Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Lil Organic Kitchen, Whitby, ON

Happy Spring, my beautiful readers!!!  If only this weather would stop pissing about, we could get outside and enjoy the fact that the ice and snow has disappeared for another seven or eight months.  Weather aside - the days are getting longer, the flowers are starting to pop up and say hello, The Real Housewives of New York are back and crazier than ever, and for me, it’s the beginning of CRASH DIET SEASON!!!!  I have a formal event to go to at the end of May, and I actually bought a dress that was two sizes too small for me so I could have some serious motivation.  I love Crash Diet Season!   I usually pick whatever diet is trending at the moment, throw myself in for a few weeks and then quit.  My funniest diet I ever tried was the Martha’s Vinyard Diet Detox, where you don’t eat ANY solid food for 21 Days.  And you had to take aloe pills.  And do colonics.  It was pretty shitty.  Literally.

Wow….I have a really weird relationship with food.  I should probably talk to someone about that.

Well folks, this time around, I’m actually getting healthy the normal way.  With water.  And regular, well-balanced meals.  And *gasp* EXERCISE.  As most of you know, next month, I’m riding my bike from Toronto to Niagara Falls to raise money for Princess Margaret Cancer  Centre.  Look, I’m pretty sure I can do the ride without training, but it would be a whole lot less-painful (you-know-where) if I did.  So I’ve been running twice per day.  6k in the morning and 6 k in the afternoon.  Seriously.  I’m going on week three of this crazy regimen.   I suppose at some point, I’ll have to actually jump on my bike and go for a few spins, but this whole running thing is working for me right now.

I’ve been meaning to check out The Lil Organic Kitchen in Whitby for a while now.  Every time I head over to Toys R’ Us for a new lego set I see it from the corner of my eye going West on Hwy 2.  I follow them on Instagram and they’ve been advertising their cold-pressed juices  lately and they looked really good.

So yesterday, after run #1, I hopped in my car and drove over to Whitby to check it out.  It’s located in the strip mall on the North East corner of Thickson and Hwy 2.  I also noticed that there’s a Health Food Store right next door.  Convenient for someone who’s on a health kick like moi.  I made a mental note to stop in there after I was done in The Lil Organic Kitchen.

The best way to describe the inside of the restaurant was Earthy.  The modern-looking room was split into two areas – a very comfortable looking dining area with tables and big leather seats, and an open kitchen.  The colour scheme is green with earth-tone accents (LIKE A SALAD!).  And it was exceptionally clean.  It looked like the perfect place to meet a friend for lunch or for coffee.

The front counter had a display case with healthy looking baking, as well as even healthier looking salads.  In another display case, they had the most beautiful looking Pakora that I’ve ever seen.

The menu is etched on giant chalk-boards above the counter.  One board boasted six different types of healthy bowls, from a Curry Bowl (Creamy vegetable masala on Basmati Rice topped with raw veg) to a Mexican Bowl (Brown Rice, Grilled Veg w/ Sunflower Pesto, Chili, salsa, Avacado, topped with Corn Chips).

Another menu listed all the fresh juices that were available.  The one that struck me was the Alkalize Up (Kale, Cucumber, Celery, Spinach, Lemon, Ginger and Parsely).

I didn’t really feel like eating by myself, and the new Real Housewives of Potomac was beckoning me from my living room PVR, so I ordered four juices (two “Alkalize Up” and two “Grounded”) as well as a large salad from the display case to go.  The young lady behind the counter was really nice and answered all my dumb questions about the benefits of a cold-pressed juice as opposed to a regular juice.  At the last minute, I also bought two juice shots from the refrigerated counter – the “Digest/Cold” and the “Immune”.

I thanked the young lady and was on my way, but not before I stopped into the Health Food Store directly next door to the restaurant.  I have been looking for dried Goldenberries all over the place and I figured I could get them at a Health Food Store.  I was right.  As I was paying for my berries, I asked the lady at the cash if the two establishments were owned by the same person.  She said that yes, they indeed were.  She also said that the owner was a Nutritionist and that this person was really interested in helping people get healthy.  I liked that.

I chugged one of the Green Juices on my way home.  Super tasty.  I would have liked to see more Ginger in there, though.  But that’s just me.  I’m a spicy kinda gal.

When I got home, I pulled out the salad and was thrilled when I had the first bite.  It was an extremely colourful mix of kale, black beans, sweet potato, parsley, and sweet peas.  It had a really nice curry taste to it, and it was really spicy – just like I like it.  I finished the whole thing in about ten minutes.  And you know how much guilt I felt????  ZERO.  In fact, I could actually FEEL myself getting healthier.

Stay tuned because I think this place is going to be a once per week joint for me.  I definitely want to try that Pakora.  And the Mexican Bowl.  And everything else on the menu.

Lil Organic Kitchen
1618 Dundas St. East
Unit 3
Whitby, ON

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Copperworks Brew Pub Restaurant, Bowmanville, ON

Hello, my darlings!!  Firstly, I feel as though I need to address the whole Wing Challenge thing.  When I stated that I was going to eat chicken wings every day for a week to find the best wings in Durham Region, I didn’t take into consideration the deterioration of my intestinal health by the time Day 5 rolled around.  Quite honestly, I needed to do five colonics and a juice cleanse for three days to get everything moving again.  Super gross.   I didn’t think it was fair to eat and rate chicken wings on Day 6 when I was literally sick of Chicken Wings, although I DO think that I graded the first four restaurants fairly.  The chicken wing challenge will continue, Sweethearts, but I’m stretching it over a couple of months, not a week.  It’s only fair.

That being said, I need to talk about something very serious.  The Reuben Sandwich.   I spent most of my youth being dragged around every city we happened to be in at that particular time, so that my dad could have the perfect Reuben.  We’ve been to hundreds of delis from Montreal to NYC to a dark,  dank restaurant in Munich that my father claimed had one of the best Reuben’s that he’s ever had.  Apparently, the perfect Reuben needs to have the perfect Russian Rye Bread, the tastiest, freshest corned beef and the sourest of kraut.  In my humble opinion, the Reuben Sandwich at Teddy’s Restaurant & Deli in our beautiful Oshawa is almost perfect.  Paired with a giant dill pickle and their homemade potato salad, it can almost cure any troubles that one might incur. Also, how can anyone resist their homemade salad dressing??  That stuff should be world famous.  There isn’t a time when my fridge doesn’t have a fresh bottle in its shelves.

But this review isn’t about Teddy’s.  It’s about a gorgeous Reuben Sandwich that I found quite by accident last Sunday in Bowmanville.  My darkly handsome husband and my brilliant six-year-old son were enjoying the sunny day at the park down by the Bowmanville waterfront, throwing rocks into the lake and poking stuff that washed up on the shore with a stick.  I, personally, was not poking stuff with a stick, though, because I’m afraid of stumbling upon a dead body, which in turn will cause my therapy sessions to go up to four times per week.  I’m not kidding.  When I was in grade two or three, some friends of mine found a dead body in the woods across the road from my house in North Oshawa and I’ve been both grossly fascinated and deathly afraid of happening upon a DB in the woods ever since. 

Anyway, after playing down by the water for a few hours, we were ready for some lunch.  The Olympia downtown had a line out the door, so we looked around for somewhere else to go.  We could see what looked to be a Pub down one of the side roads and ventured over.

It was called Copperworks Brew Pub Restaurant, and the exterior looked super cute.  I was super glad we stopped in.  The pub is split up into three rooms – a bar area, a lounge-type area with TVs and big round tables and a more formal dining area.  All three had that English-pub vibe.  It was early in the afternoon, so the place wasn’t really busy.  A few diners ate in the dining room, one table of men were drinking beer in the bar area, and we decided to grab a table in the lounge area.

The menu was vast and had a little bit of everything.  Our server was lovely, friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu.  She was really cute with our little guy, too.  Made him feel muy importante, which he’s used to, considering he’s an only child and the apple of both our eye.  And super smart.  And handsome, too.

I liked the feel in this joint.  We were seated right by the door to the patio so I could get a glimpse of the outdoor area.  Yes, I can see my girlfriends and I out there on a hot summer night, enjoying a pint or two and talking about all of the Real Housewives franchises.

When our food came to the table, I was very impressed at first glance.  My Reuben and my husband’s Club Sandwich were giant.  My son’s chicken fingers were actually homemade breaded chicken breasts, and his salad looked extremely fresh.  The server even added more purple onions as per the little prince’s request.

I really wasn’t expecting much from this Reuben from a little pub in Bowmanville, but it was delicious.  The marbled rye was so soft and fresh, and the corned beef was tender and salty, just like I like it.  Also, being Ukrainian, I have a super-secret built-in sensor for quality sauerkraut, and this was it.  Inside this delightful package was a sweet honey mustard that rounded out the whole sandwich.  I loved it.  A super-duper find for me!!!!

My kid LOVED his chicken fingers and salad, and my husband claimed that his Club was “pretty good”.  That means that it was delicious.

This is the first time I had ever seen this place, and I had never heard about it before.  I wonder if it gets happening in the evening?  It looks like it would be the perfect place to watch a game or meet friends for beers.

I will definitely be back.  I’m still thinking about that Reuben and it’s Thursday……

Copperworks Brew Pub Restaurant
7 Division St., Bowmanville
(905) 697-4022

Saturday, 25 February 2017


 I was out with a bunch of my girlfriends in Hamilton a few weeks ago, and I was trying to explain the Town of Port Perry to one of them.  In my explanation, I told them it was like a cross between Star’s Hollow and what  Castle Rock, Maine looked like in my head as a kid after reading every single Stephen King book.  Which, in hindsight,  was not a good idea at twelve years old.  Even now, every time I go to the bathroom at night (which is a lot more often since I turned 40, I’m afraid), I can’t look into the sink in fear that there will be a finger poking out of the drain.  A HUMAN FINGER.  THAT WILL END UP SOMEHOW BEING MY FINGER.  Oh, the beautiful twisted mind of Mr. King!  I am also afraid of fog, grey cats, clowns, Pall Mall Cigarettes, and tigers.

But Port Perry!  I love Port Perry!  It really, truly is an idyllic little town!  For my few readers NOT from the Durham Region, Port Perry sits on the “shores” of Lake Scugog, about ten minutes north of Oshawa.  The main drag is a delightful street filled with gifty type shops, restaurants, clothing stores, coffee shops, art galleries and chocolatiers.  At the end of the street is a quaint little marina with an ice-cream shop that’s perfect for an evening out in the summertime.  From the outside looking in, Port Perry is as perfect a town as they come.  Or the perfect place for aliens to invade if I were writing a sci-fi book.

In the past few years, two of my closest relatives, my first cousin Mark and my first cousin Christine (and their respective families) moved to the Lake Scugog area and they LOVE it.   I love it, too.   My husband and I talk about moving there all the time.  It’s closer to his work and I’d be closer to my family.  The only thing really stopping us is the fact that I LOVE my son’s school here in Courtice.  I love it.  I love the teachers, I love the principals, I love everything about it.  And he needs a fabulous school if he’s going to be a scientist that will cure all diseases as well as a famous Crown Attorney that solves every murder that he comes across, both cold and current.  It IS possible, you know.  Didn’t Michael Jordan play in both the NBA AND the MLB at one point?

Anyway, there’s no better way to spend a Friday night than hanging out with my cousin, Christine. She goes by Chris now, but in my head, I still call her Chrissy.  She’s a few years older than me and is more like a sister than a cousin.  I figured I’d drive out to Port, pick her up and we’d check out a fairly new restaurant that opened up in town.

I had first heard of Foundry Kitchen & Bar when my friend Jason posted a pic of his dinner there on Instagram.  The restaurant itself looked cozy and fresh and the food looked great.

We had reservations for 7:30pm and the little place was packed.  It’s located right across the road from the Lake in a little plaza.  When we walked in, we totally forgot we were in a strip plaza.  The room is small (seats only 35), with a bar as the centre of the space.  Exposed beams in the ceiling and large wood-planked walls made it cozy and gave it a bit of an industrial-meets-cottagy feel.   The thought and care that went into the décor was apparent and it gave the restaurant a hip vibe that most joints around here don’t have.

The gentleman who sat us (who also turned out to be our server) sat us at a cozy table by the front door.  There was a couple sitting at the table next to us who were just paying their bill and we asked them how they enjoyed their dinner.  They raved about the food and mentioned that they had both tried the feature dinner that evening which happened to be a Lobster Roll.  We were intrigued.

I’m going to have to say that our server made our whole evening.  Yes, the food was incredible, which I’ll get into in a second, but this guy was outstanding as far as service and he was absolutely adorable.  As a mother, I hope my son has half the class and eloquence that this dude did.  He was soft spoken, but incredibly outgoing and friendly.   He was catering to all his tables in the same easy-going, incredibly endearing way.  We loved him from the second we sat down.  We loved him even more when he brought us our wine, which was from New Zealand and absolutely KICK ASS.  I don’t normally drink white wine, but I will drink this stuff from now on.  I forgot the name of the wine, but Chris took a picture of the label. 

To start, we ordered the Charcuterie Board to share.  I love a good Charcuterie Board, but who doesn’t?  Growing up with Eastern European parents, we ate the contents of a good Charcuterie Board every single day – pickled veggies, cured meats, all different kinds of cheeses, the mashed up livers of some little bird or other…..yum.

I noticed a few very unique things on this specific board at Foundry.  This was the first time I had seen quail eggs as part of the platter.  Also, the addition of pickled grapes was really interesting.  I hadn’t ever tried pickled grapes, so I was curious to see how they went with the rest of the dish.  All of it was incredibly delicious.  We polished off the entire thing pretty fast.  Both Chris and I aren’t the most sophisticated of ladies, but we managed to stop ourselves from licking the actual board when we were done.

It was so filling, that we opted to split the Lobster Roll between the two of us.    It was just as satisfying as the Charcuterie Board.  The lobster was abundant and so fresh!  The light dressing and the few greens that were added did not take away from the mouth-watering taste of the lobster itself. 

There are so many things that I loved about Foundry.  I loved the intimacy of the small room.  I loved that the server was so attentive to everyone in the restaurant.  I loved that he was so knowledgeable about all the dishes that they serve.  I love the interesting and vast menu.  I love that the taste of all the food we tried was unique and fresh.

Seriously…..this is a perfect place for young hip foodies and older culinary connoisseurs alike.  It was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a long time.  AND they serve brunch on Sundays.  AND they serve mimosas with brunch if you want.  Which I want.  So I will back very soon indeed.

Make sure you make a reservation!

56 Water St.
Port Perry, ON

Monday, 16 January 2017

CHATTERPAUL'S, Whitby, ON - (905) 665-7575

Ugh….my dearest readers, you wont believe what a gross blob of a person I’ve become over the past holidays.   I’m disgusting.   I honestly think I ate more over the last two weeks of December than I have in my entire life.   How could one person be such a gluttonous glutton?? My little family and I went on a cruise during Christmas and I’ve never seen food like this before.  Not only was it gorgeous to look at, but it was so delicious that I couldn’t stop myself (we also got to dress up like pirates, which made the food even more delicious.)

  I ordered two entrees on some nights.  Seriously.  TWO ENTREES.  I still feel shame.  I remember one afternoon of indulging in the all-you-can eat seafood bar and thinking to myself, “Lasha.  You’re full.  Stop eating.” But I couldn’t do it.  The peel-and-eat shrimp were so pink and plump and full of that sweet, sweet flavor that only shows it’s face when you’re eating them by the sea…..don’t believe me?  See for yourself.  Check out my Instagram account (@shwagirlfoodblog)…..don’t judge me too harshly.  You’d do the same…..

But, as Soul II Soul once said, “Back to life.  Back to Reality”, and now I’m not only on the wagon for a month, but I’m on a strict and extremely vapid detox diet that consists of just supplying myself with the minimum amount of food to live for the next 30 days.  How utterly boring.  And probably pretty dangerous.  Don’t try this at home, boys and girls…. HOWEVER…..last weekend, just before I started this insane cleansing of fat, my Partners in Crime and I dined at, in my humble opinion, one of the best restaurants in the Durham Region -  Chatterpaul’s.

Located in a strip mall on Brock Road, between Taunton and Rossland, Chatterpaul’s is absolutely in the top 5 restaurants in the Durham Region for food, ambiance and service.  This would be my pick for a romantic dinner, a special birthday celebration, or any other milestone or celebration.  I absolutely love it here.  And I chose it specifically to eat my last meal until February 9th . That’s when this asinine cleanse is over and I can have a beer and twelve pounds of chicken wings from the Waltzing Weasel.

 I probably should have filled up my car earlier in the day, because by the time I picked up my sweet friend, Tanya, I was running on empty gas-wise and we were running late in meeting her sister, Janet, at Chatterpaul’s.  We figured she wouldn’t mind waiting for us for a few minutes and we stopped to grab some gas.  I recently purchased a new car and couldn’t figure out how to open the gas tank.  Laugh away clowns, but there was no release lever on the inside of the car and pushing on the gas door itself wasn’t working.

 Frustrated with my sheer stupidity and tardiness (which I honestly believe to be an inexcusable fault), I threw the car manual at Tanya and demanded that she figure it out while I sped out of the gas station and rushed to meet Janet at Chatterpaul’s.  Tanya’s a good sport.  She’s got me out of several pickles in the past 40 years that we’ve been friends.  So, as she read the instructions to me, and I tried to read them at the same time from the drivers seat, I ended up smashing into a pole.  Pretty hard, too.  Just as I was about to erupt into a glorious string of curse words, I got out of the car and noticed there wasn’t even a scratch on my new car.  No sign of my bad driving whatsoever.  My new car is built like a brick shit-house. So being pretty high-strung to begin with, I was on another level when we entered Chatterpaul’s.  Janet was already seated at one of the big round booths and as we joined her, I felt immediately calmed by the beautiful décor in the main dining room.  The restaurant is made up of three spacious areas, the bar and two dining rooms.  The warm tones, unique lighting fixtures and pretty accents make the room comfortable.  But still elegant. Our server came over immediately and took our drink orders.  He also complicated my game-plan by letting us know that since it was a Thursday, their special Pasta Night menu was in play.  Here’s the deal:  You get a glass of wine, one of their incredible pasta dishes and dessert for $29.95.  And the pasta night menu is VAST.  The dishes vary from  Mushroom and Spinach Ravioli to Blackened Telapia over linguini and lobster with a white wine sauce.

 I was torn because I had been dead set on one of dishes on the regular menu.  All the pasta dishes looked so good, though.  I ordered a glass of Cabernet Sauvingnon anyway and quickly described our gas-door debaucle to the server.  He offered to come out after we finished eating and figure out the gas-tank, which I thought was extremely kind of him. After we drank our wine and got caught up with one another, we ordered a large Caesar salad to split while we decided what to eat.  

As we were having our wine and shooting the shit, the server brought out an amuse bouche courtesy of the house.  I loved it.  It was beautifully presented and tasted creamy with a hint of spice that I thought was awesome. 

The Caesar salad was GIANT.  It was big and garlicy and perfect for the three of us to share. After much internal and external deliberation, I chose my meal from the regular dinner menu.  I couldn’t help it.  I had had the “Breast of Chicken” during a previous dining experience at Chatterpaul’s and it was so good, I had to order it again. Both of my gorgeous dining partners chose dishes from the Pasta Night Menu. I didn't blame them.  

We enjoyed our wine and discussed this topic and that for another little while until our entrees came out.  As our handsome server came out with our food, I was absolutely confident that I ordered the right dish.

My dinner was the Breast of Chicken.  It was incredible.   The chicken breast was stuffed with asiago and jack cheeses, roasted red peppers and asparagus with a side of the sweetest Kahlua cream sauce you've ever tasted.  But the star of the whole thing was a perfectly made potato cake that the chicken was placed on top of.  The cream sauce came in a small container so the diner could pour as much or as little on top of the chicken and potato as per their desire.  Obviously, MY desire was to drench the whole dish with the sauce.   I was in heaven.  The chicken was moist and tender, and the potato and sauce rounded out the whole dish.  It had such a sweet, unique taste with the combination of the tart cheeses and the Kahlua cream sauce.  A perfect 10.  

Tanya ordered the "Mussels, Shrimp, Sausage Creole with spaghetti tossed in jalapeno, okra, sun-dried tomatoes and red wine plum tomato sauce."  It looked really lovely when the server put it down on the table.   Just as he put the dish down, he paused for a moment and said, "I think the kitchen forgot your mussels."  We probably wouldn't have noticed had he not said anything, so we appreciated his honesty.  He quickly ran back to the kitchen and brought her a bowl of mussels in a marinara sauce.  Tanya told us that the dish was good, and that it was spicy, which she really enjoyed.  I ended up eating most of her mussels when she wasn't looking and I can attest that they were delicious.

Janet, in keeping up with her sister's spicy palate, ordered the "Jerk Marinated Breast of Chicken, oven roasted over linguine tossed in a rich island coconut curry cream."  She said it was excellent and that the jerk chicken was spiced perfectly.

Both of my friends' dishes came with dessert, while mine did not.  I was jealous, so I ordered a dessert as well.  Tanya and Janet ordered a butter tart of some sort and I ordered the creme brûlée.  Both were home made and delicious.

Our server was very attentive the entire evening, without being annoying.  AND as per his earlier promise, as we were leaving, he offered to come out and figure out what was going on with my gas tank door.  Janet quickly declined his offer.  She was determined to figure it out by ourselves.  Sure enough, with enough poking and pushing, we realized that the little gas-door was frozen shut. With one good bang of her hand, the ice fell off and my gas-valve was free.  Janet is tiny in stature, but one of the toughest broads I've ever met.  I love my friends.

Anyway....If I were using early-90's lingo, I'd say that our dinner at Chatterpaul's was Wicked-Awesome.  I loved it.  Every time I've eaten there, our meals have been interesting and unique, not to mention beautifully cooked and extremely delectable.  

You should definitely keep this joint in mind when you have something special to celebrate.  Like the end of a torturous and hellish detox-juice-cleanse.....wish me luck.  See you in February! xoxo

3500 Brock St. N. Whitby,
Ontario L1R 3J4
(905) 665-7575