lo·cus – noun {plural} pronounced /lo-kəs/ loh-kuhs /

Locus Café
4121 Main Street, Vancouver BC Canada V5V 3P6
604.708.4121

 

So I had picked Grub because I really wanted to try it, but they were unexpectedly closed so Lisa saved the day by suggesting Locus on Main. It has a great atmosphere that I won’t do justice by describing, but it is a bit edgy with unique lighting, intriguing artwork, and interesting installations around the ceilings and walls. The brunch/lunch menu has lots of great options, but we both picked the blackened snapper sandwich. Before our sandwiches arrived they brought some lovely bread to the table with an assortment of spreads – the simplest and most delicious of which was butter with cinnamon and sugar in it – brilliant! The snapper sandwiches were solidly good and the service was equally good. Price point is good, and it offers variety from the breakfast usual suspects.  Thanks Lisa for saving the day with this find!

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The way to a man’s heart and a smidgen of mine – Love, tradition, and blueberry pancakes

IMG00430So recently I had a couple of experiences regarding love and romance that have inspired introspection and lead me to decide to do a feature called ‘the way to a man’s heart, and a smidgen of mine’. It is much more personal than my other blogging, but I think the road of exploration will reveal some comfort foods you’ll enjoy and unearth some of my food exploration how my comfort foods broadened from basic chicken and dumplings to include international food treats. All of my relationships with men haven’t been perfect, in truth the first relationship I had with a man (my father) was tough to say the least. And of course they say that is one of the most important relationships for a young girl. But despite the challenges in that relationship, I have some positive food memories with him and I’d like to share with you. As to the other relationships with men I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some really loving and wonderful men in my life (some family, some partners, some friends). But whether it be a challenging relationships or just a splendid one they all make for interesting stories, and because I love food so much, I’d like to share those relationships with you through the lens of food memory. In some cases I think I’ve got a couple creative recipe ideas to highlight some interesting parts of my relationship experience as well.

So to kick off the feature I’d like to share with you a recent story. In the last couple of years I have shared a growing relationship with one of my uncles. He has been helping our family immensely by taking care of my dad, who is not well. I respect my uncle endlessly and despite his own challenges he has really been present in our lives and helping us out over the last several years. He plays a significant role in my life, and my best memories are from our breakfast tradition. We’ve been doing it for a couple years now – each time I come to town to visit he takes me out one morning for breakfast (without fail, every time). Those moments we have together talking, chatting, me pushing the boundary on how much girl talk he can handle, him sharing advice with me on everything from real estate, to golf, to romance. These are my most treasured moments. What we always struggle with in those breakfasts is the world’s biggest breakfast quandry – eggs or pancakes (or savory sweet)? And we’ve now mastered a plan whereby we get our eggs…but we also share one or two blueberry pancakes. So in honour of our blueberry pancake tradition I’d like to share with you a recipe from Martha Stewart Living that is perfect for blueberry season and includes some of my favorite ingredients cornmeal and buttermilk. Cornmeal – Buttermilk Blueberry Pancakes (click link below for recipe). I’ve included a few Gayle modifications in the notes. I made these pancakes today and shared them with a friend…they were pretty yummy. A bit of room for improvement in my pancake cooking style, and I need a much better pan…but when the fresh local blueberries pop open in your mouth it is delightful!

Click here for the recipe for Martha’s Blueberry Cornmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes.

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On Main Street just off West Georgia

Campagnolo Restaurant
1020 Main St, Vancouver 604.484.6018‎

Just a brief note on Campagnolo. Annie and I ventured here just after it had opened. I believe it is owned by the same folks that on Fuel (where I still haven’t been, and would love to go!). It is an understated Italian restaurant on Main Street. The food was good, but not exceptional. The atmosphere was a bit dark and bare bones. The food was fresh though, and the service was good. Prices moderate. So if you’ve been here and had a more outstanding experience please share!

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7 days a week for breakfast and lunch – no reservations accepted

Avenue Diner
105 – 8th Avenue S.W., Calgary
403.263.2673

 

During Stampede I took someone special here and it is a great place for that. I had the Nona’s Benny which was only so so (I found the balsamic too sweet). We also shared a side of pancake it was yummy with real maple syrup…mmmm. Just be careful those are cranberries floating in the water glasses, not grapes! I’ve seen a few people bite with surprise. My favourite dishes here are Dad’s Famous Mac and Cheese, the Ultimate Egg Sandwich, and the Zillion Dollar Benny (which should not be called a Benny because it is made with scrambled eggs, but it is still good). The hash browns are good and so is the sour dough bread. And if you are feeling really festive try out the mimosas. I’ve got a lot of great Calgary moments here. The only thing I might change here is allowing reservations, but I understand why they don’t, and they manage to pack the place so it makes sense. If you can’t wait take a seat a the bar, in the winter you’ll freeze, but they have blankets to keep you warm. But it is the fastest way to get a nibble of Avenue’s yummies. I’m giving Avenue Diner a Very Good.

 

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2 ways Rachel Ray is bakin’ her eggs

That Rachel Ray sure does like to nestle her eggs into cups of various kinds and here are two recipes to prove it. The first is a savory brunch or breakfast for dinner meal called “Nestled Eggs” and the second is a great breakfast, brunch item called “Croissants Egg Boats”.

Nestled Eggs are a pretty good treat with rice, eggs, and red peppers. Rachel Ray says it is a 10$ meal, I say no way in Canada, but it is reasonably price meal and it was baked up by my favorite Malaysian cook. Now as an Anthony Bourdain fan I think I’m supposed to hate Rachel Ray on principal. And while she does tend to drive me a little crazy sometimes, she cooks up some good recipes that work in the kitchen in a reasonable amount of time, and usually for a reasonable price. No real modifications here, but do make sure to buy the biggest roundest peppers you can. The red is great for color, but I’m sure orange and yellow would work well too. I’d like to try these eggs with a bit of a spicier rice mix. The rice isn’t in proportion to the eggs and peppers, but it both parts warmed up well as leftovers, some might say the flavours were even a bit better the second time around, but you lose the benefit of the runny yoke.

Croissant Egg Boats were also made for me. A real treat from my cousin Kristine (she is such a great cook!) on stampede weekend. I tried to track down the recipe, and I think I have, the only thing is that these instructions say to lay the croissants on a baking dish, and Kristine lined muffin tins with the croissants, which is the only way I can reasonably see them turning into ‘boats’. Kristine sprayed the muffin tins with PAM before lining with the croissants, and noted that if she had jumbo muffin tins she might have used those. I skipped the meat in mine, but I imagine there are countless things you could do to modify. Various types of meat, add fried onions, top with fresh made salsa or other toppings. Anyway these little egg boats are yummy, will make you look like a hosting rock star, and pretty easy to make, so dish ‘em up!

 

Click here for the Croissant Egg Boats recipe
Click here for the Nestled Egg recipe

 

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Can good Poutine be found in YVR?

Fritz European Fry House
718 Davie St., Vancouver BC, V6Z 1B6
604.684.0811

 

Looking for the best poutine in Vancouver and I was directed here. I love potatoes, gravy, and cheese…so in my opinion poutine is yumminess. I do think this is a solid poutine, although the gravy wasn’t quite hot enough to melt the cheese perfectly, and was a bit too plentiful on my version. The fries themselves though are solid, and this makes for perfect post drinking food especially since it is open to or past 2:30am most days – Friday and Saturday as late as 4:30am!! (Closed Mondays)  I’ve only tried the poutine, but they have a selection of other fries to try. And since I liked ‘em I’ll try some more.

 

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“Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!”

Vin Room
2310 4 Street SW, Calgary, T2S 1X2
403.457.5522

 

When Calgary tries to go cosmopolitan I think there is often something lost in translation. And while the Alice in Wonderland meets modern art deco setting of Vin Room is a bit of lost in translation for me, it also serves as a welcome relief to enjoy an intimate wine bar and lounge in Calgary. Even better it appears to have a good appetizer menu as well, although I didn’t indulge the night I was there. The wine and beer selection is excellent and as far as comfortable place to go with a date or a few friends to lounge and chat without the noise and rowdiness of the typical Calgary bar scene, this is a great place. Prices moderate and it is has lots of seating both upstairs and down that is well partitioned to allow for private conversations. The only thing I’d warn against for sure is those crazy low chairs (not a fan) so pick a banquette if you can. Thanks to Valerie for the pick it was perfect for the occasion.

 

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When you feel like packing your lunch box and going home – pack this!

Ultimate comfort food for a rainy summer day, and my favorite sandwich, is the Caprese sandwich. Easy to make, so fresh, and great for summer when the tomatoes are at their best. The first time I had a caprese sandwich was in 1998 at the Au Bon Pain in Cambridge, MA, and it is so good it is still on their menu today 10 years later. The part that I don’t love about their sandwich and always skip on mine is the romain lettuce – unnecessary complication if you ask me. I loved it so much I went back the next day, and quickly set about figuring out how to make it to add it to my kitchen repertoire. And it is one of my top ordered sandwiches. Because there are only a few ingredients to make this sandwich perfect it is important you get the best of everything. The tomatoes need to be fresh with loads of flavour – interestingly one café in Boston where I’ve had this sandwich during the winter they roast roma tomatoes for this sandwich to improve the taste. The bread is key and a nice crusty French loaf is what I find the best, but what ever you choose make sure the flavor of the bread is not overpowering to the simplicity of the sandwich. I prefer to use smaller fresh mozzarella balls (bocconcini), but larger rounds of fresh mozzarella also work well. Of course if you need it in a rush you can buy premade basil pesto at the grocery store, but I prefer the homemade if you’ve got 5 minutes.  I’ve given a quick and easy recipe below for the pesto, but lots of other great recipes can be found online for basil pesto.

Ingredients:
Fresh mozzeralla sliced (Boconnini Cheese)
Ripe tomatoes sliced
French bread or other bread
Quick and easy small batch Basil Pesto
1 bunch of basil leaves (stems removed)
3 tablespoons pine nuts (preferably toasted)
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil (~4 tablespoons)
Dash of salt

To toast pine nuts warm a frying pan on low-medium heat. When the pan is warm toss in the pine nuts and stir them until they start to brown. Be careful not to have the pan too hot the nuts will burn quickly. Take them off the heat and remove from the pan immediately after they start to brown so they don’t burn. Cool the nuts before using. I toast them ahead of time and keep them on hand in a jar so I can toss them into salads or use them quickly for pesto. (Pine nuts are a key part of my modern pantry)

For the pesto, in a small kitchen blender throw in basil leaves, pine nuts, dash salt, parmesan cheese, and olive oil – blend to desired consistency, and add more olive oil if needed. You can also throw in a clove of roasted garlic or fresh if you’d like to garlic it up a bit.

Sandwich composition. Pesto on both sides of the bread a must. Salt and pepper the tomatoes to taste. Layer the sliced tomatoes and fresh mozzeralla till your hearts desire, press the bread down to make sure none of the cheese escapes.

 

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joe fortes roof top oasis awaits

Joe Fortes
777 Thurlow Street, Vancouver
604.669.1940

 

From the street Joe Fortes looks like an old school Seafood and Chop House, venture in its dining room and it looks equally trapped in time. However, move up to its roof top patio and a whole different world awaits (Thank you Mr. Andrews for this suggestion). The roof top patio is a modern oasis in downtown equipped with oyster bar, back lit bar, comfy furniture, beautiful shrubbery, and fireplace. When we went on Canada day we didn’t even wait to be seated and got the couch area – woo hoo!! Now, not waiting on Canada day for any bar is a wonder to a girl from Ontario…but I’ll save that diatribe for another day, because being seated promptly and having great food and drinks on a patio was awesome. It was here I tried full on uncooked oysters. With the assistance of an oyster expert (aka the guy who saved Canada day…and awesome photographer) I tried the Kusshi from Cortes Island, and the Kumamota from Washington, both have a sweet finish although beyond that I’m not sure I’m knowledgeable enough to comment. Rumour has it these are the best…so if you’re looking to try oysters I’d give these a shot. They were gooood. Big debate remains for me on how much to bite/chew, but I didn’t mind the texture and I would say they are among my current top runners in seafood. Though the mussels at the Cannery are still taking the cake. The beer and wine selection here is good and reasonably priced, the mixed drinks seem a bit pricy, but hey it is a great bar so if you’re looking to impress you shouldn’t care the price. This is a casual lounging type place, not a rock your boots off to kick’in tunes kinda place, so you’ve got to be in the right mind set to enjoy.  I’ve always wanted to try a meal here, as I’ve heard it is good, so I’ll likely come back for dinner, and I think I’ll try and eat it on the patio if I can swing it. I’m giving Joe Fortes Roof top Bar a Very Good! And I’ll have to keep you posted on how it is for dinner.

 

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four acres, five acres, six!

Six Acres
203 Carrall Street, Vancouver, V6B 2J2
604.488.0110

 

At the corner of Carrall and Water Streets, the heart of Gas Town, is a quaint stop for drinks or a casual dinner (Tues – Saturday). They’ve got a small outdoor seating area but you’ve got be there on the dot when they open to secure a space. Sitting inside has a great ambiance as well as it is the “oldest brick building” in Vancouver. They boast one of the largest selections of beers in the city and have a fine selection of high balls and we enjoyed the Juniper Green Gin with tonic…a few times over. For tasty treats we enjoyed a plate with hummus uniquely adorned with mini tomatoes stuffed with hummus and the Gorgonzola Hot pot. The hot pot is sooo good you’ll need to ask for more warm bread to sop up ever last bite. They have a great selection of other food items, and although it looks like a little con’fusion with everything from Italian to Mexican, if what we had was indication the rest will be yummy for sure. What a great stop, another one we owe Alyssa for sharing! I’m giving Six Acres a Very Good and I’ll be back!

 

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