Permanently Closed Continue reading “Goodbye Sweet Bake Shop – Pretty and Sweet”
Earls Brunch – Chef’s Table
Earls has decided to join the brunch crowd and has put out a new menu to cater to the growing demand for weekend brunch. Chef Braden Matthews served up 4 courses from this menu.
We kicked things off with their Signature Caesar served with a beef jerky stick and pickle wedge. The use of both red and green tabasco along with horseradish gave it a nice kick but it wasn’t too spicy overall. We definitely enjoyed the early morning drink!
The first course was the granola and yogurt parfait. It had a nice medley of oats and nuts which was made in house. It was topped with a tangy greek yogurt parfait which appeared to be slightly whipped and made it slightly lighter. It was also served with a side of agave syrup which worked well as people tend to have their own preference for sweetness. It was nice to have the granola on the crumbly side without a lot of syrup or sugar. It made for a lighter dish but overall it was still pretty hearty given the ingredients. I know many people don’t order granola for breakfast but this one is worth a try.
The second dish was eggs benny with Virginia ham on top of grilled sourdough. The eggs were soft poached and nice and runny. The hollandaise was noticeably lighter than almost all other sauces around town and was quite runny. I think many people order hollandaise on the side but this one worked well the way it was served. We also picked up hints of lemon which added a nice freshness to it. The grilled sourdough had a nice crunch to it but it also had a noticeable sour finish and almost overpowered the rest of the dish. There was also a side of smashed potatoes which had a very nice crunch to it. They were tossed in a confit of garlic butter with rosemary and thyme. We were pretty full from all the food but could’ve easily eaten a whole plate of it!
The third course was eggs Florentine with parmesan cream sauce, spinach and mushrooms. The eggs were cooked in a skillet and served over a creamy polenta. The dish sounds heavy but it was surprisingly light. The spinach and mushrooms didn’t play a big role in this dish though. A few more grilled mushrooms would’ve added more character and depth to this dish. We would’ve also liked a tad more seasoning. There was also a side of grilled sourdough toasts which were lightly buttered. These worked well with soaking up the creamy polenta and eggs.
Last but definitely not least was the sourdough French toast…yes, more sourdough. This was a thick cut toast as you would expect but more so than other places that serve a similar dish. The bread was light and fluffy which again made for a lighter dish overall. The outside of the toast was nicely battered and crisp when served. The dollops of chantilly cream and a light drizzle of a salted caramel sauce complemented the dish overall. Again, as in the eggs benny dish though, we found the sourdough overpowering.
Brunch food is hard to make healthy or light but I think there was a conscious effort to do so in this case which is commendable. The use of sourdough in the dishes worked well in some cases but overall we found the taste overpowering even though we are naturally big fans of the bread itself. It’s good to see more choices for brunch in Vancouver and hopefully we will be seeing more from Earls as it joins the brunch crowd!
Guest Blogger: Simon Wong, who is still pissed off because I called him a co-eater in one of my previous posts. Soo prissy. Thank you for your post.
The Yaletown Business Improvement Association today announced that the 9th annual Taste of Yaletown (TOY) will run from October 16 – 27th, 2013, with a record number of 30 participating restaurants. This year, the popular dining event will move away from limited 3-course menus to offer creativity and flexibility to chefs, who can now offer any menu combination at set prices of $25, $35 and $45. Organizers expect to see a diverse and exciting offering, with specific emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients as a result of this change. Additionally, TOY 2013 will also include lunchtime menu offerings alongside the traditional dinner. The addition of lunch will be supported and promoted through a unique, free trolley service to Yaletown for the public.
“Taste of Yaletown has remained one of the most popular dining events in the city for the past 9 years, and we are dedicated to continuing to push the envelope on delivering a unique experience for diners. This year we have introduced a few exciting changes that we are confident will make it even easier and more exciting than ever to attend Taste of Yaletown,” states Annette O’Shea, Executive Director of the Yaletown Business Improvement Association. “The fact that we have a record 30 restaurants on board this year is a testament to TOY’s continual growth and strength.”
Changes to the menus for Taste of Yaletown will see the event move away from the traditional 3-course dinner offering set at $25, $35 and $45 price points. This year, chefs and restaurateurs will have the freedom to serve up any combination of items or courses under the same price points, meaning that the public will receive something truly unique and carefully selected at each restaurant. Menus will not be limited by number of courses and can include beverages pairings inside of the set prices as well.
“Yaletown is home to some of the cities best chefs, many of whom view Taste of Yaletown as a time to showcase their creativity. Removing the limitations of number of courses has opened things up further so that they are free to decide how best to deliver their very best to customers. I suspect we will see a huge range in exciting menus this year – everything from a 7-course tasting to a menu that includes drinks as well as food. The public will have so many new options to discover,” explains O’Shea.
Taste of Yaletown will also expand to offer set-price lunch menus in addition to dinner this year. Restaurants are being encouraged to demonstrate creativity for lunch as well and the YaletownBusiness Improvement Association has taken a direct approach in promoting the emphasis on lunch by arranging for a public trolley to take customers from other areas of the downtown core, intoYaletown for lunch and then delivering them back to work within the hour. The trolley will run for free throughout TOY and schedules and locations can be found through the TOY website and social media channels.
CC: press release, image:http://yaletowninfo.com
Cache Bistro & Lounge – A Brilliant Dining Experience
I had the pleasure of tasting Cache Bistro’s new fall menu last week with several other bloggers (Scott from WFLBC, Amy from Food Queen, Jen from Mashed Thoughts, Mary from MaryinVancity, Robin from eatwith.RobinLeung, and Amy from PopcornMedia).
Right from the outset, were greeted by Zoey, the manager of Cache. She passed us the tasting menu for the night and told us a bit about the restaurant. Cache is Chef Alex Mok’s debut restaurant. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Chef Mok has worked in several prestigious restaurants and worked under the private chef of the late King Leopold of Belgium. With Cache, Chef Mok aims to marry classic French cooking with unique Asian flavours.
It looks pretty small from the outside, but Cache Bistro has a spacious interior. I would say the restaurant’s décor has some European flair.
Cache has a big bar area and seating space for larger parties. On the other side of the bar, there are booths and smaller tables.
The spacing was a little tight, but it works. It’s sort of cut off from the other patrons, which I think makes it a really nice space for a birthday event or group dinner – you don’t have worry about ruining someone’s date night!
They’ve got plenty of booze available here! We didn’t get to try any, but Cache also has German beer on tap.
On the back, there is a description of Cache and Chef Mok’s background as well as some contact information.
We also got to take a look at their new fall menu.
It looks like there’s tons of stuff on there, but it’s really because they combined the drinks menu with the food menu. Cache serves a lot of different wines, cocktails, and beers, so the menu looks very packed.
The first thing we started with was booze! Cache’s expert bartender whipped up some Xfour Classic Martinis for each one of us.
I had mine with a twist. This martini used Xfour vodka.
Never heard of it before, but the martini was really smooth. The vodka seems pretty similar to Grey Goose.
Jen from Mashed Thoughts doesn’t drink, so Cache prepared a virgin cocktail for her instead.
Immediately following the martinis and drinks, we were served some bread. The bread was good, but the real kicker is the two butters accompanying the bread. The first butter is a truffle infused butter and the second butter is a peanut butter butter; they both have the consistency of whipped butter and are made in-house.
The truffle butter is very light and delicious. The truffle flavour was much more subtle than I expected. With the peanut butter butter, it was out of this world! Never had anything quite like it – the flavour is reminiscent of peanut satay sauce that one would find with hotpot dishes.
The starter that we got to sample was the Paris Picnic, which included samples of Oyama Sausage’s cured meats, house made foie gras mousse, mixed olives, a blueberry compote, crostini, and house pickled vegetables.
Oyama Sausage is based in Granville Island; I’ve never had their meats before, but they were spectacular. Unlike some of the cured meats I’ve tried before, Oyama Sausage’s were not overly salty and had a really fresh taste.
The fois gras mousse was really interesting. I’ve never had fois gras before so I didn’t know what to expect. It had a really creamy texture and a decadent duck aftertaste.
The rest of the plate was good, but nothing else stood out.
Amy from Popcorn Media is vegetarian, so Cache served her a house salad. I have no clue what’s in it, but it sure looks pretty and delicious. The beats were apparently really good.
I forgot this handsome chap’s name, but he was a really funny host. After the starter, he introduced the wine that would be paired with our first main.
Le Vieux Pin Syrah Cuvee Violette VQA ’11 BC was the red wine paired with our first main, the Aldergrove Mok Ribs.
I’m not much of a wine connoisseur, so I’m not even going to try and describe it. I just know that it paired really well with the ribs!
The Aldergrove Mok Ribs is a full rack of pork back ribs cooked using Chef Mok’s secret BBQ sauce. Accompanying the ribs is a side of sesame cilantro red cabbage coleslaw.
Described to us as the best ribs in town, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ribs were indeed really damn good.
Chef Mok’s fusion of Asian flavours was clearly portrayed in this dish. The ribs were a tad on the sweeter side from the sauce’s incorporation of (what I think to be) hoisin sauce. They were also fall-off-the-bone tender. The slaw was phenomenal – the taste is incredibly similar to Chinese pickled daikon. I’m certain this slaw was the best I’ve ever had and likely will ever have.
Moving onto the second main, we were served Church & State Cabernet Franc V2A ’10 BC as the wine pairing.
The flavours of this wine were much bolder, so I could make out the lingering spiciness. I remember hearing some of the others mention notes of vanilla and citrus.
I thought it paired really well with the Peace Country Lamb Chop, which was a grilled lamb chop with navy bean ragout and a roasted house made fennel lamb sausage.
I really like lamb, so to see a dish with both a lamb chop and lamb sausage had me pretty excited! The chop had a great sear and was incredibly tender. Excellent lamb flavour and a nice horseradish kick.
Cache’s house-made sausage was a real winner; I’ve never had such a good tasting lamb sausage. It was packed with lamb flavour! Unfortunately though, the bean ragout didn’t appeal to me as much as the lamb. I found the beans harder than I’m used to – it’s more of a personal preference thing though.
Finally after the mains, we reached the pièce de résistance – dessert. We were served the Cache S’more, which had house-made marshmellow, chocolate ganache, and croissant pudding.
There’s only one word to describe this marshmellow – perfection. It was super gooey and delicious.
Visually, this dessert was also really beautiful.
The dessert is just bordering on being too sweet, but it straddles that line pretty well. Having this with a cup of black coffee was just the perfect way to finish up the meal. Everything was at the perfect level of melty-ness. If you’re into s’mores or gooey food, this is the dessert you should try.
To finish off the night, Chef Mok came out and briefly chatted with us about his menu. He seems like a cool guy.
Overall, Cache Bistro & Lounge serves up some real quality food. It’s by no means a cheap place to go to, but it’s definitely a fabulous place for great food and drinks. I’m putting Cache on my date-night list!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
No more second guessing where to go for late night desserts. I just uncovered a great place, Blue Water Cafe, a seafood restaurant with finger-licking desserts.
An hour after our rather large and fattening dinner, my friends and I decided what the hey? Let’s go for oysters and desserts. After what seemed like hours of hmmms… and, “where do you wanna go?, “I don’t care, you are the food blogger, you recommend”, I decided on Blue Water Cafe.
The service was impeccable and the atmosphere was relaxing and inviting. A place where you can comfortably sit for hours without being rushed out the door.
We ordered a dozen oysters between the four of us which were devoured in less than 2 minutes. I was so excited that I forgot to snap a photo.
Jean Pierre Sanchez, resident Pastry Chef plated inspiring delectable desserts. His name threw me off, so I had to ask. He grew up in France and I believe his father is Spanish.
Warm Dark Cuban Chocolate Cake brandy truffle center, vanilla bean ice cream 12.50. Think of molten chocolate lava cakes, where the center is filled with luscious, warm, oozing chocolate. I couldn’t taste the brandy. Admittedly, I inhaled this and might have not taken the time to savour the flavours. It barely touched the spoon before I gobbled it up.
Lemon Grass Creme Brulee carrot cake, papaya salsa yoghurt, ginger sorbet 11.50. This was my favourite out of the bunch, the flavors had the ‘in your face’ kind of intensity. I love lemongrass so this was awesome. Seared to perfection, very often the sugar is over caramelized resulting in the burnt taste. This was perfect.
Lemon Meringue Tartelette rhubarb orange compote, pistachio ice cream 11.50. This was very citrusy and refreshing. It went superb with the rhubarb and orange compote. The pistachio ice cream gave the tart dessert a smooth finish.
Kalamansi Cheesecake roasted strawberries with sweet basil strawberry tellicherry pepper sorbet 11.00. See that dessert way in the back right corner, that’s the cheesecake. My friends dug into it before I could smack their spoons away and snap a close-up. The cheesecake was light, almost airy.
It is on the expensive side but it is well worth it. Also because my friend snuck a spoonful of their treasured artichoke vinaigrette preserve, who know how much that costs.