VieAMaggi.com

Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Month: November 2017 Page 2 of 3

Chateau K, private chef

Vancouver has such an expansive food scene, which includes dinners enjoyed in restaurants and meals had within the comfort of your own. In this case it was a little from column A and little more from column B. Tonight I was covering a private chef experience presented and enjoyed in the home of Chef Kevin, the man behind “Chateau K”.

In the glamorous comfort of his 18th floor, downtown Vancouver home, your fee and time includes his expansive city view, overlooking the majestic Coal Harbour.

Basically you have free reign of his home, wherein you can mix and mingle with your company. To see how we utilized our time between courses, check out my latest YouTube video on my channel: MaggiMei.

 

Each dinner he hosts requires a minimum of four attendees, with a maximum of six. It is $100 per person for a five course menu, and honestly, considering what you get and the flavour of the food, this is a steal. I have tried other private chef dinners that cost a lot more at a “discount”, and they gave me a lot less food with a lot less satisfaction. I liked everything our chef of the evening presented to me, and found each dish stunningly beautiful. Impressive considering it is just him prepping and preparing as you socialize and make yourself comfortable in his home. And this includes using his toilet paper, helping yourself to his sound system, and playing with his adorable dog: Panna Cotta Lavender Lin.

If you are looking for something specific, or wish to have your dinner themed, Chef K is able to accommodate it. He suggests looking through is Instagram account: @Chateau_K for inspiration. Although I strongly suggest leaving the ball in his court, and being surprised with what is presented in front of you. Similarly, you can book his service through a direct messages via Instagram.

And with the festive winter season fast approaching, those looking for a different way to gather your group of friends or family, he is now taking Christmas dinner bookings. This specialty occasion is $125 per person and the menu includes classic Christmas flavours like cranberry dressing, red wine braised beef, mulled wine poached pears, and egg nog foam.

Our meal tonight was less festive, but just as tasty. We started with his signature dish: a “Chilled green tea soba with Bella coola spring salmon, ikura, and baby arugula; in a creamy sesame-yuzu dressing”. The flower petals take it to the next level in aesthetic, that and the perfectly spun green noodles. The salmon is slow baked and barely cooked, he nailed the intended soft, half sashimi texture perfectly. It is a brilliantly balanced dish and my absolute favourite of the night. Chewy noodles, juicy fish, and fresh greens coming together in a tangy sauce. And best of all, he doesn’t skimp on the ikura, if it is on the plate, he wants you to taste it.

Next was some “Portobello and shiitake ravioli, dressed in a butter miso cream, and topped with crispy Brussels sprouts leaves, toasted pine nuts, and parmesan”. Incredibly rich and deliciously decadent, three handmade ravioli rounds are all you need. The pasta was tender and already I was associating the man behind the Chef’s smock with scratch made noodles. For Christmas these ravioli rounds will be dyed with red beet juice and green peas for a more festive appeal.

I continued to be excited by the next pasta dish, we definitely weren’t going to leave hungry. “Fresh hand cut tagliatelle with unagi, crispy caramelized shallots, and tobiko; dressed in tare beurre blanc. A mix of sweet and salty with el dente noodles and flamed kissed unagi (eel). This was a close second to the position of my favourite dish of the night.

The “San marzano and sacha braised beef short rib with wild mushroom, risotto and tomato gravy” featured short ribs from “H-Mart”, which our chef declared the best in the city. This is especially with the tomatoes he uses in the braising liquid, letting it braise for three hours with some soy sauce. Unfortunately, I found the beef a tad on the salty side, luckily the mound of risotto to pair with it helped. It was sticky and thick, creamy with a mushroom-soup quality to it. I liked the wasabi tobiko accent, as it created a literal pop of flavour. It gave us a a nice contrast to all the other similarly softened textures.

Our meal ended with a delightful “Chocolate mocha panna cotta, served with a lavender creme Chantilly, pomegranate, and pistachio crumble”. I am admittedly not a fan of chocolate, but scraped my plate clean of this perfectly jiggly dessert. It was light and airy with the best characteristics of eating jello and pudding all rolled into one. Everything else offered their textures and their taste to help give you contrast and change on the plate.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – n/a.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
A delicious meal and a wonderful way to dress up a group gathering. Having seen the food and now getting to taste it, the plates live up to their photos. A great gift to give and a great way to treat a travelling friend: a view of Vancouver like no other. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CHATEAU K

Dazzling Cafe

(Since my original visit, I have returned, so this post is actually an accumulation of the two occasion.)

I had visited another location of “Dazzling Cafe” during my last trip to Malaysia, unaware that it was part of a global chain. So to now see a new location open up in Richmond, BC; I curious to see how one measured up to another. Given its cutesy decor, we planned our original visit as our girl’s day out, stopping by for lunch.

To compare the experience of “Dazzling Cafe” in Asia and then here in Canada, check out my post covering Malaysia’s “Mid Valley Mall”, and the “Dazzling Cafe” within it.

Midvalley, KL’s largest mall

 

First of all, our Richmond location was unfortunately a lot less majestic than the open space utilized in Kuala Lumpur. No mezzanine draped with flowers, no crystal chandeliers, no champagne bar, and no quotes stencilled on reflective mirrors. Overall, there were less decorative elements, for a more casual feel to the cafe.

What was the same are the marble printed table tops and their trademark white chairs with rabbit ears attached to its back. The rest of the room was a mix of white and grey found on the walls and within its trim. Some brown on the laminate and booth cushions. As well as some khaki upholstering the regular chairs. The space is separated with an atrium of glass, allowing a room for those with larger parties, as well as creating pockets of privacy for more intimate conversations.

Here the servers dress in all black with frilly aprons to finish off the cutesy cafe theme. They sadly weren’t as friendly as the ones employed in KL. No friendly welcome or small talk, no check ins after you ordered or received your food. Just minimal amounts of conversation to get you through the meal.

During my first visit I came as a group of three, and we were given a table with three different chairs. The hot seat was definitely the one that looked like a throne, set between the others. A high concaved back crowned by a lotus flower centre piece. Regal, but out of place and a little awkward to eat out of.

The menu was a light listing of savoury, sweet, and hot and cold tea and coffee based drinks. We were sure to order a little from each column to get a good assessment of their offerings. In totality, I found the theme of their food light and the flavour uncharacteristically mild. The entrees were pretty in aesthetics, but lacking in how they satisfied. The desserts on the other hand are what I would recommend and suggest you visit them for.

The “Strawberry white chocolate mocha latte” was a three layered drink that kept flavours separated by colour. A strawberry purée sat at the bottom, followed by a layer of white milk, brown mocha, and more white in the form of cream that crowned the glass with extra pink sprinkles. It looked like and faintly tasted like a neopolatian latte with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. It was best enjoyed after stirring it all up, although looked less appealing as a result.

The “Dazzling pink” was less elaborate beverage. A nice, light fruity tea with chunks of fruit bobbing about.

Those who have been before always seem to suggest the “Truffle fries”. As proof, I shared them during my first visit, and then again during the second. These were your run of the mill medium cut and fried fries, seasoned with salty black truffle shavings. They were a nice snack to have as you sipped. They surprisingly held up their crispy texture, despite how long we took to eat them.

Another one recommend by those in the know is the “Mentaiko spaghetti with cream sauce”. Like everything else we had so far, it was light in flavour with an evenly coated cream. The fish roe was the highlight, offering additional texture and some salty tang. Of note, the flavour of this is pretty consistent. It tasted exactly as I remembered it from my first visit, to the return portion now. The seaweed was a fragrant accent, it added a crisp texture; while the mentaiko gave each spoonful a salty pop.

Their “Seafood with Pesto pizza” is the lightest pizza I have ever had. Airy in its thin crust and faint in its pesto flavour. The pizza overall was overly oily, which made it surprising that the broccoli topping it was able to retain its nice crisp texture. They were my favourite part, along with the shrimp and the texture of the rubbery squid.

During my second visit I had their “Pan fried squid rice casserole with squid ink sauce”. By contrast, this was almost too flavourful. There was an abundant of salt thanks to the squid ink, which also gave the dish its trendy colour. With the ink used, the shaved Parmesan on top tipped the dish over into being too salty. The steamed mussels helped to balance some of this out, along with the chopped up squid chunks hidden within the sticky rice.

The “Truffle mushroom rice” was another heavy casserole, but here, the Parmesan was able to improve the stringy earthiness of the mushrooms. Its scent and flavour was a welcomed edition, although I liked it best when mixed with the squid ink casserole above.

Their “Seafood spaghetti” is made with fresh tomato sauce. It was ordered as the only item on the menu that they could make without dairy, (for the lactose allergic one in our group). As for flavour, it was average at best, and therefore expensive at $13.50.

The “Mont-blanc honey toast” is their signature dish. Half a loaf of bread, hollowed out, then toasted before being reassembled like blocks with custard, chestnut cream, vanilla ice cream, and whole roasted chestnuts. You start by cutting the box open, it is definitely for sharing as it is fairly large. Not too sweet, with the flavour of the roasted chestnuts being the most memorable part.

Their newest dessert, the “soufflé pancake”, which was the reason of our return. They had five different flavour options to choose from, and we went for the mont-blanc. These Japanese style fluffy pancakes are the newest food trend. And although it had the texture, these weren’t as thick or as pillowy as the traditional ones from Japan. One of my guests has had the real thing during her last trip to Japan, and concluded that “Dazzling’s” didn’t stack up. None-the-less, without the same reference, I found my portion amazing. It was custard-like in its flavour and whipped smooth texture. It really didn’t need the accompanying numbers scoop of ice cream under chestnut cream, as I found it best in its own. But as is the case with most of their desserts, this too is a lot for one person to enjoy without sharing.

And seeing as our visit coincided around the time of Halloween, we also choose to share their seasonal, limited edition “Spooky chocolate honey toast”. This was the same idea as their honey toast. A loaf of bread cut down, then toasted and reassembled with plenty of chocolate ice cream. The marshmallow whipped topping looked fantastic for aesthetic, but it was something I scraped off before taking a bite. Its gooey texture didn’t help the already dry toast. A nice sticky drizzle or some melted honey over the bread would have helped in this regard.

 

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.
Overall, and across two visits I found their entrees just okay. The first couple of bites are always good, but I find that the portions get weary. Their savoury interpretations were tasty enough to finish, but it really didn’t give you any reason to be excited by it. And given the price, it isn’t something I would commute all the way out for. Expensive for what it was. If you have to visit, plan it around dessert to be more worth your time. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DAZZLING CAFE
Unit 140 – 7971 Alderbridge Way, Richmond BC, V6X 2A4
604-273-0514
Dazzling Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hopscotch Festival 2017, preview

Those who know me, know that I am not one to shy away from a drinking event. So it is odd that 2017 will only be my first year attending the “22nd Annual Hopscotch Festival”. But lucky for me, this year promises to be the largest festival of libations in the event’s history.

From Monday, November 20th to Sunday, November 26th, 2017 the “Hopscotch Festival will return to Vancouver with an expanded listing of tipples and prime pours, featuring local and international scotch. It is estimated that the event will host 7,500 aficionados of scotch, craft beer and cider, wine, cocktails, and spirits within the Grand Tasting Hall, at the PNE Forum.

And new for 2017, is the addition of an expanded roster of Special Events and Master Classes at various satellite locations throughout the city beginning on Monday, November 20 and extending to the Festival’s close on Sunday, November 26. To check out this listing visit the link below. http://www.hopscotchfestival.com/vancouver/

The main event, and the one I will be attending is the “Grand Tasting Hall”, November 24-25, 2017. As you can surmise from its name, this is a gathering of craft and premium beers, spirits from around the globe, coveted Scotches and whiskies, as well as a selection of wines, and food; all under one roof. Those attending can expect great local musicians in the event’s new lounge. And you are reminded to bring your wallets, as there will be an onsite liquor store to snag your favourite speciality label and/or limited release within.

The “grand hall” will be divided by types of liquor/spirits. And by the sounds of it, I am envisioning an adult Disneyland of sorts. A section for all that is beer related, a haven for wine lovers, an alley for those who prefer whiskey, and even a street dedicated to food; when it comes time to switch from liquids to solids.

The “Wine Garden”, will be another first for “Hopscotch”. Already coined as a paradise for grape lovers, you can expect flavorful pours of from carefully selected international and domestic wineries Across the block will be the “BC Craft Beer Pavilion”. Here, almost 130 craft beers from 25 different BC breweries will be dedicated to the largest area of the hall. In the spirits area, each section will showcase their respective category, divided between Canadian labels and those internationally enjoyed from Europe, Asia, Africa and more. Gins, rums, tequilas, vodkas, etc. The “Whisky Corner” be an event within the event; featuring over 120 whisky from Single Malt to Rye, Irish, Japanese, Bourbons and Blends.

And as the event will be running 6-10:30pm, you can pace yourself with some good food. “Restaurant Row” will feature top chefs and restaurants from across the city with a full meal’s worth of food served across many vendors. The list of restaurants include The Pawn Shop, Steel Toad, La Pentola, Dixie’s BBQ, BKH Ribs and others. And there will also be hot dogs like you’ve never had then before. Vancouver’s finest culinary talents will be offering their take on the ultimate street food at “Juno Kim’s Hot Dog Throw Down”.

I am especially excited for the life-sized cocktail art display, designed and built to create the world’s best Negroni. The “Hendrick’s Cocktail Configurator,” is the first of its kind to debut in Canada. Using “Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whisky” and featuring “Hello Monkey Trolly,” it pays tribute to iconic Hip Hop from the ’80s & ’90s.

I am really excited about this one and strongly suggest you get your tickets now. Starting at $30, they are selling down fast. So see you there; if not, come back to read and watch my recap in the weeks to come.

www.hopscotchfestival.com

Rajio, 5th year anniversary menu

Today I was at “Rajio”, getting a sneak peak at their new limited edition menu. From November 11-18, 2017 they are offering five different items at a special price to celebrate their 5th year landmark.

And this is something to get excited about. “Rajio” is one of the more unique Japanese tapas places I like to recommend, and would frequent, if it wasn’t such a drive away. But, a “try-it-before-it-goes” menu is a good enough of a reason to return.

Tasty Japanese tapas plates aside, they are iconically remembered for their feature wall of plastic masks. Popular Japanese characters in rows, back lit to have glowing eyes. Minnie with her pink dotted bow, Hello Kitty with heart shaped glasses, and Pikachu; to name the few of the cartoon icons that I don’t have to look up.

Under them were signs advertising this event in gratitude, thanking their loyal patrons for the landmark years. This limited edition menu of six items is for them. And during this week of celebrating they will also be handing out prizes. All guests will be invited to participate in a lottery-draw on their app. Like a Japanese style roulette where there will be surprises to be won.

Before we begin: 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.

This is steamed chicken rolled and stuffed with a mix of cream cheese, shiso leaves, and truffles. The meat was served cold, a temperature you need to be use to and prepared for, if you are to enjoy this. It comes with two different sauces to add some flavour. A sweet chilli and a green onion mixture, the latter was reminiscent of Taiwanese chicken. I enjoyed the taste and the tacky nature of the cream cheese centre. Overall, a unique starter to go back to again for more.

This sashimi platter typically comes with two of each of the following pieces of raw seafood. However, during this occasion it would come with three pieces of each, 15 in total at $15.80. Three pieces of Yellow tail, three of Albacore tuna, three Sockeye salmon, three slices of Squid, and three chunks of Snow crab. All together everything was fresh and the plate was quickly and easily scrapped clean.

Next was the “Beef cutlet set” breaded and fried beef served over a beet and greens salad with an olive oil dressing, and homemade steak sauce. I liked the texture of the beef with its crispy wrap. It was balanced by the tangy refreshing nature of the vegetables. So well dressed that not a leaf was left on the plate.

Next we had Yellow tail pressed sushi. I liked the tender fish over the chew rice. Shame I couldn’t get past the strong taste of shiso sandwiched in the middle of the rice patty. I found it over powering and distracting from the gentle nature of the fish.

The Beef short rib with balsamic vinegar glaze was amazing. It smelled terrific and followed through on its flavour. Tender strings of meat that you just wanted to dip generously into and scoop up gravy with.

And the one I recommmed is their Sea urchin and oyster fried rice. There was no hiding the uni in this. And despite how little of it there seemed to be, there was plenty to scent and fully flavour the rice once you mix it all up. I just wanted another texture to chew through. A piece meat or some more shredded vegetables?

And not on their 5th anniversary menu, but one of their most popular Osaka soul food dishes, is their “Kushi Katsu”. These are battered crispy meat and vegetables on sticks that you dip into sauce with. Here we shared a mushroom, shrimp, egg plant, hot dog and pork skewer.

And naturally, seeing as this was a celebration, this evening they also featured their signature fruit cocktails and a flight of sake to mark the occasion. These and the hip hop and top 40 club hits helped to keep the energy of the room jovial.

Their spiked fresh fruit served whole is a crowd pleaser. A hollowed out pineapple or watermelon, juiced then mixed with vodka and topped with slices of citrus fruit. Each delivered on its promise of the fruit it was served in. This would be the only way you could get such tropical drinks throughout the year.

For more on Rajio and their decor and regular menu, check out my original visit post.
http://vieamaggi.com/rajio-japanese-public-house/

 

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.
Still a great place I would recommend, and even more so during this event. Don’t deny your cravings

 

RAJIO
3763 W. 10th Avenue, Vancouver BC, V6R2G7
604-558-1679
rajiopublichouse.com

Chatime, Fairview

“Chatime” is a glowbal teahouse brand, originating from Taiwan. They are well known for their shaken, churned, and blended bubble tea and tea related drinks. And in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, this franchise has made a boom. Like with “Starbucks”, you can pretty much find one location in every major area. And like the coffee mongrel, these shops have devoted fans flocking to them as soon as they open at 11am daily, staying till when they close around 11pm.

They are popular because all of the teas that they use are brewed fresh in store, and of a fine quality. That and the ability to customize any of their drinks just the way you like. With each beverage you can select how much sugar or cream goes into your cup. You can even nitpick on the quantity of ice that is used to chill it.

I had recently downloaded their rewards-based app, which gifted me a complimentary drink. So today, I was eager to redeem those points. I trekked down to the nearest “Chatime” location, by my workplace. Their trademark purple marked the spot.

I checked online and approached the cafe, reading that they were open at 11am. I had scheduled my break around this time to ensure the shortest wait, when they first opened for the day. I was planning on ordering six beverages and didn’t want to hold anyone up. All this, to find out that their doors were still locked. This is despite the sign in the window reading “open: 11am”. And the fact that I called the night before to confirm their start time. A poster outside invited customers to order over the phone. I heeded its suggestion and called in twice, and both times it went straight to voice mail.

By 11:10am there were two of us waiting outside, by 11:15am six individuals, and by 11:20am eight people across five different groups/pairings/solos. I guess purple needed their shaken drink fix first thing before lunch.

So there we were, we stood silently waiting for the man with the turned baseball cap to acknowledge us. He continued to work feverishly to prep his day, as he met our furrowed brows. He eventually did let us in, explaining that their company policy was to not open up for business until there were two employees staffed to handle the workload. It looked like his colleague was late. His explanation made me sympathetic, we have all been there. From here everyone was willing to wait. They understood that he was on his own, and would need to take and process each drink order before making it.

I always find bubble tea menus overwhelming and “Chatime’s” was no difference. Their store front and counter side bombarded you with options and choices. How is one to choose? And is trying something new or different worth the gamble if you didn’t like the first sip.

Given that they have an upcoming promotion in November, I decided to order from their mousse/tea-latte series to take advantage of it. They had six different types of sweet drinks to pair with their savoury mousse topping. I was going to make my six, one of each flavour. But they only had enough of the premade mousse for three cups, so I had to narrow my choice down to three. I simply went for their most popular three: black tea, matcha, and chocolate. The mousse and its hint of salt highlighted the sweetened flavours of the above. It is best when you stir the mousse thoroughly in, this way you get an even blend and sip.

And between November 10-12, 2017, every “Chatime” BC mousse drink purchase benefits the “Movember Foundation”. Where the first 100 customers to post a mousse moustache selfie during this time, gets another one for free. A good way to treat a friend, or try a flavour you otherwise might not have, if you had to pay for it.

For those unfamiliar, “Movember” is the month that brings attention to men’s health issues like prostate and testicular cancer. For more details and how you can participate, aside from growing a moustache, check out the Movember website: https://ca.movember.com/.

For my other three drinks I went for the very trendy blue drinks made butterfly pea flower tea. Its advertisement attracted my attention walking in. The photo showed a series of bold and opaque sky blue drinks. But what I got was a translucent dark purple liquid, hinging on black. I was disappointed by its appearance, but at least the flavour held up. Butterfly pea flower really doesn’t have a taste, whatever you mix with it, is the flavour you get.

I went for the one with grapefruit, another with mango, and the last with green tea mixed in. The differences in liquids were clear given the blocks of colour visible through the plastic cup.

 

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.
I find the experience in any “Chatime location” is consistent from one shoppe to the next. They are your staple for bubble tea and other tea and milk based drinks, juices, or slushes. And now there is an even better reason to visit and purchase a mousse latte from
Them between November 10-12, 2017. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

CHATIME
1545 West Broadway, Vancouver BC
778-379-7711
Chatime Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

ZenStone, latte art classes

I am already a fan of “ZenStone Coffee, I like the whimsy available in their drinks and the glamour in their house made desserts. So when I was invited to their first ever latte art class, this Sunday morning; I gathered a group of my foodie friends and made myself available for the occasion. This would be another activity that I got to check off my foodie bucket list: trying my hand at latte art.

But before we get into the class itself, read up on the cafe in more detail with my original visit post below.

Zenstone Coffee

 

The class is available to those who RSVP, on select Sundays at 10am, this before they open to the public. However, currently the class is only taught in Mandarin, given their interested clientele and their location within Richmond. We participated and I was able to follow along well enough with my grade 12 equivalent Mandarin skills. My hope is that with enough interest they will offer several more sessions, with English speaking ones available as well.

There were a few demonstrations by our barista teacher, followed by attempts from the class. Each try included a playback and commentary on how that individual could have improved. We weren’t shown how to steep the coffee grounds or steam the whole milk. We were just given what we needed to combine the two in drinkable art. I went first and set the pace of progress to follow. Everyone opted to go later or last, in order to learn as much as they could from the mistakes of others.

Despite following the clear instructions on how to swirl my decanter of steamed milk into a tilted cup of espresso, it didn’t go well for me. I poured close to the surface in order to create a separation of milk form over coffee, but was only able to get a little white in brown. It was harder then it looked, and we weren’t even trying to make a shape. I was just looking to get a substantial blob and I only got what I thought very loosely resembled a pony. You had the opportunity to try again, but at this point there were so many cups of coffee made and left un-drank, that I couldn’t bare to let another of my failed attempts go waste.

But overall a very fun way to spend Sunday morning: something new to learn and an activity worth trying to say that you have.

And since we were already here, we were also given a taste of their newest menu item. But before I get into that: 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.

These were “Pocket sandwiches”. Pressed slices of sweet Asian style bread filled with a variety of sweet and savoury ingredients. Tonight we had just the former.

The first was pressed full of marshmallow whip, Nutella, and Oreo cookie crumbs. Despite the line up, it wasn’t all that sweet or heavy. It was a nice snack and a great dessert to pair with coffee or tea.

By comparison the green tea version could have used more spread and more condense milk. Almonds were included for crunch, but I wasn’t able to make out any of. A little bit of everything more could have been welcomed. Or even some red bean with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for some extra flavour.

Sadly we didn’t have the time to try more. During this visit I learned that all their perfectly crafted and delicately encased patisseries were made in house. Like these Halloween theme fondant ghosts and pumpkins that were available Halloween weekend, and used as add-ons to any of their aforementioned desserts.

 

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.
“ZenStone” jut gave me another reason to drive all the way out in their direction. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ZENSTONE
1131-8328 Capstan Way, Richmond BC, V6X 4B6
604-238-9688

Eat! Vancouver 2017 preview

This is “EAT! Vancouver” 15th year. And the city’s favourite Food + Cooking Festival has grown exponentially over all those years. It is more than just an exhibition hall of vendors, as it once was. Back then I simply associated the occasion with vendors offering samples and showcasing new products, as they sold their wares to industry professionals. Since then “Eat! Vancover” now spans across seasons and features all things food related. From seminar talks to cooking courses, and even long table dinners, as is the case for this weekend’s festivities.

Currently it is running from November 6th to the 11th, featuring culinary collaborations from award-winning chefs, all across Canada and the United States. Local thought-leading professionals coming together to bring event goers delicious meals and tasty treats, all in support of “Project CHEF”.

“Project CHEF is a curriculum-based school program aimed at children from kindergarten to grade seven”. It teaches students about healthy food, starting from the root. Where does food come from? What does healthy food taste like? And how they can prepare and then share such food themselves. The goal is to give children the opportunity to learn how to cook and to contribute to their household at an earlier age. Here, they are learning skills from preparation to clean-up. The hope is that they discover the pleasure and satisfaction in creating meals, and are able to make similar healthy food choices, for themselves, at home.

This fall season’s events include a few dinner series, as listed below. Tickets may still be available if you act quick. So check out the link. http://eat-vancouver.com/

 

I was invited to and will be attending the “Eat! Harvest”. Where, I be covering the following menu in the days to come.

“EAT! Harvest” on November 10th, 2017 from 7-10pm. The menu features courses from the following chefs, representing their restaurant. The promise is a meal as unique as they are, while following cohesively from plate to plate.

Amanda Cohen, Dirt Candy (NYC)
Shanghai Shoots with Fermented Black Bean Bagna Cauda
Carl Heinrich, Richmond Station (Toronto)
Pork and Rabbit Pâté
Dave Mottershall, LOKA (Toronto)
Nduja Sausage
Jeff Kang, Canis (Toronto)
Cured Tuna Tarte
Makoto Ono, Mak n Ming (Vancouver)
Chicken Liver Mousse on a Savoury Cake
Nick Nutting, Wolf in the Fog (Tofino)
Ling Cod Cheek with Pine Mushroom & Wild Rice

 

“EAT! Pastry” is on November 11th, 2017 from 2-5pm. It will include the following offerings from lower mainland and Montreal Chefs.

Aaron Surman, 49th Parallel (Vancouver)
Chocolate Sourdough Doughnuts
Adam Chandler, Beta5 (Vancouver)
Douglas Fir Cream Puffs
Patrice Demers, Patrice Patissier (Montreal)
Maple sugar and buckwheat financier
Steve Hodge, Temper Chocolate Pastry (West Vancouver)
Matcha Yuzu Cake
Thierry Busset, Thierry (Vancouver)
Opera Cake and Coconut Chocolate Truffles

The rest are on the evening of November 9th, 2017. The hard part is to choose jut the one you wish to attend.

The popular “Beta5 Expert Class” on Chocolate and Pastry makes its return November 9th, 2017 at 7pm. For $125 per person you will learn pastry making tips from top chocolatier and pastry chefs Adam Chandler from “Beta5” and Montreal’s Patrice Demers of “Patrice Patissier”.

 

Also on November 9th, across two seatings at 5:30pm or 8:30pm is the “Mak n Ming Meets Winnipeg’s deer + almond” dinner. At $135 per ticket you get to enjoy a Japanese-French fusion dinner at “Mak n Ming”. Which was recently named Top 4 in Canada’s Best New Restaurants’ list by “Air Canada”. On this night, they will be collaborating with “Winnipeg’s deer + almond” for a multi-course meal like no other.

 

“Chicha hosts Fairmont Chateau Whistler” is also on November 9th, 2017 at 7pm. The $105 fee awards you a five-course meal with wine pairings from chef Shelome Bouvette and Whistler’s chef Isabel Chung.

 

“Campagnolo hosts St. John’s Todd Perrin from Mallard Cottage” on November 9th, 2017 at 7pm. The $135 ticket gives you a rare taste of Newfoundland, here on the West Coast, across this multi course dinner. It too includes wine pairings.

 

And at “The Granville Room” on November 8th, 2017 they are presenting a multi-course dinner featuring tequila. “Tequila, tequila and a multi-course dinner” would be $75 well spent. Here, you dine and learn about exclusive, small-batch tequilas with Trevor Kallies, beverage director of Donnelly Group. As as their reputation proceeds them, the folks at “Donnelly” know their drinks.

 

So with limited seatings and a limited releases you best get your tickets fast. And remember this is all for a good cause, you are eating to be altruistic!

And if you are attending the “Harvest” dinner on Friday, I will see you then.

Of note, these photos do not belong to me, as I have yet to take any. Stay tuned for the recap post to come, which will include my thoughts and photos!

 

 

EAT! VANCOUVER

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Louis Gervais Fine Foods & Catering Bistro

This evening I drove all the way to North Vancouver for a long table meal at “Louis Gervais'” cafe and catering workspace; and it was worth the effort.

Here I got to learn a little more about the Chef behind the business. How he originally hails from Montreal, and has accumulated over 40 years of experience. He moved to Vancouver when he was 20 to help open the “Wedgewood Hotel” as an executive sous chef. And rest of his resume was as impressive, working in several well known kitchens and winning a few culinary competitions here and there.

Currently he and his team operate a bistro, feeding the surrounded office spaces for breakfast and lunch. This space includes with it a view that faces out towards the water in the distance. It makes them a unique destination worth driving to.

Today’s tasting menu would be a true reflection of the French, Swiss and, Spanish influences in his cooking. With a focus on quality of ingredients, identified through the different organic suppliers that they employ.

We were seated around a long table, dressed in a white table cloth with matching napkins, along with all the accompanying glasses and cutlery needed for a fine five course dinner. But first, we were given the ability to mix and mingle like one does at the beginning of any classy dinner party.

To start, servers brought around platters of hors d’oeuvre to drum up our appetites. And 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 “Peanut crusted schezuan chicken strips” wrapped in a cucumber ribbon, with a gochujang glaze was definitely a feast for the eyes. However, the chicken meat itself was dry, having missed the cucumber or any of the aforementioned sauce. It would have been nice to have more of the glaze on the side to use as a dip to perk things up.

I really enjoyed the taste and the aesthetic of the “Beef carpaccio in a pecorino nest”. Although I took in more cheese than the carpaccio or the Dijon aioli and fresh capers it was topped with.

The “Scallop ceveche” served on endive leaves with lime caviar, would have been more ideal at the start. A light ramp up the the heavier flavours before it, in order to not have it so muted now. Although it did also work as a palette refresher for the rest of our sit down meal to come.

Everything was prepared family style for us to dole out ourselves, as their casserole dishes were past along.

The “Nova Scotia lobster grilled cheese on sourdough bread” was an exciting start. Add lobster to any comfort food and you have the best of both worlds. A rich and creamy seafood cream on crispy bread is pure perfection.

I also really liked the “Battered curried cauliflower”, served with a scallion mint yogurt dip. There was plenty of this to go around, allowing me to bite into crispy batter to my heart’s content. I can safely say the texture is consistent piece to piece. The curry, always an accent, well balanced by the cooling and refreshing cream yogurt dip.

The “Spanish cod escabeche” was a beautifully done dish. Mediterranean capsicum vera Pasilla pepper and olive ragout, served with truffled black linguini. It was clear that the buttery cod was the star of the plate. The sauce was just light enough to highlight it, with the linguini offering each bite some chew.

But the “Saffron brioche crusted lamb chops in vert jus bourbon broth” won my favour in presentation and taste. The lamb was perfectly prepared. Well crusted and chewy meat to rip off of bone. Highlighted by the contrast of the sweet squash that was easy to scoop soften spoonfuls of, from its oven baked rind. Just writing this now has my mouth watering.

And there was no better way to end the comforting decadence above that with this twist on bread pudding. Once again a familiar classic was taken up a notch, here with the use of croissant. “White chocolate croissant pudding”. The portion was baked in a casserole dish, then scooped out and drizzled over with warm caramel. It was on the sweeter side with a rich finish to keep you satisfied.

 

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.
There isn’t much I would recommend driving out to North Vancouver for, so after this meal Louis Gervais certainly crowns my list. The bistro closes at 4pm, where they are then able to host private dinners, such as the one we enjoyed, for smaller groups. They also cater occasions and weddings, driving as far out as Whistler to do so. So for Canadian comfort on a plate, look no further. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOUIS GERVAIS
850 Harbourside Drive, North Vancouver BC, V7P3T7
604-904-7720
louisgervaiscatering.com
Louis Gervais Fine Foods & Catering Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Halloween 2017: Boat Cruise

This Halloween, the girls and I wanted to do something different to celebrate the occasion. And when searching through all the venues to spend our time at, we happened upon an advert for a Halloween themed boat cruise. At the time it seemed like a good idea, although we would soon regret our then unanimous decision.

This was the “Pier Pressure Vancouver Titanic Masquerade”. The poster was appealing and its title a clever pun”, but overall very misleading given what we actually experienced. We got the two DJs across two floors, but the third floor was the deck; and it came with no seats, no heat, and entertainment. As for “amazing” it was more like meh.

We bought our tickets fairly early, then costing us $50 each, after taxes. And once again, at the time we thought it was a good deal. Take that and add on to it the price of our costumes, and you have yourself a very pricy event. A night for which we didn’t feel like we got our money’s worth for.

We decided to do a group costume, a pack of Crayola branded crayons in green, blue, and pink. With tunic dresses, knee high socks, and a pointed hat. Sadly we had a purple crayon too, but she at the end wasn’t able to join our pack. Surprisingly we garnered a lot of attention for our efforts, many found our costumes creative.

We boarded the boat at the dock behind the Plaza of Nations on Pacific Blvd. Check-in was at 9pm. Those who purchased a VIP ticket for more got first entry onto the boat and a larger glow stick after they checked in. Each ticket includes a strobing light stick, a rod you can wear around your neck. Where pushing its button causes a series of different led lights within to blink in blue, green, red, and/or white; at different speeds or different intervals. But this was short lived. By its packaging it looked like something you could get from the dollar store, and it made sense given how long it lasted and the number of times we had to strike it against our palms to have it start flashing again.

We were one of the earlier arrivals, taking to heart the firm check-in time and that the boat was suppose to launch right at 10pm. It was more like 10:30pm with everyone who sauntered aboard after 10pm. Although in hindsight this was for the best. The night seemed to drag on, and here we were stuck on this sea fairing barge, with no where to go. The cruise was until 1pm, without the possibility of un-boarding anytime before. Our boat sailed to the middle of the water, with no buildings nearby, and only faint specks of light in the distance. It would have been a great place to launch fireworks off of, given our location and privacy. This would have been a nice accent to the cruise, had organizers thought to put more effort into things.

Instead the $1 glow stick was the highlight of the evening (a side from the company I kept of course). Event organizers didn’t even think to decorate the place. Not a single cotton ball stretched spiderweb in place. Not a single rubber rat or an orange jack-o-lantern to set the mood. You couldn’t tell it was Halloween if not for us patrons in costumes. The staff checking us in didn’t even dress up, neither did any of the DJs, and only one of the men behind the bar did, out of five. A disappointing show with very little effort overall.

Each floor had white cloth tables to gather around, but no real resting places. VIP ticket holders had a lounge that was separated off. An open place with couches, but the same lack of decor as everywhere else. Towards the end of the night this became the waiting room that everyone congregated at, VIP or not. Which proved that the additional fee for a VIP ticket was not worth it. By 11:30pm, this sectioned off lounge area became a place for us and everyone to ride out the rest of the night at. Away from the music and the bar, where we lingered and like others, chatted amongst ourselves. A few individuals even found the event so dull that they were able to take a nap, propping their backs against the wall. I would have taken a seat beside them had I not watched one of the bartenders pause his work behind the bar, to scrub vomit from off the carpeted floor in this very area. He eventually gave up, then covering his failed effort under a side table.

On each floor was a bar by the dance floor. It offered the usual highballs and beers by the bottle. We kept it vodka cranberry for $7 singles and $11 doubles. Pretty pricy given that there really isn’t anything else to do on the boat, after your initial dozen selfies. I did expect a complimentary welcome glass at least.

So trapped and with nothing else to do, your only course of action was to drink. But there wasn’t enough bars or staff to work them. Lines were unorganized and pushing necessary. With pricing and poor operations, they were making it hard to get your buzz on. In hind sight, we should have stopped somewhere else first and pre drank for cheap. As a business minded individual, I couldn’t help but imagine how much more money they could have and would have made if they were able to keep up with demand, or offer bottle service to tables willing to commit.

Although after two trips to the washroom I called it quits on the drinking. Being tipsy to enhance my experience wasn’t worth waiting in queue for some of the most disgusting facilities I have ever encountered. Even as one of the first people to use them, I found the washrooms on this boat sub par. Given the expected use of these facilities throughout a 3 hour cruise with heavy drinking, I was pretty disappointed to see an out of service sign, barring a stall. Each stall on each floor was grimy, and would only get worse as the night wore on, and the women started to drink and needed the help of their friend in the stall with them. They increased the wait, needing a friend to get them in and out of their costumes and again during the actual urinating process. I can’t imagine being close enough to another person to give them access to such intimacy. Overall it was a very undesirable situation to have to repeatedly put yourself in. So stopping the flow of liquid into by mouth seemed like the best course of action.

For those hungry, they did offer food, which you could order at the bar. Though given the look of the place and how disappointing everything was up to this point, the food didn’t felt like a gamble, but a guarantee that it would be bad. I thought it best to funnel any money spent on this ship towards another drink instead.

As for the dance floor, the music was okay. But without proper ventilation, lowered ceilings, and with all the bodies in close proximity to one another, this became a less than pleasant scenario quick. Sweaty and smelly bodies shoulder to shoulder. Though, luckily retreat was only as close as the exit to the deck. But once again, there was nothing to do on this empty space. You leaned on the railings and stared out into the darkness of the night. With no chairs and without your coat, your time here was short lived.

And then there was the crowd. This really wasn’t the venue to come, if your goal is to meet new people. Everyone was with their pair or group, and pretty much stuck to themselves.

In short this is an event I would never attend again, or recommend. In fact I would deter from any boat related events going forward. This was just so underwhelming. 30 minutes into the night, and we were already planning on just hitting up a bar instead next year. Absolutely disappointing. I wish I had to miss it like the “purple crayon” did.

The Holy Crab’s Monster Roll Challenge

My first visit to the “Holy Crab” was for their grand opening celebrations. Then, they were joining the list of seafood boil restaurants on the rise, due to the popularity of this food trend. Their’s a Louisiana style boil. And where we have seen some such restaurants come and go, “Holy Crab” has persisted. They have done so by reinventing themselves, taking on customer feedback, and offering updates and variety to their menu. Not just seafood to crack open and eat with your hands, but a bevy of fried favourites and sandwiches to sink your teeth in to. So now I was back again, to try the newest addition to their ever evolving menu: a food challenge a glutton like me couldn’t ignore.

But before we get in to that, to read what the “Holy Crab” is all about in more detail; and to get my first blush impressions of their decor and food overall, check out my original post below.

Holy Crab

 

This is the “Holy Crab’s Monster Roll challenge”, a true a test of your stomach, now on for a limited time. Starting on October 31st, 2017, and available all November long; you can face this beast with a friend.

You partner up to take down 5lbs of seafood stuffed into a 36inch bun. And if that doesn’t sound hard enough, you have to do it in under 5 minutes to be deemed successful. Each pair is responsible for their half, with no help from the other. Luckily it sounds delicious. Certainly something I would order normally, if in manageable sections.

Half the fun, and part of the intimidation is watching the sandwich get layered before your very eyes. The bun is spread open and stuffed full with layers of seafood and vegetables, then finished off with rich sauces. All of which are available on their own, or as part of another dish, off their regular menu.

First their vegetable mix goes in. Chopped up coloured peppers, onion, garlic, and mushroom in lobster oil.

Followed by their deep fried fish fingers and their signature seafood sauce. For the latter you had your choice of spiciness. I would go for the mild to be not distracted with a burning tongue. This is the only variation, otherwise there are no substitutions allowed.

Next baby shrimp followed by a topping of shredded crab meat.

Then more battered and deep fried seafood: soft shell crab and calamari. Before another layer of the vegetable mix, this time with a healthy drizzle of the lobster oil to crown it.

And lastly, a squeeze drizzle of mayonnaise and one of their house made cajun sauce to finish it off.

There are no reservations needed for this challenge. It is open to any willing contestant of 18 years or older. Although only five “Monster Rolls” will be made per day, and they will be awarded to those interested in a “First Come First Serve” basis. Available  Monday to Sunday during their regular opening hours: Monday to Friday from 5 to 10 pm, weekends from 11:30 am to 11 pm.

The roll costs you $75 an attempt. Those who complete it in under 5 minutes will have this fee waved and earn themselves a $25 gift card to the restaurant, each. If you don’t, you get the $75 bill and the joy of doggy bagging what you don’t finish for later, to actually enjoy then.

You are able to take the challenge multiple times. But the $75 will be charged each time, if one of the team members isn’t able to finish their half within the 5 minute time frame.

Though the goal is to not only finish in the allotted time, but to be the fastest team of two to finish. The ultimate speed winners of the month long challenge with earn themselves a $300 gift card to “The Holy Crab” to share. Although you may need a break in between visits. The winning team will be announce once the challenge wraps up on December 1st, 2017. As of my visit, their leader board was full of names of pairs who have finished, but all well after the allotted time. The first at 7 plus minutes; the last, at over 18.

To start, you sign the necessary liability waivers and have the rules read out to you.

This was indeed a “Monster”. I have never seen something so long and continuous, it had my heart racing in fear and excitement. It looked delicious, but sadly I would not be able to enjoy it, seeing as the goal was to eat it all as quickly as possible.

The monster roll is cut in half, and when you get the signal, the time ticks down for you and your dining mate. Once again you are only responsible for eating your own half. Helping your partner leads you both to disqualification. But you have an unlimited number of water and/or soda to help you along the way. Just let your server know what you need, before the competition starts.

To watch how it all went down, check out my recap on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Much like all the other food challenges I have taken to date. I knew coming up to this one the main hurdle would be the monotonous taste to come. Food is best in smaller portions, that leave you wanting more. So the first few bites were be filled with “mmmm’s” and “yummms”, but the ones to follow would be a struggle to suppress my gag reflex, let alone swallow.

And as a textural eater the same taste and the same consistency would have me hurling well before I was actually full. My strategy for avoiding this was to mix things up. I would split my portion into half. Then starting with the creamy seafood of one half, followed by the soggy bread of the other. Then finally moving to the last half to eat as it’s attended whole. I would have cola to change the taste with ketchup to do the same. And then water to swallow when I couldn’t chew and do so for myself. I went in to this optimistically, but threw the well conceived game plan out the window when it actually came down to it.

Once again, I won’t spoil if for you here. Watch my video then try this for yourself! Remember you only have until November 30th to see if you are up to the challenge of taking down this “Monster!”. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HOLY CRAB
1588 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-661-8533
theholycrab.ca

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