Topbox Review: May – June 2016

Happy summer! I am super excited for this summer as it will be a combination of fun followed by school (eek!) as my course work is starting in August and not September, but before that, I am going to be out enjoying summer as much as humanly possible. Of course, what is summer without some construction? However, this year instead of just complaining about all the road construction, I am having some done at home too. There will be new highly efficient windows getting installed, but before that, comes all the cleaning, which means sorting through all my samples and that has been a trial… I am  definitely a “collector” of samples and have more than I can use so my recent Topboxes have just been sitting and waiting. But, I have at least gotten my act together and finally taken some photos for y’all.

May 2016 Topbox

May 2016 Topbox

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What’s Your Bento? + Edo Japan Giveaway

So… let’s start this post off with a quick life update – I am going back to school! I’m going to be starting a MBA program this fall, so it’s going to definitely be a case of living the frugal life for the next year. Of course, with this change, it also brings back massive feelings of nostalgia of living the university life… only maybe without the crazy drinking (haha or maybe not?). As I have mentioned before, Edo Japan was a staple of my university days and I have a feeling that it will be back in my life on the regular very soon! Luckily, Edo Japan has some new menu options that did not exist during my undergrad, like these bento boxes.
Edo Japan - Bento Box - Image 3

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Topbox Review: March – April 2016

It’s Topbox review time again! Here’s a double header coming your way especially since my May box is expected to show up very shortly… I’m not going to lie – I am beyond behind schedule in all things blog related and this post is going to be a very short one since I haven’t gotten around to doing anything except opening my last two boxes *insert sheepish smile here*.

March_2016_Topbox

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Vegan Buffet at Narayanni’s

A few weeks ago, A. and I popped down to Whyte Ave after work to check out the Tuesday vegan buffet at Narayanni‘s. I have walked past Narayanni’s several times in the past, but have never gone in, so this was a first for me! To be honest, I had assumed that all the Indian buffet places were the same, so once I found one that worked, I kind of stopped looking for new places – shame on me… So really, I need to thank Narayanni’s for reaching out and inviting A. and I in for lunch/dinner. Unfortunately, I work all the way across the river so lunch is not an option but if you’re on the south side, Narayanni’s does offer a lunch buffet, which includes soup, salad, chicken curry and three vegan dishes for $12! The lunch buffet runs Tuesday – Friday from 11:30 – 1:30, but word to the wise – it’s a cash only lunch, so make sure you hit up the ATM before going.

Narayanni's

Narayanni’s

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Get Yourself to Brunch at Get Cooking

2016 is the year of brunches for me as I have been hitting up several brunch spots over the first quarter of the year! At the end of February, I was invited to check out the Get Cooking Brunch Pop-Up series and *spoiler alert* it was a delectable feast! My pal Nancy and I rolled in to the Get Cooking studios and were seated at a communal table with several others and (soon) greeted with never ending cups of coffee. One thing that I really loved was the attention to detail and care as the Get Cooking team used locally roasted Iconoclast coffee (in a French press no less!) and offered containers of warm milk for your coffee… I don’t even do that at home!

Brunch setting with a (soon to be) never empty coffee cup

Brunch setting with a (soon to be) never empty coffee cup

In addition to the coffee, there were these bowls filled with beautifully baked bread… Even though I knew there would be a lot of food coming, I couldn’t resist the carb-y goodness in front of me and had a slice or two… possibly three?

Bread

Bread… so much bread

Speaking of carbs, these scones made by the Get Cooking team were so so good. They play with different flavours every brunch, but I zoned out once I heard there were homemade scone and forgot to write down this pop-up’s flavour (sorry friends!). These were served with saskatoon berry jam and whipped cream – the whipped cream was so much better than the kind I make using grocery store cream and I think this is the difference between using a super good quality whipping cream versus the regular stuff in store. These scones were so delightful and a great “official” start to brunch!

Scones with whipped cream and Saskatoon berry jam

Scones with whipped cream and Saskatoon berry jam

Apparently European style brunches, which the Get Cooking brunch is modeled after also starts with charcuterie – and the Get Cooking team certainly did not skimp on the meat and cheese! I love charcuterie and this did not disappoint with the smoked duck being the highlight of the board for me.

Charcuterie board with liverwurst, duck, and an assortment of cured meats.

Charcuterie board with liverwurst, duck, and an assortment of cured meats

Cheese board!

Cheese board!

Starting "small" with a taste of everything...

Starting “small” with a taste of everything…

In addition to the coffee, Get Cooking also dished up a brunch cocktail made with pineapple infused rum, almond syrup, sumac, cucumber, mint and berries. There was a large punch bowl placed on the table, but unfortunately, there wasn’t quite enough for everyone to get a full glass. Our end of the table had a little bit less but it was probably not a bad thing as this cocktail was quite strong – that or we just didn’t give the bowl a good enough stir. The flavours of the cocktail were very garden party like, which worked very well for brunch.

Cocktail made with pineapple infused rum, almond syrup, sumac, cucumber, mint and berries.

Cocktail made with pineapple infused rum, almond syrup, sumac, cucumber, mint and berries

Following the cold dishes/buffet of scones and charcuterie, Chef Doreen Prei started dishing out the hot dishes and this first dish was an eye-opening one for me. I am not usually a fan of oatmeal and/or steel cut oats as I find the texture not to my liking, but Chef Doreen definitely changed my mind. The Gold Forest Grains steel cut oats with pistachios, blueberries, sauteed chorizo topped with whipped cream and chorizo oil had so many different textures and flavours that I couldn’t stop eating it. The idea of chorizo and whipped cream seems kind of weird but when you mix everything together into a single bite, it was savory and slightly sweet and just an explosion of flavour!

Gold Forest Grains Steel Cut Oats with pistachios, blueberries, sauteed chorizo topped with whipped cream and chorizo oil

Gold Forest Grains steel cut oats with pistachios, blueberries, sauteed chorizo topped with whipped cream and chorizo oil

Immediately following the steel cut oats were the ricotta fritters with a tomato and orange sauce. I usually find fritters to be hit or miss, depending on the occasion, but these ricotta fritters were pillowy soft and when paired with the tangy sauce, they were perfect little bites.

Ricotta Fritters with a Tomato and Orange Sauce

Ricotta Fritters with a Tomato and Orange Sauce

The next dish included my nemesis – the poached egg… full disclosure here – I did not eat the beautifully poached egg, but rather passed it on to Nancy after I snapped some photos and a video for snapchat. Nancy really liked the egg and the egg yolk was runny, which is what you would like to see with what is essentially an eggs benny. The grated potatoes and smoked salmon (from local company Sgambaro’s Seafood) were delicious with the bernaise sauce.

Poached egg on grated potatoes and smoked salmon with a hollandaise/bernaise sauce

Poached egg on grated potatoes and smoked salmon with a bernaise sauce

The final savory dish on deck was a flank steak (marinated in beer) with a German bread dumpling with rapini, mushrooms and truffle. When I think steak and brunch, I usually think of the huge lumberjack type breakfast, but this was much more refined and cooked beautifully. My favorite part though was the German bread dumpling… that would be my love of carbs speaking.

Flank Steak (marinated in beer) with a German bread dumpling with rapini, mushrooms and truffle

Flank Steak (marinated in beer) with a German bread dumpling with rapini, mushrooms and truffle

I was feeling pretty full (who wouldn’t be?) by now, but then Chef Doreen started plating dessert and I never say no to dessert. The fried brioche dusted with lavender sugar, white chocolate and elderflower parfait with a chocolate chili sauce were a phenomenal ending to brunch. These hit the right balance of sweetness as the chocolate sauce was a dark chocolate with a hint of heat and the berries with the elderflower parfait were the right mix of sweet and tart.

Fried brioche dusted with lavendar sugar, white chocolate and elderflower parfait with a chocolate chili sauce

Fried brioche dusted with lavender sugar, white chocolate and elderflower parfait with a chocolate chili sauce

Overall, I had an amazing time at the Get Cooking brunch and I could not recommend it enough. The Get Cooking team is fantastic and there to make your experience great – they were always ready to offer more coffee and tea, stop and explain the dishes, offer to have people come up and see what Chef Doreen was cooking and answer any and all questions diners had about the dishes. The brunches probably seat around 20 or so people (at least that was what the set up was when we were there), although I think the room could be configured for more if needed? The set up we had allowed us to chat with our fellow diners, and this is where I met fellow blogger Athena (aka The Salty Almond), so that was very nice!

So What Would Argenplath Pay?

The Get Cooking brunches are on Saturdays at the Get Cooking studio and ticket prices are $45 per adult, $22.50 for children between the ages of 7 and 13, and free for children 6 and under. The brunch fee includes coffee/tea, a welcome cocktail, three hot entrees, a cold table, and dessert, which I think it quite reasonable for what you get. I don’t think you will be disappointed if it is anything like my February experience!

The next brunch is on April 16 and there are still spaces available, but the May session is completely sold out, so I would recommend getting yourself a space while you can. You can keep an eye out on the Get Cooking calendar for the brunch pop-ups and purchase tickets via the website as well.

Disclosure: I was invited to the Get Cooking Brunch by Get Cooking and our brunch was complimentary. I was not expected to write a blog post in exchange for our meal and all opinions remain my own.