Sep 28, 2009

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is the bride's second great disappointment.
-Oscar Wilde

Niagara Falls markets itself as the “Honeymoon Capital of The World”, and attracts millions of visitors every year. I would be thoroughly disappointed if my honeymoon was at Niagara Falls. The falls are beautiful and it was definitely worth the trek down there, but it's one of those places you can only go once a year. I think you can finish Niagara Falls and the neighboring attractions in 2 days. That statement doesn't apply to gamblaholics.

While I was at Niagara, I saw a teenage boy who was 13 at most, wearing a t-shirt that said “Vagitarian”. It’s somewhat clever and I’m sure most of you will get that sexual innuendo and possibly give him a high five. That would probably be inappropriate since he was with his mom, dad, grandmother, younger sister, aunt, etc. I think I’d be a bit disappointed to find out during a family outing that I spawned an overtly perverted “vagitarian”. Come on, what does he think it'll do to his chances of getting the ladies?

This is exactly what the shirt looks like:

Here are some pictures I took while I was there:

Fallsview Casino and hotels I’m too lazy to name

I know Niagara Falls is beautiful, but I don’t appreciate the dirty water misting in my face. Depending on your location near the falls, it can feel like it's drizzling. When that happens, I usually avoid opening my mouth in fear of getting dirty lake water in my mouth and risk getting listeria.

Every time I see a rainbow it reminds me the Radiohead concert last year because there was a Rainbow arching over the Molson Amphitheater. I remember excitedly telling the person next to me “LOOK, there’s a rainbow…how fitting, their album is called IN RAINBOW…and we’re In Rainbow”. He gave me a dirty look and told me my comment was corny. I didn’t care. Every bit of the concert was worth it even though it was raining hard that day and I was soaked down to my underwear. What's better than listening to Thom Yorke's whiny emotive falsetto voice sing enigmatic lyrics?

With a Player’s Advantage card, the Fallsview dinner buffet was $20 with tax. The buffet had a decent selection, but the food was mediocre. The pizza was undercooked and the salad was warm. The buffet had a slight redeeming factor due to its wide selection of desserts.

The trip down to Niagara Falls was fun since I haven't been there in 4 years. Everything was anew and I felt and acted like a complete tourist. Maybe next time I'll finally go on the Maid of the Mist. Since I was a poor university student, I guess I was never too keen on the idea of paying $20 to get soaked. Plus, I think it looks better from afar since you get to see the falls in its entirety.

Sep 20, 2009

The Cheesecake Factory

While we were in Buffalo shopping at the Walden Galleria, we were all starving and decided to go The Cheesecake Factory. This restaurant is known to have a wide variety of cheesecakes, as well as dishes. Some of the dishes here are a hit or miss. I think this is a direct result of trying to cater to everyone’s palate. They should have a balanced menu, but concentrate on creating a few key signature dishes rather than offering an overwhelming amount of choices.

Creating these dishes is quite methodical since it is a chain restaurant, and theoretically there should be consistency across all these locations. Somehow, I feel the Buffalo location falls below standard. I usually like the Chicken Marsala dish, but it didn’t taste as good as it usually does at other locations such as Las Vegas or Houston.

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala has button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, chicken, bowtie pasta, and a touch of marsala wine.

Tiramisu Cheesecake

A gripe I have when it comes to food is I dislike extremes. I hate foods that are too salty, too oily, too hard, and especially too sweet. Out of all the cheesecakes I’ve tried the Tiramisu is the best. It has the right amount of sweetness and the coffee flavor in the tiramisu cheesecake is not too potent or overpowering.

White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake

The macadamia nut gave this cheesecake a nice touch, but it was overly sweet due to the excessive amounts of caramel.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

It was good but the raspberry was a bit too sour.

Overall, the cheesecakes were good and the restaurant had an extensive offering. I would recommend this place to all you cheesecake lovers out there.

Sep 15, 2009

Athens Pastries

I decided to give the spanakopitas at Athens Pastries a try because I’ve heard they are amazing. A Spanakopita is a savory spinach pie filled with feta cheese, spinach, and onions in a phyllo pastry. There are currently two Athens Pastries locations, one located on Danforth and the other in Scarborough next to Johnny’s Burgers.

For $3.30, I got a good sized spanakopita fresh out of the oven. It was warm, cheesy, flaky, and had the right amount of saltiness. Although it has everything I like such as phyllo, cheese, and a bit of veggies to make me feel less guilty for indulging, I wasn’t left completely satisfied. I can’t quite pinpoint what it is. Don’t get me wrong though, the spanakopita was delicious.

Sep 11, 2009

Scarborough Bluffs

The Scarborough Bluffs is a quiet beach located at Brimley and Kingston. I probably wouldn’t take a swim in those waters even if my life depended on it (I can't swim). I guess I’m just not too keen on the idea of getting some strange rashes or abnormal skin growth. Maybe I watched too much TV as a child, but the radioactive three eyed fish from the Simpsons comes to mind.

A word of advice. Do not bring Arizona Honey Green Tea to the beach. I was always under the impression that the honey in these drinks were not potent. I guess I was wrong, because bees came flocking to my drink. I was reluctant to surrender it without a good fight since it was 3/4 full. Let me tell you, those were some persistent bees because I got chased and was running around like an idiot for a good 3 minutes. Even after we threw it away, they spent the next 10 minutes tormenting and tailing us. I guess we might have angered those honey mongers when we pelted sand at them.

The Bluffs have been eroding ever since cottages have been built on this escarpment. Last summer, a house situated on the cliffs had eroded to the point that segments had fallen off and only 25% of the house is left dangling off the cliffs.

Sep 8, 2009

The Beatles

"In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatles fanatic named Jerry Levitan snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced him to do an interview. 38 years later, Levitan, director Josh Raskin and illustrator James Braithwaite have collaborated to create an animated short film using the original interview recording as the soundtrack. A spellbinding vessel for Lennon's boundless wit and timeless message, I Met the Walrus was nominated for the 2008 Academy Award for Animated Short."

I really liked the animation in
I Met the Walrus. I felt that John was gracious and answered the questions thoughtfully even though he was speaking to a 14 year old trespassing stan (stalker + fan). I've been a fan of The Beatles for as long as I remember.

When I was younger, I was introduced to The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix through my dad. He use to tell me stories about him rocking out on his electric guitar and occasionally playing the drums in his so called "band" during his teens. I would laugh at him because I can't comprehend the idea of my 50 something conservative Chinese dad singing Hendrix, playing guitar solos, and possibly getting chicks
back in the homeland that didn't understand a lick of english. I've always wondered how someone like him could spawn a child with such poor musicality.

On a side note, I can't wait until
hungryleafsfan gets The Beatles Rockband so we can all invite ourselves over. In the past, I've been laughed at and jokes about my horrific singing have been made at my expense. This time will be different. I assure you, there will be magic on the mic.

I'm actually a bit disappointed because they left out some of my personal favorites. If it were up to me, here are 6 songs I'd include in the game:

1) Happiness is a Warm Gun
2) Across the Universe
3) Strawberry Fields Forever
4) A Day in the Life
5) Oh! Darling

6) Eleanor Rigby

Sep 5, 2009

Burrito Boyz

I recently went to Burrito Boyz on a weekday at 9pm when the lineup wasn't too long. The staff at Burrito Boyz were really friendly. I might be biased because the cashier told me “you have the cutest t-shirt” (my t-shirt had a #2 pencil with tear drops rolling down its cheek, and he sadly says “I want to be number 1”). That made me ridiculously happy because I've been unsuccessfully trying to convince my friends that it was an awesome t-shirt.

The burritos come in a small or large size for chicken, steak, shrimp, bean and cheese, halibut, and vegetarian. I chose the Halibut because I thought the fish might be healthiest of them all. Oh boy was I wrong. There is no such thing as a healthy choice at a Burrito joint. I forgot that the Halibut was fried, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. They gave me a generous amount of ingredients and the burrito was massive. It was loaded with jalapenos, salsa, guacamole, tomatoes, onions, cheese, rice, green onions, and more. I went with two other friends and this is what they had to say about their burritos:

My Burrito - Small Halibut

The fried Halibut is basically fish and chips, minus the chips, in a burrito with Mexican condiments and fresh ingredients. The fish was surprisingly tasty and very filling. I think the batter might have been a little too thick though. It became a bit soggy after it was saturated in sauce. Also, I think they put way too much sauce in mine because when I bit down, sauce squirted into my hair. I don’t know why things always find themselves into my hair. I tried to wipe it off with a napkin while holding the burrito, but that was counterproductive. I ended up smearing the burrito across more strands of hair. I'm hopeless.

Louise’s Burrito - Small Bean & Cheese

They gave a bit too much beans. You have to simmer it down or you'll get a serious case of bean attack. Overall, the burrito was fantastic, but a little too spicy. The portion was large, I had a hard time finishing it.

Ben’s Burrito - Large Steak & Shrimp

I've tried a lot of different burritos from here and this is my favorite. I love steak and shrimp. So why compromise and choose only one? The flavors of the steak and shrimp surprisingly complement each other really well.

I know these pictures all look like a big glop of mess, but I assure you it taste better than it looks.

Sep 2, 2009

Kensington Market

During the summer, “Pedestrian Sunday” takes place every last Sunday of the month. They close down the streets of Kensington Market to allow pedestrians to roam around freely without worrying about getting run over. On these Sundays, the streets are filled with artists, performers, interactive games and street vendors.

I honestly love this place. Every time I come here, I feel like I’ve stepped into an unfamiliar territory that's trapped in a semi-70’s time warp. It is as if I’m crossing over to this south of the equator country where everything is languid. Maybe I feel this way because I’m probably a sheltered Suburban kid, but I find Kensington Market strangely charming.

I like the tacky shops, the Rastafarian man at House of Moses occasionally smoking questionable substances, the loud music blaring through the streets, and the vibrant colors and designs that cover every inch of that vicinity. Kensington Market is brimming with diversity, culture, people, and eclectic stores and boutiques.

Click to enlarge because these thumbnails don't do these pictures justice.

Streets of Kensington on Pedestrian Sundays.

Courage My Love is one of the more interesting stores in Kensington. It sells a collection of novelty buttons, jewelry, purses, second hand clothing, and much more.

People playing musical chairs in the middle of the streets.

Life sized scrabble. Not to be a spelling nazi, but isnt "veggy" suppose to be "veggie"?

One of the many eccentric stores that sells useless baubles and clothing.

I think these paintings are more suited for a candy store or a daycare rather than an a clothing store.

Here’s a picture of me buying a water balloon for 25 cents. I’m a sucker for cute kids. I contemplated on giving it to a random kid, but I was afraid he/she would be ungrateful and hurl it back at me. So instead, I suspiciously walked to an alley and threw it at the ground. Pretty pointless, I know haha.

"Serving Potheads...since AH I forget" hahaha

This kid was doing portraits of people for $2. I saw the end results, it was pretty good.

I found this inside the Blue Banana Market store. It is easily one of the best stores in Kensington market.

Ch-ch-ch-Chia car! Don't pretend you don't know what I'm referring to because I'm sure everyone has seen the Chia pet commercials. Oh, how I miss the 90's.