RUNAWAY BAY, JAMAICA | JERK CHICKEN & JAMAICAN VIBES

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


Hi Friends,

Hope you're doing well! As you may know, I was recently in Jamaica for some much-needed vacation.  Matt and I spent 7 days in paradise with beautiful scenery, amazing hospitality and most of all delicious food and drinks!  There were a few overcast and rainy moments but overall, the weather was so warm and sunny.  We couldn't have asked for a better trip.


We stayed at the Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa in Runaway Bay.  The resort was absolutely stunning with sparkly blue beaches, manicured lawns and beautiful gardens and pools.  The food and drinks were non-stop! From the International Buffet, pool bars/grills and four À la carte restaurants, there was always something to satisfy your cravings.  Some of our favourite spots were the Irie Cafe, Court Jesters, Moonstone by Sophia and the Coral Cafe.  Some other restaurants on the resort were the Platinum, Jade Samurai and Golden Sabre Sushi.

The Irie Cafe was perfectly located right outside our building! With coffee, espressos, cappuccinos and so much more...it was surely our favourite spot for our caffeine fix.  We even made our own affogatos with double espressos and soft serve vanilla ice cream from the Coral Cafe. 

The Coral Cafe (International Buffet) was a staple for us, which we frequented for the majority of our breakfasts.  They had a variety of cultural foods, healthy options and classic Jamaican dishes.  During breakfast, they had fresh juices and a smoothie bar.  Despite being a buffet, the food was so tasty and all the meat dishes were cooked perfectly.

Moonstone by Sophia was an Italian Restaurant right on the water.  The food and sunset view were phenomenal. Matt ordered Rosemary Lamb Chops with a Parmesan cheese crust and herb roasted potatoes. While I had the Seafood Cioppino, a mix of seafood with a citrus rosé sauce. We both really enjoyed our meals. Matt raved about the lamb...said it's the best he ever had. We even ended up visiting for another dinner.


Our favourite lunch spot was the Court Jesters with their tasty home made woodfire pizzas! Matt's favourite was the Jamaica Jamaica with smoked jerk pork, shredded coconut, sweet potato slices and jerk sauce.  My favourite was the Hawaiian Calypso: chicken, pineapple, scallions and a spicy mango chutney. So good...I wish I could eat one right now!



We definitely had our share of yummy Jamaican dishes like ackee and saltfish, festivals, breadfruit, fried dumplings, brown stew beef and plantains. Not to mention, tons of jerk chicken and Red Stripe beer by the Aquamarine pool bar.

A lovely breakfast at Platinum with mimosas and of course, coffee! 
Jerk Chicken & Fries - Aquamarine Bar & Grill

Some of our other favourite dishes on the resort:

Duck Salad - Jade Samurai
Spicy Jerk Tuna Roll  - Golden Sabre Sushi

Aside from the fabulous drinks and food, we had a great time enjoying all that Jamaica has to offer.  As part of our resort package, we did snorkelling just off of our resort.  The water was warm and as blue as could be. We saw lots of fish and coral, it was awesome for a free excursion.  In addition, we also went to Konoko Falls (similar to Dunn' River Falls but less commercial) where we climbed up the falls and dipped in the natural springs.  The falls were gorgeous and lush with tropical trees, vines and flowers. It was a sight to see. As part of the excursion, you are guided through the River Gardens and visit the zoo, museum and bar. We had such a fun time!

We also went on the Blue Hole excursion in Ocho Rios...it was definitely not what we expected.  The excursion consisted of climbing up the 20-foot waterfall and jumping from various points into the water.  Due to rain from the day prior, the water was not it's normal blue colour but instead a merky brown. The excursion was quite adventurous which was not expected based on the description but we did have a great time.  We finished off the tour by visiting Usain Bolt's Tracks & Records restaurant for some jerk chicken/jerk pork.

We had such an amazing trip to Jamaica and we will definitely be going back some day. The island was beautiful with amazing food, gorgeous scenery and friendly hospitality.


What is your favourite island in the Carribean?

VACATION ESSENTIALS | FAVOURITE MUST HAVE ITEMS WHEN TRAVELLING

Sunday, 16 April 2017


Hi My Friends,

I'm very excited for my upcoming trip to Jamaica at the end of April!  Today, I wanted to share a few travel essentials outside your regular packing list like clothes, swimsuits and toiletries.  Some of these items are fresh finds that I'm excited to try out on my trip and others are returning favourites.




Airport travel can always be a hassle, especially when going through security checks.  I always opt for sandals that are easy to slip on and off.  Since the weather is still chilly here in Toronto, we are not quite in sandal season just yet.  I just picked up these new Converse Shoreline's, they have an elastic backing which will make it easy when going through security. I love Converse since they are light, comfortable and cute! This will help with one less headache.

I recently got this travel wallet off Amazon! Previously, I used a much smaller passport holder but I've had a travel wallet on my radar for a while now.  I love how you can keep all your documents together in one place, especially when travelling as a couple. This travel wallet has a place for your passport, ID and bank cards, tickets, cash and a zippered pocket. I couldn't ask for more...plus such a reasonable price. 


I always bring along a notebook to journal each day of my trip.  It's always nice to re-live your experiences and memories in detail, instead of trying to put all the puzzle pieces back together.  I love these fun and bright notebooks from Indigo...they are the perfect travel journals! Of course, I always bring along one or two books. I haven't completely decided what reading material to bring, but I have a good amount of books on my "to read" list including "The Heart Goes Last" by Margaret Atwood. 


Next up is this Waikiki 25 oz. S'well water bottle from their Resort Collection.  S'well bottles keep water cold for 24 hours' so it's the perfect water bottle for excursions or even just carrying water down to the beach for the day. Staying hydrated never looked so cute.

 

This is a new find on my list that I'm looking forward to trying out in Jamaica.  This Sunland Microfiber Towel is fast drying and ultra compact. The towel folds up and fits into this carry bag. I think this will be perfect for water excursions instead of carrying bulky hotel towels. It's easy to throw in your carry-on, luggage or a beach bag....plus they dry super quickly!


Last but not least, this Tory Burch zip pouch is one of my favourites! It's so practical and durable with a coated canvas exterior and waterproof lining. I've had this for a few years now and it's great for electronics (like phones/cameras), small items like lip balm or sunglasses or even a wet bikini. This is definitely a staple in my beach bag. 

I'm excited to try out some of these new finds and start getting ready for my trip to paradise. I know one thing for sure....I'll be all set with these essentials! 

What are your favourite travel essentials?



HEALTHY FOOD HAUL | WHOLE FOODS & GOODNESS ME NATURAL FOOD MARKET

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


Hi Foodies,

This past weekend, I decided to head over to two local health food stores!  I visited Goodness Me and my local Whole Foods.

Is it just me, or do you always come back with so much more than you planned for?  I always tend to find new and exciting healthy products that I can't wait to try plus, I always find my go-to favourites to restock on.


Let's start with Whole Foods...I was long overdue for a visit to pick up some speciality goods you can't find at your average grocery store.


I hit up the refrigerated section and went a little komucha crazy!
Whole Foods has such a variety of brands and flavours, so I had to pick up a few that I haven't tried.

I ended up getting:

Pyramid Ferments - Purple Rain Kombucha
Kevita - Mojita Lemon Mint Coconut Kombucha
Tonica - Mango Kombucha (delicious!)
Rise - Blueberry & Maple Kombucha

For those of you who may not know, Kombucha is a variety of fermented tea infused with natural flavours (often fruit), lightly sweetened and usually carbonated.  It may not sound too appealing but it's tangy and fizzy, healthy and oh so yummy!


Next up are these Naked Chickpea Gluten Free Falafel by My Little Chickpea. These falafel are healthy, flavourful and not to mention, they're easy and so versatile. I love to use these in wraps, salads, buddha bowls or even as a snack with hummus!


Of course I stocked up on my ever so favourite Lärabar! I love Lärabar's, they are healthy with all natural ingredients and tasty.  These guilt-free energy bars are my perfect go-to snack between meals.  I picked up a few different flavours to enjoy: Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, Coconut Cream, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip & Chocolate Brownie.


Last but not least on my Whole Foods haul, I picked up some Sambazon unsweetened Açaí berry superfruit pouches. I've been on an Açaí bowl kick and I can't wait to make these from home.


Now, onto Goodness Me!  Goodness Me is a Canadian company that started in Hamilton in 1981.  They had one simple vision: to discover, educate and offer healthy living products.  Read the full story on their website.

I found these Raw Paleo Friendly Wraps in the freezer section from Wrap It Up Raw.  The wraps are made locally in Niagara region and are made with organic ingredients and have 6 grams of fibre.  Easy, delicious and healthy...they are my favourite clean eating essential!  



I also picked up these Paleo Protein Bite Cookies/Biscuits by Marci's. I've had my eye on Marci's products for a while and I was so happy to find them in store. Guilt Free and delicious!


Matt came across these little nut butter packets, they had a variety of different flavours available. They're the perfect size for trying out new flavours or even for on the go or individual smoothie packs.

I also bought some JK Gourmet Gluten Free and Paleo Friendly granola and stocked up on some raw organic honey and cacao powder.

Overall, we had quite the eventful trip to Whole Foods & Goodness Me. I'll definitely be going back soon to pick up some more healthy goodies.

What are your healthy food staples?



COMEDY NIGHT AT THE COLD PRESSERY | CAFE REVIEW | MISSISSAUGA, ON

Monday, 27 March 2017



Hi Foodies,

On Tuesday night, Matt and I visited The Cold Pressery, one of my favourite local cafés located in the heart of Mississauga right by Square 1. 

How awesome is this menu board?
The Cold Pressery is an organic juice bar that has a relaxing and laid-back environment, promoting a healthy living.  It's a warm and welcoming space where you will often find people studying/working, swinging by for a post-workout smoothie or hanging out with friends over board games.  The Cold Pressery has a variety of menu options like juices, smoothies, food and snacks.  All the menu items are made from healthy and fresh ingredients and not to mention, the café is 100% vegan!  Cold Pressery also sells fresh nut milks, desserts and they even have a fresh juice program.


Every Tuesday night, The Cold Pressery holds "Cold Pressed Comedy", with no cover!  How awesome is that?! Each week, stand-up comedians from across the GTA come to perform and give you a good chuckle!  Matt and I have had "Cold Pressed Comedy" on our list for quite some time.  We finally had the opportunity to go and decided to head there early to enjoy a light dinner at the café.  

For dinner, Matt had the vegan grilled cheese and I had the chipotle bean tacos.  To drink, we both enjoyed Iced Matcha Lattes. The Iced Matcha Lattes were so good, the perfect amount of matcha flavour, agave for sweetness and almond milk for a creamy finish! 

Chipotle Bean Tacos
The tacos were served on two gluten-free white corn tortillas with a medley of beans, chickpeas, onions, mushrooms, celery & corn on avocado spread topped with diced tomatoes and purple cabbage drizzled with a smoky chipotle sauce. They were so yummy and colourful.  The tacos were light with a delicious variety of texture and the smoky chipotle sauce tied the dish together perfectly.

Vegan Grilled Cheese
Warm melted Daiya cheese sandwiched between two pieces of perfectly golden toast plus roasted tomatoes and spinach.  A classic grilled cheese made vegan! 

Left: carrot cake | Right: mocha
For dessert, we ordered some vegan cupcakes - carrot and mocha.  They were fresh, moist and flavourful...so yummy! Of course, I had to order one of my favourites...the Açaí bowl.  Açaí puree blended with banana, mango and almond milk.  Topped with hemp seed & pumpkin flax granola, seasonal fruit and coconut whip cream.  This healthy and delicious dessert gives any frozen yogurt joint a run for their money.


The food was amazing and the comedy was fantastic.  There were 5 stand-up comedians, including David Andrew Kent and they all had a great lineup that really got the crowd going. The headliner was Paul Thompson, he was absolutely hilarious!  We had such a great time laughing at all the jokes and impressions, it was the perfect weeknight activity.  I love how they have new comics every week, the perfect reason to keep you coming back for more laughs.

We had a fun filled night at The Cold Pressery and can't wait to go back for another comedy night with our friends!

Where is your favourite week night hang out?

SORELLE & CO. | A BAKE SHOPPE & CAFÉ | RESTAURANT REVIEW

Monday, 13 March 2017



Hi Foodies,

Last weekend, my mom and I had a special lunch date together.  We unanimously agreed on Sorelle & Co. a bake shoppe & café, which has been on our list for way too long.

Sorelle is a vegan and gluten, soy, sesame, nut and preservative free bakery!  The idea began with a mother with 5 daughters, all of whom all had various food allergies.  The mother's love for cooking and her dreams of creating a family-friendly worry-free bakery brought Sorelle (meaning sister in Italian) to life.  The bake shoppe is located in Vaughan in the 1845 Historical building built by Thomas Cooke which was the former Carville Post Office & General Store.


Sorelle is the epitome of elegance, beauty and sophistication.  The café is the picture perfect home with white shutters, manicured shrubs and teal sun shades, giving you a warm and bright welcoming.  We were blown away as we entered the shoppe.  The bakery is bright and welcoming with high ceilings, wainscoting and an elegant chandelier at the entrance.  White walls are beautifully accented with pops of pastels, gold detailing and glitz and glam!


All the delicious baked goods are beautifully displayed behind the counter.  With a wide assortment of treats from delicate pastries to donuts, Sorelle has something for everyone!


For lunch, we ordered the vegetable & chickpea falafel and the roasted vegetable panini.  Of course, we made sure to order a sweet treat for dessert!  We made our way to the second floor to enjoy our food and have some girl chat.  The second floor seating is elegance at it's finest, with large comfy chairs and marble tables. The food is served on white plates with scalloped edges or beautiful detailing alongside gold utensils.




The vegetable and chickpea falafel was served with jasmine rice, crispy onion and a light curry sauce. The savoury dish was light, fresh and delicious.


The panini had roasted vegetables, onion jam, black olive and red pepper hummus with vegan cheese alongside a mixed green salad.  The dish was so yummy and we couldn't believe it was gluten free and vegan!

How adorable are these mugs?
We both enjoyed cappuccinos with coconut milk served in gorgeous mugs.  The cappuccino was perfection, the best we both ever had!  My mom and I are avid black coffee drinkers and enjoy a strong cup of caffeine.  Often times, cappuccinos are so filling and have way too much milk.  Sorelle's cappucino was light and flavourful, the perfect balance of milk and espresso.

Paris Brest
 Seasonal Cranberry Tart
For our sweet treats, we indulged in the Paris Brest and a seasonal cranberry tart.  The Paris Brest is a French pastry with praline flavoured cream.  The pastries were so delicious and flavourful! It was the perfect was to finish off a fun mom and daughter date.


My adorable mom!

We had a fabulous experience at Sorelle & Co.! The service was warm and friendly.  The food was absolutely light and delicious, yet flavourful.  We felt satisfied and guilt-free.  In addition to the fabulous food and hospitality, the café is such a beautiful setting which tops off the perfect experience.  We both cannot wait to go back to Sorelle for another lunch or even afternoon tea.

What is your favourite place for a mom and daughter date?


TOAST WINE BAR - RESTAURANT REVIEW | A GIRL'S LUNCH IN DOWNTOWN HAMILTON

Monday, 6 March 2017

Hi Foodies,

A few weeks ago, I went bridesmaid dress shopping for my best friend's wedding.  Alongside the bride, Courtney was Heather, Charlotte and baby Ellie.  We had quite the successful shopping day and decided to go for a girl's lunch at Toast Wine Bar.  What better way to celebrate than with food and wine?  

Located in downtown Hamilton, Toast Wine Bar was opened by Christine and Sara.  The two friends are the perfect match...Christine has the passion and knowledge of wine and Sara has the love for cooking!  Together, they decided Hamilton needed its own wine bar and they brought their idea to life.

Toast is a beautiful restaurant with high ceilings and a vintage vibe with modern touches.  The restaurant is decorated with beautiful art and gold accents throughout.  I particularly love the ambience of the wine bar, which has a beautiful brick wall and a stunning wine rack.




We started our celebratory lunch with some mimosas!


For lunch, we each ordered something different and enjoyed a lovely glass of wine.  Charlotte ordered the bread and spreads, presented beautifully on a slate serving board.  Courtney had a smoked ham sandwich with beet-poached pear, dijonnaise and arugula.  

Heather enjoyed the harvest salad with brussels sprouts, butternut squash, smoky black beans, goat cheese, maple mustard vinaigrette.  For myself, I ordered the power bowl with brown rice, kale, sweet potato, beet, chickpeas, savoury granola and tahini dressing, alongside a glass of Pinot Gris.  The power bowl was the perfect combination of flavours with crunchy, sweet and savoury...I really enjoyed it.  Together, we also shared warm garlic and herb olives.

Bread and Spreads
Harvest Salad
Power Bowl
Toast Wine Bar has many events at the restaurant and their dinner menu includes a variety of fun shareable toasts to enjoy.  Toast has a wide selection of wines from some of my favourite wineries in Ontario.  The wine bar has a glass for every wine drinker, whether that is subtle, velvety or robust.  

Overall, we had the perfect girls day.  We all enjoyed the delicious food and wine.  Most of all, we enjoyed each other's company.  There is absolutely nothing better than chatting over fabulous food and wine with your closest girlfriends!

What is your favourite wine bar?

Select photos taken by Heather R.
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