Saturday, January 23, 2010

Willman's vs. Jamieson's - the ultimate fish & chips taste test!

This past August I spent a week in Vancouver and got a chance to try fish & chips on Granville Island. They were really tasty but the question was...were they as good as what we serve up on the East Coast? It was actually a tie! My only comparison was Sam's Seafood Express; however, between the two, I found Sam's fish was fresher but the batter was better on Granville Island.

Upon coming home, I talked about this experience with my friend Alto and he presented me with a challenge: we would each choose a restaurant in Halifax, split a serving of fish & chips, and then rate the quality of the meal. We finally got to do this last night. My choice? Willman's Seafood (5644 Kane St., Halifax, NS). Alto's choice? Well, originally it was Phil's Seafood but he went there the other week and left disappointed. So we caught a wireless signal on his ipod touch, found a blog that rates fish & chips places all over HRM and went with Jamieson's Irish House & Grill (5 Cumberland Dr., Cole Harbour, NS), which got 4.5/5.

Willman's was very friendly from the moment we walked in to the moment we walked out, perhaps because it's family-run (at least that's the impression I had). The fish pieces were a decent size and the fries were handcut. But if I could rave about one thing it would be the batter. I don't know what they put in it but it is delish! Only downside is the fish was a bit dry...I'm hoping this isn't the norm. The fries were pretty good.

And Jamieson's? Gotta say I was a bit disappointed. We ordered the beer battered fish & chips and although the fish was moist and flavourful, the pieces were small, the batter was a bit bland and the dish as a whole was pretty greasy. The fries were alright for me...not the best in the world but definitely not the worst (and didn't have a freezer taste to them). However, Jamieson's pear salad was fantastic and the service was also friendly.

My final verdict...
-Willman's:8.5/10 (see picture below...yummy!)

- Jamieson's: 6.5/10 (see below...okay, it was really dark and this picture makes the fish & chips look somewhat really wasn't that bad. They deserve more credit than this picture gives them).

Please note that a 1 is fish & chips so bad that I couldn't finish the dish (and I finish my food 99% of the time!). 5 is your run-of-the-mill fish & chips and a 10 would be the best fish and chips on the planet. For a restaurant to get a 10 I'd have to feel like heaven was in my mouth (despite the fact that I was eating a heart attack special).

Was Willman's better than Sam's? I'm not sure. When I get back from Benin I'll have to have another fish & chips night to compare the two. But until that time I'll give my arteries a bit of a break so they can unclog themselves. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chocolate chip cookies...with a secret twist!

Yes, yes...I realize it's been quite a while since my last baking post, but that doesn't mean I've been idle in the kitchen! My latest obsession? The 'plain old' chocolate chip cookie. But what's in a chocolate chip cookie? I mean, what makes one better than another? I personally like mine soft and chewy and not overwhelmed with chocolate chips.

Of course, I had to search RecipeZaar and I found to my delight, this recipe. Yes, at first glance it seems like the standard, that is, until you read the ingredients and reach 'instant vanilla pudding' on the list. I have to say, these may be the best chocolate chip cookies I've tasted. The pudding makes them ohhh sooo soft and adds a light vanilla flavour that perfectly compliments the chocolate. Yummy!

On the cooling rack, fresh out of the oven. The perfect time to indulge! :)

Coming up...the search for the perfect Fish & Chips AND the ultimate PB oatcake showdown: Rebekah vs. The Smiling Goat

Monday, January 18, 2010

The date is set

February 9th...that's the date when my world will drastically change. When I'll be taken out of the comforts of my home and jet off to a land unknown to me. The date when I'll say goodbye to so many familiar faces. The date when I will board a plane to Benin for 3 months.

I knew I would miss home, but I didn't know how much until this past week when trying to book flights on my own. As I cried in frustration, the reality hit me hard. There is so much that my parents do for me that I take for granted. And even if I see little of them during the week as a result of my busy/social schedule, I know they are always close by...just a phone call away. Even if it were possible to call home everyday from Benin, I know it wouldn't be healthy.

As I sat alone in the dark, a voice inside me said, It would be so much easier to stay in Halifax. Sure, it would be easier...but I know that I would be miserable for those 3 months and beyond. God has opened this door for me and amidst the fear of the unknown, I have peace. I know this what I'm supposed to be doing...

...the whole thing just feels a little more concrete when the plane tickets are confirmed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Harry Potter and the...what happens??

For the longest time I was against reading the Harry Potter books. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the series coming from my high school and even from some friends. Over the summer my cousin, shocked that I had never watched any of the movies let alone read the books, convinced me to give The Philosopher's Stone a try. That was back in June and since then I've watched all the movies released to date and tonight I finished The Half Blood Prince.

In a way, I wonder what kept me from reading them for so long. I conjured this idea in my mind that the series would be somehow insulting, but reading them has proved my theory wrong. There are also parents/teachers/book reviewers who say the series gets darker with each book...but I'd like to disagree. Yes, Harry gets steps closer to destroying his arch-nemisis but it's no different than how Frodo is one step closer to destroying the ring in LOTR. And it's true that Harry does feel anger and the need for revenge but the author always comes back to his most powerful weapon being love.

All this might change, of course, once I read the final book...Potter might kill everyone in his path and crown himself as the new lord...but I am going to give it the chance to prove me wrong :). And I have to's strange not knowing what's going to happen in the next book since in all the previous ones I watched the movie beforehand. And everyone has done a great job in keeping the story a secret. Looking forward to finishing the series :).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Highlights from Sydney

1. Eating kangaroo.

2. Sitting in a museum on a rainy day, gazing at pictures of the solar system and just listening to a deep Australian voice describe each picture.

3. Worship at Hillsong Church.

4. Seeing an exhibit called "The 80s are Back" about flashback to childhood!

5. Day trip to Manly Beach.

6. 3 words: Lindt Chocolate Cake.

7. Getting a break from work.

8. Watching the most incredible firework show in my life with 1.5 million people.

9. Walking back from the fireworks to our hotel in what felt like a mass exodus. Passed by a pub which was blasting "I've Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas and everyone on the street broke out into song. It felt like a music video.

10. Hiking Blue Mountain's breathtaking scenery.

Passing the Sydney Opera House on the ferry to Manly Beach