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

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How to Eat Like a Skinny Socialite at Events…

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In a busy city like Toronto, there are always numerous social events going on. I always find that at such events, the catering is quite calorie-laden (i.e. high-fat and/or high-sugar) for the most part with few to no light options. ‎Last Thursday, Raj and I were invited to a grand opening event and the catering at this event was no exception. There was a cornucopia of indulgent foods and drinks that was served buffet-style. I know some people who would starve themselves the whole day before such events and then overindulge at the event. That is a very unhealthy and ineffective way to enjoy social events without packing on the pounds. So how do skinny socialites do it? If they do it healthily, this is how they do it…

#11. Eat a small meal before you go. Don’t go hungry! There is nothing worse than arriving at an event hungry and wanting to devour everything in sight, especially when most of the food is unhealthy. Going to an event when you are somewhere in between hungry and full helps you determine what foods and/or drinks you truly want to have. For instance, at the event last Thursday, we were greeted at the guestlist check-in with freshly popped popcorn. If I arrived hungry, I would have eaten all the popcorn in that bag without even having checked out how extensive the catering menu would be. On the other hand, since I did not arrive hungry, I did not find the popcorn appealing and I passed on it.

 

 

#2

2. Check out all the menu items first. Then, pick out a few items that you want to try the most and try a bit of each. The dessert buffet table at the event last Thursday was HUGE! There were cannoli, a variety of mini dessert tarts, cupcakes, macaroons, brownies, a white chocolate and caramel fountain with fresh fruit, mini cupcakes, freshly baked cookies (chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and white chocolate macadamia), chocolate bars, a make-your-own-hot-chocolate station with marshmallows, a variety of macarons, and much more! With my sweet tooth, I had to narrow all that down to just a few items that I wanted to try the most. It was not too hard in this case, because macarons are my favourite dessert! There were four flavours (chocolate, vanilla, raspberry, and passion fruit). I took one of each, ate half of each, and took home the rest in a popcorn bag from the guestlist check-in. The leftover halves were just as delicious the next day! My favourite flavour was definitely the vanilla.

#3

3. Engage in other festivities, socialize, and/or network. Do not make the event just about the food. Even though I am a huge foodie, I do not make social events revolve around the food. I make sure to engage in all the other festivities going on and converse with great company. At this most recent event, Raj and I had a lot of silly fun in the photo booth, enjoyed all the live performances, and took time to take in all the beautiful decor. The food was only one of several highlights that night.

 

 

#44. Limit yourself to a maximum of two drinks. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, sugary drinks are simply empty calories. The calories that they contain provide minimal to no hydration, vitamins, or minerals. However, if you enjoy drinking at events, feel free to indulge as long as you can keep it at two drinks per day maximum. Also, size DOES matter! For instance, although there was an open bar at the event for white wine, red wine, and Cosmopolitan cocktails, there was more than eight ounces of wine in each wine glass! That is a lot of wine for one serving! A glass of wine should only be around five ounces. I love white wine, but if I had drank that entire glass, I would have reached my daily drink limit with that one glass. Instead, I drank half that glass of white wine and enjoyed a Cosmopolitan after.

#5

5. Practice mindful eating like the Buddhists do amid all the commotion. At social events, I always see people eating while standing up and while talking and/or listening to multiple people. I, on the other hand, take a timeout from all the mixing and mingling to eat mindfully and to savour every bite. Mindful eating helps you feel satiated with smaller portions and helps prevent bingeing and overeating. For instance, at the oyster bar at the event, I zoned out all the commotion to garnish my oyster and mindfully eat it. As a result, I was satisfied and happy with just two oysters. Mindful eating should definitely be practiced at every meal.

 

I really hope you all found these tips helpful. Although I do not personally know any real skinny socialites like Paris Hilton, I do know that following these tips would definitely be the healthy way to maintain a title like that! Who says you can’t have your cake (or macaron, in my case) and eat it too?

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