Showing posts from December, 2011

Beautiful Cakes and Strange Lemonade at Bel Cafe

After a somewhat disappointing dinner at Section(3) on Friday night, my dining companion and I zipped over to Bel Cafe at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia for a civilized and decadent dessert. Many years ago, when there was still the mainstay jazz venue The Georgia Street Bar and Grill, there was a patisserie (?) here as well, but with much less seating and long counters filled with goodies -- operating mostly as a take-out place. Can't even remember the name now, honestly. Now there's maybe a third of the selection but much more seating. The walls are lined with cushioned seating and the space between the tables is very generous. The space in front of the counter, however, is squashy and has to be shared with kitchen staff coming and going. Still, it's a fair enough compromise if one is aiming for business-class patron seating rather than a table arrangement where you're walking sideways to get anywhere between tables. You can order and pay at the counter, of course,

Section(3) - NSFW menus and other things

I dropped by Section(3) last night with a foodie buddy who lives downtown. It always looked like more of a bar scene to me from the outside and I subconsciously avoided it, but the menu had some intriguing things on it, like an interesting sounding Baked Brie, Coca-Cola Braised Rib (apparently one chunk of meat about the width of a can of Campbell's soup and half as tall). So finally I decided to give it a go. I had opted for an early dinner (5pm) to avoid any dinner rush or the usual Yaletown crush. At 5pm, most places there had just a handful of diners and you pretty much had your choice of seating (but I made a reservation anyway... just in case of private parties or what not monopolizing the establishment). Theoretically, this means prompt and attentive service, right? Well... not always. But I'm getting ahead of myself. If you haven't been to Section(3), you probably don't know the history of having had a mere 48 hours to change their name or be sued. Most of

THINaddictives Cranberry Almond Thin Cookie

I walked in for my usual Friday morning volunteering shift and happily there were still Christmas treats leftover. Among them were a few packs of THINaddictives almond thin cookies , doubtless picked up en masse from CostCo, where admin seems to get everything else. With over 200 volunteers, we buy bulk. :) These thin cookies were biscotti-like, especially in how they are double-baked . The word biscotti itself is derived from a Latin meaning double-cooked/double-baked. Double-baking not only gives a bread or cake the crunchy exterior, but helps to preserve it for unreasonably long periods of time. And because it then becomes hard and crunchy, such things are typically jazzed up with some sort of creamy coating and dipped in coffee. The very thin cookies (about 3mm thick) from THINaddictives were very strong with almond flavour and not so much with the cranberries, though it was clearly real cranberry baked into it. There was a slight chewiness to it which prevents the usual bisco

Raw Vegan Pad Thai from Organic Lives has bite

You may have heard that Organic Lives opened a downtown Granville location last week in the Chopra Yoga Centre . I had had a delicious chocolate cake ("The Ridiculous") from them earlier this year, and was curious about their non-dessert menu. The menu is raw (with the exception of some few ingredients in select items -- I was told the maple syrup in some dessert doesn't classify as raw), organic, and vegan, but you may not notice. The Chopra Yoga Centre front desk is now divided into two parts. The reception desk on the left, and Organic Lives on the right. Yes, the entire kitchen is right behind the reception desk in the spacious lobby. Run by a single chef. The ladies behind the counter have a peaceful serenity that borders on the eerie, but I'm sure that's harmless. Because it's a small space, the full menu from their larger store/restaurant on Quebec Street near Science World isn't available. The all-important chocolate cake is there, and a

Whoopie Pie at Starbucks

Staggering out of the Christmas Market weighed down by profound disappointment (instead of what over $20 of food should have felt like in my tummy), my dining buddy and I closed our evening outing with a trip to Starbucks for proper coffee. I got a seasonal Caramel Brulée Latte , extra hot, plus one Chocolate Crème Whoopie Pie for myself and one for my patient dining buddy. When the cashier went to ring it in, she asked which type of Whoopie Pie we wanted, only to realize there was just the one type in the display case. It's a bit harder to find on the website, but there is apparently a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie . Each Whoopie Pie is slightly bigger and sandwiches more cream than your typical $2 macaron . IF you compare it to macarons, then at $1.60 they don't sound too expensive. But if you didn't know macarons were $2, then $1.60 for something smaller than a moist chocolate muffin must look like a rip-off. The Chocolate Crème Whoopie Pie is quite soft, very moist, a

Feeling Ripped Off at the Christmas Market 2011

Just back from the Vancouver Christmas Market set up on the plaza at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre downtown. It ends on Christmas Eve. I was curious about some of the "Traditional German Market Food and Beverages" mentioned on the Christmas Market website , but was wholly unprepared for the prices. $8 sausages? $9 waffles? My expectations were high. If it were a free event like Greek Day on Broadway , I might have toned down expectations. But this event seemed to be touted as being an authentic German import, and on top of any costs was $5 per adult in admission fees. My dining buddy and I started with a big savory waffle from Das Waffelhaus , supposedly made with spices mixed in ($7.50). For $1.50 you could have bacon bits (real bacon, not bacon bits with artificially reddish orange fake "bacon" you can find in supermarkets) mixed in, bringing the total to $9 for a waffle just over 1 centimeter thick and maybe 6 inches wide. It was surprisingly bland. If anyth

Deliver local papers... for $60/month?

A flyer came to my home advertising for a local newspaper carrier on Wednesday, December 14th. I can only suppose the perpetually spotty deliveries had spurred this. Carriers Wanted The NewsLeader is currently looking for carriers in your area. Here's a route that's available for you! Route: BB22622653 Papers: 99 (Door-to-door delivery to dry and wind-safe locations) The NewsLeader is delivered every Wednesday and Friday to the residents in yoru neighbourhood. The papers are dropped off at your home with the flyers pre-inserted and ready to go! 24-Hour carrier insurance High school graduation credit "Carrier of the Week" awards Seasonal carrier activities Referral & Replacement Bonus Programs $60 per month approx. Additional pay for special deliveries. If you are interested in delivering newspapers in your area please call 604.436.2472 Email: Okay, let's do the math here: ($60/month x 12 months) / (52

A Different Sort of Christmas Feast - Raw Vegan at Indigo

If you're tired of turkey or are vegetarian/vegan and can't stand Tofurky , this Christmas consider trying something different -- but still gourmet. Indigo Food is offering a seasonal menu , albeit during the very few Christmas Days not yet booked by private parties. All foods are dairy-free, and wheat-free, vegan, diabetic friendly -- and RAW (see menu details at the bottom of the page). Holiday Nut Nog OR Spicy Chai Masala OR Hot Chocolate with Orange or Mint Coconut Cheese Trio OR Coconut Dumplings with Coconut Cheese Curried Carrot Soup Apple Fennel Pomegranate Salad on a bed of Arugula with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing and Candied Pecans. Mashed No-tatoes* with Ravey Gravy Holiday Fantasy Stuffing Cranberry Relish Stuffed Portabello Burger Ganashe Cake OR Pomegranate Cheese Cake OR Pumpkin Pie * No-tatoes are like mashed potatoes, but made with lower-carbohydrate foods such as cauliflower. $39 per person or $74 per couple, available for take-out. Reservations:

Marble Slab Creamery - Free Ice Cream Cupcake Giveaway

Got this in my inbox Monday morning from Marble Slab Creamery : FREE Ice Cream Cupcake Giveaway Thursday, December 15 4 - 7 PM Limit one per customer. First 50 customers. Valid at participating locations only. While supplies last. The link to "participating locations" downloaded a PDF. For British Columbia, the locations listed were: Vancouver , Cambie & West Broadway 541 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1E6 Burnaby , Marine Way Market 7527 Market Crossing Burnaby, BC V5J 0A3 Coquitlam , Pinetree Village Unit 60, 2991 Lougheed Highway, Coquitlam, BC V3B 6J6 New Westminster , Queensborough Landing Unit J150 - 805 Boyd Street, New Westminster, BC V3M 5X2 North Vancouver , Time Market #3, 180 Esplanade West, North Vancouver, BC Richmond , Ironwood Plaza 155, 11720 Steveston Hwy, Richmond, BC V7A 1N6 Surrey , Grandview Corner Unit 50, 2245 - 160 Street, Surrey, BC V3S 9N6 Langley, Village at Thunderbird C105, 20159 - 88th Avenue, Langley, BC V1M 0A4 Kamloops,

Excellent Chocolate Cake at Bandidas Taqueria

I'd heard of this place from vegetarian and vegan friends, but tacos didn't really excite me. I mean, how inventive can they be? Well, it turns out that Bandidas Taqueria can turn out some really inventive tastes for tacos, and without using any meat at all. Although the theme is predominantly Mexican with tacos and burritos and the like, I can't say the tacos I tried tonight made me think "Mexican" at all. The ambiance is very Commercial Drive, so it doesn't look like much on the outside and the decor (and the use of jam jars for glasses) on the inside can be off-putting if you're used to posh Yaletown restaurants, so suck it up and focus on the food. Our friendly and very patient server Heidi said the quietest time was between 3pm to 5pm. After that, you can expect lineups possibly well into the night. Their tacos are corn-based, and therefore should be gluten-free. They are still soft and pliable, and you may very well not know any different, esp

$20 Food Overload at Fisherman's Terrace Seafood

Saturday afternoon was taken up by an astonishing 30+ dish 2-hour dim sum lunch on the third floor of Aberdeen Centre at Fishermans Terrace Seafood Restaurant with the Vancouver Food Bloggers . I don't get out to Richmond all that often. It's a different world with different priorities. For example, I could only find one type of Christmas cards (at Daiso ). Nothing anywhere else in the entire mall. :sigh: The mall also doesn't have paper recycling -- boo! And, curiously enough, the motion-activated water and soap dispensers actually come with instructions in English and Chinese. Since I grew up in a Chinese family and mom cooked Chinese food, I rarely bother to go to Chinese restaurants or dim sum, because, well, I grew up eating this stuff and mom makes it better (usually). Because of that, I also have pretty high expectations and am not easily impressed except by the most novel or interesting foods. So please read on with that caveat in mind. If you didn't grow u

Portraits of Organs

Last Tuesday (December 6th) was the annual " Meetup of Meetups ", put on once a year by mostly the Vancouver social media community. All told, there were probably over 400 people crammed into Mahoney & Son Burrard Landing . The first couple of hours saw everyone squashed like sardines. I met some interesting people that night, but probably none more intriguing than Masha Tikhonova of Grafikavision . When she said she painted human organs, I wasn't sure I heard her right at first. I was utterly intrigued by it when she confirmed what I had heard, and I was quick to follow up after the event. You can see some of her artistic and flowery renditions of human organs on her art blog, Anatomy . I like the interplay of the clearly human organ shapes with the frequently flowery and leafy designs. It seems to have a softening and recontextualizing effect on the subject of organs, which probably for most people conjures in the imagination what the raw organ looks like. Che

Croissants and Kombucha at Karmavore

If you've never heard of Karmavore, it's a vegan store with a deli and mini-supermarket downstairs. Upstairs there's belts and purses and shoes and stuff -- all vegan! Both upstairs and downstairs have chocolate bars. That says something about chocolate, I think. Food orders (takeout -- although there is a bit of a seating space downstairs) are placed with Samantha who runs the deli counter, but everything is paid for upstairs with Sara at the till. You can also get a "karma card" points reward card to accumulate savings. I only heard of Karmavore through hanging out with too many herbivores, so it was a wonderful surprise to discover how good their sandwiches were. That, or I was just starved for a really good, well-put-together sandwich. Depending on when you get there and how busy it is (and how many sandwiches are in the display case), you may end up with a shrink-wrapped prefab. I didn't have that and if possible I recommend you give yourself a bit

Baked Goods from Blenz

I dashed over to Blenz in New Westminster (at 6th and 6th) first thing in the morning to catch up with a dear friend at 9am. As I had treated her a few times in the past, she firmly put her foot down this time and insisted she have the bill. I capitulated and accepted a small seasonal GingerBread Latte . That still wasn't good enough for her, so she insisted on getting me some breakfast as well: A croissant drizzled with chocolate, and what appeared to be a blueberry bran muffin (should've paid more attention instead of watching them make my latte...). I'm not normally into buying breakfast or deli items from coffee stores. A lot of stuff is typically prefab shipped-in goods (unless you get a hot panini, in which case places like StarBucks or Caffè Artigiano will prep it for you and it'll be hot and fresh) -- This means right off the bat I'm setting the bar low at it being at most mediocre quality and will feel lucky if it isn't too dry from sitting out al

Strange find at the Urban Gypsy

I had Thursday off, and finally went to scout out Karmavore in New Westminster. Right next to it, at 614 Columbia Street, was the Urban Gypsy , a store with a strong Tibetan feel to the furniture and decor presently offered. If you go now, you'll probably see deep discounts on their imports, which can be from Indonesia as well as mainland Asia, all around India. The owner, Jason, personally goes overseas to shop and fill a container with acquisitions. Something he didn't pick up overseas, however, was a pillory . Not a medieval antique, but a new-ish contraption that looks like it might have been made for a magician's stage show, complete with red trim and oversized cross-shaped handles (with an eagle motif) for tightening around the neck and wrists once the hapless assistant is inside the stocks. This odd and decidedly non-Asian looking item is on consignment from a realtor contact who found it abandoned in a storage locker. This, plus a reproduction battle axe, and a

Carbon Neutral Dining?

I got an e-mail from Chambar recently with various holiday-season related announcements such as gift boxes and catering. (You can check out the latest Chambar news here ). One of the items they mentioned was that Chambar had attained Carbon Neutral certification , making them the second restaurant in Vancouver to do so. If Google is right, then the other restaurant would be Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company , though probably certified through a different company. In a nutshell, Carbon Neutrality is about having a net carbon output of zero, through a combination of reducing carbon output and offsetting it elsewhere. The whole thing was in vogue a few years back with companies talking about it and other companies selling carbon offsets -- such as Treebanking LLC , which had aimed to reclaim and reforest rainforests while selling carbon offsets and helping local economies with work and wood products to sell. Nowadays, not so much on radar anymore, sadly.

Can't find cake at Giovane

Well, it's not exactly true that I couldn't find *any* cake at Giovane. But the offerings had so much cream and chocolate. Many pieces were basically just layers of different types of chocolate cream. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Late Sunday afternoon I went out with some foodies and food bloggers to Giovane café and winebar (1038 Canada Place), which was basically at the end of the 8th Annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade . Because of the parade, there was a lot of spillover traffic for Giovane and many patrons looked wistfully at the tables and chairs set aside for us in the packed restaurant. I think at some point or other, all of the attendees at our table had been there before, but just not so focussed on desserts and as a gathering of bloggers. Still, it seemed no one had heard of Sugar Buns at Giovane ($4 - a Giovane signature – sugared sweet bun filled with vanilla pastry cream) and that was one of the things our organizer, Jenny , had set up for us to try. T

Leonidas Grand Opening at the Vancouver Convention Centre

UPDATE Dec-5th-2011: Apparently the Grand Opening was extended to Sunday. The Convention Centre is a nice walking route, plus the possibility of free coffee makes it worthwhile to drop by all through December to see if they are extending their Grand Opening specials. Just back from the Leonidas -- "Fine Belgian Chocolates " -- grand opening at Vancouver Convention Centre! (#29-1055 Canada Place -- squished between Bellagio Cafe , the big Italian restaurant with a lot of blue patio umbrellas; and Subway). Here's the blurb from their mini in-store flyer: 1,400 outlets in 53 countries, LEONIDAS fresh Belgian Chocolate is FINALLY in VANCOUVER. Flown in Fresh from Belgium, and using only the finest ingredients the world has to offer: 100% cocoa butter, natural ingredients like fresh butter & fresh cream; and delicacies such as hazelnuts from Turkey, Morello cherries from the Périgord, almonds from Italy and walnuts from Grenoble . Fresh Belgian chocolate that has

Alligator Nuggets at Jethro's Fine Grub

Just back from the cash-only-please Jethro's Fine Grub this morning, where we timed our breakfast drop-in almost-just-right with my foodie friend. We had thought to skip the breakfast rush and go around 9 am to 9:30 am. The restaurant had lots of empty tables around 9am, and there was no wait when we walked in 9:30 am. By 10-ish, however, the small restaurant was packed and a line-up had formed. The brunch crowd, I supposed -- and on a Friday morning! You may know Jethro's for their enormous pancakes -- they are big enough to literally cover an entire dinner plate. For sheer quantity for your breakfast dollar, plus reasonable to good quality, this makes Jethro's Fine Grub a good place to go. I was amused but not curious enough to order a huge bite of what I've had before, so I looked a bit harder. My friend ordered the Crab Cake Benedict ($11 - house made crab cakes with poached eggs and hollandaise; served with hasbrowns [sic] and toast ). I had my eye on the So

Get Water with your Fraser Valley Juice & Salad

After a salty late lunch at the St. Regis yesterday afternoon, I found myself thirsty again not too long after. Maybe my body needed to get rid of all that sodium. Anyway, by around 5.30pm I was at Granville Island catching up with an old friend, and we decided to get some juice. Off hand, Fraser Valley Juice and Salad was the only place she could come up with for juice. There's no fancy superfoods or other fads like matcha here to mix in with your juice. Mostly it's fruits and some veggies. Right off the bat, something that I took points off for was that the juice wasn't made fresh when ordered. They were pre-mixed and just poured out into small plastic cups. A 12 oz cup (about the size of a tall drink at Starbucks) was $5.90. The two juices we ordered, plus tax, came out to a whopping $13.22! My friend got the Tropical Fruit (Kiwi, Orange, Pineapple, Strawberry) mix, which was a pretty standard tasting sweet fruit mix. I went for the Ginger Mint Orange, which w

Salty Reuben at the St. Regis Bar and Grill

I dropped by for a late lunch at the St. Regis Bar and Grill this afternoon, around 2pm. I ordered the Regis Reuben - $13 - Locally sourced "J. Beethoven's" New York style corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and 1000 Islands dressing served on toasted marble rye with dill pickle spears. It comes with choice of soup, salad, or fries. I went with the soup, which is selected from whatever "soup of the day" is on that day. Today I skipped the spinach something or other soup and went for what I hoped was a lighter "spicy beef pepper pot". The soup turned out to be a waste of time. Tasteless meat in boring spicy broth that was on the salty side. On the plus side, however, you got a lot of meat in the soup, enough to make it look more like a stew. The soup alone could have counted as half a lunch. Add the two halves of the sandwich and you have lunch and a half. By 6pm I was still feeling slightly stuffed, truth be told. You're paying over $10 pe