My New Favorite Girl, Willa Jean (New Orleans)

A whole lot has changed since we moved away from New Orleans in 2012. New neighborhoods are popping up all over the city along with so many new businesses. It makes my heart smile to see the city doing so well and my stomach even happier to experience so many new restaurant openings. One of the ‘newer’ places that have recently opened that I am just in love with is John Besh’s Willa Jean in the CBD. It is the mastermind of BRG Executive Pastry Chef Kelly Fields and Pastry Chef Lisa White (of Domenica and PIZZA Domenica)  which is named after Fields’ grandmother.

I love the space which is designed by Curtis Herring. It adds a modern and elegant touch to iconic southern food. Brick walls, Edison bulbs and the restaurant’s “Uneeda Biscuit” mural add a stylish touch to traditional southern classics.

The bakery serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, allowing the two chefs to show off their savory sides. The lunch and dinner menus are organized by “snacks,” “tartines/sandwiches,” “salads and soups,” “hot plates,” and “extra stuff,”. The Intelligentsia Coffee program is delicious but  Willa Jean also serves boozy slushies as well as tea- and coffee-inspired craft cocktails.

If you need to find me on any given morning in New Orleans, chances are I’ll be here sipping on my coffee and enjoying the space.

Open Sunday through Thursday- 7am-9pm; Friday and Saturday- 7am to 10pm

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Addicted to Fried Chicken since 2010- Rusted Rooster (Lafayette, LA)

There is something about fried chicken and biscuits that has me completely hooked. Growing up in Canada I never had fried chicken (unless you count KFC) but moving to the south opened up a whole new culinary door for me. From fried chicken,gravy and biscuits to the more traditional cajun dishes such as gumbo and red beans and rice, let’s just say I’m hooked. I recently discovered the Rusted Rooster, a small non-pretentious diner style joint on Saint Landry street in downtown Lafayette. Seems like the secret is already out and I’m the last to know as there is quite a wait for lunch and breakfast. Their fried chicken is out-of-this-world delicious as is their selection of burgers, sandwiches and breakfast staples. Their morning hash brown has me craving on a weekly basis. For those seeking a healthier alternative to fried goodness, fear not, as you can order everything grilled.

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Rusted Rooster
105 St. Landry St.
Lafayette, LA 70506
(337) 534-4135

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Breakfast at Toast- Uptown (New Orleans, LA)

One of our favorite places to have a cozy breakfast in New Orleans is Tartine. You could imagine our excitement when we found out that the owners behind Tartine had opened up a new breakfast joint in uptown. Toast is located in the former home of Laurel Street Bakery in a once again extremely cozy and inviting space.


The menu not surprisingly, features many various options on large generous pieces of toast. A particular favorite was the toast with prosciutto,honey and ricotta cheese and the smoked salmon, egg and cheese. Also on the menu are the much talked about Danish pancakes, aebelskivers, biscuits, crepes and sandwiches.


The concept is original and like no other in New Orleans and the result is delicious. Don’t take it from me but from the crowds that line up every weekend to dine at Toast.



What: Toast
Where: 5433 Laurel Street
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 6:30 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. — 2:00 p.m.
Contact: (504) 267-3260,

Toast on Urbanspoon

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Dark Roux (Lafayette, LA)

We were so excited to try out the newly renovated Dark Roux (formerly Brick and Spoon) in Lafayette. Everything from the fresh decor, to the food, drinks and service was perfect. The food is farm to table, focusing on local produce and ingredients and the menu is a perfect blend of traditional cajun with a modern twist.

image_6imageimage_1We started our meal off with a bag of beignets which were like no other beignets I’ve had in Louisiana- round and fluffy with a hollow inside. image_2

For our main dishes, we ordered the chicken biscuits and traditional benny.  The chicken biscuits was a serving of perfectly tender and surprisingly flavorful fried chicken topped with a sunny side up egg and white gravy on two biscuits. It was so delicious I was almost tempted to order a second order. image_3The traditional benny consisted of fluffy buttermilk biscuits, a delicious house cured ham, collard greens, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. The Count ate it up in seconds but was left hungry for more as it does not come with any sides. Advice to the hungry ones, order some sides! image_5Both the Count and I were very impressed with the food at Dark Roux. The prices are a tad bit higher than your average breakfast/brunch spot in Lafayette but I can only assume that is because of the use of local and fresh ingredients. Either way, we will definitely be going back. 
image_4Dark Roux on Urbanspoon

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A Foodie’s Guide to Vancouver (Canada)

Vancouver, British Columbia…the most beautiful place on earth. At least that is what the license plate claims. But really, it is! I may be biased since I am from Vancouver and spent the majority of my life there before moving south of the border. And while the natural beauty, scenery and wildlife may take your breathe away, Vancouver has even more to offer. The diverse mix of immigrants that now inhabit Vancouver has brought with it some of the best restaurants and food in North America.  Here is my list of go-to spots in Vancouver that I never fail to visit when I am in town. I would love to hear what your favorites are in the comments below so that I can consider them on my next trip home and add it to my list!



From the same owners as Chambar, Medina serves Belgian-Moroccon cuisine. Lines up go around the block and can take hours but once inside the food will make you forget that you waited for so long. Don’t miss out on the classic belgian waffles and the lavender lattes. Twisted Fork serves some of the yummiest brunch in town. I always go for the banana stuffed french toast which is an unforgettable experience in decadence.

Or choose to spend the morning in Stanley Park, the sprawling urban oasis of greenery and water that is the West Coast’s rival to Central Park. Begin at the Teahouse in Stanley Park, a well-known brunch spot, both for its location and Canadian Northwest twists on some classic breakfast items. Ask for a table by the window to look out over English Bay and West Vancouver. Don’t miss the smoked salmon Benedict, which comes with local sockeye salmon. (7501 Stanley Park Drive;


It is not a surprise that really good chinese food can be found in Chinatown and while there are really authentic spots where you must visit with a mandarin/cantonese speaking friend (for which I’m lucky to have one) there are other more modern restaurants that have started popping up in this up and coming hip neighborhood. Bao Bei is a really hip/hipster restaurant that has really good chinese food with a twist. Phnom Penh is another favorite located in Chinatown. And while the name might suggest the food is a mix between Cambodian, Vietnamese and Chinese.  It offers some favorite classics like the chicken wings.

Dim Sum:

For one of the most genuine Asian cultural and culinary experiences in North America, go to the Aberdeen Center for dim sum at Fisherman’s Terrace (3580-4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond). This sprawling Asian shopping center has an entire store dedicated to Hello Kitty merchandise, a Korean barbecue and a pan-Asian supermarket, among other treasures. Many options are also available downtown in Chinatown. The Jade Dynasty Restaurant (137 Pender Street) offers good-value dim sum, or just wander along the road and choose one of the many restaurants that takes your fancy. 


My favorites include Chambar (562 Beatty Street) is a sophisticated, funky restaurant serving innovative Belgium, French and Moroccan food using regional ingredientsLes Faux Bourgeois  is a french bistro located in Mount Pleasant. If you want to feel a little bit of France and have authentic French food then make the trip out of downtown to Mount Pleasant. Wait times are long but it is definitely worth it. Another French favorite located downtown is La Brasserie located in Davie Village.


There is a large Indian population in Vancouver which means one thing: really good and authentic Indian food. For the real deal you must head to Main street and Fraser street to ‘Little India’. Here you will find a vast number of Indian restaurants where cheap eats are a plenty. However, for a more upscale evening, head to one of my favorite restaurants in Vancouver: Vij’s (1480 W 11th Ave). Owners Vikram and wife Meeru pride themselves on quality Indian food in a beautiful setting. The restaurant is quite small and the wait time often is over 1-2 hours long. So be prepared to wait a while and get drunk in the process. My favorite item on the menu? The Lamb Popsicles!


An area in Vancouver that should be explored if you have time is Commercial street- Vancouver’s own version of Little Italy. Here you can find a range of great Italian food. Outside of the Commercial street area are a wide range of great choices including my favorites: Campagnolo and Campagnolo Roma. 

Italian Pizza options are also great in Vancouver including Nicli Antica Pizzeria in Gastown and Pizzeria Farina.


Starting off at the intersection of Denman street and Robson street is where the feast begins. For the best ramen downtown, I usually head to either Motomoki Shokudo (740 Denman Street) or it’s sister location, Kintaro Ramen.  Try the black bamboo charcoal ramen. It is quite possibly the best broth you’ll ever taste.

Further up on Robson street is another all-time favorite, Guu with Garlic, a Japanese Izakaya restaurant which opened its doors in the early 2000’s and quickly gained so much popularity that it now has multiple locations around Vancouver and Toronto. (Below is the grilled squid served with a side of Lemon and Japanese Mayonnaise).


For the best hand-made gyozas in town I always head to Gyoza King (1508 Robson Street), a small and cozy Japanese bistro where you can choose from a variety of gyozas and other Japanese favorites. My number one pick: the shrimp and chive gyozas with a bottle of unfiltered sake to wash it down.


Where to begin on this one? Sushi restaurants cover the streets of Vancouver just as frequently as Starbucks. Some authentic, fresh and delicious and others are just in the business to make money. Making the hunt for good sushi a fun challenge (although to be honest even the mediocre sushi bars in Vancouver are far better than most sushi I’ve tasted around the US)! For a healthy organic sushi meal I head over to the tiny little gem, Shizen ya, located on Hornby street directly across from the courthouse.  For a more upscale experience with unique takes on sushi, Miku (#70 – 200 Granville St) is the place to be. The sushi is amazing and takes on a form of art. If in Yaletown, Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar (1095 Hamilton St) offers a vast range of fresh seafood, sushi and BC coastal fare. It is a classy affair and on the pricey end but if in Vancouver for a short time it should not be missed.


Finchs Tea and Coffee House (353 W. Pender Street) is a classic Gastown gem serving some of the best sandwiches in town. Favorites include the proscuitto, pear and baked blue brie cheese and walnut sandwich. Absolutely to die for! Hubbub is another favorite due to their oh so delicious bread. My all time favorite is the turkey sausage sandwich which I describe in great lengths in my post.



When in Vancouver, eat lots of seafood, the unrivaled local specialty.There are so many that I am going to list them here for you and let you pick your favorite:  Blue Water Cafe and Raw BarMiku, Rodney’s Oyster House and Go Fish Ocean Emporium (a food stand close to Granville Island).


 What are your favorite restaurants in Vancouver? Please add below in comment so that I can try it out next time I am in town! 


The Hungry Nomad

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Brunch at Estela- Nolita (NYC)

I don’t know how I learned about this restaurant but somehow I did and it made my list of new place to try in New York. Estela is located on an lonely strip of East Houston bordering Nolita. It is a beverage-driven restaurant from former Blue Hill at Stone Barns beverage director Thomas Carter and James Beard Award-nominated chef Ignacio Mattos.  The walk- up bar-restaurant’s decor seems typical of what I’ve seen multiply not only around New York but around the country: exposed brick, wood floors and marble bar and wood tables. It’s sleek and sophisticated.

DSC_0266 The brunch menu was limited with only a handful of plates to choose from. I would encourage sharing plates as you won’t fill up on one. It is definitely not meant for those of us with healthy appetites.



First up was the Endive with walnuts, anchovy, and ubriaco rosso ($14). A small plate of fresh and crispy endives laying on top of a bed of walnuts, anchovies and ubriaco rosso cheese (italian for drunken sunset). The mix of flavors and textures was perfect and left me wanting more.

DSC_0271 Next came the Burrata with salsa verde and charred bread ($15), a serving of rich and creamy bur rata cheese on top of charred bed in a bed of tangy salsa verde. Verdict: amazing, unique and delicious.

DSC_0272 The Cod with peas, spigarello, and aïoli ($24) was a healthy, flavorful and unique.

DSC_0274However, my favorite was the Celery with grapefruit, pecorino, and hazelnuts ($12) dish. It was such a different mix of ingredients and flavors yet so simple.  The flavors and textures complimented each other in the best way possible. So good indeed that later on in the week I attempted to re-create the dish at home (didn’t turn out quite the same).


The avocado, pancetta, and egg on Danish pastry ($14) was good but didn’t warrant the $14 price tag.

DSC_0277Overall, our experience at Estela was pretty fabulous. I would definitely return to try their small plate style dinner and drinks. For brunch however, I prefer something a bit more filling and hearty.

Estela on Urbanspoon


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Brunch at Jack’s Wife Freda-Soho (NYC)

The name is catchy, the place is always packed and everyone raves about it. Of course I had to check it out.  Jack’s Wife Freda is a new-ish addition to the Soho neighborhood where husband and wife bring together their experience and backgrounds to create a new and unique menu and flavors. Dean is from South Africa and Maya is from Israel which makes complete sense with one glance at the menu.

DSC_0216Arriving early on a Saturday there were only a few tables left and we were seated outside. The menu/placemat was simple with limited options. Two dishes were ordered: the Mediterranean breakfast and the Rosewater waffles.


The poached eggs came with a side of sliced avocados, labne, pita and salad which resembled and tasted identical to the traditional persian salad (salad shirazi) consisting of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. It was healthy, fresh and satisfying. DSC_0222

I had really high expectations for the rosewater waffles being from a country where rosewater originated and is used liberally on many sweet dishes. This waffle barely tasted like rosewater and was really not that special. There was nothing that made it stand out from any other restaurant waffle except the use of yogurt as opposed to whipping cream. DSC_0220

Based on the two dishes we tried, we both agreed that there was too much hype around this place. Yes the name is catchy, the location is cool and the clientele is young and stylish, but there was nothing about the food itself that stood out. So if its ambiance you are after then sure this is the place for it, but if you just want really good food there are plenty of options in the neighborhood with less of a line up.
DSC_0219 DSC_0218  Jack's Wife Freda on Urbanspoon

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Breakfast at Tartine- Audubon Park (New Orleans)

Deep inside the green and lush neighborhood of Audubon Park lies a tiny little restaurant which locals flock to: Tartine. It’s a place where quality, substance and good wholesome cooking are the main ingredients to success. Ever since discovering this gem a few months ago we have been back every time we visit New Orleans (which tends to be a lot since we lack good food in Lafayette).


Tartine serves delicious home made breads and sweets, sandwiches, salads and of course tartines. In France, a tartine is a piece of toasted bread smothered with different ingredients. Simple but so satisfying.


Simplicity and freshness is what makes Tartine so special. For example, the baguette served with a side of strawberry jam, butter and a big slice of brie cheese is one of the most amazing things I’ve tasted. The Croque Madame was large and very filling and did not fail to impress our guest.


The salmon tartine is the Count’s favorite, featuring generous amounts of salmon, eggs, capers and what I believe to be pickled cabbage. We always order an extra loaf of bread because once you start eating you just can’t get enough.


The salads and sandwiches are also to die for. On our last trip, one of the chefs was busy grilling flank steak covered in chimichurri sauce for their special of the day, steak salad and steak sandwich.



Tartine on Urbanspoon

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The French Press (Lafayette, LA)

Our latest move has brought us down to the heart of Louisiana: Lafayette. And after two months of settling in I am finally discovering the food scene. Of course, it is not Philadelphia, New York or New Orleans which makes the Hungry Nomad very hungry and in constant search of good food. That is how I was led to the French Press which in my mind is the greatest thing to hit this town. Innovative meals and funky spaces are a rarity in this part of the country and I long for my days spent dining in Philly and New York. But walking into the French Press I felt like I was right back in the city.

1-image_2 Owners Justin and Margaret Girouard have created a funky space where local hipsters and hungry diners blend in perfect harmony. The restaurant features many of its original pieces left behind from its original tenants.  High ceilings, peeling paint, exposed brick  and concrete floors give it a certain old time charm. But what makes this place filled with hungry diners and a line up out the door is the fantastic and innovative food.


Chef Justin Girouard has created an award-worthy menu consisting of creative dishes which will certainly leave you wanting more (see menu). Our brunch started off with a perfect bloody mary topped off with pickled okras, spicy beans and olives. And while it did take a good 15-20 minutes for our drinks to come out it was well worth the wait. Ironically, it was the french press coffee which took longer than anything to make it to our table. 3-image_7

The cajun benedict was the highlight, a perfectly plated eggs benedict topped with the house gumbo. What an amazing dish. I polished my plate clean and as a result will be going back just for my weekly intake of this wonderful concoction.

4-image_9 5-image_12Our table also ordered the stuffed french toast for dessert. It was bursting with a soft creamy cream cheese topped with a berry-champagne compote. Another to die for dish!


The verdict of our first brunch at the French Press? Best brunch spot in Louisiana. If you are planning a trip through Louisiana, the French Press is an absolute must.


The French Press on Urbanspoon

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Sabrina’s Cafe and Spencer’s Too-Fairmount/Art Museum (Philadelphia, USA)

Saturday morning, stomach and fridge empty we decided to go out for brunch. With the help of Yelp we found out that one of the best rated brunch places was right next door. So with a hop, skip and a jump we ended up outside of Sabrina’s Cafe. The restaurant and outside was packed and the wait was over an hour long. But we got offered to sit at the bar and quickly made our way through the restaurant to the back. It was a perfect place to sit since I had a great view of everything that came out of the kitchen. And boy, did everything look tasty!
Our order was taken right away: the burger special for the Count and huevos rancheros for me. After a few minutes of food-watching we were served with what I rate as the best huevos rancheros I’ve ever had. It was presented differently than your typical huevos rancheros. It was served with two blue corn tortillas topped with a smoky chorizo sausage sauce finished with lime sour cream and spicy red pepper guacamole and 2 fried eggs with a side of hash browns and fried jalapeno peppers. I don’t think I need to go on about how amazing this meal was for the photo below explains it all. It was such a large serving but I polished my plate clean. Needless to say I could barely walk after since I was so full. 
The Count’s burger special was served with a side of coleslaw and hand-cut fries. He was also very happy with his meal and he is known to be quite the burger snob. He said it was one of the best he has ever had. I can’t really give you details of the tasty burger because I confess I was so into eating my dish that by the time I looked up he was done with his.  I could only take that as an indication of how good it was. But I think the photos are an accurate image of the tasty burger. 
Everything that came out of the kitchen looked amazing. And every patron looked extremely happy. It is just one of those feel good places with good, rich and filling food  in a great environment. In fact it was so good, we have already been there twice since. I guess you can say we are big fans! 
Sabrina's Café and Spencer's Too on Urbanspoon
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