January 26, 2016 § Leave a comment
For this year’s annual Dine Out Festival Vancouver, a few friends and I went to Chambar restaurant on 568 Beatty Street. During the festival, restaurants feature 3 course meals for a prefix price and culinary events are showcased around the city. At Chambar, I had the vegetarian option which started with the Salade D’hiver – Roasted Beets, Confit Sunchokes, Feta, Basil & Pistachio Pesto, Lemon Vincotto, Fresh Pomegranate. The ingredients were very fresh and the dressing was light to accent the natural flavours of the ingredients.
For the second course I got the L’halloumi -Fried halloumi, ras el hanout, butternut squash & beet hummus, lentils, chickpeas, farro, orange chips, picked herbs. The fried cheese reminded me of the Indian Paneer and the dish was full of a variety of middle eastern flavours. Each bite was unique based on which ingredients and sauces were combined on the fork.
For dessert I splurged and got the Mousse Au Chocolat– Belgian chocolate mousse, streusel, malted meringue, dulce de leche ice cream.The mousse had a firm chocolate on the outside and came with the the perfect amount of ice cream. I’m not a big dessert person and was too big for me to finish. The flavours were perfectly balanced but not too sweet. I’ll would definitely order it again. Dine out Vancouver is on until Jan 31, 2016 at Chambar and participating restaurants in Vancouver.
January 22, 2016 § Leave a comment
This Lebanese restaurant is a favourite of mine and the lunch special comes with a variety of healthy and vegetarian items. I often meet one of my good friends there for lunch as her office is right around the corner from their Kitsilano location. I usually get either the Falafel($12.75) or Najib’s special($13), crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt. The lunch plate comes with hummus, salad, pickled cabbage, pita, olives and brown rice or potatoes. I get the potatoes and my friend orders half and half.
It’s a pretty big plate of food so I time my appetite and go fairly hungry. The service is quick at lunch and it caters to those who work in the area. Sometimes I get a seat a few minutes before my friend arrives and place our order so that we can relax and not feel rushed. The great thing about Nuba is that each of their four locations are designed differently and each one has its own unique personality.
I often run from Kitsilano beach along the Burrard Street bridge and eventually end up at the one downtown on Seymour Street. This one is more like a quick service cafe and after a 10K run, it’s a great reward. www.nuba.ca
January 21, 2016 § Leave a comment
People always ask me what my favourite Indian restaurant is. Hands down it’s Vij’s Rangoli because I love, love, love their Portobello Mushroom and Red Bell Pepper Curry on paneer with beet salad & naan ($15.50). The mushroom is cut thick and has a nice chew to it and the paneer is soft and melts in your mouth. Not to mention the perfection of the delicate spices that make the sauce.
Vij’s original restaurant just moved to Cambie and I was surprised there was not a line up to see the Celebrity Chef’s new space. The food and service was amazing as usual but I do have to say, that I love this dish the best. I take all of my visiting clients to Rangoli at least once during their stay and many go back again. Rangoli Restaurant is located in South Granville on 11th Avenue. www.vijsrestaurant.ca
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, my daughter and I really enjoy Best Quality Restaurant which is more of a traditional Indian restaurant with authentic food and minimal service. This restaurant is pure veg and only serves vegetables and dairy products. The meal that is shown here is the puri with chickpeas ($4.99) and my daughter got the vegetable kofta with rice ($9.99). The place makes you feel like you are transported to India and the prices make you feel the same.
The flavours are authentic and the food arrives a few minutes after you order. As the name implies, they use quality ingredients unlike other traditional restaurant and I have never gotten sick or a stomach ache from eating their food. We usually pick up a small box of assorted sweets when we leave which comes to around $5.50 and a box of veggie samosas ($0.75 each). Best Quality is located on Main Street at 57th Avenue in Vancouver.
January 20, 2016 § 2 Comments
This soup had to be my all time favourite for warming my bones on a cold winter day. The coconut milk makes it very creamy and the sweet and sour flavour is perfectly balanced on the palate. I like to serve it with cooked quinoa or vermicelli rice noodles to make it into a meal.
The lemongrass and lime leaves are critical to the flavour, so it’s best to buy them fresh. You can buy them in produce or Asian stores but I go to Granville Island Public Market as the quality is best there. This soup does take some time to make but trust me it’s worth it.
Cooking Time 45 minutes
1 Tblsp (15 ml) olive oil x 2
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 small onion diced
3 cups (750 ml) boiling water
2 stalks lemon grass cut into big pieces
8 lime leaves
1 Tbsp (15 ml) Bragg or soy sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
1 lime juiced
1 tsp (5 ml) Siracha
1 tsp (5 ml) agave or sweetner
1 400 ml can coconut milk
2 cups (500 ml) chopped kale
1 cup (250 ml) crimini mushrooms
chopped thai basil and cilantro(optional)
1. Heat 1 Tblsp of oil in a medium stock pot. Sautee the garlic and onions. Add water, lime leaves,lemongrass and simmer for 25 minutes or until fragrant.
2. Add the Bragg, salt, lime juice, siracha, agave and coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
3. Remove the lime leaves and lemongrass. Puree the liquid and set aside.
4. Heat 1 Tblsp oil in the stock pot and the kale. Sautee until wilted. Add the mushrooms and sautee for a minute and add the liquid. Bring to a boil and serve. Garnish with thai basil and cilantro.
January 19, 2016 § 1 Comment
My son loves those noodles soups that come in a package and so I started to experiment with a healthier version. This recipe is very healthy as it has lots of greens and I use organic noodles made from brown rice. It makes a hearty meal on its own and warms the soul on a cold day.
Cooking time 30 minutes
2 Tblsp (30 ml) olive oil
1 cup (250 ml) each, broccoli florets, chopped kale, bok choy
2 tsp (10 ml) Bragg or soy sauce
2 Tblsp (30 ml) miso paste
5 cups (1.25 ml) boiling water
1 tsp (5 ml) siracha
1 Tblsp (15 ml) sesame oil
1 tsp (5 ml) each dried onion & garlic
1/4 tsp (1 ml) each tumeric, dried ginger
1 cup (250 ml) cooked ramen noodles per bowl
1. Heat a medium stock pot on medium heat. Add the oil and 3 veggies. Cook until soft about 10 mins.
2. Add the remaining ingredients except the noodles. Bring to a boil.
3. Cook the noodles as instructed and add 1 cup to a bowl and top with the soup.
January 19, 2016 § Leave a comment
One of my favorite soups as a kid was Campbell’s tomato soup. My mother was obsessed with making curry and this soup she allowed us to eat regularly. Tomato soup has always been a healthy comfort food and perhaps why Andy Warhol used it as one of his subject. My recipe is very quick and easy to make and definitely hits the spot.
Cooking Time 20 minutes
1 Tblsp (15 ml) olive oil
1/3 bulb minced garlic
1 small onion diced
1 tsp (5 ml) Himalaya salt
1 798ml can organic diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp (2 ml) dried basil
1 cup (250 ml) boiling water
1 Tblsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground pepper
25 grams fresh chopped basil
sprinkle with grated parmesean(optional)
1. Heat a medium pot on medium heat and add the oil and garlic. When brown, add the onions. When they turn brown and soften add the salt.
2. Add the can of tomatoes and bring to a boil. Now add the basil, pepper, balsamic vinegar and water. Bring to a boil.
3. Puree the soup in a vitamix or blender. Serve with freshly grated parmesean.
January 18, 2016 § Leave a comment
I opted out of my daily coffee fix at 49th Parallel Coffee and tried one of their offering for the 6th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival. I got The Bee’s Knees which is dark chocolate infused with lavender syrup, topped with steamed milk and a honey marshmallow. It was served with a honey/lavender biscotti dipped in white chocolate ($6).
The hot chocolate was smooth and felt silky as it went down my throat. I drank it quite quickly and then tried the freshly made and still soft biscotti. The honey flavour was prominent and the white chocolate finished it perfectly. I only ate one of them as I quickly reached my sweet tooth threshold.
My daughter, a queen concoctor of hot chocolate got the Saturday Nut Fever ($6). A hazelnut hot chocolate with hazelnut amaretti and a hazelnut truffle. Every bite tasted of nuts and is perfect for the nut lover.
It was a fun experience to try these creative drinks with delectable sweet pairings. We will most likely try a couple more places during the festival. For more information on the 6th Annual Hot Chocolate Festival, you can visit their website for a list of participating venues and their hot chocolate menus at http://www.hotchocolatefest.com.