baby steps…reposting again…let’s start with hot chocolate

Mink Chocolates Cafe
863 W Hastings St, Vancouver   V6C 3N9
604.633.2451

 

My blog has been moved to the I.C.U, but I’m going to take baby steps to bring it back to life.  Last week Annie and I headed to The One of a Kind Show  at the Vancouver Convention Center and afterwards stopped for a hot beverage at the Mink Cafe, nearby.  Now anyone who knows me, knows I profess not to like chocolate (it is true I don’t like chocolate), but can in small doses enjoy the very occassional milk chocolate.  What is more I found when it is milk chocolate served hot and “spiked” with ancho peppers, chipotle peppers, and cinnamon, even better.  And at Mink’s you can get any beverage “spiked” with this “Cinnamink™” combo.  Yummy!  For those of you that love rich dark chocolate I’ve heard that is good too, but I can’t report.  So as the weather gets a bit more wintery I’d suggest you give Mink’s a try.  Stay in to warm up or grab and go for a walk along the sea wall. 

Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (2 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
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Kid friendly restaurant…well actually just all round friendly just off ‘the drive’

Little Nest
1716 Charles Street, Vancouver   V5L 2T5
604.251.9994

 

Little Nest just off commercial is a quaint, bright, kid friendly place to grab a lovely sandwich.  I enjoyed a humous sandwich with walnut and veggies.  They have a new fresh sheet every day written on the blackboard.  It reminds me a bit of Finches Tea House gone family style.  They are supposed to have great cakes, but I haven’t tried them yet.  Kid friendly is something I’m not usually that attuned to…sorry folks a reality of my lifestyle (not by desire, but by design).  Not only is there a fun play area for kids, but lots of room for strollers to navigate and staff that seems happy to clean up the play area.  Big tables, lots of seating, and definitely a good place to meet a friend for breakfast, lunch, or a snack and a chat.  I’m giving it a Very Good.  Open Tue-Fri 9am-4pm; Weekends 9am-5pm.

 If you have been to Little Nest share your comments and rating below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (1 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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The way to a man’s heart and a smidgen of mine – my first crush and sugar cookies

Featured Recipe: Sugar Cookies

sugar cookiesI was three and a half, and he was three…he was the boy next door (literally), and I was a toddler with a spirit for adventure. Because of that spirit for adventure I had child locks on my bedroom door to stop me from escaping, but those things were no challenge for me and one summer day I managed to break loose and make a dash for the front door. His mom was in the kitchen and he was in the backyard so I broke him loose as well and took him along on my adventure. Since I was the older of the two I knew enough to hold his hand so he didn’t get hurt. We headed off to my great grandmother’s house (aka Nana’s house) about a half kilometre away, and by some miracle we made it there. Now the normal reaction of a grandmother having two toddlers show up on her door step would probably be to call their mothers (who at this point are panicking thinking their children have been kidnapped), but not my Nana. Nope she invited us in, served us some calico tea and sugar cookies. Our lovely tea service was interrupted by a phone call by my mother, who had alerted the police of our missing status. Not the first or last time the police were contacted or involved in one my childhood escapades. I loved my Nana’s sugar cookies, but I can’t seem to find the recipe right now, so I’ve baked up a batch of Alton Brown’s sugar cookies instead and they are quite good. My Nana put a raisin in the middle of her sugar cookies, I can pass on that now a days. And resort instead to a little bit of royal icing, which is more the style my mom made when we were kids. On Valentines Day we always used to bake up sugar cookies in heart shapes and decorate them with icing and cinnamon hearts. That summer my family moved to a new neighbourhood, but that wasn’t the last time I’d see him, as in grade school we’d meet again and for a short time I even had a crush…my first crush.

Cookie Tips – so I made Alton’s cookies in Calgary where it is extremely dry, so I had to add a splash more of milk to keep the dough together. You absolutely have to chill for 2 hours…so don’t bother trying to cheat on that. And use the icing sugar instead of flour for rolling out…this is key.  I also added the seeds of a whole vanilla bean to the mixture, and the result was delicious!

Click here for the recipe Alton Brown Sugar cookies

no one’s home…blogging deliquence

I’ve been blog deliquent lately…and I know it.  Not that I haven’t been to some good places, I have, but between catching pneumonia, my crazy work/travel schedule, and some serious personal reflection my passion for sharing on food has taken a back seat…but I’m gaining momentum, and I think within the week we’ll be back in full swing here on gayledishes.  FYI on Rodney’s Oyster House they’ve got a fabulous potato crusted halibut!  I’m still 0 for 2 on successful dates there though :)    I’ve also got a good Italian restaurant pick in Vancouver, more to tell on lunch at the Fishhouse in Stanley Park, some great recipies to share, and next month I’ve got Napa and Austin restaurants to throw into the mix!

Perogie Perfection

perogiesI went out for a bowling extravaganza with my team from work last night – woo hoo!  And we had dinner at Swiss Chalet…I have a deadly cold so I didn’t feel like eating much so ordered the perogies they were maybe just okay…but they reminded me that my perogie post is long overdue.  Perogies are yum yum in my book.  I love potatoes any way you can cook ‘em, but this is definately one of my favourite was to cook ‘em. I have many a great family memory of my Aunt Cathy and I making perogies together, her trying to reminder the recipe her mother made when she was little, and I think we’ve got it as close as we can for now.  Now these little morsels of goodness do take some effort, but a lot less than you might expect.  In true consultant form I’ve right sized the recipe, but if you want to make enough for six or eight people I’ve included those volumes as well.  The key to this recipe is the sour cream in the dough.  It makes the dough harder to work with, but it will be worth the effort.  I’m giving them a dish it again n again rating!

 

Click here for the Recipe for Gayle’s Perogies

Happy Perogie making!

If you have made these perogies share your comments or rating below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
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Pet Peeve – hard poached eggs…sophies not so cosmic cafe…hmmm…

Sophie’s Cosmic Cafe
2095 4th Avenue West, Vancouver    V6J 1N3  
604.732.6810

 

Beautiful day in Vancouver s I hoped on my bicyclette and headed up to my favorite dive shop IDC (these guys rock) to check on my gear for tomorrow’s dive trip!  On the way back I stopped by Sophie’s Cosmic for a bite to eat.  I pondered for a while over the menu, wondering if I should test out my favorite eggs huevos rancheros, or try out the pancakes.  Since I am in pursuit of good Vancouver best pancakes I gave that a go and ordered the Kits breakfast, poached eggs (soft), no meat.  This breakfast was such a disappointment that I didn’t finish it…(I can’t even believe it cost 14$)   My eggs came hard…very hard, and hard poached eggs is a serious pet peeve of mine.  The pancakes were a great shape and color, but left a lot to be desired in the flavor department.  They also weren’t that hot when they arrived, and weren’t accompanied by any butter…how can you have pancakes without butter?  The rest of the food looks good, but I just don’t know if I’d come back to find out.  I’m giving Sophie’s my second Just Ok of the weekend…

If you have been to Sophie’s share your rating and comments below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (1 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)
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Just Ok BBQ in Yaletown

DIX Barbecue & Brewery
871 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6Z‎ – (604) 682-2739

 

In Yaletown this ‎Mircobrewery is a part of the Mark James Group of restaurants and you’ll realize it the moment you walk in the door.  The feeling there is very similar to the Yaletown Brewing Co.  Open space, big wooden tables, and rustic/casual décor.  When I went on a Friday afternoon for lunch the place was dead quiet.  But I was craving BBQ and figured if I could find good BBQ near me that’d be awesome.  However, I’m not giving it an awesome, instead I’ll give it a Just Ok (I think that is my first Just Ok in a long time).  I had the beef rib sandwich, which was good, but not great.  The meat was quite good, although a touch too much smokiness (it is a delicate balance perfected by few).  The mayo on the sandwich was the best part, and I don’t think the dill pickle was a good flavor match.  The soup with corn and chicken was only so-so, and the corn was definitely frozen, but I’m actually thinking maybe the soup had been frozen too.  The okra in the soup was flavorless and quite mushy…okra should not be mushy…or rather doesn’t taste good mushy.  I’ll keep looking for my BBQ joint in Vancouver, and I would maybe suggest going here if you have a really big rowdy crowd.

If you’ve been to Dix share your rating or comments below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (1 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)
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“Like a Tea Tray in the Sky” – High Tea in Vancouver

Bacchus
845 Hornby Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6Z 1V1 
For Reservations: 604.608.5319

 

A great way to spend a hot summer afternoon or rainy one for that matter is high tea with your girlfriends, and there are several places in Vancouver that serve high tea. Annie and I were planning on going to the one at the Fish House, be we miscalculated the interference the Gay Pride Parade would play in that plan, and after an hour of trying to get there we abandoned our efforts and went to high tea at Bacchus.  Annie had already been, but it was my first time.  I’d say the tea sandwiches were just okay.  My favorites were the egg salad and the smoked salmon, but nothing too notable.  I grew up eating the most delightful tea sandwiches made by my great grandmother and her friends…colored bread, pinwheels, and interesting shapes, so perhaps the bar is too high.  The pastries were good, but the only remarkables were the Devonshire cream and the chocolate éclair.  The Pear Green Tea was dee-liocious!!  And the price point at $29.00 per person makes for a nice afternoon.  The seating at Bacchus is uber comfortable (Trivia: it appears uber isn’t a word, but I hope you understand what I mean).  I could have sat in one of those high back chairs all day!  I’ve had high tea at the Fairmont Banff Springs – it is excellent. 

 

If you have been to Bacchus for high tea share your rating below.  And if you have comments or suggestions on high-tea in general please share!  Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (1 votes, average: 3.00 out of 5)
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Bistro Marcel for lunch in Calgary

Bistro Marcel
Suite 110, 520 – 5th Avenue SW, Calgary, T2P 3R7
403.237.7993

 

If you are near the corner of 5th and 5th in Calgary SW you’ve got to try this place.  The pizza dough is really good, thick and yeasty, just the way I like it.  The Calzones are yummy, and the Souvlaki wraps are great as well.  The chicken satay sub is spicy and deliocious, on the best fresh roll!  I’m not a big fan of their salads, but the price is right on lunch for sure.  The downsides are sometimes you might wait a little longer than you want, the joint is in desperate need of a restaurant makeover so there is almost no seating and pizza oven just sitting in the middle of a restaurant like an old car parked out in someone’s lawn.  The folks that work there are like a sitcom in personalities, which makes the waiting a bit amusing.  The food is great and so are the prices.  Also they cater lunches and the pizza is great. Open for lunch Monday – Friday.   Thanks to John Lee for this suggestion…looking forward to going back soon!

If you have been to Bistro Marcel share your rating or comments below Not OKJust OKVery OKVery GoodGreat (2 votes, average: 4.00 out of 5)
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Julie & Julia a la Alyssa – Host a party for the movie release!

Alyssa hosted a splendid event of lunch and a movie for the Julie & Julia movie release.  A movie based on two books first Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen, by Julie Powell and the second My Life in France by Julie Child and Alex Prud’Homme.  Guests were invited to bring a bottle of French wine  (I brought a Beaujolais Villages wine) or a French cheese and Alyssa prepared a splendid feast from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking for lunch.  We started with stuffed mushroom caps, followed by vichyssoise (cold potato leek soup).  Then the cheese and bread course, and then the Pièce de résistance, Crab Quiche served with a tossed salad and homemade vinaigrette.  She made the quiche while we were there, so it came out of the oven warm and perfectly set for eating!  Everything was sooo delicious!  We finished our meal with a wonderfully fragrant French tea, and these delightful little French Macaroons.  For an amazing food blog and great collection of Macaroon recipes visit this site:  http://www.mytartelette.com/search/label/macarons.  It is the kind of blog that makes me realize I’m such a hack as a foodie and blogger – and wished I had the creative energy to produce something so splendid.  After lunch we all went to the cinema to catch the flick!

I recently read Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and I enjoyed it for what it was.  An easy read, with a bit of sarcastic humor (which I always appreciate), by someone who seems a little more disgruntled with the world than perhaps her apparent lot in life affords.  She makes herself look bad by being harsh with and about her seemingly saintly husband, but she wrote it herself, so I think it is intended to be self deprecating humor.  Julie’s description of Julia’s Oeufs en Cocotte (you can find the recipe here) in the book is so appealing I’ve decided I have to make them…so as soon as I find the appropriate ramekins I’ll get those whipped up.  There were parts of her struggle in life reaching thirty and being childless I have to say I identified with.  And because I love food, I just enjoy books right now that get me thinking about it.  But because of the humor and writing style, I definitely appreciate the opinion of some of my friends that the book just wasn’t that good.  What I haven’t read yet, but would like to pick up is My Life in France.  I enjoyed that the movie combined the two books playfully such that I didn’t feel I was just re-experiencing the book.  Both of the stars did an exceptional job at bringing life to their characters on the big screen, although I would say some of the sharp edges of Julie’s character were  shaved off by the script and Amy Adam’s performance.  I will be shocked if Meryl Streep doesn’t get an Oscar nod for her outstanding characterization of Julia Child…if you don’t realize how marvelous it is, watch a clip of Julia Child on youtube…and you will be amazed.

Check out Alyssa’s post on the event!  http://wherearethekeys.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/french-food/

So bring together some girlfriends with a flavor of French food experience and watch Julie & Julia.

Share your comments on the book, the recipes, or the event below.

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