The Dominique

This place is by invitation only and if you’re so lucky to be invited, you have to help make dinner and you might have to help name the creation. 

May I present to you The Dominique, aptly named for its creator, the lovely and oh s0 talented (and tall) Dominique Fricot. Does his name sound familiar to you? His voice has been gracing the airwaves from 100.5 The Peak, and he was recently announced as one of the top 20 contenders for this year’s Peak Performance Project. He and his former band, The Painted Birds, were in the first Peak Performance Project back in 2009 and he credits a lot of his knowledge of the business to his experience in the PPP. He confessed that one of the reasons he entered the PPP last year was so he could go to Band Camp at Rockridge Canyon, and I don’t blame him. Don’t follow the other bands’ Twitter accounts, it will lead to heartbreak when you read about how much fun they’re having and the beautiful setting of Rockridge Canyon. I and many others are scheming to get ourselves to band camp without actually being in a band.  This year he’s back as a solo artist. His song Haunted by  Love is getting quite a bit of airplay and he just released his EP ‘If Baby Could Walk’ which is available for purchase here.

The Dominique   – serves 4-5 hungry people, 25 mins to prepare

Rotini Pasta

½ lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 chicken breasts, cubed

White cap mushrooms, sliced

1 jar of Blue Cheese Dressing

The Salad:

Greens – your choice of mixed greens, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, even spinach would have been good

Mango chunks

Grated beets

Vinaigrette of your choice

Combining two of my favourite things- cooking and music, which happen to be two of Dominique’s favourite things, we set out to make a meal together. I asked Dominique what we were going to be cooking and he confessed that the dish didn’t have a name, and since Bacon-Chicken-Mushroom-Blue-Cheese Rotini is a mouthful, we settled on The Dominique. Apparently Fricot is already a soup; I imagine The Dominique Fricot is a pasta and soup combo with a side of soulful lyrics and a dash of charm. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?

Cutting the chicken into cubes

I chopped the bacon into one inch pieces while he cut the chicken into cubes. In my opinion, everyone can cook with a recipe, it’s when you start to make a recipe your own that the magic happens. That’s how Dominique started cooking, too. His mom’s friend gave him his first cookbook after he graduated, and he initially he followed the recipes. These days he finds his inspiration online, looking at the comments at the end of recipes for the tips and tricks of those that have cooked before him. However, this dish was unwritten, one that was passed down through friendship, trial, and error until now.

Did I mention he’s tall?

The chicken went into a hot wok with a little bit of olive oil, and after a few minutes the bacon was added. Meanwhile, a pot of water was boiled for the pasta and Dominique got down to business preparing a simple summer salad. I stirred the wok every now and then to ensure that the bacon was cooking evenly, and at the ¾ mark he tossed in some sliced mushrooms and we let those cook down.

Messy and delicious addition to a salad

Dominique prepared a lovely summer salad with greens, mango chunks, and shredded beats. Yes, shredded beats are as messy as they sound, but I think they taste really great in their fresh state. You can do it yourself by peeling the beets with a potato peeler and then using a cheese grater to shred. It adds an earthy, sweet flavour to the salad and it looks beautiful against the orange hue of the mango. Easy like Sunday morning, and a fresh accompaniment to the pasta. Once the pasta was cooked and drained, the bacon, chicken, and mushrooms were added and a jar of blue cheese dressing was stirred in. Voila! Dinner was ready. The pasta was creamy and rich, and surprisingly not dominated by the bacon. This was an easy meal to prepare, and it was delicious.  Definitely a recipe I will keep in my back pocket for unexpected guests which seem to happens at my house fairly often.

Rochele stirring the goods

You know what made the meal fantastic, though? The chef. Do yourself a favour and go check out his music. His tunes are so smooth and mellow, perfect for afternoon cups of tea and lounging. Scott’s daughter even has Dominique’s East Coast Girls on her iPod which she listens to every night at bedtime. Looking forward to Dominique’s musical journey over these next few months as he plays his heart out for an opportunity to win $100,500.00 in the Peak Performance Project. Best of luck and thanks for having us in your home, Dominique. Follow him on Twitter and check out his Facebook page for shows and updates.

The chef being his charming self and his creation, The Dominique
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Downtown Surrey Photo Walk

When the sun comes out I hit the streets of Surrey with camera in hand! This time I wandered around Downtown Surrey, aka City Centre, aka Whalley and took some shots of the big changes that have happened/are going to happen to the most urban part of our city.

I walked the area around the City Centre Library, the construction sites around it slated for our new City Hall and 3 Civic Plaza. I walked over to check out Ultra, a new residential highrise that’s a block off of University Drive. I also took a bunch of pictures of the Central City Tower because I think it’s a gorgeous piece of architecture. In 4 or 5 years this neighbourhood is going to look very different, I can’t wait to see it. Check out all the pictures!

Texx Big Burger in Surrey!

Finding new places to eat in Surrey is always awesome! Texx Big Burger is located in a nondescript  strip mall on the corner of 148th street and 108th ave in Bolivar Heights, right between Guildford and Whalley. It was recommended to me by one of my Twitter followers, thanks Anthony! This place is only a few months old and when I visited it was pretty empty, time to give them a little press!

You order by grabbing an ordering sheet and a pencil from the counter, you check off what burger you want, what you want on it and what sides/drink you want. Bring your filled out sheet back to the counter and start your countdown to a very full stomach.

I ordered the double bacon cheeseburger with red relish, mayo, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, lettuce, green peppers and pickles and a “regular” sized order of fries. This is a damn good burger, VERY similar to Five Guys. The beef is hot, fresh and juicy, the bacon is fresh and cooked just right, the toppings are awesome and the bun is great!

The similarities between Texx and Five Guys carries over into the french fry department, they fill the regular sized container up and then pile a bunch more into your brown paper bag making you dig for your burger. The fries are hand cut in house and quite good.

The food is where the Five Guys comparisons stop though. I found the customer service to be a little…lacking in enthusiasm, ahem. I asked the woman at the counter how long they’d been open and she snapped back “over three months or something” and walked away. I found out later she’s one of the owners! But the food is good enough to bring me back despite the unfriendly staff.

Go check this place out!

Scott.

Surrey Doors Open at Surrey’s Engineering Department

Surrey Doors Open 2012 has come and gone, did you get out to any of the 30+ venues around the city? I decided to check our the Surrey Engineering Department’s open house at the main works yard on 148th street in Newton. There were tons of families there enjoying free pony rides, a hot dog bbq (by donation), a balloon making clown, and much more! My friend Clint, who works for the city as an excavator operator, was on hand giving kids rides in the big machines including his son.

There were tents set up from various city departments showing how the guts of Surrey work and what it takes to run the hidden infrastructure under our feet. There were several alternative fuel vehicles on hand that the city uses in day to day operations to reduce emissions. It was pretty awesome to see this much heavy machinery in one spot, it’s a great reminder of where our tax dollars are spent. I hope you were following along on Twitter and had a chance to come down and see the yard for yourself, if not don’t fret I took lots of pictures! Check them out!

Scott.

Guildford Aquatic Centre Open House

I’ve just returned from an open house held at the Guildford Recreation Centre where plans for the new Guildford Aquatic Centre were displayed to the public for the first time. The Aquatic Centre will be a 75000 square foot addition built on the east side of the existing building along 152nd street.

The plan has an impressive rain water management plan and is situated to take advantage of any future rapid transit expansion along 152nd Street with its curbside placement. It’s great to see forethought going in to a project that anticipates future needs. It’s way too easy to build things based on driving and parking a car, kudos for not following the regular Suburban front loaded parking plan.

The plans call for a full sized lap pool with a movable floor/adjustable depth area, a leisure pool area with a lazy river, swirl pool, tot pool, hot tub, therapeutic pool and water slides.

This project is another by Bing Thom Architects who also designed Surrey’s iconic Central City Tower and City Centre Library. The public open house is a way for them to engage the community and receive feedback about this project, a great way to do business. There has been a lot of thought and care put into the way the facility will be used by seniors and young families and seeing as I have a 2 year old this is great to hear! There was a decent turnout of locals interested in the new Aquatic Centre. I listened in on some of the conversation around the room between residents and project representatives, there were some great questions. I’ll be keeping a close eye on this project, it looks great! Check out the rest of the pictures below!

Suika Izakaya #SuikaPunch Package with VANEATS.ca!!!

The team at VANEATS.ca know how to make people happy. They team up with your favourite restaurants and bring you amazing dining experiences for a great price and their latest package with Suika Izakaya is one of their best. It’s called Suika Punch!! (#SuikaPunch if you’re looking for it on Twitter) and it packs a 6 course wallop, 5 food courses and 1 beer course, for only $25! Don’t be fooled by that beer course, it’s a FULL PITCHER of Sapporo! Get ready to drool, this is pure food porn.

Course 1, a full sized pitcher of Sapporo. That’s my kind of course. If this was Yaletown the pitcher itself would’ve been $25… True story.

The first food course is “Chinese Poutine”. Fries topped with spicy ground pork gravy, mozzarella, chilli oil, sansho and minced cilantro. Eating fries with chopsticks is weird, but good weird. The spicy pork gravy with chilli oil is delicious, the cheese has that awesome slight browned colour from being baked in the oven and the fries are nice and thick. A cool twist on a classic French Canadian dish.

The next three courses came together on a platter and looked delicious. SPOILER ALERT, they were as delicious as they looked.

Course three is Yellowtail Carpaccio, thinly sliced Yellowtail with tobiko and sesame soy dressing. Very fresh and light with just the right amount of salt from the dressing. Very nice.

Course four is Tomato Kimchi, Tomato slices marinated in kimchi with cilantro oil and Chinese chives. So simple, so fresh, so tasty. The tomatoes were still firm too, I was worried they’d be a little soft after being marinated but they held up!

Course five is Tuna Tataki, slightly smoked high grade tuna with house made chilli oil on a bed of thinly sliced red onions. This dish was so good that I ordered more after I had finished the 6 course meal. Unreal tuna, so fresh. You have to try this.

Last but certainly not least, course six, the Hellz Chicken. To quote VANEATS.ca, it’s “deep fried and tossed with the hell sauce”. The hell sauce is a devilish concoction made from jalapeño, hot sauce, lemon, garlic, vinegar & Tabasco. A spicy combo to say the least, but the flavours are worth the face punch, it’s a pleasure/pain thing. The Hellz Chicken is damn good.

Like I said, all of this is only $25, get your package NOW at VANEATS.ca, you can thank me later.

Full disclosure, my meal was complimentary but I would’ve paid $25 for this. I actually would have paid a lot more but it’s a great deal. Get it, get it now.

Scott.

Pumphouse Pub Bacon and Beer Dinner!

Another Longtable dinner at the Pumphouse Pub in Richmond has come and gone and this one was a doozy! A five course bacon themed dinner, each course paired with a beer from the Beerthirst portfolio, bacon and beer? Yes please!! This dinner had the added twist of being a fundraiser for local golf phenom Nathan Leonhardt with all proceeds going to help his dream of playing on the PGA Tour.

Course one was a bacon, caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche paired with Odin Brewing Co‘s Freya’s Gold Kolsch style ale. The Quiche had a nice flaky crust with the bacon and caramelized onion giving the filling a salty richness with a slight tang from the goat cheese, very tasty. The Kolsch pairs well with any food, which is what Odin’s main goal is when they make a beer. It’s a nice light palette cleansing beer.

Course two was fried plantains with a spicy Thai bacon salad. It was paired with the Trailhead ISA from Two Beers Brewing Co. The plantains were great and complimented the Thai salad very well. Throw a little bacon in the mix and you really can’t go wrong. The Trailhead ISA was a nice pairing for this dish. It is a very sessionable beer that doesn’t over power the delicate flavours of the plantains. another winner.

Course three was prosciutto wrapped chicken with beurre rouge sauce. It was paired with Odin Brewing Co’s Odin’s Gift Ruby Ale. The chicken was cooked perfectly, quite an accomplishment when cooking for 60-70 people. The prosciutto was a nice salty pork jacket hugging the chicken, delicious. The beurre rouge sauce was good but the dish could’ve used a bit more of it and it could’ve been a little thicker. The Odin’s gift Ruby Ale pairs well with salty meat so it was a hit with the pork snuggled chicken.

Course four was a slow braised pork shoulder with apples, onions and bacon with a few pieces of roasted potato. It was paired with Tenaya Creek Brewing Co‘s Calico Brown Ale. The pork shoulder was well cooked and very tender without being dry but it lacked seasoning. The apple and bacon were a great pair but the dish needed more of both and the potato seemed a little out of place. This dish was a few small tweaks away from being incredible. The Calico Brown Ale paired well with the pork. It’s a hoppy brown ale and I have to say that it’s one of my favourites from the Las Vegas brewery.

The fifth and final course was a warm chocolate chilli brownie with chocolate bacon ice cream. It was paired with Elysian Brewing Co’s Peste Chocolate Chilli Ale. WOW! The brownie was moist and rich and had a great chilli kick to it, incredible. The chocolate bacon ice cream was perfect to balance the heat from the chilli in the brownie. This dessert was outstanding. The Peste Chocolate Chilli Ale has mellowed some since I first tried it but this beer was meant for this dish, it was an unbelievably good pairing.

It was great chatting with Nathan about his ambitions in the professional golf world and I’m happy that Beerthirst and The Pumphouse could raise some money to help him on his quest. Nathan plays on the Canadian Tour and has had success as an amateur and attended Northwood Texas University on a golf scholarship. Few people realize how expensive it is to play professional golf so every penny counts! Good luck Nathan, we’ll be watching your career and cheering for you!

Scott.

Tynehead Regional Park

Tynehead Regional Park is amazing! Located between 160th and 176th street and Highway 1 and 96th Avenue the park has over 10 km of walking trials and over 5 km of cycling trails. There’s a salmon hatchery, a huge off leash dog park, a camp site and it’s all connected to the Surrey Greenways project and the Tynehead Cycling and pedestrian overpass. I recently went for a walk through the park with my daughter so I figured this was a fitting Fathers Day Post. Check out the pictures below and to all dads everywhere, have an amazing day however you’re spending it!

Scott.

Craft beer and chicken wings? Sharkey’s in Ladner has them!

Chicken wings are amazing, craft beer is amazing and putting the two together makes me want to weep tears of joy. The people of Ladner probably don’t realize how lucky they are to live near Sharkey’s Seafood Bar and Grille. Where else can you get terrific craft beer, fresh oysters and a great riverside patio experience in the lower mainland? Now that they put chicken wings back on the menu it’s almost a perfect storm.

Their new wing line up consists of 6 wing flavours, each with it’s own recommended craft beer pairing. I have some friends that live in Ladner that will be pretty happy to hear Sharkey’s has wings again. I’ll be going to check them out for myself very soon, expect a FULL breakdown (and stomach) from yours truly. Go to Sharkeys.ca for the full wing menu!

Scott.