Thursday, March 26, 2015

LUVO launches in Canada

As a LUVO investor, I have waited a long time for their product to be available in Canada. It's really ironic that it took so long because the founder Stephen Sidwell (co-founder of Gardein) is local to Greater Vancouver. With any luck, their sister venture LYFE Kitchen won't be far behind.
They are on Twitter with #LuvoEH.

Here's the announcement blurb:
We're excited to announce that Luvo will be making its Canadian debut, with the first selection of meals hitting the shelves on the west coast.
Product will begin to arrive in IGA Marketplace locations across British Columbia in the coming weeks.
Visit luvoinc.com for updates.
Read how Luvo CEO Christine Day wants to reinvent frozen food in Canadian Business Magazine.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Asian fusion brunch at The Union

The Union on Urbanspoon

I'm always interested in curious foods, so it's no surprise the Asian fusion menu at The Union caught my eye--especially what seemed to be a creative fusion brunch (i.e., more than just omelettes and eggs benedict).

The location is in a sketchy part of town, but on the Sunday morning we showed up for brunch right at 10 AM when they opened, the street was very quiet with most of the action just one street over with their busy grocery markets.
There's a bit of street parking for cars as well as a bike lane. The neighboring stores are all revitalized and new-ish looking, compared to the rest of the Chinatown neighbourhood.

Long communal tables and a mix of short benches and single-seater stools make up the dining space in The Union. This being Vancouver, don't count on the seating arrangement to necessarily encourage conversation with neighbours you don't know.
Oddities include soy sauce in what look like cough syrup bottles, and a sign that boasts "premium cigarettes available".

Pandesal French Toast ($11) five spice toffee sauce, sautéed Asian pears, whipped cream, rum toasted coconut
  • The quantity of toast you get roughly adds up to two and a half or three average slices of bread.
  • Clearly a lot of coconut involved and even seared directly onto to the toast.
  • The pears didn't taste like anything at all. Probably a fluke kitchen accident or something.
  • There's rum in this?
  • Despite the list of ingredients, this basically tastes like toast soaked in toffee sauce, with a large dollop of whipped cream.
Filipino Pankaplog ($14) two eggs (choice of fried or scrambled), sinangag, pickled papaya, pandesal, curry spiced hashbrowns, choice of sausage or bacon
  • Pankaplog is a slang term for breakfast that mainly consists of pande sal (bread), kape (coffee), and itlog (egg). Coffee is not included in your order.
  • It adds up to a decent meal but the neat piles of each item on your plate makes your order look small.
  • The quantity of sinangag (garlic fried rice) you get looks small, but it is flavourful, tasty, and has a richness which may be off-putting in too larger a quantity.
Lapu Lapu ($5) cucumber juice, coconut water, ginger, calamansi, pandan syrup
  • A strange cocktail that has a chaotic flavour in your mouth, with the various ingredients competing with each other.
  • Maybe because of the pandan leaf decorating the glass, there was a grassy flavour to the drink as well.
  • About 40% (?) ice cubes.
The items I tried feel overpriced by a couple of dollars for what you get, though arguably you are paying for exotic ingredients, which may or may not be worth a couple of extra dollars to you, especially as you could instead just go to an ethnic hole-in-the-wall restaurant--often quite a cheap alternative.

The Union (and their other Cascade Company sister restaurants) is a Mealshare charity partner.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Walden Farms Whipped Peanut Spread

From the label:
Great Taste, Calorie Free.How do we do it?Smooth and creamy Walden Farms Whipped Peanut Spread is made with natural fresh roasted peanut flavor. Delicious on crackers or toast.Calorie Free. No Sugar added. Fat Free. Gluten Free.
As a peanut butter substitute, the main question is whether it tastes like peanut butter. And the answer is sort-of no. There is some roasted peanut flavour as advertised, but there is also a strong saltiness along with some sweetness -- sodium is rated at 105mg / 4% per 15 grams (1 tablespoon). I have a strong suspicion that the saltiness is there to distract you from the rest of the flavour.

Beggars can't be choosers, so if you are picking up a fake peanut butter for whatever reason, then you either learn how to like it or go without peanut butter. If you can have the real thing, this will taste sort of gross. It's like smooth peanut butter, except it's wetter and the saltiness is quite off-putting.

If you don't want to throw it out, you can use a very little bit of it each time alongside something else, like cream cheese. I haven't used it as a substitute in a recipe that calls for peanut butter as an ingredient, but that's also worth a try.