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.
Cache Bistro and Lounge in the heart of Yaletown is the debut restaurant of Hong Kong born chef Alex Mok. Chef Mok boasts an impressive resume including learning under Chef Herves Martin, the once private chef to the late King Leopold of Belgium. Chef Mok’s technique is classically French complimented by Asian flavours and locally sourced ingredients. I was invited to try a few dishes from their new menu and guess what… It’s really good!
First up was a nice plate of house made bread with 2 house made butters, a truffle butter and a peanut butter infused butter. The bread was good and the butters were nice as well, especially the peanut butter butter.
Next up was the Paris Plate, a lovely charcuterie board with thinly sliced sausage from Oyama, a very intensely flavoured foie gras mouse, pickled vegetables, mixed olives, onion jam and some walnuts, All of this wonderfulness (which is totally a word) was paired with a classic Martini with a twist made with Xfour Vodka which is made in Vernon.
I sampled 2 mains, first up was Aldergrove Mok Ribs. A full rack of pork back ribs with Chef Mok’s secret BBQ sauce and a red cabbage slaw. The ribs were incredibly tender and the BBQ sauce had a nice Asian twist with some hoisin sauce and a few other Asian flavours blending nicely with the rich BBQ flavours. The ribs were paired with a 2011 Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvee Violette.
The second main was my favourite dish of the night, Peace Country lamb chop with roasted house made fennel lamb sausage and a navy bean ragout. The lamb was perfectly in that magical zone between medium rare and medium and had a nice salty crust. The lamb sausage was rich with flavour and had a nice firm texture, very impressive for a house made sausage. The beans still had some firmness as well which is just fine with me, mushy beans are gross. This delightful dish was paired with Church and State Cab Franc, I’m not a wine expert by any definition but this wine is terrific.
Last but certainly not least was dessert, the Cache S’more. Croissant bread pudding, chocolate ganache and house made coconut marshmallow baked to perfection. The coconut marshmallow was perfect and proves once again that it’s not the taste of coconut I dislike, it’s the texture. The plating of this dish was quite lovely with an artistic dusting of powdered chocolate with the outline of a fork in it. It was so pretty the picture you see here was featured at Gastropost Vancouver.
Can you believe that Hog Shack Cook House in Steveston is turning 3 years old? To celebrate this milestone they are holding an event, SWINEFEST 2013! On Wednesday October 9th at 6:30 pm (reception at 6 pm) you have the opportunity to enjoy the best BBQ in Vancouver along with some amazing craft beer, including… wait for it… a cask of Driftwood Brewing’s highly sought after Sartori Harvest IPA! Tickets are $65 ($57 for CAMRA members so SIGN UP!!!) and here’s what you get, (I totally stole this from their website)
Join us for an evening of debauchery as Hog Shack celebrates its 3 yr anniversary and our team serves you a competition level BEER & BBQ FEAST like no other! This is our once a year flagship event.
Walking away with several top finishes and awards this past BBQ competition season, Hog Shack’s Chef John Lim Hing will put together a mind blowing Kansas City style BBQ buffet where you will indulge in the city’s finest smoked meats.
Allan and John will pair their top 6 beers of 2013 they have personally chosen to indulge with the SWINEFEST MENU.
One of those beers will be the highly sought after Driftwood “Sartori Harvest Ale” in a CASK!
There will be LOTS of door prizes to win, and an entire evening of BEER & BBQ mayhem.
5 X 10oz pours of amazing Craft Beer
1 X 16oz CASK POUR of Driftwood’s “Sartori Harvest Ale”
THE FINE PRINT
-Must be 19 yr or older to attend
-Please notify us of any allergy concerns by e-mailing us at email@example.com at least 3 days prior to the event
After being a part of the Hog Shack Competition BBQ team for the past year I can tell you that you’re in for a treat. Competition BBQ is like nothing you’ve had before, here’s a shot of some of Johnny’s turn in boxes from this year’s PNWBA events.
And a Sartori Harvest cask?! You can guarantee you’ll see me at this celebration of smoked meat and hops.
This restaurant might be the best kept secret in Vancouver. Mosaic Bar & Grille, tucked away on the second floor of the Hyatt Hotel on Burrard, does some of the best high end dining in the city. Every month or so Executive Chef Thomas Heinrich does a Chef’s tasting menu. He kindly invited me down to check out the latest which has an Italian theme complete with wine pairings. The view from Mosaic is pretty spectacular as well considering it’s deep inside Vancouver’s business district. The menu is a 5 course affair, here’s a quick run down of the dishes and wine pairings.
Course 1 – Panzanella Insalata. Bread affair ciabatta, heirloom tomatoes, bone marrow saltimbocca paired with Beniamino Maschio Grapa Di Moscato
Course 5 – Tiramisu. House made lady fingers, mascarpone, disaronno soaked cherries. Paired with Gehringer Bros. 2011 Cabernet Franc ice wine.
Mosaic is getting a lot of hype and it’s well deserved. The food is outstanding, the wine list is world class, their cocktails are some of the best in the city and they have craft beer!. That sounds like a winner to me.
Chef Heinrich is doing some great things at Mosaic, go check it out! The Italian tasting menu runs until September 12th.
Twitter – @cheftheinrch Make sure you follow Chef Heinrich for updates on all of his latest creations.
My tasting menu was comped by Chef Heinrich, somewhat unexpectedly 🙂
Main street is a great place for food lovers to wander around and discover new culinary gems in our fair city. Particularly between 5th Ave and King Edward Ave. There are great places to eat on every block and it seems there’s somewhere new opening up all the time. My latest Main street find is Mr. Brownstone located on the east side of Main at 13th Ave right beside Parallel 49 Coffee. Mr. Brownstone serves up modern takes on comfort food classics, great craft beers and BC wines on tap and offers live music featuring some great local artists. I was invited to try a few items from their menu, find a comfy chair because I ate a lot…
First up are some delicious fried brussel sprouts with parmesan cheese, shallots and lemon. It’s pretty widely known around Vancouver that the Glowbal Group does some of the best brussel sprouts in town but these ones are easily on par with theirs and they’re priced very well. Just $7 for a good portion where Glowbal’s come in at $6.75 for a much smaller portion.
Next up was a really cool twist on a classic pub dish, nachos. Mr. Brownstone’s are made with crispy fried wontons in place of tortilla chips. They’re topped with tomatoes, green olives, jalapenos and a nice mix of rich cheeses. The wontons are amazing in place of boring old chips. They have a great crunch and a lighter feel and stay crisp for longer. They come with tomatillo salsa and wasabi sour cream on the side. The wasabi sour cream is awesome, just enough wasabi to impart a slight heat and flavour that balances perfectly with the creamy, cool sour cream. Great dish.
The third dish I sampled was their lobster mac and cheese. I always cringe when I see lobster mac and cheese on a menu because it’s usually made with a product called “Lobster Delight” which is made from Surimi (ground fish, usually pollock) and is artificially flavoured like lobster. This dish has NO FAKE LOBSTER!! Huge chunks of real lobster are abundant and border on excessive, which is a good thing when you’re talking about lobster. Simple flavours, butter, garlic, cheese and lobster all work in perfect harmony here. Rich, decadent and addictive. Your friends will want to try this, tell them to order their own. Did I mention it’s just $18? A total steal for this much lobster and this big of a portion.
Next up they brought out some duck confit potato skins. Oh man, you guys see what’s happening here right? This place is doing comfort food right. These potato skins were so good. A good amount of duck confit with applewood smoked bacon, smoked provolone cheese, 40 Creek BBQ sauce, scallions and chipotle sour cream on russet potatoes. Another comfort food classic done up for the big city. Amazing.
You guys know where the best burger in town is. I’ve shouted it from the mountain tops for a few years now, it’s at Uli’s in White Rock. The burger at Mr. Brownstone is almost as good but it’s so different than Uli’s it’s a little unfair to compare the 2. This behemoth features a fresh ground chuck patty cooked medium (perfect), Montreal style smoked brisket, a fried egg, sauteed mushrooms, an onion ring, smoked provolone and caramelized onions on a fresh toasted bun with L/T/M (you can figure that out, right?) and some hamburger relish type sauce. Standing about 10 inches high and held together with a steak knife this burger is a towering monster of deliciousness. The price? Just $15.
If you’re keeping track this is course number six, a delightfully rich and sweet dish that is a meal all on its own. Tangy Stilton cheese, pear slices, crispy prosciutto ( I think, my note taking got a little fuzzy at this point) on fresh baked flatbread. Simply delicious.
Ok you guys, this is the one most of you asked about when I posted this picture on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook, The maple bacon caramel chicken wings. They sound crazy, like the kind of crazy that would get you locked up for life in some shady parts of the world. In the middle ages you would’ve be branded a witch for even suggesting that this dish sounded tasty. Guess what, these wings are crazy, CRAZY good. If these guys used this recipe on chicken for chicken and waffles they’d easily be the best in the city. Think of these wings as dessert, made of meat. Everything you love about “Maple Bacon” flavoured things kicked up with caramel and tossed lovingly with deep fried wings. You simply have to try these.
So there you have it, Great food and nothing over $20. Solid craft beer on tap from Phillips, Odin, Alameda and others. BC wine on tap including one of my favourites, Blasted Church Hatfield’s Fuse. I’ll be back soon, I need those wings in my life.
Legal mumbo jumbo – My food was provided by Mr. Brownstone for review purposes.
Running a restaurant in Vancouver can be tough with so much great competition out there. Mosaic at the Hyatt Regency has the added problem of not being located at street level, you’d have to look up to see their sign one story above the side walk. So how does a fantastic upscale hidden gem like Mosaic get noticed in this town? Enter VANEATS.ca and their dining packages. This package moves VANEATS.ca further upmarket then they’ve ever been and gives you arguably the best value of any package they’ve offered in the past. Called “Art of Taste”, it is a 3 course package for an outstanding $22. Chef Thomas Heinrich and his team deliver an excellent culinary experience. I had other menu items not included in the package so there will be a second post to cover those.
For your appetizer you can choose from the following,
The spring salad has house made sheep’s milk ricotta , fava beans and a mustard citrus dressing. The ricotta is fantastic and this salad is a tidy little package with all of the flavours complimenting one another. The a la minute smoked salmon is is so delicate and delicious and comes with an avocado terrine and drops of maple matured sherry bourbon oak vinegar gel and a little bit of decadent caviar on top. The salmon is from Skuna Bay, a world renowned salmon farm located near Nootka Sound on Vancouver Island and is easily the best quality salmon I’ve ever eaten. Say what you want about farmed salmon, this fish is world class and is raised in way that few other fish farms can even come close to. They call it “Craft Raised salmon”. I like that description. The dish comes covered in a clear dome filled with smoke adding a slight smokiness and a treat for the nose when the dome is removed.
For your main course you have a choice of 2 dishes. The Spring Creek beef short rib dish is braised for an incredible 8 hours and is fork tender and full of rich flavour. It’s served with morel mushrooms, BC foraged ramps and sweet onions. This dish is aimed directly at carnivores who have a refined palate (or think that they do, like me). The Ling Cod is long line caught and grilled to perfection. Served with baby bok choy, shiitake mushrooms and bathed in dashi broth. I loved this dish. Dashi broth is a magical thing.
There’s 2 desert choices as well and they’re both outstanding. The Chocolate cake is something out of a chocoholic’s fantasy. It’s a triple layer affair with dense moist cake and a healthy dose of amazing icing that’s texture is somewhere between mousse and fudge. The banana split has caramelized banana, fresh berries, honey almond brittle and of course vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. You can’t go wrong with either dessert, they’re both outstanding.
Conclusion. Mosaic is somewhere you should check out. It’s close to transit, has a great wine/beer (Craft too!)/cocktail list and offers the kind of fine dinning that Vancouver generally lacks in it’s popular restaurants de jour. They offer the highest quality ingredients, gorgeous plating (perhaps a few too many edible flowers but they are quite lovely) and an attentive and well trained staff. This kind of meal for $22 is something you don’t find everyday. You can purchase this package HERE.
Legal stuff – My meal was complimentary for review purposes courtesy of Mosaic and VANEATS.ca. As always the fact that meal was free didn’t make it taste any different 🙂
Last Thursday after work I made the short trek over to Take Five Cafe at 62 West Cordova Street in Gastown for the launch of their new menu and evening beverage component- wine and beer!
I had a lapse of judgement and wore flats for the evening, fully knowing that I’d be on foot for the night. The short walk from Railtown to Gastown had me soaked and my shoes became their own puddles. As soon as I arrived I was given a glass of wine and all was okay with the world.
Take Five Cafe recently opened it’s tenth cafe, the new Gastown location at the corner of Cordova and Abbott. More formally known for its commitment to great coffee, Take Five Cafe has ventured into the evening culture in Gastown. With a wine list and select beer offerings, Take Five also offers extended hours Tuesday-Saturday until 11pm. I had an opportunity to sample a few of the paninis and wraps, and they were very fresh and tasty. I didn’t get to try the Lamb Panini because it was GONE by the time I got there, so I am assuming that it must have been THAT good. I did, however, get to try the Italian Sausage Panini, the Roasted Vegetable Panini, and the Chicken Fajita Wrap. Near the end of the evening I found the cutest little cup of quinoa salad that you ever did see, and followed up with a S’more Brownie and Tiramisu. Decadent and lovely.
To complete my visit to Take Five Cafe, I ordered a European style or ‘foamy’ cappuccino to keep myself awake for part 2 of the evening, which I ordered at the counter and it was brought to my table. I love the service model of ordering at the counter and items being brought to your table. There is the option to pay at the time of ordering, or you may settle your bill at the end of the night in case you want to enjoy one more glass of wine.
Definitely check out Take Five Cafe in Gastown.
Left to right and top to bottom: brownies, wine by the glass, grilled veggie sandwich, quinoa salad, turkey panini, one of my plates, and tiramisu!
Introducing our good friend Kurt who is a Seafood salesman, husband, father and singer. Loves food, and is a cousin of the father who birthed WFLBC.
When Scott asked if I could attend a launch party for Bibo’s new brunch menu, I believe I may have said “YES” before he finished asking the question. With my beautiful wife on my arm, I headed to Bibo at 1835W.4th Ave. in Vancouver.
Bibo is owned and operated by Andrea Bini and Lorenzo Bottazzi (hence Bibo). Their mission is to present the most authentic Italian dishes possible, and I have to say I was impressed.
When I arrived there was wine and Antipasto aplenty. The wine is from their 400 year old family winery. The cheese and meat were great (I am looking at you Chili Gorgonzola), but the star for me (and maybe for the whole night) was the Bagna Cauda. Although it is a very common dish of the Piedmont
region, I have never had it before. It is a warm dip made from olive oil, butter, garlic, and anchovies. Served with fresh vegetables for dipping, it was everything I need food to be. Rich, deep buttery flavor, and a little salty kick from the anchovies. I think I stood in front of it for a while so that
nobody else could take any (I am like that).
The focus was on the Farinata and the Foccaccia Al Formaggio Genovese. Farinata is a flatbread made from chick pea flour, and cooked in a wood burning oven. Foccacia Al Formaggio is a thin Foccacia with cheese, also baked in the wood burning oven. Farinata and Foccacia joints are as common
in Italy as pizza joints are in North America (This according to Lorenzo Bottazzi). Matteo Ortu owned one such restaurant in Italy, and is now part of the Bibo team. Unfortunately I did not get to try the farinata, but I can give you the low down on the foccacia.
The particular foccacia that came out was a focaccia al formaggio di Recco. It is made by dotting soft cheese between two thin sheets of dough then baked in the wood oven. This dish was much anticipated and it barely hit the table before it was gone. Imagine dropping a sack full of free Coach Bags in a mall on Black Friday, it was kind of like that. Even though I elbowed my way past a few very attractive girls that were all taller than I (I am 5’11”), I only managed to
get my hands on one sad little piece. Looking back, I should have let my wife have some of it, but it didn’t occur to me at the time. It was crispy, cheesy, and oh so delicious. It had a slight fried cheese flavor that reminded me of saganaki (Greek fried cheese). With one tiny piece left in my hand, I knew what I had to do……I gave it a bagna cauda bath and deposited directly into my pizza pie hole. Perfection!!
I finished off the meal with a nice house-made chocolate gelato, and I was out the door. Although I was bit bummed to not get my hands on the farinata, it gives me a good excuse to go back. I definitely will, and I can already taste the bagna cauda.
The joy of living in a temperate rain forest sometimes means that your heat turns on in the middle of the day on July 2nd, and the weather resembles late October. Originally I was scheduled to go to Maurya later on in the week, but all the rain and grey and yuck outside prompted me to seize the moment and move up my reservation.
I had the luxury of obtaining a complimentary dining pass for Maurya’s Spice through VANEATS before they went on sale to the public. I thought the restaurant was beautiful with its high ceilings and subtle, but elegant décor. It was the perfect place to go for date night.
The service was impeccable. Moreover, I was seated promptly, the wait staff was polite and intuitive, and I never had to ask for a thing. Our meal started with Papadum, which is a thin, savoury, crispy, wafer-like appetizer. We casually broke off small pieces, and dipped it in the mango chutney and the cilantro paste that was provided while we waited for our food.
We’d been given the heads up by a fellow food blogger that this dining package is a lot of food to eat on your own, so we decided to share the meal. When it arrived I was a little skeptical about the portions, but it actually worked out well for us. Included in the dining pass was:
Garlic and Basil Naan, Indian leavened bread flavored with chopped garlic and basil
Mixed greens & beets salad, lightly tossed with vinaigrette
Seekh Kebab, minced lamb mixed with spices & skewed in charcoal oven
Mixed Vegetables, seasoned and pan fried broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, zucchini
Chicken Chettinad, Marinated chicken in South Indian chettinad paste of coconut and poppy seeds – 2009 Dine Out Vancouver Award Winner!
Daal Maurya, Maurya’s Pride! Black lentils cooked overnight. A real accompaniment to an Indian meal
The Garlic and Basil Naan bread was so amazing with the Chicken Chettinad and Daal Maurya heaped on top of it. We ordered another basket of the Garlic and Basil Naan (at an additional cost) at the end of the meal to sop up the remainder of the sauces, and that put us at a comfortable level of full. It’s no wonder that the Chicken Chettinad won a Dine Out Vancouver award. The lovely flavours of coconut and Indian spices and poppy seeds blend together for rich flavours; there were big smiles from both us after our first bites. I thoroughly enjoyed the Daal Maurya, and I’m glad that a very traditional element was included in the meal.
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
½ lb bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 chicken breasts, cubed
White cap mushrooms, sliced
1 jar of Blue Cheese Dressing
Greens – your choice of mixed greens, leaf lettuce, butter lettuce, even spinach would have been good
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.