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

Month: March 2018 Page 1 of 3

Miku x Mitsubishi Dinner

Drive your ambition, an intimate dinner hosted by Mitsubishi at Miku.

On this night I was invited down to “Miku” for dinner. This was “Mitsubishi’s” first event in Vancouver, and they certainly did as intended: to hit things off with a bang. They invited media and influencers like myself to get to know their brand a little more intimately.

We gathered in one of “Miku’s” private rooms that gave us a spectacular view of Canada Place and its colourfully lit sails. The privacy of the room, and its ability to keep the noise of the rest of the rambunctious restaurant chatter out, was ideal in allowing us to absorb the information below.

“Mitsubishi” was founded over 140 years ago, having celebrating their 100 years trademark celebration last year. And during the last century they have dabbled in banking, salmon farming, airline production, and even beer. “Kirin” is a Mitsubishi company, which also happened to be what we were drinking this evening.

You may not known all of the above, or have heard much about “Mitsubishi” in general, given that they are much smaller in Canada. However, as part of the “Renault-Nissian-Mitsubishi Alliance”, they are one of the fastest growing vehicle manufacturers in the world; and one of the global leaders of electric vehicles. In the next 10 years they are looking to add 40 new vehicles to their combined fleets. Starting with the two below, that are featured at thus year’s Vancouver International Auto Show.

First is the “Outlander PHEV”, the world’s best selling plug-in hybrid SUV. It is the only plug-in hybrid SUV with 4WD in 100% electric mode. They call this a “game-changer” because there is no other affordable SUV on the market, until the “Outlander PHEV”.

Next was the all new 2018 “Eclipse Cross”, which they deem an “accumulation of Mitsubishi Motors’ successes in SUV, technology, and super all-wheel control”. I would later see both in person at the Vancouver Auto Show, so have included those photos here.

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When it comes to a dinner where I was invited as media, 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.

Now on to the 10 course meal below: Almost each course came with a sake pairing, but we were also treated to a few of “Miku’s” signature cocktails.

“Nightshade” was a creamy purple drink made from dragon fruit liquor, yuzu, vanilla extract, house blend of bitters, and egg white. It tasted more like its name than its candy coloured hue. It was herbaceous like liquorice, with a hint of grapefruit and mint.

The “Miyazaki #2” is a fruity cocktail made witj Havana Club seven year rum, ginger liqueur, mango purée, and a basil citrus foam. It lasted like mango purée in a cocktail format. More sweet dessert than alcoholic beverage.

The “Koyo” cocktail tasted like a tea based sangria made with Kunizakari tea umeshu, sparkling wine, sparkling water, and cherry cedar bitters. It was light and refreshing like a spritzer flavoured with apricot.

Our first course was an “Aburi sashimi selection”. A trio of sashimi, flame seared and dressed with their signature sauces. Perfectly crafted so that there is no need for an extra side of soya sauce. Unfortunately I did not catch the entire run down of the dish, so won’t be able to list it below or use it to give you much context on what it was, that I was enjoying so contently. But they were perfect. Each morsel harmoniously satisfying. Light, yet full of flavour. Simple yet complex. Each, a very satisfying cut of fish with a little bit of freshness from greens and veggies, and some tang from the dressings.

Next was the “Kaiseki Zensai”, a selection of seven seasonal items, served in their unique arita-yaki plate. The “plate” was actually a box with lid, stacked with several compartments. It was hand painted and flown in from a specific region of Japan, to be used exclusively by “Miku”. The containers themselves cost the restaurant $4k for 30 units.

It was suggested that we start with the oysters from chef’s creek first. Fresh oysters with wasabi chimichurri and/or a citrus mango salsa. Next, we were directed to move on to the mussels fully cooked in white wine and a kaffir lime mignonette. And finally the one prawn cocktail with a ginger cocktail sauce. The assembly was some of the freshest I have had. The added ingredients and sauces didn’t take away from the natural flavour of the seafood being highlighted.

The next layer too went from lightest to heaviest in flavour. The “Octopus ceviche” included shiso, edamame, tomato, and an yuzu olive dressing. The pieces of octopus were plentiful, you got a bit of its tell-a-tale chew in every spoon.

The “Wagyu beef carpaccio” was authentically from Japan. It was dressed minimally to best showcase its 5A grading. Prepared with micro greens and wasabi masatake to add some pepperiness to it. The meat was not as fatty as I thought, or would have imagined.

The “Stable fish” was buttery and flakey. It was flown in from Alaska, and marinated in miso for 24 hours, with the goal to have it melt in your mouth. And in that they succeeded. This and everything else was just the right curated amount to leave you wanting just that little bit more.

The “Pan seared hokkaido scallop” was paired with shichimi chicharron, and miso pineapple bacon chutney. With its pop-y flavours this was my favourite item of the box. The scallop was perfectly prepared with a great sear that candied the edges.

Our main was the most decadent surf and turf I have ever had. It brought together a lobster tail with more wagyu beef. The aburi lobster tail was lightly torched and seasoned with a cayenne tomato aioli. Still a slightly bit raw, the lobster meat was so smooth and so tasty with creamy cheese sauce. It truly melted in your mouth. Not unlike the pinky Japanese wagyu beef with seasonal vegetables and cilantro gremolata. The tender meat paired nicely with the firm vegetables. Once again, despite how small the portion may have looked, everything offered up was of the perfect quantity. The serving was enough to give you a full taste, yet keep you wanting more.

And a visit to “Miku” wouldn’t be the same without some sushi. “Miku’s signature sushi selection” included the Chef’s selection of Aburi oshi, roll, and nigiri. “Miku” is best known as the restaurant that popularized aburi in Canada. Like the sashimi above, I was unable to get a better description of what was what. But like our first course, this dish used some of the freshest fish and beef I have ever had atop of rice. Once again each pieces was intentionally crafted so that you needn’t dip it into any soy sauce for additional flavouring.

The chef’s selection of dessert was a green tea cake. It had a wonderful sharp flavouring, not too sweet but well balanced, as a great taste to end the night on.

As for the sake pairings we were treated to the following:

The “Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo” was incredibly smooth, the perfect sake for those who don’t like to drink, it went down like flavoured water.

The “Yauemon shuawa junmai daiginjo” is a sparkling nigori. It is carbonated, so it is suggested that you tip it, but not shake it, before the bottle is opened. This is to mix the rice to the top of the bottle.

Dessert was paired with the “Gold omachi junmai daiginjo”, the sake with the golden label, which falls under the super premium category of sake. It must always be served cold, as it is best to enjoy this sake as you do white wine. It was sweet and strong.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I would love to be able to frequent “Miku”, however they definitely fall under the category of luxury eating, and special occasion dining. So to be given the opportunity to indulge like this is a treat. The night couldn’t have been better. Great food and great company in a one of a kind setting, paired with a view like no other; who could ask for more? Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MIKU
200 Granville Street, Vancouver BC, V6C 1S4
604-568-3900
mikurestaurant.com

PlayDome at BC Place 2018

PlayDome is the traveling carnival that sets up shop within Vancouver’s BC Place, once a year. It typically coincides with our province’s spring break or, as in this year’s case: Easter Long Weekend. From Wednesday, March 28th through to Monday, April 2nd fair-lovers young and old can enjoy all their favourite rides, carnival games, and sticky treats right inside the bubble of BC Place.

The venue offers parents and childcare providers a safe place to take kids to. An indoor activity that will keep them occupied for hours on end. Being located within the stadium means it is out of the elements, so rain or shine you are guaranteed a good time. Plus it helps to bridge the colder tempatures and the longing of sun, by offering something to do that is synonymous with warmer weather, during a typically cold and rainy Vancouver weekend.

For my guests and myself, it allowed four grown adults a taste of our childhood again; as we ate our fill in sugary sweets, then made ourselves dizzy with tipsy topsy amusement rides. We rode the merry-go-round a handful of times, played Mario Kart at the Nintendo tent, and took advantage of all the photo ops the photogenic setting provided.

We went on a few of the rides, like the strawberry that allowed you to spin yourself sick, the ferris wheel for its overlooking view; and the giant slide that centred the entire park in blue, yellow, and pink. We were ambitious in thinking we could do it all, but did end up testing our metal on a few more adventurous rides as well.

 

To watch us scream and cry, and to see all that we eat to console ourselves; check out the vlog version of our escapades on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

PlayDome is marketed as an event for the entire family. Children under 2 are admitted for free. And there is even a “Spectator Guest Pass” for guardians who choose to simply accompany children as they ride on a limited number of rides. Tickets are cheaper if you buy them ahead of time, online. Online, the Dome Pass is $29.95; it will cost you $33.35 for the same full day access to all the carnival rides, when you purchase in person. We went the opening night and found that we barely had to wait for anything, given the lack of attendees.

We had dinner there, so worked our way through several courses of carnival fare: starting with savorury. From the “Gourmet Fries” shop you can pick up corn dogs, regular hot dogs, french fries, and chips they call “ribbon fries”. Each is available plain or topped with gravy, chilli, or nacho cheese and sour cream. You can also save some money by dressing any of the above yourself, using their self serve bar of condiments to the side. Available is the standard mustard, ketchup, relish; plus white and yellow cheddar powder, dill pickle flavouring, barbecue seasonings, etc.

This is their “Ribbon Fries” in “the works”. The chips are pre-fried and stacked high on a cardboard dish. Though sadly, the dish is indented, so you don’t actually get as many chips as you think. Although who really needs a dinner plate worth of chips to eat themselves? The dressing choice makes them more like nachos, prepared using plain potato chips instead of the tortilla variety.

These are your standard corn dogs, battered in corn bread and fried to a crisp. Each is coated with a thick shell of sweet and salty breading that you have to chew through, to hit salted pork tube meat. The corn dog gets its flavour from how you decide to dress it.

The “Apples, Cotton Candy, and Sno-Kones” booth is pretty self explanatory. Though they also offer slices of apple with a caramel sauce for dipping. I can’t imagine how the employees felt, but I liked how each concession stand was built with 360 degrees of glass. This allowed you to look into their operations. And as a foodie, there is nothing more gratifying than watching your food be made. Especially if it is popcorn being popped or cotton candy being flossed and bagged.

As for each of the traditional carnival treats themselves, they tasted exactly as how you would expect them too. Sour and sweet, carmel covering a tart green apple. Airy and salty kernels of popped corn. And a giant bag of fluffy sugar that melted in your mouth.

Our favourite was the “Elephant Ears”. They looked like the “beaver tails” and/or the “whale’s tails”, that I have had in the past. All three are even offered with the same assortment of toppings. However in the “elephant” version, the “tail” is salty, almost savoury; giving it a more balanced flavour with all the sugar and chocolate topping it. Writing about it now, I wish I had another, undressed just to chew on.

Sadly, the mini doughnuts were what we liked the least. We stocked up on the carnival staple, because who leaves a fair without a dozen little doughnuts coated in cinnamon and sugar, that you can easily pop into your mouth? But unfortunately they were burnt and dense. They weren’t fluffy or even cakey. I suspect it was because they were sitting out under the heat lamp for so long.

If you get a chance, come down to PlayDome yourself. If you aren’t into rides come to eat, and if you don’t like fatty and sugary foods, come for the ambiance. Because the place is just magical when the sun sets and the coloured lights blur together.

 

PLAYDOME, BC PLACE
https://www.bcplace.com/events/2018/playdome-2018

Vancouver Auto Show 2018

Vancouver Auto Show 2018

This is my first year at the long running Vancouver Auto Show. Seeing as I have been test driving a lot more vehicles and writing a lot more vehicle reviews this year, I was invited down to the convention centre  opening day, to cover the going ons as media.

The perk of a 8am early entry is, being able to explore the almost empty showroom in leisure. Taking closer looks with minimal bodies blocking your way from that “prefect shot”. And of course, getting a first look at several car manufacturer’s fleet and 2019 releases.

Mind you, I am by no means an auto blogger, I simply write about all my experiences that I dabble in. So my review has been written and curated for those like me, to give you a simple glimpse and some highlights of what you can expect, if you attend the Vancouver Auto Show this long weekend. And maybe what you can look forward to seeing on the streets in years to come. I am also only covering the vehicles that I witness an unveiling to, so this isn’t the place or the full detail and specs. I am sure you can get much more and much better notes on the engine, horsepower, and handling from the written word of actual car journalists. Instead, I invite you to tour the auto show with me, in a more light hearted manner.

 

To check out my vlog, which includes several of the dramatic, first time in Canada blanketed unveilings, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for my latest video.

 

We would begin at Ford’s corner of the showroom. There their iconic bold blue colouring marked the way. The centre attraction was their blue blanket unveiling of their limited edition: 2019 Mustang Bullitt. Its release coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Oscar winning movie “Bullitt”, that started Steve McQueen, playing the titular role of “Frank Bullitt”. The film is most famous for a memorable San Francisco car chase featuring the police officer in his ’69 Mustang. This was a recreation of that mustang in a classic “highland green”.

In 2018 Ford is also releasing its first performance tuned SUV: the 2019 Edge ST midsize crossover. This is the first Ford SUV ST series specifically engineered and tuned by Ford Performance.

And the all new 2019 Ford Ranger is a mid-size pick up that has been developed and tested to the demanding standards of being “Built Ford Tough”. It is designed to be tough both on and off the road. The entire Ranger lineup goes from the base XL to the LARIAT with the FX4 Off-Road Package.

At the Ford area you also get a chance to try their “Ford performance simulator”. You get buckled up into an arcade style game that gives you a taste of how it feels to drive a Ford Mustang on the famous nurburgring. This one cannot be missed, so much fun!

At Hyundai They unveiled their 2019, zero emissions, Kona Electric. With 250 miles of range from small electric hatchback

Coming to all Canadian dealerships this fall is the 2019 Kia Forte, compact sedan. It is longer, wider, and higher than the previous versions.

The 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the best selling plug-in hybrid SUV in the world. It is the only plug-in hybrid SUV with 4WD in 100% electric mode with quick charging battery; bringing it from 0% to 80% in less than half an hour.

The all new 2018 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross has super all-wheel control for unmatched handling, and the best warranty in the world

At Toyota we witnessed the unsheathing of the 2019 Toyota Corolla hatchback, the sportest version to join the Corolla family.

At Genesis they unveiled the GV80 Concept, a progressive fuel cell SUV. It provides subtle glimpses into the bold future of Genesis’ design and product development.

The 2018 BMW M5 has a 4L twin power turbo V8 engine, which is now capable of 600HP, and for the first time that power is now transferred to all 4 wheels.

The 2019 BMW X4 M40i is the second generation of this compact fastback SUV. It is lower, longer, and marginally wider than both its predecessor and the X3.

The Rolls Royce Phantom is the epitome of luxury since its debut in 1925.

And this is the one everyone came down to the Auto Show to see. The Koenigsegg Agera RS is officially the world’s fastest car. Completely swiss made with a full carbon fibre body and unique patent scissor doors.

 

 

Be you a car enthusiast like my partner, or someone simply looking for something interesting to do this long weekend, there is much to see and do at this year’s auto show. For those who aren’t fascinated by the latest or the greatest car, the Vancouver auto show also serves as a great place to shop around for your next day to day vehicle. You get to explore all the brands and chat up industry professionals. Enter contests and read specs to find your potential next ride or maybe a new aspirational drive. You can get up close to each car and take a seat in most, you can pretty much do anything that you would at a dealership, except drive or buy one. Tickets are $20.00 each for adults, with discounts for seniors and children. Bring the whole family out as there are plenty to see and do with photo ops, samples, and demonstrations to keep everyone occupied.

VANCOUVER AUTO SHOW
vancouverinternationalautoshow.com

KFC Canada’s Waffle Double Down

There is a new way to enjoy the popular pairing of chicken and waffles! Reintroducing the “KFC Double Down”, this time with a waffle as its filling!

The original “Double Down” is two breaded and deep fried pieces of chicken breast sandwiching bacon and cheese. The name comes from the replacing of bread and buns with two of their white meat chicken breast. Well the idea is back and rejuvenated in this sweet and salty version. Same famous bun-less, all-chicken burger, but this time it is sandwiching waffles with a very Canadian twist. Instead of their famous gravy or the traditional maple syrup, the golden Belgian waffle “patty” comes smeared with plenty of a their maple aioli sauce.

This is actually my first time trying a “Double Down”. Admittedly I much more prefer their dark mean chicken drums and thigh in original recipe with ketchup, so whenever I visit that is what I order. But this reverse burger, playing off of everyone’s thirst for chicken and waffles sounded too perfect to not make a special trip for.

So we headed to our nearest mall food court to pick up a couple. I prefer my Kentucky Fried Chicken from a food court, than out of one of their free standing franchise chains. Thanks to mall staff, the dining area is a lot cleaner, not to mention better lit, with the ability to accommodate more bodies. Although when I was walking up to the kiosk, my heart sank, as there were no posters advertising this newest trendy food item. However, after inquiring about it, the cook and the staff were happy to announce that they do offer the reserve sandwich in both spicy (zinger) and original recipe chicken. I would get both, to double down on my “Double Down”!

At $9.95 they aren’t part of the economy meal, a little pricy for one “burger”. And hard to shell out for today considering its was a tuesday and their “Tuesday Special” has two pieces of chicken with fries as a set for $3.29. But I thought, “Hey, why not spoil myself a little this weekday brunch”. I made one sandwich a combo and got the other on the side with a smaller container of their thick gravy.

To watch my vlog of the tasting and experience, visit my YouTube channel: MaggiMei, for my latest video.

 

The chicken was crispy and warm, it kept its heat despite my mini photo shoot, furthered by generous dips into the warm side of gravy. I was most surprised by how good the waffle was. Naturally it warmed from was frozen, as this is fast food and I doubt KFC Canada corporate, rolled out waffle presses for each location with the necessary training on how to use it. So it is amazing how fluffy and delicious the waffle was, it didn’t even get soggy from first bite to last. But it was the creamy maple sauce that tied it all together. It wasn’t aggressively sweet, just the perfect bridge from salty and sweet to bring spicy chicken and honey waffle together in the perfect symmetry.

In short this was an amazing snack anytime of the day, and I can see myself going back and craving another after a few pints. This one should not be missed! Head down to your nearest and dearest KFC to try it before its is gone. It is so great to know we have something so fun in Canada, that a US fast food chain doesn’t. And now Americans have to drive up to get it. And if that is you, I can tell you the drive is worth it!

 

KFC CANADA
kfc.ca

Braid Bar

I never knew such a thing as a “Braid Bar’ existed, let alone there was one calling Vancouver home. This is the one and only “Braid Bar” located within “In Salon”, in Yaletown. They have been operating here for two years and tonight I was invited to help celebrate their current success, and maybe help them drum up more by getting my hair braided. What was anticipated as a small gathering of friends, family, and supporters, became a party where you mixed and mingled with drinks and snacks, while rocking some amazing hair.

We unfortunately arrived late and were forced to wait in a queue for one of the six in house stylist to lay their hands on our hair. As impatience of a person that I am, I can tell you in hindsight, the finished product was well worth the loitering that happened before.

The service and the business idea reminds me of the “American Girl” brand of dolls, geared towards young girls. It is a brand where girls buy dolls and can get their doll’s hair combed and curled. They do this by choosing a hairstyle they like, and paying the price listed for it. And like the “Braid Bar” they too host host birthday parties for young girls. Except, at this “Braid Bar” you don’t get your doll’s hair braided, but yours instead. And anyone is invited: men and women of all ages, and hair types of varying lengths. You just need something they can weave.

For pricing one of their signature braids cost the flat fee of $45. Their “menu” of sorts is a collection of framed back and white photos on the wall, and you need only to point to get one of the eight styles their trained staff specialize in. (I don’t know the professional names for the following so excuse me as I try to describe them.) This includes the standard french braid, a set of two rowed braids merging into one down the back, a crown of braids wrapping around your head in two different variations, a half up and half down do with braids coming together on either side to form a pony, braid wrapped buns that sit on top of your head like animal ears, a mohawk made from a pinned back braid, and the popular “boxer braids”. If black and white 2D photos weren’t enough to help you decide. They also had mannequin heads with their hair styled according to one of my descriptions above, to help you decide.

My friend and I would get the latter two. She does kick boxing, so the boxer braids were most fitting for her. It is also the bar’s most requested style. Whereas in my striving to be different, I always gravitate towards that which many others may not. During my entire two hours in the salon, there was only myself and one other woman daring enough to get the edgy “mohawk braid”. This is not a look that just anyone can pull off. It highlights the shape of your face, pulling everything back. It is conversational starter, and not a look you would call traditionally “pretty”. All the more reason for me to request it this evening.

When it was my turn, I sat down and pointed at my soon-to-be look for the night and off my assigned hair dresser went. She had me tilted my head down towards her as she braided from the nape of my neck, gathering strands as you would a french braid, in order to gathering everything into one singular braid. Its end would be tucked in and pinned down with many bobby pins in order to complete the look. Then a nice coating of hair spray sealed everything into place.

This was a fun look to have for the day. You could probably keep it for a few more if you are careful. I slept in my do, and it was still together and all tucked in the morning after. Enough so that I got many compliments on it the day after. It probably would/could have lasted another day if I wanted and it wasn’t so itchy.

Such a service is ideal for when you need a hair style with very little maintenance. Like when you go camping or are camped out at a festival. Anywhere with little access to running water, let alone a hot shower to scrub your hair clean.

If you are looking for something a little more elaborate the “Braid Bar” has you covered there as well”. For any customize style you can envision they can and will do it for $65 an hour. This rate includes braiding in synthetic hair for an additional $20. Like braiding in length to your hair or colour to your hue. They accommodate walk-ins, but of course prefer if you call ahead to make an appointment, especially if you plan to tie up the time of a stylist with a more complicated up do. Or at least give them a warming if you want something that they will need to order, in order to complete. ie: feathers, flowers, or tinsel for your braids. Rainbow locks for a “Pride” inspired look?

Overall a fun, inexpensive, and non-permanent way to give yourself a fun new look for a couple of days. After all we all aren’t YouTube hair gurus that can pull off a perfectly symmetrical fishtail in one try. So “The Braid Bar’ offers to take the stress and the work out of a perfect look for you.

 

THE BRAID BAR
In. Salon
#102 – 1120 Hamilton Street Vancouver BC V6B 2S8
604-694-1000
thebraidbar.ca

Healthy Chef Competition & Dinner 2018

This is the “Healthy Chef Competition & Dinner”, where 10 restaurants have come together to do battle, all in the celebration of fresh produce. This is the 19th year where foodservice suppliers, produce wholesalers, supermarkets, and grocers gather to literally enjoy the fruits of their labour and all the vegetables that it yielded. It is co-hosted by BC Produce Marketing Association (BCPMA) and BC Chefs’ Association (BCCA).

The event is open to the public, offering a great opportunity to meet and mingle with food service and fresh produce professionals, while enjoying a great dinner​​. This year the event was held on Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at the “graciously decorated ballroom” of the Hyatt on Robson. 500 tickets sold for $90 each. And if you ask me, the price was a steal; especailly given how much you get to get and how much more you walk away with. Appetizers, dinner, dessert, and drinks (2 bottles of wine are shared per table, and additional glasses of wine, beer, or highballs are available at cost). And when you leave for the night, you do so with a swag box and bag filled with fresh produce and grocery related tools. Single roses were also given out, with your choice of colour. And depending on your participation in the auctions, fundraising initiatives, and draws: you can also leave with anything you win.

On this evening I was invited as a media judge, one of a handful, helping to critique each competing restaurant. Judging each of their table presentations through 5 categories, awarding a number grade from 1 to 5 in each, with the latter being the highest. All the while capturing all the going on’s on media. To skip the reading and watch my vlog version of this event, check out my latest YouTube video, on my channel: MaggiMei

 

 

We were given earlier access to the then well lit ballroom. We followed behind the panel of chef-judges, who were given the opportunity to taste and try each entree and each dessert that each table put forth. We on the other hand were just admiring with our eyes (the tasting would come later). We were looking at how each competitor incorporated fresh produce into their offering, the visual appeal of their dish, the appearance of their table and their team as a whole, and the overall presentation and creativity in their display. The winners were announced at the end of the night. And in my recap, they will be mentioned in my description of the winning dish. Unfortunately I will not be able to describe to you what each item tasted like, as I didn’t get to try everything. So instead, enjoy the photos and visit the participating restaurants yourself to get a better shake of how their food fares.

 

Hyatt Regency Vancouver Entrée: Dark Chocolate Crusted Venison Loin
Beef Tendon Crisp, Apple Potato Pave, Red Cabbage Puree, Pickled mushroom, Stinging Nettle, Fried Sunchoke, Rosemary Oil, and Juniper and Blueberry Jus.

Hyatt Regency Vancouver Dessert: BC Apple Dessert
Carrot Cake, Apple Mouse, Caramel, Meringue, Dehydrated Apple, Hazelnut Dust, lemon Balm

They also had a bonus dish of mac and cheese with fried chicken. This our table shared with much gusto, as our last dish of the night. And as such it was the perfect end, given how much we drank before. Gooey and comforting, cheese coated tender noodles.

 

White Spot gave us a “beachy” table that perfectly highlighted their surf and turf entree. They laid artificial turf, topping it with scallop shells and drift wood, and tied it to the produce theme with dried lotus root chips that resembled sand dollars.

White Spot Entrée: Twisted Surf & Turf
24-hour Star Anise Pork Cheek and Pork Cheek Ragout finished with Summer Squash Preserve, Jasmine Smoked Peas with Dry Minted Apple, Fondant Potato, Spiced Lotus Chip, Fresh Jumbo Scallop, Sweet Corn Sabayon, Pressed Celery, and Salmon Caviar

White Spot Dessert: Chocolate and Sweet Beet Torte
Hazelnut Sponge Cake with Chocolate Mousse, and Roasted Beet Bavarian with Torched Beet Root Meringues

 

Delta Hotels Burnaby Conference Centre created a lush setting where whole and sliced fruit and colourful veggies gave wooden platforms and potted herbs some colour.

Delta Hotels Entrée: Poached Swiss chard wrapped sockeye salmon
Sunchoke four ways (chips, salsa, puree, roasted), sunflower sprouts, charred green onion soubise, buckwheat and barley tabbouleh, sea asparagus, and Little Potato Company™ purple potato chips.

Delta Hotels Dessert: Kid had a rough day
Charred corn and coconut ice cream, Beet brownie, Carrot beet yogurt mousse; Cocoa soil (quinoa, pumpkin seed, cocoa nibs, oats, dehydrated beets), Coconut tofu pebbles, and Puffed wild rice. Only now am I realizing that this dessert is meant to mimic an ice cream cone that has dropped on the ground!

 

Beach Grove Golf Club stayed true to their name with a tropical scene. Palm trees crafted from pineapple husks were home to a banana and orange made koala bear, an eggplant and carrot toucan, and a pineapple and honeydew owl.

Beach Grove Entrée: Dry aged CAB with red beets hummus
Green peppercorn sauce, yellow potato Terrine, Carrot marinated lemon oil, and Asparagus

Beach Grove Dessert: Apricot and Pistachio Delice
Apple caramel glaze, coconut gel, and Orange dash

 

Vancouver Community College was one of the big winners of the night. Not only were the awarded “best dessert”, but were clapped and cheered into the title of “People’s Choice” as well.

VCC Entrée: Seafood Pot au Feu
Lobster Spot Prawn Globe, Seared Scallop, Corn & Chorizo Fritter, Carrot Terrine, Fresh Peas, a little potato, and Clear Fish Fume

VCC Dessert: Pear Custard Bar
Pear Sorbet, Almond Crumble, Raspberry Fluid Gel, Tear Drop Meringue, and Apple Gastique

 

The Wild Fig at Executive Plaza Hotel certainly engaged our sight and sounds with their theatrical table. A babbling water feature that included smoke from dry ice, an audio of rainforest sounds on loop, and a paper mache pig meats serpent to symbolize their cure pork loin entree and “forbidden apple” dessert.

The Wild Fig Entrée: Beet cured smoked sous vide pork loin
Pork loin cylinders, Fig and cream cheese beet pave, Polenta Yam, Dehydrated candied grape tomato, Fennel corn puree, Micro Intense greens, Pineapple, pear and apple brunoise, Chimichurri spears, Brussel Sprouts leaves, Blackened Mesh tuile, and Beet and berry ketchup.

The Wild Fig Dessert: Forbidden green apple surprise
Apple cinnamon compote, White Chocolate Mousse, Gelatin Condense milk, Macerated mint melon balls, Chocolate Shavings, Crispy Crunch Pearl balls, Berry emulsion, and Mango Coulis. This was definitely everyone’s favourite to photograph.

 

The Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island had an outdoor theme that included tiered planters, a garden of tomatoes, sand pails, rope and buoys strewn about.

Vancouver Island University Entrée: Poached B.C. Farmed Salmon with Miso Glaze
Red Pepper and Fingerling Stir fry, Gingered Purple Yam, Wakame Pearls, Stuffed Carrot, Shiitake, and Brussels Sprouts. Visually, this with its ring of crispy potato framing the fish and veggies was my favourite.

Vancouver Island University Dessert: Cocoa Berry White Chocolate Passion Fruit Cremeaux, Hazelnut Crunch, and Fresh Fruit.

 

 

Carver’s Steakhouse & Lounge was a last minute contestant. When one team withdrew, they stepped up to take their place, with only a few weeks to plan and prep. Considering this, they did fairly well.

Carver’s Entrée: Sous vide pork tenderloin, Applesauce puree, and Classic Lyonnaise Potatoes

Carver’s Dessert: Crème caramel with a Mixed Berry compote

 

Vancouver Airport Marriott Hotel, American Grille won for “Best Table Showcase”, as recognized and voted on by myself and my fellow media judges. The time spent carving their centre piece was spectacular. A garden of white and orange blooms and mushrooms surrounding “Bambi and Thumper” in their forest home.

American Grille Entrée: Leek Ash Petite Tenderloin
Mushroom tarte, Little Potato salad, Celeriac spaghetti with cured egg yolk, and Red wine jus

American Grille Dessert: Textures of Carrots
Carrot yogurt pancetta, Candied carrots, Microwave sponge, Carrot cake crumble, and Carrot gel

 

 

Sandpiper Resort Clubhouse‘s table made everyone go “aww”. A happy go-lucky easter theme with tulips, rabbits, plastic eggs, and a baby with a bunny.

Sandpiper Resort Entrée: Salmon Wellington
“Pacific Provider” Coho Salmon, Delicate puff pastry filled with artichoke and parmesan, Fresh spinach and asparagus, Accompanied by Lemon Dill Cream Sauce, Vegetable spaghetti, and Little Potato Company Confit Baby Creamer potatoes.

Sandpiper Resort Dessert: Fruit Terrine
Red and green grapes, Gooseberries, Fresh strawberries, Lemoncello Chantilly cream, Black & Raspberry Coulis, and Coconut tuile

 

When it comes time to eat, it is a mystery as to what you’ll get. Each seat is set with an unmarked envelope. Opening the “secret envelope” allows you to discover your food destination. Within, there are two cards: one corresponding to which station and their entree you’ll get; the other, which different station you will head to for desserts. Each full dish is prepared within the ball room, by a team of chefs, making their organization proud. One by one tables were called up to collect their entree then later dessert. With plenty of dishes left for seconds and even thirds.

But everyone starts off their meal the same, a basket of bread and balls of butter for the table. This was then followed by the above starter plate, prepared by Executive Chef Daniel Chiang from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. Cured Lois Lake Steelhead, spring greens, fingerling and apple salad, and bourbon maple gastrique. This was a nice gentle start to get the appetite going. The perfect dish to highlight the quality and freshness of the produce used.

 

Though out dinner, the silent and live auctions ran for the bidding. With all proceeds going to help the “Canadian Cancer Society” and the “Heart & Stroke Foundation”. The auctions were a little too rich for my blood, but I did scrounge up $20 for a balloon. Each helium filled balloon contained a scroll. On it, a listed prize. Each balloon was a winner, and every single one was purchased for a good cause. Near the end of the night, along with the draw for the 50/50 tickets, everyone was instructed pop their balloon and unveil what they had won. My green balloon yielded multiple bags of chips and salsa.

As night wore down, everyone was thanked for their participation and invited to file out into the lobby and collect their swag bags.

Given that it has been 19 years since this event first started and how well run and successful it was, I am surprised that I haven’t heard of this until this evening. But after this one taste, I will be sure to make my way back for the years to come, and I suggest you to do the same too. As to when that is and the details of it all, I suggest keeping tabs on the http://www.bcproducebc.ca website, as tickets sell fast and they don’t really need the extra advertising. Those in the know, know this is the must attend foodie event for early spring! And as I post this review, I am still working my way through the produce box I was gifted. And with each piece of fruit that I peel and each vegetable I chop, I am looking forward to next year!

 

​HEALTHY CHEF COMPETITION & DINER
info@bcpma.com

 

 

 

 

Hyundai Ioniq EV & PHEV review

With Electric Vehicle (EV) sales growing and the exponential improvements in the battery technology for these vehicles, it is no surprise that we are seeing more and more car manufacturers joining the electric car evolution. Hyundai is one such automaker adding a pure EV vehicle and a plug in/hybrid version to their fleet. And in this post we got to try both! This gave us two weeks of seeing what it is like to live a little greener, while decrease our carbon foot print by going electric. Not to mention, saving money at the pump, considering the exorbitant gas prices as of late.

Both vehicles are named “Ioniq”, so in this post you can differentiate between the two by their colour. The Hyundai Ioniq EV is white and the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV is the dark grey. The latter is powered by an electric motor and a conventional gas engine.

The exterior of both is sculpted with aerodynamic efficiency in mind. There is permanently closed-off upper-grill area on the EV version, and some active air flaps on the plug in. Other aerodynamic features like the flat underbody and an aero-efficient rear hatchback design helps them slice through the air with a low drag coefficient. The electric motor only produces 108hp, but an instantaneous 215lb-ft of torque makes up for the some what low horsepower. There are three driving modes offered: “eco”, “normal”, and “sport”. We spent most of our time in “eco” mode, in order to test the full range of the 28.0-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Doing so we confirmed that the Ioniq can travel a little over 200km on a full charge. Although getting to a full charge is the issue. Charging takes around 25hrs with a regular 110volts power source, 5 hours with a 240volts power source, and only 25min using the 100kilowatt fast charging system. Sadly this was just a loaner for us, and we did not have the same access to a 100kw fast charging system, as an EV owner would. Meaning charging and therefore using the EV became a anxious issue for us. We would charge as much as we could, and pray 10% could take us to where we needed to go. And unfortunately most of the public charging stations available at commercial chargers only offer a 240volts charge. This means your quick coffee and doughnut stop at “Tim Hortons” or that grocery run to “Whole Foods” wont do much. And that is if you are lucky enough to even be able to snag a free charging station.

While more and more charging stations are appearing in urban city centres, the few that we tried and the few times we tried, quickly turned into a waiting game. Most businesses have 2-3 chargers at most, and our five year old apartment complex wasn’t built with any; thus making charging a fully electric vehicle difficult, and almost a chore. Like other electric vehicles, the Ioniq EV relies on a regenerative braking system to initially slow the car, while refilling the battery pack. There are paddle shifters behind the steering wheel, they are not used for gear changing, but instead, selecting between four different regenerative braking settings. At the highest setting, the Ionic can almost come to a full stop, just by lifting off the accelerator pedal, and without even touching the brake pedal.

The plug in version on other hand is powered by a 32kw electric motor and a 1.6L gas engine, making 139hp and 195lb-ft. Attached to the gas engine is an automatic 6speed dual clutch transmission. Allowing the PHEV to reach over 1000km with a full tank of gas, and with an impressive combined city and highway fuel consumption of 4.1liters/100km.

Inside, the Ioniq you can find mounted push buttons gear selectors on the centre console. And the centre dashboard holds an 8-inch touchscreen, where you can choose to display some vital information regarding your electronic drivetrain. For example: how far you can go given your remaining range. The touchscreen can also be use as GPS, indicating the closest charging station. It also supports apple and android car play, and is equipped with an 8 speaker Infinity audio system. It offers a nice level of comfort and safety with well padded and heated seats, a leather steering wheel, an LCD instrument cluster, and an easy to use touchscreen. The safety features include blind spot detection, lane change assist, rear cross traffic alert, rear parking assist sensors, lane departure with lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Mainly because of its battery pack, the Ionic does weigh a bit more, when compare to regular gas engine hatchbacks. But with it, the Ioniq EV still offered us a stable and comfortable ride. The only downside was the wind/noise level when going at highway speeds. Although this is not something you need to worry about, if you are mainly driving around town.

Electric cars and the technology around them is evolving quickly, and just in time if Vancouver is concerned. With gas prices soaring lately, our fair city is making headlines for the having the most expensive gas prices in North America. So given the cost of fuelling up at the pump, it is hard to ignore and not consider how EV can and will most likely be the future of motor vehicles. But until we all get there, I suggest playing it safe with the Hyundai Ioniq PHEV. To be able to have the back up security of gas in the tank, while taking advantage of its incredible range and superb fuel economy. Ultimately, allowing you to be able to keep some of that hard earned money in your pocket.

In short, thank you Hyundai for giving us our very first taste of what it is like to drive an electronic vehicle.

#HyundaiIoniq
hyundaicanada.com

Grocery & Specialty Food West Preview

Did you know there is a way to learn about all the limited edition and new snack items that will be on your local grocery store shelves in the near future?

It is called the “Grocery & Specialty Food West” (GSFW). “It is Canada’s premier western grocery trade show. It brings together retailers and manufacturers from all across Canada to discover new innovations within the industry. There is a focus on networking and building relationships, with the trade show being dedicated to helping owners and distributors grow their business. The show is best known for showcasing the latest in grocery industry trends including “international flavours, local, organic, health and wellness, artisanal and more”. And it has long since established itself as a trusted “epicenter”, where thousands of key decision-making retailers and manufacturers come together to discover new insights and new products, while engaging in conversation.

“And due to popular demand, this year’s show has expanded its exhibition space and enhanced its programs to create an all-inclusive collaborative, networking and educational experience for everyone in the grocery and specialty food industries. In addition to workshops and keynotes, more than 300 booths of leading grocery and specialty food suppliers will be onsite to showcase their latest innovations and services to the 2,500 attendees.”

Conference sessions at this year’s show will include:

  • The role of artificial intelligence in grocery.
  • Technology’s impact on retailing.
  • Shopper marketing best practices.
  • Retail market analysis: Present and future of grocery industry.
  • Consumer and grocery trends, such as meal kits, grocerants.

Although I am not directly linked to the grocery business, the decisions made within this forum do effect me as a consumer; and even more so as a foodie, driven to search out all that is new, to share it with her audience. This is why I am so excited to be able to attend the show this year, where I will be vlogging and blogging, giving you all insights on what you can look forward to when shopping in the spring and summer seasons.

 

For more information on the “Grocery & Specialty Food West”, visit their link and get involved. https://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/technology-artificial-intelligence-and-the-future-innovations-in-grocery-featured-at-western-canadas-largest-grocery–specialty-food-show-676118353.html

 

GSFW
April 23 and 24
Vancouver Convention Centre West Building
1055 Canada Place, Vancouver BC

Starbucks Crystal Ball Frappe

Starbucks’ newest Frappuccino sensation hits the counter today, and I went first thing in the morning to see if this would be as virally popular as its predecessors.

It all started with the pink and blue unicorn frappe, and next came the green and blue mermaid frappe. Then for Halloween there was the Dracula frappe with red “blood” stains, and for Christmas a Christmas tree blended beverage with green whip. But today Starbucks launches the “Crystal Ball Frappuccino”, attempting to ride the wave of limited release, colourful and trendy vanilla base, iced drinks. It launched today, March 22nd, 2018. And is only available for a limited time, basically as soon as supplies runs out.

Essentially, this is the same flavoured drink done three ways. Online, and in other people’s photos, it is a white beverage with teal colouring streaking the sides of the cup. Each is topped with a mound of whipped cream and you choice of one of three coloured sprinkles. Maybe it is because my order was the first at 6am in the morning, but my barista followed the direction she was given (one a handy print out), and I ended with three drinks, each with a different colour streaking the sides of the cup. The colour matched the sprinkles that eventually topped it. Truthfully, mistake or not, I prefer it this way.

 

Each drink varies slightly with a different name dependant on said sprinkle topping that you choose. The pinky-fushia sugars crystal is “magic”. With it, the online description promises “wonder and enchantment are heading your way”, with a chance of owls.

The blue sugar crystal topped frappe represents “Adventure”. Declaring the need for a backpack or umbrella.

“Luck” promises good fortune wherever you go with green candy sprinkles.

The drink itself is vanilla based with a peachy flavour to it. Like the a white tea peach, but with a lot more sugar. This is from the drizzle they pour on the inside of the plastic cup, used to help the sugar sprinkles they shake within, stick to the cup, for some visual colour.

For my reaction and vlog, please check out my YouTube channel: MaggiMei for my latest video.

 

My barista also mentioned mocha in the mix, but I didn’t get that. But the fresh whipping cream is flavoured like peach as well. All the coloured sugar crystals in fuchsia, blue, and green don’t have their own flavour, but they do add a nice crunchy texture to the drink, and more visual appeal sitting atop the spiral of whipped topping. Overall I always get excited when Starbucks releases new drinks like this, and they did a great job with this one; it certainly got me out of bed early and spending $20 this morning. Don’t deny your cravings.

Hi Genki

Ever since I visited Japan in 2015, I have trying to find my way back. I speak of the food and the culture, and how little I got to experience them both. So hearing my pleas, a few of my foodie friends have recommended “Hi Genki” to me. They follow its name with the disbelief that I have never been, and have yet to even hear of them. Although, you can’t blame me, given its location. This isn’t a restaurant on a busy shopping strip, or one in a mall, heck it isn’t even on a road that you would drive by. “Hi Genki” is located at the lobby of the “Robert Nimi, Nekkei Home”, a Japanese community centre and retirement home, adjacent to the “Nekkei National Museum & Cultural Centre”. So when craving for some authentic Japanese fare, I guess in theory, they should be a sure thing. Either way I was dedicated to finding out.

You walk through Nekkei Home’s lobby and hang a left. You just follow the flow of bodies lining up against the plexiglass barrier that separate carpet from tile, restaurant from retired living centre.

One of the clerks welcomes you at the threshold. With menus in hand, they lead you to the next available seat. One of the four person, square tables that make up their entire seating plan. One of several, in one of the three rows, that reaches from one end of the restaurant to another. It is all completely functional, like the rest of the restaurant, putting decor and motif to the side. The only thing that really identified them as a restaurant was their acrylic sign and the collection of plastic glasses for water, and ceramic mugs for hot tea, surrounding it.

Everything is brought out to you on a push cart, be it extra utensils, additional cups of tea, or our entire six piece order for two people.

The food as a whole definitely measures up to all its praise. Having tried such dishes in Japan, I can honestly say that this brought me back. “Hi Genki” is a great place to satisfy that craving for Japanese, homestyle, comfort cuisine at. Just reading the menu and looking at a few of their photos, I knew I was in for a delicious meal, but how to decide? I couldn’t and I didn’t. Instead, I got one of their specials of the day that gave me three tastes for the price of one.

The “Don Don Udon” is a great way to get a little bit of everything before you, when you can’t decide on what you want more of.

The “Yakitori don” was sweet teriyaki style, dark meat chicken over rice, with greens and plenty of sautéed onions. Most of its runny sauce is pooled at the bottom of the bowl, it flavours the rice without it making it overly salty.

I liked the “mini udon” for its rich and fragrant broth with its perfectly chew noodles. The green onions added some spice and the quarter of a fish cake slice some fishy flavour.

The “croquette with curry on rice” was my favourite of the three. I liked the soften potato mash enclosed by the crispy fried breading. It added some texture to the lumpy curry with chunks of carrot and potato that melted under the pressure of your tongue and teeth.

My partner too couldn’t decide on what to get so opted for two full entrees, agreeing that our inevitable leftovers would make a great meal the next day.

The “Minch katsu tei” was another special, it too was listed on a separate piece of paper. It was described as “Breaded fried beef and pork patty with salad and rice”. The set also included a bowl of warming miso soup. The potato salad was your classic picnic offering. Firm with cubes of potato, yet crispy with the diced celery and pickle chunks mixed in under all that tangy mayo.

As for the featured patties, we thought it would be a chicken patty and a beef patty, separately breaded and fried. Instead, this was shredded pieces of chicken and beef minced and mixed together in one patty. It was as interesting in taste as it sounds. The patty had a nice soften texture under its crisp breading. Best with the sweet and tangy brown sauce, that came in a self serve squeeze bottle on the side.

His second choice was the “Chicken katsu curry”. Deep fried breaded chicken cutlet, slathered over with the same curry as above. The crispy and soft textures make a great combination here, just like the pairing of salty chicken and the sweet curry sauce.

Just like our mains, I couldn’t make up my mind and pick a single dessert, so I didn’t.

“Daifuku” is a round chewy rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste. I liked it most for its sticky texture.

The “Sake manjyu” was very similar in taste, given the use of sweet red bean paste as a filling here too. This time the shell was a steam bun, although not with a fluffy doughy texture, but instead more of a crumbly one.

I liked the “Anmitsu”, but reading its description I thought it was more than just canned fruit and jello topped with ice cream. Not that anything is wrong with that, but I could have purchased and combined all of the following myself. Seaweed jelly, mixed fruits, red bean paste in syrup, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The texture of the seaweed jello was a lot more firm that the boxed kind. It was like a mix between gelatin and cartilage. I liked how the ice cream melted into the syrup for a nice saucy mix.

 

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.
The food is great, and I liked how comfortable the spot felt. It well matched the energy cultivated by the friendly and soft spoken staff. A great place for an enjoyable meal any time of the day. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HI GENKI
6680 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby BC, V5E 4N3
604-777-0533
Hi Genki Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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