Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Victoria’s Prince of Italian Dining – Pagliacci’s

ImageJuly 12, 2013
Pagliacci’s, Victoria BC
Marlene Dietrich
Prince of Tides
The Prawn Broker

This popular Italian dining spot does not look fancy from the outside. Inside was more of the old, almost antique-looking photos and decor. What initially drew me in was the creative names for everything from cocktails to appetizers to entrees. Some were so hilarious! It was so crowded on a Friday night but being set on some of the best Italian food around, we decided to wait.

I started with the Marlene Dietrich martini, with Canadian whiskey, Cointreau, orange, lemon, and bitters. The description quoted Marlene Dietrich saying “Darling, the legs aren’t so beautiful, I just know what to do with them.” I just could not resist after that. It was a good mix of bitter, tangy, and sweet.Image

My entree was the Prince of Tides, a spinach salad with seared scallops, portobello mushrooms, pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and crispy pancetta, with a basil pesto dressing. My only complaint was the salad was overly greasy from the pancetta and the scallops. Otherwise, all the ingredients were some of my favourite foods ever. The scallops were perfectly cooked and the mushrooms were tender.Image

Dad got The Prawn Broker, a pasta dish with jumbo prawns in a coconut milk and cashew curry sauce with mango chutney and cream over a bed of spinach fettuccine. The prawns were succulent and juicy and the cashews provided a nice, crunchy textural contrast. The pasta was nice and al dente and the sauce was addictive – sweet, tangy, and creamy. It was a great blend of Indian and Italian!

I would come back to Pagliacci’s in a heartbeat to try some of their other seemingly amazing pastas and interestingly-named cocktails. This is definitely a ‘hidden’ gem in Victoria and a must for anyone who appreciates a good pasta!

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Seafood Fusion – Baker One

July 7, 2013
Baker One, Richmond BC
Seafood Omurice
Black Pepper Seafood Pasta

ImageAs we wondered through Aberdeen, a friend and I decided to stop at Baker One for lunch since we did not want to eat at the food court or go into some high-end Chinese restaurant. This seemed like a cute little café, very clean and bright with the tall glass windows.

I had the Seafood Omurice with the tomato sauce and fried rice on the inside. It tasted fairly good, with the tomato sauce tangy and sweet. The egg omelet was delicious with the sauce and the seafood – squid, scallops, mussels, and prawns – were tender as well. The fried rice on the inside went nicely with the egg and the sauce, so, overall, it was quite nice for ‘high-end’ comfort food.Image

My friend ordered their special of the day – Black Pepper Seafood Pasta. The seafood was the same – three squid rings, three prawns, two scallops, and a mussel – but the sauce was a little bland. It had a good black pepper taste but was otherwise not very flavourful with just a touch of olive oil. The pasta was al dente but the portion was small so for a similar price, the omurice was much more worth it.

I can see why this place will not get full on a regular basis. The food is quite basic and not much of a fusion in comparison to the other HK-style cafes in the area. However, their entrees are at least $4-5 more expensive, perhaps due to the location in Aberdeen or the more elegant décor. Either way, the food must deliver and for the price, it is just not up to par with other places.

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Waves of Spritzers – Waves Coffee House

July 3, 2013
Waves Coffee House, Richmond BC
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Tomato & Spinach Panini
Date Square
Sparkling Pomegranate Spritzer

ImageWaves Coffee House is a lovely little local coffee chain, certainly giving Starbucks a run for its share of customers. This particular location has a spacious interior with huge windows to allow the light to come into the store. With couches and tables, and free wifi, this is easily a working place.

The Sticky Toffee Pudding looked so tempting. The sticky toffee layer on top was delicious, as were the different layers of crumble and cake underneath. It was extremely sweet but with that deep toffee flavour.Image

The Tomato & Spinach Panini was light and tasty. The panini bread was nicely pressed and had a nice herbal note. The tomato and spinach made it somewhat refreshing, while the sun-dried tomato mayo and pepper jack cheese made it creamier.Image

The Date Square tasted okay with a light hint of date flavour in the paste. The granola crumble was quite dense but I wish it was a little chewier rather than crumbly. More date paste would have made it more like a date dessert rather than granola dessert.Image

Finally, their new Sparkling Pomegranate Spritzer was very refreshing. Tangy, sweet, and carbonated, it was a perfect summer drink. The cold beverage certainly did it for me that afternoon.

I definitely would not mind to grab a sandwich, soup, dessert, and later a beverage while I sat there for the whole day with my laptop. That would actually be very productive and… well… delicious.

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The Must-eat Mushroom Ravioli – Olive Garden

June 15, 2013
Olive Garden, Philadelphia PA
Garden-Fresh Salad
Ravioli di Portobello
Seafood Brodetto
Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken

ImageA friend from China was in town with two other of her friends so a group of us headed to Olive Garden since Philly Chinese food was just not going to cut it and the Japanese restaurant we wanted to eat at was closed during lunch hours. I always had a little something for Olive Garden as it was the first place I tried a mushroom ravioli after reading Twilight. That was way back when in Florida, too. Image

To start, there were of course the unlimited [Breadsticks]. They were incredibly soft, airy, and warm, with just the right amount of butter on top to give it a slight flavour.

The Garden-Fresh Salad, which we asked to have dressing on the side, was quite fresh. I did not like the olives or the hot peppers but everything else was simple and refreshing.Image

Then, onto what I was craving: Ravioli di Portobello. The light cream sauce is slightly sweet from the sun-dried tomato sauce but with a hint of the smoky cheese. The portobello raviolis were cooked to the perfect texture, al dente and not soggy after being in the sauce for a little while. This is as light a plate as any cream-based pasta can get.Image

The Seafood Brodetto was also quite delicious. It was loaded with shrimp, scallops, tilapia, mushrooms, and spinach and had a light white wine and marinara-saffron broth. The bowl was hearty and comforting but light and flavourful. The garlic ciabatta bread that came with it was perfect for dipping and we even had some breadsticks left to soak up all that yummy broth.Image

I also had a bit of the Lasagna Primavera with Grilled Chicken, with zucchini, squash, and bell peppers in a tomato-basil broth with parmesan drizzle. This was another very light pasta dish. The vegetables really brought out that freshness. The chicken was a little bland so you really had to eat it with everything else together, especially the sauce and cheese.

The service we received was great and we all had a nice time chatting even after we were pretty much finished with our food. This may not be top-notch, fine Italian dining, but for the price, it was a great meal with friends.

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The Italians Like their Red Fruit – Italian Tomato

May 13, 2013
Italian Tomato, Richmond BC
Penne Pescatore
Whole Wheat Linguine Da Vinci

Penne Paesana
Calamari Fritti

ImageHaving heard of the extremely large and filling pasta portions at Italian Tomato, my friends I decided it was a good option for us as we were quite hungry after two games of bowling. The décor was nice but since we wanted to sit and chat, we took a long time to eat. The waitress was clearly getting impatient, but it was not like there were many others in the restaurant waiting on our table.

My Penne Pescatore was quite lovely. The tomato sauce was nicely seasoned and had a nice, tangy flavour. The small scallops were tender and better than the tiny shrimp and clams. I did like the mushrooms as well. Three of my favourite foods mixed into one. The penne was al dente and picked up the sauce very nicely – one of the reasons I prefer penne to other pastas.Image

The Whole Wheat Linguine Da Vinci had a light, creamy flavour. The sauce was not very thick. The whole wheat linguine was good, as were the spinach and tomatoes. I can’t say I like the chicken that much, though, as it was a tad bland and tough. There also was not as much chicken as you would expect in such a large plate of food.Image

The Penne Paesana was good with the smoked salmon, scallops, clams, and shrimp. The light dill cream sauce did not seem to taste as good with the seafood as my tomato sauce did. However, the seafood was still nice, and again, the penne was just wonderful.Image

Finally, the Calamari Fritti was nicely fried with a good tzatziki sauce. It was not overly greasy but was definitely a bit overpriced for such a small portion that would be nowhere near $11.95.

A final note: they offer smaller portions that are $2 cheaper, but when I asked the server, he told us it was half the amount of pasta. Clearly, that would be a huge rip off, so definitely go for the larger plates!

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Delightfully Choking on My Sandwich – Farm Truck

May 2, 2013
Farm Truck, Philadelphia PA
Artichoke Pesto Sandwich

ImagePesto? Check. Mozzarella? Check. Tomatoes? Check. Freshly pressed or toasted bread? Check. Thank you, Farm Truck, for a wonderful lunch, and for throwing some artichoke in there, as well!Image

The Artichoke Pesto Sandwich was absolutely delightful. The sourdough bread was rustic and quite nice. The mozzarella was fresh and light while retaining that bouncy chewiness. The artichoke pesto was just delightfully aromatic, and the roasted tomatoes were sour and had a deep flavour, that of a good quality tomato. This sandwich made me a very happy girl. 

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Cafe at its Best – Panera Bread

March 30, 2013
Panera Bread, New York NY
Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta Signature Breakfast Sandwich
Easter Egg Cookie
Peach Pecan Crunch Muffin
Bear Claw

ImageJust like Au Bon Pain, I love the atmosphere at Panera Bread. Freshly baked pastries and goodies, made-to-order sandwiches with fresh ingredients, and a warm, cozy feel in a very relaxing cafe atmosphere. Whether it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I would always be happy eating here.

The Mediterranean Egg White on Ciabatta Signature Breakfast Sandwich was good, with lots of egg whites, spinach, flavourful roasted tomatoes, Vermont white cheddar, and basil pesto on a toasty ciabatta bun. Despite the quality, this was overpriced. The sandwich was too small for almost $5. Image

The Easter Egg Cookie was very generic but also very pretty with its colourful sugar icing and chocolate candies. The shortbread cookie itself was crumbly and buttery. This was one celebratory cookie!Image

The Cobblestone is a pastry made with cinnamon raisin dough, apples, streusel, and icing drizzle. It was such a splendid treat. I love raisins, apples, and spices together. Add to that streusel and icing and voila, the perfect, tastiest treat you can find. The dough could have been a little more moist but apart from that, it was delicious.Image

The Peach Pecan Crunch Muffin was okay. The muffin was not too sweet and was moist and dense. I liked the large pieces of peach inside, making it juicier. I wished there were pecans inside as well as on top, though.Image

The Bear Claw had that artificial almond taste but it was not overwhelming to the point that it becomes revolting. The pastry was flaky and the almond slices on top were nice. There could have been more filling so that you get it in every bite.

I wish there was a Panera on campus or even in center city. It is on the more expensive side but sometimes, the atmosphere, quality, and just overall feel of the place is worth it. 

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The Typically Expensive Panini at JFK – Balducci’s

ImageMarch 2, 2013
Balducci’s, New York NY
Italian Panini

Everything in New York is expensive and that certainly includes lunch at the airport. $10 for a panini from Balducci’s at JFK was pretty outrageous, but at least it was good. It was definitely possible to pay $10 and be extremely disappointed. Luckily, this was not one of those times.Image

The Italian Panini had quite a lot of some salty but delicious prosciutto along with tomato, basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella. The tomatoes were not in season, but the pesto had good flavour. The mozzarella was light and yummy. I do appreciate that they can properly press a panini so that the ciabatta was crispy on the outside yet still soft and warm on the inside. It was not a very large sandwich but it was very filling. At least the airport still has acceptable food so that even if my wallet cries, my taste buds are not. 

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Monkey Gone Wild – Brysi Cafe

March 1, 2013
Brysi Cafe, Philadelphia PA
Caprese Sandwich
Sticky Monkey Sandwich

ImageNot only was March National Flour Month and National Peanut Month, March 1 was also National Peanut Butter Day. On my last day on campus before the break, I knew I just had to pay a visit to Brysi Café, having seen the ad in the weekly email I receive about their Sticky Monkey Sandwich. The café was spacious and relaxing, with a few tables and a counter filled with healthy bars and treats since it is located in a fitness center. They make their sandwiches to order so it comes off the panini press crispy on the outside and toasty hot.

ImageFirst, I opted for the Caprese Sandwich on wheat bread. The mozzarella was very fresh and the pesto was oily and aromatic, soaking into the nicely pressed and slightly sweet bread. Whole wheat bread is lovely when you can actually taste that light sweet undertone. The vine ripe tomatoes were not very flavourful, though, probably because of the season. The baby spinach was actually replaced with the kind that has huge, slightly curly leaves.Image

The Sticky Monkey Sandwich on white bread was absolutely scrumptious. The crispy yet soft bread went really well with the peanut butter, honey, sliced bananas, and pumpkin seeds. I loved the savoury and sweet blend of sticky peanut butter and honey. They just stuck like glue. The bananas added to the sweetness and aroma while the pepitas were a delightful crunch.Image

I would love to come here after a workout for a healthy, light meal. Next time, I shall give their breakfast, smoothie, and other sandwich options a try. 

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Gettin’ Messy with Salsa – Chipotle Mexican Grill

February 24, 2013
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Philadelphia PA
Steak Burrito
Chicken Salad
Chips & Salsa

ImageSeeing students nearly everyday with bag after bag of Chipotle takeout was bound to wear off sooner or later. It just so happened to be National Tortilla Chip Day so by evening, I found myself in that very long bending line inside the popular dinner spot.Image

My Steak Burrito was humongous and absolutely amazing, apart from the steak, that is. The soft tortilla barely held together the cubes of marinated steak, the mound of cilantro-lime white rice, black and pinto beans, lettuce, fajita vegetables, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. The rice was quite flavorful and not over-cooked, so they had a nice texture. I asked for both kinds of beans, and both were mushy and good. The mild salsa and hot salsa was a good mix of fresh and spice. The lettuce was crispy and the cheese and sour cream added a lot of flavor. The steak was a little dry and tough, unfortunately, but the size of the burrito made it such a good deal.Image

The Chicken Salad was also very good. The chicken was not as dry despite not being the most tender chicken ever. It was flavorful, though, as were the cheese, fajita vegetables, mild salsa, and sour cream. The two kinds of beans were again great, contrasting the texture of the bed of lettuce.Image

Finally, for my Chips & Salsa, I got the mild, medium, and hot salsa. The Fresh Tomato Salsa was mild, with chopped tomatoes, onions, and cilantro among other things, was sour and refreshing. The medium one, the Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa, had a decent kick and yet was still very refreshing and light – my favorite of the three. The hot one, the Tomatillo-Chili Red Salsa, was too much like a hot sauce it was a bit monotone and not very refreshing. The chips were freshly fried and crunchy. They were good and not overly oily either.

Coming here really had made me realize why so many students come. The price, quality, and quantity of the food are certainly worth the money!

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