Tuesday, October 26, 2010

EXTREME Health Food @ Organic Lives

I went to visit a producer friend who is working out of a new office in Mount Pleasant. When he mentioned going out for lunch, I mentally started going through options in the area- sushi, Indian, Noodle soup, greasy spoon diners...then he threw me for a loop and suggested a raw food/vegan restaurant around the corner. I was intrigued (and starving) so I immediately agreed, and off we headed to Organic Lives.
I must’ve walked and driven by this unassuming warehouse-looking, brick building 100 times and not known what exactly was going on inside. Organic Lives is a restaurant that is completely vegan AND completely raw. Nothing has been heated over 46 ° C. The interior is very minimalist- white, stainless steel, sterile, and a lot of empty space. It has a very clean and almost scientific atmosphere and I would never describe it as “warm” or “cozy.”
I expected a limited menu, but they surprised me. There is a wide variety of soups, wraps, pastas, curries, and even a pizza, a nacho, and sushi option. Of course, the culinary minds at Organic Lives have come up with their own raw vegan substitutes for all of the “meat” and “cheese” elements in these dishes. The “salmon” is really a mixture of sprouted seeds and nuts shaped into a fillet and dehydrated. The “cheeses” are nondairy spreads made of macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and more, ground into a paste. And the foie gras isn’t the controversial duck liver version but a vegan spread made of sprouted pecans and fresh veggies. Soups are served cold and bread products are dehydrated, not baked. Crackers and pizza shells are made of dehydrated vegetable purées, and the breads are made from sprouted almonds ground to the consistency of flour. Our server was very quiet and laid back- she gave even more detailed description of the dishes and offered up plenty of recommendations.
My dining companion ordered one of their raw, vegan sushi options- Sprouted Pecan roll with sprouts, veggies, mango, avocado ($7) and a small Caesar salad ($5)with A Herb-Infused Himalayan Pine Seed Dressing and Almond Croutons. The pecan roll looked like sushi, but didn’t taste like sushi. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it was still tasty. The crushed pecans had an awesome texture and depth of flavour that was well complimented by the thick, slightly sweet peanutty/sesame dipping sauce.
I’m not big on Caesar salads- but I had a bite of this and it was exceptional. The salty, spicy, almond-based croutons were really tasty.  And this salad, unlike most restaurant caesar salads had the perfect amount of dressing: not slathered or goopy, but each leaf was o-so lightly glazed.
I ordered a Sicilain Wrap Combo ($12): a fresh alfalfa and sunflower sprout wrap with either soup or side salad. I went for the soup option, Creamy Red Pepper “an exquisite soup rich in flavour with a subtle spice.” Our server let me know right away that this soup would be served at room temperature. Even though I was prepared for this, it still felt weird eating cold, thick soup on a cold, rainy day. This soup was really thick vegetable that tasted like there was absolutely no “filler” used, just straight up vegetables. It was super dense and very filling with a subtle spice. I could appreciate the quality and effort that went into it but I actually found the taste to be a bit harsh and sharp.
I love the actual Sicilian Wrap. Instead of a tortilla or flatbread, the use a pressed, dehydrated, sundried tomato wrap. It has the texture and appearance of fruit leather. It had an awesome, rich, salty flavour, and it really held the wrap’s innards together (the only downside is that it was a bit sticky and I could feel it getting stuck in my teeth). Speaking of innards, the fresh sprouts and crisp veg were delicious and lightly drizzled with a super- flavourful dressing that tasted like tomato and basil freshly picked out of a garden.
Presentation on both meals was beautiful and you can definitely tell that Organic Lives puts a tonne of effort into everything from sourcing local, quality ingredients, processing materials in house, and creating innovative/ inspired meals. All of this effort and attention to details means pricing is higher than a lot of other lunch options in the area (Thanks for treating Stan!), so I wouldn’t come here very often, and save it for times when my body is craving EXTREME health food (hangovers and/or coming down with a cold).
Organic Lives
1829 Quebec St
Vancouver, BC V5T
Neighbourhood: Mount Pleasant
778) 588-7777             

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pub Quiz Night @ Three Lions Cafe

In the past year or so, a few local pubs have started doing Pub Quiz Nights. In case you don’t know what a pub quiz night is…
“Pub quizzes (also known as live trivia, or table quizzes) are often weekly events and will have an advertised start time, most often in the evening.
While specific formats vary, most pub quizzes depend on answers being written in response to questions which may themselves be written or announced by a quizmaster.” Thanks Wikipedia.
I’ve been wanting to go to one of these pub nights for a long time now, so finally last Tuesday after work I went to The Three Lions for some beers, food, and pub quiz action. Action kicked off shortly after 7pm, the questions were extremely varied and actually pretty difficult(topics covered music, celebrity, movies, history, science, literature, sports, pop culture), and the MC was energetic and entertaining (he won me over when he threw in a saved by the bell trivia question to replace a much trickier geography question.)The coveted prizes included a light-up sword and “How to play harmonica” kit.
Our server was adorable, friendly and fantastic. She was great with food recommendations and attentive without smothering us. Her top picks on the menu were the Steak and Guinness pie or Lamb Curry.
I ordered a Cumberland Hoagie ($9) from their “lighter fare” section, described on the menu as a “Fresh grilled baguette with Cumberland sausage, English mustard, caramelized onion, and piccalilli.” It sounded very British without being too heavy, meaty, or buttery. I was actually surprised at the plate that came out. It looked like a fancy hot dog with a side of fries…and that’s pretty much what it was. The rich, flavourful sausage itself was awesome and cooked to juicy, almost crispy perfection. I was wowed by the sausage toppings which included pickled asparagus, zucchini, pepper, lemony cauliflower, and a light dijon mayo/mustard. The baguette was too thick and much bread and unfortunately took away from the delicate flavours of the veggie toppings. So I left most of the bun. The fries were pretty damn tasty especially with the tableside malt vinegar.
My pub quiz team-mate is vegan so there weren’t a tonne of options for him, so he went for the Beet Salad ($13)”Orange Scented beets with grilled asparagus and crumbled goats cheese” without the goat cheese. The flavours in this dish were so fresh and dynamic (loved the bbq flavour on the asparagus) and the dressing was a rich balsamic. The presentation was pretty impressive but the plate was…pretty puny and it was probably a good thing my team-mate had eaten earlier because I really don’t think this dish could make a dent in anyone’s hunger.
They also had pints of Three Lions Lager and Russell Lager on special for a thrifty $3.75. I’m not sure if those pints helped my trivia skills- or were a detriment to “Team BBQ Big Bird” because we definitely didn’t win.
Although neither meals were mind-blowing, I still give this place (and their pub quiz night) a thumbs up. Great staff, reasonable pricing, cool atmosphere, an impressive beer list, plus their brunch and dessert menu (THE BREAD AND BUTTER PUDDING) are awesome.
Three Lions Café
1 E 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, October 19, 2010

If you or someone you know is trying to open a restaurant or cafe in Vancouver.....


Are you a first-time restaurateur opening your dream place but have little or no experience?

Are you feeling slightly overwhelmed by it all and wish that someone could come in and help you to succeed?

Would you welcome the help from one of the top restaurant consultants in the world?

A major food network is looking for energetic, interesting people who are opening their very first restaurant, to star in the new hit TV series "The Opener" staring David Adjey. We are looking for stories from all over North America.

The show follows Restaurant Consultant and chef David Adjey as he travels all over North America helping aspiring restaurateurs get their doors open. Dave is a rock star in the restaurant world - untamed, very smart, and North America's most sought-after consultant for hire, and now you have a chance to have him come into your restaurant and help you to succeed! This is an amazing opportunity for anyone who is new to the restaurant business as David has opened some of the most successful restaurants in the world, and now he can be on your team.

Let us help you get your restaurant open!

Have a look at the show's trailer here:

See more from the network website here:

For more information contact John McMullan at 416-324-8537 ext. 326

Monday, October 18, 2010

I "heart" brunch at Epicurean Caffe

Epicurean is a cozy, little mom and pop restaurant located just west of burrard Street with a euro feel and extensive breakfast and lunch menus available for weekend brunch-ing. This charming Italian deli/café is spotless and charming with marble tables inside and a wraparound patio with climbing ivy outside. My friend Jobin lives right around the corner and had never eaten here….so I insisted that we head here for our scheduled brunch meet- up.
They don’t do drip coffee here- espresso drinks only and my Americano was pretty tasty.  
Everything on the menu sounds sophisticated and delicious- and pricing is extremely reasonable. It is actually pretty tricky to decide what to order- especially when you have the breakfast and lunch menus to review.
 This was my second brunch at this Kitsilano gem and my first experience was so amazing, I kept it simple and ordered exactly the same thing- The Earthy Breakfast (9.95). This savoury plate of goodness hits every flavour and elements of what I want in a meal. 2 Eggs poached in a simmering Amatriciana sauce, with grilled Turkey Italian Sausage (pork option also available), accompanied with spicy Eggplants (mild also available) and roasted Potatoes.  Toasted bread, butter and jam. You have your choice of Ciabatta, Multigrain, Rosemary Focaccia bread. I asked our server for his favourite and without hesitation he strongly suggested the grilled rosemary foccacia. Eggs were poached to slightly runny perfection, the tomato/pepper amatriciana sauce was so fresh and flavourful, the sausage was perfectly cooked, savoury, slightly spicy, and the “good kind of greasy.” The eggplant was a light, slightly spicy, and vinegar-y- which was a nice balance to the heavy intense flavours going on with the egg and sausage. The side potatoes were crispy and tasty- but the star carb of this meal was the grilled rosemary foccacia. It was excellent on its own and even better when used to sop up the extra tomato sauce, sausage juices, and runny egg yolk. The bread definitely helps to set this meal apart for other brunch places.
Jobin ordered the Uova alla Fiorentina, a scrumptious concoction of eggs in béchamel sauce that’s baked with bocconcini in a cast-iron pan ($10). The whole thing is topped with pancetta and buttered asparagus. He too ordered the rosemary focaccia on the side and added a side a roasted potatoes. He loved the thick, cheesy, sauce and the super crispy pancetta.
Both meals were awesome- they seem to have nailed fairly basic meals and taken them to a whole new level by using quality ingredients, attention to details, and combining amazing flavours on one plate (or skillet). The feel of this restaurant is elegant, kinda classy, and special—without being pretentious or making a huge dent in your wallet.
Our server was awesome too. He was good looking (always a plus), informative, attentive, patient and helpful with great recommendations. He suggested the Robust Bruschetta open faced panini which sounded amazing and I will definitely order that WHEN I go there next time for lunch.
Epicurean Caffe on Urbanspoon

Losing my Ramen Virginity- Menya Japanese Noodle

Went here recently for a quick lunch with a new buddy. Was starting to feel a little under the weather and instead of my go-to-pho-as-instant-cure-for-illness, I suggested we try a ramen joint on our side of the bridge.
Vancouver’s ramen shops are all the rage these days and it seems like I keep reading review after review of new ramen places opening up all over the city. I’m a ramen virgin. I’ve never tried this type of slurp-able comfort food before. I probably should’ve gone with a seasoned veteran to make suggestions and menu recommendations. But we were both ramen newbies and decided to just go for it.
The menu featured 4 kinds of ramen, a ramen salad, udon and soba varieties, various sides (gyozas and rice balls, etc.) and toppings for your soup.
We both ordered the Menya Shoyu Ramen (7.50) a chicken soup with bonito and soy sauce flavour. It came with cabbage, ½ an egg, green onion, and seaweed. I ordered this because it seemed to have the most going on inside and had “automatic toppings” instead of having to guess with the best topping combos.
The soup itself was a bit “meh” for me. The broth wasn’t as flavourful as I was hoping but fortunately there was an amazing assortment of condiments for me to add and play around to add and change the flavouring. I was loving the Ramen sauce and crushed sesame seeds.
I’ll take the blame for this one- chalk it up to rookie ordering. I probably should’ve gone for the more traditional and popular tonsuko (pork bone) ramen which apparantly has a richer flavour.
Service was prompt and friendly and the all wood/stump seating décor was fun and cozy on a chilly, autumn day. All in all, a cozy, inexpensive meal, that didn’t blow my mind the way I was hoping it would.
Special note: My buddy Amy ordered a soup to go for a sick friend….check out the care and detail they put into a take out order. An individual, hand-saran wrapped potion of seaweed! Nice!
Menya Japanese Noodle
401 W Broadway (@ Yukon)
Vancouver, BC

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/762253/restaurant/Mount-Pleasant-Main-Street/Menya-Japanese-Noodle-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Menya Japanese Noodle on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/762253/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Saturday, October 16, 2010

KFC Double Down Throwdown

From KFC's Website.....
"The new KFC Double Down sandwich is real! This one-of-a-kind sandwich features two thick and juicy boneless white meat chicken filets (Original Recipe® or Grilled), two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and Colonel's Sauce. This product is so meaty, there’s no room for a bun!"

There was a lot of hype this spring surrounding the US release of this "sandwich" and now the Double Down has finally made it to Canada! My friend Richard wanted to honour the Canadian release of this breadless mass of two strips of bacon, cheese and gooey sauce mashed between two slabs of fried chicken....so he hosted a "Double Down" Party.

He called KFC and even had the six sandwiches (6.99 each) ordered for delivery. The KFC employee applauded his ordered and stated "I had my first one today and let me tell you, once you have one you'll never go back."

The KFC Original Double Down has some impressive statistics. This quasi-sandwich with Orginal Recipe batter packs in 540 calories, 32 grams of fat, and 1380 mg of sodium.
Despite the health risks....this group enthusiastically grabbed their double down's and dug in.....

It was love at first bite for these daring double downers. I asked for their first impressions and here were their reviews....
"It's actually really good."
"I wanna make out with it"
"It's amazing"
"My arteries are slowly closing"
"The best part is the saltiness, cheesiness and the bacon"
"I have the meat sweats"
"I think the secret ingredient is love"
After consuming an entire double down, everyone agreed (including myself as I had a sample bite) that the taste experience of the double down is awesome, if not a little too salty.
The ladies who ate it said that it would be a one-time experience, while the men said they would eat it again....like as in they wanted another one right away.

A real surprise with the double down is the size. They aren't very big- in fact, they are roughly the size of a hockey puck.
One guy in our group splurged and went for an 8.99 Double Down combo meal (added fries and a drink) and he still wasn't completely stuffed. And he dipped it in gravy.
This got the group brainstorming about ingredients to enhance the double down experience. Pickles? Hotsauce? More bacon? I feel like there could be a Double Down Party : Part Deux in the works.....

Guest Post from Coop: Charles Bar – Confused Gastown Gastropub

I've been asking friends to help me out with this blog. I'm only one person.....I can't eat my way through everything Vancouver has to offer alone! Ask and you shall recieve....my new friend Coop really delivered with an extremely thorough review on The Charles Bar- a new bar in Gastown.

Howdy fellow foodies – this is my first guest contribution of what I hope to be many (depends whether I continue to get paid).  A brief explanatory note – I believe the attention and care that restaurateurs put into the design and upkeep of their bathrooms is indicative of the care and attention they put into all other aspects of their establishment (kitchen, menu, etc).  It’s a leading indicator, not always accurate but very few places (except perhaps divey ethnic places) have excellent food and sub-par washroom.  Can I get an amen?!

Charles Bar is the long awaited gastropub located at the bottom of the new Woodward’s building.  Operated by the Adelphia group (Venue, the Caprice and Celebrities); better known for booze and music than food.  I was keen to see whether the Charles Bar would make it as a dining destination.

Washroom Review – Charles Bar starts out extremely strong.  There is a row of individual unisex washrooms at the back of the bar.  Spacious enough for three - Vancouver cokehead community take note.  I found the stalls extremely clean inside finished with nice modern tiling throughout.  Each room has a petite rectangular sink and a large hook – perfect for hanging a coat or bag!  The only failing was a broken soap dispenser – perhaps a sign of things to come?  Overall – A (dispenser lost them an A+).

The first thing one notices when stepping inside Charles Bar is the enormous flat screen TV set up over the bar.  Perhaps because Monday night football was playing the night I visited, my first impression was confusion – is this a sports bar or a gastropub?  The pub has a flatiron layout with the bar running through the middle, bisecting the room into two separate areas – makes either side a tad more intimate, but overall loses cohesion.

One very nice touch was the series of low-backed booths along one side of the pub – each had a coffee table in the middle with an individual flatscreen TV at the end.  We confirmed with our server that each TV could be changed to a different feed than the main screen above the bar.  Perfect if you’re a Habs fan and aren’t interested in the Canucks game (oh, the horror!).
Onto the food – four main sections to the menu: appetizers, flatbread pizzas, burgers/sandwiches and, most promising, the French Fry Bar – six different kinds of deep-fried, tuber goodness.  There’s also a smattering of salads and a single desert – but if the food doesn’t pair with beer, no more coverage from me.
The Albacore Tuna Tataki looked great– seared rare tuna in half centimeter thick slices served on a bead of pea shoots.  unforTUNAtely, the taste did not match the presentation (couldn’t help myself).  The tuna was not fresh tasting – leaving us with a fishy aftertaste and the spice oil was scarce.  The salsa concoction layered over some of the slices was awkward and ill-suited.

The ingredients of the beef short rib flatbread, braised rib, horseradish cream and green onions, were a nice try to escape this recently popular “pizza in-disguise” category. The key to flatbread is that it is thin and not so bready.  The chef seems to think that the “flat” in flatbread means “lies flat on a wooden paddle”.  Sorry, but ordinary pizza dough doesn’t qualify.  It really blew the dish for me.

But we still have the French Fry Bar – mmmm.  Six different potato and yam based dishes.  This is a concept I can buy into.  We ordered two of the six to give the FFB a fair shake, the Truffle Gremolata and the Pulled Pork Poutine. 

Must admit that I was pretty excited about the Gremolata – lemon zest, truffle and garlic – those three deserve to get into bed together and hop on some crispy frites.  This was to be the biggest disappointment of the evening – the fries were average (could have been crispier) and I  couldn’t taste any of the three ingredients.  I was expecting the truffle to be oil which would coat the fries with the other ingredients.  Instead the truffle and friends were dry chopped–located  at dish’s bottom and even when eaten alone I still couldn’t taste the ingredients - quite the dud.

Now the pulled pork poutine did manage to avert total disaster. Big fat gobs of cheese curd, a reasonable amount of gravy (but not drowning the fries) and a healthy amount of tender pulled pork dolloped on top.  The lack of fry crispiness was not an issue given the various saucy toppings of the dish.  It all hung together and was repeat order worthy.  At last!

Overall, I’d give the Charles Bar a 5 of 10.  If you are looking for a great place to watch sports in Gastown, have some good bottled beer and avoid the usual deep fried pub food – this is your place.  I just wouldn’t recommend it if food is your primary agenda.

Vancouver, BC, V6B1G1
(604) 568-8040

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1543921/restaurant/Gastown/The-Charles-Bar-Vancouver%22%3E%3Cimg alt="The Charles Bar on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1543921/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>


Friday, October 15, 2010

Twists on Tradition....Thanksgiving Re-mix!

As mentioned in a previous post, I made a tofurkey thanksgiving feast with my sister and her girlfriend. I love the traditional meal, but it was pretty fun trying something new and improvising at the last minute....although I really missed having leftover turkey for turkey sandwiches.

I wanted to hear about other people's twists on thanksgiving meals so I threw it out on Facebook and these were some FB friends alternative thanksgiving meals.....

This was Milad's 2nd Thanksgiving making a smoked turkey. It is a crowd pleaser and Milad says everyone loves the smokey taste of this bird. This is a serious process that requires quite a bit of planning and preparation and using some special gear- mainly, an all- ceramic Kermado smoker from 1970. He says the number one secret to a great smoked turkey is dry skin!

Here are the steps:

Step 1:
Prepared brine. Brine turkey overnight
Prep, Day 2
Air-dried the turkey in the refrigerator.

Thanksgiving Day
1:00 PM
Arranged grills and heat deflector. Started the fire. Stabilized the Kamado at 475 degrees Fahrenheit dome temperature..
1:30 PM
Began roasting the turkey at 475 degrees.
2:15 PM
Adjusted dampers to reduce dome temperature to 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
3:00 PM
Basted the turkey with the olive oil/butter mixture. Checked the internal temperature in the thigh (130 degrees) and the breast (139 degrees). Added one fist-sized chunk of pecan to the fire. NOTE:  Cover the breast or the entire turkey with aluminum foil if temperatures are too high or the skin is getting too dark.
4:30 PM
Monitor internal temperature. 
4:45 PM
Removed the turkey to a carving board when the breast temperature reached 161 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly covered the turkey with aluminum foil. Allowed the turkey to rest for approximately 15 minutes before carving. 
5:00 PM
Carved the turkey and served.
Total Cooking Time
3 hours and 15 minutes (15 minutes per pound)

Some other variations on traditional thanksgiving dinner.....

Christine made ground turkey meatloaf.....
"saute 1 onion, 4 celery sticks in 2 tbsp butter.
Add 2 tbsp poultry seasoning and a bay leaf.
Add bag of big stuffing cubes.
Soften with a box of chicken stock.
Remove from pan and in big bowl let cool.
Add 1 egg and package ground turkey.
Form into a loaf on a cookie sheet.
melt 2 tbsp butter and drizzle on top of the loaf.
Bake @ 375 for 1 hour.
Yummm yummm"
Keeping with the loaf theme....Mona made a veggie loaf. 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing
8 ounces crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 cup (about 1 onion) chopped red onion
1 stalk celery, minced
1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon tumeric powder (optional)
1 teaspoon sambar powder (or any masala or curry powder you have on hand) (optional)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
10 sundried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped finely

1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8-inch loaf pan with oil; set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside in large mixing bowl.
2. Heat more oil in pan, saute onion, celery, garlic, jalapeno (with tumeric and curry/masala spice if desired) until soft, put in bowl with mushrooms.
3. Meanwhile, put beans, oats and 1/2 cup water into a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Add this bean mixture to the large bowl, along with quinoa, peas, parsley, tomatoes, onion, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Transfer mixture to prepared loaf pan, gently pressing down and mounding it in the middle. Bake until firm and golden brown, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Set aside to let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
For more of Mona's recipes: www.monasrecipes.blogspot.com
Chelsea J rang in Thanksgiving at IHOP with her mexican family in texas.
"I had rubbery turkey bacon with eggs, hash browns, and cream filled french toast ALL slathered with maple syrup for my dinner! Xo"

Kallie kept with tradition.... (please send me this recipe....!)
"Not chicken courd en blu, not burre blanc, why can't I remember the name of what I ate tonight? Anyway, the chicken breast with prawns and scallpos, let me rephrase, a prawn and a scallop and one piece of asparagus in a white wine cream and or butter sauce. Ricks Grill en Whistlah a solid 6.5. Server insisted on being MIA, not like we needed anything and on making us feel like we were getting in the way of his "closing duties." Maybe if I was Australian I would have been more "thankful?"
"I make my great grandmothers southern corn soufflé which is nothing like a real soufflé but tastes incredible! It's like a twist on cornbread just creamy... Mmmmm"
And Amy W. had a pretty disappointing dish at a whistler restaurant

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Crew Lunch at the Black Bear Pub

It was the second-to-last shoot of the season, a hike in Lynn Canyon Park. We finished in the early afternoon and were feeling pretty ravenous. Since we were in my old ‘hood (Lynn Valley, what, what?). I made a couple of suggestions for some new places to try- but the boys chose The Black Bear Pub- which is where we typically end up for crew meals when we shoot in the area. It was a sunny and warm early-October afternoon, so we hit the patio.
Sound guy and B cam went for the steak special- A 10 oz broiled rib eye served with roast garlic, wild mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables ($16.99). I asked them what for a rating out of 10 and got decisive answers of 6.5/7’s. Neither loved the texture of the broiled steak (“I prefer my steak cooked over an open flame”, and sound guy commented that his meat was too “sinew-y.” B cam really enjoyed the side veg, while Sound guy felt like his were slightly undercooked.
DOP ordered a Matterhorn Burger ($12.99)- a 6 oz ground sirloin burger (also available with an ostrich, chicken, or veg patty) with sautéed field mushrooms, swiss cheese and crispy bacon on a Kaiser bun with lettuce, tomatoe, onion and pickle. It comes with a side of house salad, coleslaw, soup or fries…he went with fries.
He loved this burger calling it a “big, juicy, crispy, gooey, swiss-y burger,loaded up with equivalent of a salad's worth of veggies.”
My meal was a Fallafel Wrap ($11.99)- a fallafel patty with tomatoes, lettuce, red onion, and tzatziki in a tortilla with a ½ house salad and ½ fries.
The patty was nice and crispy and the vegetables were fresh. I would’ve loved a stronger flavour in the tzatziki, which I found a little bland. To add some flavour, I doused it with 2 sides of their in-house hot sauce. It was awesome- thick and savoury with layers of heat. It was a huge portion and I was absolutely stuffed when I was done. The fries were thick cut ( I liked) but could’ve been a bit crispier.
The steak special was a bit of a letdown , the Fallafel Wrap was pretty tasty as a “healthier alternative” and the Matterhorn burger was a hit. I think everyone at the table was having burger envy when that puppy hit the table……
Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub
1177 Lynn Valley Rd
North Vancouver, BC

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/14/1421451/restaurant/Vancouver/North-Vancouver/Black-Bear-Neighbourhood-Pub-North-Vancouver-District%22%3E%3Cimg alt="Black Bear Neighbourhood Pub on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1421451/biglink.gif" style="border:none;width:200px;height:146px" /></a>

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fall's Here.....Grab a pint of pumpkin beer

Fall is officially here. The leaves are bright orange and brown, the air is crisp, this weekend was thanksgiving weekend, and halloween is just around the corner.
and it got me craving a pint of beer with a real seasonal taste.
After the home opener Canucks game (compliments of Heather - Thanks m'lady! http://www.heatherlovesit.com/), we bussed back to Kits and stopped by local watering hole Corduroy http://www.corduroyrestaurant.com/ for a couple of beers to cap off a great fall day.
The server described the specials and we each got a bottle of St Ambrose Pumpkin Ale- featured at $6.
It tastes like fall. Although it was dark in colour and looked like it would be heavy, it was crisp and light with immediate, yet subtle cinammon, nutmeg, and caramel. Then a definite pumpkin taste with every sip.
I loved it and can't wait to try some other varieties of pumpkin beer.
It should help ease the pain of saying good-bye to summer.

Breaking Tradition with Tofurkey

My family has been dealing with some illness/hospital issues with my grandfather in Comox for the past couple of weeks, so it was no big surprise when my parents decided at the last minute to head over to Vancouver island late Friday night.
This meant that our traditional thanksgiving dinner on Sunday night was off. With our family spread out all over the place, (parents/grandparents/uncle on the island- sister in Australia- uncle/aunt and cousins in the states for the weekend)I still wanted to celebrate thanksgiving with the family in whatever way I could.
So Sunday afternoon I called up my vegetarian sister and her girlfriend, and we made plans for us to meet at our parent’s house where we would throw together a last- minute, slapdash version of thanksgiving dinner featuring…..(drumroll please)……TOFURKEY! After a stroll to Whole Foods and $8.99 later, it was game on!
Step 1: Thaw the frozen ball of fake meat
Step 2:Place in roasting pan with veg (onions, carrots, red pepper) seasoning (fresh rosemary, thyme) and basting juice (olive oil, soy sauce, minced garlic)- Cover and cook for 1 hour 30 min on 400 degrees
Step 3: Cover everything with more basting juice and cook for another 15-30 min
Step 4: Carve and enjoy……
My thoughts on my first experience with Tofurkey:
-it tasted pretty good and really absorbed the yummy flavours from the onions, thyme and rosemary
-for a meat eater like myself it doesn’t really replace real turkey
-it’s fun to say “tofurkey"
-the wild rice stuffing inside was really tasty- nice and light and fluffy
-next time I would cook it a little longer/ throw the oven on broil for an additional 15 minutes  to make the outside a bit crispier
Other stand-out dishes were:
Slow roasted yams- cooked at 400 for an hour and a half…..(nice work Jackie!)- I added a little mustard and hot sauce….mmmmm
Pumpkin Mousse
Crispy Garlic Brussel Sprouts- prepped with garlic, olive oil, salt broiled on cookie sheet for 20 minutes
Pumpkin Mousse: canned pumpkin mixed with “Dream Whip” low cal topping with graham cracker crumbs and cinnamon (again- props to Jackie!)