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Savoury Travels

quinoakalesalad

Hey hey! Happy Friday! 🙂 Hard to believe it is mid-June already! Those of you teachers out there can likely relate to the exhaustion and off switch, the end of the school year brings, as we are faced with piles of papers to mark and are desperately in need of a vacation. As much as we may love our students…everyone needs a break from time to time. Combine that for me, with the upcoming move and all of the minute details that come with it=a bit of stress and not a whole lot of time to cook.

That is why I am a huge fan of quick and easy meals you can throw together. Something tasty, fresh and light that takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare. Such as this Kale, Quinoa and Avocado salad. The savoury citrus dressing pairs nicely with the bitterness of the kale, nutty flavour of the quinoa, crunch of the veggies and creaminess of the avocado. This recipe serves four…but feel free to double the recipe as leftovers save nicely and make for a great packed lunches. This is a great recipe for when you are low on time and still wanna stay on the healthy train. Enjoy! 🙂

Quinoa Kale and Avocado Salad with Savoury Citrus Dressing
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: Healthy
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • You will need:
  • 1 Cup Quinoa
  • 1 Cup water
  • 1 chopped tomato
  • 2 diced avocados
  • ½ an onion, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 cups of shredded kale
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Dressing:
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Juice from half an orange
  • Juice from a lemon
  • 1 tbsp Agave (alternatively, use honey if that is what you have on hand)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ cup of water
Instructions
  1. Bring cup of water to bowl. Add quinoa, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 min. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
  2. While quinoa is boiling, mix together dressing ingredients together in a bowl and wash and chop your veggies.
  3. Toss veggies, dressing and quinoa. Chill until ready to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

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IMG_1246

One of the things I love about Shanghai is its extensive number of fun events throughout the year catered towards expats and locals alike. The Sinan Mansions Beer Festival, that took place last weekend, was no exception. Though I am not much of a beer fan myself, we frequented the festival for the second year in a row, not for the beer but rather for the unique and tasty dishes serves up by various restaurants around Shanghai.

For those of you who haven’t been to Sinan Mansions before, it is a beautiful area with a stone walkway surrounded by a variety of bars and restaurants. The festival contained a multitude of booths serving a variety of interesting beers and tastes, but the two restaurants booths that stood out to us amongst several delightful places were “Edge” and “Kakadu”.

We were drawn to Edge by the drool-worthy smells and the samples of slow-cooked Canadian Angus beef that literally melted in your mouth. China isn’t exactly known for its “quality” meat so when you find a place that serves some that is fresh and flavourful it is a rare treat. Noteworthy tastes we tried from Edge were the organic mussels, which were light and savoury, and the Artisan pork sausages, of which they were serving a variety of six at the festival. We tried the “Italian Red Wine” and the “Cuban Coriander” which were both uniquely spicy, well-seasoned, and not in the least bit greasy.

edgeshanghaisausage

 

 

canadianangusbeefedgeshanghai*You can find Edge at Shop 301 of N8 Building Citic Plaz, No. 853 Sichuan Bei Lu, and Hai Ning Lu, Hongkou District, Shanghai*

Kakadu, in contrast, is an Australian restaurant, serving an array of strange and different meats. At the festival, Kakadu served a variety of burgers such as Emu, Crocodile and Saltbush Lamb. I tried the crocodile burger which, surprisingly, tasted like chicken….but a tender, moist, light, and flavourful chicken. Kakadu is refreshingly unique in the Shanghai restaurant scene. James Sing, the owner moved to Shanghai in 2005 and Kakadu was born in 2007. He strives to recreate the feel of a homestyle Australian restaurant, serving comfort food such as burgers, with a twist.

kakadushanghai

You can find Kakadu at 8 Jianguo Xi Lu, near Chongqing Nan Lu, Huangpu district 黄浦区建国中路8号1104A座, 近重庆南路

Both of these restaurants (in addition to the Annual Sinan Mansions Beerfest) are worth a checkout if you are in and around Shanghai! 🙂

Our only regret about the festival…was in the confusion we never ended up trying the juicy and delicious (looking) pig roasting over a spit…guess we will need to go back next year! 😉 Anyone have any stories of awesome tastes from the Beerfest please share! 🙂

*The festival takes place annually on the last weekend of May at 523 Fuxing Lu, near Sinan Lu 思南公馆, 复兴西路52326D, 近思南路 *

 

 

 

 

 

 

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portobelloburger Hey hey! Happy Friday! 🙂 Now that the warm weather is finally here it is possible to enjoy all the joys that summer brings such as patios, swimming and BBQs. One of my favourite BBQ dishes is the all-time classic burger. Juicy melt in your mouth beef, tangy bbq sauce, oozing melted cheese whats not to love? Well unfortunately, your average tasty burger is not exactly on the low-cal/healthy food menu (especially if you love burgers piled high with fried onions as I do) soo I wanted to experiment to try to create a tasty veggie burger.

Now if the prospect of a burger with no meat makes you faint or look away in disgust…please keep an open mind :). I still wanted to have a burger with a meat-like texture so I turned to portobello mushrooms. Those threateningly giant mushrooms, were something I initially had no interest in, until I tried a sample one day while grocery shopping during my time living in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I was surprised and impressed by the meaty texture and flavour these mushrooms packed.

In the creation of my veggie burger, I used a marinated portobello mushroom, spinach sautéed with garlic, topped with goat’s cheese, caramelized onions and honey mustard. And wow! Was it ever good! Even my staunchly carnivorous boyfriend was impressed by the combination of flavours, textures, and surprisingly filling nature of this burger. I won’t claim that this burger replaces the satisfaction of biting into a juicy beef burger but it is definitely a healthy and delicious alternative!

Foodie Friday-Marinated Portobello Burger with Goats Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Sauteed Spinach
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • Sauteed Spinach:
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of spinach
  • Caramelized onions:
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Marinated Portobello:
  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Fixings:
  • 100 g soft goat's cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Honey mustard to taste
Instructions
  1. Marinade mushrooms in mix of soya sauce, balsamic and 1 tsp of olive oil for at least 30 min.
  2. In pan, sauté onions with a bit of olive oil (about a cap full) until translucent. Add in 1 tbsp mustard and 1 tbsp honey. Stir and set aside.
  3. Grill mushrooms on BBQ until cooked through (about 10 minutes). Remove from grill and add a spoonful of goat's cheese.
  4. Sauté spinach with garlic and olive oil until spinach is wilted (about 2 minutes).
  5. Layer your ingredients on a grilled pita bread starting with a layer of sautéed spinach, mushroom cap with goat's cheese, caramelized onions and honey muster and s&p to taste. Enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Burger

 

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When living life as an expat in another country, you quickly become desensitized to the flurry of foreign language spoken and the unfamiliar sights around you. However, sometimes, you see/hear/or smell certain things that are remind you that you are no longer living in your own country. Here are a few things you will regularly see in China that are not common in Canada:

1. Old Men Wearing Belly Tops

chinesemanbellyshirt

No AC? No Problem 🙂

*image taken from www.refinery29.com*

2. No Speed Limit

Road signs are for suggestion only. At times you feel like you’re in a video game…be prepared to dodge cars and flying items on the wrong side of the road. Initially this seems discerning but after a while you tend to adopt a “can’t beat em, just join em” attitude and drive defensively. Adrenaline junkies eat your hearts out.

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Anthony and I posing before scootin’ around town…let this picture with no helmet                                                             be an example of what NOT to do 🙂

3.Tie Dyed Dogs

Not interested in a plain old regular dog as a pet? Well it is not uncommon to see a dog dyed a bright colour as a fashion statement. Granted, you can find this in other areas of the world but it is way more of a frequent viewing here.


dyeddogchina

“I am NOT a happy camper”

*image taken from doginstructions.com*

4. Oh Andd…Dyed Any Animals:

coloredrabbits


 

5.Metro “PUSH” Olympics

tubeasia

Don’t EVER wait for people to get off the metro before getting on…if you don’t start pushing..you lose the game.

Plain and simple.

*Image taken from metro.co.uk* 

6. PJ’s in Supermarkets

womanwearingpjsinChina

I think China is on to something with this one…seriously…I can’t last a minute in my  house without switching into comfy pants…who doesn’t find pjs to be the most comfortable attire?

 7. Matching boyfriend/girlfriend shirts

matchingboyfriendgirlfriend

 “We are one”

*image taken from dailymail.co.uk*

A large part of the fun in traveling and living overseas is experiencing the (sometimes) strange and new. What we perceive to be “normal” in Canada would likely be reacted to differently by one from a different country or culture. All these aspects of China make me smile (well minus the animal ones)…and guaranteed any newcomers to Canada would be able to create a similar list of “oddities”. At times, dealing with cultural differences as you live and travel abroad can be frustrating…but always try to take them with a smile and remember…people think you’re weird too! Do you have any stories of dealing with unexpected or interesting cultural differences? I’d love to hear them! 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Foodie Friday-Homemade Potstickers

potstickers

I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with asian bites…ie, wontons, dumplings, dim sum, spring rolls you name it…but pot stickers, that is, homemade potstickers, have to be my favorite. The making of homemade potstickers started in the Hoskins kitchen with my Dad and I. My inclusion in the cooking process was essentially my Dad’s ploy in getting me to complete the mundane and exhausting task of potsticker assembly (haha just kidding).

Actually, my love of cooking (and food) in general I have to attribute to both my parents for exposing me to diverse cuisines from a young age and experimenting with international recipes in our home. This potsticker recipe is one that stuck (excuse the pun) and for a good reason. I am seriously not exaggerating when I say I have yet to try better pot stickers than the ones we make at home. The golden brown, crisp exterior, combined with the savoury pork and crunchy water chestnut filling is a delectable combination. The beauty in this recipe is its versatility, you can modify this recipe to go along with whatever you have on hand. It is simple, tasty, and an impressive looking appetizer to serve to guests. Enjoy 🙂

Homemade Potstickers

Total Time: 1 hour

Number of servings: 6

Per Serving 386 calories

Fat 9 g

Carbs 48 g

Protein 26 g

6


Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg (whisked in a bowl) (alternatively, use a ¼ cup of milk in a bowl)
  • 1-2 Tbsp of Vegetable Oil
  • (For panfrying)
  • (Filling:)
  • 1 Pound of lean ground pork
  • ¼ cup of green onions, finely sliced
  • ½ cup of water chestnuts, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 Tsp of ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • A splash of white wine or cooking wine
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix together filling ingredients in a metal bowl.
  2. Dip edges of wonton wrapper in egg or milk mixture. Place about a tbsp of filling on the wonton wrapper and press the edges firmly together. Do the same until you run out of wrappers/filling (The recipe makes about 40-50 potstickers).
  3. Panfry your potstickers in oil until golden brown. Add a half a cup of water. Cover and steam until wontons are cooked through. (About 6 minutes).
  4. Serve alongside your favourite dipping sauce. (Ex. Sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, a bit of soya sauce mixed with rice wine vinegar and ginger, etc.) Now, enjoy these tasty bites of deliciousness!

 

 

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As the month of may comes to a close, and the summer is looming, I find myself becoming more and more excited about upcoming plans and happenings. Today, May 28th…marks my LAST MONTH EVER (living) in Mainland China! That feels somewhat surreal to write after living and working here the past three years…and I would like to say I have mixed emotions…but honestly, despite having several cool memories since residing here…I am nothing but ecstatic! 🙂 Where next? Well I will be spending the summer in Ottawa (with a few trips to MTL and NYC and perhaps elsewhere weaved in between) and then Anthony and I will be moving to Hong Kong in August!

For those of you who consider Hong Kong to be an extension of Mainland China let me stop you right there…Hong Kong is literally a different world! English language spoken everywhere, excellent transportation system, modernity…the move will aid into my (re)integration into western society (someday). I have had the pleasure of traveling to Hong Kong three times, for vacation with Anthony as well as work-related, and Anthony and I both fell in love with the city from the moment we arrived! Here are a few aspects, areas and eats of/in Hong Kong I am looking forward to taking advantage of on a regular basis:

1.Eating Dim Sum All Day Every Day: Those of you who know me well would likely highly agree that I am um, a BIT of a Dim Sum fiend 🙂 Dim Sum originated in Hong Kong so it is only fitting that I am (finally) moving to the Dim Sum capital of the world! 🙂

EatingDimSum

dimsumporkbuns

                                       Pineapple flavour BBQ Pork Buns (sounds weird but tastes delish!)

2. Eating on top of the IFC Mall : Did you know…the cheapest Michelin Star restaurant is located in Hong Kong. Anddd guess what? IT IS A DIM SUM RESTAURANT! The original branch of Tim Ho Wan is located in Mong Kok…but there are a few other branches sprinkled throughout the city…one being at the Airport Express terminal in Central. Don’t feel like waiting in the hour long lines? Well you can grab your dinner to go in about 10 minutes and eat it on top of the IFC Mall with a lovely view of the harbour!

IFCMallHongKong

No…I am not holding a bag of Dim Sum to feed a family of 5…thats all for me baby! 🙂 

3. Chillin at the beach: I think we were both beach bums in a past life…there is no where I would rather be! We visited Deep Water Bay on one of trips to Hong Kong and absolutely loved it! 🙂 There are an extensive amounts of beaches in and around Hong Kong so we fully intend to check out each and every one! 🙂

DeepwaterbayHongKong

 

4. Wandering Around the Midlevels: There is nothing I love more (after beaches and dim sum 😉 ) than wandering around a city. The midlevels with its extensive network of hills, outdoor elevators, restaurants and bars makes it the perfect destination to get yourself happily lost in.

SohoHongKong

These are just a few tidbits of things I love about HK. Expect stories and tips expat life in HK to be a regular feature on the blog! 🙂 What are your favorite things about HK?

 

 

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Food Safety Tips In China

ChickeninChina

Chickity China the Chinese Chickens”…

I have a confession to make…I don’t eat at a lot of Chinese restaurants in China. Though I am generally an “eat as the locals eat” kinda gal, and make a lot of Asian inspired meals…the food produced in restaurants in China is a little too heavy and oil laden for every day consumption for my taste.

Aside from that, in the nearly three years I’ve lived in China, one year in Dalian in northern China, and the past two years about 45 minutes from Shanghai, there have been regular reports of food safety horror stories here..ie. Rat meat passed off as beef, mass amounts of contaminated pork, etc. (Have I turned you off yet? Haha) which encourage one to A) Cook at home with imported ingredients B) Eat at restaurants that utilise imported ingredients.

That being said, with the exception of perhaps an annual mild bout of food sickness, i’ve had few issues with eating in China, local food or otherwise and China has, without a doubt, a multitude of tasty treats to try. Here are a few tips on eating and cooking local food in China.

1. If you’re eating out…eat where the locals eat. Traveling and living in China can be frustrating at times as there is a limited number of people who speak English. So, conversing with the locals and acquiring their recommendations can be somewhat difficult, particularly if you are in a smaller town. So, if you are wandering around a Chinese town in search of a restaurant, look for a busy one. Chances are, if you see several locals in a restaurant, you can assume that the food is A) Tasty B) Reasonably safe to eat

Cooking At Home:

In China, a lot of food shopping is done at “wet” markets…which are small roadside stalls selling a plethora of veggies, fruits and sometimes meat and fish. I regularly cook with local vegetables, fruit (and meat) while following a few general rules.

Chinesewetmarket                                                  Chinese wet market stalls

1. Wash, cook and/or peel your veggies: Unless you are buying them at an import store or reputable grocery store (ie.Tesco) it is generally a good idea to avoid fruits with thin peels such as peaches, nectarines or strawberries. Sterilize your veggies and fruits by A) Soaking them in the sink filled with water mixed with a cup of vinegar B) Soaking them in a sink filled with water and a cap full of bleach.

2. Don’t buy “fresh” meat: If you see unrefrigerated meat at a wet market…don’t buy it. I’m not saying it won’t be good…i’m just saying I personally would not take the chance. I cook with a mix of local and imported meat…but I avoid any meat at all cost if it is resting at room temperature.

porkinChina

Example of what NOT to eat in China 

 I hope my food tips for eating in China help make your foodie traveling or expat experience more enjoyable:). If you have any useful food safety tips please share! 🙂

 

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Koh Phi Phi-Adventure Tours

In February, I visited Koh Phi Phi with Anthony on our trip to Thailand. Having previously spent a considerable amount of time there myself, I had little hope of seeing anything new, and definitely no intention of going on any tours.

 However, we ended up on Banana Bar’s rooftop patio for dinner with some new friends, and the fast paced Go Pro videos on the TV screens caught our eye. The videos, consisting of cliff jumping, paddle boarding, snorkelling and more, were the product of an Adventure Tour that took place earlier that day. Our interest was peaked, and upon speaking to the bar staff we discovered that the cost of a full day trip, including breakfast, lunch, unlimited beers , and a wide range of water sports would come to 2500 baht each (about 60 USD). For that price, it would be hard to go wrong, so our rubber arms were twisted. Luckily we were persuaded, because this tour ended up being one of the highlights of our trip!

 Best of Koh Phi Phi Adventure Tour:

1. Cliff Jumping

The number one highlight on this trip was the cliff jumping. We swam from the boat to a rocky cliff and proceeded to climb up a steep, sharp incline. We were given choices of jumping 8 meters and 14 meters…I went with the 14 🙂 Watch the video below! 🙂

2. Swim with sharks

Though that may sound terrifying and unappealing to many, i’m not talking great white sharks here but rather smaller harmless reef sharks. And when I say swim with them, I mean snorkelling and viewing them underwater at a safe 15 feet distance haha.

swimmingkohphiphithailand                                                  The “shark” I swam with…hahaha

 3. Unlimited Soft Drinks, etc. 

Being out on a speedboat all day in sunny weather with unlimited beverages at your disposal…need I say more?

 4. Visit secluded beaches

Those of you have previously visited Koh Phi Phi would likely agree with me that the water is less than pristine due to the nightly parties taking place. This trip gives you the opportunity to experience the beauty of this island on more secluded (and cleaner) beaches

Kohphiphithailand

 5. Monkey Beach

Though I have a bit of a phobia of monkeys due to my monkey attack in Bali, they are still quite cute.

monkeybeachkohphiphithailand

 6.Awesome Crowd

This should actually have gone as number one because the people really made the day. In addition to the awesome tour facilitators, we met some really fabulous people on this tour who we are still in touch with…I mean whoever goes on an adrenaline junkie tour must be cool right? 🙂

All in all, we had a fabulous day, met stellar people, and got to experience areas of Koh Phi Phi that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen. Furthermore, these trips are capped at 16 participants, so they are not overcrowded in the slightest, as are many of the other tours that use ferries as transportation. These trips leave from Banana Bar daily…so if you visit Banana bar any afternoon or evening you should be able to sign up for a next day trip pending availability. Highly recommend!

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curriedchickenmangosalsa

One of the things I love most about various foods are the memories associated to them. Food can be associated to events, time periods in your life and emotions. Some of my best memories in life are associated to delicious meals and special flavors (to quote my dad… “Marisa…all you think about is your next meal” or past meals in this case) and eating those tastes again can bring me back to that particular moment in time in an instant.

Take mango for example. Sweet, slippery, wet mango takes me back to sticky fingers on beaches in sweltering sun in Thailand. Eating plates of fresh mango whilst lying on a beach chair..well…life doesn’t get much better than that. This particular recipe, also reminds me of my Mom…as I am sharing her “Curried Chicken Breast and Mango Salsa” recipe, which is now a staple in my own kitchen. The combination of tangy curry and sweet mango is delish. Enjoy!

Curried Chicken Breast with Mango Salsa

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Number of servings: 4

Per Serving 420 calories

Fat 17 g

Carbs 30 g

Protein 39 g

4


Ingredients

  • Curried Chicken Recipe:
  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 1 Tbsp Curry Powder
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic
  • (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Juice from Half a Lemon
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Cilantro
  • (optional)
  • Mango Salsa Recipe:
  • 1 Mango, cut into small chunks
  • 1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes, sliced
  • (regular tomatoes can work too)
  • ½ Cup of Cilantro
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, diced
  • Juice from 1 Lemon or Lime
  • 2 Birds Eye Chilies, finely sliced
  • (optional)
  • 1 Tsp Salt

Instructions

  1. Curried Chicken Instructions:
  2. Mix together curry powder, garlic, honey, dijon, lemon juice, salt, pepper (and cilantro if using). Place chicken in a bag and pour marinate mixture on them. Marinate for 1 hour or more. (The more you marinade, the more flavorful the chicken)
  3. Grill, bake or pan fry your chicken on a medium heat until golden brown on the outside (about 10-12 minutes. Serve with a side of Mango Salsa.
  4. Mango Salsa Instructions:
  5. Mix together ingredients listed above in a large bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

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Restaurant Review- Da Marco (Shanghai)

103 Dongzhu’anbang Rd
Changning, Shanghai, China
+86 21 6210 4495  

http://www.damarco.com.cn

My boyfriend is from Paris, and is half French and half Italian, so I guess you can say he is a food aficionado (or snob? Ha Ha just kidding). Living together, I am seriously spoiled by wonderful Italian meals filled with excessive um, I mean, DELICIOUS amounts of carbs and olive oil so I get to enjoy food comas on a regular basis.As much as we love to cook Italian at home, we also love to eat out, and for authentic Italian fare, Da Marco is our go to spot.

Da Marco is a homey Italian restaurant that serves pasta made fresh in house and has three locations throughout Shanghai. We usually frequent the original Dongshan Zhong Er Lu location. A little tricky to find, this branch of the restaurant is located inside an insignificant looking Chinese hotel. Though the exterior of the hotel does not look like much, once inside the restaurant, you are met with lovely décor, an energetic and bustling atmosphere, serving a predominant number of Italian expat patrons.

Da Marco has an extensive wine and food menu so you are guaranteed to find something enjoyable for every taste.

Our Meal:

Beef Carpaccio: The generous of portion beef carpaccio was served on a bed of crispy arugula. The combination of arugula, chilled sliced beef and large shavings of parmesan was a delicious match

beefcarpaccio

Swordfish Carpaccio: The swordfish Carpaccio was light, flavourful, and beautifully presented with a hint of spice added by the capers.

swordfishcarpaccio

Pizza with Anchovies and Capers: Yes, anchovies on pizza is an Italian cliché, but for a reason! If you like salty foods as I do, you will love the tangy flavor the anchovies add to an otherwise unassuming pizza

pizzawithanchoviesandcapers

Tortelli Al Quattro Fromaggi: The four cheese tortellini is always my go to dish whenever we frequent Da Marco. The only problem being, I often end up taking my portion home as I can never bypass the filling tasty appetizers on the menu! CAUTION* This sauce is extremely rich and works for true cheese lovers only!

damarcotortellini

Semi-Freddo: The semi-freddo topped with praline was perfectly light, airy and creamy…the perfect sweet end to a heavy meal!

semifreddodamarco

 

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