Our One-Year Anniversary Dinner at Maiko Japanese Restaurant (in Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an)!

Maiko was my favourite restaurant at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya!

Maiko was my favourite restaurant at the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya!

After a family night dinner at Le Gourmet and a girls’ night dinner at Arlequin, it was time for Raj and I to have a just-“Raddy” dinner together, celebrating our one-year anniversary. Since Japanese cuisine is my favourite kind of cuisine, Raj (the thoughtful boyfriend) made reservations at Maiko, one of the only two Japanese restaurants on the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort. Unlike Mikado (the other Japanese restaurant), Maiko is located in the Sian Ka’an area, which is my favourite area on the resort and adult-only. This dinner at Maiko ended up being my absolute favourite dining experience on this trip! It had the best menu selection, the best food, the best apéritif cocktail, and the best service. Raj did a fantastic job at selecting a restaurant for our one-year anniversary dinner. Here is a recap/review of my special dining experience at Maiko

When Raj made the dinner reservation, he informed them that it was our one-year anniversary celebratory dinner. When we arrived, they surprised us with the best window seats in the restaurant and rose petals all over our table! What fabulous service! We were definitely impressed.

When Raj made the dinner reservation, he informed them that it was our one-year anniversary celebratory dinner. When we arrived, they surprised us with the best window seats in the restaurant and rose petals all over our table! What fabulous service! We were definitely impressed.

They also surprised us with a complimentary bottle of sparkling white wine! This Chatonier Brut sparkling white wine from Spain, which was only 10% alcohol, tasted drier than what I normally prefer, but it was not too dry for me. It arrived chilled in an ice bucket and our server popped open the bottle for us. What a nice, festive surprise! Thank you, Maiko!

They also surprised us with a complimentary bottle of sparkling white wine! This Chatonier Brut sparkling white wine from Spain, which was only 10% alcohol, tasted drier than what I normally prefer, but it was not too dry for me. It arrived chilled in an ice bucket and our server popped open the bottle for us. What a nice, festive surprise! Thank you, Maiko!

I was so excited to look at their menu and see what kind of Japanese cuisine would be offered at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico. I was distracted for a bit by all the beautifully scattered rose petals on our table. Ha ha ha.

I was so excited to look at their menu and see what kind of Japanese cuisine would be offered at a Japanese restaurant in Mexico. I was distracted for a bit by all the beautifully scattered rose petals on our table. Ha ha ha.

Before we could open our menu, we were surprised once again with a complimentary apéritif. This cocktail was called "Shanghai" and it was THE BEST cocktail we had on the trip! Unfortunately, no other bar on the resort managed to recreate this cocktail exactly during the remainder of our trip. :( This cocktail tasted like a delightful blend of tropical fruit juices in your mouth. We absolutely loved it!

Before we could open our menu, we were surprised once again with a complimentary apéritif. This cocktail was called “Shanghai” and it was THE BEST cocktail we had on the trip! Unfortunately, no other bar on the resort managed to recreate this cocktail exactly during the remainder of our trip. 😦 This cocktail tasted like a delightful blend of tropical fruit juices in your mouth. We absolutely loved it!

The appetizer menu.

The appetizer menu.

Before any food came out, we were each given this assortment of condiments to accompany all our savoury courses. From left to right: a sweet sesame sauce, soy sauce, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The sweet sesame sauce tasted like a lightly sweetened tahini sauce and it was my hands-down favourite of all three condiments! I added some to every course except dessert. The soy sauce was definitely sushi-grade and not the lower quality cooking-grade. The spicy mayonnaise sauce was just a mixture of Sriracha chili sauce and mayonnaise, so it was not anything unique or spectacular.

Before any food came out, we were each given this assortment of condiments to accompany all our savoury courses. From left to right: a sweet sesame sauce, soy sauce, and a spicy mayonnaise sauce. The sweet sesame sauce tasted like a lightly sweetened tahini sauce and it was my hands-down favourite of all three condiments! I added some to every course except dessert. The soy sauce was definitely sushi-grade and not the lower quality cooking-grade. The spicy mayonnaise sauce was just a mixture of Sriracha chili sauce and mayonnaise, so it was not anything unique or spectacular.

After placing our orders from the menu, they surprised us yet again with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I loved this palate teaser! These thin, bite-sized slices of tuna steak were seared to perfection (thin cooked crust on outside, but still completely raw on inside). The outer cooked crust was so flavourful and it tasted like it was seasoned with shichimi tōgarashi (the Japanese seven-flavour chili pepper spice mixture). The tuna was so fresh and not fishy at all. Also, the presentation was beautiful! I am not sure what the three drizzled sauces were, but when you coat the tuna slices in all three sauces and then put it in your mouth, it was such a wonderfully balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy flavours!

After placing our orders from the menu, they surprised us yet again with a complimentary amuse-bouche. I loved this palate teaser! These thin, bite-sized slices of tuna steak were seared to perfection (thin cooked crust on the outside, but still completely raw on the inside). The outer cooked crust was so flavourful and it tasted like it was seasoned with shichimi tōgarashi (the Japanese seven-flavour chili pepper spice mixture). The tuna was so fresh and not fishy at all. Also, the presentation was beautiful! I am not sure what the three drizzled sauces were, but when you coat the tuna slices in all three sauces and then put them in your mouth, it was such a wonderfully balanced mixture of salty, sweet, and spicy flavours!

For the first course, I ordered a vegan version of the "California Sushi". I am not vegan by any means, but that is what I felt like having that night. So instead of having "tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, and sesame" in my maki roll, they just put fresh cucumber and blanched carrots in my roll and then they topped it off with thin mango slices. As a self-proclaimed "sushi snob", this does not make my top-five-vegan-maki-rolls list, but it was definitely better than what I was expecting for sushi in Mexico. I enjoyed the nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours in this roll, which I had with soy sauce and the sweet sesame sauce, of course.

For the first course, I ordered a vegan version of the “California Sushi”. I am not vegan by any means, but that was what I felt like having that night. So instead of having “tempura shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, and sesame” in my maki roll, they just put fresh cucumber and blanched carrots in my roll and then they topped it off with thin mango slices. As a self-proclaimed “sushi snob”, this does not make my top-five-vegan-maki-rolls list, but it was definitely better than what I was expecting for sushi in Mexico. I enjoyed the nice balance of sweet and savoury flavours in this roll, which I had with soy sauce and the sweet sesame sauce, of course.

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“Misoshiro Soup – with tofu cheese, seaweed wakame, scallions, and Somen pasta.” The “tofu cheese” was just plain tofu pieces and completely dairy-free. This miso soup was not anything spectacular, but it was good. It was not too salty and contained a good amount of tofu pieces and seaweed. I was glad that there were only a few strands of Somen noodles, because that kept this dish nice and light for an appetizer.

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The menu for the teppanyaki, main course, and dessert. You could order a teppanyaki dish along with your main course before dessert, but Raj and I opted to order just a main course and dessert since we did not want to overindulge.

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“Seafood with Curry – sauce made with eggplant and onion confit.” My main course was absolutely delicious! The coconut-milk-based curry sauce was so creamy and flavourful. Also, there was a generous amount of seafood (mussel, shrimp, scallop, fish, etc.) and it was all so fresh! This seafood curry was served with a small bowl of short-grain white rice and the rice was perfectly cooked. My only criticism is that I wish this dish was spicy, because I like my curries quite spicy! I would reorder this dish as is though. It was just so aromatic and tasty!

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“Halo-halo – tapioca and lychee with coconut cream.” Halo-halo is a Filipino dessert that is mainly shaved ice and evaporated milk topped off with fruits, sweetened boiled beans, jello, and/or other sweets. That was what I was expecting, but instead, this halo-halo was more like a Thai coconut tapioca pudding. This dessert was mainly made of small tapioca pearls that were suspended in thick, sweetened coconut milk. I could not taste any lychee. Although this was not your traditional Filipino halo-halo, I enjoyed this gluten-free dessert, especially with the scoop of coconut ice cream on the side.

I ended up having only a small bite or two of that halo-halo dessert since I wanted to save my sweet-tooth splurge for the Sian Ka'an bar lounge next door. It is all about moderation. At the Sian Ka'an bar lounge, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ended my fabulous night with a Cosmopolitan and some dancing. What a fun night!

I ended up having only a small bite or two of that halo-halo dessert since I wanted to save my sweet-tooth splurge for the Sian Ka’an bar lounge next door. It is all about moderation. At the Sian Ka’an bar lounge, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and ended my fabulous night with a Cosmopolitan and some dancing. What a fun night!

If you are visiting the Bahia Principe Riviera Maya resort and are at least 18 years of age with no kids (or have someone to babysit the kids), I highly recommend having dinner at Maiko and then hitting the Sian Ka’an bar lounge afterwards for post-dinner drinks. This night out was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. Thank you, Maiko (and Sian Ka’an)!

XOXO,

Addy

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Girls’ Night at the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal: Arlequin Restaurant Review

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Excited for a girls’ night dinner at the Arlequin!

For our second dinner dining experience (if you have not seen the first one, go here), the men (Raj, his dad, his brother-in-law, his brother-in-law’s dad, and his nephew) went to La Gran Tortuga-Rodizio restaurant to indulge in a buffet of Brazilian grilled meats. Meanwhile, the ladies (Raj’s mom, his sister, his sister’s mother-in-law, and his niece) and I went to the Arlequin restaurant for fancy French cuisine. I loved this restaurant and this meal was one of my favourites during the trip! All of my courses were very flavourful, well presented, and perfectly portioned. I will recap of one of my favourite dining experiences on this trip, but first, I cannot resist sharing the little bit of monkey fun I had during this trip…

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Some monkey fun before dinner!

After some monkey business, the ladies and I were finally ready to head out for a girls’ night dinner…

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From left to right: Raj’s sister’s mother-in-law, his sister, his mom, and me. On our way to get ready for our girls’ night French dinner!

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From left to right: me, Raj’s mom, his sister, his niece, and his sister’s mother-in-law. Gorgeous ladies!

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The appetizer menu.

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The complimentary apéritif. I did not get a chance to jot down what was in it, but it tasted like a light sparkling dessert wine, which I absolutely loved! The maraschino cherry added a pretty and festive touch.

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The complimentary amuse-bouche. This was a bite-sized rice cracker that was made in-house and topped off with some kind of sauce. Although the presentation was beautiful, the taste and flavours were not very memorable. It was okay.

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“Smoked Salmon Paupiettes – with mushroom duxelle and caviar trio vinaigrette.” Although the smoked salmon was not of great quality (you can even tell by the pale pink colour and lack of marbling), the pile of sautéed minced mushrooms underneath made up for it. The mushrooms were so flavourful and hearty that the smoked salmon could have been omitted from this dish.

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“Lobster Velouté – with shrimp and sea bass quenelle” (before pouring).

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“Lobster Velouté – with shrimp and sea bass quenelle” (after pouring). I LOVED this soup even though there were no actual lobster pieces, the shrimp was mediocre in quality, and the sea bass quenelle was just alright. The creamy and extremely flavourful broth tasted like lobster and prawns and it was perfectly seasoned! I am not ashamed to say that I was literally licking my bowl afterwards.

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The main course menu.

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“Sea Bass Supreme – with sautéed vegetables instead of creamy rice, mushroom confit, and gravy.” While the seafood in the appetizers (the smoked salmon in the salad and the shrimp in the soup) were not great, the sea bass fillet in this main course was spectacular! It was super moist and flaky. Also, the sautéed vegetables were perfectly cooked al dente. Not only was this dish super tasty, but it was also super healthy and paleo-friendly!

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The dessert menu. Macarons are my favourite dessert. Since Arlequin is a French restaurant, when I saw stuffed “macaroons” (cookies of Italian origin made with desiccated coconut) on the menu, I knew that it was a typo and that they were actually referring to “macarons” (the French cookie sandwich). I did not even bother asking if it was a typo and just ordered the “Trilogy of Macaroons stuffed with Mocha and Salted Caramel Ice Cream”.

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“Trilogy of Macaroons stuffed with Mocha and Salted Caramel Ice Cream.” I was right! “Macaroons” was a typo and they were really referring to “macarons”, which are my favourite dessert! I was so thrilled! The macarons tasted heavenly! The meringue cookie parts were perfectly made and the filling was divine. The macarons were so wonderfully made that I did not even touch the ice cream, because I did not want to ruin what was on my palate with anything else.

I enjoyed dinner at the Arlequin more than dinner at Le Gourmet the previous night. My favourite dinner on the trip, however, took place the following night at a Japanese restaurant. Not only was it Raj’s and my one-year anniversary dinner, but that restaurant had the best food and service! I will share that dining experience in the next post, so stay tuned!

XOXO,

Addy

Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal: Le Gourmet Restaurant Review

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“Raddy” is back! Raj and I recently returned from our one-week vacation at the Luxury Bahia Principe Akumal all-inclusive resort in Riviera Maya, Mexico. We had a blast with his family and we managed to dine at five of the several à-la-carte restaurants there. Although this resort seems very popular (I have several colleagues who have visited this resort and we met many fellow Torontonians there along with many other Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Asians, and Australians), there were not many recent online reviews of the à-la-carte restaurants and their menus to help us decide which restaurants would best accommodate everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences. So Raj booked all the dinner reservations blindly prior to the trip, hoping there would be something for everyone on the menus.
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While I was there, I made sure to take pictures of all the menus and of everything I ordered at the à-la-carte restaurants, so I could share them restaurant-by-restaurant on this blog to help future visitors with specific dietary restrictions and preferences decide with which restaurants to book dinner reservations. Let us start with the French restaurant, Le Gourmet

Wonderful ambiance.

Wonderful ambiance.

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Menu for the first two courses.

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The apéritif was lightly sweet and refreshing. It was a great way to prep the palate for all the food that followed. I cannot remember what was in it exactly, but it was alcoholic. There was a non-alcoholic version, which was also sweet and refreshing.

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Like the apéritif, the amuse-bouche was also a pleasant surprise and not on the menu. The salad and sauces were refreshing and tasty, but the gelée was too bland.

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“Fresh Salmon Salad – with a crown of shrimp in a citric vinaigrette, caper mousse and a mango emulsion.” This was not what I was expecting based on the description. I was expecting a bed of leafy greens with either slices of smoked salmon or chunks of freshly cooked salmon. Instead, there were no leafy greens and the salmon tasted like canned salmon flakes mixed with mayonnaise. The salmon and mayonnaise mixture was sandwiched between slices of avocado and then topped with shrimp. I found this “salad” to be too creamy and heavy for a first course.

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“Cream of Almond Soup – with a Serrano ham brunoise.” Raj’s mom and I ordered this, because we have never heard of an almond soup before and we were so curious. It was very tasty and smooth. It almost tasted like a cream of cauliflower soup with fine granules of almond throughout. Although I enjoyed it, I regretted not ordering the Shellfish Bisque soup like Raj did. I tried his and it was way tastier. His bisque tasted like a very flavourful prawn broth with a richer consistency and texture. I made him swap bowls with me for a bit, because his bisque was just that good!

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Main course menu.

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“Garden Vegetable Millefeuille – vegetables layered in thin leaves of pastry with fresh coriander and a smooth tomato coulis.” Once again, Raj’s mom and I ordered the same menu item, because we both were not in the mood for meat that day. We were both very disappointed in this dish, because we were expecting much more pastry for a “millefeuille”, which translates to “a thousand layers” in English. Instead, there were just two small triangular sheets of phyllo. However, the vegetables were perfectly cooked (al dente) and the tomato coulis added a nice touch of tangy sweetness.

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I forgot to take a picture of the separate dessert menu, but I ordered the papaya tart. It was layers of very thin papaya slices, which were lightly soaked in some kind of sweet syrup. The papaya slices were layered over a very thin pie crust and this was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I did not have any of the vanilla ice cream, but the papaya tart was decent.

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My supplementation protocol was very different in Mexico. Instead of vitamin D being my must-have supplement as I was out under the sun so much, digestive enzymes were my must-have supplement with all the delicious food on the resort.

Even though I indulged more than usual at the resort, it was a vacation after all and, as you will see, I kept all my dinners at the à-la-carte restaurants on the lighter side. Digestive enzyme supplements were definitely crucial to surviving this vacation, but at least I got the majority of my vitamin D during this trip via sunlight instead of supplementation. 😛

Stay tuned for the other four à-la-carte restaurant reviews!

XOXO,

Addy

Raddy Recipe: Raj’s Mom Shows How to Cook Jackfruit Seeds!

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Both my dad and Raj’s dad LOVE jackfruit and would list it as one of their favourite fruits. Thus, Raj and I both grew up eating this fruit and we love it too. To me, this sweet and fleshy fruit tastes like something between a mango and a lychee. While my family would devour the tasty flesh of this fruit and toss away the seeds, Raj’s family would save the seeds and make delicious dishes with them. With jackfruit season upon us, I thought I would share one of Raj’s mom’s delicious jackfruit seed recipes.

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Recently, my parents bought some beautifully ripe jackfruit for Raj and his parents. When his mom told me she was going to save the seeds and cook with them, I was skeptical at first, because the seeds tasted so bitter and unpleasant in their raw state. However, when she cooked them in a simple stir-fry, they tasted delicious (similar to a cooked potato)! Not only are these seeds edible and tasty when cooked, but they are also a good source of vegan protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, minerals, and some B vitamins! I will never toss out the seeds from a jackfruit again! Here is Raj’s mom’s simple stir-fry recipe for jackfruit seeds (sorry for the lack of precise measurements, but like many mothers who cook a lot, Raj’s mom usually just “eyeballs” her measurements and goes by taste)…

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Raj’s Mom’s “Do-NOT-Throw-Away-The-Jackfruit-Seeds” Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh jackfruit seeds, each one cut in half
  • water to boil the jackfruit seeds
  • 1/2 cup frozen “Chinese potato” pieces (found in Indian grocery stores)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • few cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

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  1. Boil the fresh jackfruit seeds for 10-15 minutes or until tender. Then, drain and set them aside.
  2. In a pan on medium high heat, sauté the diced red onion with coconut oil until the onion pieces turn slightly brown and caramelize a bit.
  3. Add the halved jackfruit seeds and “Chinese potato” pieces into the pan and sauté them until everything is heated through.
  4. Add chili powder and salt to taste.
  5. Transfer stir-fry to a serving dish and serve immediately or garnish with a few cilantro leaves just before serving. Enjoy!

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The next time you eat jackfruit, I hope you save the seeds and try cooking with them! They are so delicious and nutritious!

XOXO,

Addy

Quick Tip Thursday #2: Smuggling Salad Toppers into Restaurants!

I smuggled some non-GMO tempeh and hemp hearts into a restaurant to add to their boring garden salad! Shhh...

I smuggled some non-GMO tempeh and hemp hearts into a restaurant to add to their boring garden salad! Shhh…

In the last several years, it seems that more and more restaurants have been expanding their salad options, offering more variety and selection. However, salads are not always the healthiest choice at restaurants, depending on what gets added to your lettuce base. Firstly, skip the iceberg lettuce and opt for more nutrient-dense, dark, leafy greens instead. Then, steer clear of unhealthy lettuce toppings such as high-sodium and high-fat dressings, processed cheeses, bacon bits, croutons, etc.

Sometimes though, restaurants offer so few healthy salad options that if you want a lean salad, you must resort to a plain and boring one, which typically consists of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and light oil. The key to delicious and sustainable healthy eating is PLANNING. When I dine out, I usually know ahead of time which restaurant and what I will be ordering. If I see nothing healthy on the menu that excites me, I plan out how to alter the menu to suit my health needs and taste buds.

When I am dining at a restaurant with little to no healthy options for their entrée salads except for the boring garden salad, I order the boring garden salad with a light dressing on the side and I bring my own salad toppers! For instance, in the picture above, I was at a restaurant whose salad entrée menu only offered a garden salad, a Greek salad with feta cheese (I am lactose intolerant), a typical high-in-bad-fats Caesar salad, and a chicken salad with processed and rubbery chicken meat. So I planned ahead and I brought my own tempeh (which was non-GMO, by the way) and hemp hearts to add to their otherwise boring garden salad. I also asked for their light Italian dressing and hot sauce on the side, both of which I added to the salad in small amounts. (Don’t forget to ask for your dressing on the side, so that you can control the amount!) It was easy turning their plain garden salad into a delicious, high-protein, high-fibre, and omega-3-rich one! Hope you all get to check out this health tip!

XOXO,

Addy

The 2014 Gourmet Food and Wine Expo Recap

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Getting ready to explore the annual Gourmet Food and Wine Expo for the first time!

This year, Raj and I attended the “VIP Preview Evening” of the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo. Even though it may sound exclusive, this “VIP Night Admission” on Thursday, November 20, 2014 was open to anyone 19 years of age or older. It was just a chance to attend the event before the “General Admission”, which ran from Friday, November 21, 2014 to Sunday, November 23, 2014. To be honest, if our tickets were not comped, we would not have attended. Although the food and wine selections were great and extensive, it was really crowded and the $45 “VIP Night Admission” tickets did not include any sample tickets, which were an additional $20 minimum. The sample tickets costed and were worth $1 each and they were sold only in multiples of 20. According to their website, the “average spending to enjoy a wide variety of food and drinks is $40 per person”. For us, $20-$30 per person was more than enough.

It only took about one hour after arriving to find Ginny amid the chaos.

It only took about one hour after arriving to find Ginny amid the chaos.

While we found the admission costs high, the food and drinks were reasonably priced and we had a blast sampling food from various restaurants across the city and a few drinks here and there. There were lots of healthy food options for Raj and me too! Here is a recap…

Me and Doug McNish

I was so excited to see Vegan Chef Doug McNish there! He was serving a black bean slider (with roasted red pepper chipotle aioli and caramelized onions) and kale caesar salad (with smoked eggplant “bacon”) for $8. They were so good and you would never guess they were completely vegan!

Nutrafarms Chicken Salad

One of my favourite dishes from the event was the quinoa salad with chicken from Nutrafarms. It was such a simple dish, but I loved it! ($3)

Me and Almond Breeze Collage

Almond Breeze was sampling their different flavours and varieties of almond milk and their Vegan Berry Lemon Muffins recipe (featuring their sweetened Original almond milk). Their drink and muffin samples were complimentary. While the muffin recipe is not all that “clean”, the muffins were certainly delicious and my lactose-intolerant digestive system was just happy they were dairy-free.

Almond Milk and Butternut Squash Soup

Natur-a made butternut squash soup (one of my favourite soups) with their almond milk. It was creamy even without any dairy! The samples were complimentary.

Me and Brown Rice Triscuit

Triscuit was handing out free samples of their new Brown Rice Triscuits.

Nisos Importing Collage

The organic and herb-infused olive oils from Nisos Importing were so aromatic and flavourful! All their products are imported from the biggest Southern island of Greece, Crete.

Me and Rock Lobster Collage

Rock Lobster. Enough said.

Holy Crap Cereal

I finally got to try Holy Crap breakfast cereal! This high-fibre, gluten-free, vegan cereal contains only organic chia seeds, organic buckwheat, organic hulled hemp seeds, organic raisins, organic cranberries, organic apple bits, and organic cinnamon. It tasted better than any oatmeal breakfast I’ve had!

 

Me and Meow That's Hot Collage

If you’ve been following our blog, it’s no secret that Raj and I love hot sauces! The preservative-free and additive-free hot sauces from Ottawa by Meow! That’s Hot. were tasty and none were too spicy.

 

Japanese Dishes

There were some interesting Japanese dishes, none of which I was in the mood to try. From top left, clockwise: Seaweed Salad (the only one of the five dishes that Raj and I have tried before), Ankimo Mentai (steamed monkfish liver with spicy cod roe), Chuka Iidako (seasoned baby octopus), Tsubukko Tako Wasabi (seasoned octopus with wasabi), and Kimchee Wakame (spicy garlic seaweed salad).

 

Bartender in Action

To stay on the healthy track, I limited myself to a maximum of two drinks that night. One of my two drinks was an Orange-Creamsicle-like cocktail made with Pinnacle Vodka. The vodka was too strong, so it didn’t really taste much like an Orange Creamsicle. I wasn’t a fan. The bartender’s mixing skills were better than the drink.

 

Me and Muskoka Lakes Winery Collage

Raj and I attended the Niagara Food and Wine Expo earlier this year and one of our favourite wines there was the Muskoka Lakes Winery Cranberry Blueberry Wine. So when we spotted it here, I knew it HAD to be one of my two drinks for the night! So sweet, fruity, and festive! ($2)

Next year, if we decide to attend, we will most likely go on Friday before 5 PM or on Sunday when admission tickets are $25 each and $20 each, respectively. It will probably be less crowded then too. I am happy that we finally had a chance to attend this annual event and that there were healthy food options. We had a great time!

XOXO,

Addy

 

National Women’s Show 2014 Recap

Me on Escalator to #NWSToronto

I was so excited to introduce Raj to the National Women’s Show this year!

The National Women’s Show definitely hit a home run this year at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre! We attended on Sunday, which was the last day of this weekend-long trade show, and none of the booths seemed to be running low on samples or products. Everyone was well prepared and well stocked for the massive crowds! Raj was thinking of packing a lunch for the day, but I told him he wouldn’t need a lunch and I was right. There were so many food booths handing out samples this year that we were so full by the end of the show. There were also many great deals on food, beverages, beauty products, clothes, supplements, accessories, etc. One of my favourite parts about the show was discovering many new and/or Canadian companies and getting to meet the people behind them. We managed to visit and chat with most (not all) of the booths and here is just the tip of the iceberg…

We arrived at the National Women's Show prepared for a lot of walking and sampling, both of which counteract each other.

We arrived at the National Women’s Show prepared for hours of walking and sampling!

Me & Biocore

We visited the BioCore Food Science booth and I introduced Raj to their “microGREENS” product, which is one of my favourite tasting greens drink mixes. His response after sampling some: “Oh wow, that was actually pretty good!” Yep.

Me & Almond Fresh

This was my first time hearing about and trying this almond milk company called Almond Fresh. Raj’s favourite flavour was chocolate and mine was coconut. I just wish their chocolate flavoured one wasn’t so high in sugar (21 grams of sugar per cup) and their coconut flavoured one wasn’t sweetened with refined white sugar. However, they do have an unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk, as well as an unsweetened vanilla flavoured one.

Me & Made Good

I loved these granola minis by MadeGood, especially the strawberry flavoured ones! Their organic and peanut-free granolas are rolled up into bite-size pieces and they contain vegetables (spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, beets, and shiitake mushrooms), all of which you cannot taste! It’s always great when you find a tasty way to add a bit more veggies into your diet.

Me & Pranin Organic

One of my most exciting finds at the National Women’s Show this year was Pranin Organic. Their supplements are 100% organic, non-GMO, dairy-free, corn-free, yeast-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. They are also made entirely from food (so no synthetic nutrients) and they do not contain any binders or fillers. We tried their “PureFood B” (a B-vitamins supplement), “PureFood Iron” (a bio-available, non-heme iron supplement), and “Complete A to Z” (a powdered multivitamin mix). Raj and I were both pleasantly surprised that they all tasted great!

Me & Van Dyk's

I’m not a big fan of fruit juices in general, but I love Van Dyk’s By Nature pure wild blueberry juice. It is made only from grade-A wild blueberries that are grown in Nova Scotia and it does not contain any sweeteners, preservatives, or additives. My favourite way to enjoy this pure blueberry juice is in salad dressings.

Me & Raj w/ Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co.

Muskoka Roastery Coffee Company served amazing coffee at the National Women’s Show. There was an unflavoured coffee and a flavoured one at the show. Raj chose their flavoured “Muskoka Maple” coffee and he really enjoyed it. I, on the other hand, strongly dislike all flavoured coffees, so I chose the “Loon Call Breakfast Blend” unflavoured medium coffee and it was delicious!

Me & Clarisonic

I have friends who swear by the Clarisonic and believe that this oscillating facial cleansing brush should be a necessary tool in everyone’s skincare routine. I have contemplated purchasing it, but I have been skeptical about its effectiveness. However, after getting a demonstration done on the back of my left hand, I have added this beauty tool to my Christmas wishlist! It was so gentle and left my hand feeling so clean and smooth! Imagine the potential skin improvements if I used this brush on my face daily! I sense a Clarisonic purchase in my near future.

Raj knows my favourite lipsticks are from Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). So when we spotted a YSL booth at the National Women's Show, he knew we just HAD to visit. The makeup artist there suggested some products for me to try. He applied one of the new Rouge Volupté Shine lipstick shades on my lips, a complementary Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain lipgloss shade on top, and some of their

Raj knows my favourite lipsticks are from Yves Saint Laurent (YSL). So when we spotted a YSL booth at the National Women’s Show, he knew we just HAD to visit. The makeup artist there suggested some products for me to try. He applied one of the new Rouge Volupté Shine lipstick shades on my lips, a complementary Rouge Pur Couture Vernis à Lèvres Glossy Stain lipgloss shade on top, and some Touche Éclat complexion highlighter under my eyes. I was glad the YSL booth was actually our second stop, because I got to show off the fabulous YSL makeup and his application skills for almost the entire show.

Me and Phasion Village

I’m a minimalist when it comes to my hair. I use clean shampoos that are free of sulfates, parabens, and phthalates. Also, I hardly ever apply conditioner, styling products, or heat to my hair. At the show though, I treated my hair to some large loose curls by a woman from Phashion Village. There was so much to see and do that I only had time to curl a quarter of my hair!

Me and Camry Collage

We got to check out the new 2015 Toyota Camry. Afterwards, we received a small gift bag containing a bottle of hot sauce, a pair of red socks, and Sally Hansen press-on nail designs.

Me Exit

After SIX hours of walking and exploring every booth, we were exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to sift through the bags of goodies and samples we received.

#NWSToronto Loot

The goodies and samples from this year’s National Women’s Show were amazing! Some of my highlights include: BioCore coreOMEGA omega-3 supplement, Schick Intuition razors, Stayfree sanitary pads, a basil plant starter, and a portable cellphone charger.

Congratulations to the National Women’s Show for putting together another successful and super fun trade show in Toronto this year! The next one will be in Québec City this weekend (November 15th-16th, 2014), followed by one in Montréal (March 13th-15th, 2015) and another in Ottawa (April 11th-12th, 2015). If those shows are anything like the one in Toronto this past weekend, I highly recommend checking it out and setting aside at least a few hours to explore everything. Even if you don’t meet any celebrity guests like we didn’t this year, the show is still a blast!

XOXO,

Addy