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Archive for the ‘Pasta’ Category

If you are asking for suggestions around Mid Vancouver Island, almost everyone would tell you about this little town named Coombs. According to Wikipedia, the town of Coombs has a population of 1,300+ but they welcome thousands and thousands of visitors every year. So what’s there?

The biggest draw is definitely the Old Country Market, better known as the Goats on the Roof Market. Namely, there are living goats on the roof! We were lucky to see a few of them grazing and chilling on the roof.

Old Country Market in Coombs - Goats on the Roof

Inside, it’s a giant grocery store/market. A lot of local and imported food products, as well as a deli/food counter. I have picked up some candied smoked salmon jerky there and they were very good. And best find at the market? Mr. found a Panama Hat that fits his gigantic head, and I scored a $5 Sun Hat!

Mr. and I with our new hats

Mr. and I with our new hats

While we were there, we had lunch at the Cuckoo Trattoria Italian Restaurant next door. It has a good selection of pasta and pizza dishes. (more…)

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For the Canada Day long weekend, Mr. and I went to the Okanagan with Bryan and Kathryn. Last year, we received a certificate for a two-night stay at The Villa at Hester Creek Estate Winery, so we took the opportunity to spoil ourselves on this getaway.

Terrafina Restaurant

During our stay, Mr. and I also had dinner at the Terrafina Restaurant at Hester Creek.

Terrafina RestaurantTerrafina Restaurant

To start, we shared the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio. There was so much on the plate you can barely see the thinly sliced wagyu beef. The flavour combination was quite typical — capers, parmesan, arugula, aioli — what came as a pleasant surprise was the little sprouts sprinkled on top. They gave a slight crunch, an earthy note, which brought a new dimension of flavour.

Wagyu Beef Carpaccio

Mr. ordered the Ricotta & Confit Duck Pizza. It’s, interesting.

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Planning a double date with WK and MS and man, was it difficult to decide where to go! We all love to eat and there are just too many options. We finally decided on Italian and chose Pronto Cafe on Cambie.

Food

As a meat lover, I ordered the Porchetta Plate. I had this once at Pronto before and I really enjoyed the crispy skin and tender meat. This time around, the skin wasn’t crispy. In fact, it was a bit tough and chewy and not very pleasant to eat. Felt like it wasn’t rendered well so the skin couldn’t crisp up. That being said, the meat was still tender and flavoured nicely with herbs. Perhaps a tiny bit too dry for my liking, but the roasted pepper sauce helped. Part of the highlight on this plate was the roasted potatoes & yam – they were seasoned well with just simple rosemary, salt and pepper, and the natural sweetness in the yam really came through.

Porchetta Plate

Mr. always has a thing for gnocchi (and you should ask him how he used to pronounce “gnocchi”. It’s cute.), so when he saw Gnocchi with Pesto and Pancetta on the menu, he couldn’t keep his eyes away from it.
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WildTale is owned by the same company behind the three Flying Pig restaurants, which have solid reputation of consistent, quality food. Since its opening last year, I’ve been to WildTale three times. First, I took my bridesmaids there after the wedding last summer, as a thank-you for their help; then, my family and I went there for Dine Out just this past January (a table of 8!). And now, I was invited by the restaurant to try some of its menu items. It’s hard to believe it’s taken three visits before a blog post about this restaurant. They say three times a charm?!

Food

This modified Seared Togarashi-Crusted Ahi Tuna was a great start to the dinner. I actually had the regular version last summer with my bridesmaids. The major different between this and the regular version was the mango & herb puree and the sweet soy reduction drizzle. The puree added some herbaceous freshness to the dish, while the sweet soy reduction provided a nice sweetness (kind of like an elevated teriyaki sauce). This was the only plate that was a modified version of a regular menu item.

Seared Togarashi-Crusted Ahi Tuna

Ahi tuna tends to be on the milder side when it comes to flavour, so the togarashi spice crust gave it some heat, and it was balanced nicely with the sweet mango salsa. This was a very tropical plate.

As suggested by the name, the Salmon Trio included three preparations of salmon – cured, tartare, and smoked nugget.
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We were invited to go on a tour to check out the various Donnelly Group properties and their Dine Out Vancouver menu. Executive Chef Alvin Pillay has recently returned to the company group, and he’s quite proud of the menus that he’s put together. Ten of the Donnelly Group properties are offering similar items. Specifically, there are 6 core items that can be found at all these locations, which we tried on this tour, along with their respective beverage pairing. Each Donnelly Group location also offers an additional entree option on their Dine Out menu.

Food

Our first stop was at The New Oxford, where we tried the two appetizers.

The Curried Parsnip Soup could definitely warm you up on a chilly winter day. The curry spices really came through; I could taste a lot of ginger. Soup was creamy, and the roasted apple offered some texture in contrast. Suggested wine pairing is the Volcanic Hills Pinot Gris. The apple note in the white wine was a great match with the soup.

Curried Parsnip Soup

The Winter Salad sounded and seemed simple, but there’s an interesting depth to it. The buttermilk sumac dressing brought tartness and spice, black sesame added some nutty flavours, and the Moroccan pita bread gave it some crunch. The 50th Parallel Riesling isn’t as sweet as a typical Riesling, which worked well with this light salad.

Winter Salad

Next, on a trolley, we were taken to The Blackbird Public House, right upstairs from Royal Dinette.

Bar at Blackbird

The first of the two core entrees was the Bangers & Mash.
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The contest is now closed. We’ll announce the winner soon. Thank you for entering!

Catelli, the Canadian pasta maker established in 1867 in Old Montreal, recently launched a new product line called Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains. It’s made with 100% Canadian whole wheat with five ancient grains: quinoa, teff, amaranth, millet and sorghum. I was invited to its launch event in Vancouver, over an intimate cooking experience with Chef Lynn Crawford.

Chef Lynn Crawford Cooking Demo

We got to taste-test the doneness of the pasta and find out what our preference was between 7-minute, 8-minute or 9-minute cooking time. For me, I thought cooking the pasta for 8 minutes would give me the perfect al dente texture without being too hard. Overall, the pasta texture is firmer than white pasta, but less grainy and more flavourful than regular whole wheat pasta.

Scroll to the bottom to find out how you can win a year’s supply of Catelli Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta!

Taste test doneness of pasta

We also sampled the pasta with Chef Lynn Crawford’s marinara and pesto sauces. Now, if only I could get a hold of those recipes!

Rotini with Chef Lynn's Marinara SauceSpaghettini with Chef Lynn's Pesto Sauce

The cooking demonstration was quite interactive. Did you see my video of Amy Bronee from Family Feedbag jamming with Chef Lynn while making the pesto sauce? It’s all about the basil!!

Marc Smith of 30 Days of Adventures also got called up to help with plating the pasta dishes.

Interactive demo with attendee participation

At the end of the evening, we all had a chance to replicate Chef Lynn’s recipe of Chilled Noodle Salad with Ginger Wasabi Dressing. It was easy to make and tasted light and refreshing; it would be a great dish for the warmer days to come this summer. I’ll share the recipe with you at another time.

Joyce cookingWith Chef Lynn Crawford

Now is your chance to get your hands on some of these nutritious pasta! I’m giving away ONE-YEAR SUPPLY of the Healthy Harvest Ancient Grains pasta. Yes, one year’s worth of pasta! I’ve won a year’s supply of product before, and let me tell you, it’s a pretty sweet deal 🙂

3 ways to enter

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Tucked away in a hidden corner of a strip mall in Burquitlam (i.e. the North Road area between Burnaby and Coquitlam), there is a restaurant specialized in an ingredient favoured by many Asians — rice cakes. With a recommendation from friends, we went and checked it out.

Food

And yes, their menu is indeed full of various interpretations of rice cakes. Korean rice cakes. You can have it savoury, spicy, or even sweet. First, we were quite excited when we saw the Rice Cake Pasta with Tomato Meat Sauce. It was still bubbling when it got to our table. At first glance, I thought of those baked pasta dishes that you can get at HK cafes. Then we dug in, it’s a spicy tomato meat sauce! It tasted different from Gochujang — the Korean chili paste — and it wasn’t overly spicy; but the level of heat was just enough to whet our appetite. The rice cakes were of great texture — chewy, good elasticity, but didn’t require you to chew a hundred times to break it down. This is like spaghetti bolognese with a Korean twist. A hearty dish.

Rice Cake Pasta with Tomato Meat Sauce

If you can’t eat spicy food, you can order the Royal Court Rice Pasta with Soy Sauce. It’s a simple stir fry of sliced beef, onion, bell peppers and mushrooms, and of course rice cakes, in a soy sauce. There’s a slight sweetness in the sauce, and the dish reminded me of a Chinese stir fry.

Royal Court Rice Pasta with Soy Sauce

Lastly, the highlight of this meal. (more…)

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