like exhibits, furs and animal skulls. During the summer, you can visit with their friendly snake, and other animals.

An oTENTik is the perfect camping experience for the first time camper, family camper, or just someone looking to experience something a little different. They are available to rent until Thanksgiving weekend for $90 a night. Rent one today!

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