Sunday, December 26, 2010

Luxurious Lunching....Glowbal

This was my first experience at Glowbal. One of my favourite dining companions and fellow foodie, Jobin and I arranged to meet at his office and go somewhere close. We decided to venture into Yaletown (since I rarely get there during the lunching hour) and thought we would take a peek at Glowbal's lunch menu. After taking a peek at their inviting, heated patio, great looking food, and fairly reasonable lunch prices (pricier than a typical lunch but not overwhelming), we decided this would be our lunch destination.

 The meal got off to a bit of a weird start. In terms of service, they were a bit slow in seating us and getting us started with our glasses of water...which seemed a bit odd because we were after the lunch rush at almost 2pm and it wasn't very busy. Also, I was a bit thrown by their GIANT MENUS. I've attached a photo to show scale. It was a crowded table with just the small platter of bread, butter, and two water glasses with those two GIANT MENUS. It's actually kind of funny- although initially a bit weird trying to conversate and hold up GIANT MENUS.

Any blossoming feelings of negativity were quickly squashed once they brought out the menus and the complimentary bread and butter. This bread and butter was a stand-out element of my Glowbal experience. The bread was a slightly warm, soft and chewy basic white-baguette-style. Pretty average on its own but when dipped in the warmed butter sprinkled with pink hawaiian lava salt- it became a taste experience!
Our server arrived shortly after. He was warm, friendly, quick to answer questions, and it seemed like he ran things during lunchtime at Glowbal. I asked him a few questions about the satays, and asked for his recommendation since I was torn between ordering the roasted chicken club sandwich and the cobb salad. He recommended the cobb salad and told us he would send out a couple of satays to try. Jobin mentioned that he has some seafood allergies, and the server instantly for the rest of the meal was very conscious of anything potential seafood issues that would mess with his dining experience. Our served actually checked in politely with a few questions later on to ensure that nothing in Jobin's main dish would make him swell up and die. Very nice guy!

The complimentary satays came out fairly quick. We tried the Kobe Meatball with tomatoe fondue, and the short rib with truffle aoili. The satays came with thai slaw, ginger white soya, and hot chinese mustard. The Kobe Meatball in tomato sauce was awesome- rich and flavourful! That sample makes me want to come back for their Spagetti and Kobe Meatballs. Yum. The short rib was good but not mind-blowing and we both dug the hot chinese mustard.

Shortly after we polished off the satays, our mains arrived. Jobin's lunch looked a bit like a classy medieval feast...he didn't finish his massive plate of rich food...he had leftovers for dinner and was still probably so full that he wanted an George Costanza-style nap under the desk when he had to go back to work. He ordered the Lamb Shank with Mushroom Risotto (16$). He loved his dish commenting that the lamb was well-cooked with subtle flavour and that the risotto was the best risotto he had ever had. Thick, creamy, cheesy, and loaded with a variety of quality mushrooms.

My cobb salad ($14) was presented beautifully. And all of the elements (grilled chicken, bacon, free-range boiled egg, roqufort cheese)were definitely quality and fresh. In particular, the bacon was crisp and lighter than usual, which I really enjoyed. Overall, my salad was tasty, but nothing mind-blowing.

We agreed that our mains were tasty- but the fantastic service, attention to detail, and extras like the delicious bread and butter/complimentary satays, are what makes Glowbal worthy of an enthusiastic recommendations and a re-visit.

Glowbal Grill and Satay Bar
1079 Mainland St
Vancouver, BC

Glowbal Grill Steaks and Satay on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 17, 2010

Travel Eats: Cabo San Lucas, Mexico November, 2010

I recently took a week vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I was tagging along on a friend’s family vacation so I wasn’t picking any of our dining venues and instead had a “go with the flow” attitude. All I knew is that I wanted to eat a lot of tacos while I was there. We ate a lot of tourist restaurants, and at the condo/timeshare/resort we stayed at….so we didn’t eat a lot of really authentic Mexican food, but we did eat a lot of yummy food.
*CHEAP VODKA- Osso Negro, bottled and brewed in Mexico and CHEAP (I think we paid approx 5 bucks for a 1L at the Mexican big box superstore
*CHEAP BEER- Tecate, Sol, Corona….
 *YUMMY GUAC everywhere!

*First dinner in Cabo had an Mexican combo at Solomon’s, a restaurant on the marina boardwalk ….it was a good start to a week of mexi-eating. It featured a chilli relleno, one chicken enchilada, and skirt steak served with rice pilaf, black beans, and guacamole. It was a colourful, flavourful, and filling plate. This was my first time having a chilli relleno (pepper stuffed with cheese and grilled) and I didn’t really like the cheese. Come to think of it, all the dishes that our group ordered on this trip that had cheese, had way too much cheese. In fact, after a couple of overly-cheesy meals at the beginning of the trip, I only ordered meals that didn’t have cheese. This place also had the hottest hot sauce I experience on the entire trip!
*Lime Margaritas…..I’ll never get scurvy because I love me a citrus-y beverage. The best one I had was at “The Office.” This restaurant is on busy Medano beach, and you are literally under a colony of blue beach umbrellas with your toes in the stand as you dine.
*I ate a lot of tacos on this trip….I’m not sure on what the final count was, but I know I hit between 12-15, and I could have had more. The best tacos of the trip were definitely at the Cerritos Beach and Surf Club on Cerritos Beach which is a 45 minute drive up the Baja Peninsula from Cabo, on the most beautiful, peaceful beach I saw on the trip. Service wasn’t the best, but cold beer has never tasted so good and you really can’t beat the view. They actually screwed up my order and brought me fried fish tacos, even though I ordered grilled- but it was so tasty, I didn’t really care. This place also had the best fresh-cut, chunky salsa I experienced in Cabo!
*Homemade Dinner in the Eagle’s lair (what we named our condo at Playa Grande). We hit the local Mexican superstore and a produce market in Todos Santos and made a feast. Chips and homemade guac (it turned out well even though I screwed up and bought parsley instead of cilantro), roast spiced yams, grilled steak, stirfried chicken, salad (featuring heart of palm), and a mountain of veggies skewers. A home cooked dinner was a nice switch up after eating out all of the time. Also, Mexican grocery stores have the most amazing lime mayo, hot sauce selection, and chili lime sauce that I brought home and put on everything!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Newest Nuba

I’m no Nuba rookie- with one meal at their Seymour café location- I felt confident in recommending a visit to the new-ish Nuba location on east 3rd  for a dinner date. I knew I was going to enjoy something fresh, healthy, tasty and that there would be plenty of vegetarian/vegan options for my dining companion.  It was raining pretty heavily when we parked and sprinted into the restaurant. It was a warm, cozy, yet funky space that felt like a mod 70’s rec room lounge (décor included a white cinderblock wall, lots of tropical plants, and surprisingly comfy plastic furniture.
Ordering didn’t take long. We were both hankering for falafel and I wanted to get one of the items I tried on my first visit. The item in question is Najib’s Special (6.75 as a Mezze appetizer) , a fried cauliflower dish that earned a mention in Vancouver Magazine’s list 101 Things to taste before you Die.
This crispy cauliflower is tossed with lemon and sea salt and served with tahini. It doesn’t look like much, but looks can be deceiving…..these are brown lumps of crispy fried vegetable goodness. The texture is crisp and light, with a crunch, and the tart lemon and tangy sea salt complement the mellow flavour of the cauliflower. Cauliflower used to be one of my least favourite vegetables- now I see that this veggie has potential. As a mezze appy, it is served with pickles and pita.
We also shared a falafel plate (10.25) served with taboulleh, hummus, tahini, salad, hot sauce, pita. We had a choice of roasted potatoes or brown rice- we went with potatoes. The falafel balls were pretty outstanding. Made with organic chickpeas, fava beans, veggies and spices- these were fried to crispy perfection on the outside and nice and soft on the inside. You can tell they put some love into these balls….wait that sounds wrong….you know what I mean….you can tell they use quality, fresh, organic ingredients and taste the difference. The Hummus is made from organic chickpeas blended with garlic, lemon & tahini. The garlic was not overwhelming, and it was a little lemony, delicious and light. Served with pita bread, our server also brought us some hot sauce, which was surprisingly green and tasted amazing. The hot sauce is made in house and the recipe is carefully guarded. I loved it and could’ve had 3 more small sides with our meal. The taboulleh is a salad with chopped parsley, tomatoes, and burghul with chopped green onions and a lemon-mint dressing. We both found it very refreshing, light, and flavourful, we could unquestionably taste every individual ingredient in the salad. Also, we were worried about all of the little green bits getting in our teeth- but we managed our way through this side dish without any dental awkwardness.
The water served at Nuba tastes extra refreshing- that’s because it its cucumber water. The pitchers all have cucumber slices in them so the cool vegetable infuses the water. It was a unique touch and I think I drank a day’s worth of water (8 glasses) in one sitting.
Our server was great, the meal was affordable and fresh, with some stand-out features (cucumber water and homemade hot sauce) and the atmosphere was hipster-kitch without being pretentious. We loved it and will be back!
Cafe Nuba
146 E 3rd Ave
Vancouver, BC V5T 1C8
(604) 568-6727
Nuba (East 3rd Ave) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Want to wow with appies and desserts this holiday season? Don't be afraid to cheat at little....

Ah yes, Dec 1st- time to bust out my advent calendar, my Bing Crosby Christmas CD, my tacky tinsel mini tree and start my countdown to Christmas. I also love December because it is usually a party month, filled with lots of drinking and amazing food. Over the holidays, I usually attend a lot of parties where I’m asked to bring an appy or a dessert. I always TRY to pre-plan and bring something original and tasty, but since December is usually so busy- I end up rushing and slightly stressed- which means I end up bringing a veggie platter, crackers and cheese or cookies. Don’t get me wrong, these are usually crowd pleasers and standards at every party but I always wish I could kick it up a notch and really “wow” people with whatever I bring.
This year, I found an easy cheat for a “classier” appetizer with a healthy twist with a new product at one of my favourite grocery stores. PC has come out with convenient packs of “Vodka Beet Smoked Salmon ($6)” and “Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna($7).” I’ve sampled these and was wowed by the smoky, light, delicate flavours of these fish products. As a cheap, easy, healthy appy- I think I’ll pair these with either endive leaves or cucumber slives and light cream cheese, non fat plain yogurt, grainy dijon mustard and sliced green onion.
For desserts, I love to bake- cakes, cookies and squares usually go over pretty well, but I find myself longing to “class it up” and really wow people. Also, timing can I think this year it may be my year to cheat with cheesecake…PC has a tonne of dessert options out that would be sure to please a crowd at any holiday party. I’m a sucker for anything with a chocolate/mint flavour combo, so I’m a big fan of PC’s new Candy Cane Cheesecake ($7). The base is chocolate cake, the centre filling was cheesecake with a hint of peppermint, and the topping was chocolate ganache sprinkled with candy cane. Awesome flavour and awesome texture.
PC also has a new Red Velvet Cheesecake ($7) with yummy cream cheese icing and Dulce de Leche Individual size cheesecakes ($4 for 2). Another idea is to buy a plain NY cheesecake and make your own custom flavour by topping it with various fruit, nuts, chocolate, cookie crumble, or a fieldberry or lemon curd.
Show your friends and family how much you care. Take the easy route and cheat a little with easy dessert and appetizer solutions this holiday season;)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Jackie's Birthday @ Cedar Grove Restaurant in Lynn Valley

It was my youngest sister’s birthday, so obviously she got to pick the venue. She originally suggested a few places in her neighbourhood- but then threw a massive change-up and picked a new restaurant in Lynn Valley near our parent’s place. I don’t think of Lynn Valley as a culinary destination- there are only a handful of options and the selection is pretty limited. I was curious to try out this new kid on the block (part of the library mall area), but had pretty low expectations.
This restaurant opened in May 2010 and I think they are suffering a bit of an identity crisis. The décor and giant screen TV’s give the place a chain-restaurant/pub feel, and there are a few obligatory pub menu items…..but the food deserves a bit better. The menu is packed with delicious sounding dishes with a heavy European influence (venison ragu, red wine and thyme braised short ribs, steak frites, and pan- seared duck breast)- with pub/chain standard dishes that sound like they’ve got a special touch and quality ingredients (woodland mushroom pizza, lamb burger with gorgonzola, roasted beet salad.)

The birthday girl ordered the Larson Vegetarian Burger, a Hemp-hazelnut crusted carrot & cashew burger garnished with a tangy beetroot relish & crumbled goat cheese  ($10.95) with a side of roasted pumpkin soup. She was loving her meal and let me have a bite. This was made in-house and had an awesome crisp on the outside of the patty. The goat cheese and beet root relish were an awesome compliment and the flavours all blended together quite nicely. The pumpkin soup was really thick and creamy, with a subtle flavour.

Her girlfriend Ashley, went for The Karma Bowl with marinated tofu, simmered in a tomato curry sauce, over fragrant basmati rice, garnished w/ Raita & chutney, grilled naan bread ($15.95). Another satisfied customer! She loved this dish because it was fairly mild and she isn’t a big spice fan. I had a bite and found it tasty but pretty bland. If I’m having an Indian dish, I want big flavour and spice.

My mom had The Squealer, pulled pork simmered in our signature BBQ Sauce, then topped with crunchy coleslaw server in a kaiser($10.95) with a side of her favourite…Yam Fries. She was happy with her meal and liked that the coleslaw was on the bun and not too goopy. I had a little bite and it was tasty with a nice tangy sauce.

I must admit, I had a hard time dragging my fork away from my main to sample everyone else’s dishes because it was definitely the star of the table in my opinion. I had the Cashew Carrot Veggie Loaf with tamari-mushroom gravy, roasted fingerling potatoes and fresh seasonal vegetables  ($15.95). This plate was a dynamite blend of flavours and textures. The exterior of the loaf was crispy and slightly crunchy, and the inside was smooth and creamy with a rich flavour in every bite. The loaf was served with tender roast green beans, crimini mushrooms, and perfectly crisp and lightly-salted potatoes. A light, yet rich-tasting miso-mushroom gravy topped everything and brought all the flavours together. This tasted like the perfect “fall” meal and I loved every bite.

Our server was a lovely woman with an extremely thick French accent. She was attentive with re-fills, quick to answer any questions we had, and brought Jackie a complimentary birthday dessert- a vanilla berry mousse cake. I hope this place decides to step out of the safety of the pub/chain feel and establish itself as something the neighbourhood doesn’t have: a non-pretentious fine dining eatery with a low key classy atmosphere. Even if it doesn’t, I’ll still come back for that Cashew Carrot Loaf. YUM!

Cedar Grove Restaurant
(778) 340-3282             
North Vancouver
1255 Lynn Valley Road
North Vancouver District, BC

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beefy Beef Noodle

I met up with Eunice (the asian super director) for lunch last week and she wanted to hit up a restaurant with a name that makes me smile every time I drive by it (which is pretty often): Beefy Beef Noodle. Nestled in a mini-strip mall on the corner of King Edward and Main, the interior of this Taiwanese bubble tea/noodle joint is nice and clean, a fairly decent size, with surprisingly slick, modern décor.
We like to keep things pretty spicy and are big believers in “shares-ies” so we ordered a few items to split. The food came pretty quick and we were grateful because we were both pretty famished. In typical Eunice fashion, she ended up adding an additional dish to our order as the food started to arrive…not sure if she was extra hungry or if she saw someone else eating the salty peppery chicken and soup (another signature dish) and HAD to try it.
In the appetizer department, we ordered Deep-Fried Squid Tentacles (4.50). This was awesome.It was super crispy and a little chewy (which is kind of what you get with tentacles), but not rubbery. The crispy exterior had almost a granulated texture. Eunice was really pleased with the chewy texture, noting that with squid body- you want it to be really tender, but with tentacles- chewy is better.
From the dim sum portion of the menu, I had heard lots of good things about the Beef Pancake Roll (mainly that it rivals the BPR at Wang’s Noodle House in Marpole- which I love). Well, with that kind of positive buzz, we had to order the Five Spice Beef Pork wrapped in Chinese Pancake (5.50) and I’m sooo glad I did (except for the fact I’ve been craving it ever since!)The pancake itself has a nice crisp on the exterior and is slightly doughy on the inside. The beef inside is well-cooked and not overdone with a healthy blast of hoisin. This was great on its own, but for me, a healthy few dollops of garlic chilli sauce knocked this dish out of the park.
I went for their signature dish - Spicy Beef Noodle. This dish was beef brisket noodle in spicy soup (6.95). The broth was moderately spicy with a mellow, yet rich and savoury flavour. The beef was really tender and soft- although not crazy flavourful. This was a noodle-heavy bowl and they were all perfectly al-dente, nicely chewy, and loosely dispersed around the bowl. All-in-all, a pretty solid bowl of noodles.
Lastly, we dug into the Crispy Salty Peppery Chicken and Noodle in soup (6.95). Looking like an Asian version of popcorn chicken, it was served piping hot, extremely crispy and full of flavour. The chicken comes on a side plate with a bowl of chicken noodle soup. You can either eat the chicken on the side, or add it to the soup. Eunice went crazy for this broth- but I found it the flavour a bit weak. Overall, I preferred the spicy beef soup.
This place was fantastic. Cheap and cheerful, really clean, speedy service, with some real stand-out dishes!!!
(604) 568-6821  
Riley Park/Little Mountain
4063 Main Street
Vancouver, BC

Beefy Beef Noodle on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Goodbye Lunch: Panini Day!

It was the end of an era, my last day at the office where I’ve worked for the past 5 years. During my time with the company, I liked to try and bring everybody together for lunches. Panini day always seemed to create a buzz, bring everyone together, and everybody usually left with a smile and a full belly. So, I decided that for my last day, I would do one last Panini day with my sous-chef Aaron and finish my office legacy with a bang.
Panini day is pretty simple- usually it involves a big shop at Costco or Superstore for the basic ingredients.
We buy Panini foccacia buns, squirrely bread, two cheese options, roast turkey, salamis, pickles, olives, flavoured mustards and mayo, hot peppers, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, hot sauces, fresh veggies, and marinated chopped mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, and eggplant in balsamic vinaigrette with oregano.
Once we set up all the gear, a side salad and a bowl of munchie mix (always a people pleaser) then we fired up three grills and let our 20+ hungry office mates dive in.
A Panini is a work of personal preference and you can take it many different ways. For me, I like to go thin with meat (love a sliced turkey or spicy salami) and cheese and heavy on condiments (dijon mustard, siracha sauce, and hot pepper rings. From my experience, the key to a good Panini is a marinated vegetable with olive oil component (sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, eggplant/zucchini in balsamic vinagrette) which A. keeps things crispy and B. seals the Panini together.
I wouldn’t take Panini building too seriously though, in fact, I’ve never heard anyone complain about a Panini (except for someone who cut the roof of their mouth on toasty bread.) Experiment  with deliciousness and explore some flavour combos!
Grilled sandwiches make for happy workers- and happy workers are productive workers. Be a Panini Pioneer and bring Panini Day to your office asap!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kitsilano Veggie Night at The Naam

It was a very “Kitsilano” night. After a power flow yoga class at Semperviva, my dinner date and I walked west along 4th, debating where we would go for a bite to eat after all that backbending and downward dog-ing. We were looking for a place with lots of vegetarian options (dinner/yoga companion is a veg) and within minutes, we left the chilly fall night, and tucked into the warm and cozy exterior of The Naam. The Naam is a long-time standard in Kitsilano and is quite well known for its vegetarian and vegan fare, long hours, live music and always being busy. This veggie Vancouver legend is actually open 24/7 7 days a week!
I’ve been to The Naam before, and I remember it being tasty, but not mind-blowing. We started with a pot of Jamaican spice tea (4.50), since I was chilly from the blustery walk from yoga to the restaurant. I loved this tea- a warm, spicy, cuddle in a tea pot…it’s got hibiscus, cinnamon, cloves, rosehip, and orange peel.
My dinner date ordered the Crying Tiger Stirfry (10.95)- veggies, potatoes, and tofu, sauteed in a thai coconut curry sauce, served on a bed of rice. He was happy to order something that he would have to eat with chopsticks, since it would slow down his eating to match my epic slow eating. I’m getting a reputation. He seemed to enjoy it. I had a bite, and thought it was tasty and liked how packed it was with veggies. The sauce was nice. Overall, I felt like it was a pretty basic dish- tasty, but not too interesting.
The same was true for my meal- The El Topo Dragon Bowl (9.95).  “A fiery dragon bowl made of organic rice, chipotle chili, steamed veggies, salsa and cheese, topped with carrots, sprouts, and beets.”
The veggies were fresh and I enjoyed the mushy texture of the chili, rice, with the crisper texture of the carrots, sprouts, and especially the beets. I found the flavor a bit bland for me. Again, another basic dish that I felt I could make at home (with more flavour). It was filling and I ended up taking the leftovers home. The next day, I had the remains with grilled mushrooms and zuchinni and blended, canned chipotle peppers and a dollop of plain yogurt- and it was awesome….maybe even better than the night before.
Our server was great- laid back, attentive, and had plenty of recommendations for what to order next time….in particular the Shakti chocolate cake and Dutch Apple-Cranberry pie for dessert.
All in all, The Naam has a cool, laid-back atmosphere with chill-out live music and hearty, comfort food dished out in hearty portions. I was pretty underwhelmed by the flavours, but would go back to try the desserts, the brunch, and perhaps a dish with their miso gravy.
The Naam Restaurant
2724 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, BC

Beefy Beef Noodle on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 1, 2010


If you’re a produce/market-loving nerd like me, this is the perfect fall afternoon. Visitors to Apple Fest can see over two hundred types of apples, watch cider making and tree grafting demonstrations, peruse the marketplace which offers candied apples, apple pie, apple cider and more, try your skills at the apple peeling contest, visit the Jonny Appleseed Orchard (for kids) and buy or taste 60 varieties of apples grown in British Columbia.
I went with Heather and Tacia on the Saturday afternoon for the Oct 16-17 weekend festival. The gorgeous weather made this an extremely busy event, but even though there were a few line-ups and sold out market products, it didn’t put a damper on our apple fest experience.
First up, we hit the marketplace area. I was having vivid memories of the out-of-this-world apple cider at the previous applefest and jumped into that line right away. It was just as awesome and fresh-tasting as I remembered. It was 1.50 or $2, and the equivalent of a warm, sweet, cinnamon hug in a glass. This cider was made from 100% Worrenburg Apple juice (straight out of Keremeos, BC).
Heather and Tacia both lined up for apple pie- and this was probably the biggest line up of the day- but, from experience, some things are worth waiting for. $4 a slice and served up by and efficient team of pie slicer and platers. They loved it and were generous enough to give me a couple of bites. The pastry was really light and flaky but look at this pie…it’s all about the sky-high apple filling. This pie is bursting at the seams with around 7 or 8 layers of delicately spiced apple slices with a light caramel taste. Crazy delicious! These pies were provided by Blackberry Hill, here’s a link to their dessert shop info
Then we wandered around taking in some of the displays and educational stations (Apple cider tutorial anyone?), and then hit the second marketplace area where apple trees, apple chips, fudge, more baked goods, and bags and bags of different varieties of apples were available for purchase.
I was overwhelmed at all of the apple selections…and needed some guidance. I didn’t want to just buy any old Spartan or McIntosh, I needed to try something new. So, I consulted a fantastic applefest volunteer and told her my two favourite kinds of apple (Fuji and Red Delicious). She deduced that my “apple-type” was crisp, sweet, and desert and recommended Yoko and Nicola dessert apples. I bought a bag of each and was really happy with both (she was my apple guru) but the Yoko's were particulary outstanding!