Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fairouz Restaurant Tasty and Modern Middle Eastern Food in Ottawa!

Fairouz Restaurant on Somerset!
There is a new Middle Eastern restaurant in Ottawa!
Now Fairouz does not serve the typical shawarma, falafel, regular hummus kind of foods you can get on every corner.
The cuisine is more refined and modern.
There is no regular hummus or tabouleh on this menu- also Fairouz is only open for dinner after 5pm.
The "new" Fairouz is located where their previous location was- in a cute house on Somerset St.

My mother from out of town treated me to this dinner, it is better to go with another person-that way you can try more of the dishes.
The meal was started with the Muhammara- a walnut, red pepper and pomegranate molasses dip.
There was also some fresh pomegranate seeds in the dip- that is quite different from other dips I have tried.
We were also brought a basket with with 2 nice pieces of warm homemade pita bread.
The pita had some herbs in it and I forgot to ask what they were.
The drink here was a "mocktail" of fresh grapfruit juice, cucumber, tonic water and not too sure- my mother ordered it and it was something the bartender made up.
If I have one negative thing to say, it is that you just get 1 piece of pita bread per person, then have to pay $2 for each extra piece.

Muhammara Dip and Grapefruit Drink

The next dishes I tried were the lamb neck Falafel and the Monforte Halloumi.
The lamb neck falafel, I was told is a mixture of 50% lamb neck meat and 50% vegetable falafel.
There was no all vegetable option for falafel on the menu.
I usually only like vegetarian falafel, but did try this just to see if I would even like it.
The falafel was very hot and fresh, not greassy at all.
The lamb meat was well ground up for the most part and not overly noticeable.
The falafel was also served with "spicy radish", that was 2 thin slices of watermellon radish with a sauce on them and some dill tahini.
You got 5 golf ball size falafel and it was $12.
There was no pita bread included with this dish.

Lamb Neck Falafel and Halloumi Appetizers

The Monforte Halloumi cheese was also really different and very good!
The cheese was nicely browned on top and served with pressed apples with some kind of Verjus, a beet emulsion was splashed around the plate and then some sumac and other spices.
There was also some very fresh pistachios on the plate.
Overall, all the tastes blended quite well- if I have to give one criticism it is that the cheese portion was very small for two people.
The cheese wedge was around 3" x2" and 1/2 an inch thick. It was maybe a couple bites of cheese and cost $13.
I think they should make the cheese part a little bigger. But then this place has only been open 2 weeks,so their menu is quite new.

Eggplant Mashi Sharing Plate $24

The main dish was the Eggplant Mashi- this is supposed to be a sharing plate.
I could eat this size of dish by myself, but with some appetizers it was a good size to split with another person. There was nothing left on this plate in the end!
The dish was served with chic pea balilah-this was chic peas with tomato (not exactly sure),there was also bulgur,fresh pomegranate,eggplant, also rice I think.
There was quite a few things in this dish- the outside of the eggplant was nice and crunchy. That is different from what I usually eat.
This dish kind of reminded me of a dish I buy at a store that has chick peas, eggplant,tomato- except this version was much more presentable.

Jawaher Rice $12

The Jawaher rice dish was also really good and so pretty to look at.
The rice was topped with some edible flowers, fresh pomegranate seeds,pistachio and there was a slight taste of orange in the dish.
The rice dish was very tasty to eat and I would order it again.

My Own Creation!  Falafel Miriam

This next dish was my own creation. I had quite a lot of time to sit and there were many dishes on the table- the dinner took around 2 hours at least.
So I thought I would try and make a mini Falafel pita sandwich.
This had the lamb neck falafel, dill tahini was already on the falafel and I added some Hibiscus Gel, topped with a piece of watermellon radish on a piece of homemade pita!
I thought all the tastes and textures of my creation went quite well together- the falafel and savory dill sauce, the sweeter hibiscus gel, the crunchy and spicy radish and the fresh bread!
I wonder if anyone will notice this dish I made??

Halwat II Jben $12

Finally the dessert that was ordered was the Halwat II Jben-that was made of "Sweetened Cheese • Rose Water • Semolina Custard • Black Sesame Nougatine".
There was also some maple drops on the plate, a fresh fig and edible flowers.
This was an interesting dessert. I would go back to try the other 2 desserts on the menu.

Lastly when we got our bill we were given a small plate with petit fours on it- there was a chocolate covered date that was cut in half and a shortbread-like cookie that had a whole apricot inside and was sprinkled with sesame seeds.
This cookie was cut in half so you could see the filling-this was a nice was to serve these two extra sweets!
*I can not get my photo to load,hopefully my description is good enough.

Final thoughts on my meal at Fairouz:

Overall the meal was very good and had many new combinations of flavours I did not expect.
My mother who often eats middle eastern food actually wondered where the Tahini sauce was, not realizing the version here was tahini and dill.
The pita bread was super good, but that you have to pay an extra $2 per piece and that there are so many sauce- adding an extra pita per person would be nice.
Also, that there is no vegetarian Falafel on the menu?
My mother is a "vegetarian" but decided to try the lamb Falafel for once anyways.
She did find the falafel amazing,I thought it was good-but I only really like vegetarian falafel.
If you are in a rush for dinner- this might not be a place to eat at- our meal was around 2h30 from start to finish- we got there at 6:20pm and left at 9:15.
But maybe for some drinks and some snacks like the dips it would be good to stop in- the bar area was very nice with high tables and chairs.

I will surely be back to sample some more of the dishes, the whole menu looks really good!

The Fairouz website can be found at:

The restaurant address is:

343 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, ON K2P 0J8

If you do eat at Fairouz, let me know what dishes you like and what drinks you have!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Foodiepages Tasting Box Review Jan 2016!

My box was a little late getting here and I was happy my box was not lost or taken off my front steps!
Everything in the box looked amazing and it was hard not to eat everything as soon as the box was opened.

It looks like there is a new box design for the FoodiePages boxes.
My earlier boxes always came in a plain brown box- this makes the box look much more fancy and very visible.

The New Packaging!

This is what I saw as soon as I opened my box.
They are always well packed with shredded paper and an info card.

Opening My FoodiePages Box!

Here are the tasty items that were sent in the January 2016 tasting box:

Jan 2016 Tasting Box!

The first item I tried from this box was the Sapsucker Maple Tree Filtered Water!I was not familiar with this brand, but have bought some bottled maple water from the market in Montreal. It is very refreshing with a light maple taste- so I was looking forwards to trying this.
The Sapsucker packaging is much more practical to send by mail and not likely to break, as it is in a carton like the fruit juices that are shelf stable.
There is a small amount of natural sugar in this product and also some minerals that are good for you.
The maple taste is extremely light if you were to compare this to maple syrup- this is what they boil to get your maple syrup in the bottle. Except that with maple syrup it is much more concentrated.
I read that Whole Foods carries this product,I will look for it next time I am there and will surely buy a couple cartons for myself and gifts!

Maple Water in my Cup!
This is what the maple water looked like in my cup- pretty much like water!
When this is chilled, it is so refreshing!

**The rest of my tasting notes will be up shortly. I need to catch some sleep before continuing....

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Harvey's new dougnuts are AMAZING!! Finally they are back!

Doughnuts at Harvey's??
Yes, at the hamburger place. This is quite unexpected and I hope they stay on the menu this time!
I first tried these last year and was so dissapointed to see them go.
But then I got a printed notice with sandwich coupons a few weeks ago and there was an ad for the mini doughnuts on the back!

I rushed to the closest Harvey's and they did not yet have the doughnuts.
But last week they did have them!

Harvey's Doughnuts!

The doughnuts seem to be fried right when you order them and then then sprinkle them with a ton of cinnamon and sugar!
These were served to me in a paper bag- kind of like when you get the mini doughnuts at the fair!
An order of four mini doughnuts is $2 or you can get 8pc for $3.
The only "problem" I can see with these is it is much too easy to eat an order of eight and still want more of these tasty doughnuts.

The rest of my Harvey's order is quite healthy,so it is ok to splurge on these.
Usually I order a veggie burger with lettuce,tomato,mustard,relish and have a salad instead of fries.
Also instead of soda I get juice or plain milk-they also have chocolate milk that is quite tasty!

Have you tried the new doughnuts at Harvey's? What did you think about them?

Eggnog French Toast or Eggnog "bread pudding"! Fun in the Kitchen...I made this!!

Eggnog French Toast or "bread pudding"!

This is the first time I have posted a recipe that I made myself!
I happened to have a bunch of things here and really wanted some french toast- or something similar.
There were some leftover croissants that were a bit too dry and hard,some eggnog in my fridge and local eggs.
I've made french toast in the oven before and used to make bread pudding at a local restaurant- so kind of figured I would combine all these things.

First I cut up some day old croissants- these came from some bakery in Montreal.
My mother forgot the name and said it is some bakery that does not have a sign??
Well I used 3 croissants in my dish.

Cut up Croissants!

Next I mixed some eggnog and eggs in a bowl.
Remember to use a larger measuring cup or bowl-this was a bit too full and messy....

Eggs and Eggnog!

Then pour the mixed eggnog and eggs on top of the cut up croissants.

Before the oven

After a long time baking,this was the final product!
It tasted amazing and also can be stored in the freezer if cut in slices before freezing.
Best served with maple syrup or some fresh fruits!

Bread pudding or French toast, maybe both!

If you enjoyed this recipe or would like the actual measurements and baking info I can post that.
This would be a good dish for a brunch, dessert, snack.
Also you could freeze this and quickly reheat it for a breakfast on the run.
You can use any day old bread or baguette. The chain Independent always seems to have a lot of baguette and day old bread for half price.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Popeye's Butterfly and Popcorn shrimp review! Ottawa locations.

I have not put up any posts in the past two weeks as I was waiting to hear back from a couple of food related issues.
As well, I was debating whether to put my pictures up. But seeing as I ordered a couple of meals at Popeye's Walkley rd location and am being told my last order was BUTTERFLY SHRIMP- when it clearly was not.
The store was closing soon, and staff were also telling people they had items-like fries,biscuits. They were ringing up people's orders then as soon as they paid "oh, we are out of biscuits,would you like some mash potato instead or some rice?".
Not very cool to do that,quite a few people seemed annoyed.
Stupidly I did not check my container or sauces when I was there, only to get home and see I was given popcorn shrimp instead of the larger butterfly shrimp.
Also got the wrong sauces- sweet heat and some honey- when I had asked for seafood sauce.
I contacted their customer service through Facebook and sent them a picture of my food.
"Popeye's replied I was given the correct item".
My other beef (or lard, maybe) was the shrimp were under the heat lamp too long and rubbery- also some bits were hard like rock and inedible.
Apparently, they do not really seem to care to do anything even after I mentioned my shrimp were rubbery and really overcooked.

I will post both my meals just to see if anyone else thinks they look like they are the same item.
To me, the first order had 8 big shrimp and they were much more spicy than expected.
My first order of butterfly shrimp had the tails on them and the butterfly cut.
-I used to work at a seafood restaurant years ago and had to butterfly and devein  hundreds of shrimp every day. Also did cleaning of other seafood, prep and made some desserts.
So, I guess you can say I know a bit about seafood.

Popeye's Butterfly Shrimp combo.

This was my butterfly shrimp combo meal. I ordered fries with it and asked for blackened ranch and seafood sauce. I was actually surprised that the seafood sauce was not a Popeye's branded item,but Lynch foods (their sauces are good,I actually buy some from somewhere to use at home).
I put a soft drink bottle cap to try and give an idea of the size of the shrimp.
The fries were ok, but quite greasy. At room temp there is a coating of shortening on them that is not very pleasing.

Butterfly Shrimp? or so I am told.....

The photo above is what I was given last week when I ordered butterfly shrimp.
To me this does not look like the same item I had gotten on earlier visits.
I was told that this is the same item. So even if my shrimp was overcooked and rubbery,they do not seem to care too much.
I have not gone back in person to address this because there is another restaurant in the same plaza that makes breaded shrimp and fried chicken.
-Shawarma house has breaded shrimp and fries and they are quite good. But you have to wait around 15 minutes as they are not prepared and are cooked when you order them.
You can always call ahead to order and usually I do that, but this time I did not bother.

During my earlier visit at Popeye's I also ordered their Mississippi Mudcake.
I will post my review separately for that,as this is about shrimp.

So, do you think these two shrimp pictures depict the same item?
To me they look quite different.
I plan on trying a few more Popeye's items. Hopefully the customer service will be better and  my shrimp will not be like rubber.

Anyways, let me know what you think of Popeye's food in Ottawa.
What dish should I try next?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Popeye's Walkley Rd opening day review!

Popeye's Chicken Tenders just opened my meal!


It is about time the Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen opened- first they were saying opening Labour Day weekend on their Facebook, then "they" (Popeye's head office) was claiming their Facebook was not their site and fake and that they never said they would be open then.
Oh, then Popeye's was claiming someone hacked their Redit? site and was making up dates.
I have never even seen the Redit/Reddit? site and just follow the Popeye's official Facebook page that links from their commercial site.
That they were making up such silly things is really just dumb-now "they" (Popeye's) is saying the same fake Facebook page is their real social media page.
People are not stupid, so nice try.

I went to Popeye's the very first day it was open. The Walkley Rd location is a short walk from my house. The first thing that hit me when I was walking to their restaurant was the smell of cooking oil in the air- even before I could see their store.
I've been living in the area 10 years and can say that no other place that serves food has left a cooking oil scent in the air.
Maybe that should be a separate post, but I am really not pleased about that.

But now on to the food, which is what most people want to read about.
The store was not very busy when I visited Thursday night. There was no wait in line and a lot of chicken was already cooked- so no wait at all for food.
I had a 3pc chicken tenders combo with 2 sides. The meal came with a biscuit and a soft drink too.
Bonus points for having Barq's root beer- that is my favorite root beer from the commercial kinds.
For my sides I had mashed potatoes w gravy and the mac and cheese.

The picture at the top of this review is how my meal was served when I was at the restaurant. I did not yet open the potato or mac and cheese. This is what the chicken tenders look like.
I have never had Popeye's before, so this is different.
Most places I get similar kinds of chicken, they seem to call them chicken fingers or chicken strips in Canada, it seems.
I thought the tenders looked very crispy and are a different presentation than what I am used to.
First I tried the biscuit when I got my order- the biscuit was good. It is a regular biscuit-if you like biscuits, these are fine and not too much to really say about these.
Well, I make amazing biscuit- so unless there is something really different about these I am a bit indifferent.
The biscuits I make have organic maple bacon and medium cheddar in them and are so good!

Tenders Combo w Mac and Cheez, Mashed &Gravy

This is what my Tenders combo looked like once I unpacked my meal at home.
The mashed potatoes with gravy were good, but I was not expecting there to be bits of chicken and meat in the gravy.
I have never had Popeye's before and no one at the store or even on Popeye's website make it clear that there is meat in this. Cajun gravy? well that does not really tell me too much about the item- that is has Cajun spices I guess.
When the gravy was hot, it was good on the mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes were quite smooth and not lumpy at all. I'm not sure if this is from the potatoes being from one of those mixes or maybe they get these in a bag like the mash potato you get at the grocery store.
I could not find anything on Popeye's site about how these mash potatoes are made, so I kind of doubt someone is sitting there boiling and mashing these all day long.
When I tried the gravy once my potatoes had cooled off, the gravy was very gelatin-like and not that appealing.
I asked what the mac and cheese was like (I know, a silly question-but I had never been here before).
I asked if it was more like a pasta salad or like with an actual cheese sauce. The girl at the cash said it was similar to kraft dinner.
I did not look at the mac n cheese until I got home and I guess it is similar to the premium kraft dinner- the one that had the cheese pouch you just heat up. The cheese in this is somewhat like Velveeta. If you like mac and cheese, then this one is good.
This is probably one of the few not fried, no meat items on the menu here!

Chicken Tenders a closer look!

This is what the chicken tenders looked like when they are cut up. You can see that it is just white meat inside. These were well cooked and mild. The breading was very crispy. I could not finish my whole meal and so put some of the chicken tenders away for later.
I had to put them in a ziplock bag to keep the scent of oil out of my fridge.
Also when I did go to reheat these, my kitchen smelled like oil for quite a while until I ran my fan and aired out my place a bit.

With my meal I had the mustard sauce and the sweet heat sauce for dipping.
The mustard sauce was similar to Dijon and had a lot of mustard seed in it. I will surely get a lot more of this mustard sauce,I really liked it.
The sweet heat sauce was true to the description. The sauce was sweet and spicy- more spicy than I expected.

Overall my meal was good and I will be back to try more of the food.
One small issue I was unaware of was I had ordered the Combo Dinner or whatever it is called with the two sides. I did not realize until I got my receipt that I was charged a EXTRA 30 CENTS for a large Coke.
I was not told that there was an extra charge and also just wanted a medium drink- esp since I did not even fill my cup halfway with soda.
Also, the ice in the soda machine was not working very well- the ice cubes jammed and could not come no cold soda, or st least not cold for very long.
If I have to think of any other issues so far, it would be that the menu is not always clear and it is on some computer screens that change their images all the time.
So one minute you see just the shrimp and fish prices, then the chicken comes up on the same screen afterwards. So, unless you read quite quickly, this can be slightly confusing if you are not familiar with the menu and have never eaten here before.

I was able to take a picture of the menu while there.

Popeye's Menu Dec 2015

Fried Chicken waiting to be sold!

Above you can see the menu and also how the chicken is cooked and ready to be packed up for orders. There is pretty much no wait as they are always cooking more chicken.
You can also see how the menu screens are always changing- the top one shows desserts and sandwiches, the one below then shows drinks and shrimp.

Here is my receipt, this is what I ordered:

My Receipt 

Have you been to the new Popeye's on Walkley Rd?
What did you order? Any suggestions on what menu items to try next??

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Whole Foods Vegan holiday, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner review!

With the holiday season here,I figured it would be a great time to post about my experience ordering a holiday (Thanksgiving) meal from Whole Foods in Ottawa, Canada.
Whole Foods just opened in Ottawa in November of 2014 at the newly rebuilt Lansdowne Park.
I ordered my meal online and entered my credit card info and then did not hear back from the store,so assumed my order was fine.
No issues when I went to get my food, an employee unpacked my bag to show me all the items and even told me how to reheat each item.
This was very helpful and unexpected.
One small issue I did have,but did not mention was that the Vegan Roast was different from the description-but the employee did not mention anything about this.
It was not a huge issue, as I had never tried any of the vegan roasts before,but thought the hazelnut/kale/cranberry roast sounded so good.

First I will post how each item came in the package and then a nice picture of my food arranged on a plate.

Gardein Veggie Roast and package.

This was what I was given instead of the "Vegan Roast en Croute (454g), made with cranberry,apple,hazelnut and kale".Instead I got this Gardein roast that was almost 1kg and also had 2 gravy packets in it.
The roast was still frozen when I got it,but I did slice it easily and ended up just cooking a portion for me-I was the only person here when I made my food.
But since the roast was frozen,I did save half in the freezer-that way I can eat some later-the best before is 2016 sometime.
The Gardein roast was good and it is the first time I tried one of these products. Usually I like tofu,so thought I would like this. The rice stuffing with this was very good too.
Whole Foods carries this roast year round and it costs $20 in the frozen foods section.

Gardein Roast sliced

This is what the roast looked like uncooked. The appearance is very similar to real turkey!
I have a very good chef's knife, so slicing this still mostly frozen was very easy to do!

Vegan Mushroom Gravy and Cranberry Sauce.

Here is the Vegan Mushroom Gravy (454ml) and what was supposed to be Cranberry Relish (226ml).
The mushroom gravy was the correct size and was very tasty-but it reminded me more of a soup as it was not really thickened. The taste was great,so that this was a bit thin did not bother me-you could put this on vegetables, turkey or even have it as a soup if you want!
The description for the cranberry part was written "Cranberry Relish (226ml)", but what I got was 454ml of cranberry sauce.
I like cranberry sauce,so not really a huge issue,but no one seems to be able to tell me what cranberry relish is supposed to be and I did ask at least 5 different employees at the store.
I usually make my own cranberry sauce and do not buy canned cranberry sauce,but if you do not want to make your own this one here is really good.

Herb Stuffing and Green Beans

On the left side of the picture is the Traditional Herb Stuffing (340g). I did not weigh the stuffing and am not really sure what traditional stuffing would really be as everyone I ask has a different version.
Some people just buy Stovetop, my mother makes stuffing with celery,herbs and some fancy bread. Others use rice or even meats or tofu.
This stuffing had some cranberries in it and was very good. There seemed to be a bit more than 340g of stuffing-next time I will remember to check on my kitchen scale.
On the right side is the Green Beans with Toasted Garlic and Leeks (340g). The green beans were very fresh and still crunchy when I got this dish-maybe if I did more than just reheat a small portion the green beans would have been more cooked? I eat green beans uncooked all the time and did not want to heat the whole dish as it is too much for one person.
There was not too much garlic, so this was good. I do not usually have green beans seasoned like this,so it was a nice change.

Vegan Mashed Potatoes

The vegan mashed potatoes (340g) were very good and made with soy milk instead of dairy. I actually like this better and usually do not eat mashed potato often. I do not remember what herb was in this,but it was good!

Final Presentation!

The pic above is the final presentation or plating for my meal. I wanted to make my food look nice for myself and thought this turned out quite well!
The plate for this meal is made by Fiesta in the US.

Another plate of food!

Above is another plate of food! I was hungry enough to eat 2 big plates of food that day.
If you have any vegan guests, this meal package is a great deal and everything tasted really good.
The price was also $29.99 and this is supposed to serve 2 or 3 people-but that even seems like a lot of food for 3 people.
I do plan on ordering this same meal package for Christmas dinner, as this was very tasty and would be good in case any vegetarian family members do decide to drop by.
Hopefully this review is helpful in deciding what to feed y our vegan friends and family!

-Have you tried any of these dishes? What did you think?