Reggie’s Grill House


Last Sunday, as I was working away, I looked up at the tv to see an amazing burger on the food network’s “You Gotta Eat Here“. And then all of a sudden, I heard him say “Peterborough”. WHAT!?!?! PETERBOROUGH ONTARIO?!? How have I not heard of this place?!? Clearly if John Catucci was telling me that I had to eat there… who am I to disobey? So the following weekend, I had no choice but to head to Reggie’s Hot Grill in East City.

jerk chicken from Reggie's Grill in Peterborough
The bf opted for Jerk chicken. And although I’ve never been a huge fan of jerk spice, the moist, melt in your mouth chicken breast had me going in for a second bite. Ok… maybe also a third when he wasn’t looking. His side of fresh cut onion rings were crispy, delicious with a mild spice seasoning.

bauyou blue burger from Reggie's Grill in Peterborough

My Bayou blue burger was definitely a guilty indulgence. The oozzing blue cheese chipotle sauce was extremely rich and flavourful and the bacon was cooked just the way I like it. Cooked but not overly crispy. The blue cheese chipotle sauce dripped all over my plate which led to the delicious discovery of how good my french fries tasted covered in the sauce.

 

Ngoc Nguyen eating at Reggie's Grill in Peterborough from You Gotta Eat Here

Though I can’t see myself eating here all the time, I will be heading back to satisfy my next burger craving.

 

Reggie’s Hot Grill

89 Hunter Street East,

Peterborough, ON

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La Petit Bar

My week isn’t quite complete without a visit to Le Petite Bar on Water st in Peterborough. Although it’s only 7 months old, this cozy little restaurant has made quite an impression with its made in-house charcuteries, cheeses from the neighbouring shop (Chasing the Cheese),  and home made mustards and desserts. It’s a very intimate setting with only 7 tables and a few bar stools, so be prepared to stand if you pop by on a Friday or Saturday night.

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I’ve started coming here every Thursday after work with colleagues and have been slowly making my way through their meat and cheese options. With a frequently changing list of options, I’ve rarely had the same thing twice.
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Along with your chosen cheeses and meats, you also have dills, olives, apples, dashes of their amazing house mustards, arugula, and sometimes chutneys or honey.

I’ve had so many of their meats and cheese and I’ve never once been disappointed by my choice. Their servers are happy to help you pick out pairings that go well together. I personally have a soft spot for their creamy rich pates and flavourful blue cheeses.

I had the pleasure of speaking with many of their staff and it was quickly evident how passionate they all are and how much they all genuinely love being a part of Le petit bar. Jamie, the mastermind behind the food is given creative license and from my experience, he’s been hitting it right on target. Billy and Sarie are my usual servers and they’re both knowledgeable about the food and attentive without being over bearing.
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IMG_9984Their beer list is somewhat limited, though I do like the fact that they only carry microbrews. I usually grab a bottle of the Mad Tom IPA which is flavourful and fragrant and pairs well with most of their meats. They have one tap and it pours Kings Pilsner. It’s fairly hoppy with a bitter finish. Not my favourite beer until one of the servers (Billy) introduced me to what he calls the “Billy Torpedo”. The simple mixture of the King’s with a splash of ruby red grape fruit juice completely changes how the beer finishes. If you’re hoping for a larger variaty of beer, their neighbour, St Veronus might be more up your ally. But I’ll write about them in a later post. My colleague Catherine is a major fan of their creative cocktails. Their crisp and refreshing Thyme for Collins is a crowd pleaser. But for these cold winter days, Catherine always starts her meal off with some Apple Cinnamon Hot Toddy. YUM! This image below is their “Real Housewife”.

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Though I always opt for cheese and meats over sweets, we decided to splurge one day and also get their dessert board. I was so excited about it that I completely forgot to take a picture! It had candied oranges dipped in chocolate, chocolate meringue on top of whipped cream, lavender shortbread cookies, decadent mini brownies, and a little bowl of berries and pomegranate. Everything came in a pair so it was perfect for two of us to share. I’m not partial to sweets but I do find myself day dreaming of that dessert board.
Their delicious meats, cozy atmosphere, and steller service keeps me coming back! If you ever find yourself in downtown Peterborough, make sure you make a pit stop here!

 

Le Petit Bar

399 Water Street

Peterborough, Ontario

 

Volunteering at Santa Claus Fund – Toronto Star

100% of your donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box

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With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to take for granted how fortunate some of us are. Volunteering to deliver presents for the Santa Claus fund gave me the opportunity to slow down and remember the importance of giving and helping others. I remember the joy of getting a brand new toy on Christmas day and to be able to give that to a child who may not otherwise receive a gift was an opportunity I wasn’t going to pass up.

 

The Santa Claus Fund organized by the Toronto Star aims to give a little bit of holiday cheer to underprivileged children. One point that I wanted to emphasize is that when you donate, 100% of the donation goes to purchasing the contents of the gift box (this includes a warm sweater, socks, mittens, hats, books, toys and candies). The Toronto Star generously covers all administrative costs.

 

Santa sets up distribution centers all over the GTA and volunteer elves assemble to help distribute. We headed to the firehall nice and early at 8:30am last Saturday to pick up the gift boxes. To make delivery a little easier, the presents are sorted by neighbourhoods. We quickly filled up the car with as many presents as we could. We ended up fitting about 20 presents into the car so that meant we had about 14 houses to visit (some families has multiple presents because they had multiple kids). It was a wonderful experience and I’d highly encourage participating or donating to the cause. I know I will definitely be signing up again next year!

 

If you’re interested in participating, here are a few things that I learned from my experience.

 

1. Write down the addresses of the homes BEFORE putting the presents into the car and make sure you put similar streets together.  This will help you map out an efficient route and not have you doubling back to a neighbourhood because a box was hidden at the back of your trunk.

 

2. Dress warm and wear comfortable shoes. Since you select gifts in the same neighbourhood, they will often by separated by a block or two. Be prepared to walk a lot and wait outside of people’s houses. Since you will be carrying the presents, make sure you wear gloves.  I unfortunately learned how quickly your fingers can get really cold.

 

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3. Don’t get discouraged by the number of families that aren’t home. Many parents work shifts and may be at work or are sleeping. Many also have weekend jobs or may just be out running errands. Out of our 14 houses, we had about 6 that were undeliverable. These presents are returned back to the distribution centre where the families can go pick it up themselves or someone else might try to redeliver at a later date.

 

4. Make sure you aren’t in a rush. Packing up the car, visiting 14 houses, and returning back to the distribution centre took about 3 hours.

 

5. I opted to deliver to mostly houses but if you have young children with you (I highly encouraged teaching young ones the act of giving and helping others), it might be easier to pick recipients in the same apartment building. This will allow you to visit many families houses in a shorter period of time. You will also end up staying a little bit warmer.

 

6. Having a cell phone really helped as many of the presents also listed a contact number for the family. Some families may not open the door for a stranger, or you might not know the buzzer code to get into the apartment building. I found that it helped to give them a call to let them know that you were either waiting in the lobby, or that you were on your way.

 

7. Never judge a book by the cover. You may think that from looking at the outside of someone’s home, or from the neighbourhood that they live in, that they may not need any assistance but you never really know someone’s situation. Remember, you didn’t volunteer to judge. Santa picked them for a reason.

 

 

You can visit the Santa Claus Fund page on the Toronto Star if you would like some more information about this wonderful initiative.

 

*UPDATE*

My blog post was featured in the Toronto Star!

Ngoc Nguyen in the Toronto Star

DIY letter shirts

I’ve never really been a sports fan and I’m almost completely useless in any sports related trivia. However, I’ll take any excuse to get decked out in team colours and cheer.

During summers in Toronto, one of my favourite activities is getting together with a few friends, and buying cheap 500 level tickets to cheer on the Blue Jays. I’m all for foam fingers, face paint, and silly chants. Last friday when we found out that the McMaster Marauders were going to be playing for the Vanier cup at the Rogers Center in Toronto, we jumped at the chance to cheer on our university team (even though I’m really a Waterloo warrior at heart). Getting decked out in maroon was a must, and with 10 of us going, it presented a wonderful opportunity to spell out ‘Marauders’ on our shirts.

I had initially planned on just using fabric paint but then thought, why not use this opportunity to learn something new. Creating a fabric applique makes it easier to have crisp edges, and will survive a little better in the wash. Here are simple step by step instructions on how I added a letter appliqué to my maroon shirt.

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You will need a t-shirt, good scissors, either a fabric stiffiner or an iron on adhesive, fabric for your applique, and a print out of the image or letter you want on your shirt.

 

1. Print out the image or letter you want and cut it out. Place on it your shirt to make sure it’s the perfect size and that you are happy with how it looks. I used the ‘varsity’ style font to give it more of a ‘university’ look. DIY Custom team letter shirts

2. Place your cut out on your stiffiner or iron-on adhesive and trace around it. Then cut this out of the stiffiner leaving a 1 cm border around the original tracing. This margin is optional but helps when you cut out the shape on the fabric. If your image has a hole in the middle of it, you don’t have to cut that part out. It’s easier to just cut it once the adhesive is ironed on to the fabric.

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3. Take out your ironing board, and place your fabric that you want to use for the applique with the good side facing down on the the board. Then take your iron-on adhesive and place it on top of your fabric. Make sure the size with the wax is facing down, and the paper side is facing up. With the iron on a low setting (IE. Silk), glide it along the adhesive. Follow the instructions that come with yours. Mine suggested 1-2 seconds.
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4. When your adhesive is firmly attached to the fabric, let it cool and cut out the shape using the original tracings. Since you left a 1 cm margin, the stiffness will make it easier to make smooth cuts. Make sure your cut out any circles and shapes in the center of your shapes. I used a ruler and an exacto knife to help keep the edges crisp.

 

5. You can put the shirt on and mark exactly where you want the letter to sit. A helpful hint to ensure that the letter is right in the middle is to fold your shirt in half, and iron a crease straight down the middle to give you some guidelines.
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6. Peel of the paper from the other side of the applique, place it where you want on the shirt, and with the iron still on the low setting, iron on the letter making sure the edges are firmly attached.

 

7. At this point, the shirt is ready to wear if you want. I personally prefer stitching around the edges just to help it last a little longer.

 

8. Put your machine in the zigzag stitch mode. The length and width of the stitch depends on the size of your letter and your personal preference.
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9. Start the stitch at the bottom and work your way around.
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10. TA DA! Now go wear your shirt with pride!704309_10100387169522197_1640974038_o

A night in Bollywood

There ain’t no party like a Bollywood party!

There’s nothing I love more than a good old fashioned theme party!  So I was ecstatic when Yashy from BabyandLife.com asked me photograph her baby girl’s birthday party. The party was beautifully decorated and amazingly executed. I picked up a few tips that might help you set the mood if you’re ever interested in throwing your very own Bollywood party.

 

1. Decorating. Find as much fabric as you can. Think bed sheets, pashmina scarves, curtains, throws, etc. Then start draping EVERYTHING! Yashy had everything from the tables, benches, chairs, pillers, and cushions draped in colourful fabrics which set a very cozy and festive atmosphere that suited the theme to perfection. You can also collect a bunch of cushions and lay them down in a corner or area to create a make shift “lounge”.

decorate room at a bollywood party

2. Saris. Lehenga. Dupattas. I learned a lot of new words in my quest to find the perfect outfit. Encouraging guests to borrow or find pieces in their wardrobes that suit the theme really helped pull everything together. For those who live in Toronto, little India on east Gerrard and Coxwell had an abundance of clothing shops. I walked into one and mentioned that I was going to a party and wanted to spend as little as possible. I was advised that a sari, although beautiful and elegant, would be very difficult to pin properly, and would restrict my ability to walk/run. Since I had to be ready and mobile to snap photos, I opted for this forest green 4 piece outfit for $29 (which also included minor alterations!). If you stay minimal on the embellishments, and opt for non-silk fabrics, there are many options for under $50.

3. Party favours/accessories – Head to the dollar store, or any Indian clothing/fabric/accessory store and pick up some bangles  bindis, and stickers. Bangles can be found fairly inexpensively and having a stack of them around your wrist really makes you want to dance and make those bangles jingle.

4. Music. Every party can benefit from a great playlist. I’m not knowledgeable on what songs are popular but I’m sure a quick Google search can help you put together a great medley of songs to help get your guests dancing. Who knows… maybe Songza will put together a “it’s saturday afternoon and I want my guests to shake like they are in bollywood” playlist soon.

 

5. FOOD FOOD FOOD. Often my parties will just have a few appetizers but since many of the children had early bedtimes, Yashy generously provided dinner. The food was  from Famous Indian Cuisine on Gerrard St in Toronto and it was AMAZING. Their lamb rogan josh may be one of the best pieces of meat I’ve ever put into my mouth.

7. And lastly. Don’t forget to relax and enjoy your party! I know a lot of times, I’m so worried about all the guests and making sure everyone is having a good time that I forget to just enjoy it myself.

 

The Works

Many of my cube mates were buzzing about the new burger joint that opened down the street. Call me a sheep but I obviously had to go see what all the commotion was about.

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What struck me at first was their kind of industrial meets Canadian log cabin themed decor. I loved the way the place looked, right down to their light bulb salt and pepper shakers, to their measuring cups as glasses.

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The first time I went to the Works, although my burger was good, I wouldn’t have classified it as being one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.  I ordered a Johnny Be Goat (Beef patty with spinach  red peppers, and goat cheese). It was slightly on the dry side and almost excessively too large. Since it was their opening week, I decided to wait a month before going again to see if things changed once they had some time to settle in. I must say, I was much more impressed by both the service and the quality of the burgers the second time around. I opted for their Downtowner(gouda cheese, bacon and avocado) with chicken breast  and was pleased at how thick, yet moist and juicy it was. The boyfriend choose the ROF beef burger (onion ring, jalapeno, banana and chipotle peppers) and it was as big as mine was the first time, but much more moist.

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All in all, it’s a cute place but if you’re going for lunch, make sure you give yourself enough time as it does take 20 mins for the burgers to cook. And if it’s your first time, you’ll be spending at least 5 mins trying to decide from their giant list of burger choices.

 

The Works

123 Simcoe Street Peterborough
Peterborough, Ontario

Phone: (705) 874-7474

 

Super heroes party

ngoc nguyen dressed as Thor for Avenger's premiereFor some reason, people assume I’m really into comic books and that fan expo and comic cons are right up my alley. Maybe it’s because I had been looking forward to the Avengers for half a year. Or maybe it’s because I dressed up like Thor to go see it. (I unfortunately couldn’t get tickets to opening night, so had to wear my costume to the Sunday, 3pm showing… someone high five’d me.. which means I was cool… right?). Whatever their reasons are, I always thought the bf knew me better than that. Until I opened up my birthday present to find a Thor hammer and Captain America Shield. At least he was trying to be creative.

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Well that’s when the idea of a super hero theme party came about. I mean, I had to find a use for my newly acquired treasures, right?

 

I love love love theme parties but since I’ve never thrown one for this particular group of friends, I was met with much skepticism. Because of this, I wanted to make sure I set the mood so that the next time I had a theme party, everyone would be pumped instead of weary.

 

A few tips:

1. I made it a costumes mandatory party. No costumes, no entry. If you are going to enforce this though, be concious of the fact that some people may opt not to come because they are too shy or feel like it’s silly to dress up. I requested at a minimum, people wear a mask or a cape. Give some suggestions of easy costume ideas to help get the creative juices flowing.

 

2. Advance notice. Let people know well a head of time so that they can go buy or make their costumes. This also prevented people from telling me that they didn’t have “time” to get a costume. I also offered to assist those less creative folk and I had made a few extra masks and capes for those who really struggled.

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3. Movie posters. As a photographer, I firmly believe that people love photographs. I googled popular super hero movies and super imposed the faces of the guest list onto the photos (facebook has made it super easy to get photos of your friends). I put up a photo collage right near the entrance so people could have a little chuckle as they entered the party. I must admit, putting my male friend’s faces on beautiful 6 packs was maybe a little bit more enjoyable than it should have been.

 

4. Photo back drop. I taped craft paper together to form a giant back drop and bought acrylic paint to paint a fun and colourful backdrop. If you are going to do this, make sure you start well in advance as it took a surprisingly long time to paint and to wait for the paint to dry so I could outline all the letters. I also made a mug shot back drop and bought a small white board so people could write down their super hero name to make it look more legit. Guests had a lot of fun posing and acting out fight scenes all night.

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5. Since it was a birthday party, I had to have some themed cupcakes and cakes. This is actually an older cake from a previous birthday but it would have suited this party perfectly. I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the cupcakes from this party.

Transformer cake

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The guests all had a great time and I’m confident that they’ll be less weary of dressing up for my next theme party.

Camel Kisses

I’ve always been a fan of doing tourist things in your own city. I’m an even bigger fan when these things are free.

donkey in peterborough zooThat’s how I found myself strutting through the Peterborough Riverview Park and Zoo on a Saturday morning. Open from 8:30am until dusk every day, it’s a great place to bring the family.camelkisses copy

I had expected this to be a tiny park with a few rabbits and turtles but I was pleasently surprised. They had a few felines, otters, giant camels and llammas, and a good variety of other furry friends. There is always a great playground and picnic area for parents to sit and relax while the kids copy the monkeys on the jungle gym. Or splash around in the water park.

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I’ll take 3 of them please. This will guarantee that I have couple dozen by the next day.

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If you find yourself with nothing to do on a sunny day in Peterborough, I’d definitely recommended taking a stroll through this cute zoo. And drop some change in their donation box to help keep it running.

Riverview Park & Zoo 

1230 Water St
Peterborough Ontario

Hot Belly Mamas

Moving to Peterborough and not knowing a single person here has made a table for one become a standard in my life. And I have to say, I kind of love it! Though I do miss sharing plates and being able to try more than just one dish. Alas, one dish is better than none, so off I went to my first stop, Hot Belly Mamas. This restaurant has made leaving Toronto a little less painful.

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There eclectic decor is quite a site for the eyes and imagination. Every where you look, there are interesting photos, articles and items. It reminds me of your cool uncle’s basement where there’s a good story behind every piece.

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The menu includes a mix of southern dishes including po’ boys, blackened chicken, pizzas, and roti. But what keeps me coming back is their cajun catfish. Mildly spicy battered catfish that is oh so perfectly cooked, sweet potato frites, and a salad all for $13.99 makes my belly and wallet happy.

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Joined to the Olde Stone Brewing company, you can be sure to have a delicious pint of beer. If you like a full bodied beer, their stout and old wild ale are fragrant and flavourful.  Another thing I loved was how friendly and welcoming the staff are. On my last visit, they gave me a little lesson on the history of Wellington beer.

 

As much as I try to make an effort to visit new restaurants, I often find myself going back for some delicious New Orleans’ comfort food. If you’re passing by Peterborough, I’d highly recommend making a pit stop here.

 

Hot Belly Mamas

378 George Street North
Peterborough, ON, K9H 3R3