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…
 

East Meets West = West Coast Cool: Tangram Creamery @ Arbutus Vancouver

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Last Saturday I got a “hot tip” from my foodie pal Ms. Moto about a “cold delight”; she couldn’t stop raving about the hoji-cha ice-cream and insisted we must go, and go we did…..there was no turning back.

Tangram is the latest addition to our local ice-cream craze; located  on the busy Arbutus Street (2729 Arbutus) between West 11 and 12 Avenue, just a couple of minutes walk away from one of my favourite butchers Pete’s Meats.

There were Nine offerings on their menu, displayed prominently on the wall:  Seven ice-cream flavours (Tahitian Vanilla/Double Chocolate/Guatemala Coffee/ Matcha/Hoji-cha/Salted Caramel/Strawberry Strudel) and two sorbet (Mango/Lychee).

Heeding Ms. Moto’s advice, I decided to go for the Hoji-cha and added a scoop of Guatemala Coffee in a “cup”, an ice-cream version of my own “yin-yeung” (tea and coffee duo, a Hong Kong style cafe reference):

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The distinct smoky tea flavour hit instantly on the first bite (hoji-cha is a charcoal roasted Japanese green tea, originally from Kyoto).  As I savoured, the silky milky-ness came through and finally the right amount of sweetness lingered on, tantalizing my palate and playing a trick in my mind: I felt as if I was enjoying an ice-cold “hoji-cha milk tea”, it was absolutely brilliant!  I don’t ever recall any other ice-creamery having such an offering.  Let’s not forget the Guatemala Coffee, which is richer in flavour and slightly bitter, definitely well suited for coffee lovers.

The day before Valentine’s, I decided to pop by Tangram again to pick up another pint for dessert, and try something else which I had my eye on since the other night: A single scoop of Strawberry Strudel ice-cream in their house-made Langue de Chat (cat’s tongue shape), a French sugar cookie cone.

One bite and I was smitten: the strawberry’s tartness and sweetness were well-balanced, the freshness and the strawberry flavour, combined with specks of strudel, gave the ice-cream a different texture, it was heavenly. The cone was flaky and complemented the ice-cream very well, the tail end of the cone was dipped in chocolate is a nice touch; however I found it melted quite quickly, perhaps I was really taking my time to savour every bite.

This is just a personal preference: I find their scoop sizes just right and I like their texture, it may not be the creamiest but it is smooth and silky.  The pricing is very reasonable: one scoop for $5.00, double for $7.00, triple for $9.00 and a pint (16 ounces) costs $10.00; add an extra dollar and you can enjoy the special French sugar cookie cone/bowl.

At first glance I somehow thought “Tangram” was Korean (thinking along the lines of “Gangnam” style), it is the “English” name for the Chinese “QiQiaoBan”, the incredible “Seven pieces Transformation Puzzle”, derived from Chinese (tan) and Greek (gram) origin (Check out Wikipedia!).  Their  brand “story” behind its name is another “story” for me to uncover some other time.

To my dear friend Ms. Moto: Thanks for introducing us to this wonderful place; cannot wait to go there to try something else with you next time (OO)

By the way, we picked up a pint of Lychee Sorbet…it was so refreshing!  Look forward to see what else Tangram will bring us this summer!

Information:

Tangram 2729 Arbutus Street, Vancouver, BC (Between West 11 and 12 Avenue, Kits area), follow them on Instagram @tangramcreamery 

Local ice-creamery; friendly service and reasonable price point, communal table and seating available; must try hoji-cha flavour (especially for Japanese tea-lovers) and their in-house made cookie cone, other offerings include coffee and macaron ice-cream dessert, their taste is authentically Japanese.