Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas Wifesaver

For those of you who have never heard of the Christmas Wifesaver, my guess is you probably spend far too much of your Christmas morning preparing breakfast.  This Best of Bridge recipe is a Christmas staple in my family.  It's yummy, filling and can be completely prepared the day before, so everyone can enjoy their coffee and Baileys on Christmas morning.  I was able to find the recipe online, so if you're looking for a breakfast that can feed a small army but can be prepared in advance, you should definitely try this one out.  Enjoy!
 Christmas breakfast.  Oh so yummy!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Crab Feast Central

My Aunt and Uncle were in town for the holidays and, as usual, they spoiled us rotten!!!  They live near crabbing central, so they brought up dungeness crab for a complete and utter feast.  It was such a treat, absolutely delicious and so much fun.  Plus, I broke my own record this year and managed to fling crab at my Grandma not only once, but twice.  I warned her that she was taking her life in her own hands when she sat next to me.
Our soon to be dinner!  They bought them cleaned and cooked this time, since they were going to be transporting them, but did you know that the best way to cook crab is in sea water?  Any time that we've visited and gone crabbing, they keep some of the sea water and cook the crab in it because it helps maintain the flavour of the crab.  Plus, you're supposed to add them to the pot live.

The delicious green salad that my sister brought and made.  Green leaf lettuce, tomatoes, orange and red peppers, avocado and kiwi.  I thought the kiwi was a bit odd when I looked at the salad, but when I tasted it, I loved it.  It added a really nice sweetness to the salad.

The Greek salad that my sister brought and made.  Cucumbers, red, green, orange and yellow peppers and feta.  Delicious!

Now that's what I call a basket of bread.

The homemade garlic butter anticipating some mouth-watering crab being dipped into it.

My meal...oh so yummy!  I wish I could have a repeat tomorrow.  Thanks for the treat Aunt and Uncle!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Vancouver Christmas Market Take 3 - Food Extravaganza!

Happy holidays everyone!  I know it's been a while since my last post, but I figured that if your holidays were anything like mine, you'd be too busy eating to have the time to read about eating.  Speaking of the holidays, this next post might be considered a bit behind the times since the last day the Vancouver Christmas Market was open was Christmas Eve, but I had so much fun my last time there I couldn't resist including a post on it.  And, hopefully, it will help encourage everyone who didn't make it out this year to check it out next year!

My Aunt and Uncle were in town for a night last week, so I figured there was no better way to get in the Christmas spirit than for all of us to spend the evening at the Christmas Market.  We stopped at the infocenter on Robson between Hornby and Howe on our way there and, for the cost of a $2.50 Ritter Sport we received two free entry passes, two free carousel rides, and three $1 off coupons for a value of $19!  I love that infocenter.  Then we were off to the market for some Christmas fun!  The pictures tell the rest of the story.

The last time I was at the market, the German beer complained that I was playing favourites with the Gluwhein, so I thought it was only fair to pay full attention to the German beer on this evening.  Me and my light German beer ($7).  Utterly delicious!

My Aunt's smokie complete with grilled onions and sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup.  ($7 with the $1 coupon).

My Uncle's bratwurst on a bun complete with grilled onions, sauerkraut, mustard and ketchup.  ($7 with the $1 coupon).  They both agreed that the bratwurst wasn't quite as flavourful as they had expected, so they liked the smokie better.

For dinner, I opted for a dish of Schupfnoodle from Das Deutsche Nudle Has.  This is a traditional German noodle, hand-shaped like worms and mixed with double-smoked prosciutto and sauerkraut.  This dish was like nothing I had ever tasted and I loved it!!!  I'd definitely recommend trying it.  It came to $8.50, tax in and it was the perfect amount for dinner. 

My Uncle's hot apple cider and the classic baked apple from Das Apfelhaus that we shared for dessert.  The classic baked apple came stuffed with walnuts, raisins, brown sugar and cinnamon and was topped with hot vanilla sauce.  This was yummy and a good way to round off dinner, but it was a shame that it was so chilly that night because the apple cooled off so quickly.  ($5.75, tax in).

Next, my Aunt and I fulfilled my Christmas market dream and headed for the carousel!  We were a little nervous that going post food and beer might not be a good idea, but we had a blast and my Uncle confirmed that my horse beat hers by the hair of a nose!  I didn't tell her, but I may have been wearing illegal spurs.

The perfect conclusion to my last Christmas Market experience was a maple taffy for $3.  It's made by cooking maple syrup until it's taffy consistency, wrapping it around a tongue depressor, and putting it on ice to keep its shape.  It was heaven on earth!!!  I can't even explain how happy it made me.  I know it's pure sugar, but when it's pure maple syrup it tastes so much better and for some reason there's absolutely no guilt factor.  I hope they have this again next year, because I'm already craving another one.

Watching the Phat Fabulous Swing band as I enjoyed my maple taffy.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Homemade Granola

Recently my regular breakfast of cereal and a banana just hadn't been cutting it for me.  I'd literally be hungry 15 minutes later.  So, I decided to up the anti and make some homemade granola.  The recipe I used was from Eating For Energy Without Deprivation: The 80/20 Cookbook.  I wasn't able to find the recipe online, so have included a similar granola recipe that I found online.  The ingredients that I used were: 
  • 5 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1/2 cup flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup apricots

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Dim Sum at Kirin

The other day I headed out for Christmas dim sum with some lovely ex-colleagues.  I thought the world truly might be coming to an end when they suggested Kirin instead of their staple Imperial, but they soon informed me that Imperial had closed down forever...insert gasp here.  Heartbroken as I was, I was looking forward to trying Kirin.

The atmosphere in Kirin is definitely comfortable yet classy.  It was a bit different because you order off a menu instead of choosing from a tray or filling out a card, but once we got used to it, it worked well.  The service was good, and so was the food.  However, the Company was spectacular, so I definitely can't complain!

The view from our table before the plethora of lunch eaters arrived.

Our pretty table with fancy chopstick holders and a tea warming plate.

Pan fried rice noodles.  These were not quite what we were expecting but they were good nonetheless. 

Oh I love you.

Steamed shrimp dumplings.  It's just not dim sum without them.

Course 1 of our 2 course peking duck.  I'd never had peking duck and was quite excited to try it.  This course consisted of flour tortillas, duck skin, "chips" (the white things that look and tasted like styrofoam...not that I've ever eaten styrofoam before...), green onions and special sauce.

Our waiter politely taught me how you're supposed to eat it.  You essentially build a peking duck burrito with all of the fixings.  It was interesting, but didn't necessarily float my boat.

Round 2 of our peking duck: minced peking duck and shredded styrofoam chips to make lettuce wraps with.  These were okay, but was not what anyone at the table was expecting when peking duck was ordered. 

Chicken and mushroom dumplings.

 Mushroom spring rolls.

I'm not sure how much each dish cost, but the meal came to just under $60, tax in and fed all three of us. 

Friday, 21 December 2012

The way to a woman's heart...

Most men would say the way to a woman's heart is through a little blue box with the word Tiffany's on it.  Not me.  The way to my heart is through a little brown box with the words Thomas Haas on it.

Now, generally I am more of a salty person than a sweet person, but these chocolates are melt in your mouth to die for delicious.  I literally go into a mini happy food coma each time I bite into one. 

This year our office received two boxes of these delicious chocolates as a part of the Christmas gift baskets.  Lucky for me, the folks receiving the baskets are very thoughtful and share their gift boxes with the rest of the office.  We normally have a gift basket afternoon where we eat and drink our way through them, but the Thomas Haas chocolates were broken into a wee bit early because it was a shame to let them sit in a bag and not be eaten.

There was just over one chocolate per person, so I politely took my one.  I opted for the Raspberry: silky dark chocolate ganache paired with a thin layer of pure raspberry, topped with a hand painted chocolate plaquette.  AMAZING!!  When I went back into the kitchen about three hours later, I figured whatever was left was fair game and took the Caramel with fluer de sel: a combination of bittersweet chocolate ganache and silky golden caramel with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.  This may have been the best chocolate to have ever entered my mouth.  My taste buds even air mailed me a thank you postcard.  When I came in the following morning and saw that the chocolates hadn't been was time for another!  This time I had the Passion Fruit: silky dark chocolate ganache paired with a thin layer of passion fruit and tahitian vanilla, topped with a hand painted chocolate plaquette.  Greatest morning snack ever!

So, in closing, I'd like to say, thank you Thomas Haas.  You make the world a better place.

And just to ensure that there's no confusion, I'd definitely never complain about getting a little blue box. 

The little brown box that gets my tastebuds a dancing.

Deciding which yummy scrumptiousness to have for my morning snack.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company

My youngest cousin just finished her first semester at university this fall, so I was super excited when she messaged me to let me know that she was going to be back in town and was wondering if we could get together for dinner before the holidays.  We ended up having a delicious meal at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company before her and her Mom headed off to see the Chor Leoni.

As always, our meals at Rocky Mountain were delicious.  I never fail to be re-amazed at how fresh and scrumptious the ingredients they use are.  It probably has something to do with the fact that they mainly use local and organic produce, free-range organic meats, Ocean Wise seafood, and make all of their sauces and dressings from scratch at the restaurant...but, whatever it's due to, it's a real treat.  Plus, the atmosphere is so comfortable, warm and relaxing.  You never feel like they're trying to rush you out and my favourite part is the fact that their pizza oven is visible to a good majority of the tables in the restaurant so you can watch them pop the pizzas in and out.  I also thoroughly enjoy how family friendly the restaurant is.  It adds a whole other layer of warmth to the atmosphere when kids are enjoying their meals at the tables next to you.

Thanks for the great visit ladies!  Hopefully we'll have a chance to visit again soon.

The remnants of the large Fig and Goat's cheese salad that we split to start: assorted greens, crunchy cucumbers, ripe tomatoes, shaved red onions, mixed with goat's cheese in a creamy black mission fig dressing ($13.50).  What can I say, my appetite overpowerd my desire for pretty photos..hence the half eaten photo.  This salad was nice and fresh and I was very impressed with the healthy portion of goat's cheese.

My cousin and Aunt showing off their flatbread pizzas.  My cousin had a small of the flatbread special.  I forgot to write down what was on it but I know there was eggplant and garlicky goodness.  I was able to trade a piece for a piece, and her flatbread was my favourite of the night. ($10.95).  My Aunt ordered a small Basil Bocconcini flatbread: organic tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, sliced roma tomatoes, natural brown mushrooms, freshly cut bocconcini cheese, and finished with roughly chopped basil leaves.  A delicious classic!  ($9.95)

 My regular parma: organic tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Schinken speck (cured ham), brown mushrooms and mango, topped with roughly chopped arugula and parmesan cheese. ($14.50)  Essentially a more refined and less greasy version of the classic Hawaiian pizza.  This was delicious and I licked my plate clean.  However, I was a little disappointed that they forgot the arugula as that was part of the reason that I ordered it.



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Dinner at the Vancouver Christmas Market

With the lack of rain this past Friday night, I couldn't resist heading back to the Christmas Market for another Gluwhein and to try out some of the food.  It was just as much fun as the first time, albeit a bit more busy.

Things to note: (1) Just a friendly reminder that the entire market is cash only.  So, I'd recommend stopping at the bank beforehand unless you want to pay the surcharge at the Christmas Market ATM.  (2) If it's on your way, you should stop off at the information booth on Robson between Howe and Hornby before you make your way to the market.  My market partner in crime did and got a free entry to the market for a $2 purchase ($5 value) along with two $1 coupons for the Black Forest Sausage Company and a free ride on the carousel!

Dinner!  Half of a bratwurst on a bun combined with half of a smokie on a bun, with fried onions and sauerkraut from the Black Forest Sausage Company.  ($8)  This was good but didn't blow me out of the water as much as I thought it would.  The onions and sauerkraut didn't have as much flavour as I was expecting.  I think that's partially because I'm used to pickled sauerkraut and I don't think this sauerkraut was pickled.  That being said, you can never go wrong with a sausage and I inhaled it in about 2 minutes flat.  We both agreed that we liked the smokie half more than the bratwurst half, probably because that's what we're used to eating.

Gluwhein round 2.  So yummy!  ($6)

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Kamei Royale

I had a fabulous surprise visit from my cousin and his girlfriend last week.  They were just in town for a quick visit so we caught up over sushi at Kamei Royale.  As always, the food was great and the company even better.  Thanks for the great visit guys!

Things to note: (1) Kamei Royale takes reservations, which makes lunch dates super easy.  (2) They don't have an umbrella stand but they will hold your umbrella for you behind the front counter.  (3) You can't go wrong with anything you order!

Sashimi Vancouver: Atlantic salmon (2 pieces), yellowtail (2 pieces), tuna belly (2 pieces), and tuna (3 pieces). ($19.95)

Delicious Roll: chopped scallop, imitation crab meat, avocado, fresh mango, poached prawns, served with white wine mustard sauce and tobiko. ($13.95)

Dynamite roll ($5.95).

My sushi and sashimi boat: miso soup, goma-ae, tuna and salmon sashimi, tuna and salmon sushi, dynamite roll (2 pieces), california roll (2 pieces), BC roll (2 pieces) and fruit.  ($16.95) 

Monday, 17 December 2012

Higher Grounds Coffee - Chai Latte and Scrabble Challenge, Round 2

I figured yesterday's rainy Sunday morning was the perfect time for the second round of my Chai Latte and Scrabble Challenge.  The location?  Higher Grounds Coffee house at Broadway and Vine.

I really enjoyed this coffee shop.  It had a comfy cozy feel to it, and stuck to its heritage building roots.  My breakfast hadn't satisfied my hunger completely, so I grabbed a Breakfast Cookie to have with my Chai Latte.  It was good, but a bit dry and not as filling as I'd hoped it would be.  As for the Chai Latte, it was flavourful but I think they must use syrup to flavour it because it was very sugary to the point that I think I got a sugar rush.  My friend tried an Americano and said it was good but nothing special.

However, the coffee house itself got our Scrabble juices seriously going!  We had an epic game with a final score of 374 (me) to 285 (challenger).  For the first time in my entire life, I managed to play all seven tiles at once!!!  Plus, it happened to fall on a triple word score for a total of 77 points in one move!  It just may have been the peak of my Scrabble career.

So, the long and the short of it is that it's a great coffee shop to get in out of the rain, visit, play a game, or study.  However, I would probably order a tea over a chai latte next time.

My Scrabble challenger's Americano, my Breakfast Cookie (oats, raisins, applesauce, pumpkin seeds, brown ricepuffs, flaxseed, sunflower millet, driet apricot and apple), and my Chai Latte.  My breakfast cookie and chai latte came to $7.65.

The view from our table.

The final scrabble board.  Almost got to all four corners again!  And if you're curious what my 77 point play was...terrines...upper right earthenware jar.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Fritz European Fry House

For those of you who haven't been to Fritz, you have no idea what you've been missing.  I have to admit, it had been quite some time since I'd been, but I was out for a friend's birthday recently and just couldn't resist a poutine at the end of the decision ever!  I don't know how they make their gravy but it is the definition of yummy goodness.  The fries are thick and flavourful, and the cheese curds are just the right amount and tossed on perfectly.  In conclusion, Fritz's poutine is just as delicious as get your butt over there and eat one!

My oh so yummy in my tummy small poutine ($5).


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Snow with a Side of Brunch

So, needless to say, I love a good meal but nothing ever tastes better than that first handful of fluffy, powdery snow melting in your mouth each and every year.  It's amazing!!! 

I headed up to Seymour for my first snowshoe of the year today.  When I went to bed last night I was a little worried that it might rain so I wished and wished for snow.  Well, my wishing paid off, because it was a complete and utter winter wonderland up there!  It made for a very fun snowshoe and the most scrumptious snow I've tasted in a long time. 

My morning snack.
 Hmmm...I think I'll have some from the second tree to the right of the snowghost, please.

Needless to say, a morning of snowshoeing works up quite an appetite and despite its yumminess, a snow snack just doesn't cut it in the hunger department.  So, brunch was a must, it was just a matter of where.  After much hungry discussion, we decided on Slickity Jim's Chat N Chew on Main.  I had never been there and I have to say it is one of the best diners I've been to.  It was toasty warm and cozy, we only had to wait about 10-15 minutes for a table, the servers were real and nice, the booths were made out of old school bus seats, the names of the dishes were awesome and the food was scrumptious.  Not greasy diner food at all.  Delicious flavours and very filling.  It's already become a regular on my brunch list and if you haven't been there, you definitely have to check it out!

 Seriously, with a name like that, you can't go wrong.

My hot apple cider.  True apple cider with a cinnamon stick...I was in heaven!  I literally could have drank a vat of it, it was so good.

My Fun Gus Benny: two eggs poached medium on english muffins with hollandaise sauce, sauteed mushrooms, bacon, and roasted potatoes ($11).  Scrumptious!  That's pretty much all that needs to be said.  However, I would like to say that I was very impressed with the fact that the roasted potatoes actually tasted like roasted potatoes.  No deep-frying, just lots of herbs, spices and a little olive oil or butter.  They were definitely a highlight for me.  Next time I'm going to have to order the Woman in a Flowing Dress Kissing Her Lover omelette, though, because who wouldn't want to order a dish called that?!

One of my snowshoeing partner in crime's Chorizo with Mushroom omelette: 3 eggs, with roasted potatoes and sourdough bread.  It looked delicious and the plate was pretty much licked clean so I don't think there were any complaints. ($9.75)  Interesting side fact before I forget, all of their eggs are free-run eggs.
 The true sign of a great snowshoe and a delicious meal!