Thursday, 22 August 2013

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The Tides - Newbrunswick Hotel Restaurant

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Our second official day here of seafood goodness, and we found a restaurant that had some delicious food!

Located in Alma, NB off the Fundy bay this restaurant is small and quaint. 

The decor is really nice and simple, but yet just enough for it to be really enjoyable. There's a view of the shore where you can watch the tide begin to shrink away pretty rapidly. 
 We ordered quite a few dishes that arrived very nicely presented which reflected a lot of care and attention that was given by the chef. 

The service was great too, we were met by a very friendly waitress who had a great personality. She was helpful, and gave some great tips on how to year apart the 1lb lobster that was ordered. 

Two crab cakes. 

Calamari, it was a little bland but tasted great with the dipping sauce which had just a little bit of 'hot'. 


Two versions of the same seafood linguine. One had a creamy Cajun sauce whereas another was cooked simply with garlic/oil. Both were very colourful and not only looked but tasted delicious. 

Their fresh lobster at market price was ~27. 


Lobster dip- also delicious! The tortilla/nacho chips were definitely deep fried and although delicious, it is definitely not nutritious ( :(  ). 

Deep fried clams, a menu item we had seen a few times since arriving in the maritimes. It was really good! Similar to calamari but with clams. 

A lobster club house, essentially a BLT with an additional layer of lobster. Around $17, pretty good. 

As you can see a lot of food was ordered! It was a great experience and I would highly recommend it. 

Have you been to Alma? 
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New Brunswick Restaurant : Grannan Review

Unfortunately my phone died by the time dinner arrived so I wasn't able to take photos! Any how I felt that it really wasn't up to par.

Lets start with the decor, it was definitely nicely decorated. There's a wooden interior, and a lot of memorabilia with steering wheels and a dated diving suit. However I went in the evening and with the sun out of sight it left the sky dark with only the city lights. There's very little lighting inside , as such it was extremely dim inside. My family friend was actually using a phone as a flash light to read an email. At or table (of seven) we had only one light and an unlit candle that remained unlit until the dinner was nearly over. 

So what my problem was with the restaurant was that I felt that few of us got our money's worth. The menus descriptions created expectations that were not met. 

The price range of this money is slightly on the expensive side, as meals ranged from $15-30. You would think that, as a regular North American restaurant (not fine dining), meals would be slightly on the larger size or have portions that reflected its price tag. What I noticed for a few of these meals (there were seven of us) was that dishes would be served in fairly small dishes , but were simply placed on top of a larger dish that was either empty or served with a few vegetables. 

For a ~23 pasta, there was very little vermicelli in the clam dish! For another elaborate menu item priced at $31, it too was met with disappointment as this seafood dish was served in a plate no larger than a cantaloupe! The menu had given it a mouth watering description with a lot of seafood, instead it was more of a dish that was mainly mashed potato. 

Two orders were placed for the lobster linguine, with one special request - a change of sauce. They simply asked for the Alfredo sauce to be replaced with an oil/garlic which is normally something that can be easily done by chefs. Instead the dish was very bland, with a very mediocre sauce. If at all it felt like they hadn't replaced it with anything! The waiter  actually brought it out describing it as 'no sauce'. 

Furthermore, I know that the service of a waitress should not reflect completely on the restaurant, but the employee is still the only contact that customers have with the company. We found the waitress to be not very courteous, we had merely asked for the one candle at our table to be lit (we could not see very well) but we were told "...I'll just add that to my list of other things I have to do.." as if to imply that she was too busy to meet our needs. 

Lastly I ordered the "Seafood Crepe" which was supposed to be savoury filled with lobster white fish and shrimp (I think).  Needless to day it wasn't really what I had expected. The crepe was completely covered in melted cheese, and inside it was filled with a creamy mixture. The mixture was so creamy that I didn't really know what I was eating , all in all I would say that it was just 'okay'. The seafood that was supposed to be inside really could not be distinguished. 

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

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My attempt at Granola

So yesterday I tried to make my own granola for the first time. I didn't really follow a recipe , instead I looked at a bunch to see what ingredients people commonly use and went from there. I basically just used what I already had at home, unfortunately I didn't really have any chopped nuts or anything. It was a spontaneous decision so I didn't really have time to go out to buy anything. 

If was pretty fun, it reminded me of the experience that you get when you're going to one of those places with self serve frozen yogurt. I pretty much added a little bit of everything that I like!

In the very end the granola bars were a little bit of a fail, I guess I didn't use quite enough liquid ingredients or not enough of the ones used to hold it together. Either way I still tried to partition them into sections (so that I wouldn't eat it all at once ) but they ended up falling apart on me! Instead of making granola bars I really just made really tasty granola ( that would typically be added to yogurt or something). 

Ingredients used : rolled oats, chocolate chips, dried cranberries, shredded coconjt, margarine, almond extract, flax seed, one date + water, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sesame seeds. 
Excluding the oats, most ingredients were around .5 tbsp- 1 tbsp. 

I love granola bars but eat them fully aware that I'm eating it for the taste just like a chocolate bar and that many are actually not but much healthier nutritionally. As well a lot of them end up having quite a lot of calories!

Do you have any favourite granola recipes that are still fairly healthy? Leave a comment if you too or just any experience making them!
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Bite Bar Review

I'm the type of person who likes to try a little bit of everything - little being the key word. Newly opened at Bay and Elm is a little cupcake store, BiteBar, the only thing is that it's not your typical cupcakes that are sold.

These cupcakes are literally bite sized! They come in over a dozen flavours which means you can pick more than one! The only issue is that because they're so tiny, the size to price ratio seems slightly too imbalanced. In this case it doesn't really seem like you're getting your money's worth. But hey, that's not everyone's first priority especially when it comes to eating desserts am I right? 

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store
They're packaging is actually quite cool and elaborate. It's pretty funny how big the box is for such tiny cupcakes. 

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

You can use the business card as a reference for how tiny these cupcakes are! The flavours that I chose were PB&J (I might have an addiction here), red velvet, and Oreo cookie ( I think)! They were all pretty delicious and am glad that I could sample a few.
Bite Bar Cupcakes Store

Here is a terrible picture taken by me (terribly distracting background and nails that were heavily chipped- I apologize ), I decided last minute before eating it that I wanted to show exactly how small these cupcakes really were. In the words of my friend " the icing is practically bigger than the cupcake"! 

I feel like this will be more of a one time purchase do me. I just wanted to try it once but it's not really worth it to be a repeat customer. I forget all of the pricing but it starts at $1 each or $5 for 6. 

Have you tried Bite Bar? What do you think? 
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Brief Yoga Experience

Personally I learned a lot about yoga and the classes themselves throughout this summer after attending several times a week for approximately three months. I noticed how different power flow classes were to moksha classes.  I feel that the PF ones are a much harder workout since there are so many flows involved! My chateranga is definitely much more stronger now than it was before, and I can flow from one position to another with much more ease. Moksha classes seem to include the balance poses a lot more and are seen as the "intro" class for beginners. Nevertheless I enjoy going to both, it's important to mix it up! I usually just attended the same time slot throughout the week only to find out midway what type of class it was. It was also really great taking classes from so many instructors. Although it might be the same type of class the instructors are what make all the difference and can make the classes completely different and unlike one another. 

Yoga definitely is a great workout for strength (holding those poses will definitely help to tone your muscles) and improving ones flexibility. 

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Moksha Yoga Energy Exchange Program

Lets face it, yoga classes can be quite expensive. Although I somehow I came to the conclusion that a gym membership or $50-70 was expensive and unreasonable whereas a monthly /ten class pass of $120 seemed plausible. 

Any how the yoga studio I go to is known for its Hot Yoga, it's a chain (maybe franchise) known as Moksha Yoga. 

There are student discounts which bring the cost of the each class to be approximately $15. I don't know about you, but $15 a class is still pretty expensive and can add up pretty quickly if you plan on going several times a week. One option that is available is their Karma classes, proceeds from these classes go to a charity (I believe) and are donation based with a minimum of $7. They also have community classes which are  classes that are discounted since they are taught by novice instructors. 

Regardless, I had four months of summer and wanted to get into a regular routine if practicing yoga. That's when I heard about their Energy Exchange program. In exchange for your time and effort, they provide free unlimited yoga. No, it's not 'too good to be true'. 

I applied online through their website and shortly got a follow up email from their studio manager.

What you're doing is helping to clean the studio for 3 hours a week. So if you think about it with minimum wage being approximately $10/hour in ontario- you need to be practicing 2-3 times a week in order to get the value and worth out of your labour. 

So, what you're doing is cleaning the studio. This ranges from doing laundry, mopping and vacuuming floors of the studio and change room, washing the showers, refilling cleaning solutions and etc (these tasks being the extent of the duties). 

The three hours can feel somewhat lengthy, so choose a timeslot that fits our schedule. There are many 4-7, and 7-10pm shifts however I don't know much about the day shifts. 

Anyways being a part of this program did indeed have its perks with few 'cons':

•For those germaphobes out there it can help put your mind at ease, as you become part of the cleaning process. You know exactly how frequently the studio is cleaned and exactly what is being done! It's un likely you'll want to slack off seeing as it affects you directly if you're practicing there. 

•No one wants to do free work, as such you want to get your "work's worth (as opposed to money's worth)"! It literally forces you to enforce your practice, and to train and get stronger ("work out" as I would say). There were so many times where I didn't feel like going, but I literally hauled my butt over to the studio because I felt that I had an obligation to myself. Why else had I cleaned for 3 hours? Personally I did end up going between 2-4 times every week this summer and I am soo glad that I did!

•Lastly, it's free unlimited yoga!! The best reason of all!

Side notes: It's pretty interesting, cause its not exactly a volunteer position , people who participate in this program are referred to as "trades" and each shift as "trading". 

I was also super fortunate to live just under 5 minutes away from the studio and thus it was extremely convenient to go so frequently. 

This type of arrangement is definitely an interesting model for the company itself. 
They are able to maintain a clean tidy environment with nearly no additional labour costs. I'd be interested to see now much they were 'losing out on' by providing these classes. What percentage of people attending those classes on a weekly basis are actually traders who aren't contributing to the revenue generated by each class? This program really does motivate individuals to grow as they become more dedicated to the practice, I actually talked to one yogi who went on to become a yoga teacher after having spent months as a dedicated trade. 

All in all, this arrangement was really only just for the summer; with summer vacation coming to an end I am really dreading not being able to go as regular as I was. Not only will it be expensive but as a university student I also have much less time to spare.