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Brussels sprouts are often considered an acquired taste. I for one really like brussels sprouts, and thankfully my family also loves brussels sprouts. Fried brussels sprouts had become a go-to dish that I order at restaurants. It’s easy to make them at home, too. The easiest way to prepare them at home is to roast them in the oven. They become tender, the exterior becomes crispy, and all you need is some simple seasoning.

The other day I got some Chilean grapes. Their skin wasn’t too thick and the grapes had a lot of flavour, mostly sweet with just a hint of acidity and tannin. I was looking up savoury recipes to prepare grapes, and I came across a roasted grapes and brussels sprouts recipe. What a clever idea! I kept on reading a number of similar recipes and adapted to create the following, with an Asian twist by adding Chinese sausage.

Did you know brussels sprouts and kale, as well as cauliflower and broccoli and gai lan, come from the same wild cabbage family?

Ingredients

  • 1lb Brussels sprouts, halved, or quartered if large
  • 1/2lb Seedless Grapes (I used Chilean black seedless table grapes)
  • 30g Chinese Sausage
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Thyme
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hungarian Paprika
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews
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At a time when the restaurants keep getting setbacks, let’s show them we care. The BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association (BCRFA), Sumac Ridge Estate Winery, Save-On-Foods stores, and Town Hall Brands have partnered up in an initiative called #StandUpforService, where outstanding restaurant workers from across BC are recognized for their top-notch service at BCRFA.com.

Between March 1 to May 23, you can visit BCRFA.com and share stories of colleagues, servers, cooks, friends, or businesses who are providing a welcoming and unique dining experience while following best practices to combat COVID-19.

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I like stone fruits: peaches, plums, cherries and mangoes. What are stone fruits, you ask? Also called drupes, they are fruit that have a large stone, often mistaken as seed, inside. Think about what a peach looks like when you cut it open, or a plum, or even a cherry. What we usually call a pit is actually the stone, and the seed is inside the stone. I love the juicy flesh of stone fruits and they are so good, and so sweet, just on their own. However, I’m always curious about finding savoury ways to enjoy them. And now, I have one idea.

Recently I got my hands on some Chilean pluots. Pluot is a hybrid fruit, part plum and part apricot. It’s nicknamed “Dinosaur Eggs” in Chinese because of its spotted skin. The fruit is in a beautiful red colour. I decided to make a grilled cheese sandwich with them. Now I don’t think plum and cheddar, the typical choice of cheese for grilled cheese, go together, so I’ve substituted it with brie. And to elevate it, I opted for sourdough for a chewy texture and some tang in flavours.

The beauty of a grilled cheese is that you can build it in however way you want, so I’m only providing a guideline here in terms of ingredients.

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Life has been busy so I didn’t really look into Dine Out Vancouver until there were only 2 weeks left. There were a few interesting, attractive menus but many came from restaurants that I’ve been before. Since I don’t dine out very much these days, I wanted to use the opportunity to try some place new. Then I spotted a good deal at Social on Commercial Drive. Social has only been open for a few months, back in October 2020 in midst of the second wave of COVID.

Social offers a 3-course menu for only $25, and it’s available for lunch or dinner. Sure, you don’t get to choose your appetizer or dessert, but there are 4 options for entrees, including trout and 8oz sirloin baseball steak. I thought that’s really good value for your money. On their regular menu, the trout would be $28 and sirloin baseball steak costs $36. I decided to take Mama Lam there for lunch.

Food

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Dine Out Vancouver is back and reimagined! Running from February 5 to March 7, 2021, 366 restaurants are offering prix fixe menus for dine-in or take-out priced between $15 and $54. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the past year has been tough for the restaurant industry. I was glad to see the return of the iconic food festival, while it’s made some adjustments to accommodate the current situation. For one, the festival has been extended to run for 31 days, to allow more opportunities for diners to participate while restaurants are offering lower capacity and limited seating. Also, there’s flexibility in how each restaurant prices their menu so it’s no longer just the 3-4 price points in the past.

Even though the festival is well underway, restaurants are still open for reservations and there’s always room to accept take-out orders. I took the time to review the menus and here are what caught my eyes, based on past experiences (Dine Out or not) as well as menu attractiveness (e.g. value for the money, choice of ingredients, creativity in the menu, enough options for two people, etc.). Also keep in mind that I curated the list based on my preference (as you know, I’m a meat lover and I’m biased against chicken and salmon), my way of thinking, so it may not all suit your taste. But hopefully this gives you a place to start.

Because the prices vary a lot this year, I can’t break them down by price point like previous years. Instead, I organized my list into Lunch, Dinner, Take Out, and Special Offer. And my recommendations are for that specific menu only, even though the restaurant may offer other menu options, after weighing in my preference and my perceived value of the menus. I’ve also included links to the menu to make it easier for you.

Lunch

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