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Miscellaneous

5 Things You Should Stop Saying to a Food Blogger

April 3, 2016 by

I only seriously began food blogging recently (2015?), but I’ve written about and taken photos of food for over six years now. And by “seriously”, I just mean I’m posting more and more about food although I’m not really critiquing or offering reviews as thorough as my other amazing food blogging counterparts.

Throughout my years of documenting food, I’ve heard the same things said to me and my fellow blogger friends over and over again. Here are five of the most common phrases that us food bloggers are getting sick and tired of hearing. ; )

Markham Food Bloggers at Tapagria

Photo taken by Markham Food at Tapagria Restaurant
Left to right: @baoislife.to, @qqfoodjournal, @sincerelykn, @meetandeats

5 • FIVE

“How many photos do you need to take? Can we eat now?”

These questions are pretty much interchangeable (or sometimes said one after the other).

If there’s natural lighting, we can take our photos pretty quickly. However, we’re sorry if you get caught in a situation where we need to move your plate just to get that perfect shot! For some of us, withholding our hunger just comes naturally. That perfect photo – especially for a unique dish or a restaurant we’re visiting for the first time – is necessary for our social media pages and blogs. These shots help us help you discover new places to eat! Admit it – you’ve discovered one or two restaurants through our blogs/social media pages, right?

4 • FOUR

“Is there anything you wouldn’t eat?”

Personally, I’d eat almost anything (no bugs plz) placed in front of me. Pig blood (love it with chives), duck embryo (or balut) (love it dipped in salt & pepper), chicken feet (too much effort for too little meat, IMO)… you name it, I’ve likely tried or am interested in trying it.

With that said, I can promise you that each blogger has their own limits and many might not be open to trying “weird” things.

Markham Food Bloggers at Tapagria

Photo taken by Markham Food at Tapagria Restaurant
Left to right: @qqfoodjournal, @sincerelykn, @goodfoodtoronto, @feedmygains

3 • Three

“You must have so much fun getting all this free food at events/tastings!”

Well, yes and no. Sure we get a lot of free food, but many agencies and restaurants expect us (especially if we have large social media followings) to post photos onto our pages. Though we’re never under any obligation to post (unless we’re paid and have signed a contract), most of us do post “for free” out of courtesy, to thank the restaurant, or simply just to share good food and reviews with our audiences.

So yes, we do get tons of food and drinks, but technically, they’re not free if we’re expected to post (or “work” for it).

As a side note, for the restaurants and agencies who are reading this, never follow up with bloggers with, “So when are you posting?” right after an event – ESPECIALLY if you didn’t pay them or it wasn’t originally communicated on your invite. Taking photos, editing them, writing captions, and posting take a lot of time and energy. Sometimes, it can take weeks before a photo goes live, but other times, things aren’t posted simply because our photos weren’t good, we didn’t like your stuff, or we forgot.

Markham Food Bloggers at Tapagria Restaurant

Photo taken by Markham Food at Tapagria Restaurant
Left to right: @cjnoms, @baoislife.to, @goodfoodtoronto, @sincerelykn

2 • Two

“You eat out a LOT! How much money do you spend on food? Do you even cook?”

We dooooo eat out a lot, but that’s because we love to! Why else would we become food bloggers? There are a few different types of us though:

  1. The types who are so popular that they’re invited to tastings almost every night, so it looks like they’re spending a lot of money at restaurants.
  2. Those who love trying new places out and don’t wait for an invite to do so. They spend their own cash at restaurants so that they can write reviews and take photos for their audiences.
  3. Those who are invited to a handful of menu tastings, but also enjoy eating out on their own as well as cooking at home.
  4. And we can’t forget about this type – the ones who cook and share recipes! These food bloggers probably spend more money on groceries than eating out (which is actually a lot cheaper).

Regardless of what type of blogger we are, why should our finances affect you? Everyone has their interests – toys, cars, handbags, etc. – and food happens to be ours!

1 • One

“How are you not fat? / Why are you so skinny?”

This is probably THE most common question most of the smaller-framed food bloggers get asked a lot. While it does look like we eat out a lot, a lot of the photos we share aren’t even of our own dishes. When we go out to eat in a group, we take pics of each other’s dishes (and sometimes have a bite from each other’s plates) just so we have content to post.

I get this comment all the time. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t actually find it annoying and I’ve never been offended by it… but I just never have a good response!

Have an opinion? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Like this post? Check out my previous one, 5 Best Photo Editing Apps for Food Photography!

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Miscellaneous

5 Best Photo Editing Apps for Food Photography

February 21, 2016 by

Those who know me know that it’s no secret that I love taking food pics though I admit, not every dish looks presentable in photos. This is why photo editing apps are a must! P.S. I took all of these food pics here. Follow me on Instagram (@StyleSnapEat) for more! 😀

Jessy Style Snap Eat Instagram Food Photos

If you follow my fashion blog, you might’ve read my (now outdated) blog posts about Photo Editing Apps for Instagram and Photo Editing Apps for iOS and Android; however, food vs. outfit photos might be a little different. Let’s take a look at which apps are in my “Food Photography” folder on my iPhone.

iPhone Phonto App for watermarks

1. My favourite app for adding text and overlays would be Phonto (screenshot above). It’s super useful for adding watermarks and image overlays because you can adjust the transparency and quickly save your photo.

2. VSCO is a popular photo editing app, but the filter selection is limited (compared to Instagram) because there are certain ones you have to purchase. VSCO also offers basic adjustments such as brighten and contrast, which are great for food pics that weren’t taken in good lighting.

3. If you’re into putting all of your food photos onto one image, Layout (created by Instagram) (iOSAndroid) allows you to create collages with ease. You can choose as many photos as you’d like, add borders, and flip or rotate individual photos within the collage. The one issue I have with this app is that you can’t adjust the border’s thickness or colour. (I made the side-by-side below using Layout.)

iPhone iOS Camera Filters How To

4. For iPhone users, the built-in Camera app has eight different filters (shown on the right above) you can choose from. The filters are accessible when you tap the “Venn diagram” icon on the bottom right corner (circled in red above) of the app. My go-to iOS filter is “Fade” by the way. ; ) Unfortunately, the filter levels can’t be adjusted… which brings us to probably my favourite photo-editing app of all (so far)…

5. Instagram! This is almost too obvious. I use Instagram’s editing functions for almost all of my photos, so I’ve learned quite a few tricks along the way.

Instagram Editing Filters App Tutorial

Instagram filter and editing tricks/hacks (refer to screenshot above):

  • If you scroll alllll the way to the end of the Instagram filters, there’s a “Manage” button  (circled in red) where you can move the filters around and/or even hide some (circled in orange). We can FINALLY hide that awful Kelvin filter! Just kidding… ; ) My favourite filters are Clarendon, Lark, and Reyes.
  • Tap on any filter twice and you can adjust the strength of that filter. Adjusted to 15, maybe Kelvin isn’t so bad after all?
  • You don’t have to just add a filter to your photo. You can also edit the basics (circled in yellow) like brightness, contrast, and even its angle(only works for square images right now).
  • Too lazy to fiddle around with the adjustments? Tap the Lux icon (circled in pink) for a quick auto-adjustment.
  • If you’ve made a million edits already and want to compare it to the original, just tap the pic for a quick peek.
  • Now here’s my favourite trick/hack:
    First, go to your Instagram settings and turn on “Save Original Photos”. Next, turn off your WiFi/data, edit your pic, and hit “Share”. Your edited photo will automatically save to your camera roll. You’re probably wondering…why in the world I would do this?!
    1) You don’t actually want to post the pic to IG.
    2) You’re currently on the subway and don’t have access to the internet. Edit away!
    3) You’re flying back from vacation and need to kill some time on your flight. Why not edit a bunch of photos to post once you have internet?
    4) Like me, you’re pretty frugal with your data usage (300mb *gasp*), so sometimes, you just edit pics on the go so that you can quickly post them later.

I hope these apps help you create better posts for your social media pages! If you have a favourite photo editing app that I haven’t mentioned, please share them with me in the comments or on my Instagram page! I love trying new apps. 😀

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Dessert Dinner Drinks Italian Japanese Lunch Miscellaneous Spanish Sushi

Top Places for Dates in Markham

February 13, 2016 by

For the First Date

Chit-Chat Play Board Game Cafe

Chit-Chat Play Board Game Café
Get to know your date in a fun and casual environment where you can stir up some healthy competition between the two of you. Chit-Chat is a small, but popular board game cafe with more than 400 adult- and kid-friendly games to choose AND buy from. There are also plenty of yummy desserts including gelato, waffles, and cheesecakes if you want to treat your date to a sweet surprise!
Bonus: there’s no time limit here so you can stay as long you’d like (our record was 5 hours!).
Price: $12 per person on weekends for unlimited play and a drink valued at $3.25 (or upsize for extra charge)
Cotton Candy Latte Art - Initium
Initium Co.
Want to really impress your date? Initium takes “going out for coffee” to the next level with their extravagant lattes. From cotton candy espresso drip drinks (‘cause who doesn’t want a fluffy cloud of goodness?) to their beautiful latte art, their drinks are worth going for the picture alone! They’re almost too pretty to drink. Almost. In addition to the fun drinks they also have a small brunch menu where you can get light snacks such as smoked salmon and croissants!

For the Ones Who’ve Just Dropped the “L Bomb”

Markham's Inspire Restaurant in Markham Village
Inspire Restaurant
Looking for something out of the ordinary? Enter Inspire Restaurant, where their dishes truly are “inspired” with Asian-fusion. From a variety of cool dishes such as Udon Carbonara or Butter Chicken Serpentini (pictured above), they take common Italian dishes and spin it to include Asian flavours. We say Asian flavours because you’ll see flavours from all corners of Asia from Korea to Japan to China to India. Prepare yourself for the nap you’ll want to take after eating here because their dishes are decadent, rich, and oh-so indulgent. We suggest their Inspire Burger with Pulled Pork Frites (above) – it is DELISH.
Pizza at Levetto in Vaughan
Levetto
Homemade pasta? Check. Huge portions? Check. Seriously, Levetto’s best feature is their portion size to price point – it’s impressive. The pastas are definitely one of the biggest highlights of the menu (as in you NEED to order it!) – they have their very own extruder in-house so pasta is made fresh on site and the result is a variety of shapes that are each dense, chewy, and delicious. We recommend splitting a pizza and a pasta between the two of you. You won’t regret it!

For the Couples Who Have Put WORK in


Tapagria Spanish Tapas Restaurant
Don’t want to trek all the way downtown for Spanish food? You don’t have to. Tapagria offers a variety of pintxos, cold and hot tapas, and our favourite, paella! If you really want to treat your sig-o out, order the $72 Chuleton Asado, a massive 32 oz roasted rib-eye that is seasoned and marinated with beautiful flavours. Served with roasted potatoes, romesco, and charred scallions, this brings a welcome and elevated twist to your classic steak and potatoes.
Zen Japanese Restaurant in Markham
Zen Japanese Restaurant
Previously located in Toronto, Zen has moved uptown to grace Markham with its presence. This humble features delicate and incredibly fresh pieces of sushi. Opt for a spot by the bar and have the sushi chefs personally place sushi one-by-one in front of you, Jiro-Dreams-of-Sushi-style. Enjoy their MASSIVE Spider Roll which has some of the meatiest soft shell crabs we’ve ever seen. We dare you to try to eat it in one bite (we deem it impossible)! Don’t forget to leave space in your tummy to end your meal off with a slice of their Mandarin Pie – tangy and a refreshing dessert to a delicious meal.
Who said you need to drive all the way to Toronto to have a nice night out? Whether you’re just getting to know a person or you’re the long-term couple, we hope you enjoy these as our top places for a special date in Markham!

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Local Events Miscellaneous

Things to do During Reading Week & Family Day 2016

February 11, 2016 by

Reading Week and Family Day are just around the corner.  If you’re ditching the books for a week or have nothing planned yet, there are a lot of things you can do around York Region!

Board Games & Chill

There are a handful of board game cafés in the Markham area where you can enjoy light snacks, a beverage, and play any board game you like .  Here are three places, but feel free to chime in if you know of a few others in the York Region area!

Get (Mentally and/or Physically) Active

Have you been glow-in-the-dark mini putting?  Putting Edge has locations in both Vaughan and Richmond Hill.  You can also go to Laserquest (actually beside Putting Edge) in Richmond Hill or go outdoor skating at the Markham Civic Centre.  By now, there are also many escape rooms to choose from in the York Region.  Here are a few:

Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

If you want to get in touch with your inner artist or just relieve some stress, try your hand at one of these activities.

markham-food-paintlounge

PaintLounge is a fun place to get together with a few friends to paint.  You can either freestyle or choose something from one of their sample books to draw inspiration from.  Check out these deals:

  • February 12 to 14 – ART & WINE WITH YOUR VALENTINE
    Enjoy an art date in style with two 16×20” freestyle sessions & two glasses of wine, beer, tea or coffee, $70 per couple.  More details at paintlounge.ca/valentines.
  • February 15 – FAMILY PAINT DAY
    This Family Day, come as a family for our “Up, Up, and Away” Family Workshop and explore colours, paints, and painting techniques and create collaborative art on a big canvas together. $50 per family for a 24×30” canvas. More details at paintlounge.ca/events/family-day.
  • Now to February 29
    Register with promo code BLOGGERPARTY2016, and your followers will get 45% off adult workshops, valid at all locations. Sign up at paintlounge.ca/adult-workshops.

Colour Me Mine is another painting place, but not on a canvas!  They have a variety of ceramic pieces you can choose from including mugs, décor, and bowls.  Here are a few of their deals:

  • Family Fridays
    One painting adult gets up to two free studio fees for kids (13 years old and under).  Adult must paint their own item and pay a studio fee.
  • Two-for-Tuesday
    Two people paint for one studio fee.
  • Ladies Night
    On Wednesday evenings (starting at 4pm) ladies of all ages receive half price studio fees.

Try a New Restaurant or Unique Dish

LOHAS-Cafe-honey-toast-markham-food

Have you seen the colourful cotton candy lattes from Initium, the beautiful toast with rice from My Wonderful Kitchen, or the drool-worthy honey toast from LOHAS Cafe? Check out our food blog or food page on Instagram for inspiration! Confused about how to find something you need? Check out our how-to guide.

Attend Local Events

February 15 – Take the family out for some free skating for the RBC Family Day Skate! The Markham event will take place at the Milliken Mills Community Centre.

February 15 – Visit the Markham Museum for Winterfest! There’s a $3 fee per person, but the whole family can experience activities such as ice block building, crafts, music, and snow-shoeing. They’re also running a few other events this month that your whole family can enjoy.

February (various dates)Pacific MallMarket Village, and First Markham Place are running some events to celebrate Chinese New Year.

February 23 – As cat lovers, we can’t help but mention the grand opening of Markham’s Cat Adoption and Education Centre (CAEC) (even though this technically takes place after Reading Week). Beginning at 10:30am, you can join in on the grand opening festivities by skating, doing fun activities, and enjoying some refreshments.

Head Downtown

Don’t wanna stay uptown this break? You can always head down to the seventh-best city in the world (according to NYT), Toronto! There are many ways to get across the city including the YRT/Viva, TTC, or GO Transit. Here are some things you can check out:

shangri-la-toronto-chinese-new-year-high-tea

Have something to add to our list? Feel free to comment below and share it with other readers!

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Miscellaneous

Tips to Stay Healthy When Dining Out (and Meal Prepping)

January 8, 2016 by

meal-prep-markham-food

I love food. I thought I should declare that before I start sharing a tip or two about clean and healthy eating. I’ve been meal prepping for a little over two years now and it has really made a difference in my overall well-being.

markham-food-meal-prep

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy my cheat meals and indulgence often enough. However, in the busy lives that we live, it is hard to eat well if you are not conscious and fail to plan. For me, meal prepping has really helped me stay on track. Eating well also led me to have more energy, sleep better, and reach my fitness goals easier. I’ve turned eating well into a lifestyle and habit.

Every Sunday, I plan out my meals for the week, make a grocery list, go grocery shopping, then spend about two to three hours prepping, cooking, and storing my week’s food.

If you like to dine out once in a while, below are some tips for how to stay healthy when not eating at home.

Tips to Stay Healthy When Dining Out

Managing Your Portions

  1. Keep it small.
  2. Divide up dessert.
  3. Avoid super-sizing.

Making healthier choices

  1. Ask for more vegetables.
  2. Go for whole grains.
  3. Keep sodium in check.
  4. Get sauce on the side.
  5. Skip sweet drinks.

Getting informed

  1. Ask how food is prepared.
  2. Look ahead.

Source: EatRight Ontario

If you have any questions about meal prepping, feel free to ask in the comments below.

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Chinese Miscellaneous

The Struggle is Real: A Plea to End Menu Illiteracy

December 5, 2015 by

Admit it.  You regret not paying a little more attention in Chinese school.  If only you just learned the Chinese characters for “chicken”, “pork”, “stir-fried”, “steamed”, “boiled”, “buns”, or the other common words on a Chinese menu, you wouldn’t have to be in this position.  Better yet, you think back to the times when you were a kid and your folks would order such delicacies with ease.

If only I paid more attention to Dad when he ordered that fish scent eggplant thing with the minced pork…

You know the feeling.  When you’re out with your friends at a restaurant and the menu is only in Chinese, but none of your friends know how to read Chinese.  The struggle is very real.

Or to those who are not Chinese venturing into this dim sum place that your co-worker recommended, but all you see is gibberish next to the ticky-boxes.

There’s nothing better than ordering chicken or pig’s feet as a surprise.

Eating chicken feet at dim sum

Damn you chicken feet!!!

Face it – when it comes to food in Markham, options are dominated with Chinese food choices.  And while most restaurants are now smart enough to include English, there are still some that do not.

What’s worse is that it’s usually the really good restaurants that don’t have English on their menus.

The restaurant owners know this and think, “Pfffttt… the food here is so good, we don’t need to waste money on English menus.”

What’s funny (and sad) is sometimes we have too much pride.  I’m sure the server can read out and translate the menu to you, but that’s lame and embarrassing, especially for someone who looks head to toe Chinese, only to not be able to order.

And trust me, I’ve personally tried to find ways around the embarrassment of asking.  In fact, I’ve gone as far as using the Google Translate app (iPhone | Android) to translate the Chinese menu:

Chinese - Google Translate App

I think I’ll have a “Making money Duck Song Pack” with a “Health and Beef Roll Soup”.

And I know we are not alone on this.  In fact there’s a category of Foursquare/Swarm/Yelp tippers who truly look out for their fellow food-comrades by phonetically spelling out different dishes:

Honestly if that’s not looking out for one another, I don’t know what is.

Seriously, we really shouldn’t have to work that hard just to get good Chinese food.  I think it’s time everyone can enjoy everything on the menu.

So as a plea to those Chinese-only menu restaurants, I challenge you to get it together before it’s too late.

As you know, in the next five to ten years it’s going to be us menu-illiterates who will be the majority patrons of your fine establishment.

So please do something before we’re all reduced to start ordering in broken phrases of, “Ngor Yew Yut Gor Hak Jeew Ngow Pa Faan, please!” (“I would like one Black Pepper Beef Steak Rice, please!”)

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Miscellaneous

How to Use the Markham Food Pages

September 13, 2015 by

First off, we’d like to invite you to like Markham Food on Facebook, follow us on Instagram and Twitter, and bookmark this website. Currently, some of these profiles are just a recap of the other, but we hope to share unique content on each platform moving forward.

On Instagram, there are a few ways you can use our page to your advantage. Let’s say you’re in a particular area one day (we’ll use Yonge & Steeles as our example) and are overwhelmed by the food choices available.  To search by area, visit our profile, tap on the map pin icon (circled in red above), and zoom in to your area of choice.  From there, you’ll see all of the photos we’ve attached to this area. Just tap a dish you’re interested in and you’ll find see all of the details!

If you’re looking for a restaurant that we’ve personally been to (all pics marked with the Markham Food logo), a giveaway, or local events, take a look at the photo albums on our Facebook page. We’ve organized them so that they’re easy to find.

While most of our Twitter feed is just a regurgitation of our Instagram pics, we do retweet and share information that isn’t posted to our other pages. This may include restaurant promotions, event information, and re-sharing tweets from our followers.

If you’re looking for something specific and it’s hard to locate on our Instagram page, you can always use the Search bar on our Tumblr. For example, just type in “pho” and all of our uploads with “pho” in the caption will appear.

And finally, on our website, you will find content unique content about food, local events, reviews, and restaurants. In the sidebar bar, you can filter the articles by meal type, cuisine, as well as other topics. There are also search functions at the top and bottom of our website. To zoom in on a specific street or area, visit our Map of Top Restaurant Reviews.

Happy browsing!

Markham-Food-Banner

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