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

Month: November 2020

Anthem Pizza

With the second wave lockdown in effect, there is no better time to introduce a new pizza delivery company to the Lower Mainland: Anthem Pizza. Campy and fun, their packaging and motto sets them apart. That, and their charitable mission. Every slice you purchase has Anthem giving back to one of three worthy charities. One: BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Two: Unison Benevolent Fund, which helps Canadian musicians in times of hardship, illness or economic difficulties by providing counselling and emergency relief. And in time for the tail end of November: Movember, where Anthem will be donating 10% of its proceeds from each pizza sold, to Movember. Movember is charity dedicated to addressing and advancing men’s health issues like mental health, suicide prevention, and prostate and/or testicular cancer.

“Pizza with a purpose” aside, if you need even more reasons to purchase their pies, look no further than to their packaging. Each pie comes in a pink and white stripped box with punk rock and pop culture references. Artsy and fun they serve just as much as a statement as they do cardboard container. But if you are like me, you may want to Google some of the faces you don’t recognize, to learn a thing or two. And if you like what you see, they have put it on a tee, for sale. Available for ordering from their online store.

And as for the pizza, I was delivered two, contact-free. The first was “The Ace of Spades”. A simple margherita pizza made with tomato sauce, basil, fior di latte, and extra virgin olive oil. Simple and clean over a more bread-like dough. Here, what you see is what you get, pulled together with a sweeter tomato sauce. Mild and gentle is the best way to describe it.

Similarly, the “Hot Honey” we tried used the same sweeter tomato sauce base, and to it added hot soppressata calabrese, black olives, shredded mozzarella, and Mike’s Famous Hot Honey. Sadly I was most excited for the latter, so found myself missing it when I didn’t get much sweetness of spice. It would have been nice to have a container of it on the side for self drizzle. Other than that this was another play no games pizza, delivering on its ingredient list; all over a chewy, more bready crust. So bread-like that I wanted a dip with it and found myself reaching of the bottle of ranch in the fridge.

And if you are interesting in giving them a try, now is the time. To celebrate its official launch, Anthem will be offering its Motörhead-inspired ‘Ace of Spades’ (a.k.a. Margherita) pizzas for only $10 (regular $18); from‪ Friday, November 20 through to Monday, November 30.‬ This exclusive offer is only available when you use the promo code ‘ANTHEM’ when ordering online via anthempizza.ca for pickup at The Five Point Restaurant & Pub (‪3124 Main Street‬) and Park Drive (1815 Commercial Drive). Quantities are limited to one pizza, per customer nightly, while supplies last.

Anthem Pizza
604-425-1129
anthempizza.ca

Vancouver Island in the 2021 Nissan Rogue

Covid has set everyone back, from work to play it has changed plans and turned everyone on their axis. Plans I had of travelling internationally, became exploring my local province more intimately this past year. From the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan Valley, and as far as Grand Forks. And pass Whistler and further North to Lillooet. So for my last vacation of 2020, I decided to branch out to the island.

I have been to Vancouver Island a handful of times, so was now excited to visit during a different season. Fall for the changing colour of the wilderness, some fall fungi foraging, storm watching, and late season fishing. The plan was to go with the flow, allowing curiosity and the call of adventure to take us to all corners of the Island. Skipping the metropolis of Victoria, our travel started at the ferry terminal of Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay. (This was before the non-essential lock down mind you).

Our vehicle of choice, the new 2021 Nissan Rogue. This would be our primary mode of transportation and place of rest. So the right vehicle was essential. And the Rogue fit the bill. We would be the first to set her through her paces; from a mere 555km on the odometer to more than quadruple that by week’s end. With the ever changing terrain and we travelled from muddy roads to steep watersides. From gravel paved and pothole filled pathways, to wet highways, and even snowy mountainsides. And for all of the above, the 2021 Nissan Rogue had a mode for that. Off-road, snow, eco, and sport. The ability to adjust with a twist of a knob as needed kept us comfortable and safe.

Upon landing earlier in the day, we swung by to the nearest city, and the closest breakfast spot. This happened to be Mary’s Bleue Moon Cafe in Sydney BC. Across the way from BC’s aviation museum, Mary’s served as the cafe and bar for pilots and aviation enthusiasts alike. Decorated with historic newspaper clippings and artifacts, the restaurant doubled as a museum dating all the way back to WWII, in its own right.

Equipped with masks the restaurant sat us at our own socially distant table, within the dining area. Breakfast was a collection of classics egg scrambles and pancakes, sprinkled with more innovative options like breakfast crepes and a build your own omelette.

We shared a full order of their Westcoast Benny with smoked salmon, shrimp and lobster on an English muffin. Topped with a perfectly poached egg and their house made hollandaise sauce, enjoyed with crispy hashbrown potatoes on the side. Sadly, the salmon did overpower the other seafood, leaving me missing the lobster. Heck, I got more cocktail shrimp than lobster. It would have been nice to have lobster stock added to their hollandaise as a fun twist.

And despite being able to make such an assembly myself, I find that I still lean towards such breakfast platters when dining out. But more so today given the name was “breakfast of champions”, and boy did I sure did feel like one. Served on a glass fish plate this was bacon, ham, sausage, with three eggs done your way, hashbrowns, and toast. Definitely a classic for a reason. And maybe it was because I was on carefree vacation mode, but each individual ingredient tasted better: fresher than it would have in the big city.

Then it was off towards Campbell River, the capital of salmon fishing, in the world. With a pit stop in the larger city centre of Nanaimo first. There, I took in some local street art and grabbed a coffee and a treat at local hot spot: The Vault. Given the time, I would have found myself here for a meal.

We spent two days and two nights in Campbell, parked by one of the lakes in Elk Park. Our backdrop: warming clouds, thick greenery, and still waters.

We kept warm in the car thanks to a sleeping bag and multiple blankets piled high. The driver and passenger seat proved comfortable when driving upright with its lumbar support. Although the curvature of the seats less so when fully reclined in slumber. Night two was spent in the tailgate with back seats flattened, this proved more ergonomic.

 

There was so much to see just cruising around in the 2021 Nissan Rogue with its panoramic sun roof. We discovered pockets perfect for mushroom foraging. Mossy fields teeming with chanterelles, chicken of the woods, elm mushrooms, boletes, cremini, and hedgehog mushrooms. All of which we cooked and ate during our trip.

There were many more mushrooms that were just stunning, but not to be consumed.

Most amazing were the ones we found on the roadside. The bounty and their available was amazing. Especially considering how hard we have to hunt within the lower mainland for such treasures.

The most memorable moment for me during our time in Campbell was fishing with a mama bear and her two cubs. You could see them across the river way. She caught multiple chums with her paw and snout in the cold water, and I couldn’t even get a bite with my bait.

At Campbell we found comfort in the historic Ideal Cafe, established in 1940’s. One lunch was a soggy Monte Cristo with house roasted turkey breast, shaved ham, and mozzarella cheese. Sandwiched between two pieces of egg battered French toast. It was heavy and on the bland side. I ordered it confusing it with a French croque-monsieur. I hoped a dip in the side of tomato and turkey soup would help add some tang, but alas was disappointed by how bland this was too. In retrospect, I have gotten a bowl of their thick and tasty seafood chowder instead. The fish and chips proved tastier with the house made tartar sauce and fries that the server suggested we add a side of gravy for dipping to. This did not disappoint.

Another meal was spent at A&W. Chicken sandwiches and onion rings enjoyed across the spacious Nissan Rogue’s cabin and arm rest.

 

One dinner had us travelling to Courtenay to take in island night life. A couple flights of beer and a burger with fries at Gladstone Brewery. I fully enjoyed their garage theme that included the up cycled use of old licence plates to holster a flight of four.

Their unique collection of burgers included the “Chrome Dome” a ground pork burger that came in a “Egg in a Hole” Potato Bun. Fun to look at, but hard to eat. The house blended tannadice ground pork was seasoned sweet. It was the dominat flavour profile, whereas I could have used more saltiness from their Natural Pastures Courtenay cheddar cheese or some tang from the Hazy Pale Ale onion relish. But it was the poutine on the side that stole the show with its tasty gravy and meltEd cheese over chewy fries. I always recommend breweries or distilleries as points of interest to visit when travelling, their unique offerings are worth partaking in.

Although, my favourite meal was the one we prepared our self; dry, under the protective tailgate of the 2021 Nissan Rogue. Using propane and camping cookware we sautéed chanterelles with zucchini, pan fried cubes of spam, and boiled up three packets worth of mi goreng. All served up on a plastic plates along side a bottle of red wine.

The day after, our travels took us from Salmon and Kennedy River, to the Pacific Ocean. With a stop and a two night stay in the “Lazy bear cabin” Airbnb in Ucluelet. This was unfortunately amidst of a blackout, due to strong winds blowing down power lines. Luckily our stay coincided with the tail end of it, and power resumed later in the evening. Having been sleeping in the Rogue, we came equipped with our own torches and flashlights; and even had a lamp to keep us warm. Water ran, but it was cold. Therefore our long awaiting shower comprised of a damp rag and boiled water, much like what we were doing before this night.

Nonetheless we made the best out of the situation, keeping warm with layers and warm beverages. Specifically Tofino Distillery’s old growth cedar gin mixed with earl grey tea and ginger ale, for a warm you inside out sorta cocktail.

Dinner was made possible thanks to the barbecue outside and the town’s only grocery store still open. Without electricity they were unable to keep meat cool and therefore dinner compromised of canned corned beef, grilled vegetables and a mix of the chanterelles we collected, along side chicken of the wood. The latter is a type of mushroom, aptly named for its texture that resembles dried chicken. A little too rough for me, but a first experience worth trying nonetheless.

Eventually the power did come back, and we were able to have a late night snack prepared within the warmth of our Airbnb cabin. Snack was toast made with luncheon meat, cheese, and a chanterelle omelette in between two slices of garlic bread. Served along with French pressed coffee and a salted caramel cheesecake slice.

The next day, fresh off of the excitement of having electricity. I made an elm and chanterelle cream of mushroom soup, served along side a different garlic toast sandwich. This time with a sunny side up egg and sautéed elm mushroom filling.

Well fed, it was then off to explore the city of Ucluelet some. Starting with the first look of the Pacific for the week; and a light hike that included a loop around a light house, where winds carried waves and crashed them angrily against large rocks.

As per the locals we grabbed coffee and the Foggy Bean and snacks at Zoe’s Bakery.

And for our last sheltered night in the Airbnb I upcycled leftover mushroom soup into a Parmesan rich, wild mushroom, Alfredo pasta. The perfect side to medium rare steak, grilled tomato, and sautéed hedgehog mushrooms. To drink: wine, was the very same vintage used to make the soup/pasta.

Breakfast the next day was enjoyed on the damp porch outback. Our cabin included its own forest and redwood tree to take in as we ate what we had leftover from the days before.

After a speedy checkout it was off to Tofino and the tsunami hazard done for the last leg of our trip. Here, gentler waves creeping up sandy shores replaced violent ones. Surfers enjoyed the water under them and we the rain that fell above us.

And what is a visit to Tofino, with a stop at the original tacofino truck? There, I recommend their fish tacos for its freshness and the gringa for its lack of availability anywhere else. The chicken gringa, is a 6 inch flour tortilla stuffed with chicken, cheese, salsa, and sour cream; then grilled until gooey and crispy.

Then it was a safe and easy drive back to Nanaimo to catch the ferry home to Vancouver, safe and sound thanks to the 2021 Nissan Rogue. A solid SUV, with enough room to sleep in, even when you over pack. With plenty of comfort and modern features for extended driving. And an amazing fuel economy to get you further and faster than you expected. In short the 2021 Nissan Rogue is a great travel vehicle in our books, and one to consider if you live a similar lifestyle to the one I described above. Thank you Nissan for the loaner and the memories.

Bisou Bake House

With the most recent Covid 19 lockdown, due to the increase in cases in B.C., I have been finding myself outdoors even more. I have taken to fishing and the season for coho is fast approaching, so I have been dedicating my weekends out in the country. Rain or shine, cold and colder I have left the warm and connivence of home for the great outdoors. So this weekend, I was delighted to receive a care packaged from Bisou Bakehouse in North Vancouver.

They are well known of their pastries and cakes, so had packed me a selection of their post popular goods, and I happily took them with me to my latest excursion. Given the lack of heat or cooking source, I thought that these would make the perfect snacks for me and my companions. A box of goodie to bring some civility to the wild. And boy they and we appreciative.

Despite them being less then room temperature and a day old, they ate wonderfully. Each croissant and danish was just as flaky as I would expect it to be coming out of their glass showcase.

Most memorable was the cheese croissant that made into a sandwich, cutting it in half and filling it with a grilled smokey. It was cheese on cheese and oh so perfect.

As is, I particularly liked the peach danish with its sweet fruit and luscious cream, offering contrast to the buttery pastry. The blueberry one gave you some crunch with its pecans. The same crushed nuts also found its way into a moist muffin. Moisture that I wish the cinnamon roll had more of. But that would have been too messy to eat as a handheld.

Much like the whole blueberry pie Bisou also sent me, but I thought that would be better suited to dining at home. Fresh BC blueberries baked within a golden brown crust. Warmed up for a little gooeyness. If they ate this good in the wild, I can only imagine fresh out of the oven. This taster has inspired me to head into the actual store, the next time I am in their neck of the woods.

Bisou Bake House
1189 16th St W, North Vancouver, BC V7P 1R4
(604) 984-9478
bisoubakehouse.com

2020 Mercedes GLB250 Review

This week was my first time cruising around in a Mercedes, and thanks to this little test drive, I can fully understand the difference a badge makes. Not just luxury for luxury sake, the 2020 Mercedes GLB250 is equipped with enough bells and whistles to justify the price tag you’d expect.

For those reading for the first time, this is my real girl car reviews. I don’t claim to be an automotive expert or even enthusiast. I am just an ordinary, everyday girl. One with relatable questions and loud opinions. So here I put vehicles under the microscope of an every day, regular commuter, just like you.

So as far as SUVs go, I was imagining a behemoth, but walking up to this midsize 5 seater, I found it approachable. Set lower to the ground, with roundness at all its edges it felt compact. From appearance alone, a good size for every day driving. Taking you through narrow neighbourhoods with either sides of the street packed with parked cars, to wide lanes on a highway going 100km/hr. Which by the way, is my commute, and the gauntlet I put the 2020 GLB through. And thankfully the fuel economy was good, enough that I was able to enjoy the drive and afford to eat out that week.

It easy drivability, with multiple modes, and all the modern conveniences of lane assist and turn signal warning aside, the Mercedes comes with several fun features all unique to itself, or at least less common in other-like vehicles on the market. Starting off with the most noticeable and notable is the ambient lighting feature. You have the ability to custom colour code the interior of the GLB to your mood or liking. From a frosty blue to calm your nerves during rush hour, to a fiery red that match the stitching of the suede interior. If the swirling through a colour wheel proves too much, or you are overwhelmed with the possibilities, you can simply select one of their predetermined colour combinations. This includes gradient colour changes across the dash, air vents, and pipping along the driver and passenger door. With names like “jungle green” and “ocean blue”, it certainly add to the vibe.

And speaking of customizations, you can just as intricately customize your seat. From micro movements of it tilting, adjusting, and maneuvering. Worth mentioning is the lumbar, giving you the perfect protrusion to best align to your spine. I strongly suggest giving yourself 30 minutes at minimum to toggling between the above two. I spent 10 minutes alone on colour wheel. Overall the seats are comfy enough, I am just not a fan of the suede; and how it looks against this dressier cabin. It almost played everything around it down.

As for the functionality, it took a while to get use to churning the windshield wipers on the left hand side of the wheel. Whereas all the vehicles I have had before this, it has been a flicking of a handle on the right hand side. Instead, the Mercedes GLB250 has its gear shift on the right. With a flick up you are in reverse, a motion down puts you in drive, neutral is somewhere in between; and park has you pressing the end of the toggle. This definitely put a strain on my three point turn game, and increased anxiety when I had to do quick turns across four lanes of two way traffic. Although towards the end of the week it became habitual, and I was then stuck trying to adjust back to business as usual when I was forced to revert to my regular daily driver.

Similar in learned comfort was the position of my right hand on the arm rest. Built with an island for your wrists, the cushion served as a brace for your hand. You stationary hand, as you toggled through the infotainment system by means of touch pad. If it proves too difficult to use it and look down when driving, you can just as easily utilize the touch screen on the centre console. But with so many options and settings to rifle through, I once again suggest taking the time to read your manual and getting to know your Mercedes GLB250 a little better before hitting the road. And that says something, coming from a woman who is impatient and never reads instructions. A woman who prefers simply jumping it and learning through trial and error.

Sadly, my test drive didn’t happen during summer and I wasn’t able to enjoy ample sun and hot weather with the GLB250’s panoramic sun roof. Although there can be something said about watching the rain beat and bead off it. Similarly, I didn’t get to enjoy the spacious seats or get to invite others to. And it was a very spacious interior, much like the trunk. Extra space as such is great if you have lot to transport, and even better so with the trunk assist. Like placing your hand under an automatic paper towel dispenser, the trunk slowly rises with the motion of your foot under the SUV’s carriage. Great if you are alone and have your hands full, even better as a party trick.

Overall the vehicle certainly impressed, each person who saw me in it, or got the pleasure of riding within it was impressed. The experience was worth it, and now I have a better understanding of the brand and how it’s defined by such detailing as this. Thanks for the ride Mercedes Canada.

https://www.mercedes-benz.ca/en/home

#Mijune x Chez Christophe Collaboration 2020

For those who don’t know her, Mijune Pak is local Vancouverite food blogger turned TV judge, and now chocolatier.

Our very own television personality has teamed up with local favourite,
Swiss Chocolatier, Chez Christophe to release two limited edition chocolate centric treats. They are currently available on the shelves of Chez Christophe Patisserie in North Burnaby, until quantities last. Both scream Canadiana and speak to her home and native land with Canadian inspired packaging and flavour combinations.

The first is a Maple Syrup French Toast white chocolate bar. 34% white chocolate, 35% caramelized white chocolate, maple syrup, and French toast cookie to be exact. Unwrapping this is a treat in itself. With stunning packaging and a sweet (excuse the pun) message within. This heartfelt thanks is surrounded by linear drawings of Canada meets Switzerland (speaking to the heritage of the chocolate). A sketch of mountains to cityscapes and the farms and lakes in between.

The chocolate itself is segregated to align to the mountain peaks of the cardboard wrap. This gives you a stunning visual, but inconsistent prices to break off. But no matter, you are going to end up eating more than you anticipated any how. It’s that good. And then there is the sweet spray painted maple leaf outline detail. A fun homage. As for taste, the white chocolate isn’t too sweet (coming from a person who doesn’t like too many sweets). It is well balanced by the fragrant maple syrup notes. The cookie adds texture and crunch for some mouth interest. A delicious bar I would purchase again for myself, and as a gift for others. And this says a lot as I am not typically a fan of chocolate in general. Although if it has to be chocolate, it has to be white chocolate.

And if you are only going to get one of these two limited edition releases, it has to be the Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowball. This show stopper is an activity and dessert all rolled into one (yes, I like puns). A gradient: red to pink, and to white round with black speckles dispersed throughout. The viral challenge attached to this, is finding clever and artistic ways to crack into the piñata ball of sorts.

Within, is a bevy of tiny chocolate balls, nuggets of chocolate covered marshmallows, and chunks of cookies and freeze dried strawberries. Once again the chocolate and flavours are well balanced. It isn’t too sweet and every element just sings in harmony. If half the fun is breaking into it, the other half is exploring its insides. This is a great reward for any kid or adult. And for a lucky few, if your ball contains a magic ticket, you win a dessert experience with Mijune herself!

Chez Christophe
4717 Hastings St, Burnaby, BC V5C 2K8
(604) 428-4200
chez-christophe.ca

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