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Posts Tagged ‘Pasta’

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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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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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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This year I have been rather careful on my spending on Dine Out, despite having planned 7 dinners in total (haha). In the past I usually had a good mix of $28 and $38 menus; this year, I only had one $38 dinner: the Poor Italian Ristorante, with the name Tony Parsons attached to it. We didn’t choose it because of its celebrity fame. We were simply attracted to its menu.

Dine Out at Poor Italian

Dine Out at Poor Italian

Food

My parents and I were able to pick something different for each course (except for dessert which only had 2 options), which is always a good sign. But first, a bread basket! Wow this was the first and only bread basket I received during Dine Out this year. The other 6 restaurants did not offer free bread at dinner – there was always a surcharge to order bread on the side. A welcomed change for sure!

Bread Basket

Bread Basket

The Insalata Caprese di Buffala was a refreshing start to a meal. (more…)

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Finally took a short break from school work and had dinner with Joyce at  Yaletown L’Antipasto. It was strange walking through Yaletown as I haven’t been in the area for well over a year and I was early for our reservation. Strangely enough, the popular restaurants along Mainland Street, including Glowbal and (the now closed) Goldfish, were fairly empty despite the popular Dine Out event. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of restaurants in Yaletown; there isn’t a single restaurant that stands out enough for me to travel out of the way just for the food there.

We had an early reservation on a weekday evening, which might explain why the restaurant was fairly quiet. The restaurant itself is small and tucked away, a little difficult to find. The interior of the building featured a lot of wood, dimmed lighting; it had a very cozy and romantic feel almost.

We had a look at the menu and were given recommendations for drinks. I had a Peroni Lager, which is an Italian beer – a little too light for my taste and went flat quickly. Joyce had the Stoneleigh Sauvignon Blanc to start but later on received the recommendation to switch to the Gabbiano Pinot Grigio .

Olives to Start

Olives to Start

We were invited by the restaurant to sample its menu, so most of the dishes we had that night were recommended, except for the beef tenderloin carpaccio. The dishes we tried include bruschetta mista, their daily pasta features which were rigatoni with baby back rib and tomato sauce and a four cheese gnocchi, the carpaccio mentioned above, and a panna cotta to share.

Bruschetta Mista

Bruschetta Mista

The bruschetta mista had a bit of a modification (more…)

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If there was one secret to great food, it’s passion. When someone really cares about the food they are serving, it shines through.

This was my first time trying Neapolitan pizza. It’s a thin crust pizza cooked in an old-fashioned wood burning stove that heats up to almost 600 Celsius, for 60 to 90 seconds. This is done to produce a crust that is crispy on the outside yet still moist and chewy.

“Simplicity is beautiful” rings true at Novo.

Overview

The restaurant has a comfortable lounge-like atmosphere to it. The look is modern/hip but not excessively so. Only minutes away from Downtown, it’s an appropriate hang out for yuppies.

The kitchen has an open design, which is a great way for them to show off the large stove in the back for those that are curious for a look.

Although I’m more of a pubs and dives type of fella, I’m not turned off by the look and feel of this place.

What went in

What didn’t?

The feast began with two filled antipasto dishes. The bread took centre stage. It was thinly sliced, brushed with olive oil, and then grilled to perfection. Just look at how amazing it is!

The caramelized whole onions were sweet and “different” (the fig looking thing if you are wondering). The tapenade has a nice spicy kick to it, very tasty with the bread. We were also served some very special Burrata cheese. It’s an Italian cheese made with mozzarella and cream, giving it a very light flavour, with a rich and soft texture.

That was followed with a beet salad. Sweet, sweet beets topped with spring mix, roasted nuts, and feta cheese (I think, wasn’t able to taste any).  It wasn’t anything extraordinary, but a nice combination of quality ingredients nonetheless.

Oh the meatballs… forgetaboutit. The meat is tender and moist; the richness is cut down nicely by the red currants mixed in and the marinara sauce; the pine nuts add a whole other dimension in terms of taste and texture.  I could eat this all day long. Restaurants everywhere can learn a thing or two from these amazing meaty balls.

And it was time for the main show, the pizzas. We were served five different types that night. Let’s start from the one I liked the most to the one I enjoyed the least. Keep in mind, even the “worst” of the five wasn’t terrible by my usual standards, but someone has to come last. (more…)

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