Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria – Fall/Winter Menu Additions

The last time I visited a Famoso Pizzeria it was the mid 2000’s in Edmonton at the original Jasper Avenue location. Famoso has grown quite a bit since then with 19 locations spread across BC, Alberta, and Ontario. From what I remember of my first visit the food and atmosphere have survived the transition from single location to multiple franchises. That’s not easy to do, just ask Memphis Blues… I was invited to try some new Fall/Winter menu items and there’s a Famoso in South Surrey, perfect opportunity to have a lunch date with my daughter!

The Paesano Fire Roasted Sandwich
The Paesano Fire Roasted Sandwich

Famoso has started doing in house slow roasted pork butt so obviously the 2 new items I tried had a pork theme. Me + slow roasted pork = yes please. First up was the Paesano Sandwich, the newest member of the Fire Roasted Sandwich family. House made pulled pork, salsa verde, provalone cheese, rosemary-lemon aioli, arugula, and roasted red peppers. This guy hits all the right notes. Peppery arugula, tangy aioli, savoury pork, slightly nutty provalone. sweet roasted peppers, a herbaceous salsa verde, and that crisp roasted bun. Home run.

Korean BBQ Pork Pizza
Korean BBQ Pork Pizza

The other new item featuring pork is the Korean BBQ Pork Pizza. This is Famoso’s first foray into “fusion” style cuisine. Slow-roasted spiced pork butt, Korean BBQ sauce, fior-di-latte (cow’s milk mozzarella), green onion, cheddar cheese, hoisin sauce, all on Famoso’s traditional hand tossed Neapolitan crust. Again, this one is a winner. Tender pork, nice cheese combo, sweet/salty/spicy hoisin sauce and BBQ sauce with a little green onion to tie everything together. Famoso cooks their pizzas in a traditional bell oven, imported from Italy, at 900 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 seconds. This is a good pizza.

My daughter had the Kids Special, a small or “Pizzetta” Margarita pizza, a drink, and a scoop of gelato for  $7! The gelato and sorbetto selection is quite extensive but of course my picky kid chose vanilla…

My little picky eater.
My little picky eater.

After almost 10 years between visits I was very impressed with Famoso and the quality that has remained despite their large expansion. I like the communal seating mixed with separate tables, the casual self ordering system, and the quick service. Go check them out.

Twitter – @FamosoPizzeria

Facebook – Famoso Pizzeria

Interwebz – famoso.ca

Scott.

Scott’s Karma retaining disclaimer – My meal was provided by Famoso for review purposes. I left a big fat tip though!

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Sabatino’s Trattoria Menu Tasting

I was recently invited to Sabatino’s Trattoria in South Surrey to sample some dishes from their new menu. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a menu tasting as I’ve been blogging less and exploring Vancouver with my camera more these days but it was nice to be back in the game. I was joined by May and Dennis of pangcouver.com and Sherman from shermansfoodadventures.com, good company indeed.

Gamberi Napoli
Gamberi Napoli

We were treated to Gamberi Napoli as an amuse bouche, Tiger prawn flambéed in Pernod with garlic, grape tomato, onion and basil. There was a very slight hint of licorice from the Pernod and the prawn balanced well with the tomato and onion. A little more seasoning would’ve made this a home run but it was still quite nice.

Barbabietola Arrosto
Barbabietola Arrosto

Next up was the Barbabietola Arrosto, a lovely roasted beet salad. Roasted beets, goat cheese, tomato, and roasted walnuts with spinach and dill vinaigrette. The dressing wasn’t overly oily and the dill worked well with the earthy beets and the punchy goats cheese. When I started writing about food 4 years ago I never thought that beets would end up being one of my favourite foods.

Spaghetti Carbonara
Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara was the next dish to arrive. Rich, rich, did I mention it’s rich? I love Carbonara but it’s not something I could eat often. Prosciutto, egg yolk, and Granda Padano wrapped up in tender spaghetti noddles. Slightly more oily than I’d anticipated but the deep, rich flavours were great.

Brasato al Valpolicella
Brasato al Valpolicella

The main course was Brasato al Valpolicella, red wine braised shortrib on the bone with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables. The short rib is from Two Rivers Meats and is outstanding. Braised perfectly, seasoned well,  juicy, tender. The potatoes are rich and creamy and quite dense, not your average restaurant mash. This dish was a winner from start to finish.

Agavé Julep
Agavé Julep

Along with my food there were some great, original cocktails and bold red wine being served. My favourite was the Agavé Julep, a tequila based cocktail with mint, watermelon, simple syrup and soda.

Frangelico and chocolate cheesecake with biscotti crust
Frangelico and chocolate cheesecake with biscotti crust

Last but not least is dessert, Frangelico and chocolate cheesecake with biscotti crust. So decadent, so good. I’m a savoury guy so when a dessert wows me it has to be pretty great.

For all of you craft beer fans out there you’ll be glad to know that Sabatino’s has Fat Tug IPA and Whitebark Witbier from Driftwood Brewing on tap.

If you’re in the mood for Italian check out Sabatino’s Trattoria in South Surrey, it’s a nice spot and a bit of a hidden gem.

Twitter – @SabatinosYVR

Facebook – Sabatino’s Trattoria

Interwebz – sabatinostrattoria.com

Scott.

*My food and drinks were provided at no charge by Sabatino’s for review purposes.

 

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.

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.

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.

Washington Avenue Grill

White Rock’s Washington Avenue Grill, known to locals as The WAG, bills itself as an upscale casual dining restaurant. I have no idea what “upscale casual” is so let’s just slide right past that and get to the good stuff. Located at the east end of White Rock Beach The WAG is one of very few restaurants in the area that is actually on the water side of Marine Drive. The views are top shelf, there’s live music most nights, and there’s lots of free parking. The WAG has been around for years but this was my first visit.

Ahi Tuna Carpaccio
Ahi Tuna Carpaccio

 

I started with their Ahi Tuna Carpaccio, Shaved raw Ahi Tuna, cucumber ginger salsa, wasabi soy, wonton crisps. The Tuna was paper thin, fresh, and very tasty. The wasabi soy dressing added a nice salty heat and the wonton crisps added some much appreciated texture.

Surf and Turf
Surf and Turf

For my main I had the Sunday special, Surf and Turf for $22.99. A 10oz Flat Iron steak with prawns, garlic mashed potatoes, grilled veggies and a crab bearnaise sauce. The presentation of this dish is kind of off putting. The steak is sort of half on top of the potatoes making an odd beef ski hill for the copious amounts of crab bearnaise sauce to slalom down ending up in a pool at the side of the plate. You have to deconstruct it in order to eat it but once you do all of the pieces are tasty and well executed. The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare and I’m a big fan of flat iron steaks. The texture is a little tough due to how it’s cut (with the grain) but when cooked properly it’s a great piece of beef. The bearnaise sauce was good but there was WAY too much of it. The prawns, potatoes and veggies were all quite good.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

For dessert our waitress recommended the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. It was everything I hoped it would be. Rich, sweet, salty, amazing. I’d recommend this to anyone.

There’s a pinkish hue to all of these pictures due to the candle on the table and some holiday lighting near my table. I could’ve used my flash but it wasn’t that kind of night. The service was outstanding, the live music was good (I usually hate live music at restaurants) and the prices are pretty comparable to other places on Marine Drive.

Would I go back? Maybe, free parking is great, being right along the water is a plus and they have a couple of craft beers in bottles on the menu. There are other places in White Rock with more modern décor and modern menus, the WAG feels a little dated but overall I would say it’s worth a try if you’ve never been.

Scott.

 

Big Ridge Brewing Company – I finally review their food!

It dawned on me today that I’ve never written about Big Ridge Brewing Co. in Surrey. I hold events there, I’ve raised thousands of dollars for charity there but I’ve never REALLY written about their food or their house made beer. I wrote about some crazy hot chicken wings I had there once but they weren’t on the menu and you can’t get them any more. There was also another post I wrote 3 years ago about a pizza that’s no longer on the menu. Long story short it’s time for a new post.

Big Ridge Brewing Co.
Big Ridge Brewing Co.

So, it turns out I eat there a lot so I have lots of food to tell you about, hang in there, we’ll get through this together. First up is the Wok Fried Garlic Squid. Battered squid tossed in jalapeños, shallots, and lots of garlic. This is a favourite of mine and most of my friends.

Wok Fried Garlic Squid
Wok Fried Garlic Squid

The pizzas are great too. There’s 8 to choose from and on Sunday they’re only $9 and they’re pretty big. My favourites are the Meat Lovers (shocking, I know) and the Beef Taco pizza. Yum.

Beef Taco Pizza
Beef Taco Pizza
Meat Lovers Pizza
Meat Lovers Pizza

The Short Ribs are a new thing for me but they’ve been on the menu for awhile. They’re grilled in a Korean inspired steak sauce and the texture is just right. I’d definitely order them again.

Grilled Short Ribs
Grilled Short Ribs

The Onion Rings are some of the best in town. Thick cut, beer battered with a black pepper Parmesan dip.

Beer Battered Onion Rings (and Robs hand)
Beer Battered Onion Rings (and Robs hand)

The Steak Sandwich is my go to meal for lunch with my daughter. A 6oz Flat Iron steak that’s ALWAYS cooked to perfection (mid rare for me) that’s marinated for 24 hours. It’s served open face on a garlic buttered baguette with 3 onion rings and fries of salad.

Steak Sandwich with Caesar Salad
Steak Sandwich with Caesar Salad
The 6oz Flat Iron steak is always just right.
The 6oz Flat Iron steak is always just right.

The Meatloaf is HUGE! It comes smothered in a rich mushroom gravy with mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The meatloaf itself is seasoned well and has a great meaty texture that isn’t too soft.

Meatloaf
Meatloaf

The Beer poached sausage is a favourite when I’ve been drinking a lot of their delicious in house craft beers. Beer poached Toulouse sausage grilled and served in a rustic baguette, deli mustard, beer braised onions. It’s rich and delicious and pairs well with many beers.

Beer Poached Sausage.
Beer Poached Sausage.

The Kung Pow is arguably the best dish in the Asian Kitchen section of the menu (although their Butter Chicken is also good and pretty legit, I would know, I grew up in Newton). Water chestnuts, baby corn, carrots, celery, bell peppers, onion & roasted peanuts, wok tossed with dark vinegar & spicy chilies, served with steamed jasmine rice. It’s got a little heat too which is fine by me. You can order it with chicken, shrimp, or as a vegetarian dish.

Kung Pow.
Kung Pow.

The last dish I have a picture of is the Mac and Cheese. Baked three cheese macaroni with a crisp panko shell. I get mine with chorizo sausage because it’s the right thing to do.

Mac and Cheese with Chorizo.
Mac and Cheese with Chorizo.

The best part about Big Ridge? The beer! Brewed on site by Brewmaster Nicholas Bolton, the beer is always super fresh and very consistent. It’s also a really good deal with 20oz pints selling for 25 cents an ounce! That’s $5 for those of you who don’t like math. On Sunday pints are $4. So good.

Brewmaster Nick pouring me a taste of an upcoming seasonal.
Brewmaster Nick pouring me a taste of an upcoming seasonal.

The Clover Ale is a classic west coast American style IPA and is my beer of choice. There’s always a seasonal beer on tap and every Friday is cask night. You can only get their beer on tap but they have something for everyone from a lager all they way to a porter. You can also fill you growler at Big Ridge no matter where it’s from. Don’t have a growler? That’s ok, you can buy one of theirs!

Clover Ale (IPA)
Clover Ale (IPA)
The Epic Split Belgian Strong Ale, one of the seasonal beers you'll find on tap.
The Epic Split Belgian Strong Ale, one of the seasonal beers you’ll find on tap. Click on the picture for a little surprise.

It’s hard to find a place where craft beer fans with kids can go that isn’t a huge chain. The kids menu is great and my daughter and I have made Sunday lunches at Big Ridge a weekly tradition.

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Big Ridge Brewing Company is a haven in the Fraser Valley for lovers of craft beer and good food. If you’ve never been you’re missing out. They also have a free shuttle (Tips are recommended, by me…)from 8pm to close Thursday to Saturday that will pick you up and take you home so you don’t have to worry about alcohol and driving. That’s awesome.

Scott.

Karma stuff – Every now and then the boss man floats me a free beer of food item but I’ve probably spent more money at Big Ridge over the last 3 years than all other restaurants and bars combined. The opinions of the food and beer are mine and mine alone. Big Ridge is great.

Central City Brewery Media Preview

Craft beer? Fancy snacks? A free tour?? That’s the sort of thing that gets this blogger out of the house on a weekday! The shiny new Central City Brewers and Distillers production facility has been open for awhile but the Grand Opening is this coming Friday from 3pm-7pm. In advance of the Grand Opening I was invited to preview the brewery ahead of the crowd. I’ve been to the new space quite a few times already for growler fills and beer sampling but this was an opportunity to have the place to myself (along with the other guests) and go for a tour with Brewmaster Gary Lohin.

The Tenth Anniversary Imperial Porter. Yum!
The Tenth Anniversary Imperial Porter. Yum!

In a nutshell the new facility gives Central City the ability to produce 10 times the amount of beer it could produce at it’s original facility. It is a greener, more efficient production cycle that uses state of the art equipment which brings a modern day consistency to a time honoured craft. Thanks to Yvonne Chiang for the invite, Gary for the tour and Tim Barnes, VP of Sales and Marketing, for the great chat about the new facility and the new Seraph line of craft spirits. Central City has made a big investment in the city of Surrey and has cemented itself as a leader in the rapidly growing BC craft beer industry.

The great food we were treated to in the tasting room.
The great food we were treated to in the tasting room.

Here are a few more pictures of the event, the tasty tapas, and the great new facility in my home town of Surrey BC.

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This is where they’re aging Whisky for the new Seraph line.
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A sneak preview of the Seraph Gin packaging.
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Believe it or not there’s still room for 6 more tanks in here!
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Day or night this is a beautiful facility.
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The labelling machine putting it’s mark on one of my favourite beers.
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There’s a huge merchandise section selling all kinds of Red Racer gear.
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One of 3 copper stills, this is the 2500 litre big daddy.
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The pipework carrying various liquids to different corners of the brewery. It looks like art.
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This is Seraph, the branding image for Central City’s new line of Gin, Vodka, and Whisky set to launch in the new year. It stands in the retail area to greet you as you enter.
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This is the room where they’re barrel aging a few beers for future seasonals and special releases.
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An up close look at part of the brewing process. This is the Imperial Porter.
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A closer look at Seraph.
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This is Kevin filling my growler with tasty ESB! This picture was taken a few days after they opened to the public.
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I’ve even been here during the day!
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Part of the new bottling line.

 

Beer Pairing Dinner at Edith and Arthur featuring Central City Brewers and Distillers

I get invited to a lot of beer pairing/brewmasters dinners, probably 2-3 a month. Someone recently told me that my blog wasn’t “Craft Beer Focused” and I can’t say I agree. Pubs/Restaurants/Breweries seem to value my opinion so when duty calls I do my best to tell the world about great beer and food. My latest beer pairing dinner adventure came courtesy of Edith and Arthur, a Joseph Richard Group pub located in Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood roughly 4 blocks from my house. People living downtown might think that’s normal but in the Fraser Valley it is fairly uncommon to be able to walk somewhere without using a car to get close enough to do so. They teamed up with Surrey’s Award winning Central City Brewers and Distillers to create a 5 course tasting menu, each dish paired with a Red Racer beer meant to compliment its flavours. Spoiler alert, it was very good.

First things first, when you go to a 5 course beer pairing dinner you expect to try 5 beers. We tried 6 as we were welcomed with Red Racer’s delightfully sessionable Pilsner.

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Pilsnerific

Course number 1 was Crab and Roast Pepper Bisque paired with Red Racer ESB. The bisque was rich and packed full of roast pepper flavour. The crab was almost like a de-constructed crab cake. It was delicate and sweet/savoury and was a perfect companion to the bisque. Red Racer ESB is one of my all time favourite BC craft beers and its caramel malts and medium bitterness accented the richness of this dish very nicely.

Crab and Roast Pepper Bisque.
Crab and Roast Pepper Bisque.

Course 2 was Grilled Pair Bruschetta with Chili Poached Prawns. The buschetta was simple and elegant with greens, tomatoes and goats cheese all accenting the slightly grilled pear slices on some toasted bread. The chili prawns had some heat but they weren’t overpowering. The heat was a nice addition to an otherwise light and fresh dish. It was paired with Red Racer Pale Ale, a classic and well executed American style pale ale with a malty backbone and a more subtle hop profile that an IPA or an ESB. Normally I’d prefer an IPA with something spicy like the prawns but this beer was a good compromise between the two sides of this dish. Pairing a beer with a dish that has 2 distinct and different flavours is tough and they nailed it.

Grilled Pear Bruschetta with Chili Poached Prawns
Grilled Pear Bruschetta with Chili Poached Prawns

Course number 3 worried me a little, actually a lot. My disdain for pumpkin “flavoured” things is well documented . There are a few exceptions but usually pumpkin and I aren’t friends. House made Pumpkin Squash Ravioli with brown butter and pomegranate seeds. The fresh pasta was amazing, the pumpkin filling was rich and only slightly “pumpkiny”, it was more like a butternut squash ravioli with hints of cinnamon/all spice/nutmeg that are usually overpowering. There was a generous curl of Parmigiano-Reggiano laid on top that added some salty goodness. It was accompanied by Red Racer Pumpkin Ale which is equally as subtle in the pumpkin department. An obvious pairing executed perfectly and present beautifully.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter.

The 4th course was craft beer twist on Coq Au Vin. Traditionally made with wine (Coq Au Vin translates to Rooster with Wine) this one was made using Red Racer Red Ale, which I’m fairly certain is the Rad Racer/Flying Monkey’s collaboration Imperial Red Ale, in place of wine. The broth was seasoned well and the red ale flavour was evident but not intrusive. The chicken was tender and juicy and everything took on the flavour of being cooked in the Red Ale sauce. It was paired with…you guessed it…the Imperial Red Ale! You can’t really go wrong making a dish with the same beer you’re pairing it with and this one worked well. The Imperial Red Ale is a 9.5 abv monster which is better sipped than chugged.

Coq Au Vin
Coq Au Vin

The 5th and final course was dessert, an Imperial Brownie with Chocolate Mousse. Think of a one bite brownie, the kind you buy in those little paper bags, topped with a dollop of rich chocolate mousse. It’s impossible for that to be bad. The pairing is what worried me here. You may have noticed that we haven’t had any award winning Red Racer IPA yet, believe me I noticed that too. An IPA with a rich chocolate dessert? Yep, it’s crazy and I like crazy. It’s actually not that crazy, chocolate is naturally quite bitter and the sweetness added to it transforms the hoppy, bitter IPA into something completely different when paired this way. A ballsy move to be certain but you know what they say, not guts no glory.

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Thanks to Jeremy, Jessica, and Corey for inviting me and my South Fraser Beer Club Co-pilot Rob out to this well executed beer pairing dinner, well done!

Scott.

Honest blogger stuff – My dinner, as well as Rob’s, were provided at no charge for review purposes by Edith and Arthur.