Inspiring Awesomeness with Food

Inspiring Awesomeness with Food
I visited my blog today and realized my most recent post was on BC Family Day, well over a month ago. I’ve been guest posting on so many other blogs that I have neglected my own. Truth, I am tired of writing restaurant reviews. There are hundreds of Vancouver food blogs writing on the same damn restaurants and the same dishes, with similar opinions and pictures. It gets boring! I’ve been doing this since 2010, something has to change.

Those danm obnoxious food bloggers…who think they are Anthony Bourdain

Food bloggers as a group have been known to be greedy, petty and generally obnoxious. I’ve seen an example, when a blogger sat down and before he ordered said “I am (blog). Personally, I wouldn’t give a shit if you are a food blogger, why would I treat you any differently than other patrons here?  “Fine, I have 3000 twitter followers, so don’t fuck up my meal, or I will send one tweet out and that would end your business” I haven’t actually heard anyone say that but, I can read between the lines. You are no Anthony Bourdain, you are just a prick.

Dining = Food + People

What my blog has given me is a platform to build connections, a network of people who are passionate about what they do, they want to inspire, change and create. They are passionate about cooking and continually test boundaries, create and inspire environmental changes by creating a program to reduce food waste.  This is why I’m still writing, so that I can inspire, change and hopefully create a little awesomeness on the way.

I haven’t moved away from food, I love staying informed, not just about the newest restaurant openings instead, about the people and their stories behind the food they have created.

When I went to Yaletown L’Antipasto, my friend “slipped” that I was reviewing their restaurant. Side note, I really hate when that happens, I feel like I’m being stalked and scrutinized throughout my meal. Instead of just talking about what’s in the dishes, we talked about Matti, Chef and Co-Owner of L’Antipasto. His dreams to one day have his own farm where he could grow his own food, and have a small rustic restaurant at the farm.

He loves local ingredients because he knows how it was grown, packaged and delivered, ensuring that when his produce arrives it’s still at its peak. He understands, not every dish has to be complicated, sometimes it’s better to be simple.

So when my friend mentioned that her dish was a little bland, it was just tomatoes, olive oil and a few other herbs.  I understood, that it was meant to be this way. The quality of the ingredients itself was amazing. Educating her on what a great fresh tomatoes and quality olive oil was supposed to taste like. The olive oil was from a Co-op farm in Italy, who still manually presses. (My explanation went a little deeper than that, I even called Matti over).  With her deeper understanding, she was able to appreciate her food.

Inspiring Social Changes With Food

Another person that I was able to meet because of my blog was Jonathan Chovancek, of Kale & Nori Catering and Bittered Slings Extract. He is very inspiring, his enthusiasm and passion for social and eco change through food.  He has taken upon himself to ensure his clients and their guests consume ingredients that support the sustainable food movement, doing extra due-diligence to track the movement of his food. “Most food is sold from origin to distributor to sub distributor. Getting to the source, knowing where the food originated and what was fed, how it was grown is important. How long has it been dead, picked, preserved. Understanding that the quality is at its peak for only a few hours and from that point on it is diminishing”, Jonathan said.

Our meeting was an eye opener. I am a firm believer that food can create social and economic change. The rise of popularity in quinoa has created an economic and social shift for farmers and consumers in Chile, it also has driven up the price for local consumers. It is a staple, similar to white rice to Chinese but, with the high demand in the western nations, they much rather have it exported then sold locally, driving up the local prices.

So what does this mean for Food Persuasion?

I will continue to blog with a purpose, to inspire people, hopefully to do something awesome. Even something as little as making you pause and think for a few seconds about the food you are about to consume is enough, at least for now.

The American Cheesesteak Co – The All American Dream Sub

Prime rib that melts in your mouth, the Philly cheesesteak subs represents the true meaning of America’s obsession of overindulgence. Hunks of meat, melted cheese, bacon mayo and, onions all in a 9” toasted bun was my dinner, breakfast and lunch.

The American cheesesteak Co

Towards the end of our food cart crawl, I persuaded my foodie co-horts Simon of Life in the Lower Mainland and Rachel of Posh Pudding to try the highly anticipated American Cheesestake Co. on Davie.

American cheesesteak dining

Similar to a cafe, they require you to pay and order at the front before you sit.

American cheesesteak menu

The prices ($9 – 14) were pretty decent considering the whopping size of the subs and fries.

The cowboy was a fatty sub of awesomess. Huge portions of prime rib, crispy fried onions, homemade spicy BBQ sauce, bacon mayo and aged white cheddar on a 9” toasted bun.

May be if I didn’t previously wolf down two meals within a span of an hour I would appreciate the cowboy more. I had 5 freaking burgers / subs that day! It was so huge I had to use a knife and fork. I loved the texture of the crispy onions and the flavor of the meat was very good. 3.5/5

cowby cheesesteak

Fries, are first boiled in sugar, water and vinegar, to take away the starch and to create holes so that the oil can penetrate it when frying. It is then refried twice for extra crispiness. We decided to order the truffle aioli sauce, side note, all sauces are made in-house. The fries are similar to concession fries, thicker and less crispy. That being said, for fries that were refried twice, I expected it to be crispier than what it actually was. 2/5

refried fries

After the holidays, we all agreed we should incorporate healthier diet options hence, the vegetarian sub. Healthy my ass!! The good earth was loaded with so much cheese that it overpowered all the rest of the ingredients. It was as if they decided they needed a vegetarian option but ran out of time, an uncreative veggie option with only mushrooms, onions and peppers. The bun became so soggy after a few minutes because they failed to take away the water from the mushrooms 1/5

good earth

The meal was so stereotypical American is so many ways, a whole lotta sugar, sodium and vats of fat. I don’t think I could eat another sub for the next few months after that meal.

The American CheeseSteak Co. on Urbanspoon

Cardero’s – Where the views matter as much as the food

sangria & mussels
sangria & mussels

On a warm lazy Summer Sunday afternoon, we chilled on Cadero’s patio, overlooking Coal Harbour Marina and the North Shore mountains.  With a cold and refreshing pitcher of Sangria and a plate full of mussels I was in heaven.

This is a tourist hotspot so come here early or be prepared to wait, especially for a patio seat but, it’s worth it.

Cadero’s Dining Promotions (Ongoing):

Mussel Mania – Every Weekday 3 – 6pm. $10 for a Granville Island brew and mussels

Sangria Sundays – $14 for a pitcher

Cardero's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Ensemble Restaurant – Featuring Canada Top Chef Contender

**update closed**

Ensemble Restaurant – Chef Dale McKay – Canada Top Chef Contender

Food Persuasion Level : [rating=3]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=4]
Price: $$
Cuisine: Tapas West Coast
Location: Downtown, Vancouver
www.ensemblerestaurant.com

For the second day of Ensemble being opened this restaurant was busy. Every table was taken, luckily we made reservations.

The décor and layout remained pretty much the same as the previous restaurant Corner Suite Bistro.

All dishes are to be considered small plates and meant to be shared.  All dishes are under $20.

ensemble menu starter

Now the food…

We started with the sweet and sour eggplant stuffed with baba ganoush, yogurt and tomato -$7.50 My friend couldn’t stop craving about it. There was a teaser of mushroom and anise spread gave it a nice earthy licorice taste. We gave it a 4.5/5

sweet and sour eggplant
sweet and sour eggplant

Pulled pork sandwich, apple horseradish slaw, watermelon -$8.50. This was exactly what was written on the menu. I thought, “hey, watermelon that’s an interesting, how are they going to incorporate it in the sandwich. It was a freaking slice a watermelon on the side of the dish, like a garnish. The presentation was compared to a elementary school cafeteria This was disappointing, a 2/5. The sandwich itself was uninspiring and comparable to what we could have gotten from Re-Up (pulled pork sandwich food cart)

Pulled pork sandwich
Pulled pork sandwich

Five spice pork belly with cauliflower, pear and cashews – $13. It was a little sweet, probably due to the pear juices. The meat was tender and flavourful. Overall, this was a flavorful dish. 3/5

Five spice pork belly
Five spice pork belly

I really wanted to like this restaurant; they had a local heavyweight chef, Dale McKay, previous chef DB bistro and a Canada Top Chef Contender. They garnered a ton of hype and, generally prices are decent. The service was friendly and without pretension. Unfortunately, the dishes were a hit and miss, some we absolutely love others were average.

Ensemble on Urbanspoon

Steamworks – A Hit for After Work Drinks

Steamworks Brewing Company – Gastown
Food Persuasion Level : [rating=2]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=3]
Ambiance: [rating=3]
Price: $$
Cuisine: Pub, Restaurant lounge
Location: Gastown, Downtown Vancouver
www.steamworks.com

Steamworks, popular after work drinking spot. For $15 for a pitcher of Sangria, albeit watered down but for the price it’s a good deal. A pitcher of mojito is just as cheap. The seating was comfortable and the service friendly, all in all a pleasant place to wind down.

Now the food…

Typical pub like fare, the entrees are pub quality, meaning its step above a food court quality. We ordered the curry coconut halibut with pineapple, with a side of snap peas and rice -$22. Fish was fried and probably lightly battered, the oil was an overkill. You can tastes the heaviness of stale oil . The ripe pineapples were definitely from a can.

Curry Salmon
Curry Salmon

Maple glazed salmon filet – $21.49, we all agreed this was the better of the fish dishes. A nice smoky taste, again overcooked, made it chewy.

halibut and tortilla
halibut and tortilla

Veggie burger, portobello mozzarella was decent, the bread was soggy from the sauces. It would have been better if it were toasted. It came with a side of ceasar salad, which was drowned with dressing.

portobello burger
portobello burger

All in all I would go back for the pitchers but as a caution stay away from the entrees.

Steamworks Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

Society Dining Lounge – Nice Place to Drink

Society Dining Lounge – Glowbal Group, Yaletown

Food Persuasion Level: [rating=2]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=3]
Ambiance: [rating=3]
Price: $$
Cuisine: Dining Lounge
Location: Yaletown Vancouver BC
Society Dining Lounge
Tel (604) 629-8800

Society

Hail to the yuppies who frequent this spot and made it a Yaletown hotspot. The menu is a carbon copy of the typical Milestones and Cactus, reeking of mediocrity and, void of any creativity. On the upside the people are good looking.

Admittedly, this post was based on their dine out menu which deviates from the regular fare. However, I sometimes have the urge to people watch, I have frequented Society more than a few times and every time I order food the above critique usually rings true.

Now the Food..

Starters

Split Pea Soup – smoked ham hock, crème fraiche. Overly salty to the point of bitter.

Pea Soup

Pickled Beet Salad – chive and sour cream dressing, watercress, goat’s grilled cheese. Very stingy on the cheese, that you could barely taste it. The dressing was so sour that it became overpowering.

Beet Salad

Mains

Truffle Salisbury Steak -garlic mashed potatoes, pearl onion jus. Basically, a hamburger patty juiced up with garlic, mushrooms and onions.

Salisbury Steak

Ahi Tuna Casserole – ahi tuna, mushrooms, diced celery and peas, four cheese sauce. I admittedly not a huge fan of mac n cheese, unless it’s damn good, I probably won’t like it. This rang true for this dish, it was creamy but, it’s mac n cheese and not much else.

Salisbury Steak

Home-made Butternut Squash Perogies – roasted butternut squash filling, wild mushrooms, sour cream, wild boar bacon. My fave dish of the night. It was nicely browned and crispy. May be it was my love affair with bacon but it was delicious.

Home-made Butternut Squash Perogies

Desserts

The Way dark chocolate cake – butter cream filling, vanilla gelato. It tasted like food court dessert, suffice to say a whopping disappointment.

The Way dark chocolate cake
The people of Vancouver have spoken, Society Dining Lounge receives 2 starts out of 5 on Urbanspoon. Yikes!

Society Dining Lounge on Urbanspoon

Cork and Fin – Old School Charm

Cork and Fin – Gastown restaurant and bar

Food Persuasion level : [rating=3]
Value: [rating=3]
Service : [rating=4]
Ambiance: [rating=4]
Price: $$
Cuisine: West Coast
Location: Gastown, Vancouver BC

Cork & Fin

Walking along the charmingly lite streets of Gastown we came upon Cork and Fin. Francis previously at Tapstree, flexed his interior designing skills and created a rustic cabin getaway.

Starting with the complimentary bread which was warm, take a hint, if you want to fill up at this resto load up on the carbs, the portions are relatively small. We loaded up on 2 baskets.

We started out with a drink, Pimm’s Cup, Pimm’s no 1, mint, cucumber and lime. I felt like I was drinking watered down juice. I love my alcohol and I love it bitter! The drinks and wine selection were creative, perhaps I am used to the multi-page cocktail and wine menu this was quite limiting.

Pimms Cup - Cork & Fin

Artic Char -$15 , pan fried on a bed of cauliflower puree topped with sautéed mushrooms. The fish was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Excellent

Artic Char

The Steak tartar – $14, topped with capers and parmesan with a 3 pieces of lightly oiled toasts. There is a subtle flavor of sourness in the end, it tasted like pickles. As a caution to diners that expect to be filled, this was tiny.

Steak tartar

All that being said the prices are quite on par with all the newer restaurants in Gastown.

221 Carrall StreetGastown(604) 569-2215

[mappress mapid=”12″]

Cork & Fin on Urbanspoon