Where I Ate In Auckland – Part One – WFLNZ

The food in New Zealand surprised me. I had heard the beef and dairy were good but they were SO GOOD. I ate as often as possible in New Zealand because it rarely disappointed. Let’s start in Auckland and see where I ended up.

The Meat Pies…

They said they were good. I thought they were exaggerating. There is something magical about meat pies in New Zealand. From a cafe or a gas station, it doesn’t matter. I tried a bunch of meat pies. Mince, Steak, Steak and Cheese, Beef Potato Topped, the list is very long. You should, no you NEED, to try a meat pie in New Zealand.

MMMMM Pie.
MMMMM Pie.

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The Cheese…

Being a bit thrifty can lead you to some fantastic food discoveries abroad. I made a few trips to the grocery store to save a few bucks while in New Zealand. In Auckland I went to Countdown and New World to stock up on snacks and beer for my hotel room. The cheese, my god the cheese. Apparently the Mainland brand is just regular quality cheeses in New Zealand but it is so far above Canadian non specialty store cheese it’s ridiculous. I ate an unwise amount of cheese in New Zealand, totally worth it. That 24 month aged cheddar made me consider marriage. Hot travel tip, always travel with a multi-tool. The knife and the bottle opener are worth their weight in gold.

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Fried Chicken From A Convenience Store.

I didn’t pack a lot of clothes and planned on finding laundromats to make my small wardrobe last 2 weeks. In a serendipitous turn of events I found one of the best things I ate in New Zealand right beside Bubbles Laundromat in Auckland.  NZ Convenience Store didn’t look like much but their sign said “Sensational Fried Chicken.” The sign didn’t lie. Halal chicken, amazing seasoning, something called “chicken salt.” It was also priced right which is great as New Zealand can be expensive.

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Random Pizza.

Pizza is everywhere in Auckland. I was craving a slice or 2 so I Googled who had the best pizza near me. Sal’s Authentic New York Pizza was near the top of the list and 2 blocks away. Thin crust, foldable, greasy in the best way. Sal’s was way more authentic than I expected to find so far from New York.

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That’s Part 1! In part 2 we’ll talk about sushi, burgers, and pub food.

Scott.

 

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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!

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.

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.

Quick bite – Nat’s New York Pizzeria

Pizza is one of those no brainer foods, even bad pizza is pretty good. Every now and then you come across somewhere that does things with pizza that seem crazy but the results are surprisingly good. Nat’s New York Pizzeria has been a Kitsilano institution since 1992 and is a favourite of the local high school lunch crowd. Their pizza is New York style thin(ish) crust pies that are best eaten folded in half. The slices are big, the dough is decent and the ingredients and toppings seem to be of decent quality.

Nat's Pizza

Nat’s usually does a special pizza each day and I happened to be there the day the made a wonderfully unhealthy but obviously amazing mac and cheese pizza with ground beef. This thing weighed about 2.5 pounds and the slice of pepperoni I had along with it was totally unnecessary. The pasta wasn’t dried out as you’d expect it to be after a trip through the oven, the cheese was evenly distributed throughout the pasta and the beef was nestled in a nice layer between the pasta and the light layer of Nat’s own pizza sauce. Was it good? Hell yes. Would I get it again? Absolutely. Should I get it again? Not if I want to live past 40.

Scott.

Great Pizza 2 for 1

It’s time for a shout out to a local favorite of mine. There are a ton of pizza places in my hood and they’re all pretty good, such as Royal Oak, but my regular pizza joint is Great Pizza 2 for 1. Now I’m not saying it’s the best pizza ever but it’s pretty good as far as bargain 2 for 1 pizza goes and it’s cheap, much like myself, good and cheap… Great Pizza, located at 15820 Fraser Hwy in Surrey, has been open roughly as long as I have lived here, 10 years or so.

There’s a big Hobart mixer in the back so I’ll assume they make their own crust which is average at best and the toppings are ok too. The cheese is not bad either…but man is it cheap! 2 large pizza’s with 2 toppings for under $20. On this particular visit i had a large Hawaiian and a large “Scott Special”, pepperoni and double cheese. Double cheese is actually DOUBLE cheese, it’s about as thick as a magazine!! Their Lasagna is actaully really good and the staff is efficient. There’s one person who I assume is an owner who knows me from day one and always wants to chat about life but if he’s not there it’s hard to get the rest of the staff to crack a smile. No matter though, I’m not there to chat, I’m there for pizza. If you’re in Fleetwood and need some cheap pizza you can’t really go wrong with Great Pizza 2 for 1, especially if you’re drunk and wandering the streets which is perfectly safe despite what you’ve heard about my fair city.

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.

Panoli’s Pizza in Whistler

Did you ever have one of those nights where you knew that you had been drinking far too much to eat anything but your craving simply bullied your common sense to death? Unfortunately this happens to me on a semi regular basis, a little less now due to fatherhood, but every now and then the call of late night drunken food is too powerful to ignore.

There is only one acceptable choice for late night drunken food and that is pizza. Pizza rules and more importantly pizza places are the only places open when my beer fueled urges start. On a recent trip to Whistler I was told that Panoli’s was the place to be for late night pizza by my friend Bert who you may remember from last years Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar post. Bert spent a lot of time in Whistler giving them gas…and I trust his pizza judgement.

I use my Blackberry to make notes about places I eat and my notes on Panoli’s are EXACTLY as follows. “Super drunk. PiZza is awesome. Carnivore sPecial. Canadian ham, Italian Pepperoni and sausage, ground beef and smoked bacon”. That’s some world class note taking. So as you can see I had the Carnivore Special because there’s nothing like a triple bypass to end a night of drinking at Tapley’s in the Village. From what I remember the pizza was actually very good, good crust that wasn’t too thick, nice sauce, lots of cheese and, as you can see, copious amounts of meat. I ordered a medium, ate the whole thing and then had the worst sleep of my life. I don’t blame the pizza though, I’m fairly certain the beer had a hand in it as well. The picture at the top of my kick ass wooden glasses was meant to give a reference as to the size of the pizza but I think it really shows that there may have been a little too much grease in this pie, but I hear that’s good for the wood, of my glasses.

Next time you stay out WAY too late and drink WAY too much remember that pizza is the answer, I just don’t remember the question…and make sure they deliver or are within stumbling distance, it’s the right thing to do.

Scott.

Papa Murphy’s Take & Bake Pizza

Is there anywhere I won’t eat and write about? No, definitely not as proven by this review. Papa Murphy’s is an American pizza chain which makes fresh pizza’s and sells them uncooked for you to take home and prepare yourself. Founded in 1981 in Hillsboro, Oregon Papa Murphy’s is now based out of Vancouver, Washington with over 1150 stores in 35 states and 14 stores in Canada. I am no stranger to the Surrey Location at Fraser Highway and 188th Street as it’s right in between my home base and the In-Laws house making it an easy dinner solution for those days when you just don’t want to make something yourself.

For just under $18 I came home with a large pepperoni pizza, cheesy bread with dipping sauce, a bottle of coke and a small tub of cookie dough to make dessert. All of the pizzas come on a special paper tray designed to cook to the pizza on but be warned, it’s a little hard to safely remove the pizza from the oven on these flimsy paper trays. The Cheesy bread is a pizza crust with Cheese and some seasoning on it and comes with marinara dipping sauce. It is much better than most other cheese bread/bread sticks you get from other chain and cooking it at home means it’s very fresh.

The pizza is really quite good as far as chain pizza joints go. It would be impossible to get the quality of somewhere like Royal Oak Pizza in this multi store, mass-produced format but they come surprisingly close. The crust rises nicely as long as you keep a watchful eye on air bubbles and pop them with a knife as soon as they appear. The sauce is not too salty as is the case from most large chains and the pepperoni and cheese seem to be of decent quality.

The cookies are your typical pre-made dough type and are exactly what I expected. The only problem I had was making the dough balls the right size as most of them ended up square shaped from running into each other on the cookie sheet.

Over all this is the best Large chain pizza around and has the added gimmick of “Take and Bake”. Papa Murphy’s is Zagat Rated and has won Best  pizza Chain in America every year since 2003 from Restaurants & Institutions magazine, which folded in 2010 so I would assume the streak is over.

I hope everyone had a great New Year!

Scott.

 

Thank You.

This has been one crazy year, easily the most rewarding of my life. I learned a lot, met some great people and became a father. I have learned that Fish Sauce tastes awesome on everything, Bristol Palin lists one of her qualifications for paid public appearances as “unwed mother” and at the risk of upsetting most women and teenage girls I have discovered that the true message of the Twilight book series is that all men are monsters who crave young flesh. That last tidbit was revealed to me on a new TV show called Community staring a much older looking than anticipated Chevy Chase, and it’s really not that funny. Well done Stephanie Meyer, you have solved the mystery of men once and for all.

As the year approaches its end I feel like I have really found a rhythm in my life, one that has really never been there before. I have a great family, wonderful friends, a good job and the coolest dog ever who is soon to have a little sister, sorry Cooper but you knew it was coming. To top off all of that awesomeness I have THIS. This blog has given me a release for some creative energy that my day job can’t provide. I have met some cool people, found some great food treasures and figured out that I am a total social media junkie. I am hopelessly addicted to Twitter and I find myself scanning my Twitter feed looking for tweets from my favorites. They include @therealcabbie, @SandraOldfield, @jminter, @hummingbird604, to name a few. I also have some ACTUAL PEOPLE I KNOW who I follow on Twitter such as @HeatherVince, @eye_candy_photo and @dylan_redekop.

I love the local blogging scene and without my old pal Dylan I wouldn’t be doing this at all. His Blog, More Than A Feeling Music, was my inspiration and I still read every post he writes, really good stuff. My friend Erika was inspired somewhat similarly by me! Totally flattered and I think she is an amazing photographer. Her blog, Eye Candy Photoworks, has some great stuff, including some shots of yours truly and my little girl. There are some other local blogs that I read on a regular basis as well such as Miss 604 by Rebecca Bollwitt and Hummingbird 604 by Raul Pacheco-Vega. I have discovered that this city has infrastructure to support freelance writers and bloggers in the form of co-working spaces like The Network Hub.

This year has been full of great food discoveries like The Roaming Dragon, Argo Cafe, Nuba, Benton Brothers Fine Cheese, Five Guys Burgers & Fries and Michi Waffle & Espresso Bar. I have received great feedback about my posts from all over the world and I am continually evolving my writing style and content to try to make it as appealing and user-friendly as possible. I have also launched a new company, Ninety3 Days Media, to oversee this blog and act as a promotional arm for a book I’m writing about my daughter Hayley.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me by reading this blog or following me on Twitter or Facebook. It still amazes me that people take time out of their busy lives to read what I write. This will be my last post this year so that I can take it easy over Christmas so whatever and wherever you are celebrating this holiday season I hope it is fantastic and I look forward 2011 and everything it will bring.

Cheers,

Scott.