Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Frozen Yogurt Fix @ Qoola on Denman

I rang in the end of summer this weekend with a Fro Yo in English Bay. Literally, I watched summer end as I sat on the beach with my fro yo and watched helplessly as the sunny sky turned overcast and darken, and then the clouds opened up and it started to pour...
The silver lining: I was eating delicious frozen yogurt while all this was happening.
I had a small, original flavour with kiwi and pineapple. I loved the original flavour: smooth and creamy texture and a slightly tart, refreshing flavour. I also found that it melted slower than gelato which is nice for a sloth eater like myself. They also offer green tea and chocolate flavours and have a "swirl" option. Qoola has two seperate topping areas- one with a variety of fresh-looking fruit, and the other with an assortment of nut, cereal and candy toppings. The girl at the counter was super helpful in explaining the Qoola fro yo ordering process and was eager to give me a sample and help me with my fro yo experience.

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1416787/restaurant/Robson-Street-West-End/Qoola-Frozen-Yogurt-Fruit-Denman-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Qoola Frozen Yogurt + Fruit (Denman) on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1416787/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Friday Night with Wine, Cheese, and Friends

Last Friday, two of my best friends hosted a wine tasting big group of friends to thank us for contributing our efforts to their recent photo exhibit/fundraiser Liberia '77 Now and Then featuring photos by John, Jeff, and Andrew Topham.

They are amazing hosts and took us through a whopping 17 bottles of wine- teaching us about notes, barreling techniques, grape blends, and the differences between "old world" and "new world" wines. I learned a lot....but I did not spit out any wine and by the end of the night I think I was just repeating the phrase "jammy notes" over and over. Fortunately, I took photos of all the wine labels so I would remember my new favourites.

We also feasted on a wicked spread with various cheeses (my favorite was an apricot stilton), crackers, flatbreads, olives, a caprese salad, and a nice bowl of grainy dijon mustard (they said it was just for me because I'm a mustard fanatic, but I shared).
I'm lucky to have such amazing friends who love good food and wine.

Please check out the Liberia '77 website for more information on the photo exhibit, the photo repatriation project, and their documentary film (it's going to be amazing!!!)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kicking it up a Notch: The Aerolatte

The Aerolatte is one of my favourite things that cluttets up my desk. Some other favourites: hot sauce, jabba the hut, and my colour-changing LED Jesus statue.
This kitchen gadget rocks! My foodie pal Gillian http://www.gillianyoung.com/ introduced me to this simple, yet revolutionary beverage tool. The aerolatte is a steam-free milk frother that can transform your low-end, average cup of coffee or tea into something that looks and tastes high end. Easy to use, easy to clean, and it even comes with its own travel case.
Step 1: Heat your milk up
Step 2: Insert the frother and press the button (froth until you reach your personal preference for foam)

Step 3: Dump in and scoop onto your favourite coffee, espresso, or tea
Step 4: Enjoy!
I got mine at Gourmet Warehouse for 14.99, but I've seen them at various kitchen supply stores.

Dessert for Dinner @ Three Lions Cafe

Every now and then, we all need to get crazy. Walk on the wild side. Break the rules. Stick it to the man......
And that is what I did last night. I had dessert for dinner.
I know, it's bizarre but someone else was calling the shots last night and I was just rolling with the punches.
Went to Three Lions Cafe on Broadway (fantastic English Breakfasts,great beer list, fantastic atmosphere for watching soccer matches) and ordered the Bread and Butter Pudding and the Guinness Chocolate Cake.
The Guinness Chocolate cake ($7)came with a thick dollop of savoury cream cheese icing (or possibly just sweetened cream cheese) and a thick, not too sweet berry coulis. It was extremely dense and rich, but not overwhelming or overpowering. The cheese, chocolate, berry flavours all worked really well together and balanced each other out. The presentation was a bit frou frou and....phallic for my liking- but once we knocked the firm chocolate pillar onto its side, it wasn't a problem( I started eating it before I realized I should take photos!)
The Bread and Butter Pudding ($7) is fantastic. Thick slices of Brioche bread, with melted chocolate and raisins, in a thick, creamy, buttery cream anglais sauce.....this is heaven in a bowl. Every level of this dish worked for me. The crispier bits of bread on top that we ate first and the soggier, sauce saturated bread were two different type of delicious-ness. Trust me, you want to crawl into this bowl and hang out for a while. This dish could possibly lead to world peace. Is it really this good or is it the sugar talking? You should probably try it and decide for yourself....

Three Lions Cafe
1 East Broadway, Vancouver BC

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1427286/restaurant/Mount-Pleasant-Main-Street/Three-Lions-Cafe-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Three Lions Cafe on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1427286/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oktoberfest at the Vancouver Alpen Club

Last Saturday night, the biggest party in Vancouver was at The Vancouver Alpen Club for Das Oktoberfest!

Ladies in Dirndl, Guys in Lederhosen and lots of singing along to German drinking songs....

Ein Prosit ein Prosit gemüdlichkeit,
Ein Prosit ein Prosit gemütlichkeit
... einz, zwei, drei, suffa!

I went with the Solterbeck Sisters and Company for a night of German drinking, dancing, and eating. Although the focus of the evening was mainly on beer and dancing to the live music provided by the fantastic band, S-Bahn....we all had tasty Deutschland dinners.

I had an $8 combo offering Weisswurst- a traditional German white sausage served with a special Bavarian sweet mustard (Weisswurstsenf), sauerkraut, and a soft fresh baked pretzel. They also offered dill pickle slices and a dijon-style mustard with a bit of a heat. I liked but didn't love the Weisswurst...it was a bit soft and soggy to me and the sweet mustard was too sweet for me. I LOVED the sauerkraut (great texture) and the soft pretzel was perfect- light and chewy, but not too chewy, with just the right level of saltiness.
Bianca got the $8 Bratwurst combo with the same sides and she loved it- her sausage had a delicious slightly crisp exterior and juicy, yet not too fatty centre. Damn, I knew I should've stuck with the sausage I knew. Once you go Brat, you never go back....(terrible, I know). Melanie had a combo with Schnitzel on a bun, served with coleslaw and a vinegar based potato salad. She wasn't crazy about the sides (her mom makes better potato salad...) but she was thrilled with the schnitzel on a bun. She said the meat was juicy and that the batter was nice and tasty, not too heavy.
The Alpen Club is hosting two more Oktoberfest parties on Saturday October 9 and Saturday October 16.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tasty Two Dollar Tacos @ Dona Cata

"Mexican Talk"
I've got to give my pal Heather props for introducing me to Dona Cata. It is bright, warm, inviting and feels authentic. I've been quite a few times and haven't really explored the menu too much other than their taco selections, every flavour of salsa at their salsa station, jarritos sodas, and horchata. I had planned a lunch with Kirsty and baby Lola, and when we called to work out the details- my mind started wandering to 2 dollar tacos and bright pastel pink walls with "Mexican Talk". I suggested DC and Kirsty was game to try it out.
You get a complimentary basket of tortilla chips and then can start hitting the vast range of salsas that are arranged from least spicy to most spicy.
We both ordered tacos. My favorites are:
BARBACOA DE BORREGO: slow-braised lamb loin in a secret house blend of chiles and spices
CARNITAS: succulent pieces of slow roasted pulled pork and herbs
AL PASTOR: marinated pork loin, slow-roasted with spices, chiles and pineapple.
I've tried all of the tacos here and I find their chicken and steak tacos a little dry for my liking.
I typically order 2 tacos- and make them into 4 because they use two small soft corn tortillas per taco (I'm frugal I guess) and then bulk them up by ordering a side of lettuce and half an avocado. Then I head to the salsa station for more bulk and add onions and jalepenos.
It turns out these tacos are a good "eating with baby" food because you can hold a baby in one hand and manage a small taco in the other without making too much of a mess.

Doña Cata mexican restaurant & taqueria5076 Victoria Drive
Vancouver BC V5P 3T8


<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/180520/restaurant/Kensington/Dona-Cata-Mexican-Food-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Doña Cata Mexican Food on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/180520/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Head East: Bo Laksa King Bubbles and Bits

I’ve been reading a lot of buzz online about Bo Laksa King and his set up in a Joyce-area convenience store, where he’s been pumping out Southeast Aasian dishes that some people have been calling the best in Vancouver. It’s been at the top of my “to eat” list for a while, but unfortunately, I rarely get to that area of town. Their Joyce location has become so popular, that Bo Laksa King has opened a new restaurant with more seating that is more restaurant and less convenience store counter. I owed Eunice (Asian super director) a birthday dinner, and I know she’s always up for any meal that involves noodles and squid- so I picked her up from work and we headed to East Hastings (not a typical culinary destination for either of us).
We ordered a small order of roti canai, spicy squid, laksa, and lahpet thoke. Food came quickly, and it’s a good thing it did because Eunice was starving and I think she mentioned something about “eating her own arm.” Eunice always does the ordering, but since I picked the venue and had done some research, she let me take charge and make menu selections.
The spicy squid came first- Blanched with onion, garlic, and cilantro, tossed in house made spicy lime vinaigrette (5.75). It was nice and light, with a nice kick of spice without it being too overpowering- and it was cooked perfectly…not rubbery or too chewy like I’ve found with many other places.
Next up, Roti Canai (3.99) Authentic South-East Asian pastry pancake served with curry chicken dipping sauce. This is some goooood Roti. Light and fluffy, it is perfection.
I’ve had Laksa only twice before, so I’m not an expert. But Bo has definitely earned the moniker, “Bo Laksa King”. We ordered it with the yellow noodles instead of vermicelli. The coconut curry broth is house made, flavourful, creamy and rich (but not too heavy.)This soup is jam-packed with chicken, tiger prawns, a hard boiled egg, fish balls, tofu puffs and bean sprouts (5.75). You can taste the love in this soup.
I had geeked out and read some reviews before our visit and many recommended the lahpet thoke (7.50), which is a fermented tea leaf salad. This is essentially a Burmese cole slaw with pickled tea leaf, tomato, cabbage, garlic chip, roasted peanuts, sesame seeds, broad beans, all mixed together with fresh lime juice seasoning. It’s got a really mellow, smooth flavour. I would’ve loved it with a bit more spicy chilli kick….which I will do next time. After chatting with Tiffany (she and her husband Bo own and operate the place) she explained that you can order most of their dishes with different levels of spice.
And on that note, I will come back to BLK, not only for the tasty food, but to support this awesome couple. Bo not only worked his magic in the kitchen, but he also came out to the front of house, asked us about our opinion on all of the dishes and answered some of our questions about Burmese food. His wife Tiffany, served us and was absolutely lovely. Service was prompt and much like Bo, she was full of information and chatted with us all about the dishes we had order and made recommendations for future meals. Food was a fantastic value, portions were plentiful and we left absolutely stuffed. I’m drooling just thinking about my next visit….
2546 E Hastings St, Vancouver

Friday, September 17, 2010

Guest Blog: La Brasserie

Last Saturday I headed to the West End to check out the sights, sounds, music and shopping on Davie for the annual Davie Day Street Festival ( http://www.davieday.com/) with my good pals, Ashley and The Leggy Redhead. After a couple of hours, Ashley and I headed home while TLR made plans to meet up for a late lunch (4pm???who lunches that late) with the one and only Big A at La Brasserie. Here's her review:

Overall:  great, would definitely go back.  Very decently priced for great quality.

Dishes we had: bagette platter (comes to each table), steak tartar, duck confit, lobster thermador w/ extra side of mixed veggies
  • Bagette platter --- yummy!  They serve it fresh baked and comes with real, super creamy euro butter!  + some chicken pate kind of thing.  Very tasty
  • Steak Tartar -- good, but a bit bland for our liking.  Would be great if they would serve it the real euro way (with spices(salt, pepper, paprika) on the side so you can additionally spice to taste).  Cornichons were a great accompaniment
  • Duck confit --- loved it!  large portion and super moist.
  • Lobster - great presentation and easy to eat as the meat was removed, mixed with cream sauce, chanterelles and then put back into the shell with cheese on top!  Could have used a titch more salt.
  • all dishes came with a small bit of dressed greens.  Dressing was so truly euro...reminded me of my Oma's dressing!  Was perfect accompaniment
*And of course, paired it with some yummy Erdinger! (delicious German beer)
  • We saw quite a few people order the Brasserie Burger --- looked awesome!  Will definitely try the burger & kase spatzle next time!
La Brasserie
1091 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/777668/restaurant/Robson-Street-West-End/La-Brasserie-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="La Brasserie on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/777668/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taco Shack: Second Chances

It's been over a year since I visited Taco Shack. We film down at Kits Beach for the show and we would get our crew lunches from Taco Shack fairly often. But the last 2 visits were both epic fails.  I was able to get my chicken burrito bowl both times without issue but when DOP tried to order fish tacos-  the staff weren’t able to accommodate the order because they were out of fish. Then on our next try a few weeks later, they were out of tortillas. Out of tortillas at “Taco Shack” at lunch? Come on! At that point, I kind of wrote off Taco Shack.
But last week, after a shoot at Kits Beach, sure enough the boys and I were starving, someone mentioned fish tacos and off we went to give Taco Shack an opportunity for redemption.
DOP, B Cam, and myself all successfully ordered (they were fully stocked with both fish and tortillas) and polished off 3 fish tacos (7.99) and Sound ordered 2 chicken and a steak. I ordered my tacos with one tortilla (they offered to double up like they do at other traditional places like Dona Canta), no cheese and spicy salsa. Service was prompt and friendly. There was a decent amount of fish buried under tonnes of cabbage, onions, roast corn and cilantro with a healthy dollop of guac. Super fresh, super sloppy and filling. The Crew Boys were all happy campers and enjoyed their tacos.
DOP and Sound both grabbed specialty craft root beers (henry Weinhard's and Old Town Route 66) from the drink cooler and raved about them.
Props to Taco Shack for having Valentina- one of my favourite hot sauces.
Taco Shack
1937 Cornwall Ave
Vancouver, BC V6J 1C8

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/181767/restaurant/Kitsilano/Taco-Shack-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Taco Shack on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/181767/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Monday, September 13, 2010

A side dish takes the spotlight: Jobin's Salt and Vinegar Potatoes

The humble potato. Not my favorite vegetable. Not even my favorite root vegetable (what up yams and squash!!!)

Don't get me wrong- I've been known to enjoy a side of fries, potato salad at a picnic, mashed potatoes at thanksgiving and seasoned oven roasted potatoes with a roast beef dinner. But I've never really been blown away by potatoes on their own before....until recently. If you like salt and vinegar chips, you will love this dish that I enjoyed at a recent "Sibling Steak Dinner" hosted by my friend Jobin.
Select a starchy potato (so no russets)- like golden nuggets.

Cut them a little thicker than chips. Boil them with the top covered in white vinegar for 10 minutes. If you want them extra vinegary, you can let them stand in the vinegar for an additional 10-20 minutes.
Remove from vinegar, toss in olive oil and sea salt, place in oven at 350 degrees and roast for another 15-20 minutes. Remove and serve.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Kitsilano Farmers Market

I love community events and fresh food…so I try to hit up the local weekend farmer’s markets whenever I can. It’s always a feast for the senses with amazing smells and sounds, loads of friendly (and wacky) people and the absolute best part: tonnes of samples.

I went to the Kitsilano Farmer’s Market (Larch @ 10th Ave: 10am- 2pm) last weekend with only an hour to spare to meet up with leggy redhead and big A.

My favourite product (and vendor) that day had to be Golda’s Finest foods www.gopesto.com

Their company founder, Richard, was on hand dishing out samples and pushing pesto like it’s going out of style. My favourites were the Olive and Cilantro Pestos. Along with samples, Richard had suggestions for using the pestos on pizza, in casseroles, as salad dressing, on appetizers, with meats and seafood, and on sandwiches.

I didn’t get a chance to buy much today because I was rushing off to a baby shower but since the leggy redhead and Big A were making a dinner from their farmer’s market bounty and made time to wait in line to get a crepe for lunch….I asked them for their thoughts on their top market purchases- and they delivered.

Estevan Tuna Co.- based out of Courtenay, these B.C. commercial fishermen catch and market B.C. Albacore Tuna. They sell various tuna products including 3 varieties of canned tuna, cold smoked and FAS loined tuna.They loved Estevan’s Tuna Tataki - $13/lb- comes seared and frozen- just let it thaw, slice it up and marinate- awesome with lemon ponzu sauce. http://www.bctuna.com/

Creperie La Boheme-Sweet and savoury buckwheat (and gluten free) Crepes @ approx 8 bucks each, served on site out of a catering truck. I’ve seen this truck at farmer’s markets before and there is always a long line. This particular Sunday was no exception. They waited about 10-15 min to order, then it took 5 min to prep for the crepe masters to put their crepe orders together from scratch. They loved the immaculate technique and attention to detail that went into prepping each crepe. These crepe experts also use only the freshest, quality fillings and fresh béchamel toppings. They both got savoury crepes and thought they were delicious but they love spice and they felt the flavours were a bit mellow and could’ve used a bit more of a pop on their palette. Big A wanted to give a shout out to amazing packaging on the crepes- even with all the gooey filling, the crepe masters wrapped these puppies up so there was absolutely no dripping or slopping!

Get yourself to a farmers market this weekend!

Calabash Bistro

Loved:décor, music (once we adapted to the volume), drinks (the Bashy Sour!), my meal (Ackee and Saltfish- sooooo tasty and so fresh!), and they’ve got a wicked house hot sauce.

Didn’t love: service speed and bill organization, portion size (a bit small compared to other popular vancouver caribbean restaurants)

My advice: Check this place out but…..don’t go in famished, or "on the way...", and make sure you order right away. We gabbed over drinks, then pondered our appetizer options for a quite a while before placing our orders. Order the jerk fries and plaintains to start- we gobbled these up. My main was a winner (Ackee and Saltfish) and the other favourite at the table was the curry chicken in a roti. Many others at the table were pretty underwhelmed and were expecting larger portions. My main beef with the experience was how painfully slow it was to get the bill organized and everybody settled up. Our waiter was extremely nice but not terribly efficient.

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1526779/restaurant/Gastown/Calabash-Bistro-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Calabash Bistro on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1526779/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Kicking it up a notch- Frozen Oreo from Butter Bakery

The Butter Bakery Homemade Oreo in its original form it’s already pretty spectacular. Vancouver Magazine put this colossal cookie on their “101 Things to taste before you die” list and describes it as “Two four-inch chocolate cookies mortared with vanilla buttercream.”

How can it get any better than that? Put it in the freezer and transform into a quasi ice-cream sandwich! A-frickin’-mazing!

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/451931/restaurant/Dunbar/Butter-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Butter on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/451931/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>