Rainforest Creations, London

Rainforest Creations is a stall found on certain days at Old Spitalfields Market, as well as at stalls in the Chelsea, Hammersmith and Alexandra Palace markets. They also recently opened permanent spot in North Kensington. They specialize in organic, raw, vegetarian (and I think vegan) food, with Caribbean flavours.

Rainforest Creations

Rainforest Creations

Rainforest Creations - side view

Rainforest Creations - side view

I ordered a £5 Rainbow Box, which was stuffed with a selction of Tropical Coleslaw, Caribbean Sunrise, Red Quinoa, Wild Rice, Mung beans and Lentils, Chickpeas,  Angel Kale and Avocado salads, as well as sprouted hummus, an Akashe Ball (kind of like a falafel), and dressing. Everything was placed in a take out box, and served with a little wooden fork.

Rainbow Box

Rainbow Box

It was a little hard to pick out the flavours of all the individual salads as they were all in close quarters, but everything tasted fresh and crisp, with some salads having a mild curry flavour and some salads having some satisfying crunch. The box was quite large too, and could easily feed two people (or one very hungry person). This is the kind of meal that you’d love to have on a hot day. I loved that it was good value, as well as being healthy and tasty.

Rainforest Creations
www.rainforestcreations.co.uk

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The Dish Bistro, Edmonton

The Dish Bistro is the restaurant side of two businesses that run side by side, the other side being a catering company called The Runaway Spoon. Cute names, huh?

I’ve eaten their catering before but their restaurant is one of those places that I keep meaning to go to but never got around to a visit. So one weekend, while trying to think of a simple but tasty place for lunch near downtown, I decided to try and snag a table at The Dish. The place is on the small side but is bright and sunny thanks to large windows. The place was pretty busy even though it was already past 1 p.m., and my dining companion and I were lucky to find a table. Service was attentive.

My order was the Dijon Chicken on Greens – a Dijon marinated breast of chicken served on a salad made up of mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, Spanish onions and artichoke hearts, and topped with a roasted red pepper dressing. Visually the salad looks kind of messy but the meal was quite tasty. I also wished there had been more artichoke hearts, as I think I found only one that was chopped up into a couple of pieces.

Dijon Chicken on Greens

Dijon Chicken on Greens

The person with me ordered the Mango Curry Chicken Wrap, which was filled with grilled chicken and a curried mango chutney and vegetables, and served with a side salad of Honey Greens (same salad as above, but without the chicken and with a red wine honey vinaigrette instead of the other dressing). I think the salad serving could have been a little more generous, but the mango and curry chicken mixture was delicious.

Mango Curry Chicken Wrap

Mango Curry Chicken Wrap

This was the perfect light lunch that we had been looking for. They’ve got some great hearty looking dishes too, and I look forward to going back and sampling them.

The Dish Bistro
12417 Stony Plain Road, Edmonton
www.thedishandspoon.com

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Bouchon and Bouchon Bakery, Las Vegas

When we decided to take a trip to Las Vegas, I knew immediately that I wanted to put a stop at Bouchon, Thomas Keller’s French bistro, at the top of my to-do list. I’ve been dreaming of The French Laundry for years — way before I started this blog, and before Ratatouille (which used his kitchen and food as inspiration) — and this would be my first chance to try any food by Thomas Keller.

Both Bouchon and the Bouchon Bakery are located in the Venetian hotel, but are in two totally different locations.

Just getting to the restaurant is an adventure in itself. Instead of being located in the main part of the hotel itself, the restaurant is actually in the middle of the Venezia Tower and I had to get permission from a security guard to take the hotel guest tower up to the correct floor.

The decor inside the restaurant is amazing; as soon as you step inside you forget you are in a hotel tower and are transported to a French bistro. Tall windows let in plenty of light, the patterned floor draws your eye, and the wood warms the room. Menus are printed on brown paper and wrapped around your napkin.

Bouchon - table settings

Bouchon - table settings

Daily specials are written on a couple of chalkboards – one posted near the entrance and one near the windows.

Bouchon - daily specials

Bouchon - daily specials

Service was warm and efficient, and along with our server we had water service from someone else who I think was the sommelier (but I never asked). Continue reading

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas

When I decided to go on a trip to Las Vegas, I knew I wanted at least one fancy pants meal. After doing some reading about the various places in Las Vegas, I settled on L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon as the place where we’d have our most expensive meal, to be eaten on the Saturday before we went to a showing of KÀ.

LAtelier de Joël Robuchon

L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon

I’ve actually had my eye on this upscale chain of restaurants for a while now. I had planned on going there while in Hong Kong last year, but on the only day I had free I wasn’t feeling hungry at all and ended up going to sleep early instead of trying to find my way there. Because of this, L’Atelier was high on my Vegas to-do list.

This location of L’Atelier is located right next to the casino floor and they had the doors propped open, which meant that some of the casino sounds filtered into the restaurant. Part way through my meal they closed one of the doors and most of the sounds went away, so at some point I actually forgot we were right next to the casino. Next to the restaurant is Robuchon’s other restaurant at the MGM Grand, Joël Robuchon at The Mansion (which I considered for my list but crossed off due to the price). And next to that fantastic entrance (look at the chandelier in the foyer!) was the KÀ Theatre.

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

Joël Robuchon at the Mansion and KÀ Theatre

In Las Vegas, L’Atelier is a one-star Michelin French restaurant. A majority of the restaurant’s seating is at a bar surrounding and facing the open kitchen, similar to a sushi bar. An important part of the dining experience here is watching the kitchen staff make your food. It is for this reason that Robuchon calls this series of restaurants “the workshop,” or L’Atelier.

bar seating at LAtelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

bar seating at L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon with the casino viewable through the window

The decor was very modern with lots of reds and blacks. The kitchen was decorated by large vases of fruits, eggs, and vegetables floating in water, as well as giant fake apples and round hanging greenery.
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Fennel and blood orange salad

I have a confession to make. I am a subscriber of Gwyneth Paltrow’s oddly named GOOP e-newsletter. Now in my defence, it’s not because I love her acting or anything (she’s okay but not my favourite). I actually signed up for the entertainment factor because I’m easily amused by her Martha/Oprah wanna-be efforts.

So here’s another confession – on Saturday I made one of the newsletter’s recipes, based on a Mario Batali dish. And it was really good! This recipe lets me use two ingredients I’ve never cooked or baked with before – blood oranges and fennel.

I picked up a bag of blood oranges during my Costco trip from the previous weekend and immediately started searching my cookbooks and saved recipes for something good to make. A quick trip to the grocery store last night netted me some fresh fennel. This salad is crisp and clean tasting, and is a refreshing change from regular salads. It’s probably not the cheapest salad to make, although I guess you could substitute the blood oranges for regular navel oranges or maybe even mandarin oranges.

Fennel and blood orange salad

Fennel and blood orange salad

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The Blue Pear, Edmonton

Ever so slowly, I am trying all the “good” restaurants around the city. It’s kind of an expensive hobby though, so most of the time these visits are regulated to special occasion events.

With this in mind, I made a special request to my mother. Instead of buying expensive Christmas presents that sit around and gather dust, I asked to be taken out for dinner at The Blue Pear. This is a somewhat unique restaurant in Edmonton. The menu is seasonal and changes every month or two. They have a small dining room and reservations fill up quickly. The menu is a five-course set dinner at $85 per person (not including tax, tip, or drinks), where you can choose your meal from a limited number of appetizers, entrees and desserts. You also order a side dish of Atlantic lobster tail or seared grade A foie gras for an extra charge.

Exterior of The Blue Pear, with snow covering the name and a fuzzy shot of the neon pear above the door.

Exterior of The Blue Pear, with snow covering the name and a fuzzy shot of the neon pear above the door.

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