Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mochachino Cupcakes

Last year, I celebrated one of my bestie's B-day with Cafe Latte Cupcakes. My friend Joanne is a coffee fiend and she loved the results. This year, there were several cupcake hints sent my way and I knew I had to step up to the plate. However, I wanted to up the ante with my offerings. Though last year's cupcakes included a generous amount of espresso, I brought even more to the table with some Mochachino cupcakes!

I have been criticised in the past by my use of cake mixes, but I really don't care: 1st, they make my life a whole lot easier, and 2nd- they're delicious!


1 chocolate cake mix
1 can of vanilla frosting
2 shots of espresso
1 chocolate bar-chopped for garnish


Prepare chocolate cake mix as directed, replacing some of the water w/ 1 shot of prepared espresso. Mix remaining shot of espresso into the frosting. Ice cooled cupcakes w/ frosting and garnish with chopped chocolate bar. I used an Aero bar as the bubbles reminded me of the foamy top of a mochachino!

I stopped off at the Superstore Bakery to get a cake box to present my cupcakes- it even doubles as a card!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Camped out at Campo

One of my favorite things to do in Manhattan is to tag along with my sister to see how NYers - or the adopted ones at least - live. One of Angela's usual Monday night activities is to visit a resto in her hood on the Upper West Side. The attraction here? On Monday night, Campo's Happy Hour serves 1/2 price bottles of wine! When we arrived at Campo, a group of her fellow musicians had already settled down to a table and some drinks, so we quickly did the same.

As we quickly glanced over the menu of libations, I posed the question that has since changed the Monday night Campo routine: "Does the 1/2 bottle special include sparkling wine?" The answer? YES. And so, the night began, with drinks all around, most of them with fizz!

Whenever I have sparkling wine, or Champagne, I always crave a little salt, so Angela put in an order for one of her favorites; Truffled Parmesan Fries. Now to me, fries and sparkling wine is always a little decadent- mixing an everyday favorite, with something a little special. But theses fries upped the indulgence factor with a sprinkling of nutty Parmegiano-Reggiano and earthy truffle oil.

Truffled Parmesan Fries

As the group was a table of classical musicians, the talk centered around music. As a former music student myself, I appreciated the conversation and the ability to talk to people who were so passionate about their craft, as I am about food. This was a great night, and with our discovery of 1/2-priced sparkling wine, the evening started and ended with a sparkling 'note'!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Talay Thai tantalizes my taste buds

I had a pretty impromptu dinner tonight. A friend called, asked if I wanted to go for Thai, and when I responded "yea", said good I'll be there in 5. Eeekk! I ran around my apt. getting ready and then proceed down to Talay Thai on Barrington St. for one of the best Thai meals I've had in a while.

While in NY over Christmas, my sis got me hooked on green curry. I do love meat, but for some reason, this dish lends itself lusciously to tofu- crisp on the outside and soft within. I spooned some sticky rice onto my plate and then proceeded to lavish it with the rich, spicy curry. As the sauce and rice melded together, I inhaled the sweet aroma of basil-the best part of a green curry.

Green Curry w/ Tofu
Green curry paste w/ coconut milk, eggplant, bamboo, red pepper and basil

Garlic Prawn
Deep fried prawn w/ garlic & black pepper

These were delish; a simple marriage of black pepper and garlic
made an incredible flavour sheath for the juicy prawns

Thai Hot and Sour Soup: Tom Yam w/ Prawns
Soup cooked in a herb broth w/
lime, lemongrass, galangal, tomato, mushroom, shallot & chili

Nom, nom, nom. What a great feed- I even have some leftovers. Talay Thai creates great, rich curries, but they also have some fantastic appys. Check out the Duck Curry, Cashew Chicken and their delicious Spring Rolls here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Out at Niche

As I write this post, I've just realized the amount of bacon and scallops that I've consumed this week! More on that later. While fully milking my Bday as I do every year, I went out with a friend for my 4th birthday dinner at Niche. Though we aimed to partake in the 1/2 price appy fare served on Friday from 4:30-6 pm, we arrived at 6:01 and we stuck with regular prices. Womp, womp!

All was not lost, however, as we chose a crisp pinot gris to pair with our seafood-heavy menu. We were fairly hungry at this pint, so we let our growling stomachs do the ordering and decided on the crab cakes, prosciutto-wrapped scallops and coconut shrimp. After I pleaded my case regarding my calorie-laden week, we tossed a salad in there as well. Get it? Tossed! Lame, OK.

We started with the Risotto Crab Cakes and the Warm Goat Cheese Salad. These were two great choices to start. With a hearty tomato sauce, and a little bit of spice, the crab cakes were a nice contrast to the lighter salad. A slice of warm, toasted baguette, smothered with the tangy cheese was just the utensil needed to mop up the savory sauce.

Risotto Crab Cakes
crab risotto rolled in panko and served w/ a spicy rose sauce

Warm Goat Cheese Salad
mixed greens, mushroom & tomato tossed in balsamic vinaigrette
accompanied by crostini topped w/warm mix of goat cheese and dill

The first appy was something to gush about; tender scallops with their little jackets of crisp prosciutto, sitting in a garlic butter-bath and sprinkled with nutty creamy cheese. I think the photo speaks for itself here.

Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops
scallops wrapped in prosciutto, baked in garlic butter, topped w/ Parmesan

The shrimp were plump and juicy with a great texture contrast from the sweet, crisp coating. This sweetness was nicely complimented by the citrus sauce with a punch of heat from the horseradish. Though I did love the flavour pairing within the sauce, I have to say I've yet to meet a marmalade that I really like. But that's just my taste.

Coconut Battered Shrimp

Black Tiger shrimp breaded w/ a coconut mix and pan fried
served w/ horseradish marmalade

We didn't eat all of our second round, we barely touched it in fact. As soon as it arrived, a food coma quickly set in. We had our server pack it up and we jaunted home to tuck into another bottle of wine. We may not have finished them in the resto, but they were certainly tasty at midnight... :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Birthday at Brooklyn

When my friend asked me where I wanted to go for dinner on my birthday, my automatic response was "Brooklyn!" Brooklyn Warehouse, that is. I've written about this spot countless times before, but there's a reason for that- it's amazing. The thing about the BW is that I know that I'll never be disappointed. Consistency is key here, as is quality and innovation. They simply just know how to create good food. Special occasions aside, the atmosphere at BW is what gets me every time- I went for my Bday, but it's also a favorite to meet up with good friends for lunch, brunch OR dinner.

We started out w/ some apps; Hummus and Pig Fish and then moved on to the Rabbit and Fish Dish. The hummus plate consisted of nothing but great flavours; creamy chickpea spread and soft, warm flatbread from a local bakery accompanied by a little pile of warm, marinated kalamata olives. This was a serious cure to my crisp winter chill.

Hummus Platter

Pig Fish is a favorite of mine. Though I've had it a couple times before, it was something I just couldn't pass up. This is BK's take on the ever-popular scallop and bacon combo, just much better! Jerked pork belly is served alongside plump seared scallops and accented with a punchy mango-lime sauce.
Pig Fish

For the main event, though virtually every entree left me salivating, I went with a lighter option and chose the Fish Dish while my friend ordered the heartier Rabbit. The fish was Arctic char served with an apple-arugula salad and brown butter risotto. In my books, anything served with a risotto (done well, that is) is a winner. The combo of meaty fish with crispy skin and nutty risotto was luxurious, while the contrast of tart apple and spicy arugula on top was just the thing to cut through the dish's rich base.

The rabbit was a braised rabbit leg and loin stuffed with ham hock and served with mushroom smashed potatoes and roasted carrots. The description alone is enough to ensure a warm, savory dish. The rabbit meat was tender and flavourful, while the mushroom smash was a creative take on mashed potatoes.

Fish Dish


Though urged to order dessert, mah belly was full and satisfied. As my bday is in January, I've come to equate a birthday dinner with warm, hearty comfort food, food I know I'll get at the BW. Check out the Brooklyn Warehouse's Prix Fixx menu on Hali Bites here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Birthday to me and to With Bite!

Two years ago today, I started a blog. After a great birthday supper with friends and family, I started thinking about my love affair with food, cooking and restaurants, and how to sate my never ending desire to talk about it. Since most people can only talk about food for so long without getting hungry, I decided to send my thoughts out to the bloggosphere and see what others had to say about it. And so, on my birthday, January 5th, 2008, With Bite was born. With Bite is a food and beverage blog, chronicling my food and beverage experiences throughout Nova Scotia and beyond.

Now, I've decided to bring something new to the table with HaliBites, a food and drink specials guide to keep you up-to-date on where to eat and drink on the cheap in Halifax. With a listing of specials going on in pubs, neighborhood cafes and fine dining restaurants, this blog is intended to get you out of the house, away from fast food, and exploring Halifax's diverse culinary offerings!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010 Bites

As we started this new year, I got to thinking about which restos had piqued my curiosity during 2009, and which spots I loved enough to revisit during the first year of the aughties. Some are brand new restos or cafes, while others are well-known with a new seasonal menu. Either way, my palate is eager to be sated by the concepts and flavours of these cuisines, be it ethnic flair or gourmet comfort food.

1. The Five Fishermen Chef Renee Lavallee has re-vamped the menu on both the big and
2. Fid Chef Dennis Johnston has rehauled both the restaurant's aesthetic and menu.
3. Satisfaction Feast I'm a meatatarian at heart, but sometimes a little tofu goes a long way.
4. Saege Simply because there's a pizza with Pumpkin seed pesto, arugula, roast chicken and gouda.
5. Chez Tess Ummm, it's a restaurant based on sweet & savory crepes. 'Nuff said.
6. Cafe Aromo Latino All about Latin cuisine- turn up the heat!
7. Epicurious Morsels I love the fruits de mer, and they have tons of interesting seafood dishes.
8. Ciboulette Because any spot by Chef Craig Flinn should be amazing!
9. Nectar Social House I WILL venture to Dartmouth to spend an evening in a swank spot with
an equally swank menu.
10. Estia A fine dining resto in my hood is a 'must try'

Friday, January 1, 2010

Top 10 Memorable Morsels of 2009

While I was planning yet another New Year's Eve menu, I got to thinking about all the meals I've planned throughout the year. Subsequently, this got me thinking about all the great meals, snacks and bites that have made their way to mah belly as well.

As I scoured through a full year's worth of posts, I painstakingly chose my top 10 memorable morsels of 2009. They include fantastic deals, amazing flavor combinations and decadent bites. I decided to refer only to dining experiences available in Nova Scotia. Here they are, dating back from last January up until the present. I'm real hungry!

Best sushi I've had in Hali at Doraku

Empanadas at Pipa

Lemon Meringue Cheesecake at Stone Street Cafe

S'more from The Sweet Spot Chocolate Shop

Onion Bhajia at The Taj Mahal

Brooklyn Burger at The Brooklyn Warehouse

Fish & Chips at Durty Nelly's Irish Pub

I hope your New Year is full of
happy mouths and bellies

Best wishes for a fun and food-filled 2010!