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Being Chinese, we celebrate Mid Autumn Festival 中秋節 every year. It is always on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, promising the roundest, fullest full moon of the year. Part of the tradition is to eat mooncakes月餅, a baked pastry with fillings. The most popular versions we used to get in HK are with lotus seed paste or mixed nuts filling, plus salted egg yolk(s). Over the years, mooncakes have evolved. Bakeries have introduced other flavours of fillings such as red bean and lava custard; and some places sell a version called “snow skin” where the exterior is not baked and is made with glutinous rice flour.

Origin of Mooncakes

Do you know the origin of mooncakes? The one version that is forever stuck in my head is that it was created by rebellions in the Yuan Dynasty, who hid secret messages inside baked pastries, and distributed them to plan a revolt to overthrow the ruling Mongols, leading to the fall of Yuan and the rise of Ming Dynasty.

Buying Mooncakes in Vancouver

This year, Mid Autumn Festival lands on September 21, 2021. If you are interested in making your own mooncakes, check out Mama Lam’s recipe for Baked Chinese Mooncake with Salted Egg Yolk Custard Filling that I shared last year. Otherwise, if you are looking to support local businesses and buy some at a store, here are some ideas for you.

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There are so many options in Greater Vancouver for craft beer lovers to find amazing food and beer pairings. You are probably familiar with gastropubs and bars such as Alibi Room, St. Augustine’s and O’Hare’s. If you are looking for a date night idea, or to try something different while still being able to enjoy a pint or two, I’ve put together a list of 8 restaurants ranging from Lebanese to pan-Asian cuisine, to Italian favourites and hidden gem fine-dining.

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Goat curry, fiddlehead Chinese sausage stir-fry, sea asparagus & broccoli microgreens salad, and goat milk yogurt with mint, dried date, pistachio and honey…how’s that for a dinner menu?!

This menu was made possible with an interesting selection of products available at directfood.store, an online grocery platform that provides a digital marketplace for local farms. I recently ordered a delivery, complimentary of the company, and I was intrigued by what they offer. We found unique ingredients such as goat meat, sea asparagus, fiddleheads (no longer available), broccoli microgreens, goat milk yogurt and dried chanterelle. These are not something I see at grocery stores everyday. My shopping list came to be about $50 and they were gathered for our delivery directly from local farms/food producers. There’s no fancy packaging – product(s) from each company was packed separately so we received an assortment of bags and boxes in one delivery.

What We Made

With the ingredients we purchased, here is what we made.

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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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Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival is back! Given the global COVID-19 pandemic and Public Health Order restrictions in BC, most participating vendors not only offer dine-in hot chocolates, but also to-go options and DIY kits. On the top of my list to try was Mon Paris Patisserie because both flavours on the menu sound so good!

On an almost snow day this weekend, we went to Mon Paris for a taste. I was hoping to sit inside the patisserie actually, but both tables were occupied so we could only take them to-go and enjoy them in our car ride.

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