Thank you very much to Amelie of Anh and Chi, and Grace (eikcamceramics) for organizing a wonderful and heartwarming “Summer in Saigon” charity event; we also had the privilege to enjoy a surprise sneak preview of Anh and Chi’s short film documenting their family legacy. Your entire team work was seamless and delivery was almost flawless.
Together with 12 other patrons, we enjoyed a 7-course royal feast with superb wine/cocktail pairings; 5 savory courses featured seafood prepared by Amelie’s Mom (Head Chef at Ahn and Chi) and delightful crew, plus 2 scrumptious desserts prepared by the talented photographer/blogger Vy Tran of beyondsweetandsavory; the entire evening was photographed and documented by Vancouver’s talented Norah of nomnomyvr.
It was an evening to remember; 4 hours filled with delicious food, wonderful and interesting conversations, sharing our love and passion for food, for family and life.
Together we have raised a substantial amount that evening through the ticket sales (this is a non-sponsored event) and donations from all patrons, the ceramics created by Grace and used to serve the beautiful food were all auctioned off later; all proceeds went to YWCA’s Peace Fund.
On a very personal note: Watching Amelie’s family documentary brought back many fond memories of visits with my family to their family’s old restaurant Pho Hoang, originated on East Georgia in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
I was absolutely delighted to have met Amelie in person; thank you again to my dear teacher Grace, and Vy, I simply loved your dessert and Norah, it was so great to see you in action! I sincerely hope all our paths will cross once again.
(Disclaimer: I attended this event as a patron, it was an honor to be a part of a charity event).
Ahn and Chi is located at 3388 Main Street, Vancouver, BC. For regular menu information, please check their website.
60 and 88…It’s a privilege to grow old
Growing older perhaps wiser with acceptance or younger at heart?
This is perhaps the question I have been asking a lot lately..
What’s your take?
Attended a friend’s 60th birthday bash ….we had an awesome night celebrating a friend’s milestone and danced to the tunes played by the amazing Phonix dance band, rocking the Motown and funky dance tunes all night long…
During the Powell Street festival weekend, i was invited to volunteer at the Japanese Language School kitchen and helped to serve the beloved “Beiju” seniors (turning 88 years old) birthday lunch…Thank you Laura, so grateful for this opportunity to be a part of this special celebration.
Did you catch the FIFA World Cup? Honestly I was never a big soccer fan and I only started to understand soccer a little better since I went to an actual Whitecaps game last year. We were invited to my food buddy Moto’s house for a fabulous brunch and watch the Croatia vs Russia quarter finals; I was looking for something fitting to bring.. I was in Commercial neighbourhood found Rosemary Rocksalt Bagels (obviously I didn’t know they are there) and picked up half a dozen of Montreal style bagels of different variety; they were fresh and soft with crunchy bits..First impression? We like them, 4 people ate half a dozen of bagels..For sure I will return to their Main Street location to try out their bagel sandwiches sometime.
We paired the bagels with a creamy Croatian Pork Pate and pickles, picked up from Piast, a European Bakery and Delicatessen on Cambie (and 16th Avenue)…it’s a small little shop which has been around for a long time..
Aburi and Vegetable sushi @ Eat at Yui (102-1185 West Georgia Street (Georgia and Bute)
As a pure sushi lover who has a tremendous respect for Japanese cuisine and food culture; the idea of “vegetable sushi” somehow never sat quite well with me. however after my visit to Eat at Yui, the experience has changed my mind.
This little shop opened in May 2017 and it is tucked away within the Vancouver downtown core, located on ground floor inside a commercial building.
Known for their aburi sushi at affordable prices, we had a feast and ordered quite a few items to sample their offerings: their Yui salad, their signature Salmon, Ebi and Tai Oshi, plus their newly added Gindara (sablefish) Oshi, plus a few pieces of their vegetable sushi.
The vegetable sushi was beautifully prepared and the knife work was immaculate; the eggplant cooked and slightly charred (aburi) to perfection with the miso, the asparagus was served with a herbed pesto (I tasted cilantro), and the tomato gunkan sushi, slightly charred and added a hint of mayo, the small cherry tomatoes were cut in a perfect bite size and they were bursting with sweetness, it was put together so nicely and easy for the diner to enjoy. The sushi was put together with care and thoughtfulness, it showed great skills and respect.
They are open for lunch and dinner (except Sundays), they do close early because of operating hours of the commercial building. The service was friendly; it is a small space and they are busy. This is definitely not my first and last visit; I will have to pop by sometime to try their lunch items. As for parking, your best bet is probably on Robson or Alberni Street, then walked down to West Georgia (it’s right at the corner of Bute and Georgia).
The Kerrisdale neighbourhood seems to be going through many transformations, slowly yet surely evolving into a younger and vibrant hood and I am so surprised there is such an abundance of Asian dessert places choose to open in this traditional English neighbourhood.
Met up with WhatJoAte at Dear Fro (2070 West 41st, west of West Boulevard) where we shared a mango ice-cream bingsoo and I enjoyed it! The ice was fine and smooth, the mango was sweet; sometimes it pays off to give the small neighbourhood places a chance.
Usually I am not easily swayed by what is popular or being showcased on Social Media; with all the hype surrounding Nana’s Green TeaI did pay a visit last weekend to find out what it is all about. A Japanese brand famous for their matcha desserts, I tried the Hojicha (my personal favourite Japanese tea) Parfait with warabi mochi, red bean, hojicha ice-cream, hojicha jelly and corn flakes…I savored every bite and finished the entire dessert by myself, although I could do with less red bean, it’s strictly a personal preference. The shop operates 7 days a week, the lineup could be quite long; I was there on a Saturday afternoon around 1530 and waited for 15 minutes, limited seating available for dine in.
Sunny Days easy hikes and walks: West Vancouver, Squamish, White Rock and Langley
Working hard to get back into my walking exercise regimen, particularly during the summer months where the weather is so fine; I try to go outdoors as much as possible! During the Canada Day weekend when my cousin and wife were visiting from New York, we headed to Sea to Sky in Squamish and Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver.
Last weekend I spent time with my food buddies in Crescent Beach, White Rock and Derby Reach Regional Park Trail in Langley, we logged 17000 steps (some briskwalking involved!) for the day!
Here are some photos taken during our outdoor excursions:
Are you trying to go greener? I have been thinking more about this subject over the universal concerns we shared on climate change; gradually I have already reduced the usage of plastic bags, take out boxes, and now trying to more unnecessary packaging.
Recently a new concept (no packaging) grocery store Nadahas opened on East Broadway (by Fraser) and I just picked up a couple of beewax muslin cotton food wraps; I am going to use them to wrap my lunches and snacks and see how they fare, review coming up in the next couple months and see how I can establish a new habit!
Any other suggestions? I would love to hear from you, please email me at : email@example.com
February was filled with family visits and gatherings with friends celebrating the Lunar New Year. There were new discoveries and return visits to old favourites and some long forgotten places, all filled with pleasant little surprises.
OINK OINK OINK:
So Hyang Korean Cuisine: Perfectly grilled mackerel for me and Korean Galbi (beef short ribs) for him; tasty authentic cuisine on Fraser Street at reasonable prices.
Lunar New Year Feasts at Fortune Terrace Chinese Cuisine and Red Star Chinese Restaurant: Great Food and Fun times: A huge thank you to my zumba classmates (you know who you are) for arranging these special dinners (OO)
Fall has always been my favourite season ; I simply love the colours, the weather and the beautiful and delicious local harvests! I was overly excited and overextended myself a little with Thanksgiving family dinner and cooking classes (which I love!), I ended up catching a cold. Yikes! Changing seasons is a very tricky time period, we should all be extra mindful in taking care of our bodies in order to prepare for the long winter season ahead.
A couple of months ago I came across True Nosh through Instagram, what I found intriguing about True Nosh is their focus on “no added sugar” cooking! Coming from a family with history of diabetes (on my maternal side of family), I thought I could learn something new to even further reduce the usage of sugar in foods prepared for my family.
I browsed through their website and signed up for the Chinese Green scallion cake (one of my favourite Chinese snacks) class; I think most of you by now know “working with dough” and cooking Chinese food is not my strong suit (Ha ha).
The class focused mainly on demonstration by owner and certified dietitian Ms. Renee Chan; only a small part requires hands on participation.
What is no added sugar cooking? Ms. Chan finds a creative way to use the natural sweetness from fruits and vegetables to replace refined sugars in traditional cooking. A lot of restraint is exercised by limiting the quantities so sugar content is lower and the dishes are lightly sweetened.
The menu for the evening also includes braised beef shank (which goes very well with the green scallion cakes) and mango mochi (without added sugar) as dessert. The dough was proof ahead of time by Ms. Chan and her team; the six class participants helped to roll out the dough and shaped the actual pancakes while Renee would cook and teach us Chinese (simple Chinese words in Cantonese and Mandarin) at the same time, she certainly made it fun and relaxing for everyone.
What did she use to replace the refined sugar? A small quantity of chopped red dates and apricots were used to create to a paste and added into the braised beef shank (picture not shown) as sweetener. (The usage of this ingredient was featured at another vegetarian/vegan class which I attended later – see below). After a most enjoyable evening, I decided to sign up for her “moon-cake making” class.
The second class was held at her newest location (West 7th avenue and Ontario Street, very close to Main), Renee and her team prepared all the ingredients and dough ahead of time, and participants only assemble and created the moon cakes with the beautiful tools provided. For the filling she has selected lotus (paste made from seeds) and red date (paired), mung bean and apricot (paired), red bean and purple yam to create the fillings, green tea powder and saffron were used as natural food colouring to change the “skin” colour. The textures and flavors are definitely different from store-bought “snow-skin” moon cakes, it is more rustic and not as sweet.
Renee and her team are helpful and friendly, I had the best time chatting with her about cooking and travel! Her family was also present that afternoon and I was delighted to have met her mother, the atmosphere was very warm and personal. All recipes were sent to participants via email with nutritional information.
Her company also offers a range of sauces and condiments with funky names and interesting flavor profile for Chinese cooking. Check out her website for more information. Thank you Renee and team for the connecting, see you at one of your classes another time!
I like her overall concept and support for a good cause (ending diabetes); and I am already thinking how I can introduce this “no refined sugar” method to my family and friends. I do think this a better option however it is still important to exercise personal judgement and stay well-informed on what suits your own dietary needs….As I always say, always cook with lots of care and love.
Learn and Nourish at Workshop Vegetarian Cafe (296 Pemberton Road, North Vancouver, BC)
In the past couple years more vegetarian and vegan restaurants have opened up in Greater Vancouver, even regular restaurants now offer more vegetarian and vegan options. Most of their flavor profile tend to be either Mediterranean or Middle eastern inspired, there are only just a handful of authentic Asian-flavored ( Chau Veggie Express) centric vegetarian friendly eateries operating in Vancouver.
The Workshop Vegetarian Cafe opened in 2016 and they well-known for their creative veggie bowls and signature ramen creations. Owner Tak and his wonderful team have created a Japanese menu featuring fresh seasonal and local ingredients. This delightful gem is very welcoming and cosy; it offers a complete vegetarian menu, with gluten-free and vegan options available; inside they operate a “corner shop which sells produce, frozen noodles (their in-house made udon/ramen), vegan and gluten-free condiments. I first visited this cafe in September 2016 with my friend “Kanekic” and really enjoyed their avocado toast and ramen.
I came across their workshop information through Instagram, apparently they have started to offer special workshops almost on a monthly basis with different themes.
On a beautiful Sunday morning I attended their sake kasu workshop, the focus is on the explanation and demonstration of key ingredient “sake lees” used in four recipes (which was given to us also), and a special five course lunch was included afterwards.
The demonstration was hosted by one of the chefs Oku-san, who is from Artisan Sake Maker at Granville Island, Canada’s first local sake maker (opened since 2007). You may ask what is sake kasu? It is the lees left over from sake production; it is a versatile ingredient which can be use as a marinade or pickling agent, adds lots of flavor to soups and sauces. If you taste the kasu on its own, the flavor itself is actually quite strong, so very little is needed in all applications.
In the demo class he taught us how to create of amazake (Japanese New Years drink), Vegan Chocolate Banana Smoothie, Miso Marinade and Vegan Mayonnaise; we all get to sample them afterwards and we were all given a small tub of sake kasu to take home for our cooking experiments.
The biggest surprise came when lunch was served; Oku-san and his friends, three other experienced chefs who work at different establishments in BC, they collaborated and created an exquisite five course lunch which exceeded my expectations. The meal was perhaps could easily ranked as the best vegetarian I’ve had in Vancouver, it is so wonderful to see we have high calibre chefs collaborating together and showcased not only their individual talent, but their superb team work; as a home cook, I left with not only a full stomach but also a very inspired mind.
I will be returning in November to attend a dashi-making workshop, I simply look forward to see what they have to offer next time. Meanwhile if you are unable to make it to Vancouver, check out their postings on Instagram; their feed is very positive and inspirational. Thank you very much Tak and team for the inspiration!
I have taken many cooking classes, however this is the first time I came across a knife sharpening workshop being taught in Vancouver.
I am completely clueless on this subject matter; I usually hone them with a steel (learn through YouTube and not sure exactly what I was doing) and take them out for service when required.
Our kitchen knives are our best friends; they are the most used tools in the kitchen, come to think of it, we spend a lot of time prepping our ingredients!
You may think these days we can practically learn almost anything on YouTube, so why a workshop?
It is a personal decision based on the way how I learn, I also happen to enjoy exchanges and connections with people in general (at times flipping between being an introvert and extrovert).
On this particular subject matter, I have tried to watch videos, I realize I need to see first hand in reality how it is done with instructions and thorough explanations.
So two weekends ago on a Sunday morning I overcame my fear (of the unknown) and spent two hours, together with three other students, learn about the basic principles of knife sharpening through Vancouver Chinatown’s Ai and Om Knives‘ ; the workshop was taught by local chef and shop owner Douglas Chang.
Ai and Om Knives carries a curated selection of Japanese knives and accessories; the first time I came across this specialty shop was actually through Instagram. When they opened last summer in August (official opening in October), I paid a visit and purchased my treasured nakiri bocho , a Japanese knife specifically used for cutting vegetables. My first experience at the store was very pleasant and positive so I subsequently subscribed to their newsletter.
I was truly elated when I saw their workshop schedule recently, I signed up immediately through email without any second thoughts.
On the day of we all brought their own knives for sharpening, fees were paid ($75.00 for the session) before the workshop started and I also purchased the split whetstone (discount given to students who signed up) , I was a bit scared and I was all ready to go, not knowing what to expect! The workshop was taught at the back of the shop where our “sensei” (teacher) spent the first half explaining clearly the technical terms and principles; he later proceed with a demonstration and sufficient time was allocated for our own hands on practice.
I admit initially I was overwhelmed and didn’t know where to begin as there were just a lot of information to remember and understand; in the spur of the moment I decided not to overthink and calmly focus on what our “sensei” has explained earlier, breaking it down step by step (the precis writing skills acquired back in secondary school really helped to pick out the “Key” words and points) and slowly got into it. Although the technicalities are very important, if we put all things aside, the process itself is actually very simple and rustic, it just comes down to the knife, the stone, your own concentration and focus.
Personally at that moment the lesson transcended into something more enlightening, I was engaged in a short “self-realization” journey, directing my own focus to be “in the moment” and learn how to appreciate the simplicities in life. I found the process to be very calming and therapeutic, I enjoyed it tremendously, much to my own surprise.
I was enjoying the process and did not even think of the results until it was time for the true test to see if I achieved what I was taught: to test and see if the knife will slice through paper effortlessly. I was absolutely thrilled when my nakiri “swished” through the paper….. I was more excited about the fact that I overcame the fear of another “unknown” .
I am not going to get into the details of knife sharpening as I have only learnt the basics and currently digesting what I have learnt; I assure you the session was informative and in the end you will be equipped with enough basic information to start sharpening your knives at home, and gained a better understanding of the art of knives and sharpening techniques. Hats off to local chef and owner Douglas Chang; he is very knowledgeable and articulate speaker who shows great patience and exerts a calming presence. Thank you very much for a very meaningful and eye-opening lesson.
My other thoughts on this experience: Never stop learning and practice definitely makes progress! Take good care of our kitchen tools will definitely help us to become more efficient with our meal preparations; improved efficiency will ease our minds, our focus will become clearer, and time will then be saved.
And time, perhaps is the most precious gift, spending time together with family and friends is the true expression of love and care.
Note: Ai and Om Knives is located in the heart of Vancouver Chinatown, 129 East Pender Street. Besides selling knives, they also carries a range of accessories , provide knife sharpening services and hosting workshops. Check their website for more details.
PS Note to my dear friend James; My knives will always be sharp from now on (OO).
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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).
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.
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!).
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).
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.
Sunday brunching at MaknMing (1629 Yew Street, Vancouver)
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).
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.
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!).
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!
Sewell Marina’s Sea Safari: Beautiful Howe Sound – sights and sound of the sea
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
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 email@example.com, or better yet, pay them a visit (129 East Pender Street, Vancouver, BC).
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).