Category Archives: Food

New York again: eating

So it seems every third post of ours is about visiting New York. We do indeed love New York a lot, and though we just got back, I can’t wait until our next trip! We’re doing things a little differently this time – posting topically rather than chronologically. Seeing as how Kelvin’s favourite thing to do on vacation is eat, we are dedicating this first post to some of the places at which we dined.

Morton’s Steakhouse
1 Riverside Square Mall, Hackensack, NJ

No picture from this eatery, but we thoroughly enjoyed our time at this steakhouse. Located in the Shops at Riverside, Morton’s provided a quality dining experience with exceptional service. Because it was late by the time we were seated (we went on a Saturday with no reservations), Kelvin and I shared a prime ribeye, which was slightly more well-done than the medium rare we had requested. We shared a number of appetizers and side dishes with our whole party, and especially enjoyed their mac and cheese. The potatoes au gratin, on the other hand, were not well-received. If you have a smaller party and just want some nibbles, they have first-come, first-served space at the bar for bites starting at 9 pm.

Tasty Dumpling
42 Mulberry St, New York, NY

After looking on a number of websites, blogs, and other such things, we came to the conclusion that the best dumplings in New York would either be at Tasty Dumpling or at Prosperity Dumplings (on Eldridge). We opted to try Tasty Dumpling on Monday for lunch, ordering copious amounts of chives and pork dumplings (I preferred these over the cabbage and pork dumplings).

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The dumplings themselves were quite good, and great value at 5 for $1.25. However, having eaten a good number of dumplings in our lifetime, we weren’t sure whether these were truly worth the title of New York’s best dumplings. The wrapping was a little too thick and not quite crispy enough. The actual filling itself was very flavourful, though. We also ordered some noodles and the beef pancake. Not at all what we had expected – we will not be ordering these again. It started to get busy as we were finishing up, and I have a strong suspicion a number of the groups were also tourists.

Mille-feuille
552 LaGuardia Pl, New York, NY

We stumbled upon this little bakery while in the NYU area. Though they are known for their namesake, the mille-feuille, I actually didn’t try any (not really a fan of pastries…). Kelvin had some and he said it was okay.

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Now what I DO love is macarons, and that is something they had a great selection of. Thus, I got a pack of 8. These little guys are always so expensive (probably because they’re so hard to make), but they were entirely worth it. I’ll be honest – I’ve not been wowed by the macarons I’ve eaten lately, but these definitely renewed my faith. They were soft and spot on with their flavouring. The chocolate macaron was delicious, and the raspberry one was so true to taste. I ate a number of them and saved a few for later, and they were still good! In fact, my last macaron was the best of all. I don’t actually know what flavour it was (it was brown), but it was heavenly. I will definitely be coming back here next time we visit New York.

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Cull and Pistol
75 9th Ave, New York, NY

We stumbled upon this little place in Chelsea market once before when we were in New York and we loved it so much we decided to come back! They have happy hour on weekdays from 4-6 pm and oysters at the bar are only $1! We had quite a number… Mostly every oyster we had was delicious. We normally like clean, sweeter oysters, but we tried one that had a buttery finish and that was very enjoyable. The hostess was so accommodating and helped us secure a spot there for dinner directly following. I got the bacon wrapped Arctic char (great flavour, a fish we will try to cook more of at home) and Kelvin had the Connecticut lobster roll (he prepares warm lobster rolls, as do I).

The Meatball Shop
170 Bedford Ave, New York, NY

Though it has other locations around New York, we tried The Meatball Shop in Brooklyn during our visit on Tuesday. Such a cute idea with decent food. Every day they have specials, including a homemade meatball of sorts. The day we went, it was a chicken pot pie meatball with carrots, potatoes and more!

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Ippudo Westside
321 West 51st Street, New York, NY

Ippudo NY is Kelvin’s favourite ramen place. Though my heart still thinks the meal I had at Santouka in Vancouver is superior, I must agree that the ramen is tasty. We got a special appetizer to start (Samurai buns – hirata buns but with some sort of pulled beef/brisket I believe) which we actually didn’t enjoy as much as our regular ‘ol pork hirata buns. Then we ordered an Akamaru Modern for each of us. I even ordered Kae-dama (extra noodles). Those three sliders must not have been enough…

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I also ordered a cranberry juice (why did I do that?…) and it was very diluted. Poor life choice on my part. But all in all, a wonderfully quick meal before our show (more on that in our post about what we did!)

Babbo Ristorante
110 Waverly Pl, New York, NY

For our last meal in New York, we decided to go Italian. Owned by Iron Chef Mario Batali, this restaurant had impeccable service and some exquisite food. We ordered a number of pastas to share for our primi course – gnocchi, black spaghetti, ravioli, agnolotti, and orecchiette. I personally enjoyed the ravioli the most with the orecchiette as a close second. I ordered the scallops as my main and they were plump and cooked to perfection. To finish off, I ordered the gelato (three scoops that I needed to share!), and was pleasantly surprised by the distinct taste of the olive oil gelato. Through and through, a delicious meal and I would not hesitate to come again!

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Another Visit to the Big Apple

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you will notice that we love New York. We tend to go once or twice a year, and a few weekends ago, we drove down with Kelvin’s parents for some shopping, exploration, and good food.

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Day 1 is almost always the same. We leave bright and early (like 7 am early), stop in Binghampton, NY to fill up gas, then head to Woodbury Commons. I am usually the conservative one when it comes to shopping – the one who counts her American pennies. However, this time I hit the jackpot at J.Crew and found too many things that would significantly improve my wardrobe, including this jacketthis skirt, and these shorts. We continued our shopping at Garden State Plaza and the local Ikea (apparently they have things that we don’t have) before checking in late at night at our usual spot – the Marriott Glenpointe in Teaneck, NJ.

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Day 2 was a whirlwind. My mother-in-law and I woke up super early to take the bus into the city (167T gets us there in 20 minutes). We rushed over to line up at Dominique Ansel for these infamous cronuts, and proceeded to wait for two hours in line with other hungry patrons. Okay, some people were lining up there so they could flip their cronuts for some crazy profit…but I didn’t think the extra $30 would be worth that amount of time. Anyways, Kelvin and his dad joined us in line around 9:15, and after a few scares of sold-out cronuts, we got our hands on a box.

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The cronuts – a mix between croissants and donuts – were $5 a pop and you were allowed to buy 2. Kelvin and I shared a box of two and that was plenty for us. It was in fact delicious, and the texture was really interesting yet familiar, but I still can’t say whether it was worth the wait. I suppose it’s one of those things you must try once in your life and once you’ve had it, you’re good. The macarons were slightly disappointing. But perhaps this is because I have yet to find macarons that I really really like. Maybe I don’t know what they’re supposed to taste like? We also ordered the DKA (very good, and you can get it any time of day) and the little egg sandwich (also priced at $5 and quite yummy )

Dominique Ansel Bakery on Urbanspoon

With our stomachs full and the city beckoning, our shopping for the day commenced. We went all over town, from Muji to Uniqlo to Longchamp and Kinokuniya. But the place that really jumped out for me was Suit Supply. This is where Kelvin went to get fitted for a suit for our wedding, and he liked it so much that he decided to go back. Now, I’ve never really understood the intricacies of a suit and the differences between cuts and what not, but I imagine this is shopping heaven for the well-dressed man. We entered through this nondescript doorway and were greeted by these men whose suits were so well-tailored it blew my mind. Needless to say, Kelvin did not come away empty-handed. That suit will likely be making an appearance at the next wedding we are to attend this summer.

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Later that afternoon, we went for a stroll along High Line (so excited for their continued expansion!) and in Chelsea Market. We tried a new place for dinner – Cull and Pistol – and quite enjoyed ourselves. Kelvin and I recently discovered our love for oysters so were keen to try them again. We ordered the raw sampler, a lobster roll, and the fish tacos. The littleneck clams were not my favourite, and I found the oyster selection a bit too briny for my liking, but the shrimp was sweet and enormous. We didn’t get any crab claws because they were out :( We got extra oysters instead. The fish tacos were average, but the lobster roll was out of this world. There were huge chunks of lobster and the flavouring was just right. Overall we enjoyed our experience there. Plus, they gave us orange gelato at the end of the evening so we would leave with a sweet taste in our mouths. Two thumbs up!

cull and pistol

Cull & Pistol on Urbanspoon

We rounded off the evening with a trip to The Filling Station in Chelsea Market, where we bought some Cranberry Pear balsamic vinegar. It is the most delicious things ever and I use it all the time now. It is essentially vinaigrette and comes in a cute little bottle that’s the same size as the California Garlic Olive Oil we bought at Kingston Olive Oil Co.

Day 3 started off with service at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. My goodness what a refreshing service it was! Solo cello with piano = God’s reminder of the beauty of classical music. I was moved deeply by the worship as well as the sermon, and it was exactly what I needed. Though Psalm 23 is not an unfamiliar passage, I was reminded of our constant search for identity and how we so often are looking for it in the wrong places.

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After church, we headed to Korea Town for lunch, then to City Hall to embark on our Brooklyn Bridge adventure. I’ve never walked across the Brooklyn Bridge before, so this was very exciting! Too bad construction was happening so a lot of the areas were boarded up. Regardless, we made it across, and found ourselves in the calmer, slower-paced borough of Brooklyn. We wandered over to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, had pizza at Grimaldi’s, and even stumbled upon a food fair. Next time we come to NYC, we definitely need to spend more time here.

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After a few hours, we headed back to Manhattan to pick up some Shake Shack before bussing back to New Jersey…because you always need to eat Shake Shack when you’re in New York.

Day 4 was a big box store day. Costco. Walmart. Because apparently things are cheaper in the States…who knew? We also stopped in Syracuse at Destiny USA (we see billboards for it all the time here in Kingston) and it did not disappoint! Kelvin finally found the Vans that he had been searching all over New York for. Plus they have an indoor ropes course. And it only costs $7.99. I am going back there…just for the ropes course. Routine stop at Watertown following that for some Chipotle, and we were home before 9.

And there you have it…another successful adventure in the big city.

A Night on the Town

So some exciting news…I got an LTO! That stands for long-term occasional position, aka I am supply teaching in the same class for an extended period of time. I am so excited (and feeling so blessed) to have been given this opportunity, and I am looking forward to planning, getting to know the staff more, and then meeting all my students. That’s already more about my work than I think I’ve ever shared on this blog, but I wanted to share so much because it melds everything that I love in life into one lovely opportunity to nurture creativity.

To celebrate, Kelvin came to pick me up from school and we headed downtown for some yummy food. We made a pit stop first at the relatively new Kingston Olive Oil Co.

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In addition to over a dozen types of balsamic vinegar, the store was full of many different types of olive oil. We tried a number of them with the bread samples they provided and ended up getting an infused olive oil – California Garlic – to take home with us. We only had a little taste, but already the aroma was overwhelming. We couldn’t resist!

We wandered around the area a bit longer, then headed to one of our favourite restaurants – Le Chien Noir – for dinner. It can be a bit on the pricier side to eat here, but thanks to a gift certificate from my wonderful co-workers, this meal was on the house!

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To start, we ordered one of their daily specials – a swordfish tartare on a bok choy leaf with heirloom carrots and lotus root chips. They were heavenly. We even recommended it to the table beside us! The swordfish had a good weight to it, and it was so fresh and flavourful. The chip added this much needed crunch that just tied everything together.

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Because we were feeling particularly adventurous, we each also ordered one single oyster. We were both very hesitant, but after our first oysters, we were sold. We each ended up ordering another one! I discovered I like clean, sweeter oysters. Green Gables for the win!

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Our main courses were definitely up to par with the rest of our meal. I had the burger (cooked to medium, as you can only with local meat). Everything came together deliciously and I was happy I made the right choice. Earlier that night, I had a really hard time choosing between the burger and the chicken (fried mac and cheese!!).

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Kelvin opted for the boar chop (a smaller portion but great value and the perfect size considering all the other things we had ordered). He loved the flavour and the spatzle and was also thoroughly happy with his meal. The only thing to note was that the apple salsa (?) was a bit spicy.

We’ve been to Le Chien Noir a number of times in the past few months, but this was by far our best experience this year. We still have some money left on our gift card…and we will be back to enjoy more oysters…but this time for 30% off during happy hour.

Le Chien Noir Bistro on Urbanspoon

The Black Hole that is Costco

It is virtually impossible to go to Costco and come out empty-handed.

Pretty much right after we got married, Kelvin and I went to Costco to sign up for our memberships. Since then, we have been going to Costco on a weekly basis. Sometimes we spend a little, sometimes we spend a lot, but always, we leave with something wonderful for our home.

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These bowls we actually bought before we got our membership (we went in with some friends…), but we have been using them so much that we wanted to share the goodness with the rest of the world. Kelvin was hesitant to buy them because they were so fruity-looking, but I convinced him otherwise. He has since changed his mind. He uses them all the time.

We love them because the box came with four different bowls that nest into each other for easy storage. The big plus is that they each have lids, which are so handy for transporting the bowls to potlucks and what not. They’re still at Costco for some ridiculously low price (I want to say $19.99). Trust us, they’re a steal.

Fuji Sushi – Another option for AYCE

For the longest time, if we wanted to have all you can eat Japanese food, we had one option and one option only. Sakura at Frontenac Mall. This is no longer the case, thanks to the (relatively) new Fuji Sushi, which has opened up in Cora’s old location in Clocktower Plaza. For under $14, you can fill yourself up with fish and other good things for lunch.

I’ll be honest – my first impression of Fuji was not good. We arrive on a Sunday before 12:00 and waited around for their 12 noon opening. By 12:03, the lights were still off and we were wondering whether to pack up and leave. At 12:05, a car pulls in, and the entire wait staff spills out to “welcome” us in. And by welcome, I meant they silently unlocked the door, went inside, and ignored the fact that we were sitting right by the entrance. Minus 10 points.

We were still in shock from the strange series of events that just occured, but we entered nonetheless and were seated at a booth. Most of the food was not ready yet, our waiter informed us, because they just opened. Okay…Needless to say, we were not impressed.

All that aside, the food is decent and the selection on the menu is not bad for the price. We ordered items from all over the menu – hand rolls, teriyaki, maki, special rolls, tempura – and they came to us fairly quickly once the kitchen was fired up. Definitely better quality than Sakura (we probably will never go there again…) Below are a few shots we took on our first visit. One item that we really did enjoy (that we didn’t snap a picture of) was the mixed vegetables dish. Really good, clean, teppanyaki-ed vegetables. Plus I love zucchini :)

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Green tea ice cream with deep fried banana (I am a sucker for deep fried banana)
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We forgot to take a picture before devouring these…Spicy salmon (average) and salmon hand roll (good fish:rice ratio)
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Tempura with slightly strange batter
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Special rolls. The one with mango in it was not bad, but otherwise this cannot compare to Jina.
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Again some decent sushi.

So, for those of you craving AYCE in Kingston, please drive the extra few kilometres to Fuji instead of settling with Sakura. It’s at 841 Norwest Road, right by the mall. I promise you will get better food.

And for the record, Jina will forever be our first pick for sushi in Kingston.

Fuji Sushi on Urbanspoon

Summer weather and a patio

Whenever possible, we like to eat local. Especially in the west end, we stay away from chain restaurants. Today, however, we made the decision to break from that guideline.

It is hot today. Like high teens hot. A perfect day for patio dining. There aren’t many options in the west end for post church lunch options, and we flirted with the idea of eating at Windmills, but in the end we decided on Jack Astor’s. We have resisted eating there since it opened, because of the effect chains have on local eateries, but no one can argue it has the best patio in the city. Situated adjacent to Market Square, it afforded us a beautiful view of City Hall and the Sunday antiques market.

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We had fairly low hopes for the food, but my Smoky Jack’s burger was actually quite good. Better than Kelvin’s deluxe bacon cheeseburger. And the cranberry fizz lemonade I had (the actual name on the menu escapes me) was not bad either, though a bit too sour.

All in all, it was a good time with a spectacular view. I can’t say we will be here often but we will probably make the trek down (or up) again before the end of the summer.

Chez Piggy

As much as it is nice to eat in for brunch like we shared about a little while ago, Kingston is a city that has no shortage of delicious places to eat out. Though we are trying to find more spots on the west end of town to dine at, there are tried and true establishments that remain in the downtown core.

This past Sunday, we went with our friends Gary and Joyce (their suggestion!) to Chez Piggy. Tucked away in a courtyard off Princess Street, this two-storey restaurant is absolutely quaint. We were seated upstairs in the loft, and throughout the meal, I dreamed about what it would be like to have a home that had as much character as this place. Kelvin and I had been to Chez Piggy together once for their Table d’hôte, and I had been once for a work lunch, but never had we been for brunch.

And let me tell you – Chez Piggy did not disappoint.

Gary and Kelvin both ordered the eggs benedict (sorry we didn’t take any pictures, and I couldn’t find the right ones online). I normally don’t like eggs benedict, but I would’ve eaten all of this. The eggs were just firm enough, and the sour dough didn’t get soggy at all.

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Joyce and I both got the undone omelette (I got this photo off the internet…I forgot to take one). Because we are both not a fan of runny egg yolk, we asked for them to harden up the sunny side eggs, which they did a wonderful job of. The manchego was the perfect cheese for this, the arugula was a nice touch.

The icing on the cake? The homefries. I kid you not, those homefries were delicious. With crispy onions scattered amongst them, this was the perfect complement to our eggs.

We finished our meal fully satisfied, evidenced by our clear plates and beaming faces. The portions were just right, and reflective of the price. This is a definitely a place I feel confident recommending.

Brunch

Usually Sundays are our unwind day. We’ll go to church in the morning and then we have small group or a Bible study at night. Those 6-7 hours in between are some of the most relaxing and, often, productive times that we have to do stuff around the house. Lately, and by lately I mean the past couple of months, we’ve been finding ourselves eating out for brunch quite a bit after church.

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Now that Gary and Joyce are regularly attending our church we’ve had some additions to the brunch table and we decided that we should try to eat in every so often.

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This past week we had our weekly brunch at Pat’s place. There was this crazy smorgasbord of waffles, breakfast casserole, bacon, fruit, and of course a cheese platter! Since joining our new small group at church I’ve realized how awesome cheese+fruit platters are and so at every “home” brunch I’ll try to put a simple platter out. I also tried making sangria for the first time. It did not turn out great. In hindsight I should have put more fruit juice (maybe try a lemonade next time) and less wine. Oh well!

Eating in Ottawa

A few weekends ago, a friend and I drove to Ottawa for a nice day trip. We headed straight to IKEA for some interior inspiration – for her new apartment, and for our too-small office space. It was wonderful, and I have my eye set on some vika alex desks and grundtal rails. We were starving and ate a quick meal of meatballs at their restaurant before blazing through the store.

Really wanted these sheets, but Kelvin was not so enthused by them

Now, as much as i love IKEA swedish meatballs, I must admit that they don’t leave you full for very long. We consulted my trusty urbanspoon app (thank you iPhone!) and settled on Oz Kafe for our dinner plans. We had some time to stroll along Elgin Street (though it was more like puddle jumping…in the rain), have a quick drink at the Lieutenant’s Pump, then hop over to the restaurant for their dinner service that started at 6 pm.

Now let it be known that for the most part, Kelvin and my dining experiences in Ottawa have been hit and miss. Some of the restaurants we’ve tried have been pretty brutal, including this one place in the market. That being said, we have found a few gems (ZaZaZa Pizza in the Glebe and Murray Street Grill and Side Door in Byward Market). Oz Kafe is a place that I will definitely be bringing Kelvin to next time we are in town.

On Sundays, they have only their snacking menu, which is a selection of food from their regular menu, plus a few specials that they add in. My friend and I ordered four dishes to share, and it was an explosion of delicious flavour with some Korean influence. We loved their Oz Poutine, which was a really interesting twist on the regular poutine, using scalloped potatoes and old cheddar (we got it with the duck). We also ordered the Taipei corn (grilled, spiced, with crushed peanuts…delicious) and the Beef Tataki (seared beef with two different dressings, which was still nice, but the least impressionable of the four dishes). The heartiest of all was their “Seoul Food”, which I venture to guess is a staple in their menu. The Korean version of a Mexican taco, this dish utilized (butter?) lettuce leaves as a shell to wrap up juicy sirloin strips, pickled veggies and kimchi. Spicy paste optional.

What makes this place amazing is their value (all this for under $30 including tax and tip) and their ability to serve such delicious food without making you feel like you’ll have a heart attack. It’s clean, refreshing, and definitely a place I will visit again.

Oz Kafé on Urbanspoon

Weekend Activities in Kingston

This weekend is ramping up to be one of the busiest weekends of the year. Our city is playing host to a multitude of events, so we shall see how many we can make it out to!

Kingston WritersFest September 26-30

This festival has grown and grown over the last few years. Michael Ondaatje and Teju Cole are in town for the kickoff event tonight. In honour of the event, I think I will return to a book I picked up a while ago by local authors Wayne Grady and Merilyn Simonds (I started it, but stopped because I was reading too many things at once). Be prepared for a weekend of literary excitement!

Art After Dark September 27, 7-10 PM

Kingston has an abundance of artisans and artists, and this evening open gallery event is possible only because of their contributions. Tomorrow night, 12 different gallery/boutique spaces will be open late for the public’s enjoyment.

Kingston Culture Days September 28-30

Culture Days is something very dear to my heart, as this is my second year participating in it. Culture Days is a national movement of free, participatory arts and culture activities, and Kingston has officially recognized it since last year. Shameless plug, this year I am organizing an activity in the west end called Happy Posting in Kingston, a growing art installation centralized on the question “What Makes You Happy?”  that passersby will be adding to as they come. For more info, check out the activity description!

Chilifest September 29, 12-3 PM

I am saddened that I will miss this event due to being at my Culture Days activity. However, if you can make it, do not miss out! This is essentially three hours of eating chili and deciding who makes it best.

Of course, Market Square will also be bustling with activity all weekend, with the weekly farmers’ market on Saturday and the antique market on Sunday, so if you want a break from organized activity and just want to browse, pay a visit to the market.

So pretty much, something that we love about Kingston is how there is always something going on. At the same time, it is a city where you also feel  perfectly content just kicking your feet up and relaxing. It shall be a busy weekend, but it will be great. What are you planning on doing this weekend?

Fare on the Square

Today was Kingston’s annual Fare on the Square which was a celebration of local food and farmers. A bunch of restaurants had sample tastings for $2. Apparently, according to the City of Kingston, our farmer’s market is the oldest-continuous running market in North America. Who knew.

Cat and I have been meaning to go this event for the past two years but have never made it out for reasons that I now forget. It was raining and crummy today, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind. And I finally got a chance to test the panorama feature out on iOS6! That poor kid on the left hand side of the shot got chopped off!