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Month: February 2017 Page 1 of 4

Punto Pasta

Today I was visiting as part of the @vanfoodster downtown brunch crawl. I was the the plus one to local food blogger David of “Picky Diner” fame. The “Crawl”, featured five restaurants located across Robson and Denman street. At each location, for the paid a forehand fee of $50, all registered diners got small tasting plates from the participating restaurants. Two to four bites of a dish that they themselves can order during any breakfast or brunch with them.

This was the third stop, and the third chance for all those attending to try something they may not otherwise consider. This was definitely the case with me and this little pizza parlour, especially as you don’t typically associate pizza with brunch. You do however connect espressos to mornings and that was what our tasting plate started off with.

This two floor corner shop was a tight squeeze. You purchase at the counter by the door, and ascend up the stairs to claim any of the available seats. This perch gives you an unobstructed look above their kitchen operation. An interesting angle, but I don’t know how sanitary it was. Although the worry of slipping and falling distracted me from that.

Someone spilled oil on the floor and it cause a slippery situation from the stairs to the entire mezzanine upstairs. I slipped a couple of times like a skater on ice. And worried about the next person who wasn’t so lucky. But with clenched fists on railings we made it up and down alright.

We had their “Lavazza Italian coffee”, and given a choice, we had both the espresso and the americano. I don’t typically drink coffee, so don’t know any more, but to describe it as being strong.

We were given a tasting of their homemade pizzas. The “Margherita” pizza had a sweet sauce, although not much else about it was memorable. The crust of the “veggie” pizza was especially hard. Though it had a pretty decent flavour, it just needed more spices and the vegetables to have a better roast or grill on them. I liked the “carbonara” one the best, although what we had was more like cheesy bread with a chunk of bacon.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Sadly I wasn’t impressed. The food was just so, and the hazard made it not worth risking injury for. Nothing memorable and nothing need revisiting. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PUNTO PASTA
1795 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C9
604-559-0300
puntopasta.ca
Punto Pasta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

De Dutch, Robson

I am fairly familiar with the “De Dutch” chain, having been to, and written about several of their locations. This is just one I didn’t know was here on Robson Street. Located in a much smaller place than the others I have dined at. It was like a miniature version, not unlike their pannekoek we tasted today.

To read about my first experience with a “De Dutch” pannekoek house, and learn more about a pannekoek click below.

De Dutch

Today I was visiting as part of the @vanfoodster downtown brunch crawl, as the plus one to local food blogger David of “Picky Diner“. This was the second stop, and a second chance for those attending to try something they may not otherwise consider. The “Brunch Crawl”, featured five restaurants located downtown on Robson and Denman street. At each location, for the paid a forehand fee of $50, all registered diners would get small tasting plates from participating restaurants. Two to four bites of a dish they themselves can order during any breakfast or brunch with them.

The restaurant was partially tiled in their trademark orange and yellow hues, reminding me of candy corn. The other half of the restaurant was decal-ed in windmills. The colours of grey and yellow matching the scribble carpet pattern under foot. There are three rows of tables, and thanks to those participating in the crawl like us, the restaurant was fairly full. Luckily we were able to grab the last booth all the way towards the back, just in front of the kitchen pass.

Sadly the sickly yellow light washed out the food. It actually looks much better in person. Our participation gave us scaled down versions of their regular pancakes. To help the kitchen keep up with regular diners having regular breakfast, our pannekoek was prepared in the dining hall by two men over two griddles.

The savoury option was a ham and cheese, prepared using very salty bacon with fairly salty cheese. I however preferred the pancake as it was, as it was already pretty tasty.

The sweet pannekoek was one with strawberry and syrup. The menu advertised whipped cream but it came without, not that I missed it. The strawberries were sweetened in the syrup making them soggy. I didn’t like its texture all that much, and would have preferred the strawberries sliced up fresh. Once again the pancake was already tasty, so to have so much sugar took away from it, and that is a shame.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I like their breakfasts and often find myself ordering their full ones with bacon, sausage, eggs, and potatoes; over their thin pancakes that I like so much. As for as location goes there have so many, and it’s a matter of finding the one you like best. I recommend the one by the waterfront for a great view, visit the link below to read more about it. Don’t deny your cravings.

De Dutch

DE DUTCH
1725 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 1C9
604-687-7065
dedutch.com
De Dutch Pannekoek House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pappa Roti

I was invited to the @vanfoodster brunch crawl, as the plus one to local “Picky Diner” and food blogger with the same moniker.

The @vanfoodster team is known for orangizing various food related crawls around the city. The premise is pick a topic, pick an area, and get people visiting restaurants they otherwise might not get to.

This event was the “Brunch Crawl”, featuring five restaurants located downtown on Robson and Denman street. At each location, for the paid a forehand fee of $50, all registered diners would get small tasting plates from participating restaurants. Two to four bites of a dish they themselves can order during any breakfast or brunch with them.

It was snowing and we braved the cold to travel downtown by transit to reach “Pappa Roti”. The start of this crawl and its registration point.

The cafe and its snacks and beverages are an overseas import. A cafe I have been to and enjoyed for its trademark bun. A coffee flavoured bun topped and filled with variations, making it a great snack or dessert. To read the review of my initial visit click below.

PappaRoti

The tasting gave you a choice between two different buns and three different drinks. Their buns are called “Rollies”. Us being two were able to get one of each to share, and a chance to try both. They are promised to be fresh out of the oven each and very time, so are served hot. Although I find the chewy dough and the crispy topping holds its textures, even after sitting on the table untouched. At the centre it was flaky, like a croissant.

I preferred the “Coconut Rollie”, prepared using young coconut meat. It reminded me of a Chinese pineapple bun. A fluffy white dough bao topped with a sweet topping shell that flakes away. And like a pineapple bun it also tastes of coconut and custard.

The chocolate banana was sweeter, and more like banana bread. A stand up combination in a great packaging.

I really enjoyed their “signature karak tea” prepared with condense milk. It is reminiscent of my childhood. More sweetened milk with coffee grounds falling to the bottom of the cup. I suggest stirring up for an even distribution of sugar throughout.

The “ice blended signature chocolate” was a little cold for the weather, but tasty and not too sweet. Like an ice cap with chocolate.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
They make a great little snack, leaving you wanting more of their very specific flavour and texture in the future. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

PAPPAROTI
1505 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G1C3
604-366-2867
papparoti.ca
PappaRoti Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Upstairs At Campagnolo

How a $50 burger the size of my fist was worth every penny that I spent on it.

 

Both Diana of “Foodology” and myself read the same article by Ken Tsui for “Scout Magazine”. In it he speaks of the best burger in town being Robert Belcham’s famous Dirty Burger from Campagnolo. That was enough of an endorsement for us to visit, and for me to film our experience with the one of the “best cheap eats in all of Vancouver”, as ranked by the readers of “Scout”.

To skip the reading, watch the video of our encounter with the “Gang bang burger” here.

This attic bar is part of Campagnolo, literally named “Upstairs at Campagnolo” and physically up a flight of stairs to the right of its entrance. The room is dark with mystery and interesting with artifacts. Most iconic is the red and yellow neon dragon lighting your way as you ascend up the stairs.

The room centres around the bar, which we chose to be seated at, due to its preferred lighting. Behind it, the room’s bartender and sever stood at the ready. Here, you go to him o order and pay, an understanding their patrons had, along with the fact that the “dirty burger” was the one to get. Without the possibility of reservations, others like us came early, right at 6pm when they opened their doors, to ensure our desired meal. They often run out of their burgers early. They service and serve until late, but the burgers sell out well before, typically by 8:30pm. And this evening, with 10 people being served, and each ordering a dirty burger, some with multiple patties (like mine), they were already half way through their stock tonight, and it was only 7pm, an hour into service.

Their food menu didn’t list any of the ingredients for any of their limited menu. So the list below is taken off of Ken Tsui’s well written article.

Foodology ordered the the classic “ Dirty Burger”. “The Dirty Burger” is a 4oz, 40-day dry-aged beef patty topped with fresh tomato, lettuce, house-made pickles, a slice of American cheese, and their signature secret sauce. All inside a Scotch bap bun baked downstairs. I can see why it is so popular. It is all in the well seasoned and well pressed burger patty, the butter lettuce and equally buttery bun helped as well.

From here there are customizable options for your burger. An ingredient or two added on for more, and a more elaborate burger. According to some, in order to get these customizable options, you need to know their codes names. But in reality, although fun, it is unnecessary.

Our third, Mr Foodology had the “In the Sun”. The same “dirty burger”, but with the addition of a perfectly yolky sunny side up egg. I grew up with a South East Asian diet, so often find sandwiches lacking when they don’t feature a fried egg. Here, it not only gave the burger flavour, but that distinct runny gooey-ness I love as well.

Asking for a “Foghorn, Leghorn” got you a layer of fried chicken skin within your burger. An addition so delicious sounding, that we decided to get an appetizer plate of just chicken skins to share. It is served with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce that really helps it to pop, along with the fresh chopped chives. The sheet of skin was like a chicken chip in texture, and delicious taste. It was great served warm, yet still stood up after a day in the fridge. I would go back just for more of this.

“The Protester” added a 80g of rich, pan-seared foie gras to the dirty burger base. But being the greedy person that I am, I went ahead and got the whole bang, with the “Gangbang”. This was all the add ons and double the patty count. Two of their perfected beef patties, a sunny side egg, crispy chicken skin, pimento cheese, and 80g of foie gras.

In reality my burger was delivered to Mr. Foodology. I guess the assumption was a girl wouldn’t order such a decadent and calorie ridden burger, for a price tag of $50. I was such a woman. And not only did I want it, I finished it, and had no regrets with my meal. It isn’t an every day expenditure, but I truly enjoyed it, and still think back to it fondly. Though I think the dirty burger with one party, pimento cheese, and egg with a side of chicken skin would be the ideal order for me.

The burger was stacked tall and hard to take an initial bite into. More of it landed on my plate, joining the quickly growing pool of oil and grease that was collecting. It didn’t deter me as I even ended up licking the plate with oily mouth and sticky hands. The cheese was noticeable for its salty flavour, the foie gras missed, and the chicken skin an improvement for its crunch giving texture.

And a tidbit from the “Foodologys” is that this is only place that they know of that serves Mexican coke. Apparently their Coca Cola is sweetened with plain cane sugar, meaning you don’t get that high fructose corn syrup taste as you do with regular coke. Nothing I have noticed before, but am now aware of is an issue. I would like to return to try this as well.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I have already expressed intentions of bringing my partner here. They offer a really good burger worth having an early bird dinner for. One for the purists who love an clean build, and options for the adventurous who want a little more meat between the buns. A little small in my books, but it does satisfy with a thicker patty. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CAMP UPSTAIRS
1020 Main Street, Vancouver BC
604-484-6018
campagnolorestaurant.ca
Upstairs At Campagnolo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mardi Gras menu at Mamie Taylor’s

“Mamie Taylor’s” is one of those places I like recommend when suggesting a unique spot. A place for great food and drink, with original offerings and a stand out theme; that is also a little under the radar. Most memorable for me is their taxidermy pieces and their absinthe flights. However having wild life stuffed and mounted on the walls and above your head isn’t for everyone, as is drinking liquorice flavoured spirits. But for those who relish the different, like myself, their is a strong appreciation for the place.

So as one of my preferred drink and dessert places I have come back a few times after my initial visit. But to read my first post on the place click here.

I was back tonight for their limited time only Mardi Gras themed menu. Some authentic New Orleans flavours only available from February 17 to Friday, March 3, 2017. There are no reservations needed, just come in after 5pm daily, to try their fresh sheet.

“Mardi Gras” is the “Carnival of celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday.” It is enjoyed through food, party, and dance. Most commonly remembered in media for the use of beads as currency. And today a couple of their wild game busts had a few beads around their necks, and the bear even had a green and gold masquerade mask on in commemoration.

I learned about this event from a Daily Hive post, unfortunately what they advertised there isn’t what was actually offered here tonight. This was a case of false advertise, and in hindsight I should have brought it to the attention of the management to be corrected, less more patrons like me get disappointed. The article read with “down-home Cajun and Creole delicacies”, but in reality there were only four dishes, and one was a dessert. There was a Jambalaya, but no traditional Gumbo.

And I looked like a fool asking about the “New Orleans cocktails such as the Vieux Carré, the Sazerac and the Hurricane”, the three that the post recommended. Then was further disappointed that the room I planned to save for dessert would be going to waste. I was looking forward to trying kings cake of the first time, a traditional Mardi Gras bunt cake iced in yellow, green, and purple colours. And supposedly (according to Daily Hive) if you find a jade rooster figurine hidden in your piece, it and the cake yours for free. But once again the post mislead and all they had were beignets.

Our server checked with the kitchen and the owner, and they confirmed that what they had was only what their fresh sheet listed, at the bottom of the regularly printed lmenu.

I was originally lured in by the opportunity to try turtle soup and decided to go through with at least that. I was curious to have turtle meat for the first time. I didn’t expect to finish it or want to, I was just interested in the ability to and the experience of; as is often is the case when I try more exotic meats not common or typical to Canada. However it was surprisingly a really good soup, made with sherry and spinach, and topped with soft boiled egg. Although you can’t really tell that it is turtle that you are having. The meat is shredded like chicken, with a beefy taste, although it is the flavour of the tomato sauce base that you are focusing on. It drank like a melding of gazpacho and an herbed vegetable soup. We even asked where the restaurant gets their turtle meat from, and it’s apparently at “Gar-Lock seafood ltd”, the fish market across the street.

We also hopped at the chance to try frog legs off this New Orleans style Southern menu. I have had some before, but these were definitely the best I have had them. The order came with three legs, so I guess they don’t have the whole frog, but just purchase a batch of legs. Each drumstick was hefty, meaty looking from under all that golden brown breading. If you have never had frog legs before, after taking your first bite, you can definitely see why people compare it to chicken. The meat tastes and looks like it, and the legs have two parallel bones covered in meat like chicken wings. But past the breading and without the side of andouille sausage mayo for dipping, it tasted fishy, with the saltiness of sardines. Having it breaded helped in this, and to foster the disillusion of eating a slimy reptile, especially as you can’t see any of their webbed toes.

And since we were here so early, we also decided to take advantage of a few happy hour specials. Monday to Friday Happy Hour is between 5-6pm, and from Saturday to Sunday it run from 3-5pm. Draft beers were on for $5 and their house cocktail was $6 instead of the usual $11.

And for food there were wings, meatballs, and meat bundles for $1 a piece. We had the fried green tomato sliders at $2 each. It was seasoned in a Buffalo sauce that was balanced out with some ranch dressing. Fried green tomato is another first for me, and something I have been wanting to try, after hearing it mentioned in many pop culture references. This was a very saucy burger, with the tomato patty offering a fibrous bite. Tangy and spicy from the buffalo and tart and creamy from the cooling ranch. It was spicy, but not enough to kill the taste of everything else. Overall, a very impactful flavour, best in small servings like this. Although I wouldn’t mind a plate of just their green fried tomatoes with a side of ranch for dipping.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would love to visit New Orleans one day, but now and for a while, this might be the closest I get to that. I enjoy visiting restaurants during events like this. It is a new reason to visit a place you already like, or one to bring you in, in the first place; as well as it serves as an interesting experience that you might not be available to get anywhere else. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MAMIE TAYLOR’S
251 East Georgia Street, Vancouver BC
604-620-8818
mamietaylors.ca
Mamie Taylor's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Japan Unlayered exhibit

From January 27th to February 28th, 2017 at Vancouver’s Fairmont Pacific Rim there is an exhibition that celebrates contemporary Japanese architecture, design and culture. “Japan Unlayered is designed to be a sensory experience that invites one to experience Japanese culture through touch, taste, sight, sound and smell”.

It is open daily, with complimentary admission to explore and experience. The exhibition installations are located throughout the hotel, and an exhibition tour map is available to navigate you through it all. However a few of their events required a reservation to confirm attendance.

One such was the “MUJI” Pop-up store that during the initial launch required a reservation. And I wasn’t one of the first folks to hold a spot 48 hours in advance. I don’t believe in the need to make a reservation to shop and spend my money. Especially as this popular Japanese clothing and household department store is set to make its debut in the Lower mainland, within Metrotown mall, this summer.

However today, coming well after the surge of its popularity had subsided, I was able to walk into this once guarded entrance with ease. With five days left of the exhibition, there was no line, the tight space wasn’t as cramped, and therefore I was invited to freely enter and explore.

The first half of the make shift room had household items like kitchen containers, acrylic storage solutions, cleaning products like mops and dustpans, wall mounted CD players, bean bag seats, and organic cotton shirts with matching socks.

The second half was a cubicle of shelves stocked with supplies. Items like writing implements, study stationary, plastic storage solutions, and calculators. There were also bottles of household cleaners and some edible treats. Yuzu and citrus hard candy, matcha tea chews, and bags of white cotton candy folded like sheets.

Although getting a closer look at each proved difficult. It was still a cramped space, and despite their being only a handful of people, my shopping experience was hampered by having to peer over shoulders and in between bodies. I knew I wasn’t looking to spend anything, so easily walked away.

Plus I much rather the “Beams” pop up shop within the Fairmont’s cafe, “Giovane”. Its wares decorated the shelves that ran up the cafe’s edge and wrapped into the hotel’s gift shop, leading right into the hotel’s lobby. Like “MUJI”, they too sold clothing and housewares. But the pieces from the “BEAMS” collection were more ornate fashion and household pieces, whereas “MUJI” sought simplicity in their designs.

I liked the monochrome and whimsy of their mugs stamped with one of the symbols from one of Japan’s 47 prefectures, paper lanterns in stripes and checkers, folding fans, white and blue dish ware, and embroidered baseball jackets with dragons and volcanos. I eyed the latter, but couldn’t reconsider at $999 for the coat.

The rest of the exhibit came at no cost, or any temptation to spend.

A 2017 Acura NSX sat by the main entrance of the hotel.

The floating tea house was an art piece that used a helium filled balloon to drape a traditional tea ceremony setting.

There were traditional silk kimonos dancing over the bar.

Walls of coloured photographs strung together like a mosaic.

Black and white stills hung with detailed captions.

And architecture miniatures with their original sketches and precise details.

And what is a cultural exploration of Japan without considering its cuisine. On top of all the shopping and displays you can enjoy some traditional Japanese food at the “Fairmont Pacific Rim’s “Lobby Lounge”.

I didn’t have the time or the foresight to make a reservation for the “Gozen”, a specialty plate and the collaboration of two highly acclaimed chefs; one the head chef with two Michelin stars restaurants. Had I, I would have gotten four individual plates, served as a single presentation, paired with roasted green tea. But this is only available Monday to Friday from 11am to 1:45pm, with a reservation necessary.

Instead I was able to walk in and enjoy the “tea and wagashi” option for $9.45 after tax. It too had a pot of Houjicha (roasted green tea), but is served with a Japanese confectionary instead.

The Japanese roasted green tea was served in a unique clay tea pot with hollow handle. It was poured for me table side, offering a full cup and a bit. I found it a very strong brew, yet delicate, something to sip and savour with unlimited time. It was a nice beverage to enjoy at my window side seat, within their all white and marble patterned salon, with the acoustics of a live musician preforming.

The delicacy of the tea matched the Wagashi of the day. “Wagashi” means Japanese sweet. Judging by what I have seen online, the one bite varies from day to day. Today’s offering was “evergreen”, green tea paste with the texture of playdoh, topped with three red beans and filled with a yellow bean paste. It was smooth and just sweet enough to be considered dessert, but not enough to distract from the body of the tea. Like the tea, it too was best enjoyed a morsel at a time, to savour and allow the flavour to sit on your tongue and develop.

 

For those interested in experiencing some of this yourself, I suggest doing so soon, as the Japan Un Layered exhibition and experience has but three days left (from the date of this posting)

JAPAN UNLAYERED EXHIBITION
January 27 – February 28, 2017
Daily, 11am – 7pm
Fairmont Pacific Rim
1038 Waterfront Road, Vancouver BC
japanunlayered.com

TWG tea salon & boutique

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TWG Tea in Vancouver

TWG is the a name of “the finest luxury tea brand in the world” (according to their website). They were established in Singapore and have found their way to our side of the pond. The space was formally known as the “Urban Tea Merchant”, who served and sold exclusively TWG teas. Very recently they have rebranded and now, not only do they exclusively offer TWG teas, but their cafe is branded in its trademark yellow and black.

You could smell the creamy aroma of herbaceous teas walking in. The space is well lit, surrounded with windows. Pass them they give you a look into their colourful showroom. Regal with gold wallpaper, dark wood moulding, embellished furniture, and marble tiled flooring underfoot.

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The boutique half offered their tea in tins to gift or take home. As well as tea accessories like decorative pots and their matching cups. The TWG Tea collection is the largest in the world. All their teas “number well over 800 different single-estate, fine harvests and exclusive tea blends from all of the tea-producing countries”. Each batch had its own name, coloured tin, and story. With so many varieties in the shop alone, I don’t know how one can decide on anything. Although it helps that they offer a look and a whiff of any of their teas from within its loose leaf canister. This was not only the case when purchasing a bag, but also when choosing your desired tea for a sit-in service. Which was what we were doing here today.

For one of us this was a first tea time experience, and what a one to start with. Like their teas, their service was just as refined. I felt spoiled and pampered, as much as every other person in the room was. They certainly gave me some of the best service I have ever had. The manager engaged us, our server was patient, and we were delighted with some unexpected surprises.

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Our group of six was a lot to take in, but the staff kept chipper, willing to help anyway they could. Two of them gave us a walking tour of their desserts, I was humoured with an additional tier to my tea tower, and when my special tea didn’t bloom, they sent me home with two bulbs to try again there. And they continued to keep their patience as half of us stood up to gawk at the glass showcase of desserts behind us, and the other half strived to ask as many explanatory questions as they could. And that made sense given how much there was to sift through between their menu of teas and the large list of savoury full plates and delicate sweets. The latter is a rotation of what is available daily. Therefore what I have listed below is from memory of the day and notes taken during that time.

They had a few tea towers available on their “tea time set menu”, each included your choice of tea from their extensive list. However with all the commotion, I confess that I lost track of who had what teas. So the general list of what we had is below. Everyone loved their order, finding each brew steeped perfectly, and full of flavourful. I could see why they were acclaimed, I haven’t had many clear liquids this rich and creamy.

Although it is worth noting that some of the staff were less knowledge about their teas than others. And it showed when they could not aid us in our questions. In fact, one of my guests was a better guide for me than they were.

You smelled the mango in the “Geisha blossom tea, it tasted like a green tea with peach blossoms. Another of us had the “Darjeeling princess tea” for its great name, not unlike the “Grand wedding”.

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My tea too had a great name. I wanted to indulge in a tea with a show, so requested and got one of their blooming buds. This was not part of the regular set menu tea list that you could choose from. But I was willing to pay a little more, to get even more of an indulgence during this service. Here, the tea leaves were bundled into a ball. When hot water is added, the heat and liquid causes the leaves to expand, causing the ball to unfurrow. In my case an orange flower “bloomed”, but not much else. I asked to take what was left of the bulb home, to steep it longer and hope for a better outcome. However the manger was kind enough to send me home with not only one, but two new tea balls. A surprise I didn’t get until I went to the boil the water.

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I continue to splurge on the $32 “Chic” teatime menu. It was an average price to pay for a tea tower, a little less for a little less food. In hindsight I should have gone the final mile and shelled out $7 more for the full “fortune” tea set menu. With it I would have gotten my choice of either a croque monsieur or a croque salmon for the first course, scones or a dessert patisserie for the second, and three of their TWG tea macarons for finale.

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However, with the “Chic” it was either scones or a dessert with three finger sandwiches. I was lucky to be able to have both the scones and my choice of dessert from their trolley. Our server accidentally forgot to key in my order, so offered up scones in its place, to ease the wait.

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This petite selection of finger sandwiches included an egg salad sandwich, one with smoked salmon, and another with tomato and chicken. The “Mimosa egg sandwich” featured an aioli and mirror quail eggs. It had a great creamy yolk, and despite its gel-like appearance it didn’t dribble the slightest when you cut into it. The “Smoked salmon and horseradish cream with nori and genmaicha furikake” was smokey with horseradish, and reminence of sushi with the fresh toppings, salted seaweed, and starchy base. And the “Smokey Russian tea infused tomato bread with pesto chicken and stracciatella cheese” was cheese forward, with a mild flavour of tomato. As a whole, none of the sandwiches offered more than a taster, each featured tea and was light enough to not mask any of our fine tea for sipping.

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For my patisserie from their tea trolley, I went with more my eyes and less my tastebuds. This is a Mille-feuille, it is a French pastry made up of three layers of puff pastry alternating with two layers of pastry cream. This one was topped with a hibiscus flavoured mousse and berries. The pastry crackled with every cut, its flaky layers were as light as the piped cream between them. The berries gave you a freshness, and the chocolate ladybug and leaf, some flare.

The pair of scones came in a plain butter and a raisin. Each couple had a spread of clotted cream in a mini dish and cloche, and some of their tea infused jellies. There was no hiding the smokiness of the tea in each jelly, truly the highlight on an already pretty delicious scone. It was light and buttery, and you weren’t left wanting anything else. And here I thought my guests were silly for choosing it over the desserts below. Whereas the desserts were lovely, this was what was memorable, and what I would return for. And it would have to be with the jam of course.

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The others got the $19 “1837” tea set. It gave diners a choice of their two scones or two muffins with TWG tea jelly and whipped cream, or one of their “TWG tea patisserie”. Those who had the scones found their’s were no different from the scones I had earlier.

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The “Singapore surprise” was distinct with it’s creme burlee-like topping, made using 1837 black tea. Inside it was custard and berries, a nice creamy and tangy contrast of the caramelized sugar-crunch and sweetness above.

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The “Geisha blossom cake” was both sweet and tea forward. A creamy top, a cakey centre and a cookie crumble base. Texture wise this was my favourite.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Their teas were truly some of the best I have had. And although I don’t think I could afford it regularly, I don’t mind treating myself to a pot and more of their savoury eats and sweet treats now and again. There was so much I wanted try, and if everything is of the same calibre as what we had above, it is definitely worth coming back for. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

TWG
1070 West Georgia Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 2Y2
604-692-0071
twgtea.com
TWG Tea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The 300 wing challenge at Wings

300 wing challenge.

 

Our group of five ventured to “Wings”, the bar. We were here to create our own food challenge. The challenge was to see how many wings we could eat if we really pushed ourselves, and what better a place than one that bears the name of what we wanted, and on a day they offered each for 49 cents?

Inside, it is your typical bar scene with high tops and bar stools, and a sports broadcast playing on every television in every corner. It was no surprise that this well known chain was the place to be this night. However we came early enough to grab a booth, despite the struggle to find a parking spot. The lot is often full and street parking is by luck.

We went in wanting 50 pounds of each, to tackle 500 wings total. Luckily we were talked down from that aspiration by our server. So eventually we amended our order to 30 pounds at 300 wings. In order to take advantage of the 49 cent wing deal, each person needs to order a drink, or in our case share a pitcher. As well as purchase a minimum of 10 wings, 10 wings per flavour, which equals to one pound. We got one of each of their 25 flavours, and a few more of our favourites, in order to reach our 300. Below are all those flavours.

To skip the details and watch us devouring click here.

I would love to be more descriptive in what we had and how it tasted, but unfortunately I won’t be able to. When you eat this much, this quick, to try to eat it all, you don’t stop to taste. You don’t savour any of the flavours, I barely even tasted. And they were all the same shade of brown, so you couldn’t even tell them apart anyways.

The only one that stood out and was therefore my favourite was the powdered white and superbly cheesy, “Old English white chedda”. They tasted like white cheddar popcorn, but as a wing.

Though I will note the wings were inconsistent within each batch. Some smaller than the others, a few drier than I wanted moist. It also didn’t help that the following were dry rub and intentionally prepared without moisture aiding gravies or sauces. Although it should be noted that we ordered this much and wanted it all together, so in order to do just that, and serve it relatively warm; I am sure a few batches spent additional time under the overcooking light of a heat lamp.

“Texas dry rub”, “Greek”, Chicago salt and pepper”, “Italian roasted red pepper”, and “BC back-country bacon”.

One of our group’s member was not a fan of the “Canadian maple bourbon”, she found the flavour too sweet, claiming it to taste like “honey nut cherrios”. I liked it fine, knowing it was indeed maple syrup that she was tasting.

However, I prefer sticky wings in general, so it is nice that their menu lists those with an orange drop to symbolize their sauciness.

The “honey garlic” is a classic and the “safe” flavour I continue to order and not be disappointed in. There was also “Outback barbecue”, “Sweet Thai”, and “Bombay pineapple” under the saucy wing category.

The “Tokyo teriyaki” was easy to identify thanks to its topping of sesame seeds. I didn’t get any of the typical tang from a nice teriyaki sauce, although I could have used more of it in general.

The “Korean sticky sesame” also had sesame seeds sprinkled over them. It was just as mild, where I expected more sweetness with the mention of a honey sesame sauce on the menu, but at least it was indeed sticky. One of the preferred wings to chase with, after I mistakenly tried a hotter one.

The hot wings had their own symbol: chilli peppers. And the more of them meant the more hotter the wing they were marking was. Some were both saucy and spicy.

“Bula Fiji”, “Baja heat”, “Louisiana sweet”, and “Mexican baja chipotle” had just the one chilli pepper to their name. “New Orleans barbecue heat”, “east meets west”, “jamming’ Jamaican”, and “buffalo” came with two. The three chilli pepper flavours were “Chilean chili” and “Jakarta heat”. I tried my best to avoid all of them, saving up my tolerance and appetite for the “Bobby wing”.

But the hottest wing had five chillies, their legendary “Bobby wing”. A wing seasoned with so many spicy peppers that it was advertised as needing a waiver before attempting to finish one. We never actually had to sign anything, and were still severed them, along with the other wings. But at least they were easily identifiable on their own plate. Majority of of us couldn’t get take more than one bite. Whereas the one of us who was an expert in spice was able to eat her wing without much of a fight. There was pain and there were tears. The two of us who had previously tried the spicy ramen Challenge, to watch that video click here.

We found the spice at least familiar, and therefore less critical. Whereas the two who had never experience such a sting were besides themselves.

There were add ons you could order to combat the heat, they suggested the “antidote”. At $4.25 it is pretty steep, but worth it when you are in the moment. When I asked our server what made it so pricy, she was frank in telling me it was just milk with blue food colouring, it looked like just as much. Oddly this glass of milk came out to our table first, despite our declaration of wanting to tackle the “Bobby wing” last, like a dessert. Our server also suggested the same, saying that it kills the taste buds in your mouth.

However I would suggest peanut butter or honey to combat heat instead. One of my guests was allergic to milk, so the scoop of honey offered was not only a fine substitution, but one that came free.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Wings Wednesday is an institution, there is nothing more fun than gathering with a group of friends, and gorging of an excess of beers by the pint and wings at 49 cents each. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WINGS
6879 Kingsway, Burnaby BC, V5E 1E4
604-525-7414
greatwings.ca
Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Science of Cocktails

Science of Cocktails event at Science World

Many drink and food enthusiasts recently converged at Science World for the “Science of Cocktils” event (#SOC), celebrating the use of science and technology in the kitchen and behind the bar.

The unique experience was in support of the “Science World Class Field Trip Bursary”, a charitable movement bringing to light the lack of funding many elementary schools have. Some of which, have so little resources that they are not able to bring their classrooms of children to visit Science World. Something I myself have done growing up and attending an Eastside Vancouver school, something I still now take for granted, and something the bursary wants to change. As grown ups, we are able to stop by Science World and play out our youth in games and activities at any time. However we wouldn’t have the same nostalgia for it, if not given the opportunity to first visit the museum when enrolled in elementary school. The very opportunity the children they are trying to help might be missing out on now.

Although with the conclusion of this year’s festivities the #SOC event and all its 1,500 attendees have helped to raise over $240,000 for the “Science World Class Field Trip Bursary”. An improvement from last year’s attendance of 1,100 guests and funds raised of $185,000.

And next year they are expecting an even larger turn out riding on the exponential success of 2017. The event sold out early this year and due to huge demand, it is likely that 2018 tickets will sell out even earlier. For those looking to secure attendance for next year, pre-sale 2018 tickets are now available for a limited time at https://www.scienceworld.ca/cocktails. The prices are as follows: 2018 pre-sale ticket prices for VIPs are $225, for general admission is $125.

To learn more about this great cause and to see what you can do to help, or even how you can participate in this event next year, visit https://www.scienceworld.ca/classbursary

But as for #SOC 2017, in totality there were 31 Bar Stations, 13 Food Stations; and 12 Science Program Stations, including all the regular Science World activities and installations. And this year, this lucky blogger was able to attend as media for her first visit. My orange band and pass gave me the opportunity to arrive 1 hour earlier than everyone else. And gave me a behind the scenes look at the chefs and bartenders setting up. Below are a few photos that I was able grab with some unobstructed views, as well as close ups of what I had.

Both floors of Science World were set up with booths. Guests made their way around them tasting and trying, and then going back for more of what they liked. There were also several shows fusing science and bar tending on centre stage throughout the night. Many of which were familiar to me, thanks to my attendance at the #soc event preview. To read that recap click the link.

Science of Cocktails, event preview

As for the actual night itself, there was so much to cover across the two floors that I will only be highlighting a few stand outs here. But to see most of the food and festivities click the link for my video.

Not only did your ticket price include all you can drink, but to balance it out, plenty to eat as well. Food and drink vendors were paired up to best compliment one to another. Everything that went into this event was just so thoughtful.

Though, we started with the drinks. The “popcorn rum and cola” was eerily accurate. Havana Club three year rum, cola, and salted butter. You tasted the butter and thought popcorn, but thankfully didn’t get any of the accompanying oil.

The “camouflage lemon drop” utilized colour changing butterfly pea flower to turn its liquid from blue, to turquoise, ending in a pale pink. Skyy vodka, lemon juice, sugar, orange bitters, and butterfly pea flower.

I wasn’t a fan of the way the “kahlua krispie paralyzer”. It was a strong cocktail that fought its way down. Although the men that worked this booth were true showmen. They utilized the “salt bae” meme sensation to draw in a crowd. Olmeca Altos, milk, cola, and kahlua; with a Rice Krispie finish for crunch.

“Smoked pork fat wash boulevardier ice cream. I don’t know what I was expecting from this. Its name read bitter, yet it being ice cream and served on a cone for licking, my brain couldn’t help but think sweet sweet ice cream. It was at least creamy.

The “frozé” was a frozen rose made with Road 13 wine, grenadine, cranberry, and tartaric acid. It was like a berry slushie for grown ups.

The “strawberry mule” was simple and refreshing. Absolut vodka, lime strawberries, and ginger beer.

The “Japanese cocktail with orgeat floss” drew a crowd. A mix of Hennessy, orgeat, and Angostura bitters; served with a cotton candy tuff for chase.

I liked the application of the “hurricane-sicle”. A spiked popsicle made with Appleton estate rum, passion fruit, simple syrup, and lemon juice.

The “penicillin” came with a smoke show. Monkey Shoulder, ginger honey syrup, and lemon juice; finished off with a good wood smoke from flame and tubing. It favoured the drink through scent by way of your nose.

Similarly the “tuxedo” gave you a show. Its bartender utilized the laminar jet fountain by “Maker Labs” to mix Hendrick’s gin, dry vermouth, orange bitters, maraschino, and absinthe.

The “Oaxaca mallow’d fashioned” was memorable for its caramelized marshmallow cube. Cuervo 1800, gelatin, sugar, raisins, corn syrup, peppers, chocolate, and baking spice.

There was even a robot bartender competing for your attention. The “barbot” is a machine that was programmed to pour a “negroni” with a push of a button.

My favourite visual of the night was the use of dry ice to create the smoke and bubbles on top of the “black bel-vet”. Belvedere vodka, summerland sweets black currant syrup, lemon juice, and egg whites.

The “Nitro Lady” featured the Botanist gin, lemon juice, egg, sugar, orange bitters, and an herb selection ground up with liquid nitrogen.

For food, the crowd favourite seemed to be the “Hapa Izakaya” stand offering their aburi sushi. “Tuna pressed sushi” torched on the spot. In fact we visited them three times and ate 5 pieces each.

The fresh vegetable rolls and the lush decorative vegetation of the “Chau veggie express” stand was also one that stood out and one that we went back for more of. Each fresh “lemongrass roll” came finished with an extra sprinkle of wild flower petals. They were like vegetable spring rolls that you flavoured yourself at the sauce bar, using spoons of either peanut sauce, coconut cream, or sesame oil.

The “Dirty Apron” booth crafted bowls of “butternut squash gnocchi with lamb ragu, and parmigiano-reggiano foam”, before your eyes.

“Showcase restaurant & bar” brought out the liquid nitrogen for their “passion fruit tart” with meringue, kaffir lime, white chocolate, and coconut.

The “prime rib slider” from “The Keg” just needed more of the cut to order prime rib.

At the “Pidgin” booth they had an amazing bite of “pork belly rice bowl”, in a take out box. I just wished they filled it to the top, it was that good.

The chefs of “Sysco” prepared a “tricoloured beet terrine with poached prawn, chives pearls, and a fennel and orange foam”.

“Culinary Capers” created a fun twist on nachos with their “pumpkin brûlée, puffed black rice, and a red onion chutney” bites.

The chefs at “Peake of catering” prepared “tomato and duck salad-carbonated tomato with duck prosciutto and an herb dust”.

The “Lazy Gourmet” offered up “Peruvian causa spoons featuring chicken”.

And “Emelle’s catering” passed out their “carrot & ginger sphere on meringue coconut nest”.

My media pass also gave me entry to the VIP lounge. There we were served canapés at the beginning of the night and spoons of chocolatey desserts towards the end. Where there were also several help yourself stations of charcuterie meats and spreadable cheeses and tapenades to be eaten with bread. There was also plenty of lounge sofas to recline in, when it go too busy outside or you just wanted to sit and drink.

Behind the security guarded entrance we were also treated to some top shelf liquor. The most memorable for me was the Ciroc martini, using Ciroc’s ultra premium. One of the smoothest cocktails I have had, with a twist of lemon.

One bartender used liquid nitrogen to chill his spiked milkshake and more of it to muddle his herbs to a fine powder for a basil inspired cocktail. We all regaled in the smoke.

All VIPs were also given the chance to make their own bitters, to take home in souvenir bottles.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
If given the opportunity I would definitely love to attend this event again. Not only was it deliciously fun, but it was educational and charitable as well. Everyone was in high spirits for a good cause, something everyone can rally around and cheers to. What other opportunity would you get to drink in this much and eat this well within science world. Then be able to explore the exhibits in tipsy, wide-eyed wonderment? Don’t deny your cravings and yourself some fun!

 

Once again, pre-sale 2018 tickets are now available for a limited time at https://www.scienceworld.ca/cocktails. The prices are as follows: 2018 pre-sale ticket prices for VIPs are $225, for general admission is $125. Get your ticket and secure your place in one of the best events this city has to offer.

Holy Crab

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Seafood boils are all the rage now. A popular food trend that started in 2016 and saw itself continuing into 2017. So it was only a matter of time before the Robson Street area got its own incarnation of this seafood feast. A messy affair you attend with plastic bid and gloved hands.

On this night, I was invited to their grand opening media launch, along with a few other bloggers and social influencers. Tonight we would get to explore the expanse of their menu with our own two hands, literally.

As a disclaimer, when it comes to a media tasting: plating and portion size may be gussied up and/or paired down, and the service will usually be top notch. Though I can at least paint you the most accurate image when it comes to the food and the setting, as how I interpret it. But as always, these are my opinions and you need not take them as fact. Unless you have my exact background, have lived my exact experiences, and we possess the same tongue; no one can truly taste and appreciate as you do.

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The restaurant was a corner space. It was a well lit open room, that still had its new look and feel sheen. Seating was across booths with seats that looked like picnic benches, various wooden tables, and stools facing the back bar. There was a partially tiled section of floor amongst all the concrete. Like a geometric rug in their trademark orangey-red colour, and two tones of grey. The left wall was a chalkboard black. Painted over it were directions on “The dummies guide to de-shelling”. It was a pictorial of how to use their de-sheller tool, and the step by step way to break down a whole crab and a whole lobster. It was as decorative as it was functional. A boxed shelf added to the theme with sea related artifacts. Rope and fishing rods, lanterns and lures, and a glass of sand and shells.

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Our service began with a grand display for photographic reasons. Everything they offered on their menu in full array. Baskets of fried seafood, crustaceans served whole, and sandwiches gingerly placed in tubs. We didn’t get to try all of it, but it was nice to be able to get a look at what we would have gotten if we did. I however will only be blogging about what came to our table.

But first the tools. The table was laid with parchment, not only did it help with the eventual clean up, but it was part of the charm of a get-messy seafood boil. To protect our clothes from the carnage we were each given plastic bibs that we tied around our necks. On it their crab with halo logo and their restaurant’s name underneath. This was as great of a branding idea as it was a photo op. We were also given plastic gloves to protect our hands from the soup and saucy seasonings to come. It was of great help to myself with my claw like nails, which is the reason why I typically don’t like eating with my hands. They were thin enough to still allow you the delicacy and dexterity needed of bare hands, but offered a shield to keep them cleaner. Though you could still feel oil and grease through their semi permeable layer.

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To help in the process before us, we were given a battery of tools and a friendly team of staff to walk us through it. The curved scissors were helpful in snipping apart shells, used for the removal of lobster meat. The metal nutcracker was most helpful with the crab legs and breaking them apart. Like you would use a letter opener, you used the blue de-sheller. You place the hooked end in the shell and drag it to open and release the meat. And the scissors with a longer blade was specifically designed for peeling back the shell of king crab legs. Even with these in your arsenal, you were in for a fight with your dinner. You would have to work for it, and for those looking for a dinner with a show, this would be it. Watching your companion crack and struggle for their food in a wacky bib. Or better yet why not enlist their help and together peel it all before you eat. Although it is more common to crack and nibble as you go.

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Most of the boiled seafood is seasoned in their original Cajun, garlic, and pepper sauce, a mound of chunky paste served directly over it. It is available in mild, medium, spicy, and their hottest: the “Holy Moly!” We were able to get a taste of the latter and test how hot it was. It certainly left your lips tingling from a numbing heat.

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Our first course was shrimp, exercising the option to add on sweet corn. It was nice to have the side to break up the taste, as well as offering some sweetness to cut into the heat of the chilli. It came in a bowl and the option to keep it there or have it poured out over the parchment. We wanted the full experience so opted for the messier latter. They were easy enough to peel and soon we each had our own pile of shells beside our stations.

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Another possible side to tack on are steamed vegetables. In this case, a container of unseasoned broccoli and cauliflower florets. Where the others were unimpressed by it, I found it a nice buffer for all the salty sauces, as well as offering a certain freshness that the serving was missing.

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For the whole crab we were given a quick tutorial on how to open it, but it required being patient. This was the largest item on the menu at 2lbs. We had to give it time to cool, before we dug our fingers into the crab’s bottom and started separating it from its shell. Then one by one its legs were detached and you got to work cracking them open. We shared the labour and I was lucky to have my crab meat doled out to me by Dee of “Gastrofork“.

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I took on the king crab. It would not only be my first time de-shelling it, but also my first eating it out of shell like this. With a larger surface area it was easier to cut into with the longer blade scissors. Although all it’s spines made getting a good grip a challenge. I loved the taste of this sweeter crab meat, in larger chunks that you could actually sink your teeth into.

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The clams were definitely the easiest ones to tackle. Half of them were already out of shell.

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Whereas the crayfish was definitely the hardest. And the one that Diana of “Foodology” was kind enough to de-shell for me. I personally stay away from crayfish as it requires so much investment for so little return. I say, save yourself the labour and pay more for a lobster with double the taste, without doubling the work. She did a great job and I was able to eat them all, one by one, bite by bite. At this point the others at our table gave up on cracking and were content on snacking on the below.

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The onion rings were fairly oily, its slicked surface caused the batter to flake off the ring, leaving you with only onion. It also lacked seasoned and we found we needed ketchup to perk it up.

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The fish and chips served in a metal troth were tasty. It was crispy fried fish with a flakey centre, accompanied by a side of chewy fries. Both served with some tangy tartar sauce for dipping. Pretty standard.

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I am not big fan of yam fries, but they offered a nice change of taste and texture as a side.

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I found the soft shell crab nuggets full of flavour and crunch, but a little on the over cooked side. It needed something creamy to dip into. to balance its hard texture and bold spices.

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What we left was carnage all across our table. A mess for sure, but one as easy to clean up as lifting the parchment and crumpling it up.

The first time at such a restaurant is fun. The activity of scavenging through you cooked food with a group is an enjoyable experience. But outside of that, should you want to revisit the food and have the flavours again, there should be an option to have it without the work. An option to have all the seafood peeled for you and served plated.

And maybe the option to have other flavours of sauces. Or better yet, offer up the choices as a help yourself sauce bar. This way you can mix and match and keep flavours refreshed as you need. I am sure this will also lead to an increase in sales because you don’t typically get full from a meal like this, but you wrap up more quicker when you get bored of the taste.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
When in the area and looking for an interactive dining experience, they meet your requirement with plastic wrapped hands. A fun night with an array of different seafood options to work your way through. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HOLY CRAB
1588 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-661-8533
theholycrab.ca
The Holy Crab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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