Cuchillo – Serves Up Creative Latin American Plates

Cuchillo, opened a few weeks ago in the heart of downtown east side where Railtown meets Chinatown. They have seen their share of protests so I decided to go and show my support. Cuchillo serves up creative Latin American dishes that are meant to be shared.

Cuchillo long table
Cuchillo long table

Unfortunately, they were just vandalized a few hours before, so they had to board up one of their windows. Don’t let this deter you from going though, this restaurant is worth a try.

They have this beautiful tall table parallel to the bar and in the back they have lounge area with comfy recliners. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxing, décor is similar to the Diamond in Gastown, except Cuchillo’s service is far superior, everyone was welcoming and staff was knowledgeable.  The service I received at Diamond was so bad that they were added and moved up to the top of my blacklist, the only restaurant on this list because of poor service, the others I was due to food poisoning. I will save that story for later.

They serve my favourite mojito’s in town. I like my classic drinks to stay classic. I stay away from any berry infused drinks. Cuchillo topped their mojito’s with dark rum. Yummy! My friend said it was too minty but, I I thought it was the perfect hit.

mojito topped with dark rum
mojito topped with dark rum

Antojitos and Taqueria’s – small plates and tacos

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter $7 was made out of blue cornmeal resulting in a grainier texture. It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Corn bread are usually very dense, Cuchillo’s was fluffier and moist. The chili butter gave it some nice heat.

Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter
Corn bread azul with guajillo chili butter

White bean parmasean fundido $8 with corn chips is quite filling. It is essentially a white bean dip, with pumpkin seed, cotija Monterey jack, sardo parmesan and two other Argentinean cheeses. The cheese was sharp, heavy on garlic and the bean was a perfect consistency. You’d need an appetite, this is a heavy dish

White bean parmasean fundido
White bean parmasean fundido

Mixto Traditionale, octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree. $14. After having the last two dishes that had huge flavor, the ceviche was relatively light. The seafood was fresh but, I would have liked more seasoning.

octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.
octopus, sidestripe prawn, rockfish, mussels, clams, sweet potato puree.

Mole Lamb albondigas, sardo parmasean browned garlic popcorn $8. This was my favourite dish, the lamb which was served in a lamb-ball was amazing. Think the lamb mixture was mixed with beef, I don’t get the intense gaminess lamb flavor. It was juicey and topped with popcorn which gave it a nice texture. I have to admit I was sold on the popcorn first before our server even mentioned lamb.

lamb taco
lamb taco

Morita chili bbq pulled pork. This pulled pork taco was pretty run of the mill. The bbq sauce was very nice, sweet, not overly savoury and the pulled pork wasn’t drowning in the sauce. I’ve had so many pulled pork dishes that I getting sick of it. This would be my last pulled pork dish for the season.

Morita chili bbq pulled pork.
Morita chili bbq pulled pork.

My two cents on DTES Gentrification Protests…

My two cents on the protests
My two cents on the protests

As for this bullshit about it being expensive, well it is more expensive than Everything $5? Yes, the quality of the food is far superior, what do you expect to pay for quality ingredients, of course it costs more. Share plates range from $6 – 14, you get two decent sized tacos for $8 and, entrees range from $18 – $24. The prices are a little lower than what you would find in the heart of downtown and the food is crazy good. It’s not an Applebee’s, you won’t get bottomless fries and a heaping plate of pasta bigger than your head, that’s just nasty. So before you whine that it’s too expensive, go out to comparable restaurants around town to get some perspective.

DTES is not exactly a tourist attraction but, some parts of Gastown isn’t either. If I never venture out then I would not get a chance to experience gems like Pidgin and Cuchillo. Try it out yourself before you turn up your nose at these restaurants because of their location.

Cuchillo on Urbanspoon

Cuchillo, Gastown

On the Menu Today at Faubourg New Bakery

Faubourg Signage

Faubourg second location just opened yesterday.  I am just dying for more bakeries downtown Vancouver. Located right beside Artigiano’s coffee on Hornby. It’s a quant place to chill-out after dinner, it’s relaxing and the décor features two gorgeous chandeliers right underneath a communal table.

faubourg downtown sitting area
Sitting area

With a decent pastry selection, I choose the croissant, lemon tart and almond twist pastry.

The croissant dough is yeast-risen, apparently this enhances the flavor. It was fairly light and flaky, the only con, was that it could have been more flakier, felt like it’s been sitting there a while. The bottom was a denser than I liked.

faubourg croissant
croissant

The lemon tart was one of my favourite from Faubourg’s first location, so I had to reorder it.

The almond twist pastry, not what it was called was the better pastry of the two, this was not too sweet, super flaky with the right amount of chewiness from the honey. Sooo good.

Faubourg almond pastry
Almond pastry
faubourg cakes
cakes
faubourg sandwich selection
Sandwich selection
Faubourg Bakery macarons
Faubourg Bakery Macarons

Milestones Summer Menu – Not Your Typical Chain

Milestones Yaletown
source: Eurolite.com

I was invited with several other passionate foodies to preview Milestones Summer Chef Tasting Menu. 6 dishes paired with 6 wines from Constellation Wines.

Milestones have really stepped up their game. Within the past 8 months, Chef Russo and his Culinary Team have created and launched around 15 new menu items with another 10 rolling out in the coming months.
Their efforts to be more food driven has really revitalized their menu and speaks volume to the creativity and quality of the dishes on their menu. Now don’t scoff, I realize being a chain with over 50 restaurants across the country usually does not go hand in hand with culinary creativity. I used to be one of those people, chain restaurants would be the last place I think about going to. In fact, I might have used the term “fah-’actus” once or twice on Food Persuasion.

**Personal note** I’ve f’g accidentally deleted the folder containing pictures from my Milestone dinner from my drive and it’s disappeared. Ack! I’m still sore about this. I was going batty, the pictures were awesome. Enough bitching…getting over it, back to Milestones.

I sat beside Chris Meeds, Milestones Regional Manager, past Milestone’s Chef and, he said something that really peaked my foodie interest. Generally, the menu is the same throughout the chain but, each Chef is encouraged to give their own personal spin to it. They are local, they know their patron’s palette, know what they like, fostering culinary creativity and experimentation. “You are a chef, so be a chef” was the advice Chef Russo gave to Chris when he was a Milestone’s Chef.

Their drinks menu will be the next to roll out. Keep an eye for some delicious craft beers and, local wine on tap.

About Milestone’s private dining room in Yaletown, it is gorgeous. I don’t know why I never think to throw dinner parties here. F’g, NO PICTURE

6 Dishes from Milestones Summer Chef Tasting Menu

Wine pairing review to come…

Crispy quinoa shrimp with chimichurri aioli and vegetable slaw. The quinoa is raw, washed with egg and then quickly deep-fried. So instead of the crispy, greasy texture you get with battered almost anything, this is crunchy. A creative use of quinoa, the chimichurri aioli, was delicious. I would have loved it more if the quinoa battered didn’t fall apart once you cut into it.

Panko Blue Crab Cakes, the batter was too overwhelming, the filling itself was decent but a very typical dish. I guess the menu has to include the staples to satisfy the non adventurous palettes.
Spicy Thai Basil Stirfry, rice noodles, shrimp and coconut milk. Alright, show me a chain restaurant that does Asian cuisine well? One of their more popular dishes, I didn’t expect it to be authentic. Overall this was good, the sauce was a little too gluttony for my liking but the flavours were great. It’s a western take on a classic Thai dish.

Grilled Japanese Tuna Tataki, with asparagus and fennel slaw, topped with mandarin dressing. Bravo Milestones for stepping above and beyond to ensure the quality of the tuna is superb. It is cured in-house, which makes a big difference in flavor, then lightly seared for a nice carmalization. It was perfectly cooked, a second over, it would have been over cooked. It was prepared so well it looked like it was sous-vide, with very fine charred rim. The Tuna tataki was my favourite dish of the night.

Surf and Turf, a duo grilled flat-iron and lobster fricassee. Mmmm lobster fricassee was amazingly decadent, served with a tempura battered onion ring. People tend to forget about the quality of the flat-iron steak, very flavourful. You could also upgrade to the striploin or sirloin.

WTH! Not on the menu yet but, they definitely should add it. Never a huge fan of tarts, Milestones, Avocado and lime tart sitting on a bed of bourbon pecan chutney and topped with Tequilla Chantilly cream. Holy shit! Yea, that’s all I have to say. Paired with Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine.

BAM! Awesome end to the night.
Wine reviews to come….it’ll be epic

preview:

Constellation Wine Piarings Review
Constellation Wine Piarings Review

Bali’s Best BBQ Pork: Babi Guling

Ubud is where you can find amazing authentic Balinese food. The traditional market is located with exotic spices like saffron and hot chili peppers is located in the heart of Ubud.
bali traditional market

A popular authentic Balinese dish is babi guling and, one of the best places to try this dish is at Ibu Oka in Ubud. Their slogan is “warung Babi Guling” which translates to House of BBQ Pork. Babi guling is juicy suckling pig that is roasted on a spit for hours. Ibu Oka is located kiddy corner from the traditional market.

It was the crispiest pork skin and the juiciest pork I’ve ever had. I absolutely recommend anyone that is traveling to Indonesia to try it.

Sayur – vegetables, beans papaya with fresh coconut

sayur

Rice, fresh vegetables, pork roll, fried meat, sausage with pork skin – lezat! (Delicious)

pork skin

While sipping on fresh coconut juice

fresh coconut

Yes, it could get a little grotesque if you are not used to it but, I didn’t mind, was in foodie heaven.

babi guling head

More babi guling because it was so good I had to get a second order…

babi guling

Wildebeest – Hot Gastown Restaurant

wildebeast kitchen

It was a packed house for Saturday night at 9PM. Upon walking in you sense the Gastown hipster vibe, you when it’s uber cool to be anti – pretentious, they are so cool that they are turning pretentious, without realizing it, it’s a personal observation.

Now the food…
Slow-cooked natural Angus beef short rib, smoked salt, hay-infused jus. One of the more popular items on Wildebeast’s dinner menu. Ribs were souveed for 2 days then finished on the grilled. As expected very tender and smoky. Great except for my first piece, I grabbed the rib on the left, the entire piece was fat and bone. 3.5/5
Ribs

Grilled beef tongue, wild mushroom consommé, toasted grains, mustard greens. Our favourite dish, the Asian inspired shiitake and dashi mushroom consume was made in-house, wow it was packed with flavor. I threw out my table manners and greedily slurped up the broth. 4.5/5
Beef tongue

Pork jowl, long pepper-scented oats, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup. Don’t be put off by the mush, which would remind you of oatmeal. Eat it together and you will understand and appreciate the combination. Sweet and salt with a little bacon fat, delicious. I mentioned, if my mom made oatmeal like this she wouldn’t have trouble feeding me in the morning. Yes, I was fussy even then. 4/5
Pig jowl

The service was satisfactory, it was great in the beginning then as the night progressed they got surlier. By the end of the night I was afraid to ask for a refill of water, less they gave me the glance that said “what you need water? Now?!

All in all  I would head back, the food was good enough for a second visit.

 

 

 

 

Wildebeest on Urbanspoon

Yaletown L’Antipasto – The Best Olive Oil in Vancouver

Food Persuasion Restaurant Review
Yaletown L’Antipasto

Yaletown L’Antipasto, a cute little bistro like Italian restaurant in the heart of Yaletown.  The seating is limited without being cramped. A very non- Yaletown vibe, Yaletown-L’Antipasto had a friendly, casual and cozy atmosphere. Because the seating was so close, diners were able to converse with other diners at other tables.

I was dining with Jenn and Marian, which meant by the end of the night we would’ve had at least 3 bottles of wine between 3 girls.

Bruschetta Mista Toasted ciabatta bread with an assortment of in-house made pates. That night, it was Tomato, truffle, artichoke and Tuscan chicken pate. The chicken pate was our favourite, decadent and flavourful.

Bruschetta mista

Carpaccio  AAA Alberta Beef, drizzled with “Gocce di Tartufo” white Truffle oil, served with preserved vegetables in olive oil. It had a really big serving of Olive oil, a little too much for my taste, otherwise the quality of the meat and with the preserved vegetables was an excellent pairing.

Carpaccio

I am not an olive oil connoisseur but, even I can taste the quality. Olive oil flavours, grassy, buttery and it reminded me of drinking wine. There was enough olive oil in the last dish for a few teaspoons. I have included an  Olive Oil Tasting – How To’s section on the bottom. I wanted to purchase a bottle for myself but, alas it was directly sourced from a farmer’s co-op in Italy, all whom presses their own olives. Matti, co-owner of Yaletown L’Antipasto, tries to source their ingredients locally. However, the quality of the olive oil isn’t there locally and so they had to import from abroad.

olive oil

Spaghetti Bianchi, Manila Clams Sauted with Pinot Grigio, Olive Oil, fresh Garlic & Chillies. Simple and basked in my favourite olive oil. The pasta was cooked to al dente. Good dose of olive oil, by the end of the night the oil from my dish soaked through the cardboard takeout box and the paper bag.

Clam Spaghetti

The spaghetti is bought fresh.
fresh spaghetti

Pappardelle Rosse, switched to Spaghetti, home-made Organic Tomato Sauce with an assorted Meat Ragu, a rustic dish great for those cold nights.

Ravioli alla Filly, Lobster & Crab stuffed Ravioli served with a Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce, Sauted Tiger Prawns & Arugula. This was my favourite dish, Jenn thought it was too bland.

Ravioli

Segway tooo…

Simple Dishes Are the Most Difficult to Perfect

We launched into a debate that simple dishes are much harder to make because, A) you need quality ingredients, there are no heavy sauces to mask the poor ingredients B) that is how this dish is supposed to taste like! Well ok, my second point wasn’t a supporting argument but, I am sticking with it. We got so heated that we started to involve other diners and the restaurant owners in our conversation. Some dishes are meant to be simple so you can taste the ingredients. The highlight of the ravioli was the tomatoes, they were acidic with a hint of sweetness, Matti agreed. You cannot beat a simple dish with fresh quality ingredients.

His ultimate dream would be to have a farm with cows, chickens and vegetables and a restaurant on the side. I would LOVE to go. Have you ever tried fresh ice cream? I have, I milked a cow and manually creamed it.  It was the best ice cream that I had ever had, even better than the internationally award-winning Bella Gelateria.

Olive Oil Tasting – How To’s
When tasting olive oil, much of the oil’s characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. Though most people enjoy olive oil with other foods, the following steps allow us to focus on the olive oil’s flavor without distraction:

  • Pour a small amount of oil (about 1 tablespoon) into a small tapered (wine) glass.
  • Hold the glass in one hand and use your other hand to cover the glass while swirling the oil to release its aroma.
  • Uncover the glass and inhale deeply from the top of the glass. Think about whether the aroma is mild or strong. You may want to write down descriptions of the aromas that you detect at this point.
  • Next you slurp the oil; this is done by sipping a small amount of oil into your mouth while “sipping” some air as well. (When done correctly, you will make that impolite noise that would cause you to be scolded when you were a child!) Slurping emulsifies the oil with air that helps to spread it throughout your mouth – giving you the chance to savor every nuance of flavor with just a small sip of oil.
  • Finish by swallowing the oil and noticing if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat.

Source: Directly from: The Olive Oil Source- Nancy’s Tasting Advice

Other Italian Restaurants

Yaletown L'Antipasto on Urbanspoon

Edible Canada – Seasonal and Local Ingredients

Granville Island is one of my favourite neighborhoods in Vancouver. There is so much culture, travelers and of course fresh and local produce.

I can’t believe I haven’t written about Edible Canada, I’ve been there so many times! This may be slightly overdue but, I promise it will be good.

They have a little gourmet snack and spread section at the back of the store carrying an array of delicious candies, spreads and, more sweets. The layout reminds me of Manzo at Eately in New York

The patio wraps around from the front to the side. As much as I love patio’s be wary of sitting close to the flower beds during bug season. There was a huge clusters of flies, not so appetizing. I always ask for a table inside. I’ll tell you about the horrific bug experience at Minami’s patio another time. I must warn you, it was so disturbingly graphic that I downed two shots of vodka to make me forget and that is saying something, I’m not usually a shots kinda girl. No really, not lying, I can hear you skeptics.

Edible Canada features a mix of local seasonal produce and seafood.

I just love it when I snap pics and you catch people discreetly checking each other out. In her case she had bug eyes and a smirk, not so discreet. I wonder if she got the guy?

Started with Togarashi Rice cracker crusted wild albacore tuna, warm fingerling potatoes, peas, kale, wild mushrooms $15. This was refreshingly pleasant on the palette. The dish was simply flavored, which allowed the quality of the ingredients to come through. 4/5

Togarashi Rice cracker crusted wild albacore tuna
Togarashi Rice cracker crusted wild albacore tuna

Sloping Hills Pork Duo, Slik spice crusted grilled 8oz pork chop, braised pork belly, hot & sour vinaigrette $24. A huge dish, the braised pork belly was so tender and flavourful. The grilled pork chop was a little over cooked making the meat a chewy. 3.5/5

Sloping Hills Pork Duo
Sloping Hills Pork Duo

PEACE COUNTRY BRAISED LAMB PASTA, rigatoni, wild mushrooms, peas, sorrel. $22 Lamb pasta was yummy, our favourite dish of our meal. 4.5/5

PEACE COUNTRY BRAISED LAMB PASTA

PEACE COUNTRY BRAISED LAMB PASTA

KASU & BIRCH SYRUP SABLEFISH, fava beans, asparagus, peas, northern beans, Swiss chard $26. Sable fish was silky smooth. I would definitely re-order this dish 4/5

KASU & BIRCH SYRUP SABLEFISH
KASU & BIRCH SYRUP SABLEFISH

LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD SALMON local Dungeness Crab croquette, wild salmon caviar, smoked tomato vinaigrette. We ordered this because they had crab croquettes. Apparently, it was very delicious I didn’t even get a chance to try it. I did try the salmon, which was very fresh 3.5/5

LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD SALMON
LOIS LAKE STEELHEAD SALMON

I’ve been back a few times already and the food has been fairly consistent. The service was a slow, it took 10 minutes to get our water refills.

Edible Canada at the Market on Urbanspoon