When Bryan (the “beer guy”) isn’t writing about beer I put him to work as my camera man – so he and I were proud and honoured to represent VanFoodies at the 11th Annual ChefmeetsBCGrape while our fearless leader, Joyce, had other work commitments. The ChefmeetsBCGrape Signature Tasting is a fundraiser for the Arts Club Theatre to support the local theatre arts while showcasing BC food paired with BC VQA Wine.

Very “handy” third hand provided at the event

Very “handy” third hand provided at the event

The event started off with a bang with my favourite dessert of the evening (and, needless to say, favourite dish overall):

Chocolate gianduja pate with sour cherry compote

Chocolate gianduja pate with sour cherry compote, lychee foam and toffee brittle paired with Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery Pinot Gris 2014 presented by P2B Bistro & Bar

I’ve never had chocolate in a pate form before but let me tell you, it was smooth, creamy, not too sweet, and went beautifully with the toffee brittle crunch. The lychee foam and sour cherry compote disappeared behind the richness of the chocolate but gave it an interesting look with the white bubbles and pop of red colour. I found the white wine pairing quite surprising and would have preferred something equally as rich to balance with the chocolate/toffee flavours such as a Cabernet Sauvignon – the Pinot Gris was washed out by this delicious and delightful treat.

Now being Aussie I am a lamb fan (it’s a national Aussie meat) but I don’t find many Canadians who enjoy it. However, on this night, I only heard positive feedback from everyone I spoke to regarding this dish:

Sous-vide lamb sirloin slider

Sous-vide lamb sirloin slider, grey baby cheese, smoked tomato relish and beet chip paired with Upper Bench Winery Estate Grown Merlot 2012 presented by Provence Marinaside

The combination of flavours was well balanced with an equally balanced wine that paired very well with the strong flavours of the meat and cheese. Continue Reading »

Just a couple weeks ago it was Moon Festival aka Mid Autumn Festival. To us, it’s an occasion for family gathering, so Mr. and I, along with our parents, went out for a big dinner at Parklane Chinese Restaurant.


Parklane serves Chiu Chow cuisine 潮州, which is quite different from most Chinese restaurants in Richmond as most of them serve Shanghainese or Cantonese style cuisine. Chiu Chow cuisine is seafood based and the preparation and flavours are quite unique. To make ordering easier, we decided to go for one of its special set menu. First of all, Chilled Crab. As suggested by the name, the crab was served cold — a chilled, previously steamed crab. Why chilled, you ask? Chiu Chow area residents used to be fishermen, so when they were out fishing, they could be at sea for days or even weeks and months. So to preserve the seafood that they caught, they would steam everything then chill them, thus maintaining the fresh seafood taste while prolonging their shelf life.

Chilled Crab

The Chilled Crab 凍蟹 was nice, firm and meaty. It came with a ginger dark vinegar dipping sauce, which brought out the fresh seafood taste. I like that they pre-cracked the claws so it’s easier to peel.

Next, a tummy warming Pepper Pig Stomach Soup 咸菜胡椒豬肚湯. The white pepper flavour was very prominent, giving the soup the depth of flavours and the heat that made it a perfect fall/winter soup. The pig stomach was treated properly so there wasn’t any unpleasant taste to it. And the use of preserved vegetables added some salt and a hint of sourness to the soup. Everyone around the table really enjoyed this.

Pepper Pig Stomach Soup

Marinated Duck 滷水鴨 is also a signature Chiu Chow dish. Continue Reading »

It may already be September but we are not quite finished with the hot weather yet. On those occasional warm days, you would be craving icy treats. Actually for Mr., he would just crave icy treats on a random day, even if it’s cold outside!

So, it’s only fitting that we accepted an invitation from ChineseBites to check out Icy Bar near Boundary and Kingsway. They also have another location at Knight and Kingsway.


As a group tasting, you can imagine the amount of dishes we sampled. Here are some highlights for me:

Mango Ice Cream Mochi Icy – This is like mango heaven! Fresh mango with mango sauce drizzle on top of vanilla ice cream and shaved ice. I like the addition of mochi balls for some chewy texture, otherwise it would be all liquidy, especially when the ice cream and shaved ice starts to melt.

Mango Ice Cream Mochi Icy

Chocolate Honey Toast – This is like a new take on thick toast. The thick toast is cut into cubes, nicely stacked into a pile, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce drizzle. The thick toast is slightly sweetened; the flavour almost reminds you of condensed milk. It’s crispy, crunchy on the outside, and it’s still soft and chewy inside. The thick toast cubes are served warm, so you have to eat quickly otherwise the warm toast would melt the ice cream!

Chocolate Honey Toast

Mixed Icy – Choose from 30 different toppings including red bean, green bean, taro, coconut jelly, lemon jelly, mochi, grass jelly, tapioca, mango, lychee poppers, basil seed and more. Continue Reading »

Having some 1:1 time with CC and I was suddenly inspired to try a new restaurant (I usually wait a bit before going to a new place, just to give them time to work out the kinks, etc.). There were a few options but the name AnnaLena, as well as its menu, intrigued me, so we checked it out on a Friday night.


Its menu is not too big, but with a good variety highlighting a key ingredient in each dish. Between the two of us, we shared a few things:

The Grilled Octopus reminded me of a potato salad, an elevated version that was executed well. The octopus was cut into small pieces so they were easier to cook and could absorb flavours easily. They were tender, and the suction cups were so much fun to eat. The lobster mayo offered a hint of ocean taste. The dill was quite prominent but I liked the fresh element that it brought.

Grilled Octopus

The Cured Salmon was basically a deconstructed lox and bagel. The house cured salmon had a good meaty texture thanks to the thick cut, and it’s not overly salty. The croutons were perhaps a bit too greasy for my liking, but I absolutely loved the chewy texture. Especially when you combined the croutons with the everything bagel spice, it definitely reminded me of the Montreal style bagels we kept on going back for when we visited Montreal this summer.

Cured Salmon

Even though pork belly was supposed to be the star of Tamari Marinated Grilled Pork Belly, what surprised and impressed me was the braised beets. Continue Reading »

Guy Stowell started his bartending career at 19, where he found his first job cleaning glasses at a pub in London. Fascinated by the endless possibilities in alcohol and spirits, he slowly moved around the industry. Four years ago, Guy moved to Canada with his wife and has been behind the bar of BaoBei for the past 3 years. I sat down with Guy and we chatted about the mixology/cocktail scene in Vancouver.

What is the bar scene like in Vancouver?

Guy Stowell, BaoBei

Guy Stowell, BaoBei

It’s quite different between Vancouver and London. There are limitations on the type and brands of alcohol we could use here for mixing, so bartenders are challenged to be more creative with the recipes. The enormous support for local food producers also encourages bartenders to incorporate local ingredients in the cocktails.

Customers in Vancouver also have a more sophisticated palate, not just with food but also with their cocktail selection. They are open to trying different things, and pay attention to food pairings. We have moved away from sweet cocktails for a number of years now, more focused on sours, but what’s also catching on is earthy, medicinal spirits. Bartenders have been drinking these for awhile now, because we have to try different spirits to look for inspirations, so it’s great to see that customers have started to pick that up.

What are a few bars that you would suggest us to visit?

There are many great bars in Vancouver so depending on what you like/feel like, there’s always something for you. The ones I’m suggesting here all have a great cocktail list, some classics, some non-pretentious, some with unique regional items (e.g. Tiki cocktails): Continue Reading »

While we were in Toronto, our friend BD and JG took us to a Middle Eastern restaurant called Fat Pasha. Looking at its website, it has some interesting items, including meat options for the carnivore in Mr. and I, and many vegetarian options for BD and JG.


We ordered a bunch of things to share, plus a couple meat dishes that Mr. and I got to enjoy all by ourselves.

First of all, a Salatim Platter. You can order 3 things for $14, or 5 for $23 or 7 for $32. We chose the Beetroot Relish, Cranberry Bean and Chopped Eggplant. We ate with our eyes first as the platter had such beautiful colour combination and it’s quite pretty to look at. The beetroot relish had a nice pink hue, a little bit acidic, quite refreshing on the palate. The cranberry bean was slightly spiced, but you can still taste the tartness in cranberry. The chopped eggplant was meaty, had the most savoury mouthfeel to it. I liked the addition of chopped nuts and oil drizzle and a dash of sea salt on top of the spread, to add some texture and depth of flavours. The accompanying pita bread was hot to the touch, seasoned and we kept on ordering more to finish the spread.

Salatim Platter

The Chopped Liver and Onions was a tasty take on liver mousse. When the plate arrived, we had to mix in the liver with onions and a hard boiled egg. It came with slices of grilled bread and pickled horseradish. I’m usually not a horseradish fan but this was quite mild and the peppery note really helped with the liver taste. This was quite a generous portion of liver mousse and Mr. and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Chopped Liver and Onions

The Fried Crushed Potatoes was really good! It didn’t feel like a side at all. Continue Reading »

We all have our favourite local food producers and restaurants and I think it’s time to show our support! There are two award programs happening right now:

We ♥ LocalAwards

WeHeartLocalAwardsFor the third year, these people’s choice awards will highlight the most popular food and agriculture businesses and organizations across the province. Your participation will demonstrate your support of the local economy, spread the word about why local is better, and tell your favourites — in a very concrete way — how important they are to you and the community.

Anyone living in BC can nominate and vote for their favourites in the following 15 delicious categories:

  • Favourite Farmers’ Market
  • Favourite Store to Buy Local
  • Favourite Local Meat or Poultry Supplier
  • Favourite Local Seafood Supplier
  • Favourite Local Cheese Maker
  • Favourite Local Sweet Treat
  • Favourite Local Advocate
  • Favourite Local Winery
  • Favourite Local Brewery
  • Favourite Local Food Truck
  • Favourite Local U-Pick Farm
  • Favourite Local Orchard/Fruit Supplier
  • Favourite Local Restaurant or Chef
  • Favourite Local Florist or Nursery
  • Favourite Local Greenhouse or Veggie Grower

How does We ♥ Local Awards work?

  • Nominations open from August 17 to September 6
  • Vote between September 7-12
  • Top 5 category favourites quick-fire voting September 13-14
  • Winners revealed on September 15

And you could be a potential winner, too! Nominating and voting for your local BC favourites also enters you into weekly draws for a chance to win one of five $100 gift cards to your local BC VQA store. Plus, you’ll be automatically entered in the Grand Prize draw for a three-night stay at Taku Resort and Marina along with your choice of a cooking course for two, valued at $1,800.

To nominate or to vote, visit www.weheartlocalawards.ca.

enRoute Magazine Canada’s Best New Restaurants 2015 People’s Choice Award

enRoute Magazine’s food panel has nominated 32 best new restaurants across the country. Continue Reading »


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