Browsing Tag

Guest Blogger

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!

No Comments

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. 😀

3 Comments

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!

1 Comment

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.

2 Comments

Chinese

What is Stinky Tofu?

December 17, 2015 by

Source: behance.net

Stinky tofu has a rule of thumb. The stinkier, the better.

My initial discovery, and unknown love for the pungent snack began after a documentary from Taste of Asia. My first bite came from Mama Bear in Richmond Hill. And my final love was found from the Hong Kong stinky tofu stand at the T&T Waterfront Market.

What is stinky tofu?
A definite acquired taste of tofu on an indepth fermentation journey.

What’s it like?
The slightly resisting bites are popularly served fried, but in other cases it can also be stewed, barbequed, as well as in it’s soft form. It carries a pungent odour, as descriptive as I can be. It is a mix between garbage and body odour.

Why should I appreciate it?
It consists of a complicated process that takes weeks or even months of love and labour to achieve the optimal end stank.

Source: wandering-taiwan.blogspot.ca

There’s a wide variety and flexibility of brine combinations in the making of stinky tofu. Some have used Chinese medicinal herbs, dried shrimps, bamboo shoots, and even mountain water.

Source: oolong-milktea.blogspot.ca

Stinky tofu is usually priced at $6 to $8 at restaurants and is best accommodated with pickled cabbage, sweet soy sauce, and chilli sauce. There are a lot of spots in York Region that you can treat yourself! Enjoy a plate today.

49 Comments

Dessert Snack

Wooffles and Cream Review

December 11, 2015 by

Opening in July 2015, Wooffles & Cream is the newest addition to the food court situated in New Kennedy Square in Markham. In contrast to the surrounding vendors offering Asian comfort food, customers can expect to find a range of sweet and savoury Hong Kong style egg waffles, soft serve ice cream, parfaits, and craft sodas. The creative minds behind Wooffles & Cream are Mabel Yeung and Ka Yan Woo, who combined their favourite treats – ice cream and Hong Kong style waffles – to develop their innovative menu.

Our dining experience started with a Matchazuki parfait cup while waiting for the waffles to be made. This scrumptious dessert was carefully crafted with matcha green tea soft serve, red bean paste, cornflakes, and glutinous rice balls. The matcha soft serve was incredibly smooth with a subtle green tea flavour that complemented the sweet toppings perfectly.

Wooffles & Cream Egg Waffles and Parfait

After careful deliberation, we opted for the Black ‘N’ White Sesame waffle with a matcha soft serve swirl and the specialty Lap Cheong ‘N’ Seaweed waffle. The waffles are made fresh to order with crispy edges and a fluffy interior. The sesame waffle maintained its texture quite well against the ice cream due to a careful in-house tempering process. The lap cheong waffle was very tasty on its own with finely chopped pieces of Chinese sausage and shredded seaweed in every bite. This sweet and savoury combination is highly recommended if you’re looking for a unique treat.

Wooffles & Cream Parfait

Wooffles & Cream Egg Waffles

Tips

Be warned of potentially long wait times that can range between 10 to 40 minutes, especially during peak dining hours. If you’re in a hurry, it is recommended to get an idea of the wait time from a staff member before lining up. Nevertheless, onlookers can definitely see the effort and care that goes into each order.

The owners use locally sourced ingredients so you can always expect new concoctions in the works. For all of you green tea enthusiasts, keep an eye out for upcoming creations that feature an even more pronounced tea flavour!

No Comments

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!”)

4 Comments

Brunch Chinese Dim Sum Lunch Reviews

Dragon Boat Fusion: My Favourites at This Popular Dim Sum Restaurant

November 26, 2015 by

Dragon Boat Fusion Cuisine

With plenty of great spots to choose from and some of the best in the GTA, York Region has really got it good when it comes to dim sum. Here’s a look at some of the features and my favourite dishes from one of these gems.  Arguably one of the most popular dim sum joints in the region and for good reason, Dragon Boat Fusion serves up fairly consistent, good quality dim sum along with crazy daily lineups as any good dim sum joint should.

Early birding is encouraged.

Early bird pricing is in effect on weekdays (not including holidays) when you order before 11am when all small, medium, and large dishes are $2.99.  Otherwise, the regular prices are:  S $2.99, M $3.99, L $4.99,  XL $5.99, and SP $6.99.

As for tea, there are the standard teas available at dim sum to choose from and it goes for $1.30 per person. They serve the nicer quality stuff here than typical dim sum joints. For tea, I usually prefer Iron Goddess.

Some Dim Sum Faves

Dragon Boat Fusion - Har GowDragon Boat Fusion - Siu Mai

(1) Har Gow and (2) Siu Mai

These are the classic duo. If they make har gow and siu mai well, then you know the dim sum is good.

(1) Big and plump, chock full of fresh shrimp. Well made skin as it’s thin and translucent yet firm enough to not break when picked up. Garnished with a whole shrimp in the shell.

(2) Also quite big and plump with a balanced ratio of pork to shrimp and topped with roe. Fresh, flavourful, and moist.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Rice noodle rolls with dough fritter

Rice noodle rolls with dough fritter

The dough fritter is actually crispy; a key feature of quality for this dish. Nice and thin rice noodles. Topped with bonito flakes giving these an added deep savoury flavour which definitely levels this up. Warm, sweet soy sauce served on the side to use as you please. Also served with the standard peanut and hoisin sauce for dipping.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Foie Gras Almond Shrimp Balls

Foie Gras Almond Shrimp Balls

A fine example of their fusion dim sum. Love the textural contrast with the crispy almond slivers and shell to the smooth foie gras filling. Very tasty deep, savoury flavours

Dragon Boat Fusion - Thousand Layer Custard Cake

Thousand Layer Custard Cake

A somewhat rare find at dim sum these days. Piping hot, steamed multi-layer, rich yet mildly sweet egg yolk paste.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Dragon Boat Specialty DIm Sum Platter

Dragon Boat Specialty Dim Sum Platter

Served on an afternoon tea style 2-tiered tray with assorted sweets and fruits on top and savoury gems on the bottom. Quite a nice treat to enjoy alongside regular dim sum dishes. Having had this twice, I’ve found that they change up some of the items.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Platter 1

Top Tier (of the platter)

Assorted sweets including birds nest milk tart, coconut pudding on papaya, red bean paste dumplings, assorted jello, fruits, and cherry tomatoes.

Dragon Boat Fusion - Platter 2

Bottom Tier (of the platter)

White cloud chicken feet, eel/meat pastries, seaweed salad, and beans.

Service

The service here is generally quick and efficient  Though it’s the kind of service you’d expect from typical Chinese restaurants. When it gets crazy busy, you’ll have a harder time waving down wait staff.

Décor and setting

Overall, this joint is well lit with a pleasing modern decor in a gold and white theme.  Modern style tableware with many dim sum presented in branded square steamers. Both tables and chairs are adorned in cloth. And of course, as the focal point, a somewhat blinged out double happiness raised platform area for all those dope wedding banquets or dope dim sum sessions in this case. (It does seem a bit quieter up there.)

Crazy line ups

When I have some time off at non-peak times during a weekday, I love whisking away to dim sum hoping to enjoy small lines and very short wait times.  Not so at this joint. If you want to avoid the crazy lineups, be ready to get there before the doors open at 9am, even on a weekday.  Tables fill up minutes after the doors fling open and then the crazy wait begins.  Also, as is the case with many Chinese restaurants, even if you make a reservation you will most likely end up still having to wait a while when you get there.

Inadequate Parking

In terms of parking, there are only a handful of spots outside the restaurant reserved for it.  Around the corner, are a handful of unreserved spots available.  But when those are all filled up, take a detour to park over at the adjacent parking lot where The Keg is and then cross over the small hill.

Regardless of these cons the quality, variety and unique fusion takes on dim sum as well-made standard dishes makes this joint a worthwhile visit.

Address: 160 E Beaver Creek Road, Suite 4-6, Richmond Hill, ON L4B 3L4
Phone Number: (905) 731-3718

No Comments