Father-Son Trip to Blue Mountain Village

“I am not afraid,” I tell myself, unconvincingly. Strapped into the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, our car goes clickety-clack as we slowly make our way to the summit. And then, the point of no return, and we bomb back down the mountain. “Too fast! Too fast!” I scream in agony, only to be drowned out by my son’s screams of delight. “Faster! Faster!” He shouts to my ghostly white face. Oh, the things we do for love! Our father-son getaway to the Blue Mountain Village Resort is the best value-for-money trip in Ontario. Continue reading “Father-Son Trip to Blue Mountain Village”

Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken

On a tour of Northern Thailand, a visit to the Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai represents the height of luxury. Here we plant rice, dine on exquisite Northern Thai cuisine, sip blended watermelon, orange and pineapple juice, and learn to cook.

After lighting incense offerings to the Gods, our teacher demonstrates, and we follow along, pounding spices and chopping herbs into a velvety smooth bowl of richly textured Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken. Continue reading “Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken”

Stir Fried Chicken with Blue Rice

No tour of Thailand is complete without a cooking class. Our visit to the riverside Amita Thai Cooking School in Bangkok includes a stroll through a garden of edibles that serve as the pantry for our culinary needs. Donning aprons we stand behind our individual cooking stations.

On the menu: a tantalizing Stir Fried Chicken (Gai Phat Met Ma Muang Himmaphan) with blue rice – just because it’s cool. This panoply of ingredients is visually stimulating, aromatic, and will make your taste buds dance.

READ MORE: Thailand’s Tapestry of Flavour

Stir Fried Chicken with Blue Rice

Ingredients:

  • 150 grams skinless chicken fillet, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons cashew nuts fried in oil until light brown
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce (1 for marinade and 1 for seasoning)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 red chilies slice into thin strips
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 2-3 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon dark sweet soy sauce
  • 1-2 spring onions cut into 1-inch length
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Marinate chicken with 1 teaspoon fish sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dark sweet soy sauce. Then stir-fry in medium heat until half cooked and set aside.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a wok. Add chopped garlic and stir-fry until turn light brown.
  3. Add chicken and diced onion, stir quickly then season with fish sauce, sugar and a pinch of salt. Then add red chilies and spring onion. (If it is too dry add a little bit of water.)
  4. Put in cashew nuts and dried chilies.

For the blue rice:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Butterfly-pea flowers (you can add more for darker colour)
    – Whether using a rice cooker or pot of boiling water, simply add flowers to rice.

Yields 1 Serving

 

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More Fun Things To Do With Family in Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls was given the moniker, “Honeymoon Capital of the World,” not only because of its majestic waterfalls, but also because of its endless secluded romantic parks and trails, and now its veritable buffet of activities and experiences beyond the falls for the whole family. Continue reading “More Fun Things To Do With Family in Niagara Falls”

The Stratford Forum

What might “dinner and a show” have looked like in Shakespeare’s time? It would not yet have included potatoes or tomatoes, coffee or chocolate, white tablecloth or instagrammable dishes. The grounds of the Globe Theatre would have been a mob of activity with food stalls selling pies and ales, meats on a spit and a “ploughman’s lunch.” In celebration of Shakespeare, and to enhance and enrich the theatrical experience, The Stratford Festival Forum has elevated dining and theatre-going by encompassing special performances, panel discussions, interactive workshops and dining that incorporate the themes of the play bill. Continue reading “The Stratford Forum”

Fun Things to do with Family in Niagara Falls

Do you remember your first trip to Niagara Falls? Planning it for a child is like reliving it.

There are so many different angles for us to view the Falls and, of course, each one is a completely different experience. My son has no idea what’s in store, and I am so excited!

As we approach the Table Rock Welcome Centre the epic sight of the Falls is inescapable. We immediately run to the railing and marvel in wide-eyed wonder at the force of 2,800 cubic metres of water per second barrelling over a 670 metres wide crest mere feet from our perch. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m still captivated. My son—he’s entranced. “Do you know how that’s made?” I whisper in his ear. “No,” he mouths, without averting his gaze. “Come here. I want to show you something.” As I pry him away, we head inside.

Niagara’s Fury

Within a 4D, 360 degrees, multi-sensory theatre, we travel through time to discover how the Falls were formed. We’re not voyeurs on this journey.

The platform beneath us, and to which we’re clinging for dear life, is simulating the geological forces displayed on the screens.

As we watch the animation and enjoy the characters on the screen, we shiver during the last Ice Age as snow falls upon us. We’re jolted off balance as the ice cracks. And we get drenched as we’re hurled down river amidst the massive power of the water. The simulations are brilliant, exhilarating, and, within the safety of the theatre, provide a visceral understanding of how those the Falls came to be. This did not exist when I was a kid, but my son, full of laughter and joy, proved that this is an indispensable experience for any family to include in their Niagara Falls itinerary.

Table Rock House Restaurant

After an experience like that, it’s time to eat, and the restaurant conveniently located within Table Rock is probably one of the essential dining experiences to have in Canada. It’s on the level of the CN Tower in the unique and profound views it offers, and its menu truly reflects the Canadian culinary landscape for international tourists and locals alike.

While my son opts for a thick and juicy burger of Canadian beef, I indulge in a Great Lakes Fish Sandwich combining smoked rainbow trout and Northern Ontario rainbow trout on a brioche bun.

For dessert, the Niagara Spy Apple Barge is a warm and decadent filo basket of cinnamon-scented apples with French vanilla ice cream that hits all the right notes.

Journey Behind the Falls

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends.” We head back outside, walk along the river, and line up for Journey Behind the Falls. (Pro-tip: unless you arrive first thing in the morning, line-ups are unavoidable. Don’t be deterred. They do move reasonably well. It is worthwhile to carry a distraction for your child while waiting. For us, bubble guns always do the trick!)


We’ve descended into the tunnels underneath and behind the Falls. Again, mind blowing. He’s transfixed by the immense scope of this natural wonder.

For me, the natural wonder is in watching his face, and imagining what’s racing through his mind right now.

He darts from portal to portal in happy amazement that we are now viewing the base of what we were previously viewing from above.

Hornblower Niagara Cruises

For our final soaker, we board the iconic cruise into the mist of the Falls. Similar to Journey Behind the Falls, we’re prepared for a line-up. Mid-afternoon is busy, but it’s a wonderfully refreshing way to end a visit. We’ve experienced the simulation, the views from above and below, and now the anticipation mounts as we face off against relentless spraying that is a memorable highlight of the day. (Pro-tip: for anyone asking where is the best place to stand, it really doesn’t matter. You will get wet if you want to. Upper deck, facing front, starboard side of the boat left us drenched.)

This is one of the great experiences to have in Canada. For a family, it’s like a rite of passage, and we see multi-generations of smiles.

There are so many fun things to do with family in Niagara Falls, but the core reason for being there will always be experiencing The Falls in it’s rawest form. I still remember my excitement when I visited as a kid with my parents, and now I’ll never forget the excitement when I visited with my kid as his.

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Ask Sara: To Commit Or Not To Commit?

Tormented? Perplexed? Issues have you tossing and turning? The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. Or wait! Ask Sara…

DEAR SARA
I’ve been dating this guy for the past two years, and things are really great. However, I’ve had this feeling that over the holiday, or very soon, he is going to ask me to marry him. I really like him, but I’m not ready to marry anyone, even him. If I say no, I’m certain that will be the end of our relationship, which I don’t want to have happen. Is there a way I can softly let him know that I’m not ready for that kind of a commitment before he gets down on bended knee and there’s no turning back?
Slow and Steady

SARA SAYS
Dear Slow and Steady,
It’s hard to believe that two people who profess to be in love are so far apart in their aspirations. Start, during casual conversations or more intimate moments, to begin sharing your hopes and dreams for the future. Tell him there are things you need to do, experiences you want to have, before you’re interested in getting married or having children. Perhaps it’s a trip to Kathmandu or a summer studying art history in Florence. Make it clear however that one of your dreams includes having him as your boyfriend. A man who really loves you will never ask you to give up your dreams for him. On the other hand you shouldn’t expect him to postpone his dreams of marriage, home and family, indefinitely.
Would you like to ask Sara a question? Send your query to sara@dinemagazine.com and watch for “Ask Sara” every Sunday.

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Temperance and Temptation

“Is it just me, or does the Temperance lady have an ass like two duck eggs in a napkin,” whispers Micky Burns with a nudge and a wink as Eleanor Krumpacker inspects our bus for whisky. And so it goes as we sidle up for a most unique interactive tour to experience the scandalous history of bootlegging in York Durham Headwaters. Continue reading “Temperance and Temptation”

Where To DINE Now: Sushi Masaki Saito

How many sushi restaurants are there in Toronto? Thousands? How many would I recommend? I can count them on one hand. What we commonly think of as sushi, even when purported to be high end, is generally below the highest level. The same can even be said in Tokyo where there are 160 000 restaurants of which 230 are Michelin starred, and of those not all of them are Japanese or serve sushi. Most diners have no idea what the height of sushi can be. We simply have not been exposed to it—until now. Enter Sushi Masaki Saito. Continue reading “Where To DINE Now: Sushi Masaki Saito”