Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Red Robin Birthday Burger!

Red Robin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
If you haven't signed up for Royalty rewards with Red Robin you really should. I just got another free birthday burger!

Still feeling meat-guilty I went with their vegetarian Garden Burger although our server told me I could get any burger--which is actually not correct because their line of "Finest" burgers is actually not part of the promotion. These burgers use the special Angus beef patties and are have a special theme. Plus they among the priciest burgers.

Garden Burger ($10.99) An amazingly delicious blend of vegetables, grains, and spices with a touch of cheese, topped with tomatoes, fresh lettice, pickles and Country Dijon sauce on our whole wheat bun.
  • The patty here is a bit on the thinner side but taste is not bad. Otherwise burger construction is very basic.
  • TIP: Immediately remove the pickles hiding underneath the patty unless all you  want to taste is pickle.
  • Where this burger gets more than merely a passing grade is the bottomless fries. With these you are guaranteed a filling meal with every burger order. You can substitute them for bottomless salad (free substitution) if you like.
Seasonal Fruit (+$1.49), Freckled Fruit Salad (+$1.99), Mandarin Oranges (+$1.49)
  • Before you sub your bottomless fries for any of these fruity alternatives thinking they'll be healthier, be sure to ask your server first.
  • At the moment the Seasonal Fruit was just apples and mandarin oranges. The mandarin oranges are the canned syrupy ones. And the Freckled Fruit Salad is the Seasonal Fruit drenched in the special syrup they use in their line of "Freckled" drinks.
Overall, at Red Robin taste is decent, price is budget friendly unless you insist on their high-end gourmet Finest burgers, and price for portion is excellent if you can eat enough. Go during a quiet time and linger with friends over bottomless fruit!
And don't forget to look at the very back of the menu which has suggestions on how to reduce the calorie count including open-faced burgers and getting them in lettuce wraps.

2016-Jul-27 Red Robin garden burger

2016-Jul-27 Red Robin garden burger

2016-Jul-27 Red Robin garden burger - patty interior

2016-Jul-27 Red Robin basic burger with fries subbed with salad (free)

2016-Jul-27 Red Robin unlimited sides menu

Saturday, July 23, 2016

El Santo - Mexican food at fine dining prices

El Santo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato So my bill at El Santo was almost $30 after tax and tip, for one main and one non-alcoholic beverage.
What you can definitely expect from El Santo is Vancouver fine-dining prices. Fortunately, you can also expect pretty interesting flavours in their Mexican fare.

TIP: Larger groups can be put in a private room at the back that can easily seat 14 with OK spacing between diners.

Enchiladas Flor de Jamaica ($18) Hibiscus flowers, jicama, carrot & cabbage, fire roasted tomato chipotle sauce, Oaxaca cheese & green rice
  • I can't really rate this properly because it tasted way too much like my mom's spring rolls. She uses a lot of jicama, and that for me was the predominant flavour here.
  • Lots of cheese but it hardened way too quickly to be fun. Not sure how that can be avoided, however.
  • Green rice (possibly just rice with green herbs, such as cilantro) was al dente and had a firm, coarse texture in the mouth. Interesting for not being your normal tender rice.
  • The three rolls were slightly on the salty side.
  • Overall OK but a lot of the ingredients mentioned you won't really see or taste unless you dissect the rolls and try to isolate them from the stuffing.
  • Looks really delicious, but for me not that interesting. However see caveat above.
  • Combined with the rice this is fairly filling plate.
2016-Jul-22 El Santo - enchiladas flor de jamaica

Chilaquiles ($18) Crispy Fraser Valley pork belly, tamarind chipotle glaze, salsa verde, Cotija cheese, tortilla chips
  • I got to try a bite of this, which was my friend's order. Overall looks pretty boring BUT the tamarind chipotle glaze is the real winner here. The sourness really helps with any heavy fatty feeling from the pork belly.
  • My piece of pork belly wasn't crispy. Hmm.
2016-Jul-22 El Santo - chilaquiles

Queso Fundido ($10) Oaxaca cheese, poblano peppers, caramelized onion, tomato, fresh tortillas
2016-Jul-22 El Santo - Queso Fundido

Pina y Agave ($6) Pineapple, lemon juice, agave and mint leaves
  • Mocktail that tastes like it sounds -- Pineapple, lemon, mint. Pretty good palate cleanser and pretty refreshing.
TIP: That hot sauce they provide at the table? USE IT. It's fruity sweet (mango?) and there's a heat that builds very slowly but can be medium-strong at the end AND it won't flatten other flavours while giving you that buzz in the mouth.
Here I used it on the green rice that came with my enchiladas. The rice was interesting in texture but boringly bland in taste, sadly.

2016-Jul-22 El Santo - tasty hot sauce at the table 2016-Jul-22 El Santo - pina y agave

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

@HamiltonStGrill closing end of July

Hamilton Street Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Sad news -- July-30th will be the last day for the Hamilton Street.

Your last chance to get their famous Gingerbread Pudding.

Thank you for Steak Month every June. All the best to the captain and crew.

Hamilton Street Grill closing end of July-30-2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

@BurnabyPL offers free newspapers via @PressReader

Here's why evevyone should download PressReader today: Hotspots.
PressReader HotSpots are WiFi locations that let you download newspapers off PressReader for FREE. And they are as common and common sense as your local library, for instance. The nearest one to me is the Burnaby Public Library Metrotown branch, and just to test it out, I downloaded today's Financial Post:

2016-Jul-13 PressReader at Burnaby Public Library

There's obviously more than the Financial Post, of course (there's over 5000 newspapers and magazines, in over 60 languages, from 100 countries). Whatever your culture you are likely able to find something relevant to you. Handy if the library doesn't normally carry it or if someone is hogging the only copy.

2016-Jul-13 PressReader at Burnaby Public Library

You can squint at the newspaper off your smartphone if you like, but there are other options. Keep reading...

2016-Jul-13 PressReader at Burnaby Public Library

Press and hold on the article and you get a pop-up with various options, including to have the article read to you. Newsprint too squinty even on the the real hardcopy newspaper? Try the Listen option.

2016-Jul-13 PressReader at Burnaby Public Library

The text view not only lets you have larger and more legible text to read, but you can use the "More" options menu to copy the text. Handy for research and sharing, and a tough trick to pull off with a hardcopy paper.

Once you've downloaded a paper, you are free to leave the Hotspot and read it again off the copy in your smartphone. If you can get the WiFi signal from the library (for example), you could download what you need and go, without even setting foot in the library!

2016-Jul-13 PressReader at Burnaby Public Library

I believe our SORROW can make us a better country. I believe our RIGHTEOUS ANGER can be transformed into more JUSTICE

National Post - (Latest Edition)Greg Jaffe and Juliet Eilperin
DALLAS• A chastened and humbled U.S. President Ba rack Obama used a memorial service Tuesday for five slain police officers to call on Americans to overcome racial divisions and mutual suspicion after years of relentless gun violence.
Obama’s impassioned appeal — one he has repeated often throughout his presidency — was made more powerful by confessions of his own doubt about whether he and the country are up to the task.
“I am not naive. I have spoken at too many memorials during the course of this presidency,” Obama said in one of his most reflective and personal speeches. “I have seen how inadequate my own words have been.”
The president came to Dallas to mourn and pay tribute to the five police officers who were killed last week while protecting marchers protesting the deaths of black men at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota.
His challenge, in the midst of a bitter presidential election season, was to press Americans to be more empathetic and focus on their shared values.
The task was made all the more difficult by the graphic videos of police shootings that have ricocheted across social media over the past week, spawning competing narratives about racial discrimination, inequities in the criminal justice system and the dangers of policing.
“Can we find the character, as Americans, to open our hearts to each other? Can we see in each other a common humanity and a shared dignity, and recognize how our different experiences have shaped us?” Obama asked. “I don’t know. I confess that sometimes I, too, experience doubt.”
Aboard Air Force One en route to Texas, Obama called family members of the two men killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota to offer his and the first lady’s condolences.
In Dallas, the president praised police officers for doing difficult and dangerous work, even as he called attention to broader problems with policing practices across the nation. He consoled the mourners, even as he challenged Americans to be more open with each other, to shout less and listen more.
“If we’re honest, perhaps we’ve heard prejudice in our own heads and felt it in our own hearts. We know that,” Obama said. He acknowledged that even as Americans try to rise above bigotry and discrimination, “none of us is entirely innocent. No institution is entirely immune, and that includes our police departments. We know this.”
Obama’s speech was memorable for its raw quality and the president’s unmistakable frustration. The president was returning to a theme — the need to overcome rancorous partisanship and racial divisions — that has dominated his career.
One year ago, Obama stood before an arena full of mourners in Charleston, S.C., who had gathered to remember nine black parishioners killed by a white gunman during a Bible study. In Charleston, Obama gave a soaring, spiritual and optimistic address. The country, he said, had responded to the brutal killings with a “big-hearted generosity . . . a thoughtful introspection and self-examination that we so rarely see in public life.”
In Dallas, he again described a tragedy as a call to action, but this time he was more blunt than soaring. His optimism was tempered by a stream of violence in the intervening year. Since he spoke in Charleston, there have been more mass shootings: in Roseburg, Ore.; San Bernardino, Calif.; Orlando; and now Dallas. Much to his frustration, the president’s efforts to advance gun-control legislation have gone nowhere, and a bipartisan push for criminal justice reform has stalled. Racial tensions seem to have grown worse amid the recent run of police shootings and the divisive cacophony of a bitter election season.
Obama called on police and their supporters not to ignore the complaints of protesters who point to racial disparities in searches, arrests, deadly shootings and sentences as proof of police bias.
He called on protesters and civil rights activists to empathize with the plight of police officers, who are often assigned to patrol dangerous and forgotten neighbourhoods without sufficient resources.
“We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book,” Obama said.
“It’s hard not to think sometimes that the centre won’t hold and that things might get worse. I understand how Americans are feeling ... we must reject such despair.”

LOL Kitchen Gadgets - Potato Clock

A fun little gadget you can get for your kitchen (or anywhere you don't mind having a couple of potatoes sitting around) is a Potato Clock.

Now, obviously, before you buy any clock, you would want to know whether it's accurate. Yes it is. The potato doesn't determine the accuracy, the electronics do. The potatoes just supply the power.

And they can last a long time! A science experiment clock using potatoes of 1 pound each apparently lasted a whopping 561 hours, or over 3 weeks. And I'm assuming those are raw potatoes because if you boil them, they can apparently last around 10 times as long.

This miracle battery from Jerusalem can be shipped to your home for less than $10, but if you are too cheap to buy that and don't mind some MacGyver-ing you can make your own potato clock. You obviously need a small clock -- one that runs on small batteries.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

An honest look at @LuvoInc from @WFMVan

You can get coupons
for LUVO here.
Before I get to my review of two LUVO frozen entrees, I need to start with the disclosure that I'm an investor in LUVO -- all the way from a few years ago when they were just raising capital in Canada to launch the idea. Now they are all over the US, and you can even buy bulk packs of LUVO online from Amazon style= (shipping to US addresses). They launched last year in Canada at classy supermarkets (Whole Foods!) for the health-conscious demographic, and LUVO is even more widely distributed now in stores like Urban Fare, IGA, and even Superstore.

I chose to get it from Whole Foods at Cambie and 8th because it was close to where my friend and co-eater in this investigation lived.

Each pack was $7.99, and you can save $0.10 off your transaction if you bring your own bag (or you can donate it to charity (probably one of theirs, like the Whole Planet Foundation or what not) -- they ask at the till and handle it for you). Clearly if you buy things here, buy bring lots of friends and buy each item separately for a flat 10 cent discount per item. LOL!

2016-Jul-10 LUVO - frozen entrees tested

At the till I noticed that the box for the LUVO Orange Mango Chicken was a bit soggy at the back (see picture below). This was possibly a sign that it had partially thawed at some point. Not sure how this would have affected things, but later when I opened the bag, it felt and sounded like the contents were still iced solid. Nevertheless... something to watch out for?

2016-Jul-10 LUVO - signs of partial thawing

2016-Jul-10 LUVO chicken chile verde

Microwaving instructions are slightly DIFFERENT in microwaving times. I went with the microwave instructions and set it for the average time. Oven instructions of over a half hour presumably try to make sure the item is steamed to regulation internal temperature. Which I didn't check.

While microwaving, the bag puffs up like a bag of popcorn. In fact, at the peak the seam opened up and I could hear the steam hissing out. Because there was this release, there really wasn't any fear of explosion, though I was mildly worried about sauce spray in the microwave. Fortunately that didn't happen.

2016-Jul-10 LUVO - bag steaming in the microwave

2016-Jul-10 LUVO - steamed bag slightly open at the top; and you need scissors

Also surprised that a pair of scissors was necessary. I'm sure it has to do with how the product comes out of the bag, but c'mon -- You don't need it for microwave popcorn!
I took care about the steam but there was nothing to fear as the pressure was presumably released at the top and during microwaving.

After plating, be sure to look inside the bag for stubborn leftovers that didn't slide out:

2016-Jul-10 LUVO - leftovers in the bag

2016-Jul-10 LUVO - orange mango chicken

Per instruction, I let the meal slide out onto the plate, and it did in fact plate quite prettily for a microwave dinner. Colours and freshness of the items was obviously not exactly as shown in the picture, which looks more like something a restaurant would be proud to bring out.
Below you can see a cross section of the white chicken breast meat, which turned out reasonably tender and moist.

2016-Jul-10 LUVO chicken closeup

Overall, the taste of the Orange Mango Chicken was pretty decent. It's definitely low in saltiness, enough that you might find it on the bland side. So the best strategy seemed to be to make sure I paired each bite of rice with veggie or chicken of fruit, plus whatever sauce I could mop up.

Portion looks a bit smallish but you do get heavy chicken breast meat and grains in there so there's room for dessert after, unless you are a growing teen or hungry hockey player.

2016-Jul-10 LUVO chicken chile verde

Polenta cake came out okay but everything else sort of slid apart. Looks like we got more sauce here than with the Orange Mango Chicken.
Polenta very plain and bland so make sure to eat it with bites of something else. Sauce makes this taste saltier but it's probably just the mix of flavours. Like the previous item, chicken chunks would look more impressive if they were bigger, just like in the picture.

Overall this was tastier for being more flavourful. With the Orange Mango Chicken, if you ran out of fruit I think you were sort of in trouble for taste.


If you sift through the considerable reading, there's lots to like, such as gluten-free (in the case of the Chicken Chile Verde); chicken raised without antibiotics; veggie content; no artificial colours, flavours, or sweeteners; low sodium; and not a lot of mysterious ingredients (Guar gumXanthan Gum?).

As far as frozen meals go, LUVO offers a more stylish plate and perhaps most importantly the semblance of a sophisticated restaurant meal -- plus it's hopefully a balanced and healthy one with carbs and protein. Plating is much better and more appetizing than frozen dinners in plastic compartment. Not as picture perfect as the ad copy, of course, but really decent for something you just slide out of a bag with no assembly required.

You can get coupons for LUVO here.

UPDATE (2016-Sep-3): You can get LUVO cheaper from Superstore:

2016-Sep-3 LUVO cheaper from Superstore

Saturday, July 9, 2016

@WHMVan Quinoa sweet potato cake

Got back from Whole Foods at Cambie and 8th where I had "dinner" -- that is, my friend put together a dinner plate from their $2.49/100g hot food selection while I looked for something more interesting... and found it! In the cold salad deli area, there were the these Quinoa Sweet Potato Cakes that wer colourful and fun-looking, and turned out really decent.

It's got tons of ingredients including the intriguing wehani rice (which flavour and aroma was, to be honest, probably completely hidden by the medley of other ingredients) and use of yam and dried cranberries to make this an actually rather sweet rice ball. Came salad-chilled from the refridgerated counter, and was moist. May have been better hot, but it was definitely fine the way it was.

2016-Jul-9 Whole Foods - quinoa sweet potato cakes

2016-Jul-9 Whole Foods - quinoa sweet potato cakes

2016-Jul-9 Whole Foods - quinoa sweet potato cake, spinach pakora

Also tried was a Spinach Pakora, which was terribly lacklustre. This is definitely the sort of thing you need to eat not only hot, but freshly fried. Wait too long or let it sit and the flavour experience is just tedious.

2016-Jul-9 Whole Foods - spinach pakora

Bestest Popcorn Ever - G.H. Cretors Blueberry Lemon Caramel Corn

Just back from Whole Foods at Cambie and 8th with this really fantastic find: G.H. Cretors Blueberry Lemon Caramel Corn, apparently a limited-time flavour.

Basically it's caramel corn, but with wat looks like chunks of dried blueberry and tiny bits lemon. I didn't inspect every single kernel but it does look like you get a piece of blueberry pasted on every one.

Taste is mostly fruity sweet (but not so reach-for-water sweet like caramel corn often is) with mild lemony tang -- not enough to overpower the other flavours, but with the word "Lemon" in the description, you may therefore find it a bit tame.
A very welcome change from most seasoned popcorn, which is either too caramel-sweet or savoury flavours.

G.H. Cretors Blueberry Lemon Caramel Corn

G.H. Cretors Blueberry Lemon Caramel Corn

G.H. Cretors Blueberry Lemon Caramel Corn

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Queso Fundido at The Mexican versus Telus Garden

The Mexican Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato My first experience of queso fundido was at Telus Garden, where I really thought they did a great job of it. I spotted the dish again tonight at The Mexican Antojitos Y Cantina, where you have two options: with chorizo (the traditional way) or mushrooms (the veggie option; doesn't cost any less).

Queso Fundido ($11) Flame-melted cheese mixed with your choice of mushroom or homemade chorizo, corn tortillas and pico de gallo.
  • It's an appetizer so portion is smallish.
  • Salty cheese. And only three (?) tacos so be generous with the cheese.
  • Cools quite quickly but doesn't harden for a while. Still, it's not tasty when it's not hot so don't dilly dally!
  • Definitely use the salsa (pico de gallo) provided as it helps to offset the heaviness that comes with basically eating a whole lot of cheese.
2016-Jul-7 The Mexican - Queso Fundido

2016-Jul-7 The Mexican - Queso Fundido

2016-Jul-7 The Mexican - Queso Fundido

Overall it's pretty tasty in a salty-tasty sort of way, and if you like stringy cheese it's fun. BUT -- and I can't believe I'm saying this because I'm not Glowbal Group's biggest fan -- BUT if you like queso fundido, go to Telus Garden. For just $4 more, they do an honestly fantastic job in comparison. Here's why (aside from being in a way fancier atmosphere):
  • Comes in a searing hot stone bowl that literally sizzles the cheese inside. This keeps it hot and soft for a long time.
  • More stringy cheese fun.
  • Cheese is seared brown where it touches the bowl, and if you're like me, you find that pretty darn tasty.
Three Milk Cake ($4.50)
  • Only $4.50 but also not that tasty to be honest.
2016-Jul-7 The Mexican - Queso Fundido

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Copycat KFC Recipe

Love KFC? I don't actually crave it, but to be perfectly honest, the original recipe does taste pretty good (yeah, whatevs, go gag elsewhere all you chicken-haters!).

Apparently some people really can't get enough of it and have copycat recipes!
Here's one from, by "The Spice Guru" who claims to have reverse engineered the product -- even down to using specific brands of spices!
And unfortunately he insists on using all-caps for parts of his recipe, so here it is in a more legible way:

Chicken Notes:
  • Do not double-bread chicken since it places an excess of sodium and spices onto final product and compromises authenticity (if you insist on double-breading, diffuse the breading mix first by adding a little more unseasoned flour).
  • Brining boneless chicken should be done much more quickly (no more than 45 minutes, to avoid over-saturation of salt).
  • Boneless chicken cooks much more quickly than bone-in chicken (be careful to not overcook!).
  • Frying fat notes: Always begin with fresh vegetable oil. After using let it cool. Filter, then refrigerate tightly sealed to yield 6-12 frying batches, replenishing oil as needed.
So, honestly, how many of you were not surprised yet not outright disgusted by the mention of MSG... Anyway, if you still want to try it, here is the rest of The Spice Guru's "KFC's 'Original Recipe' Chicken" copycat recipe.

Another KFC copycat isn't so big on specific brands but instead places the emphasis on MSG and a pressure fryer (critical!). For crispier chicken, they recommend Crisco instead of lard to fry it, and double-coating the chicken -- which is directly contradictory to the other recipe which insists double-breading compromises authenticity. Hmm...

For an entire cookbook of "secret recipes" used by popular restaurants and famous fast food chains of America, Click Here for America's Restaurant Recipes. So you don't have to scour the internet and hope you find the most authentic one. And yes, it includes KFC...