Tuesday, April 28, 2015

IBM Cognitive Cooking and Creative Poutine

Ever have one of those days where you have a few ingredients here and there but don't know what dish you can make without running to the grocery store to buy another few items? Worry not, as Chef Watson can help. When given a handful of ingredients, IBM's Chef Watson can use that data to create new and original recipes.

Named after IBM founder Thomas Watson, IBM Watson is a cognitive computing system that thinks like a human. Chef Watson is part of IBM's efforts to explore if a machine can be creative. Watson can sift through mass amounts of data, recognize patterns, make connections and organize information the same way a human brain would. (If you want to see the massively intelligent Watson, watch this video of it owning at Jeopardy!).

The cool thing about Chef Watson is its ability to analyze billions of times more information than a human chef could consider and to be able to create new, surprising recipes that would actually taste good to most people. I don't think Chef Watson is meant to replace real chefs, but rather to make life easier or provide inspiration.

As a sponsor of last week's La Poutine Week, IBM hosted a poutine tasting event in Toronto (also one in Montreal) and featured five unique poutine recipes that reflect the cultural make up and cuisine preferences of the cities' residents.

Source: Watson Press Kit

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Winterlicious at The Drake Hotel

The Drake Hotel was the first placed I made reservations for from my list of restaurants this year.  I picked it not only because it's a place I've always been eyeing, but also because they source locally for their ingredients. I'm not a vegetarian, but they do offer lots of vegetarian options, which I also appreciate. A snow storm was hitting Toronto, but that didn't stop us and it was so worth the trek!  

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dine Out Vancouver 2015: La Terrazza

La Terrazza has been on my radar for quite some time now, but somehow always manages to get overlooked. This year, I finally took the opportunity to try it out as their Dine Out menu price is very reasonable compared to their normal prices. I was pretty surprised at how spacious yet cozy their interior was and made myself a mental note that next time I would definitely consider this place for a special occasion. 

Our meal started off with amazing truffle meatballs topped with a thick tomato sauce and some parmesan cheese. The meatballs were dense and carried the spicy tomato very well. This appetizer just made me wonder how mouthwatering their pastas would be. 
Someone decided to splurge and go for the roasted lamb racks, and what a great decision that was! The lamb was so melt-in-your-mouth tender, buttery and juicy with just a hint of game to it. I usually like to douse my lamb in sauces to really amp it up but the natural flavours in this dish were so succulent that the even the light pea puree was enough to compliment it. It's funny how we were both really impressed with the lamb as just moments before our first bite we were actually just discussing how we've yet to come across really good lamb. The Agnello came with a side of potato pave which acted as a nice, creamy wrap up to the dish. 
Agnello ($15.88 Supplement)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Dine Out Vancouver 2015: Baru Latino

It's that time of year again! I'm sure for all the fellow foodies out there, Dine Out Vancouver Festival is like a second Christmas, the perfect chance to try something new, have a really good value meal, or just to pig out for no reason. Perusing the menus was half the fun, so this year after endless clicking and scrolling, I decided to kick off the event with Baru Latino

I braved my tastebuds and opted for the Chili Prawns to start. The heat was actually very tolerable in this dish, especially paired with the lime. Only downside was that it was quite small.
Chili Prawns
I chose the Paella Baru for my main course as it was a cocktail of many things that I love - chorizo, seafood medley and salsa. The flavour in the rice was well infused and there was a good amount of seafood mixed in there, but it just didn't have that wow factor to it. I found it kind of odd that this dish was served with flatbread since it there wasn't really any excess moisture that could have been used for dipping. I also would have appreciated a nicer presentation but I guess for Dine Out purposes they just make this in a big batch and scoop it onto a plate?

Paella Baru

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Top Picks for Winterlicious 2015

It's that time of year again where, after a short month of rest from all the belly stuffing during Christmas holidays, more eating! Although I shouldn't use the term "stuffing" for this culinary event as it is all about exploring and really enjoying what the Toronto culinary scene has to offer.

Before I go into my 2015 Winterlicious wish list, I wanted to highlight previous restaurants that I have been to during previous Winterlicious/Summerlicious events since they are also on this year's list: 

Aria (Menu): I would still recommend it for the delicious food, yummy wine, friendly service as well as awesome decor. Great for a girl's night out or a romantic date. 

Big Daddy’s (Menu): You can't go wrong with their clam chowder, fried pickles or jambalaya. 
Ciao Wine Bar (Menu): Very good deal for what it's worth. The food and vibe is great. Good for friend gatherings or romantic dinners. 

La Maquette (Menu): Best place for a romantic dinner with candlelit dinner by a fireplace accompanied by live music. Also, did I mention lobster?  

Weslodge (Menu): Cutting edge decor and innovative dishes without the hefty price tag. The scotch egg is delicious.

I will probably revisit any one of these restaurants this year if I can manage. This will also be my first year attending one of the culinary events as part of Winterlicious. Rosewater is no stranger to me so I am super excited about this one:

Every year I try to check out new places, so here are my top 5 picks for Winterlicious 2015 (in alphabetical order):


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