Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making it even easier to eat local......

I went to Kits Farmer’s Market this weekend. I always skip away feeling happy and with a bag full of goodies. It feels really good to buy fresh produce from local farmers and know exactly where your food is coming from.

But it’s not the most convenient shopping and most weekends I don't make it down to the 2 or so locations that are open from 9am-2pm on Saturday and Sunday. Unfortunately, it’s not often that I get a chance to make it down to the farmer’s market and I usually end up hitting the local produce store or supermarket for fruits and veggies. Even with all the buzz on the “100 mile diet” trend and the “Eat Local” movement - I usually don’t think about it… UNLESS I’ve been to the farmer’s market recently and then I start to long for easy access to fresh and crazy flavourful local products. “O- this is what a cucumber is really supposed to taste like!”

I was making my usual Superstore run (it’s the closest grocery store to my office) and I noticed that they are starting to sell local produce with a new program called “Grown Close to Home.” I grabbed some Sweet Peppers that were from Windset Farms in Delta to throw on the grill. http://www.windsetfarms.com/

I headed over to one of my favourite fellow foodies “The Leggy Redhead” tonight for a BBQ and I brought over the peppers and some other goodies from SS. We are both condiment junkies- so we were excited to try out some new PC offerings….We used a new “PC Sweet Heat Mustard” as dressing for a cucumber, heirloom tomato and onion salad. It made for a really light and tasty side- no other dressing needed other than some fresh ground pepper. Then we grilled up the Windset Farms peppers right on the grill and roasted up some mushrooms and onions with some “PC Balsamic Glaze.” A good night of eats all around and it’s nice to know that there is easy access to local produce at the nearest grocery store if I can’t make it to the farmer’s market.

Grillin' up a "local" feast!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sichuan Peppercorns @Little Szechuan/Golden Spring

It’s no secret to anyone that eats with me on a regular basis. I like my food spicy.

It’s gotten to the point, where a good meal tastes only average unless it’s got an element of spicy heat. I’ve started carrying hot sauce with me in my purse when I go out to dinner parties and asking servers everywhere to bring me a side with every meal (or extra if it already comes with hot sauce).

My colleague (and one of my favourite dining partners) director (who orders for me better than I can order for myself in any asian restaurant) and I started emailing suggestions for places to go for dinner last week. The first suggestion involved the words “Richmond” and “spicy fish hot pot” and I was SOLD!

We had spicy fish hot pot with cucumber salad and lotus root and a couple of Yanjing Beers. The waitress asked how spicy we wanted it with a look of concern. I started to wimp out and ask for medium but director asked for “spicy-spicy.”

This dish certainly delivered- and nearly “out-spiced” me in the first couple of bites. It was chock full of red chilis and deadly little Sichuan peppercorns. The chilis brought the good spice- but the peppercorns made the heat really intense. I was definitely sweating for the first few bites. But the cold Yanjing helped to keep things under control and after my mouth got a bit numb and accustomed to the little peppercorns, I was able to plough through and really enjoy it.

Our sides were awesome- both really basic, fresh, light with savoury lightly spiced sauces. I will definitely try to replicate the cucumber salad at home. By the way- the Yanjing is a must when eating food this spicy!

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/762772/restaurant/Vancouver/Richmond-Central/Golden-Spring-Szechuan-Restaurant-Richmond%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Golden Spring Szechuan Restaurant on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/762772/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Richmond Night Market

Richmond Night Market

Where can you buy hologram wolf wall art or a furry buffalo hat, watch an eating contest, listen to overplayed top 40 dance hits at high volume, see a live reptile exhibit, and watch the red sun go down over the industrial wonder of the Fraser River? Richmond Night Market Y’all!

If you’ve never been- GO! My first time visiting the RNM was last year after an all-you-can eat Chinese Hot Pot dinner. This was a rookie mistake. Never go with a full stomach because even if you love cheap electronics, plastic fans, imitation crocs, purses, fans, tea pots, leggings, and various aasian beauty products ….. this market is all about THE FOOD!

After killing about an hour looking at the random assortment of merchandise and booths and building up some serious hunger, we veered into the edible area of the market in the south west section.

I knew what I wanted to try right away, and sure enough the stars aligned and within steps of entering the market I ran smack dab into a lively vendor yelling out the seductive siren song…. “Octopus balls!” I had tried my first octopus ball or (tak…) a few weeks ago while visiting the Chinatown night market. They were good, but I sensed they were essentially just from the frozen section at T and T- heated up and doused with Japanese mayo and bonito flakes….I wanted to try them again and had a feeling in Richmond, they would be superior. And I was right. $3 for 4 balls and they were a whole ‘nother type of ball- not hard and rubbery, but soft and crumbly with bits of real tentacles and scallops. The flavour was rich and buttery and melt in your mouth.

Heather’s first foray into the RNM food was a $1 fish cake. The only fishy thing about these waffles is their shape. Essentially, they are just a light and fluffy waffles with various fillings- H went for custard and was not disappointed. Light and airy, with a custard that was not too sweet or thick. All in all- a perfect little sweet (but not-too-sweet) start to the evening.

I had read about Sumo rice burgers and had heard from some friends who had visited the market and raved that this was their favourite stand. Essentially, there are 3 different versions of the rice burgers- 3 types are of meat with a lettuce leaf between two formed rice patties creating a bun. I tried the teriyaki beef burger. The beef was cooked to a perfect juicy medium and the sauce was rich and flavourful. It was a creative and delicious experience. Would’ve loved to try a brown rice version (they don’t have it…yet) and all of the varieties they do offer. I love spicy- and I would’ve loved to add some spicy chilli sauce to kick up the rice bun which although fun, was kinda flavourless.

I was on still on a savoury kick and working on my rice burger but Heather and Jen couldn’t resist and opportunity to try wheel cakes. Essentially, the same deal as the fish cake- a batter cake with either nutella, peanut butter, or custard filling. 1 buck each, both got nutella and loved their wheel cakes. It seems like light fluffy cake/waffle batter and nutella…guaranteed delicious-ness.

Next up- Jen pork bun from Top Wok dim sum stand- 2.50. These are pretty standard fare, but I’ve had my share of dry, partially frozen tasting pork buns before so I’m always a little hesitant. This pork bun was really nice. Hot, but not too hot, and good meat to bun ratio- this bun was a winner.

At the night market, the longest line and biggest crowd was at the Xi Jian Man BBQ- and for good reason. The “skewer master” tending the grill was a real show man yelling and working the flames. We went for a combo to share- 3 skewers for 6 bucks. Spicy lamb (cumin), beef, and garlic prawns. All three were delicious, tender, and rich in flavour. My favourite was the spicy lamb.

I was tempted by the $5 BBQ squid stand but my frugal instincts pushed me towards the $3 version at the Halal stand. It was good, but not great. Pretty chewy, with tonnes of tentacles. Next time, I’ll spend drop the extra twoonie.

Back to sweets and the Summer Breeze shaved ice stand. For $4 each Heather and I both got special combos with ice cream and 3 toppings. I got the variety with Banana, Red Bean, Tapioca Bubbles and Green Tea Ice Cream. It was pretty good- but I wanted something with more flavour. The best part of the dessert was the green tea ice cream. This made me wish I had followed Jen’s lead and picked up a cone of the green tea soft serve.

All in all- an amazing night of eating and there is so much more to try. Next time- I’m definitely getting a giant cob of corn, the $5 BBQ squid, spicy fish balls, pumpkin curry balls, the green tea soft serve and dragon beard candy.

For more info on the Richmond Night Market visit their website athttp://www.summernightmarket.com/main/default.asp
<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181507/restaurant/Vancouver/Richmond-Night-Market-Richmond%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Richmond Night Market on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/181507/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>