Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ask For Luigi

Ask for Luigi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato Ask for Luigi is a cozy restaurant in a sort-of-sketchy neighborhood charging fine dining prices for fine dining food and thankfully, fine dining quality service -- friendly staff with easy smiles and a server quick to put you at ease if you show signs of being daunted by the menu. No pretentious attitude here.

It's been a while since I went to a fine dining restaurant so with only one glass of wine at the table I must admit to initially being fazed by the nearly-$100 (before tip) cheque. The location just didn't add up to fine dining pricey-renovation-ambiance but the food was competitive and prices aren't hidden on the online menu.
I might be tempted to ding them for price, except that their portions are actually NOT skimpy, unlike fine dining places, especially those that suggest you order to share (e.g., Nightingale, being one of my more recent dining experiences).

Get there half an hour early to be first in line. They seat only full parties so doesn't matter who's first -- just be ready first. On a cold Saturday night my friend and I were second in line but first seated because our entire party of two were already there.

(Pictures were taken with smartphone light on, to counter the dim yellowish light).

green salad, chestnuts, pecorino & date vinaigrette ($15)
  • Tastes better than it looks. Remember to look under the veggies for chestnut chunks.
2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - green salad

crispy polenta, chicken liver ragù & piave ($18)
  • For an appy the portion you get is a light meal in the two big chunks of polenta. Together they are about the volume of a cube of tofu.
  • The polenta is white and creamy on the inside, fun and crispy on the outside (ours came served nicely hot).
  • Polenta is very bland so make sure to pair each bite with the liver. Liver itself is not strongly bitter or pungent so it's ok on its own, but it's nicer to have the flavour tempered a bit more with the polenta.
  • I would personally have preferred the polenta chunks to be further divided into half thickness as I found the thickness combined with the creamy softness a bit unwieldy, like eating a thick porridge with a fork and knife.
  • Overall taste is OK unless you happened to get too many bland bites.
2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - crispy polenta

2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - crispy polenta

pappardelle, kale & oyster mushrooms ($26)
  • My friend's order and I did get to just try a sample.
  • Good-sized portion!
  • Lovely texture to the pasta.
  • Minced anchovy (?) added a nice flavour without being too dominant.
2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - pappardelle

2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - pappardelle

raviolo all'uovo & porchetta ($25)
  • Portion is actually decent because there's an amount of veggie and porchetta under that single huge ravioli that hides an egg with soft yolk.
  • The idea as conveyed to us by our server was to cut the ravioli and let the eggy goodness ooze out into the dish. There was some oozing but not as much as I had anticipated. I think I should have maybe dug out the remaining egg and cheese and mixed it into the veggies, but separately the dish was fine.
  • Very flavourful vegetables. Looks like it's swimming in olive oil but there wasn't a sense of oiliness when I ate it.
  • The veggies were very flavourful so that nudged this up from okay to tasty.
  • When I asked for what was weird on the menu, this was one of the nominees (the other being crispy tripe and tripe just isn't that weird to me so I passed on that). So the menu at Ask for Luigi is pretty safe no matter what you order.
2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - raviolo all'uovo

2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - raviolo all'uovo

2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi - raviolo all'uovo

2017-Dec-9 - Ask for Luigi

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

GUEST POST - The Benefits of Paleo and Keto Diets for Cancer Patients

Today we have a special GUEST POST by Virgil Anderson of Mesothelioma.net

The paleo and ketogenic diets are more popular than ever before and for good reasons. They have been shown to be beneficial in a number of ways, from cutting out processed foods to helping people lose weight. There is also evidence that these diets may provide important benefits for people living with and being treated for various types of cancer, like mesothelioma or lung cancer.

The Paleo Diet and its Health Benefits
The paleo diet has a pretty simple basis: don’t eat anything our Paleolithic ancestors wouldn’t have eaten. The Paleolithic was before agricultures, so that means no grains or dairy. Instead, on the paleo diet you eat meat, game, poultry, fish, vegetables, seeds, fruits, and nuts. Although there may have been beans and legumes around 10,000 years ago, the paleo diet avoids these as well.

Perhaps the best thing about the paleo diet is that it relies on whole foods and eliminates processed ones. There is no vegetable oil on this diet, and no junk food or packaged foods. The elimination of dairy, grains, and beans is more controversial, but the idea is that 10,000 years is not a long enough time to have evolved to digest them properly.

Virgil Anderson article picture 1

Some of the known health benefits of the paleo diet include
  • Decreases in blood pressure.
  • Weight loss. 
  • A greater ability to tolerate glucose.
  • Better appetite control.
  • Lower triglycerides, a type of fat, in the blood.
These can all be benefits for cancer patients, but there are more specific reasons to try the diet if you are battling cancer. The paleo diet is very low in sugar, which has been found in studies to negatively impact the survival rates of cancer patients. The negative effect is greater for any patients who are overweight, and the paleo diet can help with weight loss as well.

In another study, researchers actually found that some types of cancer cells, including squamous long cancer cells, are highly dependent on sugar for growth. With less sugar, tumors may grow more slowly, which obviously benefits the patients.

Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
The keto diet is similar to the paleo diet. The idea is to eat fewer carbohydrates and more fats. The philosophy behind the diet is totally unrelated, but it ends up being very similar in terms of what you can eat. The idea of the diet is that eating more fat and fewer carbs forces the body into ketosis, a state in which it burns fat. On the keto diet you eat similar foods to the paleo diet, but also leave out potatoes and alcohol and you are allowed to eat dairy. The basic guideline is to consume 75 percent of your calories as fat, 20 percent as protein, and only five percent as carbs, although there are some variations.

The keto diet has been proven to be an excellent tool for weight loss, for improving sensitivity to insulin, and for reversing the course of type 2 diabetes. It has also been shown in research to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease and to reduce seizures in children who have epilepsy.

For cancer patients, there is evidence that the keto diet can be beneficial too. In animal studies, tumors shrank when the animals were fed a keto diet with restricted calories. In other studies specifically with cancer patients, the keto diet was found to enhance the effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy, making them more effective.

There are few risks of trying the keto or paleo diets, as both are more healthful than the typical American diet. However, it is always important to speak to your doctor before making any drastic dietary changes. This is especially true for cancer patients. There may be some risks that you aren’t aware of and that your medical team can warn you about. You may also want to work with a dietician or nutritionist to get started to ensure that your diet is balanced and has adequate nutrients for you to heal and fight your cancer.

Virgil Anderson article picture 2 My name is Virgil Anderson. I’m a Cancer Survivor, treated through the carer network at mesothelioma.net. As someone who knows the power of awareness in fighting cancer, I tip my hat to Simon for allowing me to share this info.

- more about Virgil here

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro

Chez Meme Baguette Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato My budget-conscious friend decided to try Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro despite usually ending up at Red Robin for one of their two-for-one burger specials. Chez Mémé has an extraordinary near-perfect score on Zomato, which usually scores tougher than Yelp.

Overall items were not very salty, so if you're used to that you might even think they are not salty enough. Baguettes / come with your choice of fries, salad, or daily soup. Daily soup can come warm or piping hot and no matter the weather I suggest you get it hot because as you work through your meal it's going to get cold.

If you've read some reviews from several years ago, be aware that the prices have gone up. Their lamb sandwich used to be $10 around 2010, but is now $13.25. (Menu at the bottom of this post).

Jarret ($13.25) lamb shanks, roasted garlic jam, grainy dijon; comes with choice of salad, fries, or daily soup
  • As previously mentioned, this might come across a bit bland if you're expecting what looks like meat from a stew to be on the salty savory side.
  • Very gamey! Make sure you like your lamb that way.
  • Big chunks of meat. Watch out for small pieces of bone -- My friend was maybe unlucky because she got three pieces about the size of a 25-cent coin each.
  • Overall I personally would have liked it a bit saltier.
  • Considering price for portion, it's hard to go wrong here at $13.25. You get what basically amounts to two burger's worth and the filling is basically meat meat meat. Plus baguettes are slightly heavier and more filling than the typical soft, light buns used in burgers nowadays.
  • In the pictures below, remember that you get TWO sandwiches per plate plus soup if you chose that option.
2017-Nov-22 Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro - Jarret

2017-Nov-22 Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro - Jarret

Ratatouille ($12.75) roasted peppers, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, goat cheese, caramelized onions and pistou; comes with choice of salad, fries, or daily soup
  • Pretty bland, plus strangely there wasn't a lot of contribution from the goat cheese, which is typically quite strong and might have rescued this sandwich. Somehow needs more flavour contribution from the veggies. Maybe if they used an actual vegetable stew ratatouille it might have worked better.
  • Possibly because of the skin being still on the veggies, there was a tendency for a bite to end up pulling out one of the vegetable strips.
  • I'd give this a pass and get something meaty or something else if you're going vegetarian.
2017-Nov-22 Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro - Ratatouille

2017-Nov-22 Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro - Ratatouille

We came for lunch shortly after Noon and the breakfast menu was still available. The small place was almost at capacity but quiets down suddenly after the Noon-ish lunch rush. If you're going to go, pay special attention to their hours! -- They close at 3pm and are not open weekends!
Service was very good! Calm, friendly, attentive, and not pushy at all.

2017-Nov-22 Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro - menu

2017-Nov-22 Chez Mémé Baguette Bistro - menu

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Romer's Burger Bar Drunken Donuts and Kitsilano "Vault"

Romer's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato I got the chance to go to Yelp's Holiday Market Party, a fundraiser for the Lion's Gate Hospital Foundation as well as an opportunity for various up-and-coming food and drink vendors to show their wares. One of them was Romer's, showcasing their "drunken donuts" foremost but also with some brochures for "holiday gatherings" at their "Vault" location in Kitsilano.

These donuts are soaked on the inside and not your typical spongy doughy interior so watch out for their richness and order to share. Sauce is served on the side in the restaurant.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Coast Cricket Protein

I got the chance to go to Yelp's Holiday Market Party, a fundraiser for the Lion's Gate Hospital Foundation as well as an opportunity for various up-and-coming food and drink vendors to show their wares. One of the most interesting vendors flying under radar was Coast Cricket Protein.

Their wares looked like chocolate bars and tasted like it, but they were actually about eating crickets for protein!

As for the wares, the chocolate bar and peanut butter bars tasted like... chocolate and peanut butter! Nothing weird or off-putting, which I think was the point.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Wholly Veggie

I got the chance to go to Yelp's Holiday Market Party, a fundraiser for the Lion's Gate Hospital Foundation as well as an opportunity for various up-and-coming food and drink vendors to show their wares. One of them was Wholly Veggie.

They are vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free, dairy free. Which is almost vegan but not quite -- they still use egg as a binding agent, but apparently working toward being vegan in 2018.

I got to try all three types and I did like them for their strong, clear, flavour. Possibly strong enough to cut through whatever else you're throwing into a burger. Definitely don't overwhelm it like you might a regular burger. Wholly Veggie has various easy recipe suggestions online.

Something else I also really liked was how it wasn't trying to be meat in taste or texture. They are conveniently patty shaped and proudly vegetarian, advertising vegetarian flavour. Fake meat patties, often with soy and bitter overtones, have never really worked for me either as fake meat or as something tasty.
  • Herby Garlic Greens - Good garlic flavour but not too strong. Whether it's herby might depend on what herbs you're hoping to stand out.
  • Sweet Curry Carrot - Sweet and curry, no real heat here.
  • Southwest Beet - A firmer patty than the other two. Sweet plus surprising heat that quickly builds, but isn't really bitter or burning. And no, the spiciness isn't really advertised on the front of the package, but look at the top cover for the mention of chili.
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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Panda Coco

I got the chance to go to Yelp's Holiday Market Party, a fundraiser for the Lion's Gate Hospital Foundation as well as an opportunity for various up-and-coming food and drink vendors to show their wares. One of them was Panda Coco, snacks made of flavoured coconut chips. Coconut chips aren't a novelty anymore of course but Panda Coco does them very nicely, and with a southeast asian twist, with such flavours as durian and tom yum soup.

What I really liked about the samples I tried from Panda Coco is the strong, clear flavour. Sometimes you'll see specialty flavours for potato chips such as poutine or hamburger, but they are so salty on top of struggling to identify the iconic tastes of each specialty flavour.
Not here. Tom yum soup flavour is clear (and not super-strong -- because if you've had the paste or the soup, you know it can be darn strong and sour). Durian flavour is clearly durian. For those two flavours, the coconut chips are just a vehicle to carry the flavour into your mouth and with a nutritional profile that's healthier than oily fried chips.

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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

La Petite Cakerie

I got the chance to go to Yelp's Holiday Market Party, a fundraiser for the Lion's Gate Hospital Foundation as well as an opportunity for various up-and-coming food and drink vendors to show their wares. One of them was Amanda Huhn's La Petite Cakerie, which had vegan and vegan-and-gluten-free goods.

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I tried to sample the "normal" one alongside the gluten-free counterparts. As mini-cupcakes go, the vegan ones were very good and certainly much better than the generally oilier-feeling supermarket cheapies.

The gluten free cupcakes, however, had a grainy texture and a greater tendency to crumble, which is sadly common in gluten-free baking. It also had a flavour to it that demanded so much attention -- more than even the delicious cream on top -- that I found it too distracting to like.

That said, I am not celiac and for people who have to be gluten-free, to a great extent beggars can't be choosers and the difference might be moot anyway.

Cupcakes weren't the only things at the show of course -- cookies, brownies, and s'mores were all available. I liked that they didn't have an excessive sweetness or richness though that's probably a very personal choice. I do like that I could sample several of their wares without that over-sugared tired feeling.

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Sun Bo Kong Vegetarian Restaurant

Sun Bo Kong Vegetarian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato DISCLAIMER: I grew up eating Chinese food and my mom's wonton soup, so Chinese food is comparatively mundane for me. If it's a delicious novelty for you, then you might want to rate this restaurant higher.

NOTE: This is a vegetarian Chinese restaurant that uses meat substitutes. Part of my positive tilt on how I rate them is in the quality of the fakeness of the meat.

B14 Assorted Vegetables and Wonton in Soup ($12.95)
  • Overall pretty ordinary tasting. In fact, I'm a bit inclined to give it bonus points for tasting just like my mom's home cooking.
  • Not exactly thick with wontons since this is mixed wontons and vegetables (and it says so right in the menu name), so if you're looking for tons of wontons and just token veggies, you might want to check with the server for something else to order.
  • The wontons are themselves quite interesting from a fake-meat point of view. They actually taste fairly close to pork. But more than that, they actually make an effort to have it look like pork-and-shrimp wontons: If you cut open one, you'll likely see a fat chunk of (fake) prawn. It doesn't taste like prawn (tastes more like bland nothing if you isolate it and taste it) but the appearance is comforting for omnivores that might be missing meat.
2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - B14 Assorted Vegetables and Wonton in Soup


2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - B14 Assorted Vegetables and Wonton in Soup

2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - wonton interior

C27 Veggie Balls and Mushrooms with Black Pepper Sauce ($13.95)
  • Pretty simple and tasty. Sauce not too strong though, so if you're worried about that, or looking forward to a very strong pepperiness, check with your server.
  • Except for the shape, the "veggie balls" are pretty good at passing for tender chunks of (fake) chicken. And camouflaged amongst the comparably sized mushrooms, you might not even notice the odd shapes. If you're looking for fake chicken, this is probably better than the overtly fake-looking chicken options.
  • NOT swimming in oily sauce. This is good.
2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - C27 Veggie Balls and Mushrooms with Black Pepper Sauce

2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - C27 Veggie Balls and Mushrooms with Black Pepper Sauce

G10 Baked Fried Rice with Pumpkin and Cheese ($16.95)
  • Weird to see cheese and pumpkin in a Chinese restaurant, much less in the same dish. I recommend you try it! It's not only novel but the sauce makes it pretty tasty.
  • It's also a LOT of rice -- the server rated a single order as being enough rice for five persons! Certainly on it's own it's a meal for two.
  • It does NOT taste like Kraft cheddar mac 'n cheese. Nor does it taste like someone melted an awful lot of cheddar on top. In fact, it doesn't taste like cheese so much. The sauce (that doesn't harden up like cheese when it cools) kind of tasted to me like a sweet, not-spicy-hot, curry.
  • The pumpkin comes in small wedges with some of the green skin on, but baked enough to be tender and sweet. Make sure you scoop up some.
2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - G10 Baked Fried Rice with Pumpkin and Cheese

2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - G10 Baked Fried Rice with Pumpkin and Cheese

2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - G10 Baked Fried Rice with Pumpkin and Cheese

2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - G10 Baked Fried Rice with Pumpkin and Cheese

2017-10-21 Sun Bo Kong - G10 Baked Fried Rice with Pumpkin and Cheese

Service very friendly and helpful to non-Chinese speakers!
Not a lot of small tables for 2-4 so if you're a duo you might get stuck with a small table basically at the kitchen exit and the only other option is only a bit farther away.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Social Nature - Little Northern Bakehouse

The latest free sample I received from SocialNature is Little Northern Bakehouse gluten-free bread.

For restrictive diets, there's lots to like with this pretty much lowest-common denominator almost-everyone-can-eat-it bread: Gluten-free, but also non-GMO and Vegan.

The first challenge in getting them was actually finding them in-store. From the online Store Locator, I knew to look in Save-On-Foods but I didn't see it with the rest of the breads, and ended up having to ask the Bakery Department, who directed me to a freezer near the meat section. Nowhere close to breads and chock full of other gluten-free breads.

I really wanted a "normal" loaf of plain white to compare with "normal" bread, but they only have fancy varieties with stuff in it. In the end I picked Cinnamon & Raisin Loaf because I figured raisin breads are common enough that I could compare and non-raisin-hater readers could also relate.
Here are some *before store discount* price-per-100 gram comparisons of Raisin loaves from the Save-On-Foods near Metrotown (2017-October-17):

$0.74/100g - Country Harvest whole wheat raisin cinnamon
$0.84/100g - Dempsters Cinnamon Raisin
$0.77/100g - local/baked in-store (?) Raisin Bread
$1.35/100g - Little Northern Gluten Free (and vegan) Cinnamon Raisin

Price for portion, getting a specialty loaf costs about twice as much. The bag size looks about the same but the loaf is definitely smaller.
IMPORTANT: I am not celiac. I am not vegan. So it's definitely daunting to want to switch. But if you are either, then to a certain extent, beggars can't be choosers and the market makes you pay a premium for a specialty product.

2017-Oct-17 Save on Foods - 4.99-5.69 cinnamon raisin bread

2017-Oct-17 Save on Foods - 3.50 local Raisin Bread with 40% raisins

2017-Oct-17 Save on Foods - 6.49 Little Northern Bakehouse gluten free cinnamon raisin loaf

The shape is also, in a word, horrible. Maybe freezing it did it no favours. Here are some pictures of the still-basically-frozen loaf when I got it home from Save-On-Foods:

2017-10-17 - Little Northern Bakehouse gf cinnamon raisin loaf - in package

2017-10-17 - Little Northern Bakehouse gf cinnamon raisin loaf - loaf (frozen)

2017-10-17 - Little Northern Bakehouse gf cinnamon raisin loaf - cross section (frozen)

I let it thaw a bit, then threw the two slices pictured above into my toaster on the very lowest setting. TIP: The raisins take a bit longer to warm up than the bread.

I'm not celiac, so I can be picky about gluten-free breads and the early ones were dry and crumbly. Little Northern Bakehouse promises "the consistency and feel of regular bread, so they won't crumble or fall apart". The texture is in fact very, very, close to "normal bread". If you put any kind of spread on it, or if you're just not paying close attention, you'll miss the slightly grainy texture on your tongue.

Overall as bread goes, it's pretty good except for the shape. For people who want to switch to gluten free (and vegan) and miss bread, this is a very good facsimile. If you're going to serve it, best to try disguising its shape with some kind of dressing or topping -- and the Little Northern Bakehouse blog has no shortage of recipes.

2017-10-17 Social Nature - Little Northern Bakehouse

2017-10-17 Social Nature - Little Northern Bakehouse

2017-10-17 Social Nature - Little Northern Bakehouse