VieAMaggi.com

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

Month: February 2019 Page 1 of 3

Honda Insight Hybrid 2019 review

This weekend we were blessed with some sun, so as to not waste a sunny day, my partner and I hopped in to our Honda Insight for the week, and set our horizons on a cruise.

Unfortunately many others were thinking of doing the same and we soon ran into traffic. But thankfully we were in the comfort of our automatic loan. And when you are forced to slow down and speed up, starting and stopping, you really appreciate not needing the extra hand and foot motion. To be able to shut off your brain some and enjoy the breathtaking view that whizzes by as you drive fast. A beautiful backdrop on this beautiful day.

The Insight Hybrid is based on the current Honda Civic Sedan, but more refined. The interior could be confused with an Accord, with a very similar look and feel. They have also borrowed its hybrid system, strapping on an Atkinson-cycle 1.5-litre inline-four gas engine. 129 horsepower and 197 lb-ft, with a total combined power output of 151 horsepower.

Handling and steering wise the Insight feels pretty sharp. Nothing like the a Civic Si or a Civic Type R, but it does come with a sport mode! You wouldn’t consider this a sport car, but the steering has some good feedback to it, and the car doesn’t feel like a boat cornering. Including the sport mode, the insight has two other driving modes: econ and normal.

Like most hybrid cars out there, there are two paddles behind the steering wheel, which Honda calls their “deceleration selectors”. These paddles give you the choice between three different levels of regenerative braking performance, for restoring energy to the battery pack.

Although the view was constantly stunning, the drive did have some challenges. With the Insight, Honda decided to ditch the transmission all together, yes you heard that right, no transmission! This was a design formulated in 2014, spring boarding with the Accord Hybrid. The idea behind this is having a different direct drive gear to propel the car. It all sounds pretty complex, but long story short: at a low or steady speed on the highway the Insight feels the same, if not better than being behind the wheel of a regular automatic transmission car. However when you are trying to go up steep hills, something gets lots in translation. Even though there is no transmission, it still feels just like a regular automatic transmission slip. In other words the engine revs higher, yet it feels like the car isn’t going any faster, like having a hard time doing its job. And as a learned manual driver you are taught that this feeling and sensation means your clutch is broken, but in reality for the Insight this is business as usual.

And the Insight is a pretty quiet ride in general, but during those uphill stints, we wished for earmuffs. Although Honda did take this into consideration by adding “Active Noise Control” to the speakers of the audio system. Thus temper all extra road noise. They also supplemented the engine noise in Sport mode, a difference that can be clearly heard when driving more aggressively.

But realizing the market that this car was built for, and who they are targeting, you can’t blame them for the any of it. This vehicle isn’t your weekend warrior, but it is the wheels for your daily transport. City driving in small bouts, grocery shopping with multiple loads. And here is also where the economy mode shines. Using the stored electricity decreases your consumption of fuel. Meaning less trips to the gas station and less bills left on the counter.

Today it saved us plenty, as we required and guzzled quite a bit going up and down on the Sea to Sky Highway. Our goal was to chase the sun that the fog and clouds were quickly covering. To drive up and up, to get close enough to be in awe of the highest snow capped mountain. There is nothing more humbling than looking up at something and realizing how small you are to it by comparison, and in the world as a whole.

On our travel we encountered various elements. When we hit patches of sun we dawned our sunglasses and had the sunroof to roll down. In the snow, the reverse camera got covered by the excessive splashing from run-off on the side of the road. The clump of flakes obscured the camera and our visibility. But the left and right hand side cameras were left in tact, and continued to relay video images on to the infotainment system each time you land changed. I personally found them distracting behind the wheel. Checking my shoulder and preparing for said lane change, only to be startled by the quick flash of the screen in my peripheral. When it came to the rain, the automatic rain sensors kept the windshield clean and our visibility high. It was most practical in helping to wipe off the spray that was created by the cars in front of us. Spray that occurred as intermittently as the patches of wetness that riddled the road.

In short we enjoyed out time with the Honda Insight and are thankful for the grandeur it was able to take us to see.

HONDA.ca

Ask for Luigi, revisit

Looking for a dinner spot in Railway Town, my guest and I found ourself at “Ask for Luigi” for some pasta. And it was just as I remembered it, so long ago. My first experience with the intimate Italian restaurant wasn’t all that great, we ended sending all our food back, so I was curious to see how much they have improved since then. But it is worth noting that the service now was just as stellar as it was then.

For a better comparison, check out the original visit post here, almost 5 years ago. http://vieamaggi.com/ask-for-luigi/

This is a smaller restaurant, with tightly placed tables and the constant roar of conversation. The kitchen was towards the back, visible from dining area. Having everything in this one open room gave you the feeling of dining at home. Not to mention the building is basically a refurbished house. Though the hanging sign advertising “pasta” tells you otherwise.

The menu was a one pager, it still had a few of the same dishes that I remembered from way back when. And they still mentioned that, “Substitutions (are) politely declined”.

We started with a glass of white wine each. I know it is the custom, but I much prefer my wine served in a goblet with a stem. In this tumbler there is no letting the wine breathe, you can’t swizzle the liquid or smell it before it hits your lips. Here it is filled right to the brim (not that it is a bad thing), so my first two sips had me lapping it up from right off the table.

As for food, the menu suggests sharing and I agree, the pastas we had were great, but after a few bites you grew tired of the taste, and wanted to nibble at something else, to help change the taste.

My guest had the “Pappardelle and duck ragu”. We both liked the chew from a thick and flat noodle. The dish was seasoned with a tang, and plenty of shredded duck meat.

I liked peas so ordered the “Ricotta ravioli” with peas, mint, and lemon. It was a light and refreshing dish, and the pops from the peas did not disappoint.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
This visit did give me a better impression of them. However I ask some friends sitting at a nearby table how their meal was, and they noted their disappointment in the squid ink pasta. Like I did so many years back, they found it far too salty and generally unappealing. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ASK FOR LUIGI
305 Alexander Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 1C4
604-428-2544
askforluigi.com

The Mirror Maze at Science World

Science World has a new exhibition, which open on February 22nd, and I was there opening night to check it all out.

We enjoyed a welcome reception and heard from Science World’s President and CEO, Dr. Scott Sampson. He spoke to the necessity of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), and how it connects us all. And continued his introduction to their newest feature exhibit with the following. “We are thrilled to be bringing the fascinating travelling exhibition A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature to British Columbia. This exhibition strongly aligns with our mission to ignite wonder and empower dreams through science and nature”. “This highly interactive exhibition will provide fun and hands-on experiential learning opportunities to our visitors.”

There is no food our drink in the feature exhibition, so we finished up and slowly wandered in. Spirals, webbing, branches, and cones; examples of patterns were showcased in photos and displays. Interactive exhibits allowed you to spin, twirl, and strum to get a closer look and learn more about these patterns. Not to ruin any of the fun exploring, here is a list of the station as taken from the media kit.

 

But for a more animated review, check out my latest vlog on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

Created by the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI), A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature invites visitors to explore the mathematical patterns that exist in our world through engaging experiences, including:

Introduction to Patterns in Our World—Visitors will learn to identify numerical patterns that surround them every day through imagery, an immersive theatre presentation and an interactive area.

Hands-on Discovery—This section of the exhibition engages visitors in hands-on activities where they can explore patterns in nature, in themselves and in music, art and architecture.
Patterns in Nature:

Draw patterns on a digital screen—like connecting dots to draw spirals and create Fibonacci rectangles—and see real-world objects that show that same pattern.
Learn how fractal patterns are used to make computer-generated landscapes, such as intricate mountain ranges, in movies.

Patterns in Yourself:
Step in front of a large mirror and strike various poses while a projection superimposes patterns and proportions on your body in real time.
Look through an eyepiece to observe how blood vessels branch within your eyes.
Compare similar patterns that appear in the human body and in nature.

Observe just how much symmetry—or lack thereof—is present in the human face.

Patterns in Music, Art and Architecture:
Compose a piece of music using symmetry: vary a single musical motive and hear your creations played back.
Create a musical scale with mathematical proportions using a playable harp.
Discover and compare similar patterns in architecture from varying parts of the world—from the Taj Mahal to the Beijing National Stadium—built millennia apart.

The exhibition also features an array of artifacts—Bighorn sheep horns, honeycomb and an aluminum anthill casting—that demonstrate real examples of patterns in objects from the natural world.

But the main feature and the main reason to visit is “The Mirror Maze”. A 1,800-square-foot elaborate and reflective series of walkways. It felt like a room of mirrors, but in reality is more like corridor. None the less you do get lost and you do find yourself bumping into walls.

All in search of the secret room, at the heart of the maze. Where number games and puzzles appear on screens, allowing you test your ability to problem solve. But the greatest puzzle is finding the exit. Although if you get stuck, there is apparently a panic button for rescue. However, I think it’s just as easy to shout for help, or just ask for it from the several others that will be engaging the maze with you.

As for the experience, you constantly feel the need to outstretch your arm or leg, lest you walk yourself into an reflected hall way that isn’t there. Although the dead ends might be frustrating, each one proves to be one of the ideal spots to take a photo at. Here are a few corners and angles I found that worked out well. Be warned our visit had minimum guests and with enough patience I was able to grab a clean background. Therefore if you visit on a busier day, be prepared to have people in your shot, where they don’t know how to get out of it (due to all the reflections). So please be respectful of the shared space and take your photo fast or let that person pass.

The Mirror Maze and the Numbers in Nature is available for viewing from February 22nd to September 3rd, 2019. For more information on ticketing and schedules visit the link below.

SCIENCE WORLD at TELUS World of Science
1455 Quebec Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 3Z7
scienceworld.ca
https://www.scienceworld.ca/numbers-nature-mirror-maze

Di Beppe Restaurant

Wanting pizza and to try somewhere new we found ourselves at “Di Beppe” this Saturday night. They don’t take reservations so we are pleasantly surprised to be told that the wait would be minimal, when we walked in, a little after 7pm.

You enter the restaurant via the cafe side. The two halves are split by a wall with a glass window and curtained door way.

You also wait in the cafe portion, leaving your name with their host. You are offered the ability to purchase a drink, while you linger in their waiting area of sorts. A couple of benches by the window and two free standing high top tables to lean against.

It was especially humid inside on this cold day. I would say the extra heat was from the visible bakery towards the back, but it was clear no one was currently working in the all glass space. But the proof of their work was still visible in the glass case at the counter. Buttered cookies in jars, cakes by the slices, and bars on wax paper for easy ordering and easier indulging.

When time, we were led into the darkness of the dining area. Orange glow from lamps, brick walls plastered with Italian posters, and concrete under foot. A warm and intimate space with the entire bar seated, each high top set, and all the closely sat table filled.

We were asked if it was our first time here, and since it was, were given a run down of their menu. Their wines are all listed with the price based on how much you want, 5oz, half a litre, or by the bottle. We ordered a 5oz glass of sparkling and rose and both came in the traditional Italian style tumblers for such an occasion.

We ordered a pizza and were given the option of having it “In pala”, as a round on a smaller board, perfect for two; or “Al metro” a 2 and a half feet long pizza served on a longer board. More pizza for $9 more. We went for the former to also have room to try one of their pastas. We wanted margherita and had our choice of the cheese that goes with it. Either fior di latte or di bufala for $4 more. I went for the creamier white cheese for more, with no regrets. You could tell the cheese was fresh, you got more of its flavour and it was well worth the extra charge. The pizza as a whole was bready. The crust itself was thick and crispy, we asked for butter given how wide it was and the amount of it that came unsauced. This way we ate it like bread. The sauce was sweeter and very tomato forward. It was globbed on thick and caused the crust under it to sag. And the fresh and baked basil not only added colour but some seasoning to the mix.

It was served on a metal rack with our second dish under it. This was space saving, but uneven, causing alarm when the board began to slide. A double decker way to share two dishes on a small table for two. Though it was challenging to to twirl and scoop pasta from under the wooden board.

For our pasta we wanted a white sauce to give us contrast from the red sauce on our margherita pizza. For each pasta option you have your choice of noodles between spaghetti or rigatoni. I let my partner have his preference, but I would have preferred the chewier pasta tubes instead.

This is the “carbonara” spaghetti with guanciale, pecorino (a buttery anchovy blend), egg yolk, and black pepper. With the first bite my picky partner declared it the best he had had in a long while. And luckily he couldn’t taste the salty fish, given his distain for all things seafood related. The pasta wasn’t saucy per say, but rich with fully coated strands. You could taste the lusciousness of the egg, and the heavy tingling pepper flavour that followed. And the crispy pieces of salty pork added extra spice and salt.

To end it all, our bill came with a “Crustoli” for us each. This is cannoli batter deep fried and dusted heavily with powdered icing sugar. Amazingly light literally and figuratively, lifting it up to our faces caught us off guard. The sugary powder stuck stuck to the roof of your mouth, but it was pasty without it. This proved to be a nice and unexpected way to end our meal. A much appreciated bonus.

 

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.
Given how much my particular partner loved everything and considering how he finished his meal declaring, “Everything is good”, we will definitely be back. I too enjoyed my time here and would want to come back when craving either pizza or pasta. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

DI BEPPE
8 West Corddova Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 1C9
604-559-1122
dibeppe.com

Billy Button Dessert Bar

Looking for a dessert place, I remembered seeing an article by the “Daily Hive”, featuring this small dessert shop’s very photogenic plates. They have been open since last November, but probably didn’t catch much attention until this article, after all that is why I was here. And watching many of the guests that followed reference their phones when ordering, I can tell they were here because of the popular online publication too.

We asked the only server working the room, where the name “Billy Button” came from. She described their name sake flower. A small, yellow, round bloom that never dries out. Although none of it is used in their desserts, even as decoration. Which is a shame, given how much more fun it would be if they went full circle with it.

They don’t take reservations, so it’s first come first serve in this 16 person capacity cafe. But first finding it. It is hard spot walking by, let alone driving past. A black window with some white lined scrawlings, and a small sandwich board out front. Plus the all black awning with no lettering on it didn’t help.

Inside, the restaurant had a similar tone. A more romantic setting with blank walls painted in darkness, barely lit with dim lights, strung over narrow tables. Maybe the purpose is to have a less distracting setting, to best highlight their artful desserts? Given the sensation, this is believable.

You order from off their one sheet menu. Drinks on one side, their desserts on the other. 6 of the latter are available, 3 of which are served warm, and the other 3, cold. We made our choice based on originality and uniqueness.

Of note, it is worth referencing photos of dishes that you have seen online when ordering here. I took the menu for face value and the server didn’t offer or mention any specials. However a girl who came in well after us got the last mushroom cream puff (the most instagramable of all their desserts) because she pulled out her phone and pointed to it on the screen. I too wanted it, but sadly it was not meant to be, instead we had the following 3.

Similarly, there is a pretty realistic looking orange fruit that you smash open to reveal it is actually a chocolate shell hiding cake and more chocolate within. I asked about this and found out they are typically premade and kept in the refrigerated unit towards the back. Tonight they were sold out. They also prepare macarons and blueberry tarts, available for point and ordering during the weekends. Want something a little larger and more elaborate? They also do preorder cakes.

We ended up trying three desserts, that ate and felt like a three course dinner. The first was our “appetizer”: “The garden”. Cucumber, yogurt mousse, yuzu cremeux, raspberry powder, crostini, strawberry, and meringue. I never had raw cucumber as part of a dessert before. The thin slices over the firm yogurt was tangy and refreshing. You got the sweetness expected from all the various elements surrounding this dessert log. This would be great anytime during summer, with savoury notes it ate more like a snack than your end of meal treat. I have never had anything like it, very healthy and creative.

The “Osmanthus udon” “entree” was just as creative. Osmanthus panna cotta, berry sauce, and a crumble. This was an interesting way of eating panna cotta. The sensation is different, but all the flavours are all there for a berry panna cotta. Each noodle stand is slippery like jello, easy to crumble, so requires a delicate grip, especially when using the chopsticks it is served with. I found the sauce a little too light, whereas I was looking for a more creamy finish, like that of an Alfredo pasta. Instead, the mixed berry soup had things light and tart. It could have also used more crunch. It just felt like it was missing something, something more substantial. After all when you see noodles, you immediately expect the same sensation as eating a bowl of the regular starchy stuff in broth.

The most dessert-like plate was “The autumn”. A red wine poached pear over a chocolate cake, in a red wine sauce. Served with a little jug of creme anglaise that you self pour over it all. Like the other desserts before, this too was a lighter rendition. Where as I wanted the chocolate cake richer, more like a brownie; a chewy texture to pair with the thick and creamy sauce. The rest of it was mild, there was only a hint of the deep sharpness of red wine.

 

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.
Overall, a great addition to this area for desserts, there is nothing else like it on any of the surrounding blocks. If they bring something new to the menu, I will definitely be back. But as for what we had, I don’t need another taste. Their desserts feel healthier, everything was as light and as airy as they looked. Even the sugar shard with the chocolate cake wasn’t all that sweet. I further confirmed this by asking our neighbours how their matcha tart and carrot tiramisu were, the too found it light for a dessert. I guess they are just not indulgent enough for my tastes. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

BILLY BUTTON
44 E Broadway, Vancouver BC, V5T 1V9
604-423-3344
billybuttondessertbar.com

The Settlement Building event space

The wedding industry is a multimillion dollar one, with the modern bride not letting much get in the way of her special day. So with weather being a constant gamble in the Lower Mainland, why let Mother Nature literally rain on your parade? When you can instead, consider the ease and safety of a well dressed, indoor wedding. And today the “Settlement Building” event space was holding a wedding showcase, to showcase how they can be of service in that regard. And from what I hear, all at a very reasonable price.

This was a gathering of vendors offering to their wares and giving you a look of how their products will fit into the flexible space. Event photographers, suit and dress designers. Furniture, tables, and the settings that go on to each. Cake makers, party planners, and DJ’s. Pretty much everything that was presented today would come with a discount, if you decide to book the Settlement Building for your next event or wedding.

The Settlement Building is an empty warehouse ready to be reshaped into your desired image. Vaulted ceilings with wooden rafters, glass window pains letting fragmented light in. Simply stringing up some lights and hanging a green plant breaths new life into the versatile space.

But today it featured four opulently dressed dining tables, one set with with personalized agate place settings, another Himalayan salt candle holders, and a third with fur lined seat overs.

To their right was an wood “A” for alter. It was trimmed with pastel blooms and surrounded by candles in glass jars. This would make the perfect backdrop for an intimate look into someone’s eyes.

There was also two carved out lounge spaces with plenty of whicker, a few stitched throw pillows, and comfy leather back chairs. It all had a rustic, bohemian vibe; to match the grounded-ness of the concrete space.

But the stand out was the shipping container that has found its way into this hall. A large box that serves well as a bar. A few more lights, a handsome bartender, and several bottles to choose between, help the party get started here. And best of all they serve wine and beer that is prepared by “Vancouver Urban Winery” and “Postmark Brewing”, which are both manufactured in the same shared space we were currently in.

Similarly “Belgard Kitchen”, who also shares the space is ready and willing to help you with your catering needs, all you need is the cake.

And “The Cake & Giraffe” can muster up this cake of your dreams. The collection present today displayed their skill with a round, hand painted marble cake, and a squared tier with pastel sugar flowers. We didn’t get a slice tonight, but I can at least confirm that their caramel and chocolate chip cookies were amazing!

For more details on this unique space visit their website below.

The Settlement Building’s Private Event Space
397 Alexander Street, Railtown, Vancouver BC
https://www.settlementbuilding.com/

Juice Truck- Steveston

Today we were at the “Juice Truck” in Steveston, here to try their two limited edition, Chinese New Year drinks. Originally our plan was to visit them much sooner, more in time with this year’s lunar new year festivities; however Vancouver’s sudden snow fall had us doing otherwise. But with clearer weather and a cold sunny day, this was the perfect time to venture out to Richmond for a healthy drink and some good fortune snacks. And although the drinks are no longer available at the time of this post, the other lunch and snacks options that we tried are; and they are worth blogging about.

The “Juice Truck” started off as a roaming vehicle, which has now branched out to 6 different locations serving the lower mainland. They are best known for their use of raw ingredients in their unpasteurized drinks. But they also offer salads, lunch bowls, and a collection of sweet treats and hearty snacks that are all healthy and fresh. They are also 100% vegetarian, vegan friendly, and gluten free.

The “Golden Dragon Smoothie” was made to order. It had a deep magenta hue thanks to its feature of pink dragonfruit. The exotic fruit stood out amongst the blend of strawberry, orange, banana, and coconut water. You also got a warming ginger after-note to it.

The “Lucky Red Juice” was pre-pressed and travel ready in mini purse-sized bottles. It had a blend of beets, mandarin oranges, strawberries, pear, and ginger. Not only did this have a fun name, but a fun look too. Red from the beets and for good fortune, it is predominantly what you tasted. Though the collection of fruits lent their sweetness to the mix, and therefore making each sip a much less beet focused one.

“The Almost Poke Bowl” is 100% vegan with “ahimi”. “Ahimi®” is Ahi without the tuna, made from tomatoes and a few simple ingredients. So believable as an animal product that I offered my vegetarian friend a bite and she spat it out believing in its meat-like texture. Not to mention all the ingredients and the creamy sauce used had it tasting like your run of the mill, seafood clad, poke bowl; but with a whole lot more greens. Sesame marinated Ahimi (vegan), romaine hearts, curly kale, radicchio, quinoa, yams, edamame, carrots, pickled ginger, wasabi peas, crispy onions, and crispy nori; all self coated in a creamy wasabi dressing. There is so much going on here to keep you interested from first bite to last. Tangy beets, crispy peppers, fresh edamame beans, nice chewy smoked tofu, and creamy sweet potato chunks; which were my favourite.

My guests loved her “Macro Bowl”, she could see herself eating this everyday, if not for the price. Although reasonable at $14.00, a little steep for every day eating. The way they marinated the tomato had it tasting and looking like pieces of smoked salmon. They were the highlight that had you not missing meat. Kale, spinach, pea shoots, quinoa, smoked tofu, edamame, red pepper, carrot, baked yams, pickled red cabbage, and roasted maple sirarcha cashews; all coated in a citrus sesame dressing.

The “Moroccan Cauliflower bowl” was a smaller serving, more like a side. It was punchy, and full of nutty flavour. Rich with warming spices. My favourite were the sweet apricots, which were a nice surprise to happen upon. Roasted cauliflower, sriracha chickpeas, apricots, toasted coconut, fresh mint, cherry tomatoes, hemp hazelnut dukkah, and a smokey tahini dressing.

We also got a chance to try a few of their bars and chocolates.
“Cacao Coconut Bar”, walnuts with pecans, cacao, coconut meat, coconut flakes, raisins, and maple syrup.
“Protein Ball”, dates , almond butter, carob, maple syrup, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, and coconut ribbon.
“The green energy bar” is eye catching with its bold colouring. Pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, shredded coconut, coconut oil, coconut butter, bee pollen, cacao powder, vanilla, mint, and goji berries. My guest could of sworn their was some goat cheese in this, given the sharp tangy flavour she kept coming across.
She was really keen on the “almond chocolate cup” and the “peanut butter cup”. She found both so creamy that they melted in her mouth. “Almond chocolate cup” had almond butter, maple syrup, extra virgin coconut oil, cacao powder, almond meal, coconut sugar, and Himalayan sea salt. And the “Peanut Butter Cup”, peanut butter, maple syrup, and coconut oil.

All their foodstuffs travel well so you can either take it to go or eat in. There is plenty of seating within, choose your own seat across bleach wood benches and white chairs.

They also have a mini grocery store of sorts with loose leaf teas, nutritional supplements, rice crackers, and healthy candies for sale. Along with many bottles of their cold press juices ready to go.

But my favourite thing about their space is their single stalled toilet with avocado print wallpapering.

 

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.
Given how great the two bowls we tried were, I am pretty keen on returning to give their “Jackfruit taco bowl” or their spring roll with marinated tofu a try. And given the numerous locations, I need not just venture all the way out to Steveston to do so. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

JUICE TRUCK
12151 First Ave, Richmond, BC V7E 3M1
604-285-5404
thejuicetruck.ca

2nd Annual OneCoffee Brunch & Guided Tasting

One Coffee’s Brunch Takeover at Chambar

This marks the 2nd annual “OneCoffee” brunch takeover, this year hosted by the Belgium restaurant, “Chambar”. Having never enjoyed brunch at “Chambar” before, I was doubly excited for what was to come. Last year we were celebrating “OneCoffee’s” single-serve coffee pods being 100% compostable, and this year we were gathered to acknowledge that fact, and help lead to some change.

Clocking in their 5th year, “One Coffee” is still Western Canada’s largest coffee roaster, operating out of Burnaby and Richmond. Details about the brand we would learn from “OneCoffee’s Q-Grader”, Tim Cole. He is one of Canada’s only certified coffee experts, much like what a sommelier is to wine. He earned this destination by passing several palette and scent tests. Meaning he has a “nose for coffee”.

And today he spoke to us on the quality of each pod and the amount of work that goes into their coffee. It begins with finding the right framers to grow the best and most sustainable beans. They pride themselves on being organic and fair trade, meaning that the farmers they work with get more than just a dollar a pound. Each batch is tested to ensure it is roasted to perfection. A process that concludes with their coffee being wrapped up in a 100% compostable pod, which is nothing but a mesh filter and no plastic: meaning no waste.

And now they have put 4 years of work into making their pods 100% compostable, they want other coffee pod producers to do the same. They are enlisting fans of their product and all those who care for the environment to sign their petition. A petition urging the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change to ban the sale of non-compostable coffee pods across Canada, and to enact legislation requiring all green-waste contractors across the country to accept 100% compostable coffee pods at their facilities. And all this comes at a perfect time when our city is already more aware and in the midst of decreasing its plastic waste by banning plastic straws.

So take 5 minutes and sign the petition by visiting the link below. There is also ways on how you can donate to the cause or share the petition to increase its awareness.

http://chng.it/PGfrjmvKDM

But now back to the coffee. Everything we tried today was brewed from a single serve machine. And we were recommended to sip each cup black, as is. The effective argument was, you don’t add cream or sugar to wine or beer, so why would you do it to coffee. Coffee, begins a similar product that is specially gathered and brewed with a specific flavour in mind.

The following three blends were chosen for today’s sampling given how they paired with our brunch items to come.

But first we started with a specialty crafted coffee cocktail.: “Friar Frappe”. “OneCoffee” French roast, Bailey’s Irish cream, green chartreuse, and mint. This was a great pick me up and got everyone in the mood for more coffee.

Then one by one we tried the Columbian, Ethiopian, and Peruvian blends
The “Colombian blend” was a mild cup with overtones of sweet wine. It is finished with clean and subtle notes of citrus and herbs.
The “Ethiopian blend” is grown in the rolling hills of Ethiopia. It is hand picked and gently washed, then sun-dried. It stars with floral notes and finishes off with a delicate and lingering flavour.
The “Peruvian blend” is a dark roast found in the uppermost regions of Peru. It is an understated coffee with a mildly acidic and rounded body. It is finished with the sweetness of honey sourced from neighbouring countries.

Our two-course brunch, started with a Belgium waffle served with a custom made “OneCoffee” Sumatran blended ganache. The waffle was sweet and fluffy, and the dipping sauce spiced, warming you up with its nutty tones.

The second course gave diners four options to choose from including granola and fruit yoghurt or a mushroom omelette.

I had the “Bob Matin” which was a deconstructed sandwich. You picked and curated each bite with either thin slices of prosciutto, sweet tomato, mashed avocado, a briny olive tapenade, softened Brie, a perfect soft boiled egg, and/or crunchy sourdough. I built it all into a full sandwich and enjoyed each colourful bite. This was best paired with “One Coffee’s Ethiopian blend”.

But the “Paella” was the most popular choice, and what majority of the room ordered. It was served in a skillet with one fried egg, curried orzo, hot Spanish chorizo, charred tomato salsa, cucumber, and pickled cilantro. This was a slightly spicy and hearty portion that paired best with “One Coffee’s Peruvian Blend”.

A delicious meal, some terrific coffee, and a brunch with a mission. For those looking to try “OneCoffee” 100% compostable coffee machine pods, they are available in “London Drugs, the organic isle of “Superstore”, “Choices, and “Whole Foods”.

ONE COFFEE
http://onecoffee.com

Elephant Garden Creamery

There has been much buzz surrounding Vancouver’s latest ice cream parlour, especially seeing as they have had a quieter opening this winter season. But once you try their small batch scoops, you’ll see why. Dare I say, this is my new favourite ice cream place. I really enjoy their Asian flavour offerings, and don’t find their ice cream too sweet. The setting is simple and their location is easy to get to, with enough parking in the area.

The following post is written across two visits within 2 weeks, in the cold of winter, with snow fall warnings. That’s how much I liked my first taste.

Here, is when I first entered their minimalistic shop. White walls, light coloured wooden planks, and the occasional elephant ceramic. The latter and their elephant-head-shaped-scoop-on-a-cone logo emphasized their name. I also liked their use of several overturn cones as lamp shades, a unique lighting feature leading you from the entrance their cash desk and counter.

There, is where you can sample any of their rotating flavours. This changes monthly, thus encouraging customers to return to try their new favourite flavour, and having additional servings before any one is retired.

I did a double scoop of the “HK milk tea” and the “Vietnamese coffee” ice cream. The milk tea was accurate in flavour, you get the essence of the black tea and the creaminess of the would be milk. I just wanted the flavour of the pearls in it too, or at least their chewiness.
The “Vietnamese coffee” was more punchy. You got the strong flavour of coffee, married with the sweetness of condense milk.

On my second visit I came with a friend and between our double scoop waffle cones I got to write about four more of their flavours.

I had a scoop of the “hojicha cheese tea”, after liking the sample of it I got during my last visit. It was salty with the cheese, and nice against the neutral flavour of the tea. And it tasted just like how hojicha tea with a salted cheese foam top would taste. It paired well with my “cookies n’ cream monster”, giving me a wonderful salty and sweet combo, enjoyed in this lickable, dessert format. The ice cream was dyed blue with butterfly pea flower. It was less creamy, and a lot more sweet with the crunchy biscuit bits.

My lactose allergic friend went for a scoop each of their two vegan flavours. She tasted both and liked both. She agreed that the “Mango sticky rice” was a new no dairy ice cream solution. I was amazed how it actually gave you the flavour of the sticky rice, along with the bits of mango. Very unique and very fun. Next she had the “horchata”, which she commented that you don’t see a traditional milk based drink made vegan like this often, or at all. This too tasted us promised, and not too sweet.

 

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.
As I mentioned, this is my new favourite ice cream place, for taste, price, and accessibility. But of note, I am partial to their Asian flavours, finding them new to Vancouver’s ice cream scene, or at least they are the first to have as much variety as they do. Worth trying the next time you are on “The Drive”. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ELEPHANT GARDEN CREAMERY
2080 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC, V5N 4B2
604-251-6832
elephantgarden.ca
Elephant Garden Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Wizard’s Brunch

This was Vancouver’s very first Harry Potter themed event. The closest thing and way to gather all fans of the wizarding world to engage under one roof. So when the event was advertised and tickets went on sale my friends and I purchased ours at the top dollar price of $240, including taxes. Therefore I went it expecting a lot. It was good for the most part, but I did not leave feeling like I got my money’s worth.

Given that Harry Potter is a licensed and copy writed character they couldn’t directly come out and say it was an event honouring the boy wizard, instead they titled festivities a “Wizard’s brunch”. And on the night called on all wizards like Merlin and Gandalf from all magical worlds.

I enjoyed the idea and liked the ability to dress up and play make believe with a group of like minded individuals. There were plenty of photo ops and the setting was done right, but there was not enough to do and to keep everyone engaged throughout. We found ourselves lapping the banquet hall for the sake of keeping busy.

The event hosted two separate seatings, the actual brunch was in the day and best suited for children. So we selected the dinner service with an emphasis on drinking, at a greater ticket cost.

Dinner began at 7pm but for those who came to the convention centre earlier, they were treated to games, photo booths, props for photo ops, and live owls to hold. All of which remained out side the grand hall, for guests to enjoy once the dinner had started. A giant chess board with pieces the size of tall toddlers. Bean bags you toss into corn holes. Wooden dominoes, ring toss with glass bottles, and an oversized connect four game. We played with them all, but they weren’t specifically wizard related or all that magical. I am guessing they use these for all the events they host because it was fun for the most part.

 

For a look at the above and to watch the more dynamo highlight reel of the night, check out my latest YouTube video, now up on my channel: MaggiMei.

 

What was more Harry Potter related was the stacks of old timey luggage that made great props and backdrops. And there were “brick wall” cut outs, but no platform 9 3/4 to stand in front of. There were cardboard frames to stand behind and to hold up around your face. One had you as a “famous wizard”, the other made you wanted, asking “have you seen this wizard?”

The phone booth gave things a British feel, and the suspended broom prop made it seem like you were floating, although difficult to get on and off of. Each station was great, but it would have been nice to have staff helping to take photos for groups, and directing individuals for the best poses.

But hands down the best lines were the ones waiting to hold, pet, and take a photo with an owl. There were 3 different species, each with its own look. I have never been this close to an owl and emotionally it was a treat, they are so magical by nature.

As for dinner seating, your name is listed alphabetically across several easels, you use them to find out where you are stationed. Although you actually selected this before hand, signing up for what “house” you want to represent. They were 3 out of 4 of the original Harry Potter house colours, but with completely different house masters and different mascot animals. The latter would be revealed to us as the banquet began.

Dinner was called and we took our seats in the great hall, and this scene did not disappoint. The ceiling was hung with floating candles and “flying” sheets of paper. There was plenty of whimsy, wide eyed wonder, and camera clicks. Seating is your choice, any where on your assigned table, in your “house”. In our “colours” we would spend the night completing for points and cheering for our team. All for the win of the “treasured house cup – the one cup to rule them all!”

House Brigit was red, and it’s Head of house is Master Ambrosia. House Arawn was purple, it’s head of house is Master Frick. House Morrigan wore Green with its Head of house was Master Mordred. And House Dagda was designated blue, with its Head of house Master Gaius. We sat in “blue” and were rewarded the win for our choice. My friend choose it, aligning herself with the studious Ravenclaw, which I deemed why we won: we were seated in the “smart house”. Although my other friend wore red and yellow for Gryffindor, and I followed my heart and my favourite colour in my choice to be Slytherin.

The night began with welcoming introductions from the above and below cast of characters. Actors took on roles in full costume and accents. There was Merlin the head master and seven teachers of both the old and new orders. From the invite: “Our Master Merlin is a Grey Wizard and the only one in the Coven who is capable of restoring balance and order. Our other members comprise of both the light and shadow sides of magic. Lady Nimue is the Mistress of the Light, where Lady Morgana Le Fay is the mistress of the Shadow side”.

Throughout the night there was on stage entertainment, although the stage was small compared to the expanse of the banquet hall and there were very limited “good seats”. Thankfully there was a live feed and filming, and each performance was broadcasted on to one of the large screens around the hall.

There were silk rope dancer/acrobats to start off the night. And an orchestra playing as we enjoyed our appetizers and entrees that came at the same time.

Fire dancers shocked and awe with spinning flames and choreographed routines. And the magician not only amazed us, but he made us laugh as well.

There was also a tarot card reader off stage, but it was poorly advertised and hard to hear her reading.

I wanted more such entertainment and less of the scripted banter between house masters. The fake rivalry and over the top “emotions”. I didn’t want to know the characters back stories or their dynamic with one another. None the less we watched spell classes where an actor was levitated and held there. And potions class where smoke bombs were followed by an invitation to visit the cash bar for your own “potion”.

Entry included a drink ticket each. You redeem it any of their bar stations for wine, beer, or a non alcoholic themed drink. I had the latter to get into the spirit. “The Wizard’s Brew”, a concoction of ginger ale, whipped cream and rainbow coloured candy. Mine had tangy nerds candy, other glasses were topped with sweet tarts or jelly beans.

As for the food, the convention centre catered, and I was disappointed by the quality for the venue and the cost. They could have done more with dinner. Having the food more representative of the theme. You could have this exact meal at any wedding, held at this convention centre. I wanted the desserts dressed like golden snitches and the cakes decorated with more magic in mind. The main could have been Cornish game hens and pheasants, to better represent the period we were in.

Served family style the following appetizers were passed around. “House baked rolls” with balls of butter. A little hard, but nothing extra butter couldn’t help along.

The “Cornish pastries” were empanadas filled with chicken and potato. They were a little dry and the flavour fairly bland. They could have used a sauce or some dip for kick, but at least the texture of the pastry was good.

The “mixed greens” were pretty standard, leafy greens, grape tomatoes, and shaved fennel. I didn’t try any of it, but from looks alone, I could tell this lacked enough English dressing to coat and flavour the salad.

The “herb, garlic chicken wings” were over cooked and lacked seasonings. However they were still my favourite dish of the night; and that says a lot.

For entrees everyone got the plated short rib, unless otherwise specified. This was “Merlot braised Canadian angus beef short rib”, vegetable mirepoix, porcini sauce, tricoloured roasted potatoes, and market vegetable”. This too was dry and hard, the inevitability of mass produced plates serving hundreds of people. I was so disappointed that I didn’t even finish my serving. The strands of beef were dried, the sauce flat, and the vegetable a little undercooked.

For dessert you had your choice between 4 small bites, or simply indulging in all 4. The “sticky toffee” was self served by the slice, as a cake. This was my favourite of the desserts. Not too sweet, it was more caky sponge than sticky toffee, which I preferred.

Similar in texture was the “double chocolate cupcake” with chocolate buttercream.

But if you want your chocolate fix you would like the “whiskey hazelnut praline”. The menu listed it as being topped with popping candy, but I did not get that. Overall too chocolatey rich for my taste.

I enjoyed the “vanilla panna cotta” with raspberry gelee and peach compote. It was pretty decent, a nice tart and tangy palate cleanser, with creamy jello-like texture and sticky sweet syrup.

The night drew to a close with a trivia round. Each house sought out their champion through a series of questions. The winner competed, representing their house and earning it points. The question not only included Harry Potter trivia but contestants were also quizzed on their fandom of “Game of Thrones” and “Lord of the Rings” as well.

There were also physical challenges for volunteers, a way to earn a last bout of points. Competing contestants were asked to fill “orbs of deceptions” (balloons) with their own breath and then try to break it by sitting on them. Then there were challenged to commit “Consumption without arms”, eating Oreos off of their own foreheads.

There was also dancing, chanting, and cheering hosted by the “dance master”, “Justin Tempo”, who doubled as the event’s hype man. He got the party started with beats and singing. He was the most entertaining and natural of all the actors, and I couldn’t help but play along.

And finally they awarded those who came dressed the best. The best in show amongst the witches, wizards, and all the magical creatures. With first and second place winners earning themselves “Bottles of potions” (wine) as prizes, as voted by cheers from the crowd.

But past 9:30pm you could tell there was a shift in the room, people were full and tired. Less and less clapped, even less paid attention to the show on stage. But for those able to keep the party going, towards the back of the room, there was a dance floor installed. With strobe lights and top 40 beats, guests in full costume took to the floor. This was a fun way to end the night. And although the official event ended at 10pm, the space was free for use until 1am. There were plenty of opportunities and mentions to grab a drink at the bar that remained opened.

Overall, I had fun with the company I was in. However, I wouldn’t need a round two of the event, (they came back to the city); even if they decreased the ticket price. I understand the need to make profit and the cost of the film crew, wait staff, venue, owl handlers and all the acts in between. However it didn’t blow me away like other $250 shows with food and performers and an elaborate backdrops, that I have been to, did. Sad because I made the effort and dress up in full costume with a wig to boot.

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