Archives for category: vancouver

Have you heard about matcha? Want to find out more about this healthy neon green tea? Read my latest article out now in the Asian Pacific Post.

 

I have been deciding whether or not to share this on my blog but I thought it was a fun story so here it goes… I auditioned for the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches! For those of you that aren’t familiar with it check out this link www.recipetoriches.ca

The show


Basically it is a television show that searches across Canada for the best recipe from a home chef. There are several different categories, including savoury snacks, condiments, entr√©e’s, cookies and squares etc. Each week on TV it is rounded down to the top 3 contestants from each category across Canada and they compete against each other to win in their category. The winner receives a $25,000 prize as well as their product will be sold in Superstore under the President’s Choice brand, with their story and image as the packaging. At the shows finale a the winner for each category will be put up for voting and Canada votes and decides who will be crowned the winning recipe and that will be take home another prize of $250,000!
Here’s an example of a few of last seasons winning products.

Glo with her Luscious Lemon Pudding

Jacqui

John with his Chicken Grenades appetizer

I’m a big fan of Superstore and always love trying their new products so this show caught my eye. When I saw that this season they were holding auditions in Vancouver I knew I had to try. I love food and I love cooking so I figured why not? I sent it my homemade silly audition tape……..

Totally silly, I can’t even believe I just posted that on here for people to see… haha- oh well! Anyways, I got a call from a producer who did an interview with me and said they would be in touch if I was selected to come down for the in person audition in front of the judges. I waited and waited and finally got the call! I was nervous and excited and I had so much to prepare.

I stayed up past midnight the night before the auditions preparing my food. Matt was the best kitchen assistant a girl could ask for!

Finally the finished product…

Morning came and it was audition day. I woke up early and boiled and fried the perogies to get them the perfect golden brown colour. I got myself all dolled up and Matt chauffeured me to the Regency Hyatt Hotel downtown where the auditions were being held.

Driving to the audition wondering what did I get myself into here..?!?

When we arrived at the hotel I signed in at registration and got my number.

There were a lot of people there and camera crews all around filming people’s reactions after they got a golden ticket or if they didn’t.

Filming a reaction.

Registration table, some people

We waited in a room with other contestants until our number was called. There were really helpful kitchen staff that let me practice my audition speech in front of them.

Waiting in the holding room pre-audition for a few hours gave me plenty of time to practice.

Finally after a few hours of waiting my number was called. I went with a group of other contestants into another room to plate our food. There were more chef’s to help us out in that room. I got my microphones taped onto me and filmed a pre-judging interview about my food. Once I had plated my perogies with a side of sour cream and chopped green onions and was whisked down a hallway to the judges room. I waited anxiously outside the room watching as the contestants in front of me went in for their auditions. Finally it was my turn. I entered a room where I met with a producer who told me where to stand etc, got my makeup touched up and voila… I was on! Just me with all the lights shining on me and 3 judges sitting at a table staring at me with my food. It felt like a dream but it was so fun. The judges by the way are Laura Calder,( host of French Cooking at Home), Tony Chapman (marketing guru) and Dana McCauley (food trends and innovation expert).

Here’s a photo of the judges at last year’s judging table.

It was a pretty intense experience but I am so happy that I did it. It was such a fun day and pushed me out of my comfort zone which is a good thing. I believe that we should take every opportunity that presents its self and for me this was one of them. The judges seemed to enjoy my gourmet perogies, Tony was the tough judge and asked me some questions about marketing that really put me on the spot but they were all super nice. It really was such a fun experience and I would do it again in a heart beat. I told myself that no matter if I walked out of that room with a golden ticket or not the real prize was just being there and enjoying the experience and having the guts to get infront of the judges and the camera’s and do something like this. I still feel that way. Everyone I met was so kind, all the other contestants in Vancouver and all the staff were so kind and helpful.

So now, what you are all probably wondering… did she get a golden ticket to go onto the next round…..?!?!? What do you think????????

Yes? No? Maybe so?

Well…. here’s your answer………………………………

YES, I did it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me with my Golden Ticket in the lobby of the hotel after my audition ūüôā

I feel like singing, in the words of Grandpa & Charlie from the original Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

“I’ve got a golden ticket! I’ve got a golden ticket! I’ve got a golden twinkle in my eye!”

What that means is that I’m in the next round and I am up for consideration. Now I just wait until all the other auditions across Canada are finished and hope that they choose me as a finalist to compete in Toronto. If they do that would be amazing and if they don’t it still has been such a fun experience. The competition is across Canada so I’m certain the chances of me actually getting called to be a finalist are slim. For now I wait with this golden ticket posted to my fridge with a magnet that says ‘There are no shortcuts to any place worth going’.

I truly believe that and if you want something you have to work for it. They say that half the battle is showing up so if you have something you are a bit hesitant or shy to try I encourage you to do it because nothing new or exciting usually happens when you are inside your comfort zone. So in the famous words of Ms.Frizzle “Take chances, get messy and make mistakes!”

UPDATE:

I wasn`t selected as a top 3 finalist to compete in Toronto. However, I am really looking forward to the show coming out and seeing who made the cut and hoping to see some of the friends I made during casting compete on the show. It was a really fun experience and I may even audition again next year because….

Who doesn’t love to celebrate love? It’s a wonderful thing! With Valentine’s Day a week away I’m sure many of you have already begun at least thinking about your plans for V-Day. Are you planning on going out for dinner, or staying home for a romantic home cooked dinner? Many local restaurants are extending their Dine-Out menu‘s until the 14th so lover’s can enjoy a 3 course dinner for less. As always Boston Pizza across Canada offer a heart-shaped pizza for Valentine’s Day with $1 of every pizza going towards charity. For those planning to stay home I have a little recipe for a pasta dish to share with you that’s quite simple and so flavourful. Maybe you can even slurp together your pasta a’la Lady & the Tramp.

This is a recipe that I was first introduced to by my boyfriends Grandmother. We beg her to make it for us every time we go to her house. I’ve changed the recipe a bit to make it my own. I promise you this pasta dinner recipe will knock your Valentine’s socks off!

Grandma Z’s Pasta

1 1/2 cups of sun-dried tomatoes

2 cups sliced mushrooms

1 small sweet onion chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

2 handfuls of spinach

1 cup milk

1 small tub of Philadelphia cream cheese

1 package fettuccine noodles or egg noodles

Directions:

In large wok fry onions, mushroom,garlic and spinach with a touch of olive oil or butter. When browned slowly add cream cheese, working it in as it melts. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Slowly add in milk to make the sauce less thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer and stir for 5-10 minutes. Add to pasta and mix together. Et Voila!

I have tried every single time I’ve made this dish to take a good photo of what the sauce looks like and I can never do it justice. Just trust me when I say that this is the best pasta EVER!

Hope your Valentine’s Day is full of love and good food!

Want to try some of the best restaurants in Vancouver, the Okanagan or the Island for free? Of course you do! Eat magazine is offering their readers a wide variety of gift certificates with a contest that they are having online for their reader’s choice awards. There are prizes available for great restaurants such as The Tea House, Theo’s, RauDZ as well as a couple hotel packages up for grabs and much more! All you have to do is go on their website and click on the area that you reside in (Okanagan, Vancouver or the Island) and fill out the survey. Eat Magazine wants to know what your favourite restaurant is? Who your favourite foodie blogger? Where you can find the best drink in town, etc. You actually don’t even have to fill it all out if you can’t come up with an answer. So have fun and best of luck to all who enter! You can vote for me (VineVie) in the OKANAGAN or Vancouver section since I blog about both, it’s eays just put VineVie in questions #42 and #43. Thanks!

http://www.eatmagazine.ca/the-3rd-annual-exceptional-eats-reader-awards/

Hello everyone, I figured it was about time I catch you up on how my raw food smoothie cleanse ended up.¬†¬† After an unexplained severe allergic skin reaction to something I ate that the doctors so far haven’t been able to pinpoint (possibly from canned peaches soaked in preservatives), I personally decided that it to was time for a change and wanted to try a cleanse. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be but then again at times it was. Eating fresh raw food made me feel great. I did however have to hide all the treats in my cupboard¬† as an out of sight out of mind thing. Doing a raw food cleanse at leading up to Christmas time was fine, however if I decided to do my cleanse during the Christmas holidays then I’m certain that would have been a completely different story for me. My cleanse days were filled with delicious fresh smoothies full of every possible fruit, veggie and even herb I could cram into the blender. It usually looked a little something like this….

Banana, mint, watermelon, cucumber, cilantro, ginger and pure pomegranate juice.

My meal times were spent chopping and preparing the fruits and vegetables. At times when I was craving something a little different I thought I’d get creative and make a raw chopped salad/salsa hybrid. I used tomatoes, A LOT of purple garlic, avocado, cilantro, parsley and hoped for the best… EEEEEKKK, this was not what I was going for! It turned into a horrible gazpacho instead. I learned with raw food as with any cuisine there’s a lot of experimenting involved and many trial and error experiences.

This is what I was trying to make, I realized that a knife works just as well as any super blender… haha.


During these 7 days I ate as much raw food as I could. For me it wasn’t only smoothies though. I made salads and raw soups as well. I even managed to convince someone to try out a raw food restaurant with me. My friend and fellow foodie Jenna Perreault, owner of Delish Gluten Free Baking. We often go on little food adventures in the city and she’s always willing to try new things. If you have the chance to try her baking visit Rubens Chocolates or Gallaghers Coffee Shop, both located in Port Moody. Her cookies are amazing FYI!

Foodie adventures at Gorilla Food

Foodie adventures at Gorilla Food

Cheers at La Taqueria

We ventured downtown on a typically rainy Vancouver day to this literally underground restaurant on Richards Street, aptly named Gorilla Food.

The entire menu is raw, organic and vegan. Even their bread for their sandwiches is made with pressed squash! I had their Main Street Monkey sandwich, which is made with mashed avocados, zucchini humus, olive tapenade, sprouts, tomato slices and cucumber on a curried raw veggie bread. Accompanied with their fresh dreamy creamy carrot, avocado and basil gazpacho. It was so different yet so fresh and filled me up, I had to take half a sandwich to go.

My Gorilla lunch

Overall I saw major results in my skin and felt so much better while eating only raw. I’ve decided to now incorporate as much raw food into my eating habits as possible and throughly recommend trying it out at least for one day to anyone who’s interested. I will most likely be going on another raw food cleanse again and hopefully the next time I’ll learn how to make a proper gazpacho!

If you are looking for more information for raw food eating in your area check out these links.

The Raw Food Okanagan Pot Luck

The Raw Food Society of BC

Indigo Raw Food Cafe & Cooking Classes in Vancouver

The Raw Family

Living-Foods Community

Hope everyone had a rockin’ New Years Eve, I know I did!¬† This New Year’s Eve I went out with friends for dinner at South Granville’s new burger bar, Luke’s Corner Bar &¬† Kitchen. I’d been to the place once before and knew it would be a great spot to¬† have a casual NYE dinner. Located in the corner suite that used to host the asian-fusion restaurant Red Door this place has been re-done as a Earl’s type place.; Except with much better food, lower prices and more of an easy-going atmosphere. Part of the reason I’m crushing on Luke’s so much is that as a customer I can tell that they actually care about the quality of the food. Unlike many other restaurant’s that tend to just slap down whatever pre-made, reheated food they are serving that day. The food at Luke’s is always fresh with a tendency toward natural and local ingredients such as their pan roasted chicken breast with Fresh Valley chicken or their Salt Spring Island mussels. They are also partners with Ocean Wise. My absolute favourite must try item of the menu at Luke’s is their Luke’s burger. A honkin’ handmade patty made with Chilcotin Heritage grass-fed beef, onion, arugula and tomato. This burger doesn’t need a lot of fancy dressing or cheeses to jazz it up. The flavour from the quality beef used in the burger is unsurpassed and has an extremely fresh and earthy taste. I guarantee you will¬† be hard pressed to find¬† a burger patty this flavourful at any other restaurant. Served on a crispy grilled bun topped with arugula, tomato and fresh onions it is all this burger needs to satisfy your burger craving.¬† This burger is so good I haven’t even stopped to take a picture of my plate anytime I’ve been into Luke’s. So this photo taken from their website will have to satisfy your need for food porn until you are able to make it down to Luke’s yourself for your own mouth-watering burger. Their was one photo taken at Luke’s on New Years eve though, my sister and I enjoying our Bellini’s in our back booth at the restaurant while we were serenaded by one of their singing waitresses who sang and played the piano throughout the evening. Speaking of Bellini’s; have I mentioned the amazing drink prices at Luke’s? This is what sets them apart and above from places such as Earls, Cactus Club etc.¬† Their drink menu starts at the reasonable price of $4.50, you can get a glass of wine, Luke’s lemonade or Budweiser draft beer ANYTIME for that price, plus they have daily drinks specials as well. Another amazing menu offer from Luke’s is their $5 appetizer menu, $5! What other restaurant can you get $5 appetizers and I’ll share a little secret with you. Sign up your e-mail address¬† for their Luke’s dining club offer and you will receive a coupon for a FREE¬† appetizer!¬†¬† Overall Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen is a great value, delicious food and excellent service (Our server was a doppelg√§nger to Katy Perry). So next time you are in the South Granville area I definitely recommend checking out Luke’s Corner Bar & Kitchen.

Luke's Corner Bar & Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Last week my main squeeze took me out to a little Vietnamese restaurant in Richmond for pho. I haven’t always been the biggest fan of pho or Vietnamese food for that matter but after recently watching Anthony Bourdain’s food porn tribute to pho I couldn’t help but crave it. Check out this video and you will understand why. However my pho experience last week wasn’t quite as x-rated as Anthony’s. After reading a few good reviews about a little hole in the wall place in Richmond called Pho Lan on No.3 Road we decided to check it out. You enter through the back¬† parking lot down a sketchy looking labryinth of a hallway where you finally find yourself in a tiny little restaurant. The loud Vietnamese ladies running the place barely speak english and the decor is well..there is no decor. We both ordered the medium rare pho bowls as well as a few spring rolls and a couple prawn wraps. Long story short the food was pretty good, the atmosphere and service not so much but it got us both thinking. How do you judge a good bowl of pho? Since it simply comes to your table as broth, noodles and meat and it’s pretty much up to you how you dress it. How much chili paste to add? Do you squeeze in the whole lime? How much basil leaves do you throw in? Do you add soya sauce etc. Does the restaurant matter or is it how you prepare your own pho once it comes to your table? Any pho experts out there have any advice for us?¬† How do you judge a good pho and where is the best place to get it?

The classy entrance to Pho Lan

Today I decided to try a recipe that I came across on¬† the very addicting website www.pinterest.com. These No-Bake Energy Bites sounded like just the thing I needed, sweet without the calories. Who doesn’t want that, right? I went to my nearest Capers aka Whole Foods Market to get the ingredients that I needed. After my shopping experience in Trader Joe’s on the weekend and seeing what great prices the lucky Americans get on organic food I was totally let down by what Capers Market had to offer.¬† I needed to get a bottle of vanilla extract, which was going for $1.99 a bottle at Trader Joe’s, the price of vanilla extract at the Canadian equivalent of Trader Joe’s? $7.99 a bottle! That’s craziness, why do Canadian always have to pay so much more for everything? Capers Market was a complete let down as they had such a small bulk food section and not the right prices. So I picked up¬† a few things from there and headed over to the trusty ol’ Great Canadian Superstore where I found vanilla extract for $2.99 a bottle, plus I picked up an awesomes weater from their Joe Fresh label (love that I can grocery shop and get new clothes and makeup and the same time!). Once I finally had all the ingredients I needed I headed home to make the bites. They are very simple to make, hardly take any time and don’t make much of a mess either. I will definitely be making these again. The recipe below yields about 10 bites which just is the perfect amount you can eat before getting sick of them. This is my adaptation of the Pinterest recipe.


Ingredients:

1 cup Oatmeal

1/2 cup creamy salted peanut butter (or another nut butter of your choice)

1/3 cup honey

1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes

1/2 ground of whole flax-seed

1/2 milk chocolate chips

1tbsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix all above ingredients in bowl until throughly incorporated. Let chill in fridge for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into medium-sized balls and enjoy. Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated. Lasts up to one week.

Happy Monday everyone!¬† These are a few foodie features I’m crushing on right now. I can’t get enough of these recently discovered treats and I hope you enjoy them too, check them out below.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! I have found the best snickerdoodle cookie on the face of the Earth.¬† I suppose it wasn’t a hard sell since I’ll approve pretty much anything ‘snickerdoodle’¬† but I really do declare this to be the best of the best.¬† Vancouver’s own bake shop Butter Baked Goods has created a¬† Maple Snickerdoodle Sandwich. The puffy snickerdoodle cookies are stuck together with sweet maple icing. Without being too sugary the buttery taste makes for a perfect medley of flavours. Butter Baked Goods can be found at their adorable little bakeshop on 4321 Dunbar Street in Vancouver or at various local Whole Foods Markets and Urban Fare grocery stores in Vancouver. Also, right now for the holiday season Butter Baked Goods is offering their goodies boxed up for the holiday season and are taking custom orders right now. You can find them at www.butterbakedgoods.com

Another product I’m loving right now is Epicure’s Curry Dip Mix. It’s an exotic blend of indian spices can be used in various dishes. The directions on the bottle recommends you mix a spoonful of the dip with a little bit of mayonnaise and sour cream to create their delicious dip. I have been using this on everything. It’s great for dipping with veggies, tortillas, prawns but it can also be used for a spread for burgers, gourmet grilled cheese, lamb chops etc. The little jar will last you a long time and only cost $7.95 a bottle. It’s a handy little mix to keep around for the holiday season as it will spice up any holiday party platter. Epicure Selections can be found in almost any community at various trade shows and markets or you can check out their website to find a consultant in your area www.epicureselections.com


The Bench Market located on Upper Bench road in Penticton is a great place for  unique culinary finds or even a relaxing sunday brunch. This little gem of a  deli/gourmet grocery store is always offering new and local products and cuisine. One of my favourite items that also doubles as an excellent stocking stuffer this holiday season is their  toasted sweet almonds. They are crunchy and just sweet enough without taking away from the almond. The Bench market also makes a spicy version of the almonds for $3.99 a pop. www.thebenchmarket.com

Who doesn’t like dessert? Dessert without the guilt? Even better!¬† With only 7 grams of fat per skewer¬† these little treats will curb your chocolate craving without make you feel like your missing out.¬† You won’t even realize that you are actually eating a banana. These little Belgian milk chocolate treats are available at¬† M&M Meat Shop. www.mmmeatshops.com


Tucked away in a plaza that is a melting pot for ethnic shops is a little gem of a restaurant called Sandar’s Thai Garden in Surrey, BC. The glowing pink neon sign hanging in the window doesn’t look like much from outside but once you enter you will be taken on a delicious culinary journey. Thai food is one of my all time favourite cuisines, the combination of spicy, sweet and savoury is like no other. I’ve tried many Thai restaurants but there is something about the way they make it at Sandar’s that keep me coming back. For starters everything is house made which enhances the fresh flavours, unlike some other Thai restaurants in the lower mainland (I’m looking at you Thai Chili House). The spring rolls are fresh and their sweet chili sauce is heavens nectar. I’m not exaggerating here, it is that good! Their lunch combo can’t be beat either. Starting at 11:30 to 2:30pm for $8.99 they offer a spring roll with your choice of Thai soup or salad and any entr√©e, from the classic pad Thai to pad gra paow (a basil leaf dish). Sandar’s doesn’t skimp out of the lunch menu either, it comes as a full size serving, so come hungry. The curries are perfection, and their smiley shower cap wearing cook in the back makes them custom to your taste. One of the best dishes at Sandar’s Thai Garden is their yellow curry with chicken, it comes in a massive bowl with a side order of rice and is great for sharing. As is custom with Thai food, each dish is to be shared. The soups also come in large bowls and are presented in this nifty little clay pot set up with a candle underneath that keeps the soup warm for you. How cool is that?! I’ve brought a lot of out-of-town visitors to Sandar’s Thai Garden for some grub and now everyone asks next time they come, ‘Can we go to the Thai Garden again?’. The food is certain to warm you up during the cold winter months, which also is a great place to go if you feel a cold coming as the spices can clear you out. I admit that’s not the most appetizing way to describe a restaurant but a benefit none the less. So, if you are looking for an excellent meal and trying something a little ethnic Sandar’s Thai Garden will have you coming back for more. Also, if you are in the Okanagan and don’t feel like making the 4 hour drive for Thai food, there’s a great little place in Keremeos called Benja Thai Restaurant. Keremeos seems like a bit of a strange place to go for Thai but it is authentic food. It’s also a lovely little place to stop at on your drive out to the coast, if you are going that way. The food is extremely fresh and the decor is very Thai inspired with lots of neat little things to look at, including a rose petal buddha shrine inside the restaurant. Both restaurants are casual atmospheres with friendly services and budget friendly prices. You can check them both out online at
http://www.sandarsthaigarden.com
http://www.benjathairestaurant.com
Happy Eating!

Sandar's Thai Garden on Urbanspoon