Thursday, June 30, 2016

SocialNature - Enerex Greens

The latest free sample I received from SocialNature is Enerex Greens (Mixed Berries version). Enerex has many products with many different objectives; for their Greens, it is labelled as "For Increased Energy, Stamina & Vitality".

There are two types of their "Greens" formula, and the one with Mixed Berries has some sweetness (using superfoods and Monk Fruit / Luo Han Guo), probably to help make it more palatable since most people are not good with foods that are not either clearly sweet or savoury.
Enerex has a video (embedded below) that summarizes what this product is, and how it differs from the competition.

The product is considered gluten free at less than 20 parts per million gluten (see fine print on the bottom back of the package).

2016-Jun-29 Enerex Greens

2016-Jun-29 Enerex Greens

Lots of (wasted) residue in the packet. The look and aroma is very much like Udo's Choice Beyond Greens, except there's a fruitiness to the smell and taste.

2016-Jun-29 Enerex Greens

2016-Jun-29 Enerex Greens

The recommended 250 mL of water works out to basically 1 cup. Watch for lumps and make sure you break them up and stir well. Also, it is a suspension -- that is, when left alone for a long time, the mixture starts to settle, leaving you with a thin-tasting drink and a sludge at the bottom. So stir!

I used just plain water and put it in the fridge to have it cold. Stirred it when it came out. The flavour is not grassy, but instead mildly fruity-sweet. Not really sweet enough to even be a weak fruit juice, if that is what you were hoping for. Since it says to add the mix to a "liquid", presumably you could add it to a fruit juice base if you like something sweeter -- or possibly even a vanilla or fruity yogurt.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Going veggie is hard at Hoi An Cafe

Hoi An Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato With just ONE vegetarian main, it's hard to go veggie at Hoi An Cafe. Fortunately, the one dish you can order is pretty decent.

It's a simple, bright place. The layout means it's hard to put a really big group of 10+ together at the same table without a lot of advance warning, so if you really have that big a group AND you insist they all sit together, request it specifically ahead of time.

Overall, price for portion is good, good enough to be worth bonus points. Food presentation is also quite nice and taste is decent. I insisted on going veggie, so mine is not a typical food experience at Hoi An Cafe.

#24 Hu tieu chay kho ($9.50) Combination vegetables (tofu and beansprouts) with thin rice noodle in soup or homemade special sauce.
  • Pretty boring, EXCEPT that they have that wonderfully tasty fried garlic sprinkled all over it. Presentation also quite nice.
  • Two options: Soup, or tossed in sauce. I got the latter.
  • Be sure to mix it properly before eating as all the "homemade special sauce" is sitting on the bottom, and the noodles are in a single tangled mess under the veggies.
2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - #24 Hu tieu chay kho

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - #24 Hu tieu chay kho

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - #24 Hu tieu chay kho

#29 Sinh to (sau rieng) ($4.50) Blended shake (durian).
  • Various options and my friend chose durian to share.
  • Nice aroma but flavour tasted slightly weak/watery. Still, cheap for the quantity you get for $4.50.
2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - #29 durian shake

It was a really hot evening, so bonus points for being thoughtful and offering free cold tea! (Hot tea still available, though).

Staff is patient and friendly! Free WiFi - ask for the super-simple password or try to use the #TELUS network in that area (connected but it didn't work for me).

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - free cold tea on hot days

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - chili condiment at each table is not that hot, so use more

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - menu 1/3

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - menu 2/3

2016-Jun-27 Hoi An Cafe - menu 3/3

Friday, June 24, 2016

Why I didn't want a cellphone

So today, a "funny" thing happened at White Spot (Park and Tilford) where I was supposed to meet a new friend for lunch at 11 AM. I was starting from Metrotown, and by transit it takes almost 1 hour according to Google.

Here's how things went down:

2016-Jun-24 why I don't want a cellphone

So this is why for a long time I didn't want a cellphone: If I didn't have one, I could have cut things off right at 11:15 AM (after giving 15 minutes grace for the typical Vancouver lateness) and did my thing (lunch) and left.
Instead I get harassed by lame requests (to wait an hour!) and lame excuses and justifications.

Plus, not even an apology.

Of course I unfriended the loser.

White Spot Portobello Burger

White Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato White Spot's offerings for vegetarians are slim, but what they do have is actually really decent. It's a bit pricier than fast food burgers, but if you compare them, the extra bucks are well worth the extra quality. Plus all those free fries you get are very filling.

I'd stumbled into trying various portobello burgers (at Meet in Gastown and a really nice one at Caliburger so far) so I was glad the veggie burger option at White Spot was also a portobello.

Pot of "Premium" Tea ($3.25)
  • Instead of asking what I wanted they suggested one. Not sure if this is the new trend as I experienced the same at a Starbucks recently.
Sriracha Portobello Veggie Burger ($13.99) Our chargrilled veggie burger with Sriracha goat cheese, sauteed Portobello mushrooms, pickled onions, tomatoes, lettuce & mayo. Comes with Endless Fries and choice of Cesar Salad, The Spot's Salad, or Creamy Coleslaw)
  • I do not remember being asked which side I wanted. Just came with the coleslaw, which tasted ok.
  • I asked for my endless fries to be substituted for the Warm Potato Salad.
  • Interesting sriracha goat cheese, which had just enough heat to give you a bit of buzz in the mouth but not enough to actually even count as mildly spicy.
  • The patty was actually quite decent with some flavour that the rest of the burger did not overshadow -- something that can happen with too much sauce.
  • Looked like just enough slices of portobello to cover the patty so every bite has mushroom, but for a mushroom burger I couldn't register the flavour with each bite. So don't think of this as a portobello burger per se, just a veggie burger.
  • If you're looking specifically for portobello in your burger then this is sort of a dud. Try Caliburger instead, which has a "patty" that is a thick, juicy, portobello.
  • Overall pretty decent for a burger and if you add the sides you automatically get, this is actually a pretty filling lunch for your money.
Warm Potato Salad ($2.49 to substitute endless fries for Warm Potato Salad)
  • Large smashed chunks of potato.
  • Looks like chopped up bits of pickle are in there as well, which gives you the occasional tangy taste that helps to make eating this salad non-monotonous and not heavy feeling -- something which could happen with a more mono-tasting potato dish like endless fries.
2016-Jun-24 White Spot - Portobello Burger

2016-Jun-24 White Spot - Portobello Burger

2016-Jun-24 White Spot - Portobello Burger - veggie patty interior

2016-Jun-24 White Spot - warm potato salad and coleslaw

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Intriguing Vancouver Art Gallery inspired menu at MARKET by Jean-Georges

Got this in the mail today:

The Muses Dinner Series

Celebrate Picasso & His Muses

Join us for The Muses Dinner, a series of tasting menus inspired by the six women who were all major influences in Picasso's personal life and art. 

The Muses Dinner series is available during the course of Picasso: The Artist and His Muses exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery, from now until October 2. Each menu focusing on one muse and her influence on that period of Picasso’s work:

11 June to 29 June | Fernande Olivier | From the Rose Period to Cubism
30 June to 20 July | Olga Khokhlova | Neoclassisicm and Maternité
21 July to 10 August | Marie-Thérèse Walter | A Surrealist Affair
11 August to 31 August | Dora Maar | Love and War
1 September to 21 September | Françoise Gilot | Woman-Flower
22 September to 2 October | Jacqueline Roque | From Villa Californie to Mougins

View The Muses Dinner menu for Fernande Olivier here.
Reserve online, or by calling 604 695 1115.

2016 MARKET Picasso dinner

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

La Catrina $10 Taco Tuesday

La Catrina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Went veggie on Taco Tuesday at La Catrina! I didn't look too hard at which options were vegan, but it is likely they would just remove the cheese for the most part.

The Taco Tuesday offer is five (5) tacos plus choice of pop for $10 if all-veggie tacos, $11 if you have some meat tacos in there. Normally tacos are $3 each and sodas are also $3, so you're getting your meal for almost half price.

Of their four regular veggie tacos, the only one that was curiously interesting and somewhat tasty was Papas Mexicanas (Mexican potatoes with drizzled cream and parsley). Everything else was so boring I needed hot sauce or pickles to liven them up.
Overall taste was OK, especially considering I deliberately went veggie here, but vegetarians who aren't there for a deal on their meal should definitely consider eating elsewhere.

That said, tacos everywhere do give you good bang for your buck with lots of fillings and it's no different here. In fact, if you are careful, you can peel off one of the two taco shells and divide the generous fillings into two tacos that you can fold and eat in the "proper way" and with considerably less fear of the fillings spilling out.

Mediocre score for taste but bonus points for price for portion and their daily specials (announced on Facebook) which really help with budget eats.

They had some interesting Mexican sodas, and I settled for the non-alcoholic sangria. Also turns out to be non-fruity, but it did have a alcohol-like flavour and wasn't too intense.

TIP: They advertise a free T-shirt in exchange for a review on the spot. I didn't take them up on it because I didn't want to be pressured to give an excellent review, but you could certainly try taking them up on it. While T-shirt quantities last.

2016-Jun-21 La Catrina - taco tuesday

2016-Jun-21 La Catrina - vegetarian taco tuesday

2016-Jun-21 La Catrina - condiments

2016-Jun-21 La Catrina - non-alcoholic sangria

2016-Jun-21 La Catrina - takeout menu

2016-Jun-21 La Catrina - free t-shirt promotion

@ParkRoyal Milestones Contest - 3 course dinner for 6

From the e-mail I got from Park Royal this morning:
Win the Ultimate Dining Experience for Six at Milestones Park Royal!
Jun 21 - Jun 28
Milestones at Park Royal has now re-opened with one of the most unique patios on the North Shore!
To celebrate they want to host a three course dinner party for YOU and FIVE friends! You'll get to sample their amazing new menu accompanied by three bottles of select BC Wine.
All you have to do is follow [Park Royal] on Instagram or Facebook and tell us who you would invite to your ultimate dinner party, living or non living, for a chance to win an epic summer get together at Park Royal.
Who would we invite? Michael Jackson, Oprah, Justin Trudeau, Drake, and Emily Carr!
TIP: Milestones restaurants award you SCENE points to redeem for free movie tickets!

2016-Jun Milestones Park Royal contest

2016-Jun Milestones Park Royal reopening

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant Coffee Ceremony

Lalibela Ethiopian Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
I'd been to Ethiopian restaurants before, so what really intrigued me about Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant was the Buna Bejebena, or Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. Cost is $25, and makes about 7-8 small cups of coffee.
You can read from the wiki about the coffee ceremony, and in the restaurant there is a picture of the ceremony. The ceremony as done in Lalibela is, however, rather boring.
They do bring a smoking pan of beans around the table, but really can't linger because of the smoke it generates. They aren't allowed to bring it out too long and in any case it might set off smoke detectors or just plain choke you in the confined space.
Then the coffee is brewed in the traditional apparatus and poured into little cups. Concentrated black coffee taken straight (but if you need sugar they will provide).
And that's it. The end.

You can see the pictures I took and decide if the novelty is enough for you to spend about $3 per coffee shooter.

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

We were a party of ten and got to share ten different dishes. Price per person came out under $20, similar to a moderately priced Indian restaurant where you didn't load up on extra naan, which can inflate the cost. Here, you can ask for extra injera bread, but it costs $1 per order.
The injera here is made with teff AND barley, and is NOT gluten free, unlike injera made only with teff.
TIP: Don't get extra injera to scoop up the stews and meats. Instead, save the spoons from each dish. Too much injera can make you too full to finish your dish. Plus, if you have a sharing platter like we did, there's still the injera at the bottom of the platter, which is soaked in the juices and either oily or tasty or both. We didn't get any extra injera and still didn't finish everything -- and each person only ordered one dish.

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

TIP: "Wot" means sauce, so if you order anything with this expect it to look more like a thick stew or dip, possibly with no chunks of meat or veggie.
TIP: Website photos look pretty much nothing like what you get. Almost all our dishes came in that oval shaped dish common in Indian restaurants for a single order of curry.

We tried lots of things and I didn't want to hold up the entire group with my pics or carefully itemizing everything before starting, so here is just a partial account of our meal plus some notes.
I felt that no individual dish was really so stand-out, but the meal was good overall for being able to try many things and the sheer variety in the meal -- made possible by going with many people, or ordering one of their platters.

Qey Doro Wot ($14) A hearty spicy stew made from fresh chicken and sautéed red onions Seasoned with chilli pepper (berbere) and flavoured with garlic, ginger and various herbs. Doro Wot always has boiled eggs in it. This is our signature Ethiopian Dish.
  • The stew came with exactly one egg and one drumstick. Not exactly shareable except the stew part.
  • Sauce was otherwise pretty tasty, and not seriously spicy-hot.
2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant - Qey Doro Wot

Misir Wot ($8) A stew made of red lentils (split), seasoned with hot chilli pepper (berbere) spices like cardamom, cinnamon, garlic, ginger and onion seeds

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant - Misir Wot

If you tell them your group is going to share their orders, they can provide 1-2 large trays each with a single large injera. If you have two trays, put half of each dish on each tray to make your own sharing platter.

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant has a smallish look but a spacious-feeling interior thanks to generous table spacing. For a Friday evening it was pretty quiet at 6pm.

TIP: It's next to Hon's Wonton House, so you might be able to mooch their free WiFi while inside Lalibela.

TIP: The friendly owner is happy to talk about Ethiopian culture, including the name of the restaurant, the coffee ceremony, and eating with your hands and no cutlery

2016-Jun-17 Lalibela Ethiopian Restaurant

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Full of veggies at Pita Pit

Pita Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato The Pita Pit next to Uncle Fatih's at Commercial Drive Skytrain Station always looks empty when I'm going by, but not this past Wednesday evening before the Improv Against Humanity show at the Rio Theatre. That always made me hesitant to try it, but I was glad I did.

Nice clean space inside, and a clean but "hidden" washroom -- ask the staff where it is. They probably keep it incognito to avoid a steady stream of non-paying customers coming to use it.

The menu makes it really easy to get vegetarian and vegan options here. And if you think more veggies = healthy, then this place is a winner.

TIP: Our order also came with a free $1-off coupon. It has two sizes: $1 off a smoothie, and $1 off a pita, and you can use both sides at the same time. This means I could repeat my order for a less-than-$10 lunch! Or, you can wait for your friend to order first and use their coupon...

Spicy Black Bean Famous Pita ($6.99 Petita size, $8.49 Regular size) Vegan
  • Choice of white or whole wheat pita.
  • Strangely, my Petita Size pita was about the same size as my friend's Regular size one. Might be they packed more veggies in it.
  • You can ask for "everything" and they'll put a LOT of veggies into your pita, so much that the filling you are buying starts to look token.
    • TIP: Do not use olives like I did, or use them only very sparingly. The sourness will overpower the flavours of everything else.
    • I did isolate the flavour of the black bean and it was mediocre.
  • The Black Bean patty is chopped up and seared. If you ask for shredded cheese, they can also melt that right onto the patty.
  • The pita is rolled tight and you can have the option of toasting it.
  • Not very spicy despite the name. They can add more hot sauce for you, though.
  • For $7 you get a more filling fast-food item than, say, a fast food chain burger, and at approximately the same price. You are mainly buying a thick veggie roll that's got way more veg than a burger. Into this they put one burger patty worth of filling.
  • Overall, price for portion is OK and all that veggie can be reasonably filling.
2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit - Spicy Black Bean Famous Pita (petita size) before sauce and patty

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit - Spicy Black Bean Famous Pita (petita size) - before black bean patty added

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit - Spicy Black Bean Famous Pita (petita size) - before rolling and toasting

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit - Spicy Black Bean Famous Pita (petita size)

Blackberry Probiotic Smoothie ($2.99 snack size, $4.99 regular) 10-fruit probiotic juice, blackberries, frozen yogurt
  • My snack size smoothie came so full it was basically overflowing.
  • Fairly thick and tasty! Because it's thick, a snack size was enough for me.
2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit - Blackberry Probiotic Smoothie (snack size)

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit

2016-Jun-15 Pita Pit - petita size versus regular size (top)