Wednesday, May 26, 2010

crave on main

yesterday morning started off great. after 3 days of brunch on the island, i met up with a friend back in vancouver for another amazing brunch. we decided to check out crave, on main street. i'd been there for dinner a couple years back, enjoyed it, plus i always hear great things about it.

i was in one of those moods where i crave savory eggs and sweet pancakes at the same time (i am going to be insane when i am pregnant), but crave didn't have the french toast sandwiching omelet bacon thing i had in victoria. so i compromised. i ordered an eggs benny with spinach, mushrooms and tofu, and a pancake on the side. what i wasn't expecting was for the single side pancake to be the size of my face. but, because i've been stretching my stomach the past few days, i was able to finish everything, plus a couple cups of coffee. the pancake was lovely, a perfect balance of fluffy and moist. what i love is that the server gave me a whole pitcher of maple syrup, not just a tiny cup of it, like some cafes do, leaving me with a dry mouth as i have to sparingly drizzle syrup. nope, i could have as much syrup as i wanted. the benny was great too. eggs were poached well, and the tofu actually tasted good and wasn't a weird texture. i think this tofu thing is catching on with me. :)

to sum it up: the service was great, the food was amazing, the price was decent, and my company was great. it was a fabulous morning. they do lunch and dinner as well, and have a great wine and cocktail list. all their food is fresh, local and often organic. the menu is simple but creative and mouth-watering. i know it gets busy during the evenings, and i can imagine that it is a busy place for weekend brunches too. but, if you have a morning off during the week, definitely check out crave on main! if you don't have a morning off during the week, you still need to check it out in the evening. or on the weekend. anytime, really.

'side' pancake :)

my friend meghan is not only beautiful and stylish
(really love her scarf),
but she is an independent film-maker as well.
and we share a last name! i don't meet that many armstrongs, so i am always excited when i do.
check out her company: glass curtain pictures
after brunch we checked out a newish clothing store next door: devil may wear.
the local clothing line has been around for a while, but this store on main street is newer.
we both really like that pendant in the window.
and they make really, really cute underwear. and jewelry.

Crave on Main on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

brunching in victoria: 3 brunch reviews

i had brunch today for the 4th consecutive day. its been an amazing 4 days of brunch, but my wallet (and my stomach) will be needing a brunch-fast for a while now.

i spent the may-long weekend in victoria, the capital of this lovely province. my sister and a couple of our friends took the ferry over on friday and crashed at my friends' place for the weekend. i ate a lot of good food, and had brunch 3 times.

the first place we brunched at, we came across by accident. a divine accident. we were looking in the neighbourhood for a restaurant we'd just read about in a magazine and couldn't find it. turns out it had folded and was now a sushi restaurant. we were all starving, so we didn't want to bus downtown, so when we happened upon a coffee shop that had breakfasty things, we decided to risk it. i skimmed the menu and decided to be adventurous and try 'the mammoth,' a monstrosity consisting of 2 pieces of french toast engulfing an omelet, bacon, cream cheese and tomatoes, with maple syrup on top. turns out everyone else wanted to be adventurous too because all 4 of us ordered the same thing. it was already past the 'breakfast time,' but the kind and super friendly owner made them for us anyways. they were amazing. next time i have a craving for pancakes and eggs at the same time, i'll just sandwich them together! brilliant! so our first breakfast turned out to be one of the best ones, and one of the cheapest ones. if you go to victoria, one of a grind bistro and cappuccino bar is located in the oak bay area, at 1841 oak bay avenue.

One of a Grind Cafe on Urbanspoon

the mammoth

3 and 1/2 mammoths

the second brunch we went to floyd's diner. we happened upon this place a couple years ago during a visit to victoria with our family, so my sister and i decided to try it again. after giving our name to the host, we didn't have to wait as long as we've had to wait before (only about 20 minutes compared to about 40 one of our last visits). floyd's has that greasy spoon diner atmosphere, where all the trendy alternative people flock, but the menu's got crazy all-day breakfast food combinations, and is priced more like a middle-class restaurant than a greasy diner. the average breakfast was around $10-15. one item on the menu we've never yet tried but are always curious about, is 'the mahoney:' you get whatever the kitchen makes you, and you can pay the regular price or you can flip them for it - double or nothing. one of our table neighbors flipped and lost, but her meal looked like a tower - it was massive. most of floyd's menu has crazy pop culture names. like 'the american idol benny' or the 'the seinfeld' omelet or ' the ben hur' etc. the pan fried potatoes that came with each breakfast were pretty good. some of the larger slices were a bit undercooked, but edible enough. i got the american idol benny, and it consisted of bacon, avocado and brie cheese with pesto hollandaise sauce. it was decent, but the moldy taste of the brie ruined it for me. also one of the poached eggs had runny whites (i hate runny whites), and the other poached egg had overcooked yolk. my theory is that the kitchen didn't know how i would like my eggs, so they did one of each so that it balanced out. :)

floyd's diner is at 866 yates street, on the edge of downtown in a bright pink building. can't miss it.

Floyd's Diner on Urbanspoon

the third brunch i had was with my friends who live in victoria. we went to the blue fox cafe, just a couple blocks away from floyd's diner. we had a really long wait here: a good 30 minutes, if not more. but it was worth it. the coffee was great, served in cute turqoise mugs, which gave the restaurant plus points in my book. i can't do eggs benedict's 2 days in a row, so i opted for a build-my-own omelet with spinach, cheddar and jack. but the bennys looked amazing. my friend got one called 'eggs in hell' with chorizo, avocado, and chipotle with hollandaise sauce. the tables inside were spaced pretty well and they could fit lots of customers at one time for such a small space, without making me as a customer feel over-crowded. the atmosphere was nice and bright, with a huge window letting in lots of light. service was great, really attentive. and the tables, under the glass cover, had random customer-drawn napkins of various foxes. great idea!

blue fox cafe is located at 919 fort street. no need to give your name at the door, just stand in line.

my omelet came with apple honey raisin toast with home-made preserves.

Blue Fox on Urbanspoon

the brunch i had this morning, however, was here in vancouver, so i will save that for a separate post.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

more waffles

a few days ago, to keep you enticed (no, i was just lazy), i posted just one photo of some yummy waffles i made for my sister's birthday breakfast. now i have some more photos for you, and a recipe!

first, before you read any further, know this: to make waffles, you need a waffle-maker. there's no getting around needing some kind of fancy appliance for this wonderful breakfast/dessert/any-meal-of-the-day food. lucky for me i have 2 (yes 2! excessive? nope. just means i can eat waffles quicker*). one is on loan from my dear mother, and the other i bought at a thrift store.

*quicker is a relative term. keep in mind that waffles require a lot of PATIENCE while cooking them.

(this is terrible, but i forget where i got the recipe)
(serves 4. or 2 people twice)

4 eggs, separated
1 1/2 c. milk
2 c. flour (preferably all-purpose, but you can mix some buckwheat or whole wheat in there)
4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
5 T. melted butter

1. separate eggs. beat yolks. in a large bowl. stir in milk.
2. in a separate bowl, sift dry ingredients together and stir into the yolk mixture.
4. stir in the melted butter.
5. beat egg whites until stiff; fold into batter.
6. cook in a waffle iron (according to manufacturers directions)

if you have a stove-top waffle-maker like mine, make sure you heat them up ahead of time. i'm not sure if i'm supposed to grease them, but i do. i haven't found the perfect cooking temperature yet, but medium heat is a good place to start. pour the batter in, (around 1/4 cup per quarter) slightly spread it to make it look equal in all 4 parts, and close the waffler. cook on this side for a few minutes, then flip (making sure you hold the handles tight together). and cook on other side for a few minutes. when you open up the lid, the waffle should slide out nicely, not sticking. cook until it looks nice and crispy. if you make more than you need, you can put them into the toaster to heat up later.

to be honest here, this is what my waffles usually look like.
messy, full of peanut butter, doused with syrup :)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

a happy birthday to my awesome sister/roommate

happy birthday andrea! my sister is kind of pretty much awesome. we had a BBQ party for her birthday and i made cupcakes. i'll (hopefully) post more photos later. it was a great day, minus the icing mishaps and my sister's burned finger (from the icing mishap). spring/summer weather + friends + food = awesomeness. i love summer. let's have more of it!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

safe to be around food, but my music tastes are a little crazy

today i am condescending to the use of my computer's crappy camera instead of my trusty canon. laziness, you say? ... yup.

so this excellent quality photo booth photo below, shows me holding a terribly interesting workbook. this week i went to a one-day class on food safety, sat through slides, lists of improper food-handling practices, and videos of tapeworms. then i took a test, aced it, and in a few weeks will have a handy certificate proving to potential employers that i can work with food without spreading a city-wide bout of hepatitis a. awesome? yes. will this actually help me gain employment? probably not, but it can't hurt. if anything, it's making me go out an buy a meat thermometer so i can properly roast a chicken without risk of reproducing the salmonella bacteria a million times over. (which, by the way, multiply by 2 every 20 minutes they are left in the 'danger zone' of 4 to 60 degrees celcius). seriously, the term 'danger zone' just made cooking that much more fun. :)

so that was a fun class, but now it's over.

today was a pretty great day too. had brunch at roundel, my favorite local brunch spot, with my sister and my friend sherri. i took photos, but... like i said, i'm lazy right now. later on, i went to a beautiful coffee shop, gene, because i wanted coffee, they have free wifi, and i LOVE the light in there. the cafe has 3 walls, and 2 of them are massive windows. coffee's good too. i got lots of work done. feels good.

to top off my feel-good day, i went for a run/jog/walk (mostly walk, who am i kidding) for the second night in a row. i'm trying to create good habits, you know, to counteract my obsessive peanut butter and sugar eating habits. and i discovered music that makes me happy and has a great beat to walk to. so its not just exercise, its fun and i get to pretend like i'm a rock-star while i am lip-syncing to the music in my i-pod, hoping all the neighbours aren't looking out their windows.

check out 'empire of the sun', walking on a dream:
they're a little strange, but its catchy and the falsetto is just plain awesome.

Friday, May 7, 2010

not just any lemonade

the perfect refreshing drink for a sunny afternoon:


es jeruk nipis, not just any lemonade


the second best drink that comes from indonesia (next to coffee) is lemonade. but not just any lemonade, lemonade made from tiny limes, called jeruk nipis, seen in the images below. something about these limes gives the lemonade an amazing flavor, and it is oh so refreshing!


hard to come by in canada, but you can often find these tiny limes in asian grocery stores, slightly overpriced. i was stoked to find that a vietnamese store near my house sells them! along with my favorite cartons of coconut milk (surprisingly hard to find preservative free coconut milk here).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

looking for a decently priced carribean dining experience?

how coincidental! i just went to the reef on the weekend. the reef is a chain of caribbean restaurants in vancouver, victoria, and now apparently chilliwack as well.

a friend and i checked out the commercial drive location the other night, because we were too lazy to cook and wanted to try something new. we shared a few appetizers and got a couple drinks. my friend is trying out vegetarianism for a while (it seems that watching food inc. will do that to you. i really want to see it, but i'd still like to eat meat... it's rather agonizing really), so it was great that the reef offers lots of tofu alternatives. like jerk tofu instead of jerk chicken.

we tried the mission tacos with jerk tofu, yam fries with jerk mayo, and a salad of organic exotic greens. the jerk tofu was actually pretty darn good: lots of flavor and the texture wasn't like i always imagine tofu to be like. the salad wasn't bad, but it tasted more 'normal' than 'exotic.' but the yam fries, oh my gosh, the yam fries were amazing. one thing i love about vancouver is the abundance of delicious yam fries.

i'm not much of a restaurant reviewer, but i like the reef. i'd definitely go back. especially for the yam fries. the service we had at the commercial drive location was fine, but it took a while for them to place our order. but then again, its a busy restaurant, and i'm usually slow at deciding, so that doesn't bother me too much. we got our food with no cutlery, and while yam fries don't need cultery, salads are usually a tad easier to eat with forks instead of fingers. however, i'm pretty easy to please, and having worked in the customer service industry, i usually lean towards empathetic and understanding when i don't have a 'perfect' dining experience.

foodie friend by night,
mod hawk fashion consultant by day (also at night)
the mod hawk site is still under construction,
but you can also check out the mod hawk facebook page.

yardie yam fries w/ jerk mayo $6 (yardie? what..?)

the free appetizer that comes with every meal.
except we got ours in the middle of our meal.
i think they are johnny cakes. i could be wrong.
nonetheless, delicious.

mission tacos $9 (choice of jerk chicken or jerk tofu)

organic exotic greens $9

abc mango cocktail $6.5

mojita (mojito's little sis) $7

where can you find the reef?

where can you find the reef blog?

The Reef (Commercial) on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 3, 2010

poached eggs

a few years ago i don't think i'd even heard of poached eggs. the word 'poach' didn't really seem appetizing in the least and made me think of hunting or poking or something unrelated to good eating. and then i discovered them through eggs benedict. (undeniably one of the top 3 breakfasts there are. the other 2? pancakes. and roti prata.) but i would only eat poached eggs in a restaurant, 'cuz those people know what they're doing. me? either fearful to mess it up or just too impatient to eat breakfast to even bother trying.

but over the last few months i've decided to give it a shot. the first time was a bit messy, and we ended up using metal poaching dishes and consequently overcooked them. the second time wasn't half bad, but still messy and the resulting eggs were ugly and the whites were undercooked. this last time, however, i followed some good advice and not only did the egg turn out perfectly in a perfect shape, but it was super quick too (unlike past experiences). apparently a good trick to keeping a good shape is to stir the water around (a 'whirlpool' of sorts) right before you slide your egg in. the swirling seems to keep the egg together instead of having a rattail hanging off your egg. ew.

for a good rundown of how to poach eggs, check out smitten kitchen's post.
but i'll give the basics as i know it:

1. heat a few inches of water in a saucepan or pot. with a tablespoon of vinegar. the vinegar helps the whites coagulate. (gotta love the word coagulate) you don't want it to be boiling excessively, but you want a few tiny bubbles for sure.
2. crack your egg into a separate bowl or cup or dish or something.
3. stir the water so it is swirling. and slide the egg inside the water. you can also use a spoon to kind of 'push' the egg together if that makes sense. you'll get what i mean when you practice this whole poaching thing.
4. after a few minutes (3-5?) remove the egg with a slotted spoon. you want the white to be solid, but the yolk to be runny, so you kind of have to guess when its ready.

isn't it pretty? :)


*i apologise for the crusted yolk in my photo - not the most appetizing. but it really was delicious. next time i need to be quicker with the photo taking. stupid oxygen.

bringing cookies back into my life

when i wrote this post on thursday, i had a sudden urge for cookie-baking. guess what i did the very next day? that's right, i ate pizza. and i baked cookies. i like the end result of baking cookies, but i get really impatient when i'm in the middle of the whole cookie-baking process. i only have 2 cookie sheets, so i waste a lot of time waiting for the damn cookies to be baked so i can finish scooping out all the cookie dough. so its not just 10-12 minutes of baking, its more like 5 x 10-12 minutes of baking + 30 minutes of time wasting. that equation is just too complicated for my mind. maybe if i invest in another couple cookie sheets i will enjoy cookie baking more. because i sure as heck enjoy eating them. and sharing. i guess.

so i baked "oatmeal, chocolate chip pecan cookies," except i used walnuts. so i guess i technically baked "oatmeal, chocolate chip walnut cookies." but i think the name sounds too boring for what these cookies taste like when they are in my mouth having a party. they're more like "spicy, flavorful, chocolately goodness cookies with a hint of orange." try baking them yourself and then see if you can top my awesome name for them.

here's the recipe:
oatmeal chocolate chip pecan cookies
adapted from smitten kitchen, who adapted it from katy sparks and andrea strong

1/2 c. butter*, room temp
3/4 c. cane sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. salt*
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs (largish)
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. clove
1 c. oats
2 c. chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans. i also threw in some sunflower seeds)
2 tsp. grated orange zest (optional. i'm still not sure what i think of the orange.)
12 oz. (1 bag) semisweet chocolate chips

*if you use salted butter, then don't use as much salt

beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until its light and creamy. add sugars, salt, vanilla and beat again. stir in the eggs, one at a time. in a separate bowl whisk/sift the dry ingredients (flour, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove). add half of it to the batter and beat on low speed. dump the other half in along with the oats, nuts, orange zest and chocolate. (you can be creative with what you dump in. i needed to get rid of some white chocolate so i used half white chocolate chips, half semi-sweet chocolate chips.) stir. take a spoon and drop similar sized clumps of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. space them out because these cookies flatten a bit in the oven. bake for 10 to 12 minutes. mine stayed in for about 15, but my oven is weird. you want the cookie to look 'golden' but you don't want them to burn. but really, if its slightly underbaked, its just chewier, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. :)

suggestions for how to use these cookies:
1. serve to guests with coffee
2. put a dozen on a plate, set plate right in front of you with a cup of coffee, and eat all in one sitting
3. bring to an event, like moving day, and share

(note: i used suggestion #3, but you don't know how much i wanted to do suggestion #2)