Quick Bite – Carl’s Jr!

Fast food is fast food, quick, cheap, not that great. Is that actually true? In most cases it is but there are a few exceptions. Five Guys and In and Out are both fantastic fast food joints but they also cost a little more than a Big Mac combo. A recent addition to Vancouver’s fast food scene, Carl’s Jr, takes a similar approach. Fast food that aims to be better than most but at a slightly higher cost. Does it all add up?

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Located on Dunsmiur between Howe and Hornby, Carl’s Jr isn’t easily found if you don’t know it exists. I’ve had lunch there 2 or 3 times now and I’m not blown away by anything in particular. The best burger I’ve had is the Western Bacon Thickburger complete with an onion ring and a “fresh baked bun”. The regular Western Bacon Burger is pretty underwhelming but the trademark Thickburger version brings a larger beef patty with better seasoning and the bun is actually pretty good too.

If I were forced to compare Carl’s Jr to another fast food burger joint I’d say it reminds me of Burger King but more expensive.

The verdict? Carl’s Jr IS slightly better than most burger joints but I don’t see the extra dollars being worth it. I’d gladly pay the extra at Five Guys and for slightly less I’d rather have a Bacon Deluxe at Wendy’s.

Scott.

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Things I’ve eaten lately

I have the urge to write this fine spring evening. I haven’t been anywhere in awhile that deserves a full post but I have eaten some great stuff in some random places. I went digging through my Instagram pictures and picked out some winners.

Sesame crusted Ahi Tune from eighteen27 in Fort Langley

Sesame crusted Ahi Tune from eighteen27 in Fort Langley

Bigger Better Bacon Cheddar Burger from Earls on Smithe street.

Bigger Better Bacon Cheddar Burger from Earls on Smithe street.

Short rib breakfast bowl from Central City Brewpub in Surrey.

Short rib breakfast bowl from Central City Brewpub in Surrey.

Lamb Bacon BLT with Sriracha Mayo. Lamb bacon courtesy of John from the Hog Shack in Steveston.

Home made Lamb Bacon BLT with Sriracha Mayo. Lamb bacon courtesy of John from the Hog Shack in Steveston.

Prepping for the "black box" portion on the first BBQ competition of the year with John from the Hog Shack. Good times!

Prepping for the “black box” portion on the first BBQ competition of the year with John from the Hog Shack. Good times!

Fantastic ramen from Full Ramen in Surrey.

Fantastic ramen from Full Ramen in Surrey.

Shrimp Po Boy made by Rusty of Rusty's BBQ in a trailer at 10:30pm behind a barn in Chilliwack. It was delicious!

Shrimp Po Boy made by Rusty of Rusty’s BBQ in a trailer at 10:30pm behind a barn in Chilliwack. It was delicious!

Rusty enjoying one of his Po Boys.

Rusty enjoying one of his Po Boys.

 

Word to your mother.

Scott.

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Booze Reviews – Red Racer ISA from Central City Brewers and Distillers

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a craft beer review. There’s been al lot of talk about craft beer and alcoholism lately and it’s a topic worth exploring. Check out this post by Miles Liebtag from Beergraphs.com that set the Twitterverse on fire last month. Then local beer blogger extraordinaire Chuck Hallett broke it down even further by showing how much alcohol you are consuming drinking craft in comparison to macro beer in a post on his blog barleymowat.com . My bet is session beers, great beer with lower alcohol content, will be the next trend. Let’s check out a new player in the session beer game, Red Racer ISA (India Session Ale) from Central City Brewers and Distillers.

Red Racer ISA

The beer pours a crystal clear golden colour with a pure white head. I’ve had it at the tasting room on draught and from a can and I prefer it in the can (zing!). There’s a nice citrus hop aroma from the Mosaic hops along with some straw notes. It has a slightly sweet taste along with a mild hop bitterness. I really like this beer. 40ibu, 4% abv, and 120 calories. Do the Crossfit people know about this yet?

I’ve struggled with the amount I drink all in the name of being “part of the scene”. Session beers are a godsend and I hope it catches on. I’m a little tired of hearing people talk about “responsible consumption” one minute and seeing them falling off a bar stool at a cask-fest an hour later.

Cheers!

Scott.

 

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Quick Bite – Sciué – Hard to Pronounce, Easy to Love

Pizza, it’s basically the best food ever invented. Thank you Italy. Sciué does pizza a little different than we’re used to in Canada. It’s Roman style pizza that’s like a flat bread, thin crust pizza hybrid. It’s delicious.

A slice of mushroom and a slice of sausage

A slice of mushroom and a slice of sausage

Sold by weight, you choose how big your slice will be. Tons of variety, breakfast options, REALLY great coffee. I have a food crush on Scuie.

Sopressata slice and zucchini with eggplant.

Sopressata slice and zucchini with eggplant.

My favourite pizza at Sciué has to be the breakfast pizza. Scrambled egg, sopressata, and tomato sauce on their amazing thin and crispy crust. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.

Breakfast pizza

Breakfast pizza

Sciué has locations throughout Downtown Vancouver.

Twitter – @sciuevancouver

Facebook – Sciue-Italian-Bakery-Cafe

Interweb – sciue.ca

Scott.

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Cask Fest! The Casks of March at Big Ridge Brewing.

Cask festivals are awesome. One of a kind handmade beers not available anywhere else. South Fraser Beer Club is bringing you a doozy, The Casks of March at our favourite local brewpub, Big Ridge Brewing in Surrey, on Saturday March 15th.

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7 casks from some of the best breweries in town. 4 casks from the Mark James Group, Big Ridge, Red Truck, Yaletown Brewing, and Brewhouse at Whistler. Casks from Award winning Powell Street Brewing as well as casks from 2 new breweries, Surlie Brewing and Bomber Brewing.

Let us know you’re coming over on the Facebook event page.

The casks will be tapped at 4pm and as always you can catch a ride to and from Big Ridge on their complimentary shuttle. They’ll even make trips to King George Station if you ask really nice. Call Rico at 778.938.7433 to get picked up! Always cask-fest responsibly!

Scott.

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WFLBC does America! Rob visits The Salton Sea

Say hello to Rob Wheeler, one of the awesome folks that make up the South Fraser Beer Club. Rob has been writing a beer tourism series for SFBC’s website but this isn’t about beer and it’s too cool not to share. Check it out! – Scott.

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Alright, something a little different today: The Salton Sea and Slab City. No beer review in this post, sorry. I wasn’t actually even planning on writing a post on this topic, we were just going on a sight-seeing drive, but once I saw these places, I knew I had to write about it. I was fascinated by what I saw, and while you may not agree, I thought it was amazingly interesting.

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Let me give you a little background first. The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, and is also a salt water lake. It is located in the Coachella & Imperial Valleys of Southern California, and lies directly on top of the San Andreas fault. It currently sits 226ft BELOW sea level, and has a maximum depth of 52ft. But that’s the least interesting part about the Salton Sea.

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In 1900 the California Development Company started diverting water from the Colorado River into the Salton Sink (the area that is now the Salton Sea) in order to provide irrigation. However, within 2 years, the irrigation canals where clogged with silt, and despite attempts to clear them, they were unsuccessful at keeping them clear. In 1905, heavy rainfall and snow melts caused a flood which over-ran the canals and flood gates, creating the New River to the west, and the Alamo River to the east. Over the next couple years, the waters of the Colorado River flowed into the Salton Sink, creating the Salton Sea. As a result of its creation, the town of Salton (a Southern Pacific Railway town) and the Torres-Martinez Native American lands were submerged. The lake has higher salinity than the ocean, and it increases annually due to agriculture run off, which includes pesticides. As a result, the only thing that is able to live in the lake is Talapia. But you can stand on the shores and smell the rot and sulfur, and wonder how ANYTHING can live in there. It’s pretty gross.

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In the 1950s, land developers from LA decided to turn the area into a resort destination with the creation of Salton City, Salton Sea Beach and Desert Shores on the West Side of the lake, and Desert Beach, North Shore and Bombay Beach on the east shore. While large amounts of land were developed with roadways, very little was every actually built, and in the 1970s, most of it was abandoned. The west side of the lake is apparently still relatively “alive” as far as population goes, but the east side, where we visited, is nearly all abandoned.

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We started at the site of the North Shore Yacht Club, which was to be the highlight of the north shores “resort” area. Built in 1962, it was to be California’s largest marina, and during it’s heyday, it saw guest such as The Beach Boys, Jerry Lewis, and the Marx Brothers dock their boats there. Due to the increasing salinity of the lake, and the resulting loss of interest in the area, the yacht clubs grandure slowly diminished until in 1981 a major flood destroyed the docks. The club was completely closed and abandoned in 1984. It has since been restored by the State Government and turned into a community center, but for who, I have no idea. There are still some of the original buildings along the shore, and you can see the roads laid out for what was to have been a pretty prestigious neighborhood, but on which very few homes were built. It was actually quite eerie driving on streets overgrown with shrubs and covered in sand, seeing the curbs and lots were houses were supposed to be built. There are even a few abandoned buildings and an abandoned tennis court we found! Kinda felt like the world had ended. In fact, the Salton Sea area was used on the History Channels TV show, Life After People, as an example of what would happen to Palm Springs were people to leave it.

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There is also an area called Bombay Beach, which we did not drive through, but drove past, that is basically the only “major” population center left from the original Salton Sea resort developments. It’s basically the same as the other areas; abandoned buildings, dead fish, boat hulls dumped in random areas, etc. But the difference with this area is that there is still a decent sized population living there, intermixed with the abandoned buildings and burnt out hulks. It’s quite weird.
Our last stop was “Slab City”, which is located further south of the Salton Sea, about 4miles east of the City of Niland, CA. This is quite the area, but as with the Salton Sea, I’ll give you a little background first.

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Slab City is located on the grounds of the now closed WWII Marine training camp, Camp Dunlap. Camp Dunlap was opened in 1942 to prepare Marines for combat, and by 1949 operations were so reduced that only a skeleton crew remained. In 1956 the camp was closed and dismantled, leaving only the concrete slabs were the barracks and other buildings had been. In 1961 the land was conveyed back to the State of California. At some point between 1962 and 1965, a chemical company hired 20 men to harvest creosote leaves in the area. Some of these workers moved to trailers they parked on the concrete slabs in the now defunct base, and this was the start of “Slab City”.

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In 1965, Riverside County ordered residents of nearby Painted Canyon to leave their camping area. Most of these people moved to the abandoned marine base, which is now referred to as Slab City. From what I can tell (through word of mouth, so who knows how accurate it is) Slab City is inhabited by mostly hippies, some “not quite right in the head” folks, and people who just want to “get off the grid” for a while. There is no power or running water in the area, so people use generators and/or solar panels for electricity, and water is provided by a weekly water truck which comes through the area. Apparently there is also a weekly “honey wagon” that comes through to pump out the nastier “waste” from peoples motorhomes. The sadest part, however, is that nobody seems willing to pay for garbage removal, so while they have a “dump” in slab city, it’s basically a 2 block area where people throw their trash. No attempt to contain or control it, just dump it in the general area of the dump. Pretty pathetic.

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The weirdest thing of all about Slab City though was the sheer variety of residents. There was the expected hippies and religious wacko’s (one of whom built a massive “mountain” out of Styrofoam and concrete called “Salvation Mountain” or “East Jesus”, depending on who you ask. Apparently there are many rooms within this “mountain”, and one of which is a communal shower/bath area. Yeah, free love man. But in addition to that was the number of half million dollar or more RVs parked there. Clearly well off people who for some reason, wanted to hang out in filth. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I mean it in a literal way. The area is all dirt and sand, so dust is everywhere, and as I mentioned earlier, trash just gets dumped everywhere. I dunno, maybe they just want to work on their pyramid power or something.

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Anyway, unless you’re into the hippie, off the grid lifestyle, I wouldn’t call either of these areas a “destination”, however, if you’re in the area, take a drive by and check it out. I found it fascinating, and probably could have driven around Slab City all day looking at things.

Till next time,

Rob.

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A new seasonal from Big Ridge Brewing. A new launch video from South Fraser Beer Club.

Well, Epic split Belgian Strong Ale is tapped out, if you didn’t see the video that South Fraser Beer Club made for it you can check it out here. The next seasonal at Big Ridge Brewing Co. in Surrey launches this Monday (Feb 17, 2014), Good Vibrations West Coast Pale Ale!. Check out Brewmaster Nick Bolton and South Fraser Beer Club’s Rob Wheeler as they hit the surf in celebration of great beer!

This video was made by the super awesome Bryce Pugh, you should ask him about the Kessel Run – brycepugh.ca

Let’s all have a beer together!

Scott.

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Townhall Langley Beer Dinner with Parallel 49 Brewing

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a beer dinner so when my Beer Club Bro Don called and invited me to one, I couldn’t say no! The last Joseph Richard Group beer dinner I went to was fantastic, check it out here, so when I heard this one was at Townhall Langley I was giddy like a tiny antelope.  This was a 5 course affair paired with Parallel 49 brews. Let’s begin.

Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup

Course 1, Tortilla Soup paired with Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale. The soup was a little spicy which paired very well with the hoppy nature of Gypsy Tears. I believe the soup was a roasted red pepper base but to be honest I forgot to take notes for the first course. Worst blogger ever. Either way it was quite good.

Glass Noodle Salad

Glass Noodle Salad

The 2nd course was a Glass Noddle Salad with prawns (prawn) and an Asian inspired slaw paired with Happarazzi IPL. The veggies were almost like bibimbap but not quite as tangy. I could’ve used more than one prawn but beggars can’t be choosers. The pairing begged for more spice but still worked.

Beef Tenderloin

Beef Tenderloin

The 3rd course was Beef Tenderloin with mushroom reduction, broccolini and horseradish. It was paired with Old Boy Classic Ale. One word, perfect. The tenderloin was perfectly mid-rare, the mushroom reduction was perfectly rich and seasoned, the horseradish cream was punch you in the sinuses fantastic. So good. The pairing was a no brainer, nailed it.

Cedar Planked Salmon

Cedar Planked Salmon

Course number 4 was Cedar Planked  Salmon with sweet potato purée and roasted cauliflower paired with Craft Lager. The salmon was good, I’m not sure that “cedar planking” really does anything for me though… The purée was sweet and rich and roasted cauliflower is always a winner. The pairing was sweet paired with sweet, not really a big risk but good none the less.

Ice Cream Sandwich Trio

Ice Cream Sandwich Trio

The 5th course was absolutely brilliant, tiny ice cream sandwiches paired with Ugly Sweater Milk Stout. 3 ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. One with mint chocolate chip ice cream, one with coffee chocolate chip ice cream, and one with some kind of peanut brittle (maybe honey roasted peanuts) ice cream. Wow, just…wow. The Milk Stout was just right with this dessert.

Thanks to JRG and Townhall Langley for having Don and I as guests! Our dinners were on the house but we left a fat tip.

Check out Joseph Richard Group and their many establishments for the next delicious beer dinner and follow South Fraser Beer Club ( Twitter – @SF_BC, Facebook – SouthFraserBeerClub) for all of your craft beer needs.

Twitter – @WEAREJRG

Facebook – WEAREJRG

Interwebzzz – jrgvancouver.ca

Scott.

Our "Welcome beer" Parallel 49 Craft Lager.

Our “Welcome beer” Parallel 49 Craft Lager.

Don and I got to try the new Robo Ruby. Very nice indeed.

Don and I got to try the new Robo Ruby. Very nice indeed.

 

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Sabatino’s Trattoria and Bar

I don’t eat at Italian restaurants in this town because most of them are awful. There are exceptions to every rule though, and Sabatino’s in South Surrey is actually pretty great. My Twitter pal Jeremy, who works at Sabatino’s, asked me if I wanted to come down and give their menu a try a few weeks ago. I haven’t been to Peninsula Village, the strip mall that Sabatino’s calls home, in a LONG time. The Starbucks is now a Papa Murphy’s. Hampton’s, a sports bar I used to be a regular at, is now Cora. In other news I’m old and change scares me.

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Let’s get to the food. First up I had the Arancini di Riso. Sicilian deep-fried risotto rolls, stuffed with spinach & mozzarella served with marinara sauce. As risotto balls go these were really nice. Creamy, crispy on the outside, hot, rich, and seasoned perfectly. The marinara was on point too. Did I mention they have Fat Tug IPA? Ya, they do, in 650ml bombers. Risotto balls and IPA are a tasty combo.

Inside the balls.

This is what the Risotto balls look like right before you burn your eye.

Next I had Insalata Sabatino’s, romaine lettuce, crumbled goranzolla cheese, crispy prosciutto, red onions, served with Sabatino’s “signature house dressing”. What a great refresher after the rich risotto. Crisp, fresh romaine, salty prosciutto, I really liked this simple salad.

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For my main Jeremy recommended the Chicken Piccata, chicken breasts with capers and lemon butter, herb roasted potatoes, and veggies. I don’t think this dish will win any plating awards but who cares. What it lacks in presentation it makes up for in flavour. The sauce was rich with a citrus note that worked with the capers. The potatoes and veg were, well, potatoes and veg. Nothing earth shattering there. The chicken itself was cooked just right, not too dry. I’d order this again.

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Dessert was a WFLBC favourite, Crème Brûlée. As most of you know if there’s Crème Brûlée on a menu it’s going to end up in my mouth. This was a fairly average version of my favourite dessert that had been made sometime earlier and refrigerated. I’d rather have it fresh with the caramelized sugar still hot and the custard a little more “loose” from the torch. You can’t win them all.

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Overall Sabatino’s is very good and I’d recommend it to anyone craving Italian. Also having some decent beer on the menu helps, put that Fat Tug on tap and South Fraser Beer Club will put you on their list!

Twitter – @gm_sabatinos

Facebook – Sabatinos-Trattoria

Web – sabatinostrattoria.com

Scott.

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Pictures of our city

It seems like you guys like pictures of Vancouver. It’s a pretty good looking city so I don’t blame you. Sometimes I take pictures of our beautiful city from some interesting places. I like to sneak into areas that most people never see and show them what I see. Early in the morning before I start my day, during my lunch or after hours only, just to be clear…

These are my favourites, follow me on Instagram if you like them!

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Scott.

 

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