I was wandering around the Chapters bookstore looking for a reference book I need for school and I couldn’t find it so the next best option was for me to purchase a new cookbook. This is how I happened to pick up the cookbook titled Thug Kitchen 101.
It is quite an entertaining cookbook of one pot meals, and plant-based, comfort food recipes. Their schtick for this cookbook is to use lots of foul language. They throw down the F bomb incessantly.
I realize that’s just their schtick, that they’re using foul language to create their brand. I actually found the swearing to be excessive, but the recipes and stories they tell are worth it. I suppose.
The first recipe that I decided to try from the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook was their maple roasted sweet potatoes.
This dish was dead easy. Heat the oven to 450°, use a mandolin to slice a couple sweet potatoes or yams into approximately quarter inch thick slices and toss them with some maple syrup, grape seed oil, smoked paprika, chili powder, and salt.
They say to add the slices of sweet potatoes or yams into a 9″ x 13″ baking dish and then add the oil, maple syrup, and spices directly into the baking dish before tossing everything together to coat the slices of yam.
Instead, I mixed the maple syrup, grape seed oil, and spices together in a mixing bowl and then added the slices of yams to that. Then I put them into the baking dish.
Into the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. When I took them out, they were spectacular. So spectacular that I immediately made another pan of them!
On the same evening I also made the curry roasted eggplant from the Thug Kitchen 101 cookbook . For this one you just slice six or eight Japanese style eggplants from end to end before coating them in a mixture of grapeseed or Safflower oil (the authors are totally against canola oil), curry powder, and salt.
You lay the sliced eggplants facedown in the baking dish and then put them in the oven for about 30 minutes.
I’ll be honest, mine didn’t look like the ones in the picture in the cookbook. They were tasty, but they were not outstanding. I will probably make this recipe again just to be sure, but it wasn’t a hit with my kids. (The true test).
I will continue to make recipes from this book and share my experiences with you here.
I was in Metrotown for a very late lunch this afternoon and I decided to try out a sandwich place I recently heard about – Chachi’s in the Metrotown foodcourt.
The sandwich was good. Just good. Nice flavour with hints of jalapeno and tender enough meat. Yep, it was a good sandwich.
But for $11, I expected more. More meat, more cheese, more peppers…just MORE. The fact that the pickle that I added to my sandwich for an extra $1.5 was almost the same size as the $11 sandwich, well, I am not sure I would go back.
On the weekend I happened to be downtown Vancouver and seized upon the opportunity to visit one of the restaurants that I follow on Instagram – Timber Gastropub.
From Timber’s website –
Timber is Chef Chris Whittaker’s second West End Restaurant. Timber pays tribute to British Columbia’s rich timber history and the tough people who built this ‘True North Strong & Free’, one two-by-four at a time. The menu reads like a roadmap of Canadian comfort food. Looking for a place to grab a mug of local craft beer and a bison burger while you curse the hockey refs on TV? This is the joint for you.
And I have to say, for a joint on Robson Street, just down from where all the high end fashion shops are located, Timber is a very cool and casual place to eat.
I started my lunch experience with a smoked pickled egg. Now before you go “EWWW” I have to admit that I was a feeling a little of the “EWWW” myself.
When I was a young man, a buddy and I traveled around BC visiting small towns. We often ended up in the local watering hole wherever we were and the one thing I remember about bar we visited was that there was a gallon jar of pickled eggs on the jar. I never had the courage to try one back then. So my Saturday visit to the Timber Gastropub was my day to finally confront the pickled egg.
Holy crap. They taste great! A good balance of smoke and pickle flavour and an egg that is cooked just safely past a soft yolk but not into the green yolk realm. I liked it. I am still not sure I would take one from a jar in a small town bar though.
Pascal, the server who helped me choose my lunch was very helpful with the menu. He advised me on the strengths and weaknesses of the menu while giving me confidence in the kitchen’s ability. He is a true professional who clearly demonstrated how important the front of the house staff are to a restaurant’s success (or failure).
But enough about Pascal; back to my lunch. I opted for the Bison burger and fries. I was assured that it is one of the top three burgers in the city. Well, it is definitely on my top five list of burgers.
One of the factors that works in this burger’s favour is that they cut and chop the burger meat in-house. Therefore, they ask the customer those magical words; “how do you want your burger cooked?”
The truth is, there is no comparison between a burger in any other joint and a burger cooked medium rare. If you do not cut and chop the burger meat in-house you have to cook it to well-done. Once well-done there is no moisture left in the burger and you may as well be eating a charcoal briquet.
But a burger, especially a bison burger cooked to medium rare, with a thick slab of real cheddar cheese and three thick pieces of ultra-crispy and a sort of sweet bacon like my Mom makes…burger heaven at Timber Gastropub.
And the fries…swoon. Super crisp on the outside with the texture of real potatoes inside – obviously cut in house. Beautiful. Truly beautiful.
I didn’t have time or room for dessert. But you can bet that when I return to the west end of Vancouver, I will be stopping at the corner of Robson and Jervis for more good eats.
The bison burger and fries with a starter of a smoked pickled egg and a glass of beer came to just under $30.
The festival allows participants to look beyond well-known favourites like Dim sum and Kung Pao Chicken; the organizers have made it their mission to include a variety of regional Chinese cuisines from the nine major culinary areas of Mainland China and Taiwan. Menu options are specifically crafted to showcase each region’s specialties along with the restaurant’s own signature dishes.
To get restaurants and the dining public warmed up to Chopstick Fest, the organizers of the festival have been inviting Instagram influencers and food bloggers to “tasting events” at some of the restaurants that are taking part in Chopstick Fest.
And that is how I ended up feasting dining at the New Starlet Restaurant on Kingsway in Burnaby one evening last week.
Very quickly I noticed a couple of themes to what I was observing about the food. The first thing I noticed was the striking presentation of the dishes.
The other thing I noticed about the food was the very pleasing, and somewhat unusual to my palate, texture or “mouth feel” of many of the dinner items.
Speaking of unusual textures, the first dish we were served was Fish Maw with Crab Meat Thick Soup (蟹肉魚肚羹).
The soup has a thick consistency; I would compare the consistency to hot and sour soup. I enjoyed it and I was amazed at the generous amount of crab meat in the soup.
After the Fish Maw Soup with Crab Meat they kicked the presentation up another gear by bringing a Baked Neptune Shell with Curry Sauce (法式煱響螺) to the table for each diner.
The Baked Neptune was one of the most striking of the dishes. The shell was stuffed with a very finally diced escargot with a very mild curry flavour made the dish not only pretty to look at, but also very flavourful.
Getting back to the textures though; the escargot had a mouth feel like diced mushrooms. Different than what a western palate is familiar with, but very pleasing.
Another dish that I found to be very striking in presentation was the Deep Fried Code Fillet with Sweet and Sour Sauce (菊花魚(泰式)). Again, like the Neptune Shell, this was not a dish that needs to rely on good looks; it was another of my flavour favourites.
The next dish that really caught my attention was the plate of Pan Fried Prawns in Supreme Soy Sauce and Basil (香葉頭抽大蝦). Nobody dared call these massive things “shrimp”. Although my picture doesn’t do them justice, they were massive prawns!
Pan Fried Tofu with Seafood and Spareribs in Special Sauce (琵琶豆腐乳香骨). This was one of those dishes in which presentation and the texture/mouth-feel were important. Tofu can be quite bland and squishy when eating but not here.
The crisp layer of skin around the tofu gave it just the right crunch as I bit into it.
Of course no meals is complete without greens. However, eating sautéed pea leaves (蒜茸豆苗)is always a risk – if they are not premium quality and perfectly fresh, you have that horrible ball of fibres that develops as you munch through the greens.
Not the case at New Starlet Restaurant! Perfectly fresh and yes, premium quality! Wonderful flavours and no fibrous mess.
Other dishes we sampled:
The Smoked Tea Flavour Chicken (茶皇走地雞(半只)). Very moist chicken.
Another dish with the “WOW” presentation factor was the Chef’s Special Fried Rice (艇皇炒飯).
The Chef Special Fried Rice was very beautifully presented. As you can see in the image above, the fried rice is served with an incredibly thin cooked egg cover.
To serve the dish, the server took two spoons and cut across the top of the egg and split it open. Inside were many large pieces of fish, prawns, and lots of small vegetables. Truly a beautiful presentation.
Overall impressions – WOW. Quality food, beautifully presented, a nice looking room, and efficient service. I am already making plans to return to New Starlet Restaurant to try more of their menu items.
Near the end of the summer we went to see a matinee performance of The Merry Wives of Windsor at Bard on the Beach. Luckily we arrived for the show earlier than necessary so we wandered back up to Siegel’s Bagels on the corner of Cornwall and Cypress to grab a bite of lunch.
Although I didn’t specify, the cashier at Siegel’s Bagels was wise enough to ring in a “regular” size sandwich rather than the large. Good move. The regular size was more than enough bagel and smoked meat.
When you order a sandwich from Siegel’s you get to choose the type of bagel – I got my smoked meat on a Rosemary and Rock salt bagel. Delicious.
After the play we decided to head up to Lucky’s Doughnuts on 4th Ave for a coffee and doughnuts. Although the doughnuts were expensive ($2.75 for an old fashioned sour cream glazed doughnut) they were very enjoyable.
The other doughnut had a coconut cream filling and was very light texture and very tasty. Quite a treat.
A good smoked meat sandwich, a great doughnut treat, and a good performance at Bard on the Beach; the Merry Wives of Windsor was a perfectly light, happy, and good way to end off the summer.
Siegel’s Bagels is located at 1883Cornwall Ave in Vancouver.
The Kits location of Lucky’s Doughnuts is at 2198 4th Ave.
My blog has been giving me a headache lately – I cannot properly access with my iPhone or iPad so it has definitely slowed down my ability to write posts. However, here I am today writing about my recent eating in the Fraser Valley adventure.
On my recent trip up the Fraser Canyon I visited a new eatery – new to me anyway. Rocko’s Diner has been a fixture in Mission since the 1940s and is still going strong.
I had the meatloaf dinner and was impressed with the quality of the meal; the meatloaf had a nice texture, the potatoes were whipped to a creamy consistency, and the corn was perfectly sweet.
I will be returning to Rocko’s Diner even if it is only to try their dessert – deep fried cheesecake. I was told that it is incredible. Same with their deep fried waffles.
Of course no trip up the Fraser Canyon is complete without a stop at the 293 Wallace Restaurant in Hope.
As usual, I order from their fresh sheet and this time was no different. Pan roasted pork loin on a bed of smashed potatoes with a pool of apple sauce. The pork was a little more lean than I like but it was still very enjoyable.
I also enjoyed the strong pickle flavour of the side of the pickled kohlrabi. The pickle flavour was a nice balance to the sweetness of the apple sauce.
Another foodie place I stopped at recently was the Billy Miner Pub on the outskirts of Maple Ridge. A spectacular burger! Big thick slices of bacon and fresh tomato really worked well with the very thick beef patty in the burger. The fries were just okay.
Overall, the food options in the Fraser Valley are great and so much fun to explore. Until next time!!
Just in case you didn’t know, the week of September 12th – 18th is BC Farmers Appreciation Week.
In acknowledgement of B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week, Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick said, “British Columbia farmers are hard working people supporting their families and our communities by growing the foods that we enjoy every day. I ask all British Columbians to join me in celebrating and supporting them during B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week.
“B.C. farmers produce more than 300 farm products from both the land and sea and the food they grow, harvest and process are important to British Columbians. I’d like to thank all of you for support of B.C. agrifood businesses.
“In 2015, sales of B.C. agrifood products topped more than $13 billion, the highest ever. Meantime, the net cash income for primary agricultural production increased 21.5% in 2015 to $440 million, up from $362 million in 2014. We can thank B.C. farmers for helping us in reaching these milestones.
“The B.C. Agrifood and Seafood Strategic Growth Plan identifies the next steps in our goal to grow the overall sector to a $15-billion-a-year industry by 2020. Farmers, growers, ranchers and the seafood sector will help us get there – it is a team effort.
“I’d encourage all British Columbians to experience your local farmers’ market, roadside stand or agrifood business during B.C. Farmers Appreciation Week and continue to support local businesses throughout the year. You will meet some incredible people producing innovative, safe, high-quality and great-tasting foods for your family, and play a direct role in supporting healthy and diverse communities, and our strong province.”
Curious thing, one of my young daughters really enjoys mussels. When we go to Granville Island she insists we stop at The Lobster Man on the way out to pick up a bag of mussels to bring home and cook.
One hot sunny day this summer just gone, I thought rather than bringing the mussels home, why not take her out to a restaurant for a meal of mussels? So I went to Twitter, asked “where do I go in Metro Vancouver for a lunch of mussels?”
We chose to follow up on my friend Dixon’s recommendation, Salade de Fruits – a little French bistro on 7th Ave, just west of Granville.
We started our lunch with a bowl of French Onion Soup.
They only make the vegetarian edition of their French Onion Soup once a week. I should have paid closer attention – vegetarian French Onion soup. It really lacked depth and heartiness and it certainly was not the prettiest plating job. I would give the soup a miss next time.
Then it was time for the main course – mussels and frites. We opted for the full meal deal of mussels – $23 for the full pot as opposed to $18 for a part pot of mussels. To be honest, that $23 is a big pot of mussels!!
Not only was it a large pot of mussels, it was a pot of pure taste goodness. Lots of large plump mussels and small tender mussels. Perfectly pleasing.
The side plate of frites was a great addition to the meal. Very thin cut fries, crisp on the outside and perfectly soft inside.
Overall, the meal at Salade de Fruits was a very pleasing experience. The server treated my daughter with respect and was friendly without being too cutesy. Although I did not like the French Onion Soup, the mussels were a homerun for both of us.
I have no hesitation in recommending Salade de Fruits and I will definitely be returning in the coming weeks. Salade de Fruits is located in the French Cultural Centre at 1551 West 7th Ave.