The Bright Side

Today started out with a bang, Lyndsey set off to work for the first time since our daughter Hayley was born and was promptly fired as soon as she walked in the door. I had planned to write a ranting diatribe about the mistreatment of women returning from maternity leave fueled with extra venom given our situation with Hayley being 3 and a half months premature and all of the emotional and financial hardships we have been through, but I have decided to remain positive. There’s way too much negativity in the world and I fear my words would be lost to those who didn’t want to hear more stories of downtrodden souls.

So positivity is the theme of this post, we will move onward and upward from this minor speed bump and and focus on what makes us happy. Item number one, Hayley crawled for the first time on Saturday! She’s now motoring around the house causing the dog to run for cover and making me put up baby gates and other baby related safety devices. This is a huge developmental step for her as her gross motor skills are delayed due to her prematurity. I cried some very happy tears when it happened. It’s also the first milestone that I’ve seen happen because they usually happen while I’m at work.

Item number 2 is Andrew Palooza!! Things have come together quite nicely for this event with Behind Sapphire and Bodhi Jones performing, Carmen Cruz emceeing and some great local comedians and another local band confirming their participation any minute. The event is at the Red Room on June 11th at 8pm and all ticket $’s go to Andrew and his Liberation Treatment in Seattle. I’m not making a penny from this event, same goes for the bands, comedians, emcee and the Red Room isn’t charging us because the owner knows Andrew and his family. It feels pretty good to be able to pull something like this together for a friend. Please come and have some fun for a great cause and a great man!!

Well that’s it for now, thanks to all of you for reading this blog, caring about what I have to say and for being awesome.

Scott.

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Alta Bistro Tweetup for Andrew – May 3rd, Whistler

Event number one is booked! Alta Bistro in Whistler and I are having a Tweetup on Tuesday May the 3rd and 5% of sales are going towards getting Andrew his Liberation Treatment in Seattle. Please spread the word to anyone and everyone who can come out!!! Karma Tuesdays is something that Alta Bistro does regularly and I can’t thank them enough for their support!!

Please share this on Twitter and Facebook and whatever other way that you can!! Event number’s 2 and 3 will be announced shortly and promise to be AWESOME!!!

Scott

Bake for the Quake

This past Wednesday I attended Bake for the Quake, a fundraiser for Japan earthquake and tsunami relief with proceeds going to Doctors Without Borders. The event, organized by Melody from Vancouver Food Tour and Joy from Gourmeted, was held at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. I arrived about 15 minutes after the event began and was amazed by the turnout, the line went from one end of the building to the other and out the door! I guess I should have skipped the quick drink at Glowbal before I headed over…

I picked up some yummy treats including a Ryan Kessler cupcake, check out the rest of my pictures below.

Great event for a great cause!!!

Scott.

A Food Blogger among Dragons

This weekend I set out to prove something, that a food blogger could actually do a food related job. Food bloggers get a lot of negative feedback from some restaurant types because we couldn’t possibly know what we’re talking about, we’re just bloggers. Not so I say, and my good pals at everyones favorite food truck, The Roaming Dragon, were gracious enough to let me have a crack at assisting them at a catering gig they had for Salt Spring Coffee at their Richmond roasting facility. I wasn’t sure what my job would be but I was willing to work hard and do my best while hopefully not dropping anything or embarrassing myself. I have a lot of respect for what Jory, Jason and The Roaming Dragon team do on a daily basis and I didn’t want to let them down.

The event was very cool, a DJ spinning smooth house music, coffee flavored beer and happy looking Salt Spring Coffee employees. Salt Sprig Coffee has a coffee education center in house and it sheds some light on how the coffee you drink gets into your cup. The space they occupy looks like it’s already getting too small which is great news as that means they’re busy! Salt Spring coffee deals in fair trade, organic coffee with some single origin and small “Micro-lot” roasts that get the coffee geek in me shaking with caffeinated happiness. We all know that Vancouver loves its premium coffee but this stuff is a step above the rest. I sampled a little bit before the Dragon arrived and I was very impressed.

So my job was basically running food from the truck to the tables inside the event, making sure that each of the 4 dishes were well represented and clearing away empty plates. The four dishes were Chicken Karaage, Tuna Tare Tare, Tofu Caprese and Porkbelly Sliders which used Salt Spring Coffee to flavor the pork, so good…The Chicken was the big mover with people hovering around the table and devouring large amounts as soon as the plate left my hand, I can’t blame them though as it’s my favorite too. The Dragon crew were very tolerant of me and all seemed to be having fun while pumping out Pan Asian goodies from their kitchen on wheels. Really impressive given the cramped quarters.

The Vancouver Observer was also on hand documenting my efforts to clear the names of food bloggers the world over. There will be a photo montage with audio coming soon to VO and when it does I’ll be sure to let everyone know. I think I held my own but to be honest they were pretty easy on me. Jason and Jory, co owners of the Dragon made a donation to Variety BC to thank me for my help which was a great gesture as I was fully prepared to do it for free. Check out the rest of the pictures below, hopefully you’ve eaten at The Roaming Dragon before, if not you should…soon.

Scott.

Vancouver food bloggers, throwing stones and naming names.

Oh my goodness what a childish mess. For those of you who don’t already know there was recently a very “aggressive” post on a local food blog calling out all of the big players in the Vancouver food blogging community. It’s a long winded post but read the whole thing, it’s shockingly detailed with the writers opinions of other peoples blogs, their motives etc. Thankfully I was not a part of it seeing as I don’t blog for Urbanspoon and I really don’t give a rats ass how many people read my blog. That’s the real issue here, blogs as a business.

I write because I want people to have a laugh and find some good places to eat, not because I get free food (which does happen from time to time) or because I make money from my blog. I could put ads on my blog and to be honest I might at some point in the future but my main reasons for blogging have stayed the same since day one, I like to eat good food and want to share it with others. To name each and every person who you don’t think is “qualified” to write about food is very immature. The fact is that every single person on this planet likes to eat different things and to say someone shouldn’t be writing about food because they don’t like something is ridiculous.

As far as Urbanspoon goes I’m not interested in my ranking, it seems like a popularity contest, so I have decided that Urbanspoon isn’t for me. It works for some and that’s great but don’t criticize others because you don’t think they should be ranked higher than you. People read blogs because they are interested in their content and if they enjoy the content they will keep coming back for more. A blogs popularity means that people like it and to tell the readers that they’re wrong and shouldn’t like it because you say so is offensive. Free speech is a basic human right and I applaud Kim for having the courage to say what he was feeling but at the end of the day he looks like a spoiled little baby who can’t handle someone getting more attention then him.

I am a huge fan of EVERY Vancouver food blog and as a blogging community we offer the people of this city something truly special and I can’t wait to see future posts about great restaurants from great people. So to Richard, Raul, Melody, Sherman, Mijune, Erin, Diana, Mary, Ben, Suanne, and everyone else who writes about food in Vancouver, whether it’s for a blog, a website, a magazine or a news paper keep up the good work, haters are going to hate but the world keeps on eating.

Scott.

Mi Mexico in Bellingham

Ah Mexican food, for most people it consists of burritos and tacos stuffed with ground beef and dripping with cheese “sauce”. I admit that I am no expert on central american cuisine but I know that what passes for Mexican food in Canada is actually Americanized dishes not typically found in Mexico. Mexican food actually rarely contains beef, instead focusing on pork, chicken and in coastal areas, seafood. Mi Mexico, located at 241 Telegraph Road in Bellingham, Washington right across from Bellis Fair mall, offers a lot of traditional and “Americanized” Mexican dishes for very reasonable prices.

The decor in Mi Mexico is eclectic and very colorful to say the least which was a welcome sight after a long afternoon of outlet mall shopping. The staff are all fantastic, everyone called me amigo and they all smiled or tried to make my 1 year old laugh every time they walked passed, always stopping to see if we needed more chips and salsa or water. The chips and salsa were average, nothing that most Mexican restaurants don’t have, warmed chips and fresh salsa, with a choice between thin or chunky salsa.

For my main I ordered Tacos Al Pastor, Marinated pork loin flame broiled and sliced with onions and cilantro on warm corn tortillas. The pork was very juicy and tasted fresh with a little heat but not as much as I had hoped for. Over all though they were really good and it’s nice to have a GOOD corn tortilla unlike the ones I’ve had in Canada. The sides were rice, beans and coleslaw. The Rice was quite fresh but I’ve heard from others that this varies by what time of day you eat here…The beans were a little runny but tasted good and the coleslaw was crisp and fresh and very mild. The cheese on the beans seemed a little pointless as it didn’t have any taste, the real star was the tacos.

My shopping companion had the Chipotle Chicken Fajitas, it came with the same sides but she chose flour tortillas over corn. These are “build it yourself” fajitas and came on a huge platter, half of which was chicken and mushrooms in chipotle sauce. The sauce was nothing like chipotle I’ve had before, it actually tasted like smoked jalapenos, which is what chipotle peppers are. If that’s what real chipotle tastes like then I will never eat the stuff we have here again, this sauce was so smoky and savory with a nice amount of spice, amazing. She couldn’t finish it so I had the leftovers when we got home.

The Canadian dollar is high, take advantage of it with cheap gas, outlet malls and Mexican food, you know you want to.

Scott.

The Teacup, Moroccan Mint

I received a gift from a friend a little while back from her girls adventure to the good old U.S of A from The Teacup in Centralia, Washington.  Located at 204 North Tower Avenue I don’t actually know much about The Teacup other than what I’ve been told so I’ll just tell you about the tea. My gift was a blend called Moroccan Mint, I love mint tea. I don’t really drink tea other than mint tea and I drink it without any milk or sugar because I enjoy the raw, unsweetened mint flavor which is very uncommon in our sugar sweetened society. The blend is a secret but it smelled mostly peppermint based with a hint of spearmint and variegated ginger mint.

Loose leaf teas are not the norm around my house but I think a shift in tea philosophy is in the works. I can’t help but think about all the teabags we throw away every year and we have two “tea balls” at home so why not? Plus they look cool and fresh tea tastes MUCH better. Water boiled, I hung my tea ball (lol) in my mug for roughly 5 minutes and then had a taste. Like I said, fresh tea is so much better than store bought tea bags. Peppermint was the predominant flavor and I didn’t get the bitter aftertaste that sometimes comes with mint tea. If you read my last post about being alcohol free for the month of April you’ll see where this post is coming from. The Booze Reviews will resume in May (hopefully) but until then I will be exploring alternative beverages in the 0% alcohol category.

There’s lots of places to buy loose leaf tea in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley so ditch the teabag, pick up a tea ball and start enjoying better tea!

Scott.

Great Wall Mongolian BBQ

Mongolian BBQ is a cuisine that causes seizures for those who don’t want the different foods on their plate to touch. Grab a bowl, fill it full of meat, veggies, sauce and what ever else they have and someone cooks it all together on a giant flat top grill, scoops it into a bowl and you eat it, awesome. There are a lot of Mongolian BBQ joints in and around Vancouver but the cheapest (and some would argue the best) is Great Wall Mongolian BBQ.

Great Wall is located at 717 Denman Street about a block off Robson. The lunch special is one bowl for $7.95 and it comes with a bland chicken soup, some rice, a springroll and some water. Those are just trivialities though as the big show is whatever you’ve created in your bowl. I believe I had pork, beef, tofu, udon noodles, bok choi,  sprouts, green onions, zucchini, hot chili oil, soy sauce, garlic and other things I can’t remember. I topped it off with sesame seeds and a copious amount of Sriracha (Rooster sauce as it’s know to white people). Full and happy for under 10 bucks.

If you’re brave all you can eat is only $2 more. Most Mongolian BBQ places have more items to chose from when filling your bowl but I dare you to walk out of any of them spending under $10, it doesn’t happen. Now where did I leave my Tums…

Scott.

Alta Bistro, Round 2

Alta Bistro oozes cool. A super hip cocktail list, craft brewed beer and a selection of hand-picked wines compliment a focused menu featuring dishes made from local and/or organic ingredients. Owners Eric Griffith and Edward Dangerfield have brought something truly unique to Whistler. Located at #104-4319 Main Street in Whistler, part of the Pinnacle Hotel building, Alta Bistro feels like somewhere that would work in Gastown or Yaletown and gives Whistler’s restaurant scene a modern kick in the ass.

I’ve been to Alta Bistro a few times now and every visit has been fantastic. “Cocktail Technician” Scot Curry and Co-Owner Edward are always willing to suggest drinks to a willing participant and Eric seems to be everywhere at once ensuring that customers are looked after and that Scot and Edward are trying to get me drunk, which I’m totally fine with by the way. On my most recent visit I enjoyed some Bison Carpaccio with juniper berry dressing and alpine cheese and on two occasions I had the BBQ Duck Confit flatbread with Salsa Verde. The flatbread is a special that runs after 10pm and is only $5!!! This is the best food bargain in Whistler, period. It doesn’t hurt that it’s delicious as well as affordable.

The cocktails are made with premium spirits and house made bitters, syrups and infusions such as the Flor de Cana 4 year old rum infused with vanilla pod, clove, ginger, cinnamon & cardamon which I gladly finished off! Their Old Fashioned is also a force to be reckoned with along with the Painkiller. Also, being a Scotch lover, having Ardbeg  on hand is a one way ticket into my good books.

This is the kind of place that I will visit every time I return to Whistler, it’s that good. Eric, Edward, Scot and the rest of the staff are fantastic people and make Alta Bistro a memorable experience. Going to Whistler without going to Alta Bistro is a mistake you just can’t make.

Scott.

How to ensure your restaurant fails

Pardon me for needing to vent a little but I have a giant pet peeve when it comes to restaurants and their websites. On my much publicized (by me) recent trip to Whistler I had lunch at Merlin’s Bar at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and noticed that they had a pulled pork sandwich on the menu, the Pork Barbacoa Sandwich. I thought perfect, I can add this to the WFLBC BBQ Challenge 2011. It sounded great on the menu, sourdough bun with citrus jicama slaw on the side, boy was I wrong.

The meat was flavorless and dry, the bun dry and a little bit stale and the fries were lukewarm and greasy. The biggest disappointment however was the jicama slaw, it tasted like dirt, like actual dirt. Jicama is a root vegetable that is sweet and happens to be one of my favorite treats that my local farmers market carries on a regular basis. The slaw was not fresh and the jicama had obviously not been prepared or washed properly. So with their entrance in the BBQ Challenge quickly becoming improbable I thought that I would have a look at their website just to see if I could formulate a reason for this awful dish.

There in lies my “peeve”, there is no website. To have a good restaurant you need 3 things, good food, good service and a way for your current or potential customers to find you and find out about you. So with the food part of their business not being up to par it came down to the  other 2 categories. The service was good, not great, nothing to worry about but their web presence consists of a Facebook page, that’s it. This isn’t a huge deal as a Facebook page can be just as effective as a website if it has 3 key ingredients, location, menu and hours of operation. Merlin’s page has their location and hours but no menu.

Let me say this very clearly, if you have a restaurant and use the internet then you need a website. Your website, at the very least, should have your location so customers can find you, your menu so customers know what you serve and your hours of operation so customers know when you’re open. Without these 3 things potential customers will go elsewhere.

In the end I think that Merlin’s has little to worry about as they’re mostly known as a place to drink until you’re sick and repeat as needed. The menu is of little concern to their customers which explains the food. Websites are easy, making money as a restauranteur is hard, give yourself a fighting chance with good food and use the internet to spread the love.

Scott.