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Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

Do you sometimes get this giddy feeling when you come across something new and unique, knowing that you’re among the firsts to know about it, and you can’t wait to tell people? I get that when I try a new restaurant, or spot a new product at grocery stores. And I just had a moment like this when I attended a food and beverage product trade show at the Indonesian Trade Promotion Centre in Gastown.

Named “A Flavourful Journey to Indonesia”, the purpose of the event was to provide Canadian businesses with a glimpse of the food and beverage products Indonesia offers, thus bringing these products to Canada and making them available at local retail stores. So naturally, many products I saw at this event are not yet available in Canada, but I had the opportunity to sample them and I seriously hope they will be available here soon.

Here are a few that got me really excited:

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On one of the hottest days this summer, with the low hum of an espresso machine in the background, a tanned Italian man named Mario spoke animatedly. This was the setting that transported us to a cafe in Milan as we sipped espresso and discussed Italian style coffee at the Umbria Coffee Roasters’ warehouse in South Vancouver.

With passion and flair, Mario impressed upon us the Italian coffee culture that Umbria represents: an unpretentious experience that simply allows one to enjoy a cup of good quality coffee. He and his colleague Ricardo explained the importance of consistency and balance in the beans, and the science and art behind making a great cup of espresso — the correct ground, the perfect water temperature, the well-timed brew. In addition, the amount of effort their master roaster puts in to blend different beans from across the globe is shockingly similar to what a winemaker does to achieve consistent quality of wine year after year. Mr. and I tasted a variety of their coffee, learned about the philosophy of roasting Italian style coffee, and even had a chance to play barista with their commercial espresso machine.

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When it comes to fruits, we always choose what’s seasonal, and when possible, local. Recently I discovered muscat grapes from Chile, and I must say, I love these grapes. And it’s not even being made into wine!

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The Chilean Muscat is now in season, till about early May. I got them as part of the Signature Farm Box at Kin’s Farm Market, where for $60 you receive a box full of high quality, fresh produce.

The Chilean Muscats are nice and round, with a beautiful gradient from green to pink. The grapes are very juicy, and it’s sweet and floral. The fruit may be on the smaller size but it’s super easy to eat. I think I ate the entire bunch in one seating!Obviously, these would make a great addition to a charcuterie board, or simply snacking on them with a few cubes of aged cheddar. I also found suggestions online about grape salads or bruschetta. I was trying to come up with other interesting ways to enjoy the grapes, and here are two things I did:

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Going to Starbucks is often a treat for me, or any coffee shop for that matter. I don’t go there for drip coffee — that’s what you have at home, at work, at brunches. One of my go-to drinks at Starbucks is its Earl Grey Tea Latte aka London Fog. Maybe it’s the vanilla syrup, but I just really like its flavour. So when Starbucks launched the Black Sesame Tea Latte earlier this week, I was intrigued.

Black Sesame Tea Latte – Starbucks Official Pic

I was particularly intrigued because black sesame is also one of my favourite flavours when it comes to bubble tea. Reading its description, “black tea steamed with milk and a rich, black sesame sauce topped with a tasty black sesame brittle,” I immediately thought of black sesame bubble tea. And I’ve liked my black sesame BBT hot. Now I really have to try this.

So I did. Verdict?

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In case you haven’t heard, Starbucks Canada opened its biggest location yet here in Vancouver – a new Starbucks Reserve at CF Pacific Centre, at 700 West Pender Street. It’s the second one here in Vancouver, with the first one being on Main Street in Mount Pleasant.

Starbucks Reserve West Pender 04

This new location holds a special place in my heart. Its predecessor being a man’s clothing store was the very place where Mr. rented his wedding suit. It was sad to see it closed but I was equally excited to see a Starbucks Reserve go in its place. Especially it’s very close to work.

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The store is beautiful. It’s long and spacious. (more…)

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