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Month: March 2017 Page 1 of 3

Vancouver Fashion Week – Saturday 2017

Blogging as an outsider dipping her toe into the Vancouver fashion scene, with this, her first fashion show.

 

This was my first time attending a fashion show, let alone Vancouver’s own fashion week. My drive has never been to keep up to date on the latest trends, instead I was mainly here to support a friend who was has modelled in the show years past and would be participating in the week long showcase, and to increase my reach as a food & lifestyle blogger in our fair city. I would only be attending the one on Saturday, at the Chinese Cultural Center in Chinatown. The show started at 5pm with the option to come and go as you pleased in between breaks.

I dressed up as I would if going on a date, I figured this was the fashion world, let’s put some effort into this. After all, with all the cameras, you never know who’s background you might appear in.

We went there early to claim some seats. My blogger passes allowed me to skip the line to purchase tickets and walk right in to registration. There I was gifted a blogger card on a lanyard and a goodie bag from Moroccan oil, one of their sponsors.

The threshold of the centre was brimming with bodies. There was a showcase on the mezzanine. It gave you the ability to see designer pieces up close and to even try some on. And next to it was a vanity giving guests the opportunity to get their make up touched up by one of their make up sponsors. They also handed out pasties and stick on panties that models often have to wear under couture pieces.

The actual show was held in the gym. It was redressed with a large screen at one end and a white isle with assembly chairs on either sides. The bouncy beats the DJ was playing and everyone out in their finest, dressed the space up all the more.

My pass gave us the ability to be seated in any of the chairs within rows 2-6. Whereas many individuals were forced to stand or stare down from the upper deck, due to the over selling of tickets. We would eventually move about and end the show first row.

In between designer showcases guests got up and mingled on the paper runway. Many took photos dressed in their most fashionable outfits and accessories. Many more posed for photos with the models who walked the show and came to mingle still dressed in their pieces after their set. Here, I wish I had the ability to schmooze but what would I say? I don’t know anything about fashion, nor do I have the interest to pursue it. I am a long distance fan? But in the end I was just as content to stay in my hard claimed seat and people watch. There was much kissing and the embracing of many well dressed folks as they locked eyes across the room. But the best part was seeing what everyone else was wearing and either appreciating their moxie or questioning their pairings of colours and patterns.

The show of course started “fashionably” late, which equates to 30 minutes regular time. The following is a list of designers in participation and my photographic capture of their collections. I specifically zeroed in on my model friend @amodelwhosread as she appeared in two of the showcases this Saturday March 25th. The collections at the planned time of 6 and 8pm.

One of which turned out to be my favourite designer of the night: Misi Afrique. Her playful use of colours exuded energy into her designs. And when she came out on stage to take her bow, she herself was her clothing designs personified.

Some designers celebrated diversity not only with their clothes and it’s patterns, but by way of their models and the looks they represented. The crowd cheered for the plus size models and not just two or three of them. But a few collections featured many women who represented those of us who aren’t just a 0 or 2. And that was nice. And then there was the greying beauty who won everyone over in her pearl coloured slip dress, and the petite models who were still two heads shorter than the others in their platform heels. It was nice to see that fashion is for everyone.

I enjoyed the show as a spectator, viewing all the creations and acknowledging what I would wear myself. But as an outsider in the fashion world, here to support friend, (to quote another friend) ” it is like going to your child’s graduation. You just don’t care about the other kids. But are obliged to stay seated through it all.”

#VFWFW17

 

5:00 SARA ARMSTRONG started off the show as a local Vancouver designer. Her collection focused on textures and rust colours. The stand outs were the hoods a few models wore that obstructed their view with scrunched up plastics.

5:15 Kim Legler’s collection started spring ready with tee shirts, mini skirts, beachy prints and neon colours. A surprising theme considering her hometown being Yellowknife.

5:30 LIDIJA’s collection kept things simple with clean cuts and sharp lines. This was the most ready to wear line, in my opinion.

5:45 Break

6:00 Misi Afrique had her collection built around bold colours and patterns featuring traditional African pieces and prints.

6:15 MAAK collection worked from day to night with tapered pants, lose fitting jackets, and asymmetrical blouses and skirts. Most memorable was the chain mail dress that was a collection of metal butteries, leaving not much to the imagination.

6:30 KO by Katherin Olivos was one of the largest collections to walk the runway. She had a little bit of everything for everyone. Not really a one size fits all theme. What held everything together was the use of glitter laden white fans by the models, to fan themselves with as they walked. They were later passed out to the front row crowd as Katherin took her bow.

6:45 Break

7:00 TIELERJAMES’ collection came to the stage loud with music that asked if you knew who he was. I found the track garnered the attention he wanted for his collection with corsets, bell sleeves, and robes.

7:15 José Hendo focused her collection on sustainable materials, and urged others in the fashion industry to take a similar stance. The stand out was the use of seat belt fabric and clips as belts and necklaces, and as trim to line cloaks and boots.

7:30 Break

7:45 Carolina Ferioli was a simple business ready collection, where it shone was in the detailed cutouts.

8:00 Gatsbylady London channeled the 20’s with beaded headbands and fringe trim on all its dresses. They showed off their versatility by having models of two different sizes walk down the runway together in the same dress, worn their way.

8:15 Break

8:30 Jemmila’s collection looked comfortable in breathable and flowy materials. Lots of greys and black with a pop or two of red.

8:45 Pierrot-Emma Viedma

 

To watch a clip of my friend as she walked down the runway for Gatsbylady London, click below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BSF588eA2Jn/

Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant

According to our host, who brought us all together today. This was suppose to be the best place for dim sum in the city (Something she had read). I guess it is debatable, but seeing as she did the research and none of us wanted to, we accepted her assessment and found ourselves there on a Sunday at 10am.

We were given a table in the back corner, by the hallway leading to the washroom. It wasn’t a glamorous table, but we were happy just to be seated. Our reservation helped, but those who walked in without one, were left to wait by the door, crowding the tables close to the entrance in their wake.

The space was definitely maximized, tables inches away from one another. Each time someone adjusted themselves on their seat, it racked the chair behind them. It was a sea of collapse-able round tables with white cloths, and a glass lazy Susan for the large ones. The room was just as standard in Chinese dining aesthetics. A red panel wall in velvet, a golden dragon facing off against a golden Phoenix, a crystal chandelier bathed in a golden gold, and hand written specials on the walls.

For this meal, you order by way of check box. A coloured list of all their small plates in Chinese characters and English script. A few had their photos featured to help sway the decision making process. We filled our form and went back for seconds with dessert. Our plates came one at a time with a five minute wait time in between each. A sign of a busy service. Whereas I am use to one dish coming, and you get the next few as a group, all at once. But this way we found ourselves finishing the first few plates clean, getting the taste of food and not wanting to stop, but having to pause.

We were so hungry that in fact we grabbed a plate of “BBQ pork pastry” as it was walked by and was being offered through shouting. It was topped with a crispy topping, and sweet from it and the honey glaze pork filling. It was more like dessert, except it featured meat.

“Deep fried stuffed pork dumplings”. The shell was crunchy on one side and sticky and tacky on the other. It was a great covering to keep the savoury inside saucy and moist. A plate I only order for its great texture to chew on.

“Steam rice flour roll with prawns and yellow chives”. Sheets of noodle wrapping sweet prawn. With this it is cut with scissors and dressed with a sweet soy as it is served at your table. A nice light dish, and like the others full of carbs, but less deep fried. The green vegetable presented with it seemed more for show. They were overlooked and lacked flavour. It was fibrous and hard to chew through, lacking the crunch it seemed like it could have.

The “Steamed mini sticky rice wraps with dried scallops” is a favourite of mine for its sticky tender rice. Though this one in particular lacked filling and could have been more flavourful.

“Steamed shiu-mai dumplings” (pork dumplings) is a dim sum favourite. Though these are the largest I have ever seen. Each one was equivalent to three elsewhere. And it had a similar flavour, minus the use of mushroom, which we were not all that familiar with.

Similarly, was the “Steamed ha-gao” (shrimp dumplings). They too were fairly large. Though taste wise, they were pretty standard.

The “Steamed BBQ pork buns” had the exact same filling as the BBQ pork bun above. Except with these you were getting a plain white bun, and there was an emphasis on the savoury filling instead.

The “Deep fried prawn spring rolls” were boring. They had a one tone taste, hiding behind its crispy fried shell that was oily to the touch. It needed something to dip into, like a sweet chilli sauce to brighten it up.

We ordered a serving of the “Steamed spareribs with black bean sauce” the first round, but they missed our checkmark on it. So in order to get it, we had to reorder it and have our request go back through the queue. With an estimated 30 minute wait, as guessed by our server. We appreciated his honesty over our missing dish, but was surprised by the restaurant’s unwillingness to simply correct the issue by delivering us our plate out of queue, as soon as possible. None the less, it was worth the delay. These were the largest pieces of meat I have ever seen used for this dish. Some pieces were all meat and no bone. A few were on the tougher side, but most were tender and chewy with gristle. Not to mention, they had a flavour as well.

Typically dim sum dishes are served as they are made ready, so it was smart for us to punctuate our order and make our request for dessert at the end. Otherwise we would be mixing sweet with savoury; or worst, leaving them to the side, resulting in cold pastries.

The “Baked egg tart” is another popular dim sum pick. This batch was a tad too oily for my taste. The buttery pastry was battling against the gentle flavour of the egg custard.

The “Chilled mango pudding” was shaped in a heart mould, and coated lightly with evaporated milk. We found it a great palette refresher.

Similarly was the “Green tea and coconut gelatin”, mild flavours and a chilled temperature to cool and end your meal on.

 

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.
In my humble opinion, dim sum tastes pretty much the same where ever you go. It is like all the restaurants use the same recipe and aim to hit the same mark for consistency. Therefore when picking or judging places for their dim sum, it is usually more about what is cheaper and what is closer, for me. But here they inched out a little with their larger servings and their mostly good ratio of filling to wrapper, bun, or shell. A solid choice. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WESTERN LAKE
4989 Victoria Drive, Vancouver BC, V5P 3T7
604-321-6862
westernlake.ca
Western Lake Chinese Seafood Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cacao 70

I was really looking forward to visiting this one: a chocolate cafe specializing in chocolate fondue. Although, looking back, I feel I got taken by the artificial buzz of social media.

It began with a poorly staffed service. We were kept waiting at the door, not to be acknowledged. There was only one server running around one the floor, and three chefs who stood behind the counter waiting on her. Although it was fairly busy for a Wednesday night. When we walked in, there was an issue with payment at a table, and one of the chefs only watched behind his counter as this server struggled. While he waited for her, he also met eyes with us, and the group of three standing behind us unseated, but he seemed to be more concerned in making sure he got paid correctly, than to pitch a hand front of house. Though when it came to bringing desserts to table, both he and his co-chefs served. Though you could see that he was unfamiliar with the process, bringing our drink to the neighbouring table and having to search out the server to ask her where it actually went.

The restaurant was bright with white paint on walls, and copper piping on lighting fixtures. The right wall featured a colourful chalk homage to chocolate, as it welcomed diners and suggested slushed drinks. We grabbed a table on the left hand side, one of many booth seats in a row, set under glass and wooden shelving. On the various shelves was the display of accoutrements used for serving and preparing their desserts.

The menu was a hefty read. Ten pages with a laminated sheen. And an additional add on sheet with light savouries like soup, salads, and sandwiches. As well as a list of all their hot chocolates, made with different types of chocolates at different percentages.

We tried one of their milkshakes, the “Strawberry white chocolate shake”. It is the only one made using white chocolate, with yogurt, strawberry, and blended ice. It was not great to drink, with the need to chew through the chunks. It was tart to start, and got sweeter, but only from the sediment that dropped to the bottom of the glass. They were near impossible to suck through using regular straw, the wider ones meant for bubble tea would have been more helpful here. We eventually gave up on sipping and began to churn and scoop with a spoon instead.

All fondues are available in a single or double serve portion at a $6 difference. This is the “chocolate peanut butter” fondue, served with strawberry, banana, and pineapple chunks; waffle pieces, and a whole brownie. All of which is meant to be used for dipping, dunked into a semi sweet chocolate sauce, with a glob of peanut butter. There was so much buzz about this, their trademark dessert, that I was expecting more, and was disappointed by what was set before me.

First, the fondue container was shallow, there was just not enough chocolate and peanutbutter for all that we got with it. And then there was no candle under to keep it warm. So the result was, our chocolate was served warmed and settled to room temperature chunky chocolate quick. The sweet fruit cubes were the best for dipping, as sweet chocolate is a favourite pairing with tart fruit. The gumminess of the rice cake was a nice option as well, its texture is a good base for the semi sweet chocolate. But the chocolate brownie was too much, dipped into more chocolate. It was at least a good brownie to enjoy as is, although it didn’t taste all that fresh. I am sad this was my guest’s long awaited first fondue experience and it was such a disappointing one.

And the “chocolate marshmallow pizza” was just as disappointing, luckily we only got a half serving. Although it didn’t feel like it was worth the $13.75 either way. We paid this much for two slices, which in reality is a quarter pizza, not a half. You can get two full regular pepperoni pizzas at that price and it would taste a whole lot better.

When describing it, our server went into detail on how the marshmallows would be torched and left stringy and gooey, but what we got was barely singed. A cold dessert “pizza” with a base like a pita. Whereas I was expecting shortbread cookie or sugar, something crumblier and sweeter for the “crust”. We didn’t finish it, taking a couple of bites each and then calling it a day.

When our server asked us what we thought, we were honest about the tart and lumpy shake, the fondue that was left to cool, and the most unsatisfactory pizza we have ever had. Although all that she could offer was a shrug. I couldn’t blame her, given the position her employers took above.

 

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.
We barely had to wait considering the line at the door that formed after us. If we did and ended with this, we would have been even more disappointed. It was definitely not worth the hype. The photo ready Instagram-able plates are misleading. Yet at the same time, I can foresee them having much luck with a great summer great location, by the beach. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CACAO 70
1047 Denman Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2M4
778-379-8568
cacao70.ca
Cacao 70 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Moose’s Down Under Bar & Grill

Reminiscing over fond memories of his last visit to Australia, my guest suggested we dine at the only Australian bar in the city. Hearing there was kangaroo on the menu, it was a good enough a reason as any for me to visit, and cross another off the foodie bucket list.

Though “Moose’s” is also just as much a Canadian bar, as it highlights Australia and its food and drink. A point made clear by the use of a koala and a moose in their logo, and the crossing of both nation’s flags on the banner that pointed you towards the basement bar. In hindsight the restaurant’s name was also a play on its actual location.

Inside, the room was dark with wooden furniture and rust coloured walls. A showcase of Australian memorabilia stood by the door with stuffed kangaroos and wombats, signed rugby balls, team merchandise, and the possibility to purchase a souvenir cup holder for $8.

The restaurant’s decor had a similar theme. A moose bust stood guard by the bar, he showed pride with the Australian flag attached to his antler. The same blue and red with stars that lined the bar and much of the seating area’s railing as pendants.

We grabbed a booth on the step up platform, across from the actual bar. And settled down to browse through a stack of menus. It was Wednesday and we could have taken advantage of their wines at a discount. However, we didn’t want any of the “wine Wednesday” deals, but instead went for an Australian bottle, seeing as we were here more for the Aussie experience. This is the Bin 65, Chardonnay.

We were also just in time for happy hour so took advantage of the 30% off all appetizer special that would end at 7pm. We gravitated to all the Australian appies, trying those that were the most unfamiliar.

“Roo on a stick” is four herbed marinated kangaroo skewers. The meat didn’t look as appetizing as chicken, pork, or beef would. It was pasty with a dull grey colour and an iridescent sheen. I missed the darken black of a good char. As for taste it was musky, a dense flavour like that of organ meat. The herbs didn’t help, but instead only made things bitter. They were trying hard to cover the natural flavour of the meat, as apposed to highlighting it. Instead, the kangaroo was best dipped into ketchup, how Canadian. Overall, as my first taste of kangaroo I found the texture more off than the taste.

I much preferred the kangaroo meat inside a burger, ground up and mashed together as a patty. These are the “Roo sliders”, 3 miniature kangaroo burgers served on traditional damper (bun) with blueberry relish. Though I didn’t get enough flavour with this as well. I didn’t taste any sweetness from the jam, let alone blueberry. If it was dressed with once again ketchup, mustard and pickles; like an ordinary burger I would have liked it more. It also had a one dimensional flat taste, that a side of fried would have helped to alleviate in between bites.

“Battered sav” is Australia’s answer to the corn dog. It is covered in butter then deep fried with a tempura-like airy breading. It was tasty, but oily. My guest found it better than any corn dog, whereas I missed the sweeter, starchy corn breading from this interpretation. It could have also used some sweet and sour or more ketchup to dip into. It was no surprise, we used the latter, and again for the “party pack” below.

This was a set of miniature Aussie meat pies and sausage rolls covered in pastry. The meat pies were not unlike a torterie that you have with ketchup from Quebec. “Minced meat beef in Aussie ketchup”. The pastry was golden brown and flakey, but what laid beneath it was tasteless. I couldn’t taste the tang of ketchup from the Aussie version, so squeezed on the Canadian kind thick. The sausage rolls had a nice chew to them, but I didn’t get much flavour from the sausage itself. I was expecting the saltiness from pigs in a blanket, but instead got bland meat. Once again ketchup was most helpful here. I guess this Canadian-Australian bar mash up is a good idea. Cause dating a French Canadian, I know much of traditional French Canadian cuisine has you eating everything with the condiment, ketchup.

Overall we regretted our heavy order of Australian appetizers. The first bite of everything was the best. But then it just got tired. There was too much bread and meat. And looking around everyone else was ordering pub fare. Although no regrets, as my first taste of Aussie fare, and a great walk down memory lane for my guest.

Just a mention on this cute touch, when our meal began we were asked our names, and later it appeared on the bill, for a personalized touch.

Truth be told, I liked the idea of the bar, but the reason why I would visit: for the Australian food, left a lot to be desired. And the Canadian cuisine was just bar fare that you can get anywhere.

However what sets them apart we failed to try. They offer chicken parm and a lot of it, in great variety. This is what will get me back through the doors and recommending them to a specific set of people. Like the Canadian classic: poutine, they have chicken parm influenced by cuisines from all over the world. The traditional version is breaded chicken, tomato marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Here the chicken remains the same, and where it gets interesting is what tops it. The “Bollywood” version had a mild curry gravy over the breaded chicken, then potatoes and cauliflower topped with paneer (a type of Indian cheese). “Uncle Sam” used mac and cheese as a topping, then topped that with bread crumbs for a crispy crust. “Oktoberfest” use mustard as the base with sauerkraut and Swiss cheese as the topping. And they are still nine more, just as interesting variations for you to choose through.

But when all you want is the classic chicken parm and plenty of it, they have a food challenge just for you. The challenge asks if you can handle a “kilo of beast”. This is a 1kg parmie and fries that tests your ability to finish it within 45 minutes. If you succeed the food is free and you get one of their moose’s tee shirt too. If you fail you pay the $35 plate in full. I am definitely planning to come back for this.

 

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.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MOOSE’S DOWN UNDER
830 W Pender Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 1J8
604-683-3300
moosesdownunder.com
Moose's Down Under Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Happy Hour at The Greek by Anatoli

Today I would be the plus one to Jacquline of “Pork Ninjas”, Instagram and blog fame. We were at “The Greek by Anatoli”, attending a media event, highlighting their new happy hour menu. This would be a new feature that the restaurant would host daily from 2-5pm. And today we would get a sneak peak of things to come.

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.

The restaurant was closed for the event and we, along with a group of others were able to enjoy the space fully. I have visited “The Greek” before and then was unable to immerse myself in their wonderful seating area. They had tables available on the patio and upper deck, but it was the ones at the very back of the restaurant, surrounding by black and white photos and under strung up lights, that was the place to be. Today I would get to be surrounded by it all, across from their island bar.

Alexi the owner of “The Greek”, showed us warming hospitality, and shared tidbits of the restaurant and himself during our stay. He greeted us all and gave us some background information on his restaurant, speaking with passion for his business, which is always a good attribute to have as a business owner.

The back wall was plastered over with a black and white mural of old Greece. The wall to the right was hung with actual family photos. They offered a glimpse into his childhood and his heritage. His family’s first restaurant opened its doors in 1984, this venture in Yaletown was his alone, and the second to have the name. They are also working on acquiring a three location in the near future.

As the sun peaked out, the patio with its picnic tables were offered as a viable space for us to dine in. However I was too enamoured by the ambiance we had indoors. The strung together lights and the hanging bulbs bathed the room in a golden luminescent glow. It offers a great vibe for a romantic dinner or a girls night out, helped along by a playlist of smooth vocals and up beats.

The food was described as being simple and clean, strong flavours like how grandmother does it. All within a more upbeat spot. They successfully combined traditional food with modern aesthetics.

The happy hour menu is an assembly of popular Greek appetizers, smaller servings perfect for sharing, so you can order them all and try a little bit of each. All the food is $6 per plate normally, but between March 27 to the 31st what is listed will only be $2 a plate. Our servings below may be a little different than what you would typically get. I have tried my best to ask questions and list those differences here, so that when you come and try them for yourself you know what you will be getting, and won’t be disappointed if it differs from what you see here. And at $2 a plate, I know you will make ever effort to come by during that week. You can’t even buy a loaf of bread for $2.

When asked about the decision to host happy hour, Alexis was honest. He acknowledge that he would not be making a profit during this time slot, but for him it was about bringing people in, and having them stay in the area after work. Where you see a lot of that in downtown, you don’t have the same gusto for happy hour in Yaletown. So this was his rally cry, his attempt to fill seats and gather the community.

We started with “Keftedes”, traditional pan fried meatballs served in a tomato sauce. Although I would classify the sauce as more of the juice to a tomato salsa. Watery, but a great accompaniment of chunks and liquid, to the hearty and thoroughly seasoned meatballs. Which were tasty, but did border on being a little too salty for my tastes.

I am not a fan of Dolmathes in general. “Dolmathes” are grape vine leaves stuffed with beef and rice, and these are cooked in avgolemeno broth. I don’t like the texture of the wilted and soggy leaves, even though they were prepared very tender here. Their pickled flavour isn’t appealing to me either. But the filling was nice. The beef was prepared like the meatball above, having a similar flavour, and show of the same quality.

I much preferred the “Spanakopita”, although like above, it’s wilted greens are a turn off to me visually and textural. I just don’t like way wilted and cooked greens feel on my tongue. But if I had to eat a serving of it, this would be the batch to force myself through. Fresh spinach, feta and herbs, wrapped in filo and baked. It was baked crispy and stuffed full. I really liked the flavour of the sharp cheese. So tasty, that it didn’t really need the tzaziki sauce that came with it on the size. When you order it, you will normally get two pies, just like the other two portion sizes above.

The “Calamari” was your standard battered and fried pieces of squid. It was your classic flavour served crispy with tzatziki for tang.

The “True Greek pork” souvlaki was the most memorable. Its name is due in part of the fact that pork is the true meat of Greece and traditional souvlaki is only prepared using pork. Here cubes of meat are skewered and grilled for a blackened char, then served kalamaki style on a pita with tzatziki on the side. Once again, when ordering this, you will only get enough for two tastes. The meat was a little tough, but well seasoned, it paired perfectly with the fluffy pita and the dill in the tzatziki. Definitely a good deal considering it’s $11 normally and here it is either $6, or $2 for that week.

During happy hour and their launch week the “Homous” with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley is set at $4. It is served with with a warm buttery pita for dipping into. This was my favourite dish. The homous was really delicious. A little chunky, and a lot delicious. It wasn’t so aggressive that it masked the taste of the butter on the pita. I think I ate two whole pita and certainly licked cleaned the homous dish.

And happy hour isn’t the same without drinks, so their menu also includes two $4 drink options and $6 glasses of red or white.

However, today we were able to try a few of their regular cocktails. Like the classic brunch ceasar with a grilled shrimp and pickled bean. The shrimp had a great grill, but the drink itself could have used more spices and a whole lot more tomato.

The juicy watermelon mojito as a visual delight with an actual watermelon slice for garnish. It was very mint forward with the refreshing quality of real watermelon juice.

Not on the happy hour menu, but offered regularly, we were treated to the most beautiful serving of salad that I have ever had. “Greek salad” with fresh tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, red onions, goat feta from Greece, capers, and olives. All the ingredients were chopped small and sliced thin for a more reasonable bites. It easily allowed you to get a little bit of everything on your fork. Including the addition of fried kale chips and micro greens, for an even greater aesthetic touch. Though be warned, this was done special for us, and not typically seen when you order it for yourself.

 

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 said it after my first visit and I will say it again after this one. I like the place for dressier style Greek food in an equally dressed up setting. And now with happy hour specials, there is another reason to visit. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

THE GREEK
1043 Mainland Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5P9
604-979-0700
thegreekbyanatoli.com
The Greek by Anatoli Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tap & Barrel, Olympic Plaza

Tap and barrel

When looking for a quick meal and a safe bet by the Olympic cauldron downtown, I find myself often gravitating towards “Tap and Barrel”. This is a smaller venue, compared to their first in the city, within the Olympic village. I like the sheer size of the other, but the convenience and accessibility of the location I was at today. With enough tables between two of their rooms to accommodate, I am often seated without a wait. And today was no different, we got in just fine on a Saturday evening, without reservations to boot.

The main restaurant space is linear, with a lengthy bar stretching down the right side of the room. A row of metal stools facing multiple taps and barrels (hence the name), make for a interactive place to sit. It is also the hub of all the action, with several television monitors broadcasting several sporting matches.

It was fully seated, and we were instead led to the back of the room. There, we were lucky enough to get a spacious booth for two girls, where there were a couple of high tops available as well. Back here the room felt more like a den. Decorated with shelves of coloured book spines against a brick wall. It was causal and comfortable. And those by its window were treated to a different view. A moving picture of shoes and feet walking past the restaurant, to and from the water’s edge.

Despite the name and the nod to their taps of beer and barrels of wine, I went against the grain and got their seasonal “Danny’s chocolate orange cocktail” instead. It looked like vodka and soda. It was a shame that they didn’t top it with an orange slice or the promised burnt orange peel the description listed, this would have brought out more of its sweeter flavour. Instead a lemon slice is what they went with. “Yaletown distilling mandarin vodka, creme de cacao, orange bitters, and burnt orange peel”. It tasted like a Terry’s chocolate orange, but with the slow burn of vodka. It was good, but I didn’t think ahead and therefore it didn’t compliment any of the food we had below. It is better sipped on alone, or as an accompaniment to a chocolaty dessert. I wished our server could have warned me just as much, considering I did ask for their recommendation.

We started with the bar classic of “Chicken strips and fries”. Sea salted fries and chicken in a buttermilk ranch dressing. They arrived at our table surprisingly fast and therefore very hot, unknowing the fries had burnt my guest’s tongue. They complimented the crispiness of the breaded chicken, which had a lovely tang from the blue cheese dipping sauce.

I went with their unique “PB&J burger”. And as it sounds, this burger brought together certified angus beef with chipotle peanut butter and bacon jam; along with the regular burger fixings of lettuce, tomato house mayo, and a pickle wedge. The regular option has either fries or salad as a side. They couldn’t make the pickles a side, as was my first choice, so I upgraded and got a fancy mac and cheese for $4 more, instead. They were a smaller scoop of their “Truffled mushroom craft beer mac and cheese”. Made with local wild mushrooms, corkscrew pasta, arugula, truffle oil, bread crumbs, and a cheddar sauce. It was everything you wanted in a mac and cheese: creamy, salty with cheese, and with the earthy flavour of mushrooms as a highlight and longer after note. This is the kind of dish that you order when you want to do some comfort eating, yet have your food still tasting good.

As for the burger main, the first bite had enough peanut butter, but not enough jelly flavour for that perfect harmony of salty and sweet. The peanut butter went well with the savoury beef, not surprising considering its presence in south East Asian cuisine. It has a spicy hint to it, paired well with the grilled beef patty. But at the same time, this was a horrible hybrid of savoury and sweet for lunch. .

The textural combination smeared on the leaf of lettuce was good. I would have tried the third of it again, but this time without the vegetables and pickles, served to detract the other entrees.

My guest ordered the “Salmon farrotto” prepared with ocean wise salmon, creamy white wine farro risotto, and seasonal vegetables. It looked like rice, but was most definitely quinoa grains. . It was still buttery and light with lots of flavour, although it felt healthier.

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.
A great standby in the area. One that has plenty of variety to satisfy all tastes and enough wine and beer to get them there. Don’t deny your cravings.

TAP & BARREL
Vancouver convention centre west
#76-1055 Canada place, Vancouver BC, V6C 1E1
604-235-9827
tapandbarrel.com

Sushico Japanese Restaurant

I was quickly learning that the food scene in Langley wasn’t as diverse as it is in Vancouver. However, what Langley has is a strong presence of chain restaurants, and speaking with many locals they concurred with my observations. I was on the Langley bypass around 200th, looking for lunch; and my choices included familiar names like “Whitespot”, “Quiznos”, “Montana’s”, and “Milestones”, just to name a few. But the blogger in me was craving something more unique to write about. Something without multiple locations, and that search led to “Sushi Co.”, ironically with a not so unique name, exterior or decor for that matter.

An all monochromatic building exterior with a dark interior to match. Though not that I needed more from my casual Japanese sushi restaurants. Black tiles underfoot , black chairs paired with brown tables, and white panels lined up on a black wall, with wave of led lights for interest.

I grabbed a table by the wall of glass, down the right side of the restaurant. There I enjoyed a playlist of Japanese slow jams that was used to set the tone and add to their authenticity, along with all the Japanese speaking servers.

There was trouble communicating with the staff. For a few of the rolls they listed using “egg paper”, and when I asked if this was in place of nori, I was responded with confusion. I guess my Japanese needed work, because she didn’t know that I was referred to seaweed. And then when I asked for suggestions it was hard for the same server to offer any. I wanted to know what their specialty was and what was one of their more unique rolls. It wasn’t happening she said it was all good, as if I should order one of everything?

So out of ease and to just end the conversation, I took advantage of their “Sushi Co” lunch special that ran from 11am to 3pm. It earned me a choice of one of their special rolls from a limited list, a starter from another list, and some miso soup for $12.

I went with the “crazy boy roll”. And appreciated that each of their specialty rolls listed what was “in” and “out” of each, on their menu. Inside of this one was avocado, cucumber, crabmeat, and cream cheese. And outside it was deep fried with a healthy drizzle of unagi sauce and spicy mayo. Therefore you didn’t need soy sauce, given how much flavour you had in both sauces combined. However you were still doled out a healthy smear of wasabi and a pickled ginger. The roll was good with a nice enough crisp, but at the end of the day it was just a tempura battered and fried California roll.

I got the “mix tempura” as my starter and was surprised that it was a full serving, more than enough for one. Two pieces of prawn, one green been, a piece of pumpkin, sweet potato, and a yam slice. It was a beautiful display, but I found them over breaded and fairly oily. The shrimp was too much, but at least the vegetable ones didn’t feel as oily to consume. I ended up peeling off the coating in silent protest and eating the core as is with the sauce.

And the Miso soup was pretty standard. A warm start and a nice way to cut into the grease.

I also ordered their signature self named roll, the “sushi co roll”, as a tell of the place. It was a spicy tuna, crabmeat, and asparagus roll; deep fried with spicy powder, and topped with real crab tobiko. Drizzled over with a wasabi sauce, a peanut sauce, and an unagi sauce.

Before I even tried the roll I was disappointed. I regretted not reading the menu properly, and ordering all this deep fried food without thinking. It was too much by the time this dish arrived. Although I did much more prefer this one to the first roll. It was fried to order and still warm, enough to show the contrast between the roll and the crab and roe that topped it. The salmon was cooked inside for a different taste, and the asparagus added some crisp freshness to the texture. Though it was really the three sauces that set the roll apart. Having them layered like this made each bite one of a kind. Although being overloaded with fried and saucy sushi, I was unable to finish my lunch and packed two thirds of it home.

 

Would I come back? – No.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
It was a good option for the area, and the only ethnic food type around, let alone only sushi place. And with rice and noodles also on the menu they have much of Asian cuisine covered. It wouldn’t be a destination for me, living in Burnaby, but certainly a decent one for those in Langley. Easy to get to with plenty of parking and other conveniences while you are here. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SUSHICO
102-20065 Langley Bypass, Langley BC, V3A 8R6
604-427-0202
sushicogo.com
Sushico Japanese Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival Launch Event

Today I was invited to the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival’s media launch. This was a peek of things to come during the actual festival that runs from June 9-18, 2017 in Comox Valley, Vancouver Island.

This will be the 11th year of the festival. It was established to “drive national, international, and regional long-term awareness to the importance and diversity of BC coastal communities and their seafood industries”. And given how great tonight went, I am hoping that I will be able to attend this event as media as well. Then and there, maybe I will be able to experience the over 30 different events and tours including the following.

  • BC seafood on your plate campaign – June 9-18
  • Chef’s shellfish showdown – June 9
  • Fresh fest – June 9
  • BC Seafood Expo – June 12 & 13
  • Nourished in Nature – BC shellfish Growers Association shellfish feast – June 16
  • Comox by the sea celebration – June 18

But first to enjoy the festivities at hand. This was a two part event. The first portion of the evening had us at “Fanny Bay Oyster Bar”, where we would nibble and sip, whilst mingling with staff and the owners to learn more about them as a producer and as a company. Then the night concluded at the “Vancouver Fish Company”, within Granville island for the actual media launch event. Here we got to taste and try the seafood and shellfish forward creations of nine local chefs and the restaurants they represented.

As always, when it comes to a media event: my experience no doubt will be a little askew. 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.

To skip the reading and watch the recap instead, watch the video below.

 

At “Fanny Bay” I had a couple of their oyster stouts. A beer that looked like Guinness, but tasted like a lager. “Postmark brewery” collaborated with “Fanny Bay”, and using their oyster shells and brine they brewed up this unique stout.

I was also luckily enough to be treated to a smattering of their very fresh oysters. These were shucked and presented to me by the general manger himself, Issac. He did this with a explanation of each oyster and his personal seal of approval for each.

There were also canapés for everyone to help themselves to. I can’t be sure of what each was, but using my best guess: this was an oyster shot with a thousand island dressing-like sauce, topped with cucumber slivers.

Crab filled pastry puffs with dill.

And a cooked oyster over a crostini, with cream cheese and pickled vegetable.

The whole group of us were given a step by step tutorial on how to shuck oysters by Malindi Taylor, the marketing and sales coordinator for “Taylor Shellfish Canada”, who owns “Fanny Bay Oysters”.

She followed it up by explaining the flavour of each oyster available as well as inviting us to taste the fruits of her shucking labour.

From here the first portion of the event wrapped up and we were shuttled to the next location: “Lobster Man”. This was a shop specializing in live seafood. They had tanks and tanks of mollusks and crustaceans. Lobsters, crabs, clams, mussels, and oysters. We were given the option for a self directed tour here, before checking in and pinning on our media badges.

It was a quick walk to the “Vancouver Fish Company” from here. There were nine stalls manned by nine chefs and their crew. They offered tastes of their seafood creations, representing the flavours of the restaurants that they worked at. The following is in the order of my visiting them.

At the threshold we were handed a glass of white wine from “40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery”. And to ease the burden of having to hold it and the dishes to come, while trying to toggle between phone and camera, we were given a wonderful clip. It was attached to our plate and allowed the wine glass to balance off of it. I kept the useful tool.

We started with the “Vancouver Fish Company’s” offering, brought to us by “Chef John McManus”: “Baked sablefish taco”. The sablefish was marinaded in white miso and Granville island sake. It was served with a Fuji apple and jicama slaw, all together in a crispy taco shell. It was a delicious start. The gentle fish paired well with sweet apple, and the crispy shell provided a good crunch.

From “Salish Sea Food” there was a selection of “smoked salmon nuggets”. They were candied and slightly sweet.

At the “Locals restaurant” table, Chef Donald St. Pierre prepared a “Chinook salmon tartar”, served in a crispy prosciutto ham cup with a tree island goodness yogurt sauce, and a homemade fennel cracker. It was tangy from the yogurt, with a balance of salmon and crispy salty ham.

Chef Nathan Fong from “Fong on food” drew extra attention with his two live geoducks over ice, on display. Many folks wanted a picture with it and him. He prepared “geoduck sashimi” with a miso mustard and a geoduck salsa to be scooped up with chips. It was tasty. I have never had geoduck before, Iet alone raw.

Chef Chris Whittaker from “Forage” brought us oysters pickled with bull kelp, nettle aioli, and crispy potato. It was simple yet complex in appearance and layered flavours. Delicate and beautiful, it really allowed the flavour of the oyster to shine through.

From “Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar”, Chef Alex Chen prepared local clams in a creole style broth with tarragon, garlic, and a hush puppy fry. It was spicy and warming, and the potato offered some nice starch.

I had some of the best fish thanks to Chef Nigel McMeans of “Blackfin Pub”. This was mirin and tamari marinated sablefish, served with a fiery gingered yam purée, and a white balsamic and hibiscus reduction. I would have loved to have the entree version of this with a side of roasted vegetables.

Chef Angus An of “Maenam” offered mussels steamed in Thai aromatics like lemongrass, lime leaf, galangal, and Thai basil. It was served with their Nahm Jim sauce. Wonderfully cooked mussels, fragrant with strong citrus notes.

And Chef Chris Andraza was here representing “Fanny Bay Oysters Bar”. They brought out a portable fryer and were battering, frying, and tossing their oysters before our eyes. Panko breaded Fanny Bay oysters with a house made tartar sauce. Crispy on the outside and chewy at the centre, the perfect combination with a creamy, zesty tartar sauce.

Chef Taryn Wa, From “Savoury Chef Foods” offered “steelhead gravlax”. Cured steelhead filet, with everything bagel spice, and creme fraiche. It was like eating a smoked salmon over a bagel, just without the starchy chew of an actual bagel, but a crispy rice cracker base instead.

There was also a pairing of smoked salmon and sea urchin to try. It worked.

And we ended at the booth hosted by “Wayward Distillation House”. Here we were able to try their smooth vodka and gin made with real BC honey.

We later all convened to hear the Mayor of the Comox Valley speak. He sincerely invited everyone attending today to come to Comox in June, to enjoy the festival in June.

This was certainly a great event and a good showing. Everything was delicious, this was a brilliant way to display of the quality of seafood that we are lucky to have available to us in BC. I am definitely looking forward to the BC shellfish and seafood festival in June 2017. For more information and check out their website: http://www.bcseafoodexpo.com/

KFC Cooking School

An opportunity came up on my Facebook feed and it was one that I just couldn’t ignore.

I have often professed that my favourite fried chicken is that of KFC, an opinion that comes with a bias, thanks to my particular French Canadian partner. Who also claims his favourite chicken to be that of the Kentucky fried kind.

So when I saw that KFC was hosting the
“World’s First KFC Cooking School”, I had to attend and add this to my bucket list. This was a class that will give a few lucky Canadian fans, such as ourselves, the ability to learn how to cook just like the Colonel. Although this did not include finding out the ingredients to their 11 herbs and spices blend.

After registering right away and paying the steep tuition of $5 per person, to guarantee our position at the quick to sell out event, the only other challenge to living the dream was to drive all the way to Abbotsford to attend the class. It is nice to note that, all tuition fees are donated directly to “Add Hope”, KFC’s global charitable initiative to help fight world hunger.

Currently they only had a day of classes in Toronto, Calgary or Abbotsford, BC. We choose the last class of the day at 3pm. I figured this will give them the practice to have smoothed out all the kinks and deliver their best executed class, for us.

The entire restaurant was closed for this special event. And they flew in Mike, “KFC’s franchise business consultant (over over 5 years) to be our host/guide. And to help him, he brought along, one of their KFC cook, working out of one of their Coquitlam locations to instruct us. He too had five years with the company under his belt.

But first debunking some myths. The class was also a chance for them to open their doors and show that they have nothing to hide. They wanted people like us, fans and foodies alike, to know where their chicken comes from and how they do it. That each fried piece of poultry is made fresh, from scratch, and has been since 1952. And in the case of Canada, only using chicken from Canadian farms. The same chicken that you and I get in grocery stores all across the country. There are no growth hormone or steroids used, and no they don’t breed chickens with multiple legs and wings for optimal harvest. Overall there is something to be said about seeing is believing.

So to watch the making of KFC fried chicken and witness all that we learned from the workshop, click to watch the video below.

 

The event was a closed door affair. The restaurant wasn’t serving guests today. It was just ourselves locked, in and a security guard to watch over our belongs. After signing in we geared up with aprons and hairnets, and then breached their back of house operations. Walking behind the counter, and entering the out of regular customer view, kitchen. An industrial operation including continuously running exhaust fans and stainless steel hardware.

We were given a tour of the place from front of house operations to the equipment needed to run their day to day. From sinks and heating apparatuses to towers of buckets and heaps of of condiment packages.

Our tour ended with their so called “raw station” where the class portion of the afternoon would begin. After a vigorous tutorial on the etiquette of proper hand washing, we rolled up our sleeves and began at the flour station.

Chicken was removed from the freezer and picked through for impurities. The occasional loose tag, or a feather still in place get removed here. The already cut up chicken parts get a dip in water to clean and to coat. The latter helps with the breading process.

The flour batter has their secret mix of spices already added in. Each ingredient and it’s exact measurement is added at 11 different stops. Not one location knows the entire recipe. A few know what goes into it, but not how much of each or even all of it together. It is most definitely a well kept secret.

The spices are heavier than the flour and therefore it constantly needs to be sifted together to ensure even distribution of seasoning when coated over the chicken. This is also where the dredging process begins. With two clean hands the chef performs a specific rhythm of scooping and folding, scooping and lifting, then a pressing and pushing motion to end on. All to ensure the most even distribution of flour on chicken.

Once adequately breaded, two at a time assorted chicken parts are shaken loose of any excess flour; by a shake and tap motion. From here they are arrange on a wire rack to be fried. Like everything else, this too has a very specific process to it. The chicken parts are placed with the largest closest to the edge and the smallest at the centre.

Each individual tray of nine pieces is placed within a wire caddy, with a possibility of frying four trays at a time, 36 pieces of chicken total. Secured in the cage carry tray, the raw chicken is gingerly lowered into a pressure cooker of oil and sealed shut to cook at a high temperature for 13.5 minutes. Inside they will go through browning, cooking, and finishing.

After the allotted time the chicken, tray and all, is removed from its oil bath and allowed to drain and dry. And given the need, the chicken is either served to order or placed on stand by in one of their temperature controlled units. The former guarantees burnt tongues, the latter has it being served ready to eat at slightly higher than room temperature.

Our time here ended with our choice of fountain drink and a box of the chicken we helped make, to dine in or take out. Considering we got a two piece meal with fries and gravy, the $5 admission for charity, made this event well worth our time. Besides the gas, mileage, and travelling from Burnaby to Abbotsford of course.

This was such a unique way to bring brand awareness to KFC. And for once, such an occasion was made available in Canada first. A fun event for those like my partner and myself who are fans for the brand and the food they make, getting a chance to experience it in a different way. I hope for more events like this like this in the future. Maybe ones from Pizza Hut or Taco Bell, as they are all under the same parent company? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KFC
2047 Sumas Way, Abbotsford BC, V2S 8H6
604-504-3861
kfc.ca/store/14-2047-sumas-way-abbotsford
KFC Abbotsford Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mangia e Scappa Italian Foods Ltd.

I was invited as the plus one to David aka “Picky Diner”, judge for this year’s @Vanfoodster pizza challenge. A competition between several restaurants to see whose unique pizza creation runs supreme, a contest that runs every two years.

As a disclaimer, when it comes to anything media related: 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.

Our destination was Langley, which is a long way to drive, especially for those of us living in the Burnaby and Vancouver area. But in hindsight well worth it for a dining experience this immersive.

Your experience begins as soon as you exit your car. The whimsy of their Italian melodies welcomes you in with string instruments and opera vocals. It spoke of the charm and authenticity of the restaurant to come. A feeling of history derived from red brick and mortar arch ways, black and white photographs, and chianti bottle candle holders with candles on display and for sale.

The coffee/drink bar was especially notable, accented with its own unique ceiling tiles. Copper flowers and plenty of detailed carving. And under it, bottles of vintage red and white, stainless steel machinery, and showcases of their homemade desserts for dine in as well as those packaged for takeout.

We were seated at the secluded chef’s table in the corner. It was dim and cloistered away from the rest of the restaurant. We were dining in the dark and it therefore it wasn’t my ideal seating arrangement (I love to see my food as I consume it, plus better lighting is better for photographs.) However with the amount of photos we were taking and the need to use a portable light, we would have been too distracting for all the other diners looking for a romantic night, seated anywhere else.

Here, we met the owner of “Mangia e Scappa”, Giulia. She introduced herself and immediately you could feel her passion for the restaurant and her vision for it resonating. She regaled us with a verbal tour of her business from its origin to all the special touches she has implemented to make them one of a kind. My favourite were the stories of her childhood and the throwback to the moments captured from her own personal photo album, on the wall. Like how the oven in her Italian hometown had the capacity to make 500 loaves of bread at a time, with a total of three ovens for 1,500 loaves in one go.

She also spoke with excitement over their fresh ingredients, majority of which she herself grows and harvests from her own backyard garden, and in the plot they have out back as well. They farm their own fruits for the desserts and herbs for their pizzas. Majority of which is flashed frozen and used throughout the year. This homegrown and homemade ideology extends to their in house made cheeses and handmade pastas. We even got a look at the freshly dried trays of the latter, in their naturally died green, orange, and black hues.

This was one of the many products they offered in their adjoining stop and deli. Open 11-6pm every day, all of their offerings are either imported from Italy or made in house by chefs hailing from Venice, Paris, and Rome. Here they sell bottles of olive oil, tins of coffee, boxes of cookies, cans of stewed vegetables, tubs of briny olives, and links of sausages and salami. And for those not looking to cook for themselves, they also have preprepared Italian flatbread and ready made dishes like lasagna and stuffed shells to take home for later.

We started with their pizza challenge contribution, the main reason why we were here in the first place. It was created by Giulia’s 15 year old son Luca. He based it off of the family’s recipe for traditional Italian style pizza, and took inspiration from Nonna’s favourite Calabrian meal. And this is his brainchild, the “Patate e Pipi”, a pizza with potatoes. I appreciated how there were so many unique features about this pizza, from the crust all the way to the toppings and the cheese used. This was a tomato infused wheat and tipo oo crust (a type of flour that is more friendly towards those with gluten intolerances), coated with a creamy white sauce. Topped with thinly sliced potatoes, fresh rosemary, fire roasted red peppers, fontina, garlic confit, bonetti’s pancetta, and their own handmade cheese (using their family’s recipe).

The potatoes were my favourite part, they offered depth and helped to add some substance to the thin crust. I could have eaten a plate of them and the cream sauce, as it. You can smell and taste the fragrant rosemary, and couldn’t help but to enjoy the chunks of roasted garlic cloves that surprised you. The red peppers gave pops of smokiness, but the chunks of salty cheese were the memorable topping to bite into. I haven’t tried any of the other pizza challenge contestants, but they definitely have their work cut out for them, competing against this one.

From there, the regular menu was a concise list of Italian classics. We debated on what to get, but Giulia was more than helpful in swaying our minds. She suggested their “caprese salad” for its buffalo mozzarella, but we went with her other recommendation of the “calamari” instead.

These were large cuts of squid in a light flour dredge. “Calamari fritti”, served with a zesty mayo. Each ring was pillowy and each tentacle crispy. They were as airy and as light as they looked. Especially when compared to other places that serve their calamari chopped into small chunks and fried into crispy dense balls. I just wish they were better seasoned with more herbs and double the spices; instead of being just salty by means of the sauce. Though the decorative lemon and it’s juice helped to kick things up a notch. Sadly we had the pizza first, so comparatively this didn’t measure up flavour wise. Shame, we should have started with this and been content moving forward from appetizer to entree.

The “Fettuccine al nero di seppia” was another recommendation we took from Giulia, and were happier for it. The black squid ink pasta was cooked in a lobster cream sauce, and served with tiger prawns, baby shrimp, and swirls of zucchini”. This is only available for dine in only, and at $7 more than all the other $18 pastas, it certainly earned its prestige.

The pasta noddles itself was the highlight. It had the ideal starchy texture with a nice fishy finish. You tasted the sweet lobster meat in the sauce, got some freshness from the zucchini, and the cherry tomatoes offered pops of juice. The doubling of the prawns with shrimp was a nice little treat as well. Overall this was a refreshing pasta dish, not heavy or over burdened with carbs.

And the side of garlic bread included was most helpful in giving us a bonus taste of their home made breads. It wasn’t crispy and chewy as regular garlic bread, but instead dense and cakey. But that is again because of the use their tipo oo wheat. And again, that is done purposefully with consideration given of those with gluten intolerances.

Throughout our meal, I didn’t once feel the need to sprinkle Parmesan on anything, and I usually like shaking it on thick. I feel that, that itself is a good tell of the place.

We then indulged in their homemade desserts. First a pie that was a future contestant in the upcoming @vanfoodster pie challenge. This gold brown pastry was made by Giulia, with inspiration taken from another family recipe. It was figs and Boston pears in an amaretti cookie cake base. “Amaretti” is an almond cookie soaked in liquor and coffee. The fruit was picked fresh from Julia’s garden. I love fig newton bars so loved her pie that tasted like a grown up version of the bars. The pear added a nice crisp texture to the dense spongy crust. And the almond essence, from in house ground almonds, was a nice after note to simmer on. Overall it was Easy to eat, and not too sweet.

I loved the way the “traditional Sicilian cannoli” looked. These canollo shells are made in house and stuffed with a ricotta filling and chocolate chips. It looked like a small serving, but you didn’t need anymore than this, it was rich and creamy and already too decadent with its luscious cream and crispy shell. Although after the second bite, a little too over the top with the chocolate chips for my taste.

And lastly this was their most popular dessert, “Chef Alessandro’s tiramisu”. Coffee flavoured ladyfingers and cream filling make up this Italian cake. I am actually not a fan of tiramisu as I find it too soggy. I typically want more to crunch on in my dessert. Although David, who does enjoy a good tiramisu, found himself a fan of its moistened texture. He declared this as one of the most flavourful versions he has ever had. So fluffy and so soft, as if it would dissolve on your tongue.

 

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.
This was definitely worth the drive all the way to Langley for. It was like they brought a piece of Italy to the small township. Or at least an intimate look into Giulia’s culture and her family. She was proud to announce that if you can’t take a trip to Italy, they will bring Italy to you here, and they did. I enjoyed her and all the Italian hospitality from the entire restaurant, employees and clientele alike. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MANGIA E SCAPPA
23238 Mavis Avenue, Fort Langley BC, V1M 2S4
604-888-4104
mangiaescappa.com
Mangia e Scappa Italian Foods Ltd. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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