July 2017 : Oh My Time Flies

Beautiful evening at Iona Beach Park

Oh my it is almost the end of July and I have been on “hiatus” since late May!  I just cannot believe three months have gone by already since I left my full-time job; particularly the past two months it has been a trying period, adjusting to changes in routines, schedules and lifestyle.  While I am still contemplating and planning exactly what I will be doing next, I am very glad I took a leap of faith and go on this much needed break (OO).

How’s your summer so far? I have been enjoying my “staycation” here in Vancouver, summer time is the best season to stay here!   The past two months were filled with out-of-town friends visits, which is the perfect excuse (as if I need any) to go around town searching for new attractions and good eats!  I believe if you are at least 90% good most of the time with your regular diet, there is a little room for other enjoyment and occasional indulgences.

On Wednesday July 26th I will be back on Ms. Deborah Moore’s program on Fairchild Radio 1470 1030am sharp; thank you in advance for tuning in!  I also want to thank my audience who take their time to send me email (goldenapron@gmail.com) with questions or suggestions, I really love to hear from you!

 Brisk Walking activity at Iona Beach Regional Park  (Richmond) and Pacific Regional Park Trail (Vancouver – UBC) – (Easy Trails)

Brisk walking is our favourite outdoor activity during the summer months; one of our favourite places to visit is Iona Beach regional Park (picture above); the jetty unmarked trail stretches 4 km (one way) along the mouth of Fraser River and it is a very easy walk.  We love to go particularly in the evening to catch the beautiful sunset and evening breeze; during the day there are sightings of herons along the way.  The jetty trail is a open area so it may get a little windy at times, so you must go prepared with proper outdoor gear and lots of sun protection.

Sunset at Iona Beach: planes flying into Vancouver Airport for Landing

Recently we decided to re-discover the UBC area and on one hot Saturday afternoon, we went for an easy hike in the forest at the Pacific Spirit Regional Park, located at the UBC Endowment Lands (5495 Chancellor Road, Vancouver, BC).  The trail gate is located at West 16th next to Camosun Park, the network of trails contained in more than 750 hectares of forest.  Free parking is available along West 16th Avenue, the signs inside the forest are very easy to follow and it is a very popular trail amongst local residents.    It is advisable to check the map to predetermine your route and decide how far you would like to go, and mark the location of the park’s exits.  We lost track of our direction and “exited” so far off , we ended adding a lot more steps to our count, trekking along 16th Avenue (lol).

Cooling down in the forest – Pacific Spirit Regional Park

Asian Cuisines and Small Eateries in Vancouver:

Delicious Pad Thai and Friendly Service: Sen Pad Thai at Granville Island (1666 Johnston Street – inside Loft, across from Public Market)

Sen pad Thai is the newest addition to award-winning Chef Angus An’s roster (Maenam, Freebird, Longtail Kitchen, Fat Mao Noodles) in Greater Vancouver. Located inside the Net Loft across from Public Market, this wonderful fast food stall opened in May 2017, the menu offer different pad thai dishes, variety of Thai small bites and drinks.

The pad thai was meticulously prepared, filled with really fresh ingredients and “Wok Hei” (breath of the wok) – a term which refers to flavors and tastes imparted by a hot wok for stir fry dishes!  It was hot (fresh from the wok), tangy (from the tamarind), bright (juice from the generous slice of lime), crunchy (peanuts and fresh sprouts) and smooth ( noodles and eggs were cooked perfectly); for those who love to add more spiciness, the condiments are ready for your perusal on their counter.  The staff was friendly and helpful; if you are unsure what you would like to try, just ask them for recommendations (which I did for my second visit) and they will happily oblige.   Because the dishes are prepared “a la minute”, there is a little bit of a wait time and it is all worth while.  Tables are located near the stand, or you may just want to bring your tasty noodle box outdoors, enjoy an authentic Thai dish and the fine Vancouver weather at the same time.

http://www.senpadthai.com

Classic pad thai with tamarind: authentic and fresh tasting

A lot of small eateries have been popping up lately in Vancouver, scattered all around our beloved city in different districts; the latest addition at the edge of Gastown is a Korean eatery named Haru Korean Kitchen (324 Cambie Street, next to the ever popular Meat and Bread (Porchetta sandwiches!). 

Namul Vegetable Bibimbap and Their House special Cold noodle (with wasabi sauce) and a side order of pork belly; Special came with “ban chan” (egg, potato salad, kimchi)

Three weeks ago I paid a visit with my little friend JT who loves to eat Korean food; we shared a namul vegetable bibimbap with gochujang and their house special cold vegetarian soba set (bibim guksu) with lots of fresh vegetables in a wasabi sauce, came with a small plate of steamed pork belly  .  Our favourite was definitely the noodle which was so refreshing and the wasabi added a nice little “kick” to the citron soy sauce. Their menu is very home style and simple, marking very clearly the choices (vegetarian/vegetarian option/spicy) and sauce options (gochujang, gang doenjang (miso) and citron soy sauce) are available.  The service was adequate (small restaurant with less help and it’s fairly new), reservations available (which is very rare these days) and I would love to return sometime to try their bingsoo and other korean family classics (japchae).

http://www.harukoreankitchen.com

Lunch BBQ at Dolpan Korean BBQ Restaurant ( 3779 Sexsmith Road, Richmond)

http://www.dolpanbbq.com

With mostly homestyle Korean eateries popping up in the Greater Vancouver area, it is quite a change to see the opening of a small authentic Korean BBQ restaurant in Richmond.  Located inside the Continental Plaza shopping mall which is mostly filled with Chinese eateries, I wouldn’t have known about this little place if it is not because of Instagram; apparently Dolpan has been opened for a while!  If you wish to give this place a try, go for lunch as their lunch BBQ set is great value ($15 or $20 per person),  my favourite part is their servers actually help to cook the meat at your table!  I had the pork set (jowl/belly) with lettuce wrap and it came with very delicious side dishes (potato, kimchi radish).  Other hot plates (pre-cooked meats in kitchen) and Army Based hotpots (budae jjigae) seem to be very popular amongst the lunch diners; service was prompt and attentive, reservations are available.

Volcano egg and BBQ meat (pork set): My first visit for dinner with my friend JT

Sunday brunching at MaknMing (1629 Yew Street, Vancouver) 

http://www.maknming.com

Chefs Makoto Ono and Amanda Cheng’s MaknMing in Kitslano is now open for brunch on Sundays till September 03rd, 2017;  this “small team big heart” eatery which opened at the end of 2016 is quickly becoming my newest favourite brunch spot:  I have tried their special Lobster Hollandaise Eggs Benedict which I wanted to purchase a “bucket” of the flavorful and silky smooth hollandaise to take home; on a separate visit I had their “wickedly” clever indulgence, the Krispee Challah french toast (rice krispies in the batter, served with toasted coconut blueberry compote and honeycomb)….speechless and in awe with their creativity!  Their brunch menu is finely edited with a few items, I do recommend bringing a few friends and order different plates to share. The service is impeccable (Thanks Christina for your recommendations), parking could be a little bit of a challenge however it is so close to Kits beach, so park anywhere, enjoy the fabulous brunch and walk it off afterwards (OO).

Cheers! Special Ice Tea and I love how the “oversized” ice cube
Lobster Hollandaise with spot prawn Eggs Benedict….Special on their menu and I want a bucket of the sauce…
Krispee Challah French Toast with toasted coconut, honey comb and blueberry compote

Desserts Desserts Desserts: “Mochiffle” at Baker and Table (6414 Fraser Street) and “Little Plant” from Bubble Bear Cafe (8051 Granville Street, Vancouver)

If you have been following my blog and instagram, you will know I love savory foods and rarely eat desserts (I did bake a cheesecake with my friends over the weekend, my first!).  I recently found these two desserts which I quite enjoy: Mochiffle from Baker and Table (remember the little bakery cafe which I mentioned a couple months ago?) and “Little Plant” Egg Custard pudding from Bubble Bear Cafe (Bubble Tea place on Granville opened a few months ago); the mochi-waffle combination is addictive and it is gluten free, it has a very nice chewy bite and you must add the ice-cream and the red bean!  As for the egg custard pudding, I really like the texture of the soft silky pudding and oreo bits (looks like “dirt” hence the name “little plant”.  Baker and Table’s owner Hitomi-san and Bubble Bear Cafe’s owners Maureen and Danny are very nice and helpful people, pay them a visit for lunch or snack and ask them for recommendations!  Baker and Table also offers vegetarian curry and sandwiches  (together with her famous melon pans and yuzu cheesecakes) , and Bubble Bear Cafe offers a small selection of delicious savoury bites (spicy wontons, meat floss egg rolls) and a variety of bubble teas and slushes (great for summer!) at very reasonable prices.

http://www.bakerandtablecafe.com

Bubble Bear Cafe – FB page available for menu and photos

Mochiffle with red beans and icecream from Baker and Table

 

“Little Plant” – light custard with Oreo sprinkles from Bubble Bear Cafe

 

 

July 2017 : Home Cooking SnapShots: Okra, Fish, Miso, Tomatoes and Udon

Oven Roasted Okra: sliced each okra lengthwise into halves and toss in sea salt and extra virgin olive oil, preheat oven to 400 degrees and roast for 15 minutes – Thanks Jo!

Here’s a snapshot of what I have been cooking the past two months..For updates follow me on Instagram (@mygoldenapron) and you will know first hand what I have been cooking and where I have been dining!

Roasting OKRA: I never thought of roasting okra until my dear sweet friend Jo showed me, sometimes we are just caught in our usual habits and don’t think about the most obvious options!  Since then I have been adding okras to our salads or enjoyed with our cooked fish, like the kasu-shio marinated halibut in shiitake, edamame, daikon and mustard leaves dashi broth… As for garnish, I have prepared some roasted kale (in place of seaweed) and pancetta bits.

Experiment at home: Shio Kasu Halibut, shiitake dashi with edamame, mustard green leaves, roasted okra and green onion, finished with roasted kale and pancetta bits

Remember sake kasu?   It’s the remaining lees from sake making and they have been available for sale at Japanese grocery stores (Fujiya in Vancouver) or Artisan Sake (at Granville Island, this is the one I use all the time).  For this dish, I added some salt and a little water to approximately 2 Tablespoons of kasu (water for slight thinning of mixture),  pat dry (really dry) the halibut filets and submerge them in the marinade for at least a day.  Before cooking, wipe the fish clean with paper towel to ensure there’s no kasu left (otherwise it will burn).  I baked my fish at 400F and finished with broiling the final two minutes (the cooking time varies pending on thickness of fish fillet).

Dashi broth: prepared with bonito flakes and kelp as base (search my archives for recipe), I added the shiitake mushroom stems, a couple of celery leaves (I kept them frozen and add to broth/stock making), a spoonful of sake kasu and a small chunk of daikon and let it cook for half an hour.  I strain the broth then add shiitake mushrooms, mustard green leaves, edamame beans (parboiled already) and season with sodium reduced soy, mirin and a little maple syrup (sugar for most of you), adjust accordingly to your taste and dietary needs always!  I prepared the pancetta and kale bits while broth is cooking, okra also roasted before and add-on together with green onion as garnish.   The cooked fish is lightly finished with fleur de sel.

The broth can be prepared ahead of time, when fish is about ready, reheat the broth and to serve, plate vegetables and fish in a regular or soup bowl, pour the broth, add the okra and green onions, kale and pancetta garnish last.  Enjoy!

Sakuraya: Last month I mentioned there is a Japanese grocery located on East Broadway (close to Fraser), they carry the organic dried mustard leaves and daikon leaves from a small village in Japan.  I re-hydrated the leaves and add to my dashi broth and they added so much flavor!  It has some glucose so remember to adjust your seasoning.

http://www.seafoodcitygi.com

Soy Dijon Mustard glaze chinook salmon with potato salad, green bean snow peas micro greens sea asparagus in ponzu vinaigrette:

Prepare glaze : sodium reduced soy sauce (2 Tablespoons), Dijon mustard (1 Tablespoon), olive oil (1-2 Tablespoons) and a little maple syrup.  Clean and pat dry the salmon filet and let it marinade for at least 30 minutes.  Remove the fish from marinade, scrape lightly so not much marinade will cling to the fillets (unless you like real browning action), and bake salmon in oven preheated in 350 F until desired doneness.  When you see any white spot appearing on the seams of the salmon filet, that means it should be done and well on its way to being very cooked.  While salmon is cooking, use a sauce pan and sautéed chopped shallots, add the marinade and cook until sauce boils and slightly thicken.

I used a store-bought ponzu and add good quality extra virgin olive oil, a little rice vinegar and ground pepper for the vinaigrette (2:1 ratio oil/soy, most vinaigrettes 3:1 ratio oil/acid, I prefer less oily).

As for the salad, basically anything goes!  I added the most delicious microgreens (West End Blend from Grown here farms purchased at August Market on Main Street in Vancouver), sea asparagus (In season for a short time in Vancouver, soaked overnight to get rid of the salt then blanched and shocked in ice, green beans and snow peas (also blanched and shocked in ice) .  I choose to use mostly organic products, use your imagination and add your favourite in season salad greens and vegetables to load more nutritious greens into your dish.

My potato salad is made of red potatoes, green onions, homemade relish mixed with half mayo (Lemon Ojai mayonnaise) and half greek yogurt, if you want to make it very Japanese, add kewpie mayonnaise.

http://www.thefishcounter.com

http://www.visaltco.com

http://www.eatlocal.org

http://www.augustmarket.ca

Tomato and Egg Udon: simple eats and tomatoes are in season!

One of my favourite all time Chinese family dish is converted into a soup base for udon; apparently tomato and egg noodle soup is a very popular dish in parts of China.  Taiwanese Chef James, well-known for his interpretation of Japanese cuisine, is now featured in cooking show filmed in China, I found on YouTube accidentally.  I modified his recipe and method by changing a couple of ingredients: The ingredient are simple : heirloom tomatoes, shallots, grated ginger (lots), green onion, filtered water, white pepper and a little maple syrup (you can use sugar) I used Japanese udon, omit cornstarch and tomato paste (it was used for thickening, instead I let the soup cook down to thicken).  The beaten egg is added in the end; if you have time, follow Chef James and make the eggs two ways.   Usually the noodles are eaten as “late night snack”, I had it for dinner and I find it perfect as a summer light supper.

 

Tomato Miso Nduja Bolognese with Udon

Remember a few months ago I talked about Nduja, the Italian spreadable spicy sausage? I changed things up a little – I mixed a little nduja and red miso into my own pork/turkey Bolognese sauce and had it with udon, garnish with roasted kale (salted and crushed to mimic seaweed) and it was a winner at my recent dinner gathering with my cooking buddies Jo, Phung and Rita.   The dish is a perfect marriage of Japanese and Italian ingredients; remember nduja and miso are both a little salty, you do not need to use much for seasoning.  The miso makes the sauce very hearty and meaty; if you have a good tomato sauce base, you can add the miso and serve it as a vegetarian dish with grilled eggplant. The nduja sausage spread adds a little spiciness, it is completely optional.  Experiment with your favourite meat sauce recipe and add these flavor profiles to your repertoire.

For both tomato udon dishes, the really thin udon noodles will not work as well.  I found this perfectly wonderful hand-cut dry udon at our local Fujiya Japanese food store.

Love the texture and thickness is perfect! It has a very good “bite”

 

 

 

 

May 2017: Home cooking Snapshots

 

Miso and Sake Kasu Sable fish, mixed vegetables (lotus root, burdock, broccoli and turnip leave) rice

Here are the snapshots of what I have been cooking at home this past month!  Recipes coming very soon.

For the time being you can find my other updates and pictures with description posted on Instagram (@mygoldenapron).

I would also love to hear your feedback so feel free to send me an email (goldenapron@gmail.com) or drop me a line through Instagram (OO).

Picture above: Sake Kasu Miso Sable Fish with Mixed vegetable (burdock, turnip leaves, lotus root and broccoli) rice:  the dried burdock, turnip and lotus root are from Japan, I found them at a local Japanese store).

Nduja spaghetti Bolognese (with basil sausage from Oyama sausage and Co) : Remember Nduja, the spicy sausage spread ? I added to my Bolognese recipe to spice things up a bit !

When Japanese meets Italian: Roast shio koji organic chicken, cauliflower broccoli penne pasta in lemon parsley herb drizzle, garnish with crispy kale bits and lemon zest.  It is very easy to make the herb drizzle: chives, parsley, lemon juice, grated lemon zest, extra virgin olive oil, drizzle of honey and pinch of sea salt.

Pan fried spot prawn with Thai red curry (store-bought paste, added fish sauce, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves)  served with lentil quinoa turmeric rice: since spot prawn season is over, you can substitute with other prawns/shrimp available for this dish).

Faux Unagi Donburi (Rice bowl): Orange roughy turned into unagi;  baked and glazed with homemade unagi sauce, scrambled dashi egg with green onions, on a bed of turmeric (just a touch) fresh peas and carrot rice, garnish with crispy kale bits (my current favourite garnish in place of seaweed)

 

Disclaimer: All ingredients are non-sponsored purchased at some of my preferred vendors in Vancouver, BC.  Pictures are my own and dishes are my creations based on what I have learned through cooking classes, reading cookbooks and research.

http://www.seafoodcitygi.com

http://www.petes-meat.com

http://www.artisansakemaker.com

http://www.visaltco.com

http://www.vankoji.com

http://www.oyamasauage.ca

http://www.cioffisgroup.com

Sakuraya Japanese Market (517 East Broadway, Vancouver, BC)

Bianca Maria Italian Foods (Nduja! – 2469 East Hastings, Vancouver, BC)

 

 

 

 

 

May 2017: Come What May……

The month of May….

With no expectations and no set plans for the time being…

I took each day as is…reflect, cherish and enjoy..

Come What May…

Playing Tourist in our own town: Vancouver Foodie Tours’ Granville Island Market Tour, Stave Falls and Sewell Marina’s Sea Safari 

Have you ever walked around in your own city as if you were a tourist?  My hubby and I love doing this in Metro Vancouver especially during the spring and summer season!  As our beloved city is growing rapidly, very often we are very surprised by how quickly it changes, how much there is to see, and how little we actually know about our hometown.

For the past 3 years we are very fortunate to be participants in the Destination BC’s Tourism Challenge program ; every year over 20,000 tourism industry participants are invited to experience Vancouver and BC region to enrich their knowledge in order to share their experience with visitors from around the world.

Since the end of April,  we had such a blast going around town and took part in some activities/tours which I think even locals would enjoy…

Vancouver Foodie Tours’ Granville Island Market Tour:

A fun, informative and tasty Sunday morning spent with 14 others and our wonderful tour guide Tracy at Granville Island Market, making stops and sampling tasty bites at Edible Canada, JJ Bean, Terra Breads, Oyama Sausage and Co (charcuterie 7 types), Benton Brothers Cheese, #1 Orchard (Apple) , Granville Island Tea Co (their famous chai tea) and Lee’s Donuts (freshly made!).

First Stop at Edible Canada – Roasted vegetables
Charcuterie from Oyama Sausage and Co. : 7 types for tasting!
Ever had a fresh made donut?

We were introduced to these wonderful local vendors and see the best they have to offer, at the same time we were learning a bit about the history and establishment of the Public Market.  I often attend cooking classes and this is my second food walking tour (first one back in September 2016 in Halifax)! Thank you Tracy and Vancouver Foodie Tours for the wonderful experience!

http://www.foodietours.ca

Sewell Marina’s Sea Safari:  Beautiful Howe Sound – sights and sound of the sea

Christie’s Islet – Bird sanctuary

Sewell Marina’s Sea Safari is very enthralling guided tour: Boarding the 30 feet rigid and sturdy inflatable boat at beautiful Horseshoe Bay,  we  took the 1630 tour (last one of the day the Circle Tour) and spent 2 hours soaring through the stunning Howe Sound waters, taking in the beautiful scenery (Anvil Island, Gambier Island, Lions Bay, Mystery Falls, Christie’s Islet, Bowen Island just to name a few), admired the mighty coastal mountains and enjoyed the sightings of wildlife (bald eagle, seals), all from a safe distance !

Our tour guide Casey was very friendly and knowledgeable, we were also blessed with beautiful weather and the seas were calm…overall a truly exceptional experience!

BC is truly stunning and I am proud to call it my home.

Entrance to the dock

http://www.sewellsmarina.com

Driving on our own: BC Hydro Stave Falls, Kilby Museum (at Harrison Mills, BC) and Bridal Falls 

Did you know Canada’s first free cooking school of its kind held a five-day electric cooking demonstration at the Vancouver Hotel from May 03 to 7 in 1926?  This is one of the cooking “trivia” I just learned from our trip to BC Hydro Powerhouse at Stave Falls.  This 100-year-old power generating facility is also a National Historic Site of Canada, where visitors can tour the generator facilities and browse through the museum where you can see old versions of home appliances.  I was so excited to see the old cooking elements (the fancy models have a “dish warmer” above the stove) and learning about the history of cookery, certainly a bit geekish…

The facility is in pristine condition, the dam is majestic, and down by the lake there is a beautiful camping site, so you may want to spend a little more time to explore the area.

Stave Falls Dam and Power House

 

From Stave Falls we drove another 45 minutes to visit Kilby Historic Site (another stop for the challenge).  Located at the junction of Harrison and Fraser Rivers, it is a historic site of a once thriving community.  It felt as if we were travelling back in time to the early 1900’s, the highlight was going through the General Store Museum, learning about the history and listening to fascinating stories told by their knowledgeable volunteers.  Did you know back in those days people can order groceries by mail?  That was the “primitive” version of internet!  There is also very  simple gift shop / restaurant on site where they offer pies, soups and sandwiches; the egg salad sandwich was very good and I had it with a hearty vegetable soup, it all felt very rustic and homey.

BLT for him and Egg Salad for me…plus a Hearty Delicious Healthy Vegetable Soup

 

Ramp leading up to the Historic General Store Museum

 

“original” goods in the General store…I wonder…

We drove another 30 minutes from Kilby to Bridal Veil Falls, Chilliwack BC; we figured we were already out there so why not drive further?  This is the first time seeing Bridal Veil Falls up close, last time four years ago on the train travelling to Jasper, Alberta. We took the 15 minute hike (a little longer for me and that moment I decided I must get back into shape!) through the beautiful woods; it was almost at the end of the day so it was not crowded at all. The fresh air within the woods and the sounds of the waterfall

Bridal Veils Falls – first time seeing the Falls up close !

http://www.kilby.ca

http://www.bchydro.com

Returning to the Pear Tree (4120 East Hastings, Burnaby, BC)

http://www.peartreerestaurant.net

Classic Flamed Gin Tomato Soup with Chive Whipped Cream….the refreshing taste of the tomato really came through

There are so many dining options available in Vancouver and sometimes we forget the older established favorites…we just returned to Pear Tree with our friends for birthday celebrations.  Although it is a bit out-of-the-way, the food is very fresh and unpretentious,  and the service is truly attentive and exceptional. Once again I ordered their vegetarian menu (you can ask for the menu) and asked the same old question from two years ago: is it really vegetarian?  For sure it will not take me another two years to dine at this fine establishment again.

Butternut Squash Risotto : packed with flavor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 2017: Something New…Something Revisited..and a Reboot in Life

Being Sentimental: I always thought we had the most beautiful cherry blossom tree at work; this is the last Hanami photo taken from my old office window….
This April has been a very busy month filled with long working hours, farewell gatherings and birthday celebrations..

I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude and joy..

A big thank you to my ex-colleagues and friends for all your well wishes and support…I am at loss for words..

This month’s posting is short and 

For now I will let my pictures do most of the  “talking”…

As I prepare to enter another phase in my life…look forward to sharing more with all of you…

and you can catch me on Ms. Deborah Moore’s show on April 26 AM 1470 1030am sharp (OO)
Something New : Pre-opening dinner at Botanist restaurant, Fairmont Pacific Hotel

I knew I was in for a special treat when my dear foodie friend Ms. Moto invited us to a sneak preview dinner and to celebrate my birthday,  at the Botanist, one of the most highly anticipated restaurant opening in 2017.  Thank you so much for the special invitation and birthday celebration! Here’s a snapshot of our dinner, detailed post coming later.

My first course: Asparagus Cauliflower Kohlrabi Chorizo charred Octopus
My hubby couldn’t stop raving about this dish: zucchini radish grilled apple escabeche honey glazed pork belly.
 

Masayoshi Revisited : One year Later…Memorable Omakase Birthday Dinner 

One year ago I celebrated my birthday at Masayoshi; I have chosen to return this year…To sum up the experience…

Dear Chef Masayoshi and crew at Masayoshi: the experience is more than words can described; I am so glad I have chosen to return to your restaurant to celebrate my birthday and the beginning of another chapter of my life. Thank you very much for another truly memorable experience; this made my day extra special!

 

It’s almost the end of April and we are trying a New hotpot place: Hot pot Palace in Richmond (168-7911 Alderbridge Way, Richmond, BC) 

Ending a busy work week with a nicely paced Friday night almost 3 hour hotspot experience..I really enjoyed the zousui in the end.

Two different types of soup: Pork Bone and Szechuan spicy pot, There was 4 of us and we ordered 4 different set menu to share: (Matsusaka Pork Cheek + Belly, House Special Seafood Platter, Wagyu Chuck and Angus Beef
Zousui: Rice Porridge cooked by our server, using the remaining soup, added egg and green onion : this was my favourite and soup was packed with lots of flavour 


System reboot, old hangs and new experience: Garden City Hotpot,and Juicery & Co…and WHITE CAPS!

http://www.thejuiceryco.ca/

http://topgungroup.com/restaurants/garden-city-hot-pot/

Local Rose: Grapefruit, Rosemary, Apple and Burdock – great for digestion!
Do you know Garden City Hotpot (McKim Way, Richmond, BC) serve some very tasty Cantonese dim sum at lunch? They change their menu quite often and this “Fish noodle” was one fine noodle dish!
Exploring something new: First time to a soccer game in my life – Whistecaps and it was on the Loud and Crazy southside! Thank you VG for the wonderful birthday present
 

A special message to my ex-colleagues: Truly grateful for your friendship and memories; keep in touch on Facebook and my blog! 

Getting sentimental…Friendships and Memories…
 

March 2017 : Baci Baci Italia e Giappone (Kiss Kiss Italy and Japan)

Udon in Tomato Nduja Miso Broth with pea shoots, napa cabbage, spinach and pickled Shallots Homemade!
Deconstructed Afternoon Tea at Wild Sweets: “an affair to remember”

I revisited Wild Sweets with my dear foodie friends one Sunday afternoon for their “Cocoa Bean to Chocolate Afternoon Tea”, their 13-course afternoon tea is a very unique and “hands on” affair. All courses came “deconstructed” with detailed explanation presented by Mr. Dominique, each item includes a cocoa bean to chocolate element, all served with a chocolate tea infusion.  Their take on this old tradition is very refreshing and modern filled with wonderful surprises, I felt I was taken “back in time” to secondary school days experimenting in the science lab.     We had the most wonderful 2 hours assembling and styling the delicate treats, it is definitely an “affair” to remember.

Thank you very much to Dominique and Cindy and their staff for this wonderful learning experience!

Booking for this event is available online through their website:

http://dcduby.com/

chocolate cream…chocolate dream..

Epic Italian Cooking Night : Nduja!!!

My dear friend James now resides in Casperia, Italy and  comes back to Canada to visit his family twice a year. Whenever he is in town,  we always get together to cook an Epic Italian Dinner at my home.  We always have the best time preparing all the dishes together for our friends, I hope in the near future someday I will be cooking with James, a truly wonderful teacher, in Italy..

James always introduce a tasty and authentic Italian element to our dinners: I rarely use already processed sauce or paste, however I am willing to make an exception for James!  And here comes “Nduja”: a spicy cured pork salumi spread originally from Calabria, Italy.

This is the bottled version found at Bianca Maria on East Hastings…You can purchase the sausage form from Oyama Sausage at Granville Island
When using nduja, a little goes a long way, the smell and taste reminded me a little of chorizo sausage (without the distinctive smell). We used it as the base for the sauce, cooked together with a little olive oil, white wine and minced garlic; then we steamed the clams in the sauce, finished off with grated lemon zest.  Toss in “al dente” spaghetti (nduja is already salty so be light handed with salt when boiling pasta) and Voila!   The flavors melted together and lifted the pasta dish to a different level, and the sauce tasted even better on the next day.

James was such a sweetie and got rid of all the clam shells!

The bottled version is available at Bianca Maria, a quaint Italian food store on East Hastings; the sausage version is available at Oyama Sausage in Granville Island; give it a try and tell me which version do you like better?

Always cook with love and thoughtfulness, and eat with your love ones (quote Peter Ciuffa “pastaboy”)

Spaghetti with Fresh clams cooked in Nduja, white wine, lemon zest, and garlic !

Baked sea bass with romano beans cooked in San Marzano tomatoes and nduja; with pea sprouts salsa verde (modified recipe from Great British Chefs)
Beautiful sea bass from Brian’s wonderful Seafood City at Granville Island, nduja sausage from Oyama Sauage and Co., romano beans from Granville Island Market.

http://www.seafoodcitygi.com/

http://oyamasausage.ca/

“Little Happiness Starts Here” : Baker and Table (6414 Fraser Street, Vancouver, BC) 

I checked out the sweet and rustic Baker and Table bakery cafe at East 48th Avenue and Fraser, it was wonderful to meet the owner Ms. Hitomi who provided really wonderful and friendly service.

I really enjoyed the organic chicken with cashew pesto sandwich and the cheesecake for dessert; I also purchased the tasty white bread (whipping cream incorporated) which was “pillowy” soft, I used to make thick toast at home for breakfast.   She does accept special cake orders,  I returned the next day and purchased a delicious strawberry shortcake and enjoyed it with my friends on our Epic Italian Dinner Gathering. Follow them on Instagram and Facebook for menu information and updates.

http://www.bakerandtablecafe.com/

Herbal tea and organic chicken cashew pesto sandwich; it was their one month anniversary and they were giving away thank you treats to customers (OO)

Half Loaf from Baker and Table on Fraser: Thick Toast!!

I can have this cheesecake anytime
Baci Baci Kissa Tanto in Chinatown: Memorable Dinner and Superb Service

One rainy Thursday night after a long and hectic day at work, we decided to head to Chinatown and got in to Kissa Tanto (it was around 8 pm) without any reservations!

The experience left us speechless:  the dishes (our favorite was the lasagna of the day (picture shown) were filled with interesting elements of Japanese and Italian flavors, a combination which I personally enjoyed a lot.

The service (I believe our server’s name name is Celina) was very attentive and superb.  Love their retro decor and ambiance: Kissa Tanto, thank you for a memorable dining experience.

Reservations recommended or walk in early.

http://www.kissatanto.com/

Mocktail on a “school” night

Lasagne del Giorno: Sake Kasu Pork Ragu….Packed with interesting layers of flavor, never had a light “sake-flavored” lasagna and it works..I actually created a similar sauce served with penne pasta at home…
 

February 2017: Sweet and Slow Winter

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Beta 5 chocolates for Valentine’s – Pop up on Cambie till Valentines day, it’s time to go back and pay a visit!
How’s your New Year so far? After “MIA” for almost two months I finally have time to catch up a little…I have been busy at work and spent most of January fighting the flu bug…and I have spent some wonderful time with my lovely sister…

Catch me on Wednesday February 22nd, 2017 1030 am sharp, Ms. Deborah Moore’s show on AM 1470 (OO)


A different kind of cooking:  My new favorite stores on Main (Soap Dispensary and Welk’s)

My lovely sister is a beauty guru; she lives for beauty products and fittingly she’s in the business. During her recent visit while “snowed in” and confined to home, she decided to try something new and turned my kitchen into an experimental beauty lab.  Our DIY’s are based on recipes my sister found online through many sources, we whipped up different batches of creams and balms, giving them away as precious Valentine’s gifts.

I find the process much simpler than soap making; as there are no chemicals involved, so it is much easier to handle.  There are lots of videos available on-line you can use as reference; the best part is spending quality time with my sis…

My latest favorite shops on Main: the wonderful Soap Dispensary (soap refills, “low impact” living and fine products) and Welk’s (General store where we purchased the mason jars, they have almost everything at reasonable prices).

https://www.thesoapdispensary.com/

http://www.welks.ca/

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Orange Chocolate Body Butter – my sister made this especially for me, my childhood favorite was the Jacob’s Orange Chocolate Biscuit…

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Different blends of Lip Blam – Bee Wax, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil all mixed up and “flavored” with different oils: orange, frankincense , lavender, rose hip….and honey
Simple lip balm recipe:Sterilized the little containers. Melt 100 g mixture of different oils (50 g coconut oil and 50 g sweet almond oil) and 18 g of bee wax in a double boiler or small glass bowl over a small pot of boiling water, keep stirring until melted.  Add 1 to 2 spoonful of honey, stir and mix well. Remove pan from heat but keep mixture over the still hot water to keep mixture melted.  Add your favorite essential oils: we used orange and frankincense).  Pour into container and let it set.

(Frankincense (sap burnt in incense) is a common essential oil use in aromatherapy,  can help to reduce stress, pain and inflammation, boost immunity etc).

Van Koji Foods, Benkei Ramen and Japanese Crepe Sasuke at Nikkei Center Flea Market:

Two years ago I’ve talked about using shio koji (see old short blog post), a natural seasoning made with salt, water and rice koji (typical mold -Asperiguillus Oryzae used for fermentation) and I’ve read about making this natural seasoning (from Just One Cookbook) at home.

Recently when I checked out the Book and Flea Market at the Nikkei Center, I made a wonderful discovery: meeting Ms. Tonami who makes and sell koji products from her company, Van Koji Foods.  I have used the shoyu koji as a marinade for a mushroom rice dish and it has a very nice subtle flavor.  I had a lovely chat with her and later signed up to attend the miso making class in early March.

http://www.vankoji.com

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I also had some delicious foods at the market:  Japanese Crepe Sasuke (Richmond Market – currently no permanent physical location): nice thin crepe with strawberries and matcha ice-cream,  check out their page on Facebook.

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Japanese Crepe Sasuke : Strawberry and Matcha Icecream Crepe: – perfect dessert for me! Strawberries and crepe has always been my favorite…all ties back to childhood memories.
And a mini bowl of shio ramen from Benkei Ramen:  remember Taka-san, Japanese sushi chef who teaches sushi making class at the Nikkei Center during the winter season?  He is also the creator behind Benkei Ramen.  I stopped by the stall to make the purchase and he remembered me!  Taka-san, great seeing you!  Check out his Facebook page (Taka’s Sushi Class) and look for updates for his classes.

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Mini Shio Ramen hit the spot on cold rainy day

Interesting Read: The Ultimate Grocery Storage Guide from food connections (Thanks to fellow Dinner Party YVR hobby chef Ms. Elaine Cheng for sharing on the homepage)

Useful tips for reducing food waste!

http://www.food-connections.com/grocery-storage-guide/

Vietnamese Food:  Au Petit Cafe (4851 Main Street, Little Mountain – Vancouver), Mr. Red Cafe (2680 West Broadway in Kitslano) and Banh Mi Tres Bon (Smart Centre – Richmond)

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Old Favorite Au Petit Cafe – My sister ordered the chicken pho for the first time, tender chicken, clear broth and green vegetables,; I stick with my all time favorite: pork meatball with French bread.

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Checked out the Mr. Red Cafe in Kitslano finally! – Love the Vietnamese Crepe – prawn, egg, bean sprouts, mint, lettuce and fish sauce for dipping sauce

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Banh Mi Tres Bon – new Vietnamese/French cafe style eatery in Richmond – Enjoyed their vegetarian banh mi; first timers may check out their trio (meatball/chicken and house special) to try their flavors; Vietnamese French Coffee and TWG teas available. It gets very busy quickly, take out available.
 

 

 

December 2016: Heart..Passion..Patience and Gratitude

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From my heart to yours…..Thank you (OO)
Reflections in Deep Frosty December… Words to Live By: Heart, Passion, Patience and Gratitude….

Wish you all a wonderful, healthy and prosperous 2017!

Catch me on December 28th Wednesday morning 1030 am Sharp on Fairchild Radio 1470 Deborah Moore’s program; we will be chatting about food and much more!

It’s all about Heart…..

From Instagram to Kitslano : MaknMing (1629 Yew Street, Vancouver, BC )

This is perhaps one of the highly anticipated restaurant openings in 2016: Chefs Makoto Ono and Amanda Cheng (previously from Gastown’s Pidgin) has opened their new restaurant “MaknMing”, a Japanese French fusion restaurant earlier this month. I must admit I was a fan already (because of a creative kohlrabi dan dan noodle dish at Pidgin), and I had the pleasure to meet them earlier because of Instagram and Seafood City (that is another lovely story)!   We dined at their cosy eatery two weeks ago, enjoyed some delicious foods which they have cooked their hearts out and their crew provided us with impeccable service.  I simply love their tagline “#smallteambighearts!  Congratulations again Chefs for your opening, look forward to my next visit!

Check out their restaurant (open for dinner only, reservations accepted, check their website and follow their Instagram account (same name) for updates..

https://www.maknming.com/

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My favourite dish: Dungeness Crab Miso Noodle
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The Non-drinker enjoying this Gin & Tonic: this drink is easily my 2016 favourite cocktail
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First Bite teaser: Carrot “tartare” with house made rice cracker
 

And Passion…..

Last Saturday I literally had chocolate for breakfast when I visited Dominique and Cindy Duby’s Wild Sweets Atelier Store in Richmond (by Steveston Hwy)!  The chocolates were so delicious and Mr. Duby was providing us with information on their products, I was blown away by their professional knowledge and certainly can feel their passion…We bought their “tea cake’ (a modern version of a fruit cake) for Christmas Dinner Dessert and everyone enjoyed it so much!   I was thrilled to know they also have tastings and afternoon events available for booking online and I am already coordinating with my food pals to pay a visit in the New Year.    Great to meet you both Dominique and Cindy, look forward to learning much more about chocolates and cocoa!

Wild Sweets (#2145 – 12191 Hammersmith Way, Richmond, BC)

http://dcduby.com/

https://www.visitrichmondbc.com/listing/wild-sweets-by-dominique-%26-cindy-duby/628/

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Crispy Orange Cherry Tea Cake – taste like a traditional fruit cake with a crunchy texture
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a sneak peek…before we devoured this delicious dessert..

And a little Patience goes a long way in anything we do….and always cook with Love

Last month (See my November posting) I made a very traditional Japanese dish “Tai meshi (snapper rice); earlier this month I decided to tackle ramen and a different fish dish..Another challenge working on my focus and dedication to my craft, honing skills and building my patience..

A long time ago an old Japanese friend taught me how to make the Japanese braised chashu (pork) using pork shoulder butt (less fattening), ginger, leek, green onion, soy, mirin and sake.  I marinade (soy/ginger/leek/green onion/sake) the pork shoulder over night; next day sauteed more leeks and ginger, add marinade to katsuobushi dashi (bonito flakes/kombu) to create the braising liquid, seared the pork shoulder and slowly “braised” (lading braising liquid over meat and flipping sides)

 

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Homemade Shoyu Ramen: I made the Ramen Eggs, Japanese braised Chashu (pork), bone broth and shoyu tare (for seasoning); I used Chinese thin noodles (Shanghai style from T & T Supermarket)
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Clean bones in the pot with daikon, leek, carrot and pork shank ; cleaning, brushing, plus 3 hours of simmering and skimming: Patience is virtue
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Cooking up a storm through the snow storm – you can see the milky clean soup!
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Panko crusted sea bream fillet with spinach and cauliflower, asparagus and shiitake fried “rice” with ginger soy sauce (which I created also for my hubby’s lamb chop dish
And for Christmas…I made a sockeye salmon pate (steamed salmon in lemon and a little sake, flaked and mixed with combination of Greek yogurt and Ojai lemonaise (1:1), grated lemon zest, chopped dill (don’t over do it as it can be overpowering), lemon juice, season to taste with black pepper and orange and lime sea salt as seasoning (Vancouver Island Salt Co – non-flavoured sea salt works also, I just happened to have this in my pantry!).  I also made fresh cranberry sauce (fresh cranberries (1 bag) with blood orange juice and zest (1 big or 3 small blood orange), Cointreau (orange liquer) and brandy, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon stick, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar (a drizzle) and sea salt (I also used the orange and lime flavoured salt, regular works) –  remember to fold in the zest almost towards the end of cooking process, and always adjust the seasoning accordingly.

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Santa is Drooling!

And Gratitude Always ….Thank you to everyone… from my heart to yours..

That’s a wrap for 2016 – see you in the New Year (OO)

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Whether it’s sharing fun times and wonderful food….
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Or Keeping me in your thoughts – a date,  a phone call, message or thoughtful gifts (Picture: the fabulous macarons from Indulge With Mimi – thanks Deb M)…

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Or sharing a new experience together….(picture at Cirque Du Soleil’s Toruk )
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Or working together and give back to the community… (Thanks UGM and the other wonderful volunteers and my regular team mates)
 

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And Thank you to Ms. Deborah Moore for having me on your program …3 years and counting.. ..

November 2016: Comfort at Home

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Stanley Park – Late October….I Love Vancouver

As the holiday season is quickly approaching, we all tend to shift our already busy schedules into complete overdrive.

I yearn for slower pace to rest, and crave comfort foods and quiet times to reflect.

This November I stay put at home in Vancouver, taking my time to try new recipes, going around my favourite city to see what it has to offer.

Follow me on Instagram (@mygoldenapron) for updates (OO) ;  tune in on November 30th 1030am sharp on Fairchild 1470 Ms. Deborah Moore’s program, we will be chatting about food and much more…

Official store opening: Ai and Om: Thank you very much!

At the end of October I was invited to the official grand opening of “Ai and Om”, the amazing artisan knife store located in Vancouver Chinatown, a big thank you to Chef and owner Douglas Chan and Ms. Katharine Manson for the invite!  After I talked about my “beloved” nakiri knife on the radio show, I have received emails inquiring about their products and sharpening services/classes,  please contact them directly at info@aiandomknives.com or better yet, pay them a visit (129 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC).

ai-and-om

http://www.aiandomknives.ca

Shop Local:

I’ve always been a big supporter of local businesses in Vancouver BC; here’s the link to what I’ve talked about this morning on the radio show:

http://bcbuylocal.com/

 

Old School Ramen: Larmen!  @ Shibuyatei 

Chef Sato’s humble restaurant has been operating in Richmond for 5 years, hidden at the corner of Sexmith Road and Bridgeport (very close to Costco).  It is a very small operation (limited seating and the two times I went he’s the only one working) so the wait could be long but worthwhile to try this delicate, clean and flavorful broth, which is very different from all other choices available in Vancouver.  I had the spicy clam ramen (he calls it “larmen”) which came in the right hot temperature, perfect for a cold winter day. There is also a limited supply: 20 bowls for lunch and dinner every day.   Save room for the gyoza; my hubby had the katsu curry (fried pork chop with Japanese curry) and it was very tasty also.   Chef Sato is very serious about his craft, he talked about it so passionately and it clearly shows in his food.  Bravo for his dedication, as a home cook, I am inspired to work harder to hone my skills.

Shibuyatei: 2971 Sexsmith Road, Richmond, BC (corner of Sexsmith and Bridgeport Road, parking on the street).

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Spicy Clam Ramen (Larmen – Chef Sato calls it on menu) – Clean tasting shoyu based broth, no msg…perfect “hot” temperature…perfect for a cold winter day

Japanese inspired Vegetarian cafe: Workshop Vegetarian

Pictures of this quaint cafe are popping up on Instagram constantly, I had to drive out to North Vancouver (296 Pemberton Avenue (at Marine Drive) to see what it is all about !  Their motto is serving healthy vegetarian dishes, with vegan options available.  We shared three things from their menu: the smashed avocado toast on their house baked organic natural yeast bread, organic “nama” shoyu ramen and the Kyoto style udon:  My favourite is the toast, the noodle soups are very clean tasting and flavorful,  I didn’t have room to try their baked goods so we will go back for another visit sometime!

http://theworkshopvegetariancafe.com/

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Smashed Avocado on organic natural yeast bread: the texture of the bread reminded me of foccacia, the smash has a hint of tartness which I enjoyed a lot!
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Nama Ramen: Mushroom broth with hint of truffle shallot oil
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Kyoto style udon with tofu, mushroom and egg – light and clean tasting broth

Pizzette Lunch at Famoso Neopolitan Pizzeria on Commercial Drive

Once in a while I do love to have pizza our favourite is Zachary’s at Oak and 16th); we have walked by Famoso (1380 Commercial Drive (at Kitchener))many times and it is always very busy! Finally last Saturday we got in for lunch.  I had absolutely no idea this is actually a chain across Canada (I always root for the independents) and I was pleasantly surprised!  My hubby and I both ordered our own pizzette (7 inch small pizza) lunch which comes with either soup or salad, and I added a tomato bisque, cold rainy day calls for soup!  I love thin crusted pizzas which is not too heavily loaded, theirs is just perfect to my liking; and the tomato soup, served with a spoonful of ricotta cheese was rustic and hearty.  Service was upbeat and friendly, we now know another good place in one of our favourite neighbourhoods.

http://www.famoso.ca

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Mushroom pizzette!
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Tomato bisque – Hearty and Satisfying!

Comfort Foods at Home: Old recipes and new experiment (recipes coming soon: vegetarian friendly)

Cooking and Resting Lots at home…

My sources in Vancouver: Seafood City (Granville Island), Artisan Sake Maker at Granville Island (Osake), Vancouver Farmers Market (now Winter Market at Nat bailey is on), Fujiya Japanese food store (Clark Drive),  Vancouver Island Salt Company (sea salt available at various locations), Bread Affair (bakery at Granville Island, also available at grocery stores).

Japanese Corn Potage: this no dairy recipe is still one of my favourites (recipe published March 2014 – check the archives) to make once in a while.

japanese-corn-potage

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Roasted Butternut squash red miso shimeji napa cabbage udon – a keeper for winter!

 

 

 

New experiment: Roasted Butternut squash miso soup with shimeji mushroom and napa cabbage udon (new recipe coming) – it takes a little time but worthwhile!  I used the turkey carcass to make the base stock (bonito flake/kombu dashi or just kombu dashi (for vegetarians) work just as well), roasted the butternut squash, sauteed the onions, added to stock and pureed to make the soup. Add little olive oil and the red miso paste to soup pot, add and sauteed shimeji mushrooms and cabbage, then add soup to pot.   Udon cooked separately and put in bowls, ladle soup to serve, garnish with green onions.

When Japanese meets Italian: Roasted asparagus soup with homemade anchovy croutons and there is no dairy?  A couple spoonful of Japanese rice (other than potato) will do the trick and give the creaminess which we all love. Inspiration came from recipe by Joy Manning on Food and Wine and Basho Cafe (another of my favourite in Vancouver); I made this vegetarian (kombu based dashi) except the croutons which I used anchovies as flavouring (sourdough bread seasoned with seasalt, olive oil), this pureed soup is creamy in texture yet light, perfect for light supper or lunch.

asparagus-soup

Last but not least…..Snapper Hot Pot Rice: snapper bones used to make stock (roasted bones, daikon, green onion, sake kasu, bonito flake/kombu dashi, small pork shank – at least 1 1/2 hours) then strained set aside, fish filet (by the fishmonger, my favourite Seafood City) and pin bones removed (I did myself at home),  Japanese Haiga rice used for this dish, cleaned and soaked for 30 minutes prior to cooking. Seasoning (shiro shoyu/mirin/sake 3/2/1 ratio) added to rice in nabe and stir evenly, I added enoki mushroom (one thin layer) then the kombu (from stock making), slices of lemon), medium heat to cook rice stove top.  Around the 9 minute mark, check the liquid (make sure it’s not all dried out) and add the fish filet on top, and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until it’s done, the fish will remain very moist and tender.  Remove from heat, remove kombu, lemon slices, flake the fish and serve with mitsuba (Japanese parsley), grated lemon zest and a touch of sansho (Japanese ground pepper), and a drizzle of homemade ponzu (dashi/soy/sake/mirin and lemon juice).

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Voila! Snapper Nabe Rice
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Fish flaked and served with chopped Japanese parsley, grated lemon zest and sansho ground pepper

 

 

 

September 2016: Bella September

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Fall is always my favourite season; I am always excited and grateful to welcome the harvest season and get busy in my kitchen!

This September is all about Italian food at our household:

Italian Home cooking with my friends James (househistorian) and Peter (Pastaboy), sharing the joys and love for Italian cuisine:  Whenever my friend James return to Vancouver,  we always have a standing appointment to cook together for our good friends.

Here is the composite photo showing our dinner. Top row left; deep-fried cauliflower, fresh, handmade orecchiette pasta, bruschetta  with Sabina DOP extra virgin olive oil from Casperia.

Second row left to right: Insalata caprese with local heirloom tomatoes and bufala mozzarella. Orecchiette (handmade small ear pasta) with fava beans, peas, Gorgonzola (sweet) and half and half cream pureed and topped with crispy guanciale (smoked pork cheek), baked sockeye salmon (local!) with lemon and capers.

Bottom row Left to Right:  An amazing bottle of Spanish wine, Spaghetti all’Amatriciana (remembering the earthquake in Amatrice),  getting ready to make pasta dough with flour and water!

My trusting go to places for my supplies in Vancouver: Cioffis 4142 East Hastings, Bianca Maria 2469 East Hastings, Gourmet Warehouse 1340 East Hastings)

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Caprese Insalata: Buffala di mozzarella (a must), fresh basil, cherry tomatoes, sea salt and nice olive oil. We toasted some baguette (rustic Italian better), rubbed with garlic and drizzle with olive oil..Bruschetta!
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The most thoughtful gift from my pal James: Sabina DOP Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Casperia from olives grown and harvested from trees James can see from his home in Italy. Thank you again James!

We love pies: Gabi and Jules Handmade pies and baked goods in Port Moody

The newest artisan baked shop and cafe opened weeks ago in Port Moody; we were crazy and drove Port Moody one rainy Saturday morning, and the verdict?  It was well worth the long drive from Vancouver! We had the apple blueberry pie: flaky buttery crust with generous fillings, the sweetness was perfect!  I had the scrumptious cheese scone and my crazy husband had the peach cobbler muffin,

Their website is still under construction, they have great pictures on Instagram (@gabiandjules).

http://www.gabiandjules.com

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Delectable Apple and blueberry pie from Gabi and Jules: We took it home and enjoyed with our friends.

Tasting and Book Signing event at Gourmet Warehouse: Lidia Bastianich

The great Italian born American chef, Ms. Lidia Bastianich visited Vancouver this month… I was absolutely thrilled to meet her in person, she is absolutely lovely…completely starstruck..

I got her autographed cookbook (included in ticket purchase), a picture taken and spoke with her for a few minutes about Italian cooking.  Tremendous thank you to staff and event crew at Gourmet Warehouse for hosting the wonderful event.

I will be very occupied this winter and I look forward to sharing all new cooking tips, techniques and recipes with everyone.
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http://www.gourmetwarehouse.ca

A one stop gourmet store located on East Hastings, filled with great selection of cookware, bakeware, ingredients and sauces from around the world.

Check their calendar for cooking classes and special events

And the Italian theme continues: Ask for Luigi revisited…first time for dinner

Finally made it to Ask for Luigi for dinner!  It was an impromptu decision, we got there early on a Wednesday night (5:45 pm) and got it right away.  It was meant to be (OO)

Ask for Luigi: 2015 Best Restaurant in Vancouver, located at 305 Alexander Street (Railtown), no reservations so get there early!

http://www.askforluigi.com

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Cauliflower polpettes: with romesco sauce and hazelnuts: a very tasty vegetarian “meatball”…
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Radiatore – chilli, anchovy and broccoli….I love their pastas!

Easy Pasta Suppers: 

We all love having pastas for dinner, the sauces are usually easy to make, the ingredients are simple and easy to purchase, my focus is always on using fresh in season and local ingredients.

Broccoli pine nut pesto with gluten-free fusilli (Gogo Quinoa), Spaghetti and Zoodles (Zucchini noodles) all’amatriciana (San Marzano Canned tomatoes, guanciale (smoked pork cheek), garlic and Pecorino romano).  I substituted the half the spaghetti with zoodles (love my spiralizer).

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Easy Sunday supper: Broccoli, pine nuts, dried chilli pepper pesto with gluten-free (GoGo Quinoa) fusilli and parmesan reggiano
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Spaghetti and Zoodles (courgetti/zucchini noodles) all’amatriciana – It’s not entirely vegetarian as the sauce is made of guanciale (smoked Italian pork cheek) and San Marzano tomatoes (variety of plum tomatoes (sweeter, stronger taste and less acidic – available Canned in Italian food stores Cioffis (East Hastings). I’ve used heirloom tomatoes (in season now) and it was so delicious.
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Good reads: The Italian Pasta cookbook is actually an old publication, the Chinese book is translated from a Japanese cookbook written by a popular and famous chef in Tokyo. I’ve been reading a lot more in Chinese lately, trying to learn the terms and cross reference.

Some upcoming Events in Vancouver:

September 29th – Sake Festival (consumer tasting in the evening), check website for information.

http://www.sakebc.ca

Farmers Market schedule and location will change at the end of October, winter market begins!

http://www.eatlocal.org

Eat Vancouver (October 4 to 7) – check out their website for events, there’s no market place this year but plenty of special dinners

http://www.eat-vancouver.com

Remember I took some sushi making classes earlier this year?  Taka-san is back and he will be teaching on October 15th Saturday, please call 778-788-3574 for reservations.