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AsianPorkSalad_2379

It’s tangy, crunchy and quite delicious.

I always knew that my blogging would someday parlay into something more but did I ever hope it would be two-fold? Never in a million years! First it was food styling (which I’m still doing) and as luck would have it, I recently reconnected with a colleague and a new opportunity was born: I’ve been social media content! How cool is that? I’ve been very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I thank my lucky stars every minute! And I thought I was just lucky in love! So if you need food related social media content, I’m your gal! Email me at evataylor at bell dot net  and we’ll ‘talk’!

I know you’re scrolling ahead to see these photos so let me take the suspense out: they were taken on the morning of April 15, 2014 — I kid you NOT! I was hoping to be yearning for light, salad-ie dishes by now but sadly the weather is STILL not cooperating. Yes, we did have a couple of exceptionally warmish days last weekend but for the most part it’s still soup and stew weather. And like my rebellious feet I am holding out and silently switching gears to a more summery palate!

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I took this photo in High Park on my morning walk. Yes indeed it’s pretty…if it were December! Not April 15 for sure.

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It was cold enough that the snow stayed all day.

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It really is rather beautiful.

As I’m sure most of you operate with similar intentions, I cruise blogs particularly when inspiration evades me and this recipe was no different; it was inspired by the lovely Sawsan’s beautiful Sushi Salad. I must confess that I didn’t record or photograph the first attempt of this creation which was a huge mistake (or was it?) so we actually had this tasty dish two nights in a row! And if it were up to me, it would have been three or four!
The volumes are ball-park, use what you like, omit what you don’t! Easy. If you have celery add it, if you don’t, no worries. The beauty of this dish is the crunch and variety of each and every bite.

Sawsan used ‘cauliflower’ rice but the cauliflower was not nice the day I wanted to make this dish so I substituted Napa cabbage. Since we were having this as a dinner course, I added a marinated BBQ’d pork tenderloin as our protein but chicken or fish would be an excellent substitution.

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The avocado adds a certain je ne said quo is, but may be omitted if you’re watching calories.

Asian Inspired Crunchy Spring Salad

Serves 2 as a dinner portion. Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients for the pork and marinade:

  • 200 g pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce

Directions for the pork and marinade:

  1. Remove all fat and silver skin from the tenderloin. Stab it a few times with a fork, all the way around.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the marinade and roll the prepared tenderloin in it to cover. Let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes or overnight.

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Directions for the dressing:

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside. (may be prepared the day before)

Ingredients for the salad:

(as suggestions, if you dislike something omit it and if you love something, by all means add more!)

  • 5-6 cups of finely sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup cucumber, cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 red pepper, cubed
  • 1/2 medium sized red beet (raw, peeled and julienned)
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • a good bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions for the salad:

  1. BBQ the tenderloin until the internal temperature reads 71° C or 160°F at its thickest part. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  2. Lay a generous bed of the finely sliced Napa cabbage on each plate.
  3. Sprinkle the cubed cucumber, avocado and red pepper along the outer edge of the base. Add the julienned beets to the centre so it just peeks outside the ring (the beets discolour the Napa so I didn’t want it to bleed all over it).
  4. Garnish with the green onions and cilantro.
  5. After the pork rests for 10 minutes, slice into thin slices. Lay 100 g sliced pork onto each plate and garnish with the dressing and the toasted sesame seeds.
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The abundance of colour was no mistake…perfect for a dreary, wet spring day.

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Happy Monday everyone! I don’t know about you, but despite all of the weather related issues we had at the beginning of the holidays, they turned out to be lovely. And with temperatures plummeting to the high minus teens, it’s rather wonderful to have power back! I believe that now power has been restored to everyone in Toronto, thank goodness!

2013 was a year of change in a good way. I celebrated a benchmark birthday (I still can’t believe I’m THAT old!). My almost ten years of working with my dear friend came to an end and I decided to embark on a new career path in food! Little did I know that way back in 2007 when I began blogging it would eventually redirect my career path! I’m really pumped about 2014 and all of the opportunities it will bring! Happy New Year indeed!

As you WordPress users are already aware, WP sends us a synopsis of the stats at the end of every year. Even though i see my stats day to day, this synopsis still surprises me! My humble little blog was viewed 51,000 times in 2013, can you believe it! And for whatever reason December 24th garnered a healthy 728 views (I still can’t figure out why!). Here’s a quick review.

The five most popular posts were:

  1. Titanic Peaches in Chartreuse Jelly
  2. Quinoa Energy Bars
  3. Best Beef Tenderloin Ever
  4. Super Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes
  5. Titanic Dinner Party Invitations

The lovely ladies and gentlemen who were my top five commenters:

  1. Maria at A_Boleyn
  2. Sissi at With a Glass
  3. Norma at Garden to Wok
  4. Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella
  5. Charles at Five Euro Food

 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and kind words, without you this blog would be a meaningless collection of recipes floating about in cyberspace. Thank you for you support and encouragement, I can’t express how much it means to me.

May 2014 bring you all joy, health and all the best wishes!

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Thank you Barb, your anniversary post inspired JT and I to make our way to Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) this past Christmas for a quick holiday. We stayed at Harbour House a relatively new boutique hotel just off the beaten path in NOTL.  We stayed at this place shortly after it first opened 8-10 years ago and it was lovely, this time was no different. JT booked us into a gorgeous room with a fireplace and we were upgraded to a suite — now that’s sweet!

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The living room with fireplace

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Very spacious

A festive touch in our room

A festive touch in our room

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The bedroom

A large jacuzzi tub, separate shower, double sink, what more could you want? Heated floors.

A large jacuzzi tub, separate shower, double sink, what more could you want? Heated floors.

We arrived on Boxing day (December 26) with no weather issues at all, which was a little surprising since they had predicted a bad storm to come through and dump 30cm (12 inches) of snow in the area. We waited and waited and eventually it did snow, but not nearly as much as predicted. NOTL is a picturesque village with nice restaurants, quaint shops and lovely homes, some of which have been converted to B&Bs. It is also very close to Ontario’s Wine Country.

We ate lunch at the Oban Inn, which is always a treat with lovely views of their manicured gardens. We shared the Dungeness Crab Cakes with Micro Greens, Horseradish Espresso Remoulade, Grilled Pineapple Salsa ($16). For my main I enjoyed Icewine Salmon Gravlax, Carrot Slaw, Citrus Creme Fraiche ($12) it was delicious. JT had the quiche with field greens. I would recommend this restaurant highly. Service was also excellent.

Dinner our first night was at Zee’s a restaurant in The Shaw Club a sister hotel. We shared the Cheese and Charcuterie platter with 5 items for $25. On it was TIGER BLUE rich, aromatic with an intense blue flavour, in the style of stilton, ROARING 40’S BLUE cow’s milk, full flavoured blue with a honeyed, slightly nutty quality, rindless, smooth and creamy and a cheddar which they had to substitute. The Charuterie portion was made up of HOT SOPRESATTA from the Calabria Region, red wine, chili spices and salt, texture of prosciutto, robust and spicy and CHORIZO blend of pork, pork fat, smoked dried paprika, distinct smoke flavour, cured and smoked and neither of these impressed us either, not spicy or smokey tasting. JT had the Nova Scotia Lobster Poutine which included house cut fries, a generous serving of butter poached lobster, white cheddar cheese curds, red wine veal jus and a home made hollandaise sauce. JT’s meal was excellent, although it would not have been something I would order. I had the Warm Mushroom & Smoked Bacon Salad with Whipped Goat Cheese, Sautéed Mushrooms & Smoked Bacon, Parsnip Chips & Apple Cider Vinaigrette ($10) and sadly it was neither warm nor did it have many mushrooms, so even at the low price of $10 it was disappointing.

Our hotel included a wonderful breakfast both days, made of a hot egg dish, pastries, cheeses, meats, scones, preserves, yogurt and fruit. There was also cereal, but who eats cereal on their vacation? Let’s just say we didn’t leave hungry! Our first full day we decided to brave the weather and head down to Niagara Falls, NY to do a little shopping at Walden Galleria which turned out to be nothing special. Lunch was at Bravo Italian Cucina which I suspect is a chain. We both had the soup and salad combo; I had the Italian Wedding soup but was lacking in flavour and JT had the Lobster Bisque which had good lobster flavour but was too creamy for my taste. Our waiter was very talkative and we enjoyed the interaction. Would I go back? Doubt it, nothing special. We returned to NOTL by way of the Rainbow bridge and although we both now have Nexus, I prefer to go the human route when we buy things outside of the allowances. With both cases you must declare what you bring in, but at least the human factor gives us the possibility of not having to pay the taxes and duty on the items (free trade my foot). And this time the lady clearing us in chastised me for not buying enough! Go figure.

That night we ate at the Cannery another sister hotel/restaurant. This is a slightly larger hotel catering to more family style stays. Most of the restaurants in NOTL are casual, so for the most part people don’t really dress up but JT and I always do! I started with Sea Scallops which were Seared Sea Scallops, Petite Village Salad, Seedlings, Smoked Paprika Oil  ($18) it was delicious (I didn’t take photos because it was too dark), JT had the caesar salad. My main course was an appetizer portion of Spicy Udon Noodles which were Tapioca Noodles, Spicy Yuzu Sesame Sauce, Pork Dumplings, Shiitake Mushrooms Prawns, Matchstick Vegetables ($15) again, delicious and a perfect portion for me! JT had the appetizer portion of the Tagliatelle Pasta which was Semolina Broad Noodles, Pulled Braised Lamb, Wild Mushrooms, Truffle Paste, Asiago Shards ($15); we both enjoyed our meals. Having said that, the overall impression is kind of Cracker Barrel style decor, bright lighting and not much cozy ambiance.

Our final lunch was at an old favourite at On the Twenty in Jordan, Ontario a short drive from NOTL and an exceptional restaurant which is connected to Cave Spring Cellars an award winning winery. We ate a lovely table overlooking their perennial gardens which were romantically blanketed with snow. I started with Heirloom Beet Salad of smoked goat cheese, Dave Irish’s breakfast radish, pickled red onion, pistachio brittle, honey mandarin vinaigrette ($12) and JT had the butternut squash soup ($10) and both were exceptional. I then had the Vintner’s Platter in-house smoked salmon, pâté en croute, house-made mustard, pickles, charcuterie, artisanal cheese ($19) which could have easily been shared and JT had the Grilled Venison Burger with Juniper berry-infused tomato relish, feta cheese aioli, baby arugula, fresh-cut fries, house-made ketchup ($17) which was OUTSTANDING. We each had an espresso for dessert. Service is always exceptional and the ambiance is lovely. If you ever come up to this area, you must dine at On the Twenty.

View from our room.

View from our room.

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It’s these friendly touches that make this hotel

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A delicious cookie for each of us.

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It’s all in the details

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Each evening between 4-5:30 wine and cheese were served in the lobby. We gathered to meet the other lovely guests, most of whom were Americans, as far away as Philly.

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Our first lunch was at Oban Inn, these are most delicious crab cakes.

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This was my second course at the Oban, a wonderful Gravlox Salmon, home cured. Most delicious combination of flavours and textures.

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Our last lunch at Inn on the 20, a beet and goats cheese salad with pistachio brittle. Very tasty.

We made our way back home to find our driveway and walkways had been cleared of the massive dump of snow we got while we were away. We really do have the loveliest neighbours.

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The snow in our backyard

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The front yard, still snowing

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We flew off to NYC this fine morning. Toronto is hot and humid, Manhattan is slightly cooler but with higher humidity. As long as it’s not cold, I’ll be ok, I think I packed enough ;)! Okay, don’t ask!
I’d like to apologize if I’m not commenting on your lovely blogs, I will surely catch up on my return. Please forgive me 🙂
We flew United and had to pay $28 per checked bag! Really? Since when? We don’t pay with Canadian airlines. I’m already rethinking my wardrobe for Europe, although we are flying Air Canada! I’m sure they will catch on by the fall. For Manhattan I brought 6 pairs of shoes, 7 if you count the foldy/rolly ones!
We arrived at the airport with plenty of time, and thank goodness as we were ‘flagged’ by Nexus. We had to go to a special room and drop off our credentials and wait. JT has a common name and we were tagged! Lucky us. 😦 This has happened before and we discovered that there are a lot of criminals who have the same name as JT. Our kind US agent marked our info on their system so we are never tagged again, at least that is what he told us. We’ll see if the let us back in!
Our plane was a small Boeing turbo prop, at gate 91 out of 99; of course it was! I wore appropriate traveling shoes so the walk was a breeze (7 minutes, the sign said!)

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The first part of the flight was rough and we were tossed around like a plastic bag in the wind. Then it calmed fortunately. I’m reading 50 Shades of Grey on the iPad, for all the reasons. It’s an easy read; I’m on page 70, when do we get to the good parts? (and by that, the ladies will know what I mean!)
We pay $57 + 17 for tolls for a cab into Manhattan from Newark. Expensive, yes but it gets us to our hotel in about 40 minutes!
Our hotel is the Eventi, a Kimpton. Thank you Karen, Back Road Journal, for mentioning about joining loyalty programs. We were upgraded to a higher floor AND the concierge sent up fruit and bottle if wine for our anniversary!

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Free WIFI too! So great. View from our room, if you look far left you’ll see the Empire State Building (not in the photo):

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I’ll blog about lunch tomorrow.

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Saturday was our 26th wedding anniversary; what’s even scarier is the other number, the number of years together! I won’t even bother to say it, you wouldn’t believe me anyway! I’m really not that old, really. No really!!!!
This past weekend was also very special because it was Canada’s first ‘summer’ long weekend: the May ‘2-4’, also known as Queen Victoria’s birthday; it is a national holiday in Canada (I don’t think it even ranks in the UK!) it is the first weekend of cottage season for most and JT and I are fortunate to be in this crowd. The drive up north could be treacherous, the normal 3.5 hours could take in excess of 4 or 5 hours with the traffic, but we planned to leave early on Saturday so we beat it.
Our cottage is remote; it was remote in the late 1800’s when JT’s grandfather purchased the land (it took him three days to get there using three forms of transport: train, horse and buggy and finally a row boat), and it’s still remote; no fancy grocery stores, one has to plan everything — everything. There are three family cottages on the land (100+ acres); JT’s sister, known as Sid (because her iPhone always auto corrects ‘Sis’), used to occupy the old log cabin, they renovated about 20 years ago but they prefer something less rustic than the electric toilet (don’t ask) as they are now using the main cottage that used to be JT’s parents place (Dad is just too frail to come up). We use the boathouse, a small 400 square foot place, two bedrooms. It’s small enough to clean top to toe in an hour and it’s large enough to have our closest friends over. But the absolute best (the best Jerry, the Best) part is the porch—it’s right on the water, we overlook the Bay and it’s perfect.
Part of the menu planning is having little munches for cocktails, and I couldn’t help but want to make my friend Charles’ (Five Euro Food) and Jessica’s (kitchenbelleicious) Roasted Chick Peas and of course, my friend Barb’s (Profiteroles and Ponytails’ version), and there was also Betsy (Bits and Breadcrumbs who also did a take on them! Absolutely wonderful, although because we did not use the allotted oil, we had to roast a wee bit longer, but well worth it. I really liked the texture, JT was so so! I may have lied, I didn’t make them! JT made them whilst I was at the salon getting my roots hair done! We had them for cocktails on Sunday night. Very tasty indeed. Plus they are a protein and we reduced the oil a bit to limit the fat. Still calories but at least they are good calories! Because they are a protein, they will fill you up a lot faster than potato chips, which is fine by me! I changed up the flavouring since Sid doesn’t eat too hot foods (also added a touch of sugar to help calm the heat)

Crunchy and just slightly hot, perfect with that martini. May I get you one?

Roasted Garlic Cumin Chick Peas

Ingredients:

  • 1 large can of Chick Peas (~500g)
  • A quick spray of non stick spray
  • 2-3 tsps Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
  • A handful of garlic cloves, minced finely

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Add all the spices to the drained and dried chick peas. Mix well.
  3. Give the pan a good spray and lay the chick peas out to an even layer.
  4. As Charles so eloquently put it: roast for about an hour until the peas are shrunken and crispy, and a rich golden brown in colour. We found that because we did not add the oil, we had to roast for about 1.5 hours to get them crispy. And we even let them sit in the oven as the oven cooled down (tasting throughout, of course, the insides had to crisp up)
  5. Allow to cool and enjoy with your flavourite cocktail (our’s was the traditional Vodka Martini, stirred, not shaken!)
  6. Cheers!

I know you want to just dig in, but it’s so much more civilized with that wonderful wooden scoop!

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Spring is my favourite time of year. It’s a time of rebirth and renewal. It’s a time to shed the heavy coats and gloves and socks and boots and dawn lighter, airier garments. It’s a time to enjoy the greenery and the burst of colour the garden has to offer.

The beautiful crab apple tree in full bloom. She is just so happy we got rid of that towering shady elm!

We live in the city, and so our lot is not huge, but it’s a decent size for some interesting landscaping. Last fall, as many of you already know, we hard-scaped the back yard and removed all the grass. It never really grew well anyway. Our big huge Elm made sure of that. We also had a smaller elm removed from in front of the kitchen window. We knew the crab apple would be very happy because we did.

The Azalea in full bloom.

My friend Norma has beautiful Azaleas in her rural garden. She is even lucky enough to get deer from time to time! Our back yard faces east, so we really only get the morning sun. It’s still a little cool to sit outside, but I’m hoping that by next weekend we will be able to.

The hostas and ferns are shooting up like crazy beside my little ‘thinker’

I’m finding that the garden takes turns on allowing a different variety to flourish each year; the periwinkle is flowering so much this year, more than I can recall in the past. The violets are not doing as well. Perhaps next year it will be their time again. Or the Lily of the Valley.

A surprise in the back 40!

And so, I’ll leave you with a little surprise down by the back shed: our very own Trillium. The Trillium is Ontario’s official flower and it is illegal to pick them, or even uproot them; you can get fined if you are caught. They supposedly flower every seven years! We noticed this little gem about 5 years ago, when it flowered last (OK, so maybe Trilliums weren’t good at math). We don’t know how it got here, but we sure feel lucky that it is here! And flowering so beautifully. See you Miss Trillium, hopefully in another 5 years!

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Did you miss me? We were away and we did not have free wifi. I figured at $200 a night, they could have thrown it in…it was a matter of principal.

Of course, it has to snow on our driving day.

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Snow, snow, GO AWAY.

We like to get away from time to time, even if it’s just a couple of hours away. This weekend is our relatively new Family Day holiday in Ontario; it was an election promise by our current Premier Dalton McGuinty (one that he actually kept!) creating a statutory holiday to help bridge the gap from Christmas to Easter, and to beef up tourism in Ontario. We took a little trip to Niagara Falls Ontario.

Niagara is a wonderful combination of culture, food, natural wonder and of course, shopping, and it’s only an hour and a half from our home! We’ve stayed in several different places over the years but this time we’re staying at the Gateway Fallsview Marriott which is reasonably close to Casino Niagara where on Sunday night we will see Band from TV. Here is an adorable little clip of Teri Hatcher singing Kerry Underwood’s Before he Cheats. (Kerry is married to Canadian Mike Fisher, who comes from Peterborough, my nephew (Brian) and niece (Laura) went to school with his siblings…cool eh? 6 degrees of separation!)

Now you are well aware that I bumped into Flat Ruthie the other day at the Toronto Courthouse (not sure what she was doing down there, and perhaps I don’t want to know). Anyway, she finagled her way into coming with us this weekend…I think we’re in trouble…

Oh my, Ruthie, we're ONLY gone 2 nights!

We dropped our luggage at the hotel and then took the Whirlpool Bridge across which is ONLY for Nexus users — we breezed through (the Rainbow Bridge had at least an hour long lineup! Yay Nexus). We went to Walden Galleria to shop where I only got a few things…we declared everything and didn’t have to pay anything! We’re lucky that way. That’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to jinx it! In Canada anything less than 24 hours away and you’re really not supposed to buy anything and bring it back, or you should pay 13% taxes and then about 10-15% duties; but it’s really up to the crossing agent – they determine if you pay. After 48 hours I believe you are allowed $300 plus a litre of booze each. But it’s not worth staying in Niagara Falls New York, believe me, it’s such a dump.

We ate lunch at Gordon Biersch; it was a very nice, pub like establishment, but what really drew us to it was that they make everything from scratch right there. And they brew their own beer. A lot of the menu had beer ingredients, which is always quite cool. I ordered the Ahi tuna salad which was quite tasty (Ahi Tuna, blackened and seared rare, with Märzen Balsamic, Vinaigrette and Cajun remoulade) but as usual they really over dressed the greens…enough already! JT had half roast turkey and swiss sandwich and a beer and cheddar soup – the soup was so rich he couldn’t/wouldn’t finish it. For Buffalo, it exceeded my expectations (I was just hoping we wouldn’t have to dine at burger king).

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JT had the beer, I had a glass of wine. I usually find beer too filling.

This is the view from our room:

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This is a panoramic view from our room using Photosynth - a photo stitch ap on the iPhone

I told her I wouldn't be able to get a good shot, but she insisted.

We stayed at the Fallsview Gateway Marriott which is apparently a different hotel than the Fallsview Marriott. We thought we were in the other one. It wasn’t bad, it was just unexpected. We had a very nice view of the falls. There were no bedbugs. Thank goodness. It’s also a little ironic that we had free wifi in Morrocco, yet, in Niagara Falls Ontario, it’s about $12.75 plus taxes a day. I didn’t get it. Hence my absence this weekend.

King-size bed. There, I said it.

The bathroom had a glass wall facing the bed…I’ll leave that to your imagination.

The fancy tub (can you imagine the bacteria-fest in the pipes? YUCK!)

I’ll review the restaurants and the entertainment in the coming days.

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