Steveston Photo Walk and lunch at Hogshack Cookhouse

Steveston, home of the worlds tamest Seagulls…

Steveston is a beautiful little corner of Richmond, tucked right along side the Pacific Ocean it is still an active fishing community as well as a popular tourist destination. Home to beautiful parks, a national historic site (The Gulf Of Georgia Cannery), a bustling fisherman’s wharf where you can buy fresh seafood right off the fishing boats and many shops and restaurants all within a very walkable old fashioned town centre.

Hog Shack Cook House

I had lunch at Hog Shack Cook House, a southern BBQ joint and one of my favourite restaurants in Greater Vancouver. Chef/Co-owner John and Co-owner Alan are great guys with a serious knack for making your restaurant visit a great one. I usually order the Smoke Lover’s Combo, So good. Hog Shack also has a terrific craft beer selection.

Smoke Lover;s Combo, Pulled Pork, Brisket coleslaw and fries, Mmmm!

After our tasty lunch Hayley an I went for a walk around this pretty ocean side village and snapped some photos, enjoy!

 

 

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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.

Hog Shack Cook House, WFLBC BBQ Challenge stop #5

The BBQ Challenge keeps chugging along, arriving at stop number 5, Hog Shack Cook House in Richmond’s historic and beautiful Steveston neighborhood. I know what you’re thinking, BBQ in Richmond? Yes, and it’s good. My co-pilot on this occasion was my daughter Hayley who behaved like a perfect little angel but wasn’t in it for the right reasons, she’s a little young for BBQ after all…

Hog Shack is a nice room with lots of flat screens for game nights and a ridiculous list of craft beers that I can honestly say will not be beat and I think I should just give them the title of best tap list right now, but I won’t, they have to wait like everyone else! The blues music is fitting but a little played out. We get it BBQ restaurants, your food is southern! Chef John was kind enough to make me a sampler of BBQ items for the purposes of my challenge with smallish potions of  7 dishes and 3 sides with a couple of house made pickles for good luck. 

First was the sliced beef brisket, one of my favorite BBQ meats. It was very tender with a buttery fat cap and tangy BBQ sauce, house made, and melted in your mouth. The BBQ style at Hog Shack seems to be a combo of Texas style rubs and Kansas City BBQ sauce, and it works very well. Some BBQ purists would be horrified but lets face it, we’re in Canada and this fusion works.

The pulled pork was juicy and tender with the same rich and tangy sauce. The meat had great flavor on its own and has obviously benefited from a healthy rub prior to being smoked. Pulled pork is what started my love affair with BBQ but has since become an after thought due to the caliber of other dishes, such as meat number 3, Dino Bones aka beef ribs. Dino Bones is a fitting name for beef ribs as they dwarf Pork ribs by at least 2 to 1. The beef ribs at Hog Shack are meatier than most and have the same rub/sauce combo found in the other dishes. Beef is my kryptonite and beef ribs have that amazing flavor that only comes from meat cooked on the bone. The ribs were tender and full of flavor, but weren’t as juicy as I expected given the amount of meat on them.

Meat number 4 was a quarter chicken, leg and thigh, prepared in the rub/sauce fusion. This chicken was the juiciest I have ever had at a restaurant. When I cut into the meat in almost squirted me. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the flavor of the sauce really matched well with chicken. Meat numbers 4 and 5 were both pork ribs, one was baby back and the other was St. Louis style side ribs. The baby back ribs fell right off the bone and had that awesome fatty/buttery texture that baby backs should. The side ribs were a bit of a miss though, good flavour with less sauce and more rub but the meat was a little tough which is typical of side ribs.

The sides were good, all house made including mini loaves of cornbread. The baked beans were nice and sweet/smoky and the coleslaw was light and had a distinct apple cider vinegar flavor. The best item though isn’t actually on the menu. They are called Burnt Ends and are my new favorite food. Burnt Ends are made from the “point” of  a beef brisket, the point is removed after the brisket is finished smoking and is returned to the smoker for more cooking as it takes longer for the fat to render out and the meat to become tender. The taste starts out like a burnt marshmallow, very sweet with a hint of charcoal, and when you chew it the flavor of the rendered fat, beef, sauce and seasoned crust all swirl together in a money shot of BBQ goodness. I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it. There’s no picture because I ate them too fast but if you click on the picture of the whole platter they’re right in front of the corn bread.

The Hog Shack Cook House is located at #160-3900 Bayview street in Steveston (Richmond). Follow them on Twitter so you know when they have Burnt Ends or click on their logo at the top of the page to see their website.

Wow, longest blog post ever… The BBQ Challenge is getting good, lots of great places with amazing food!!! Still a long way to go though, it’s tough work but someone has to do it.

Scott.

Bob’s BBQ, Whistler Creekside

Stop number four on the WFLBC BBQ challenge is Bob’s BBQ, aka Roland’s Creekside Pub, located at 2129 Lake Placid Road, Creekside, Whistler next door to Nita Lake Lodge. A little off the beaten path for most visitors to Whistler, Bob’s/Roland’s is (according to their website) a favorite for locals and is known for its hospitality.

My weapon of choice for this round of the BBQ Challenge was the K K “Pocket Kings” sandwich. Named after a poker hand, as all menu items at Bob’s, it is a Texas style beef brisket sandwich on a toasted roll with mayo and crispy onions. I opted for onion rings as a side because you can never have too much deep-fried onion. Just to clarify something before I continue, if you go to Bob’s before 4pm during the week you will find locked doors but don’t panic as their whole menu is available at Roland’s.

The presentation of the sandwich was impressive with crispy onion straws piled high atop tender beef. The chopped brisket was good, tender and juicy with a nice rub on the outside and a rich smoky BBQ sauce covering it but to be honest the meat was a little lost under the onions. The onions were great but they really overpowered the taste and texture of the whole sandwich, I had to take a piece of beef out of the sandwich to get a good taste of it. The bun was nice and fresh and perfectly toasted. The onion rings were good but were very obviously fried in day old oil, which is very common as most restaurants use fresh oil for fries only and deep fry everything else in day old oil. This oil was perhaps a little older than recommended though.

Over all I was a little underwhelmed by Bob’s BBQ, although they are a couple of easy tweaks away from making a really good sandwich. Round four in the books, as Jay-Z would say it’s on to the next one.

Scott

What’s For Lunch BC BBQ Challenge 2011 – Update

Hello all, just wanted to give a quick rundown of where we stand on the BBQ Challenge schedule. Well to be honest there isn’t one, I’m just trying to go as often as my schedule allows. So far I have been to The Campfire Grill…Smokin’ BBQ, The Re-up BBQ and Embers BBQ house.

There are still many more to go, I will try to list them all for you and free to let me know if I’m missing any.

And people wonder why I do all this work for free!! Looking forward to traveling all over town in the search for great BBQ. Stay Tuned!

Scott.

Embers BBQ House

The WFLBC BBQ challenge is in full swing with visits to The Campfire Grill in Squamish and The Re-up BBQ on the streets of Vancouver already in the books. The third restaurant in this meat fueled challenge is Embers BBQ House in Mission which was brought to my attention by fellow blogger and all around cool guy Dylan Redekop. If you like good music and don’t read Dylan’s blog shame on you! Check it out at http://morethanafeelingmusic.wordpress.com/ and you’re welcome Dylan…

Embers is located at #107 32559 Logan Avenue in Mission just across the Mission-Abbotsford bridge at the end of a dead end street. It is a cool little place with great atmosphere with the smell of delicious food filling the air as you walk towards the door. Embers makes nearly everything from scratch including their bread which is baked daily in their stone oven and their wraps which are rolled out and baked to order.

The pictures I have don’t represent the normal presentation at Embers as         co-owner Joanne was kind enough to assemble a sampling of menu items suited to the challenge. There will be some nice shots in the wrap-up article later in the year. In all we sampled 6 items, listed and described as follows. The Heidi Baked, a sandwich with chicken, pickled asparagus, Swiss cheese and mayo. The Marco Spanelli, a wrap with chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sauce. Chicken breast grilled with tarragon sauce. Sweet garlic chicken wings. The BBQ Pork sandwich with Brad-slaw and purple onions and Pork ribs smothered in Embers BBQ sauce.

Everything was really good, The ribs were fantastic and fall off the bone tender with a rich, thick and smoky BBQ sauce. The chicken breast was juicy and not overdone and the tarragon sauce was very subtle but nice. The Heidi Baked was awesome, the bun was super fresh and the pickled asparagus added a tangy kick. The wings were saucy and not to crispy, very good. The BBQ pork sandwich was awesome too, this category is going to be a hard one to judge, everyone’s has been so good! The Marco Spanelli was good and the fresh baked wrap was the best wrap I’ve ever had. The fries were great too!

If you live near Mission, Maple Ridge or Abbotsford you are pretty lucky to have Embers BBQ House close by. If you live a little further away it’s definitely worth the drive. So far I have not been disappointed by any BBQ restaurant I’ve tried and I hope the streak continues. Thanks again to Dylan and his lovely wife and to Joanne and the whole Embers team for their hospitality and great food! Click on the picture of Embers logo to visit their website and follow Embers on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EmbersBBQHouse

Scott.

The Campfire Grill – Smokin’ Barbecue

The WFLBC BBQ Challenge has officially begun, first stop Squamish!! Squamish? Yes, Squamish, I recently spent a week in Whistler for work and did a lot of eating all around town and I now have a stockpile of restaurants to reviews for this blog and for the Vancouver Observer.  On the way home I wanted to stop at a BBQ place I had heard about via Twitter called The Campfire Grill – Smokin’ BBQ. I had no idea what I was in for.

I don’t know what I was expecting but this certainly was not it, and what a nice surprise! Located at the Eagle Vista Resort and Campground at 1940 Centennial Way in Squamish it’s about as inconspicuous as it gets, it’s actually in the campground! Thinking that the GPS had led me astray I finally noticed the trailer and assorted small structures around it and headed over to say hello. Chef Mike McCrea and his wife Inger, aka the boss, greeted me with a smile and gave me a tour of the truly unique and pretty awesome setup they have. You really have to see it to appreciate it but it is very cool with gas heaters in a outbuilding filled with picnic tables, a fire pit surrounded by benches and an ordering area with another heater and a nicely done menu board along with very professional brochures and business cards.

Mike was kind enough to make me up a one man sample plate for the purposes of my BBQ Challenge that consisted of pulled pork, pork ribs, beef blade, chicken, and a stuffed burger. The pork was juicy and well seasoned, the beef was fantastic and savory and the chicken, dark meat by request, was cooked perfectly with the skin on. The ribs, which I ate before I remembered to take a picture, had a nice smoky crust and were tender and juicy as well.  The stuffed burger which is only available on Friday is made with locally sourced organic beef stuffed with pickles, banana peppers, cheddar and Monterey jack cheese. Great texture and flavor from the beef and the stuffing was awesome, plus it was cooked a nice medium, perfect. Over all this is some of the best food, let alone BBQ, I have ever eaten.

Then there are the sauces, oh my god the sauces! All made by Chef Mike they are a foursome of mouth watering accouterments to go with the fantastic meat. There is a trio of BBQ sauces, bourbon, apricot and chipotle and a honey mustard sauce. The Honey mustard goes great with everything but pairs best with the chicken. The apricot paired best with the pulled pork and the bourbon went great with the ribs. The chipotle was my favorite and went great with everything, especially the beef. I also tried Chef Mike’s home made pecan tarts cooked on the grill and they were fantastic!

So BBQ challenge 2011 has it’s first official entry and if this food is a sign of things to come I’m in for a great ride! If you’re passing through or visiting Squamish, or if you just want to go somewhere incredibly cool to eat you need to make a stop here. Based on my BBQ experience this place may be hard to beat. I may have to rearrange my categories a little but I think the WFLBC BBQ Challenge is going to be a big hit!!

Scott.

BBQ Challenge 2011

BBQ is super popular right now and given the fact that my last few trips to Memphis Blues have been incredibly disappointing I have decided to set out on a quest to find the Lower Mainland’s best BBQ. There will be 9 categories as follows;

1. Ribs. 2. Pulled Pork. 3. Beef. 4. Chicken. 5. Specialty Item. 6. Tap list. 7.Best overall.

Category 6 will depend on the restaurant being licensed. The overall winner does not necessarily have to have every category but it certainly won’t hurt.  This challenge will take quite a while to complete given the amount of food and categories that are involved and I may need an assistant and Mr.  Kevin Addy has graciously volunteered his services.

So what do I need from you? I’m glad you asked, if you know of a BBQ joint anywhere from Squamish to Hope I want to know about it. Even places that aren’t 100 percent BBQ but have a BBQ item or 2 on their menu will be considered, for example Big Ridge Brewing Company in Surrey will be in the pulled pork category even though that’s the only BBQ they serve.

The final results will be announced in one of my weekly articles and will be a mouth watering, meat lovers paradise. Start sending me those BBQ hot spots by leaving a comment at the bottom of this post or by email to whatsforlunchbc@rocketmail.com (just copy and paste the address). As always thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out my new gig at The Vancouver Observer as a real, honest to goodness restaurant critic/writer of random awesomeness.

Scott.

Bob’s Burgers and Brew

America, land of the free, home of the brave and the capital of the pig out world. No where else is quantity of as much importance as it is to our southern neighbors. Luckily at Bob’s Burgers and Brew quality is just as important as the amount of food on your plate. Located throughout Washington State, Bob’s has been in business since 1982. During a recent trip to Seattle with Mr. What’s for Lunch BC Senior, aka my dad, we stopped at the outlet mall in Marysville for a little bargain hunting and some lunch. The outlet mall was a bust as I am a shopper who needs an item or items in mind prior to shopping but that left us more time for lunch before having to leave for Qwest Field.

Located at 8822 Quilceda Parkway in Marysville/Tulalip just south of the outlet mall and the Tulalip Resort Casino, there is little else to choose from other than fast food, food courts or The Olive Garden (which I am not a fan of) in the area. It was pretty busy for a Sunday but it was lunch time and there was football on. The host told us that there was a 15-20 minute wait but we were free to grab a table in the bar if there was one available, which there was. On the menu I noticed they had one of my favorite American beers on tap, Black Butte Porter from Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon. Black Butte Porter is what a porter should be and I drink it when ever possible.

Seeing as the restaurant is called “Burgers and Brews” and I had already ordered my brew I decided on a burger, the Double Dutch Burger. According to the menu this is an old Lynden favorite, I’m guessing because of Lynden’s Dutch heritage? The burger is a 6 once charbroiled patty topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, “savory sauce” (Mayonnaise?) and a foot long hot dog cut to curl into a ring when it is grilled. The burger was great, with the hot dog adding a nice flavor and texture similar to bacon but much more substantial. The Burger patty was nicely seasoned and not too salty with the texture of quality ground beef. The side I chose was Jo Jo’s, which in Canadian are called potato wedges. They were also very tasty, not overly salted and not dry like most potato wedges I’ve had. This place is a must for bargain shoppers/problem gamblers who like burgers and beer. The prices were very reasonable with my burger coming in at under $10, lots of food for not a lot of money, an American tradition.

Story number 1 from my cross border adventure complete, stay tuned for story number 2 coming soon. While you’re killing time on the old internet you can check out my new online business card with photo courtesy of my pal Erika aka Eye Candy Photoworks.

Scott.