VieAMaggi.com

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

Category: Life Page 1 of 9

Tandoori Kona, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

I wouldn’t necessarily travel to Richmond for Indian cuisine, but thanks to the “Feast Dining Festival” I had a reason to. This is the 2nd year of the “Asian Dining festival”, where a discounted price and a special menu invites diners down to Richmond to check out restaurants that they might otherwise know about, or think to visit. With over 30 different restaurants to try, there is something for everyone including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, and Indian cuisine. The festival is running from now until November 18th.

And in order to get me to Richmond and around the island city, I had the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent” for the week. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle.

I was excited to see how busy the restaurant was on a Tuesday. I figured majority of the patrons were here for the festival. However, there wasn’t a sign of this menu in sight. I had to ask for one to be able to order the following.

For $36 you got you choice of 4 dishes in their customizable set meal. And with plenty of rice and naan as sides, this feeds two with leftovers. For your appetizer and entree you get a choice of two from a list of 5-6 items. The following is what we had.

To start, we had some drinks. My guest enjoyed his strong chai tea. However, I was less enthusiastic with my “mango lassi”. As the first taste of the night, it really set the tone for everything else to follow. Despite the chilled temperature of the glass, the beverage itself was room temperature warm. I have never had lassi like this, and would imagine that a yogurt-based drink would be refrigerated. I brought my concern up to one of the two young servers, and her solution was to put the glass in the fridge to chill it. This did little and I missed not having it to sip on for half my meal. As for the drink itself it was thick and tart, not fresh, creamy, and chilled like I wanted.

Similarly, a lot of the food came at the wrong temperature. I took little photos and was quick to allow my hungry guest to eat, so sadly this was a miss on the kitchen’s part.

The “vegetarian pakora” was warm on the outside, but room temperature within. The batter heated, the cauliflower and eggplant not. I am guessing that a microwave was used to reheat it? The pakora was also overwhelmingly salty, with a dry and floury coating. I wanted to dip it in the sauce for some flavour and moisture, but it only made things saltier. The green sauce was a spicy and tangy green chilli. And the red, a sweet and sour blend with a low burn.

The “Chicken samosa” had a similar dry and oily exterior to it, but at least it was warmed throughout. As for the flavour, it fell a little flat with the curry spices. I needed more depth, though the same dipping sauces above helped. I would have also preferred the chicken meat shredded, instead of ground and mealy, and more peas to freshen each bundle up.

Both of the deep fried dishes together was a little too much, a little too greasy, leaving me wanting a green salad for some balance in the set.

Next were the mains, the “Lamb tikka” was exciting. Served sizzling of a hot plate, with tongs so large that it made scooping up the chunks of meat cumbersome. Once again the food felt reheated. The lamb was dry and over cooked, a noticeable contrast to the crispy seared green peppers and onions. The best part of this was the sauce on the side, much like the butter chicken one below, but fully heated.

The thick chunks of chicken in the “Butter chicken” weren’t heated throughout. It at least had a nice soften texture to it, and the sauce was plenty delicious. I especially enjoyed the butter chicken as a dip with the light and fluffy naan, or over the perfectly prepared basmati rice. Both of these sides with this sauce was my favourite part of this set.

Honestly, majority of what we had was tasty, and would be better if given another spin in the microwave. But how do you broach that conversation? “Can I please have this reheated?” Given their unwillingness to remake my lassi, I decided not to bother, and instead pack it all up for leftovers. Lunch or dinner the next day, where I would be able to heat everything up to an ideal temperature, myself.

Not to mention the two young women working the front of house lacked lustre. They didn’t make eye contact and seemed like they didn’t want to be here tonight. Almost like they were a teenage daughter and niece working for their family. Given the number of comfortable guests ordering so much, I expected more relationship building and small chat to foster a community. But I guess there aren’t many Indian restaurants in Richmond, and as the only one in the area with decent pricing, they are still the go-to.

The food was good, it’s just a shame that it wasn’t fresh and that there wasn’t any noise coming from out of the kitchen. For more restaurants to try as a part of the “Feast Asian Dining” event, visit their website link below. https://asianfeast.ca/

 

TANDOORI KONA
11700 Cambie Rd #170, Richmond, BC V6X 1L5
(604) 279-9259
tandoorikonarichmond.com

#asianfeast #subaru #subaruBC #richmondbc
@feast_asian, @docksteadersubaru, @subarucanada, @wolfesubaru @wolfesubaruonboundary @richmondsubaru_bc, @jpsubarunorthshore, @jpsubarucoquitlam, @jpsubarusouth

Foodie Field Trip: Seattle

For the Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend, four foodies and myself got into an SVU and travelled down to Seattle for a foodie field trip. Every two months we make an effort to get together over a meal. We visit a new restaurant that none of us have ever been to, and not only eat with like minds, but take notes and discuss what we are having for the individual blog posts we will each write in review.

And in this post we decided to kick it up a notch with 36 hours of dining at multiple restaurants. This took a month of planning, and back and forth messaging to figure out which restaurants we wanted to visit, on top of all the snacks in between. The below is the result.

We left early in the morning, and when we got into Everett we stopped for a quick snack at McDonalds. I enjoy visiting McDonalds outside of Canada, to see if what they have on their menus is any different than what we have available to us. Today that was a fried chicken and biscuit sandwich and a pumpkin pie.

The former was exactly as described, a crispy strip of peppery chicken, between two halves of a warm moist biscuit. Tasty enough, but dry. It would have been nice to have some mayonnaise, cheese, or barbecue sauce to go with it, a condiment to pull both together. Although this is meant to be a breakfast option, so something lighter is appropriate.

The pumpkin pie was heavy. A creamy mousse with strong spices, you could tell that the pumpkin paste came from a can. The taste was at least spot on, with plenty of cinnamon over its flaky crust.

Then it was straight to Seattle for brunch at “Stateside” restaurant, in the heart of Capital Hill. Inspired by tropical Asian cuisine, This fusion hot spot takes a lot of influences from Vietnamese and French cuisine. For our full 10 course meal visit the link below.

Stateside

From here it was a walk to dessert. However on the way to doughnuts, we stoped for some fried chicken at “Bok Bok”. One of us recognized the fried chicken joint from its appearance on Guy Fier’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. That was reason enough to have me lining up for some wings.

What threw us off was its pasty colouring, but don’t let it fool you, this chicken has plenty of flavour. It is “air dried, double dipped, and fried to order”, and I think I found my new favourite chicken wing. A mural on the wall to the right of the register warns you that this process takes some time, but it promises and delivers on “super juicy chicken with an unforgettable crunch”. And had we the stomach capacity, I probably would have gotten their house made biscuit as a side. I will have to come back for this one.

With meat from bone picked clean, we eventually made it to our intended destination: “General Porpoise”, a local doughnut shop that I was already familiar with. However I recalled them selling more than the 5 doughnuts that they had available at the start of the day. By the time we got there they had sold down to only two options left. Both of which quickly sold out after we ordered ours.

I wasn’t overly excited for the flavours, I like the classics, but rather taste and write about something far more different, something you can’t get at other, like doughnut shops. Nonetheless these were fantastic doughnuts, the dough was light and spongy and the filling fluffy and creamy, without being too sweet. A slightly tart lemon curd and a luscious vanilla cream.

Though if you are looking for doughnuts with a little more character, I suggested endeavouring on the line up at “Dochi”, located in the Uwajimaya Seattle building. Which happed to be our next stop. This would be my first taste of these mochi meets doughnut hybrids. For more on these fusion treats with modern toppings, visit the dedicated blog post below.

Dochi, mochi donuts

From here it was time to check in at our hotel for the night, and take advantage of the complimentary happy hour that comes with it. We were staying at “The Maxwell”, better known as the “pineapple hotel” thanks to its cohesive theme. For the full review, including the decor and the good and bad of our stay, visit the link below.

The Maxwell Hotel, A Staypineapple hotel

We freshened up and headed to our next planned destination. We were invited down to “Best Wine” for a one of a kind wine tasting. Not just a matter of trying each of their labels, but finding the perfect wine to suit your “vino type”. Basically each person falls into one of four categories dependant on their taste buds, and they determined what types of wine you prefer. For more on this innovative way to choose your next vintage, visit the blog review below.

Great Wine Tasting Room

Next it was on to “Flintcreek & Co.” for a decadent dinner of tartare, hand made pasta, 48oz steaks, and molten chocolate desserts. Our idea was to indulge in rich salty foods to balance and best follow the generous wine tasting before. For all of the pricier eats, check out the review below.

FlintCreek Cattle Co.

We had additional plans to go drinking after dinner, but unanimously we were both too full and too tired. So it was time to head back to our hotel room to sleep it off and begin a whole new day of eating next morning. We were all pleasantly surprised by how well we all organized our time sharing one washroom with one toilet and one sink. We each had our routine and designated times and it worked. And through this success, we all decided for our text trip it will be more days together, and that we will need another room.

Then next morning it was brunch at another Asian fusion hot spot. “Super 6”. With its garage themed decor, this spacious restaurant serves up delicious Hawaiian favourites like spam musubi, ahi poke, and little doughnuts stuffed with coconut cream. For all the delicious and must try eats, visit the link below for the full run down.

Super Six

From here it was off to “Full Tilt” arcade and ice cream for a little of both. Classic joystick arcade games for 25 cents per play and the time needed to play off some calories before an ice cream dessert. For more this one of a kind ice cream parlour, click below.

Full Tilt ice cream

And then it was the four hour ride back home to Vancouver. We decided to leave earlier, in order to avoid the rest of the Thanksgiving long weekend traffic, also looking to cross the boarder that day. But between here and there we did some grocery store shopping. Grabbing limited edition snacks at “Walmart” and artisan eats from “Trader Joe’s”.

 

And lastly, we made a pit stop at the “Funko Headquarters” in Everett. “Funko” is the popular collectibles brand. Cute versions of your favourite pop culture icons from movies, tv, comic books, and anime. So many to look at, including life-size versions to take photos of, and the opportunity to make you own. They also sold key chains, plush dolls, broad games, make up, and wearable accessories. For a better recap of this visit, check out my latest vlog now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

In conclusion, this was a great trip and one that we were able to jam pack with plenty of food stops. So successful of a road trip that we went ahead and talked about our next being a few more days in Texas, for barbecue and warmer weather in 2020.

Hail Mary’s

I have been meaning to check out religious themed bar for a while now. And what better time then when looking for a place to drink at, in EastVan?

Although as soon as we walked through the door, things were off to a bad start. The little bar was dark and fairly busy this Thursday night. I spotted two diners leaving and decided to grab their more private high top table, in the corner. A move that would get my guest and I reprimanded by the lone employee working the front of the house. She served as the host, sever, and bartender for everyone seated across 5 tables and plenty of stools by the bar. She called our attention to the sign at the door, the one that we missed due to the darkness of the room. It stated that their only rule is to not sit at an unbussed table. And because we did, for the reminder of the night we felt the cold chill of her upset mood. She was not happy with us, despite the number of drinks and small plates we had ordered and how long we stayed. She was not engaging, never making eye contact, only peering over at us to check-in, but never really taking the time to check on us. Nonetheless the theme of the bar and the novelty of the menu had me staying longer and ordering more, despite the cold shoulder.

With its Catholic theme, “Hail Mary’s” is a little on the controversial side. They use the imagery of Jesus and Mary as decorative elements. Their likeness can be seen across several paintings, porcelain figures, and literature; scattered all across the room. Crucifixes adorned the walls, and the bar had its own alter. The latter included a miniature Jesus statue with a sombrero and his own collection of little bottles of tequila.

They even went so far as to include the washroom in this theatrics. Individual stalls have you choosing between “saint” or “sinner”, each with the motif to match. All “saints” went to heaven, a blue sky and cloud painted room. In contrast “sinner” sent you to the dark and fire-y bathroom of hell. Flames and framed photos of the prince of darkness surround this “throne”.

The menu was just as fun, their list of cocktails kept on with their angelic and demonic themes: “holy grail”, “an evening prayer”, or “penance”. Or you can do what I did, tapping into my “evil side”, I ordered from off their list of 7 deadly sins. Choosing my beverage based on my temperament.

“Envy” was gin, vodka, chartreuse, fresh lime, cucumber. It was green as expected, and slightly bitter to match the emotion.

“Wrath” was pisco el gobernador fresh lime, chilli flavoured simple syrup, and egg white; with a salted rim. The heat and smokiness gave me the fire of anger, and the salt well represented my salty feelings.

Where the above two well represented their respective sin, I didn’t get “Lust” from this one. In fact, I had to check with our server, that she didn’t mistakingly make us another “Wrath” (this only seemed to upset her more as she looked at me and only shook her head in disagreement). “Lust” is a bourbon peach sour with bourbon, peach schnapps, fresh and lime, and egg whites. It tasted like picnic in the park, instead of “sex on the beach”. It is a stretch but maybe the peach symbolizes the innuendo of the peach emoji? Either way, what I wanted and expected from this was a warming drink, something boozier to get you in the mood. Maybe a cocktail with cinnamon and topped with dried rose petals?

My guest choose the “Bleeding hearts” based on its name and use of a whole mini Henkell Piccolo bubbly. Served in a miniature ice bucket, with it you get a carafe of cassis. It is self server as your mix both to your liking, with enough to fill 2 glasses. I liked the idea, but for $16 wanted more depth. Regularly, the bottle itself comes in a pack of 3 for about $20 (at the liquor store). And the cassis is Ribena, a concentrated syrup you dilute with water for a fruity sweet drink. This is around $5-6 a bottle.

When opening the aforementioned bottle the sparkling bubbled up and spilled on to our table and floor. The only thing that came out of our server’s lips was a sigh. She had spilled and now had to clean it up in annoyance. A feeling she conveyed again when the room heard the sound of glass breaking in the back.

With all our drinks we nibbled on a couple of small plates. Their food menu had bar staples like wings, nachos, and a handful of burgers. And included some international flare with brisket tacos, Korean fried chicken lettuce wraps, and Nashville hot chicken sandwiches. They also had some impressive vegan options like chipotle roasted jack fruit tacos and beyond meat burgers and corn dogs. I liked the variety, but didn’t find that they paired well with the cocktails we had, or the experience the bar was serving. I liked the hummus and olive option and the deep fried brie plate; but would have also liked more such elevated bites to nibble on as you sipped slow. And just as much creativity with the food as you got with the drinks. Spicy jerky, a sliced meat charcuterie board, a fire heated fondue, and cotton candy desserts?

Case in point, I liked the “Cauliflower bites”, but not in conjunction with any of my cocktails. So here, I will suggest ordering from their wine or beer list if you are looking for a well rounded meal. These were battered and deep fried cauliflower florets, topped with sesame seeds and scallions and served with a garlic and ginger sauce. The bites were gummy with a soft shell and cooked cauliflower. The spicy and tangy sauce did help to add some interest to the serving.

“Mac and cheese” is a comfort dish and a go-to when I have been drinking. It is the perfect marriage of cheese and carbs that your body craves for, after a handful of drinks. And to this firm noodles and three cheese mix we added a piece of crispy and juicy dark chicken meat. Although at $17.50 (including the $4 chicken add on), I don’t feel like we got our money’s worth in the caliber. Good but more like a side than a main.

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? – Yes.
I like the edginess of the place and the all encompassing theme. Just wanted more value in the food menu and service that keeps you linger long after your food is done. Don’t deny your cravings.

HAIL MARY’S
670 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC V5T 1X6
(604) 829-7032
hailmarys.net

VanDusen Glow in the Garden

One week to Halloween, and VanDusen Garden’s fall light show is back for another year. But as my first time, this was all new to me. From October 17th to the 27th the garden is open daily at 5pm to 9pm. Visitors can take in the displays with the last bit of day light, break for dinner at one of the available food trucks; and then go back to enjoying the sights, with the dark of the night making the lights glow even brighter.

Where last year the theme was Hansel & Gretel, this year we have woodland magic. As taken from their press release, “The old barred owl has played a Halloween trick by casting a “hootenanny” spell and making it glow. Take a journey through the garden and help Anna the hummingbird and her friends lift the spell by collecting Halloween treats along the way.”

Also new for this year is the expansion of the arena, new on-site food vendors; and a new timed ticket system, that ensures you are fighting the crowds for your perfect shot. Your ticket choices are between 5-6pm, 6:30-7:30pm, or 8-9pm. Tickets are priced at $9.50-13.50, with kids 2 and under free.

As an all ages event, there are crafts for the kids and a scavenger hunt that has them collecting stamps, in exchange for prizes and treats.

The following are a few of the features you can expect, to help plan your adventure and ensure that you don’t miss anything. We arrived early enough to capture some photos with the last bit of day light, then more when the sun set.

“Hootenanny” is the above described magical trickster owl. With colour changing eyes, she perches at the entrance eliciting a scare with the giant letters “b-o-o-!”

The “Scarecrow” sits at the centre of the lake, guarding the lantern lit walkway.

The “Acranophobia” section plays on the age old fear of spiders. But these are less threatening with tinsel limbs and large glowing eyes.

“Harvest Fest” was hosted by a “squirrel”, she solicits your help in lifting the aforementioned spell. You can find her amongst the hay barrels, corn husks, and pumpkins.

I foresee the giant pumpkin being a popular backdrop.

But preferred the highly detailed carved pumpkins, and the ones in the pumpkin patch.

The latter was a collection of jack-o-lanterns, lit from within. Gathering at a stopping point, in a clearing.

The “Enchanted Forest” came with forest sounds and mystical melodies, adding depth to a lit pathway. You walk along and take note of the mushrooms and caterpillars made out of pumpkins, and the projectors adding blinking eyes and the bat signal to the scene.

“Anna the hummingbird” is a large display in green and pink lights. The character also comes personified, greeting the littlest of guests with purple hair, a large tulle dress, and a masquerade mask.

There were also natural features of the park that they decorated with lights, like the berry tone lit cave and the garden dome.

In conclusion, this is a unique outdoor event that gives guests another reason to visit the garden, and a new way to take in the space. Ideal for families and kids who get into the spirit by dawning their own costumes. For how to get tickets and more on the event, visit the link below.

GLOW
5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1
https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/glow-in-the-garden.aspx

Ocean7 Restaurant, AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar

We were at “Kingfisher Resort and Spa” for dinner, here thanks to a handful of recommendations. But what sold it for us was the promise of the “best patio view” in Comox Valley. And I was not disappointed, especially as we got the table right by the water.

The restaurant sits behind the resort. Guests staying overnight only have to stroll across the courtyard for a night cap. As visiting diners, you walk through the entrance and the bar greets you. Past it is either their fine dining room on the left, or their cement block patio on the right. On the patio, golf umbrellas offer shade for clustered tables. In the distance, a boat sails on calm waters, a bald eagle soars over head, and snow cap mountains offer much to take in on this warm night.

But what set them apart for me, was the cat that has made this property her home. She roamed freely and rested where she liked. Today it was the lounging on the concrete, amongst the diners. And taking a peak in the kitchen, only to be lured back out with cat treats.

As for the actual dinner, I started with their “Fizzle my swizzle” cocktail, enticed by my curiosity over cachaca. “Cachaca” is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. The result, a tropical punch with fig reduction, coconut, lime, and orange. A very tropical drink, like a pina colada. Good, but I didn’t taste any of the promised fig, which would have elevated this to more than just an island punch.

To eat, I ordered the “Marinated Yellowfin Tuna Tacos”, after a strong suggestion from our server. A white corn tortilla filled with avocado, marinated cabbage, black and white sesame, scallion, and a chilli vinaigrette. The tuna was absolutely the best part of this meal, but there was not enough of it. A small chunk of tuna with every bite, but not enough to taste it past the generous amount of julienne vegetables; with the combined texture of coarse slaw. Red cabbage, nappa cabbage, red and yellow peppers, chives, carrot, and guacamole with spice. Be warned this is quick to fall apart, but I was quicker to grab a fork and eat it like a salad.

With them, you get the choice of sides between the pommes frites or organic green salad. I upgraded them to the “Aqua Pommes Frites” seasoned with rosemary, Grana Padano, and truffle aioli. There was plenty of truffle, so rich that I wanted some ketchup to cut the taste, and offer with it a refreshing tang. Although the fries were already pretty salty and the truffle’s oily and buttery nature was hard to mask when in excess.

My partner got the “Bistro Burger” with ground chuck, smoked cheddar, honey cured bacon, roasted garlic aioli, and grainy mustard; all between a pretzel bun. This too comes with your choice of pommes frites or organic green salad. He got the former. The menu didn’t list pickle being in the burger, so he was upset that it “contaminated” his dinner. He removed it and the two slices of tomato. But I found the density of the juicy patty and the heavy pretzel dough in need of those vegetables for freshness and balance, like the sweet cherry tomato.

 

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 good enough meal, but what you will remember is the view, and the reason I will return is for this view. But next time around I will be visiting their fine dining property. It too has the same view, but just behind glass.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

OCEAN 7
330 Island Hwy S, Courtenay BC, V9N 9R9
+1 800-663-7929
kingfisherspa.com

Salsa By Marcela at Cacao

Today I was invited down to “Cacao”, a Latin American restaurant in Kits. We were here to get a first hand look at their new salsa line through an interactive cooking demonstration. I have never been to the restaurant, so thought this would also serve as a great introduction to it.

Here, we would meet Marcela one of the house chefs, who serves her traditional Mexican cuisine every Thursday night. Her credentials include her own cooking show, radio show, and books in Mexico. In Vancouver she is a mother of 4, launching her own salsa line with her daughters. It was her recipes and they took care of the packaging and marketing. Marcela found a need for her product given the abundance of tex mex in Vancouver. She simply wanted to offer real, traditional, Mexican salsa. And today, I would learn to tell the difference between it and Americanized Mexican cuisine.

Marcela was a sunny person, happy and welcoming in her deep purple and fuchsia chef’s coat, with colourful embroidery. She was patience in explaining to us what we were having, spelling out their proper Mexican names for this blog. She took the time to teach us about a few of her traditional Mexican kitchen utensils, including the carved wooden chocolate milk muddler pictured above. We also learned about chilli, how to buy them and how their name varies based on it being green on the plant, or dried and red.

Our night began with some “Tepache”, a traditional Mexican drink made from fermenting pineapple skin in water and sugar. It is comparable to kombucha in taste. Great for hot weather and best mixed with sparkling, like how we enjoyed it was today.

To snack on we had “totopo”, the Mexican word for chips. These are made by deep frying tortillas. They don’t make there own tortilla here, but do cut up, fry up, and season what they get from local “Chancho Tortilla”. Marcela declared theirs the best and most authentic tortilla that a Vancouverite can get. And true enough, these tortilla chips were amazing. This snack had the whole room going back for chip after chip. Their thick crunch and salty coating, the perfect vessel to scoop up fresh made guacamole salsa. Salsa prepared using one of Marcela’s bottled ones below. Together this was so good that I inquired about purchasing a bag of “totopo” to take home. However, they don’t offer them by the bag, making them a good reason to return.

Next we had some “Gorditas”, doughy circles that were cut down the middle and stuffed with a creamy avocado spread. The table loved these too. I liked the texture that sprung back after you took a bite, but I found it was lacking in flavour, especially compared to the “totopos” above. It reminded me of a mild corn, but made into dough and baked.

When the demo began we were invited around Marcela’s makeshift cooking station. She had her three bottles of salsa on display and all the fresh and dried ingredients she would need to prepare a full meal with them. She began by explaining to us that salsa isn’t just for dipping. And that when you purchase one of her salsas you get a snack and a meal helper all in one. Each is all natural and keeps for two months in the fridge, once opened.

She would show us 4 quick and easy recipes that you could prepare at home, yourself. But first prefaced the demonstration, explaining that in her cooking and for her recipes nothing is exact, it depends on the day, time, and mood.

First was an oven baked fish. BC red snapper prepared with lemon, salt, and her “Papa Carlos’ salsa”. Each of her three salsas are named after the family member who taught her the recipe. This was her grandfather’s recipe that her family used as an emergency mealtime solution. This pickled salsa is great with any seafood. You top your first with it generously, wrapping it all up in tinfoil, then allowing it time to bake in the oven. The result, a juicy fish made spicy with the vegetable mix. I could have used more salsa to enjoy with each bite of fish. But be warned, it is on the spicier side.

Next was a Mexican fried rice prepared with her green “Tio Emilio” salsa. She added oil to a hot pan and to it fried onions and poblano chilli. Next went in garlic, corn kernels and her uncle’s sauce, jalapeño, garlic, water, salt, oil, and fresh cilantro. When simmering you add in half a cup of salsa and half a cup of water, with one cup of rice. Stir, add salt, and reduce heat. I really enjoyed the rice and thought it was a clever way to use salsa that I could myself copying in the future.

All “Salsas by Marcela” can be utilized hot or cold. The green sauce was also great as a salad dressing. It was tasty with mixed greens, sunflower seeds, and tomato.

Next Marcela showed us how to make her favourite enchiladas using the red “Mama Luchita” salsa. You start with oil in your pan and to it add in her mother’s smokey sauce. With a bit of water, allow it to boil, before submerging a tortilla. Once fully coated, plate said tortilla, fill with feta, fold over, and top with more sauce from the pan. Once again these tortillas came from “Chancho Tortilla”. When trying it, you definitely got the two types of chilli smoked and cooked in oil that went into the bottled salsa.

Our meal ended with a dessert that embodied “Cacao“ and the Latin American food prepared traditionally, with original flavours, in an European style that they specialize in. These are “Borrachitos”, Mexican sweets known as “men drunk”. Sweet jelly candies made with corn starch, sprinkled with sugar and filled with alcohol; hence the name. They are normally either red, yellow, or green. But tonight’s rendition was dyed purple by the violet flowers they used. You don’t taste the flower, more the punchy tequila that hides with. I really liked them and wished we had more. One to try, and the second to really enjoy and taste.

If you want to try Marcela’s authentic Mexican cuisine for yourself, and not just bring a bit of her into your kitchen, visit “Cacao” on Thursday evenings to enjoy a five course meal that includes dessert. Marcela herself, made sure to note that you will get to try many different types of Mexican food, that it isn’t just tacos. And every two weeks they change up the entire menu, but mole (a chocolate based sauce) is always included.

“Salsa by Marcela” is currently only available at local health food store, “Fresh is Best”. Grab and jar and get more recipe inspiration from their Instagram @SalsaByMarcela.

Given my teaser of “Cacao”, I would love to come back and try more of their menu. I don’t recall the last time I had traditional Latin American cuisine. Don’t deny your cravings.

BC Seafood Festival 2019, kickoff

The BC seafood festival is back for another year, and today we were invited down to “Pacific Yacht Charters” to get a taste of what you can expect from the week long festival in June. And what better way to enjoy the bounty of the sea than on a yacht, in it. The celebration BC seafood included the announcement of their “Buy BC Seafood Campaign”, encouraging the purchasing of local goods. And a collection of chilled drinks and delicious seafood tastings from Chef Mardy Ra, Pacific Yacht Charters, and other guest chefs. Here is a recap of what we enjoyed.

“Pacific Yacht Charters” had severs coming around with small bites, like these crispy crab cakes.

“Locals Restaurant” in Commox were offering guests their cucumber wrapped smoked sablefish with kelp and caviar cream.

“Fanny Bay Oysters” served up a thick and creamy Manila clam and corn chowder, topped with corn salsa and paprika oil. And they paired with smoked pork belly with a crispy crackling skin. This was a gluten free chowder that won the “2019 Oceanwise Chowder Chow Down”.

From “Ancora Waterfront Restaurant” in West Vancouver came a refreshing ceviche. A mix of fresh seafood and citrus that we were encouraged to take down like a shot.

From “Blackfin Pub” came a made to order pan seared albacore tuna, all done before our eyes.

And on the deck was Gordy McLellan from Mac’s Oysters shucking a variety of BC oysters that guest slurped down.

The empty shells were tossed over board, or used as a shot glass for some “Unruly Gin” from Wayward Distillation House.

I highly recommend the “KRUPNIK“ they were also sampling. This was a spiced honey liqueur that was one of a kind and easy to sip neat.

“40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery” was also on site serving guests a taste of their red, white, and rose.

The 2019 BC Seafood Festival will run from June 7-16. It will once again be held in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. This the largest seafood festival in western Canada. It is a great treat for seafood lovers, and a better destination for families looking for a summer vacation trip. More than just food stalls and booths, they offer up seminars, gala dinners, master classes, cooking competitions, and plenty of activities to keep the whole family engaged. For more details on how you can get your tickets and help in planning your trip check out their website with the link below.
https://bcseafoodfestival.com/

#BCSeafoodFest

Nana’s Green Tea

There was much buzz surrounding this green tea themed dessert parlour, one that continued to surround it well though the summer. I was able to visit it before the season ended with a larger group of friends. Amongst us five we were able to try all their matcha frappe variations, and one of their red bean creations too. But truth be told each is pretty much the same, except the toppings varies slightly from one cup to the next.

The little shop had little room to shuffle in, given the crowds they drew. A poster version of their menu and stanchions helped to organize this ramble. The goal was that you would use the time waiting in queue to have your beverage or parfait chosen well before; thus hemorrhaging the time those behind you would have to wait.

If the space allows, you can even eat your treat at the back. Just follow the informative panels, leading you towards this dining area. They educate visitors on the quality and the process that goes into the matcha powder that they use. And if you manage to secure a seat, I would suggest ordering one of their very photogenic parfaits, served in a tall glass with the lengthy spoon to match. This is layers of ice cream and whipped cream, available and topped with the same ingredients as our frappes below. You can also have it to go, but having to scoop up and walk might prove challenging.

As for the frappes, they were tasty. If given the choice, and if they were located in a more accessible area, I would absolutely order this green tea over any at Starbucks. You could taste the quality in the powder. Their ice cream and mocchi finishes offered additional flavouring and creaminess.

Matcha frappe with vanilla soft cream.

Matcha shiratama frappe.

Matcha warabimochi frappe.

Black sesame shiratama frappe.

Azuki caramel latte. A nice non-caffeinated alternative with a rosy red bean flavour.

 

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.
Available hot and cold, they cater to matcha lovers and those who enjoy other Japanese flavours like hojicha and azuki. A great desert stop in Kerrisdale and one I would visit more often if it was only closer to my work or home. Will definitely swing by the next time I am in the neighbourhood. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

NANA’S GREEN TEA
2135 W 41st Ave, Vancouver, BC V6M 1Z6
604-263-5054
nanasgreentea.com/en

Honjin Ramen

My partner works in New Westminster and has slowly begun to search out new places for dinner. Today he invited me to check out a newer ramen shop by his. This is “Honjin Ramen” in Coquitlam. Located in the plaza adjacent to the Silvercity movie theatre. Here, their little shop boasts “Authentic Japanese noodles” that they make themselves in house.

They have been open since April of this year, despite what their menu might say. Our server, who I guess is also the owner, based on his stature, and out of everyone he was the most keen on engaging with his customers and seeing to their needs. He waved off the bold first line on the menu reading “soft opening”, as it was something to disregard. I guess when you print a menu in colour and laminate it, you plan on using it for a while.

The restaurant was very brightly lit. It felt uniform and sterile, clean of debris and clean with its lines. Although sleek, it wasn’t a comfortable setting to eat slow and linger at. There is no music playing, nothing to cover up the pauses in conversation and the lone cough in the corner. The quite allows you to hear the hum of the fridge, and the kitchen at rest. Today there were three people behind the counter waiting for an order. And two more hovering around the dining area floor, looking for the slightest hint that they are needed by their assigned tables. Although earnest, it didn’t feel very welcoming. More like you are being watched, be cause there is nothing else for them to do. I certainly felt the eyes when I had to take the photos below. And the temperature within the restaurant was just a little too warm. To the point I felt discomfort and even more so when hovering over the bowl of hot soup below.

Each wooden table with matching chair and bench included a collection of sauces, spices, and extra seasonings. So many small jars and squeeze bottles that the intended tray couldn’t house them all. Vinegar, togarashi seasoning, garlic paste, soy sauce, a house made chilli sauce and a store bought version. The only way I know this is because I had to ask. I wished they were labelled instead

My partner had us share two of the dishes he would return and order again, should he like either of them today. The “Tonkatsu” is deep fried pork coated in crispy bread crumbs served with tonkatsu sauce, and a side of shredded cabbage. Served with steamed rice, a side salad with dressing, tangy pickles and miso soup. At $8.95 this was a great deal and a filling meal. With all the small sides and little bites you can have in between your pork cutlet, the meal lasted, it felt wholesome and it covered all flavours and textures. The pork itself had a great coating, and the meat inside wasn’t dry. My partner found it true to the taste he remembered when he first had it in Japan. And I liked it with the milder tonkatsu sauce. I am not really a fan of it in the first place, preferring more of a sweeter dipping sauce; so this was a good compromise.

I was impressed by the heartier miso soup. There were plenty of bits to chew through. Seaweed, regular tofu, the fried variety, and green onion. Like the broth below, this serving too was oily. I didn’t mind it in taste, but didn’t like the residue that adhered to your lips because of it.

The “Shio Ramen” featured a salt based chicken broth with homemade noodles, chashu, corn, marinaded egg, bamboo shoot, green onion, and roasted seaweed. It was super clean, flavourful, but not rich. I liked the variety of elements, how they offered variation in each bite. The sweetness of the corn, fermented qualities of the bamboo, creaminess of the egg; and the fatty, yet super tender pork meat. It was good, but as a whole it didn’t really stand out compared to all the other ramen offerings around. That was until I looked to the garlic paste on the table. With a glob mixed in, it gave my noodles new life and a longer lasting impression. However it also left me with the lingering taste of garlic on my tongue, and therefore I assume breath.

The “owner” took the time to promote and talk up his stamp card program, explaining to us that after the 10th visit or dish ordered and 10 stamps later we would get a plate of gyozas for free, but should we keep collecting to 20 stamps we could earn tonkatsu, or any bowl of ramen at 30 stamps. Stamp cards aren’t new, but the amount expects here is. 10 orders for one side felt pointless. If you can afford and do end up eating here 10 times, the possibility of free gyoza isn’t the reason. 4-6 visits feels more reasonable. With 8-10 for a main. Thought when it still came time to pay, I asked for one anyways. And ironically he looked confused over my mentioning ir 30 minutes later. We left with a card and two stamps.

We came into an empty restaurant, but left one that was full. The once awkward silence was now replaced with kids laughing, tables chatting, and plenty of clanging and sizzling from kitchen.

 

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.
They aren’t a destination, but instead, a good option for a quick and inexpensive meal in New West. $8.95 and $9.95 are such good prices for the quality of what we got and the portions of it. Most other ramen places just as good, charge you $12-14 for a bowl. The above at under $10 is great for everyday eating. An easy option for people like my partner and myself, who don’t really cook or meal prep. Therefore every dollar matters, and you certainly get your value’s worth here. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

HONJIN
228 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam BC, V3K 6V7
604-553-7960

Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens

I am on a roll with all these winter shows and festivals that I have been visiting this year. Majority of them were my first time to boot, so tonight I was crossing another one off the list.

I have been to Van Dusen a handful of times prior to, visited for all sorts of reasons and for all sorts of different events. So was never really just there for the plant life, with the goal of fully taking them in. So when planning for tonight, I figured I would get that chance now, however it was the same as always, something takes my attention away from the nature. Tonight it was the entirety of their “Festival of Lights”.

This was and will probably be the most Christmas lights that I see in one given place this year. And through this festival I learned how spacious the garden grounds are. I would like to come back to visit during the day time in spring. It would be nice to actually see the flora and fauna here all year round, that this garden was actually cultivated for.

The “Festival of Lights” is on now until January 6th. Times vary based on dates with gates consistently opening at 4:30pm. The closer to Christmas the later the hours kept. Purchasing tickets online will save you $1.50 at the door. General admission at the gate is $20. However, tonight there was a line at the gate, pre purchased ticket holders found themselves waiting because they planned ahead, and folks were able to walk right through after paying on the spot. We came right when they opened, planning to blitz through the garden before it got busy, knowing large families with strollers would be plentiful, and we wanted to take as many unobstructed photos as possible. The night came on quick and the parked filled up even faster. We watched blue skies turn black and clear paths slowed by lines and clustered bodies to the sides.

The following are a few of the lights of the event, as we wandered and encountered them. Although naturally there is so much to see and nothing can replace the actual experience, so don’t take my words and the one dimensional photo to heart. But a more thorough look at the event, check out my latest vlog, up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

There is plenty to see, you find yourself repeating trails and discovering new ones as you walk trough the maze. There are a few stopping places along these paths. Paths punctuated with activities to interact with or backdrops and props to take a photo with. Well lit caverns to walk through, light trimmed gazebos to stand under, and play houses to crawl in to.

A tunnel of light.

A walk way with lanterns lining it.

A series of pointed spikes to walk in between.

A gnome’s home and a small town of gingerbread houses.

A muppet-like version of a yeti with pointed teeth and even sharper claws.

Light up domes.

Arch ways to stand in and under.

In “Elfie Woods” (a section of the garden labelled that) there were mushrooms and flowers in light.

And elves of the shelves gathered collectively in bird houses abandoned for the season.

If you come early and know where you want to go, you can get a few photos in with just you in the frame. However don’t expect that to be the case overall, as you will photobomb a dozen photos and have yours obstructed a dozen more. Some attractions see people forming lines and taking photos in turns. While some folks saw the entire park as open ground and that you or anyone can’t really expect to have a scene for yourself, thus pushing their way through.

“Dancing Lights” is a series of light that blink and flash in tune to a mix of winter melodies. They play across the Livingstone Lake, every 20 minutes.

At the “Make-A-Wish® – Candle Grotto”, volunteers collect donations for the charity that arranges experiences described as “wishes” to children diagnosed with critical illnesses. Each donation collected, lights and adds a candle to fill the grotto space. I imagine it is quite the sight once a handful is donated.

“Recycled rhythms” is a collection of musical makeshift instruments. With wooden sticks you tap, hit, and strum your way around a tent. Hanging wood sticks, metal pipes, plastic rods, dangling bells, and suspended cymbals.

At the “Tinsel tunes” tent you can showcase your musical talent by tickling the ivory.

The “Carousel” gives kids of all ages a spin on colour animals.

At “Santa’s Cabin” anyone can queue for a photo with Santa. There is no additional cost to do so, as it is included with your ticket price.

The “Fireside Lounge” gives visitors a covered area and fire pits to stay dry and be warm under. Here you can order some mulled wine or spiked hot chocolate.

Other stalls offered mixed nuts and popcorn. And I got a pretzel from yet another.

For something more hearty the garden grounds hosted four food trucks. Mini doughnuts, Japanese style hot dogs, sandwiches and burgers made with a bannock twist, and warming bowls of soup.

Overall the event is less any one spectacle, and more about the collective of lights as a whole. The mass amount of them is what makes this showcase most impressive.

 

VAN DUSEN Festival of Lights
5251 Oak Street, Vancouver BC, V6M 4H1
604-257-8335
https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/festival-of-lights.aspx
#VanDusenFOL

Page 1 of 9

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén