Sunday, February 28, 2010

Feb 27 - Solly's Bagelry, Fairview and Dinner and JMcF's

Solly's Cinnamon Buns
We had no food in the house. That is obviously an euphamism but not far from reality. There was half a glass of milk and even less orange juice. We normally do a warm breakfast on the weekends unless we're heading to snowboard/ski. Those mornings involve bad coffee and a granola bar. I had a craving for a big breakfast at the Elbow Room but with the Olympics still on, I didn't dare wander into town or I wouldn't get anything done. We had to go pick up our repaired blinds near Cambie Street so we decided to go to the iconic Vancouver Bagelry, Solly's on 7th and Yukon.

It is one of the only places outside Montreal and Manhattan you can get a decent bagel that is not basically a bread doughnut. Even still, a skosh too much air. I wonder if there is a float test I could perform to make my point to the uninitiated.

I have to say, though, that eating in is a tad annoying. We walked up to the pastry cabinet and tried to order a few pastries, coffees and a Eggel. Even though we'd been standing in line for a while, the rather curt cashier told me I needed to get back into the other line at the other end of the restaurant and order my Eggel and then comeback. I asked if I could pay for my Eggel first since I'd already stood in line and ordered other things and she would have none of it.

UNBELIEVEABLE. What is this, the SATs? or the DMV? So I walk to the other end of the counter, stand in line for another 10 minutes to say "Eggel on a Pumpernickel". Couldn't I have said that to the unhelpful girl at the cash? No. I was given a laminated bagel with the photo of a famous Jewish person with my order written on a note paper clipped to it and told to go pay. SERIOUSLY? Yes, it is 9h30 AM and this is far too complicated and unfriendly. I had to get back in the cash and pastry line. I stood there with my laminated bagel for another 10 minutes while a couple at the front discovered the same mistake I had made but they held up the line while the girl ran to the back to order her Eggel and then run back to the front of the line while the cashier did nothing else. It was a different guy during that 10 minutes. The original came back in time for my cash out. NICE.

The Eggel? Was a great disappointment. It comes on a sad little plate with an orange wedge and a bit of melted mozzarella. The egg is so thin and spread out it has no flavour. The yolk was entirely over cooked and the white had that browned plasticy texture. The orange wedge was paper thin. I will NEVER order this again. They have a collector card that will forever only have one punch in it. From hence forward, I will takeaway my bagels, ordering only from one simple counter and make my medium Eggel-wiches at home with a decent cup of coffee.

D had a cinnamon bun and a cappuccino and a date square for home. Well, their cinnamon buns are legend and today was no different. Their trick is to have very thin layers of dough wound several more times around. This allows for way more layers of butter, sugar and cinnamon. YUMMO! The cappuccino however was horrible. Their coffees are not worth the sit in, really, The cappuccino came in a large soup bowl sized mug full of hot milk. Last time I checked, that was a latte. In fact, as D walked up to the coffee pick up counter, yet another counter, the lady had just put out a latte before his cappuccino. They looked exactly the same.

D saved his date square for a good cappuccino at home. I ordered a half dozen pumpernickel bagel for home to go. The date square was very good. Nice mix of crust to date filling. Solly's also has all sorts of yiddish goodies to take home like, white fish, beet and horseradish, apple streudel, chicken soup, cugel, babkas, all of which I would recommend before sitting in to eat again. It felt like the Seinfeld epidsode with the soup.

Cost: $-$$
Ambience: none, house kitchen
Staff: Not service oriented and not helpful, take out is the only way to go.
Food: Coffee terrible, Eggel overcooked
Location: convenient from transportation, shopping

Solly's Bagelry
368 West 7th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
V5Y 1M4

(604) 675-9770

for sit-in

Dinner was at my friend J's. She is so adorable. She cooked all day for us. She's a resident so I don't know where she finds the time. Actually, she used one of my brownie recipes to make for the nurses on her shift.

We started with a yummy classic and one of my favourites, Curried Carrot Soup with Yogurt and Mint. It was a delicately flavoured pureed soup with a dollop of plain yogurt topped with a fresh mint leaf. It was delicious.

The main was a Boeuf Bourguignon that was J's mom's recipe. No, that's not what I had. She was so thoughtful to ask what I could eat and she had a salmon filet with a dijon and lemon crust. It was very tastey but even more kind of her to ask. The stew, however, smelled amazing.

Despite the wonderful aroma, J was worried and called her mom before we had arrived concerned that the meat wasn't tender enough. Her mom asked her if she had remembered to marinate it in red wine for 24 hours. Um no. Everyone seemed to thin it was tender enough. But stew is funny that way. Wine does help somewhat to tenderise but so does the temperature the time you cook it. Meat does have a tenderless window in the middle. It is nice at the medium to medium well in a stew then not, then after a long long stew, it becomes more tender as the connective tissue starts to breakdown. Well, even though she was worried, everyone lapped it up and soaked it up with the bread. Stews are so comforting and are such a demonstration of care and effort from the host.

Dessert was a Strawberry and Rubarb pie from Wholefoods. Decadent. It is one of my favourite flavours of pie! One of the other guests brought some organic vanilla ice cream to go with the pie. YUMMO. I never eat ice cream anymore. No reason in particular. Just not really a good idea to have it in the house or I'll eat it all. More to the point though, I'm lactose intolerant. We both are. If I don't have too much, I'm okay but a bit uncomfortable.

Wonderful evening! Thanks J!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Feb 26th - Cactus Club Yaletown / Chez Stephan

Tonight is the Semi-final Olympic Hockey night! Canada was playing Slovakia. Vancouver is a true hockey town and I've heard that during Turino Games, that the line ups at the bars in Vancouver on hockey nights started hours in advance. We were worried about getting into a place and having seats. Some of our friends offered us tickets to the Victory Celebration at BC Stadium with Great Big Sea but we'd been to a few and the sound was a bit off with all the echo so we wanted to be sure to catch the game energy, in case. I feel okay making that caveat given I know the outcome.

D and I brainstormed where we might be able to have a good chance to have a good view of big screens. We thought about the new place near his office but they were the one place that decided to take bookings for the night. All other places were first come first serve. I dashed after my last work call at 4h30 to get in line at Cactus Club Yaletown. D had called ahead and they had planned on clearing the restaurant at 5 and then let the hockey line up in. Well when I got there, the line was not so bad but the didn't really clear out the restaurant. The manager or owner had booked half the table for his mates. Booo! Anyhoo, while I stood in line, D walked to a few other places and they were the same or worse.

We had standing room only by the time we got in by 1 couple! Well and even they only had 1 stool but they were able to order food. I was incredibly unimpressed by the fact that the servers were VERY SHOVEY. It wasn't our choice to be allowed in to stand but if your boss lets customers in to stand and watch and DRINK and SPEND MONEY, for crying out loud, say excuse me before pushing me around like a pinball. Our friends looked ready to go after about 10 minutes. We ordered a few drinks and then decided to leave after a period. The Bellini was like an adult slushy all sugar and grenadine. The Caesar was bland and watery and I didn't get any green beans or celery which is why I ordered it to begin with. Since we couldn't order food standing, I thought I could sneak in some vegetables :-P. The food looked alright but not standing room friendly at all.

The atmosphere was great but not at all worth the experience and the rude staff. there was an exception. One server that was wearing a feather headpiece was nice enough to say excuse me. I exclude her from the assessment of the service.

Cost: $$$
Staff: Rude, doormen were nice.
Ambiance: Sleek but badly designed floor plan
Drinks: Poor taste and quality, wine list poor.

Cactus Club Yaletown
357 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC V6B 1R2
(604) 685-8070

The friends we were with live around the corner so we bolted to theirs. We brought some wine and they had some ready. They baked some phyllo appetisers from Wholefoods that were just what we needed. It was a variety mix of: Roasted Veg, Mushroom, Spinach and Feta. As well, they were nice enough to bake Rocky Mountain Flatbread Vegetarian Pizza. They have a restaurant in Kits and D raves about it all the time but I've never been. We didn't know they had a line of take home pizza. You can buy them at Choices and Wholefoods. The one we had was a Sundried Tomato with Goatcheese. It was delicious.

We had a few wines:

Gray Monk Riesling - not too sweet, a dash of mineral, nice balance. Lovely but maybe even lovelier because I had a seat in which to enjoy it.

Craggy Range Pinot Noir - Light yet curvy body, full of fruit. Wonderful!!

Stephan opened one more he had picked up from Marquis Cellars but I don't know what happened to that photo. It was a burgundy. Really, big flavour. Darn, I'll have to ask him which it was. The Craggy Range was a real star. We buy it regularly but I will have to look for that Gray Monk S served us. It was very nice.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feb 25th - Pantry-Freezer Seafood Bibimbap w Figure Skating

Pre-mixed bibimbap. Without the typical ingredient stations. ;-) Don't tell mom.

Today was a bit hectic and confusing from a scheduling perspective and I ended up having to think about making dinner with no fresh vegetables in the fridge. I should have gone to the grocery but D and I had crossed wires as to who was supposed to do that so in the end, neither of us did. Luckily there were some basics in the fridge and freezer as well. I spotted the smoked, peppered salmon fillet I bought at Choices the other day. It's super yummy. It is one of the only ready to eat proteins for fish-eaters, that and the Salmon-pepperoni choices sells as well. We some times have it when we go snowboarding as a walk around the village snack, refuel.

Having spotted the salmon there in the fridge, built dinner around it. I made a Salmon and Shrimp Bibimbap. Bibimbap is a traditional Korean hotpot dish with rice, sesame oiled steamed spinach, Bulgogi(marinated sliced beef), julienned carrots, mushrooms, Kochujang(chili paste) and an egg. The egg should be served raw on top if you have the hot-stone bowl to serve it in. The egg cooks in the bowl and the yolk gives the dish a rich, sort of carbonara sort of texture. If you don't have the stonebowl, you can poach it or fry it. In most 'western-friendly' Korean restaurants, the egg will come cooked. In the more true to form joints, the egg will come in the shell atop the rice.

You don't need the hotpot if you don't have them and you can play with the ingredients. My mom does several different themed varieties, cold or warm, sweet and sour. I really like julienned radishes on top or shredded Moo-kimchee, yummo! I had a limited selection but it turned out really well. I didn't even have an egg in the house!

Pantry and Freezer Seafood Bibimbap
(ingredients per person but not to be strictly followed EXCEPT don't overdo the sesame oil)
1/2 c brown rice
100 g smoked salmon fillet (or cooked salmon fillet)
7-8 shrimp, thawed
1/2-2/3 c frozen peas
1/2 T sesame oil
1/4 c sweet and sour Kochujang (kochujang with rice wine vinegar and dash of sesame oil and sesame seeds) or regular Kochujang
1/4 c Korean marinated kochus (mild chilies, cooked and marinated in soy sauce, garlic, and sesame oil eaten as a banchan)

Cook the rice as per directions and set aside but keep warm.

Defrost the peas and prawn. I defrost most things by rinsing and soaking in cold water. It's the most effective and least damaging. Sautee them both in a non stick skillet with some neutral vegetable oil. Until the prawns are just cooked through.

In a large bowl, pour half the sesame oil. This is just my thing to ensure even distribution of the oil. Add the rice. Dollop the kochujang on top. Flake the salmon over top. Add the kochus over that. Normally you wouldn't distribute the ingredients this way, even at home. They're served in stations around the bowl like a clock then mixed at the table. It's just us at home so I prefer to make sure that I have evenly distributed ingredients. :-D Add the peas and shrimp and top with the last of the sesame oil. Don't over do the sesame oil. You'll regret it and there's no going back but to add more rice.

This turned out great for a last minute throw together and just in time for the Ladies Final freeskate! Korea won the Gold and Canada the Bronze. Double happiness!!!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Feb 24th - Post Quarter Final Hockey Earl's - Fairview, Vancouver

West Coast Prawn Salad
The Sicilian Pizza
D's niece stayed with us last night. She's such a polite kid. She sat there for over an hour as we sat and watched the historic Quarter Final Hockey game between Canada and Russia. I would have been willing to move to go see something if she wanted. I would have suffered a bit and been tied to my blackberry but I would have. She didn't mind even though she isn't a hockey fan. It helped that it didn't seem like D had any intention of moving off the couch even if she had wanted to go somewhere. We stayed a bit longer to watch the women's Speedskating relay. She's a speedskater herself. You'd never guess seeing how tiny she is. She's a slender 11 year old. She loves the sport though fears the future of her thighs! :-) I think the muscle tone on speedskaters is amazing, I told her.

We won the Hockey game. No. That is a massive understatement. We have not beaten Russia at the Olympics since 1960! That's 50 years people. We crushed them 7 - 3. While watching the game, we gave her loads of options of what we could eat. She only requested that we not have pizza or pasta as she had just had that. Then she threw in that she would prefer not to have asian as she had had alot of that recently. On the casual end of the dining out scale, there isn't alot of non Asian options in Vancouver. Think about it, if you're from here. There are great fusion or western places in the $$$$ end of the scale. She was visiting from Montreal and not as used to all the Asian cuisine. She loves it and had sushi, thai and chinese while here. Regularly, though, at home they have alot of Italian or French food. Her father works in on of Montreal's most famous Italian restaurants and so he is a big foodie. They always only cook 1 meal for the family. No fish fingers!

We decided to take her to the neighbourhood Earl's. It's a westcoast chain of bar/restaurants that are probably most famous for their Robert Palmer-esque servers. It's hilarious. If you sit down with a bunch of girls, the cleavage hands off to a black shirt clad, gelled haired male counterpart. They used to be great for this one salada which was a take on a Nicoise but with salmon. They took it off. Shame!

I was worried that it would still be full from the game but it must of emptied out just after the end. We got a great booth with a perfect view of the screens to watch the speedskating rerun and some aerials. We ordered the Calamari to start. D got the Sicilian pizza, F got a Cajun Chicken Caesar and I ordered the West Coast Prawn Salad.

The calamari are fairly standard. They're made to order and the Tzaziki is tasty. The raw red onions on top of the calamari are too sharp and could do without them. Sometimes they are too oily at Earls and they were not at this location. The rings are always these baby ring sized rings. The only thing I noticed was that they gave us considerably smaller portion than I've seen in two other locations. Generally nice.

D used to work in Calgary after undergrad so Earl's used to be a second home. The Cajun Chicken Caesar was his oxygen. It comes on a large frisbee sized plate. It is heaped with a pile of bite sized cut romaine, generously dressed but not drowned. It was topped with freshly grated parmesan, loads of garlicy crouton with a side of a hunk of focaccia. The chicken was a bit spicy for F but she did eat quite alot of it. I helped finish the croutons :-D

My salad was really nice but for 1 thing. It too came on a large plate but was neatly mounded in the middle. I thought it seemed a reasonable main dish sized salad but with the quinoa, it was actually quite alot of food. I made it through. The salad was a mix of baby greens dressed in a simple vinagrette, slightly too much....slightly. It was tossed with pecans and walnuts, shredded carrots, avocadoes and.... strawberries??? Really? Strawberries? There was also cous cous intermingled in the greens but not too over mixed. The ingredients were well portioned so you had carrots or nuts in each bite. However, I really found the strawberries puzzling. Why would you include strawberries in this otherwise savour dish. The whole salad was topped with half a dozen, warm perfectly sauteed prawns.

I ordered this dish because I went to Earls a few months back with work and my friend W ordered this dish and ordered something that had JUMBO prawns in the name. It barely had any shrimp and those I did have were certainly not jumbo. I enviously eyed W's succulent coral curls and decided the next time I find myself needing to go to an Earls I would order it. I think next time I'll ask for the strawberries on the side or not at all. Out here, you do do find yourself 'needing' to go to Earls for one reason or another, convenience, children, work, sporting events or proximity to a theatre. So it's good to have a goto dish.

D's had their pizza in the past. I've never ordered a pizza there. He said the crust is quite good. Light, not too bready. The sausage was spicy and tasty. He ploughed through his pizza if that is saying anything.

Cost: $$-$$$
Ambience: Dark and loud. They have a separate more quite dining area.
Cleanliness: It is more a restaurant than bar. It does not smell of stale beer or barlike.
Staff: Not very attentive and a tad too much cleavage for my liking. Also, had to flag for our bill for 15 minutes and then have it corrected. In their favour. She billed us for only 10% of our total.
Earl's Restaurant

901 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 734-5995
Vancouver, BC

Earl's Broadway (at Laurel) on Urbanspoon

Feb 23rd - #Olympic Box Seats for Belarus v Switzerland and Rodney's Oyster House, Yaletown for Canada v Germany

Belarus Shootout last try and miss
Last Suisse Shootout Goal

What a day! I had planned for the worst really it turned out AMAZING! D's niece is in town and we were supposed to spend time with her. I was rather excited about it. Unfortunately she's staying with her other uncle in Abbottsford as well she travelled here with her paternal grandmother. She's lovely lady but she's not very mobile. As a result, all the things, I had hoped to do with her sort of evaporated. Oh well, Sunday was very low key as a result and so I had planned for similar audible calls on the itinerary so I wouldn't be disappointed for today.

I had booked Tuesday off to wander around town with her. In the end, they decided not to come in town right away and checked out Steveston and the OZone in Richmond. Well, it was their choice and I had decided not to be disappointed by it. They were going to call us at noon then it got pushed to 3pm. I refused to not take the day off as I'd been looking forward to that at least. The one thing that was pretty bad was that IT POURED like mad all day. ALL DAY!

I walked over the the provincial pavillions hoping that a mid week visit would be better. It was not. The line for Ontario House 4D movie at 10 am was longer than the first Saturday!!!! I visited Right to Play and bought a pin and took some photos. I then hiked it, still in good spirits, to Aboriginal House. Well, I stood in line at Live City Vancouver but it was nearly noon and there was a line and I was expecting the call that we were going to Richmond so I left Canada House for another day. I went to the Bell Cube instead. I got a wimpy Bell cowbell and some nice earbuds. The Bell cube was okay. They had loads of TV screens and you used your new earbuds to listen to the screen you wanted from over head plug ins. I watched a Canadian Women's Curling match between UK go into the 11th end but I didn't stay. I went to Alberta House, which was LAME. It's just a bar/resto. It's normally this really dingy dive across from BC Stadium but they did it up with wood and covered patio. It looks great but there is nothing to see. They have a stage with music in the evenings. Then D called to say that they weren't coming downtown for sure and only after checking out OZone at 3pm. Okay. No problem. I was going to enjoy my day.

I started to walk to D so we could at least walk around together. I'm about a 5 minute walk to his office when he calls me and says we got Box Seats to the mens game at noon. I said, it's quarter to noon now. I was tempted to say what about his niece but decided that I wasn't going to forego box seats at an Olympic Hockey match. After a mad dash in a cab, we were running through security and then ushered into a golf cart to take us to the gates. We only missed 10 minutes. How fantastic is that!??

The seats were amazing. The suite was right behind the press which is lower than normal. We were lined up by the side of the net. NICE. The suite was furnished with cheese, appetisers and sodas. How fun! We ordered a bottle of Robert Mondavi Chardonnay. You could only buy the liquor buy the bottle. Not a problem! Hello? Seats were free!

Suisse won in the end after OT and after shootouts. I was hoping for Belarus because I didn't want Canada to play them later. Now that I think of it, the Suisse had a better chance of taking out the US than Belarus.

We visited the Aboriginal House and saw a nice film. No shows on but I at least finally got in!! We then ran to Rodneys where some of D's work friends had booked a table. We ordered some food and lots of wine and beers.

Fried Oysters
Fresh Oysters
Oyster Condiments
The staff knew them all as regulars so it was like being in someone's living room except they were bringing us food and drinks. We had their specialty of Oysters or at least D did. Aesthetically speaking, it, next to offal, the least appealling edible in the world to me. Their oysters come with a condiment tray full of dressings like red or green hot sauce, chillies, vodka, lemon, fresh horseradish. We always say that if you have to use all that stuff, why do you need the oyster. They smelled okay in that they didn't smell at all. Everyone seemed to enjoy them.

We also had fried oysters. They were great. I'm not sure if it was the breading or the meat but they were quite sweet. Nicely cooked. Nothing raw or slimely left but not rubbery like I've seen in other restaurants. They were enormous but not dominated by breading.

We then ordered some mussels. It was still 'Low Tide', i.e. before 6pm so they have a lighter, less expensive menu. The mussels were not very good. In a small portion, we had three closed or broken ones. The meat was okay but the broth was salty and rather plain. I wouldn't order these again. The best places in town are Chambard and Bin941. Actually, I had a great chowder with mussels at Goldfish which was nice too. Don't get them here. Their daily specials are much better selection. Try to go for Friday for their Fish and Chips. They only serve them on Friday for some reason. Really nice as well as their Fish Club Sandwich is yummo!

The definite gold star for them is the big hunks of bread they serve you . They're sourdough rounds of different varieties like wholewheat, olive, white, walnut. Super tangy and chewy. I wish I knew where they get it.

Cost: $$ (Lowtide)
Ambience: welcoming, casual (Toronto kin is no longer affiliated and a bit posher)
Decor: atlantic/maritime pub
Staff: Very friendly without being overbearing about it.
Wine List: Very decent with great variety. I had the Parducci Pinot Noir. Wonderful!

Rodney's Oyster House

405-1228 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 6L2‎
(604) 609-0080‎

Monday, February 22, 2010

Feb 22 - Big Mountain Vegan Burgers and Jerked Sweet Potato Fries

I went to the Live City Yaletown last night after work to catch Zapato Negro. I dashed out a tad early only to see them on the big screens as I approached the outer gates. I don't know why but the whole line up was moved up an hour! Oh well, I got to see most of their show and line up for the Samsung house.

The Samsung house was an absolute bore. You line up for nearly an hour from then end of the ropes only to find yourself in line at the games to collect stickers on the inside. Seriously, what a waste of time. There was supposed to be a quiz at 5 and I waited but nothing. If you're keeping track on my

House Reviews:

(on 7 maples)
Samsung house: 1 maple
Ontario house: 3 maples because of the insane line with poor info from hosts
Quebec house: 1 maple
Concord house: 0 maples
Northern house: 6 maples
Aboriginal house (VCC site): 3 maples, mainly shopping
BC House (VAG): 6 maples
BC Power Smart: 3 maples, fun for kids
West House: 3 maples, interesting concept
BC Stadium: 5 maples for set up 1 maple for food cost

So after freezing my arse (not a curse word in Canada, actually an euphemism for us for the real one), off watching Zapato then the Bentalls Barney and his son. Actually it was the son's band, Dustin and his dad was featuring. I think most of the crowd was there for Barney. It was a tad too country for me but the kid did have one good song that I'll look for. 3000 miles....chorus: I like to get high and I talk when I'm stoned... with his dad singing along. Ah BC.

So D was supposed to meet me to watch Colin James at 9 but I didn't think I could make it. We went to Choices market instead and picked up some food for a few options and then made a call on the bridge. We thought about Barley Risotto, Vegan Bolognese and Veggie Burgers with the Sweet Potato I bought earlier.

We chose to do the Veggie burgers since D remembered we had Portuguese buns in the freezer and he doesn't like a crowded freezer. I've tried many many brands of veggie burgers and there are 4 basic styles:

- Cutlet/Pattie where it is not meat like at all. It's a mash of veg in veg form, like carrots, peas with breading. Not a burger at all.
- Lentil or Legume pattie, denser than just a veggie cutlet but not the form of the soy protein.
- Soy/Veg protein meat like pattie that simulates the texture of meat. My preferred variety. Best Brand is Yves. Vera's Burgers has a fantastic version of this. It could also be Yves. They will do all their burgers with a veggie pattie if you ask at no extra charge.
- Soy/Veg protein full meat fakeout.... fakes the texture of the fat and the gristle with some vegan gelatin. This version is gross to me. If I wanted that texture and aroma, I'd eat meat. I am what many might call an aesthetic vegetarian. The best kind, in my mind. I am not a moralist or evangelist about it. I don't like the taste or appearance of it. I will try things and have to spit them out. The aroma of the fat, which as you know gives meat it's flavour, is what I find most difficult to eat. Anyhoo, my choice, not yours. Therefore, if you're like me, you won't like this variety. Boca makes these kinds as well, I can't recall the brand but it's green and you can see the patties in the slide out pack with the grill marks on them.

We bought Mountain Burgers because it was the ONLY type that Choices had in stock though they had loads of Yves stuff. I tried to persuade D to get Tofurkey Kielbasa but he would have none of it. The Mountain Burgers were a lentil based pattie or type #2. It was very very dense and dry. D cooked them in a cast iron pan and they crumbled a bit. He admitted he didn't realise the type it was. He was smart to add some BBQ sauce to the top after the first flip otherwise it would have been terribly dry. It had good flavour but it gets drowned out by the condiments and cheddar. The texture was rather pasty as well. I wouldn't say it was horrible but I wouldn't recommend them.

We garnished our burgers with aged cheddar, fresh tomatoes, pickles and dijon mustard.

Jerked Sweet Potato Fries

1 large sweet potato
1/2 - 1 T jerk seasoning
1/4 t fresh ground pepper
1 T olive oil

Heat the oven to 425F.

Cut the sweet potato in half around the middle. Cut the halves lengthwise so there is a flat surface. Cut those quarters in to 3/4 cm slices. Cut the slices into 3/4 cm to 1/2 cm slices.

Place all the fries in a large mixing bowl that is light enough to toss or have tongs and use whatever bowl you like. Pour half the oil on top and toss the bowl until they all look coated. Add half the jerk and toss again for a minute. Add the rest of the oil and toss for a good minute. Add the rest of the jerk, use more if you want. Toss for another good minute.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper or use a silpat. Even with a non stick pan, it will still stick because of all the sugar, it will still stick.

Feb 21st - Wimaan Thai Restaurant and a Golden Olympic encounter

You simply can't make plans in days like this. I like to make plans but I like to go with the flow. The way I navigate during festivals like this would make most people's heads spin. So when D said that I could go wonder in town while he finished the painting, I jumped. I did watch the Canadian Women's curling team kick British arse. That's not a curse word in Canada :-D.

I headed straight to CTV to see if I could get some pins but the line was too long so. I had decided to head to the #Olympic Aboriginal House. I bumped into Joe Sakic the hockey player who couldn't walk 10 ft without being stopped and all he wanted was to get to the Bay to buy some mitts. But, though I live in Vancouver and work downtown, I can't read those blasted Olympic tourist maps. I headed up Granville for a snack pitstop. Saw a LOOOOOOOONG 4-5 hour line for the Canadian Mint for folks to see real medals. 7 hours if you wanted your photo with them... comeon!

So I headed north but too far and ended up at the Northern House which I was still convinced was the Aboriginal House until I got inside. Lucky break really. It was fantastic. I was first put off by the long line but it moved in large chunks so I didn't wait more than 15 minutes. It was Nunavut Day yesterday so there were presentations I was really fortunate to have caught. I saw the Premier Eva Aariak, the Mayor of the Capitol and the Senator. As well, suddenly, John Furlong, CEO of VANOC appeared with a presentation for Eva. They had throat singers and a Northern traditional atheticism presentation. I was in there for nearly an hour! The artwork and information was just great. I had my picture taken with Eva, who is rumoured to possibly be the next Govenor General but my card reader blipped out and then I couldn't get near her again.

I headed to Livecity Vancouver to meet up with friends for the Hockey Game but the line was like an hour long. I couldn't find them in line so I got in line at the end. Then they decided to go elsewhere because even if you get inside, you need to line up for the beer garden as well. So I left to go find the real Aboriginal House. I got in line but then they cut the line off because it was too full. Nevermind, I headed toward Granville because I had a sushi craving. On the way, I saw a looooong line at a Cheerio booth. I thought, free Cheerios is cool but this line is ridonculous. So I snuck upto the top to see what was going on. Two Canadian atheletes and GOLD medalists, Warren Tanner and Maelle Ricker were signing autographs and taking pictures. I couldn't get past the security but that was okay. I really only wanted a photo. I was only a few feet away from where I was standing.

I then continued to the Granville street and got some great photos of folks getting pumped up for the Canada v USA Game. I bought my sushi and dashed over the bridge to meet up with D and family visiting from Montreal. After some sightseeing and failure to get a seat anywhere to see the game in doors, we decided to go home. We watched it at the open Francophonie stage for the first period but it was pretty chilly by then. All mention of the game stops here.

We were going to order Chinese but Chillies Szechuan was closed!! How odd. We went for Thai food up around the corner on Broadway. We'd taken away and eaten there in the past so we new it was good.

We ordered a few dishes and some rice: Yellow (coconut) Fish Curry, Spicy Asparagus and Shrimp,Tofu Pad See Eww, Sweet and sour chicken with vegetables Pork with mushrooms, Rice

I always get the Phad See Eww or Phad Kee Moew. I like the wide flat noodles and the basil. This was alright though very very dry this time. And not a basil leaf in sight. Still it was nicely savoury and the noodles where well cooked and there was lots of tofu.

I didn't have the Chicken or the Pork so can't really comment. We got them as fairly neutral dishes for some of our guests that we were worried wouldn't enjoy the really authentic thai dishes. D doesn't really care for the chicken because he doesn't like sweet and sour but he did say that both dishes were fresh and well cooked. For those a bit timid about straying from they chinese takeaway, try those.

The Asparagus in spicy sauce with Prawn was fantastic. Large fresh, delicately cooked prawns were numerous. The asparagus were cooked al dente and tasted very fresh. The sauce could have been spicier and it was a tad oily but you could avoid the oil. It was a very tasty dish.

The Yellow (coconut) Curry was a STAR! I believe the fish was sole and nicely cooked. The sauce was rich and flavourful. The fish was complimented with carrots and potatoes. I guess it was their migratory version of Korean and Japanese curry. Very nice. I will have this dish again and again.

We ordered two rice and it was enough for six people. Generally, if we're having asian takeaway, we make our own rice. Seems a bit of a waste to me to pay 2-3 dollars for rice if I eat at home. That's me though and D is kind enough to play along.

Price: $
Ambience: casual, dark, potential for intimate but can be loud
Location: central to Fairview
Staff: friendly

Wimaan Thai Food Restaurant
1063 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC

V6H 1E2
(604) 730-9963

Wimaan Thai on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Feb 20th - Curried Spinach and Chick Pea Fideu and Kalbi

Curried Spinach Fideu
I first had a dish similar to this in Sevilla as a tapa. It did not have the fideu noodles in it though. My old flatmate E and I were visiting a friend working there for the summer and I think we went back for it a few times. It was awesome and I'll never forget where it was in the shadow of the cathedral. The orders are taken by efficient and experienced servers who wrote your tally on the slate counter in front of you. I adapted this to a paella like dish by adding the fideu noodles which are 1" cut spaghetti noodles which are served in a variety of paellas. You can find italian and german equivalents of these noodles too. I use Korean curry cubes in a pinch but I'll use a high quality curry powder if I have more time.

D and I had been painting for most of the day so we were at a bit of a loss as to what to eat if we were going to hit any Olympic venues. So I offered to make this and he had some Kalbi as well since he had so much in the freezer from Mom he never gets the chance to eat when I'm home.

Curried Spinach and Chick Pea Fideu

300g frozen chopped spinach
1/2 tin of chick peas drained (you can use the whole tin if you want)
150 g fideu noodles (these look like the chopped up spaghetti noodles you might see in instant chicken soup)
50 g curry cubes or 2-3 T curry powder
1/4 onion thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic
1/2 inch ginger minced
1 jalapeno (optional)
3-4 c water, hot to boiling

Defrost the spinach in the microwave for 4 minutes or on the counter for the day.

Add 2 cups boiling water to the curry cubes and set aside to soften. Stir to emulsify.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan. Sautee the onion until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and jalapeno. Sautee until you smell the garlic, 2 minutes. Add the spinach. Stir for 5 minutes.

Add the noodles and the curry broth. Add 1 c more water to loosen the rest of the cubes at the bottom. Stir thoroughly and flatten with back of spoon so as many of the noodles are submerged. Reduce heat to bare simmer. Leave for 15-20 minutes. When noodles are mostly done, turn heat off and leave covered for 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

D had Kalbi. As I'd said my mom sent him home with loads of it. I've become well accustomed and stocked with gear for this tradition. It's usually at Christmas which is freezing in Toronto. The bags are in ice bags with freezer backs and frozen solid and travel in cold cargo. We normally don't wait long in Vancouver and we're home in 20 minutes.

Kalbi is KOREAN. Oddly and ironically though it may seem. Many Koreans could barely afford meat during most of my parents childhoods. Rice was a luxury for that matter. That said, we have this worldwide reputation now for being carnivores. Weird. Even weirder since me and my sister V are not. Anyhoo. I love Kalbi or at least I did. I still love the smell. There is nothing that get's me raising my nose searching, than BBQ'd kalbi. My mom's is easily and hands down the best. She's known for it in her circle. Well, she's known for her cooking in general. You'll never have as good in restaurants though you'll have good kalbi if you go to the right places. But homemade Kalbi just can't be faked or mass produced.

Mom has perfected it over the years. I've seen her experiment with pureeing her onions in a blender to save time in the massive batches she used to make as well as encourage the marinade more thoroughly. I've seen her test with honey, sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup. I've seen her finally concede that MSG was not needed and possibly a bad thing. What she's landed on is the WORLD'S best Kalbi and therefore, something I won't share right now. Firstly, because I forgot to write it down. Secondly, I feel I need to generate more buzz before I give it all away:-P. NO, it's really the first thing.

Kalbi in the Broiler

1 person: 8 ribs or slices, well that's generous but D doesn't have rice with it. When we do, at Mom and Dad's he'll have 5.

Defrost, ideally overnight in the fridge. Otherwise defrost in the microwave on DEFROST for 5-7 minutes.

Have the broiler on high and put the rack on the top most rung. Heat your broiler and drainer pan before you lay the kalbi on. (but don't leave it in there after your first batch or you'll have a smokey problem) 2 minutes on each side, as per D's doneness. Koreans would go for 5 to char and crisp up a bit more.

Serve with rice... or not, D didn't. He also had some marinated gotchu... marinated peppers my mom made as well, for banchan.

Nothing beats the BBQ though. If you have a BBQ filled and gassed up, go for it!


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Feb 19th - Olympic concert: Theory of a Deadman & Post concert: Cru Resturant

Theory of a Deadman at Olympic Victory Celebration
CRU Restaurant: Riesling Poached Pear
CRU Restaurant: Beef Tenderloin w Potato Streudel, too salty
CRU: Lingcod

D and got tickets for a #Olympic Victory Celebration at BC Stadium. We'd already come to the disappointing realisation that the medals given at the paid for Victory celebration are rather limited and therefore, a big let down the first time. Many.. no, most are given immediately at the venue. You have to ask why bother? We paid more for these tickets off Craigslist mainly because of the artist after the few medals given live was Theory of a Deadman. I only found out last night that they are a local band. Funny enough, we found that out because in a venue with tens of thousands of people, we were sitting behind our next door neighbours. We had good floor tickets and as it turned out so did they because they knew the lead singer from high school in Delta. Hilarious.
The medals were the #Olympic Women's Snowboard Halfpipe. Two Americans got Silver and Bronze and the Aussie, Torah Bright. They also gave two medals live streamed from Whistler. *yawn*. I could see those on TV. Why not stream the whole day's medals. I would have preferred if they did that.

Theory of a Deadman was fantastic. The sound was pretty bad though. You couldn't envelope yourself in Tyler Connelly's baritone, velvety voice. Still watching the local boys, with the guitarist and bassist, in Canadian Hockey jerseys was great. The effects throughout the show were insane with flame throwers, waterfall sparklers and fireworks. They teased us the the opening of an ACDC and let the crowd sing the opening and then changed course.

On our way home, we found out that Canada had taken gold Men's Skeleton... Go on Montgomer! Woohooo! Earlier in the evening, I was so sad to see us loose the Women's Skeleton. I was doubly devastated by the fact that Elvis Stoiko, Canadian Figure skating legend of my childhood was in the Yahoo venue I was watching the skeleton from BUT I had left my camera battery at home. WAAAAAAAAAAA!

I was still hungry and the energy seemed like waste to head straight home. We decided to go out for Dinner. We had both had munchy snacks but it wasn't enough. Plus, with all the crowds in the streets the restaurants were open! However, our first choice was Bin942 on Broadway but despite the slow Friday, it wasn't slow enough to eliminate the line. That could have been partially my fault because I tweeted that there were no lines at some of the city's favourite places.
We walked across the street to Cru. A very small and intimate restaurant, it is best known for their small plates. They're probably closest to Spanish 'Raciones'. They're the shareable, slightly bigger than tapa sized portions.

We both opted for their Prix Fixe Menu for 42$.... though for some reason, the Beef Tenderloin has a supplemental charge of 5$ even though there isn't the reverse reduction for the risotto. A tad irksome that the Fixe is not really that.
We decided to go for wine by the glass since I was having seafood and D prefers big reds. Though it's generally a myth that it is etiquette or forbidden to drink reds with whites, there are lots of reds that clash. They simply reactly badly with the oils and result in a very unpleasant, metally echo. Blech.

I had two glasses of the Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc. There wasn't another white that really appealed to me that was available by the glass so I stuck with the same. I am not a big proponent of oaky or woody whites with delicate white fish. One usually loses the dance.

D had a glass of the Chiante Ricasoli and a Quattro Malbec. I did not try his Malbec, which came strongly recommended by our server. I did try his Chianti. It was simply divine, luscious, vanilla and dark soused berries. Long though subtle finish. Wonderful. The Malbec had a nice nose but I was well into my Sav Blanc by then so didn't want to try. D liked it.

D's selection on the Prix 'Fixe' menu were:

Cellar Door Caesar, grilled in tact romaine heart half with garlic butter croutons and shredded asiago
Beef Tenderloin with caramelized shallots, blue cheese potato studel, mushroom-merlot jus (with prix-fixe menu, add $5)

The salad was brilliant. Perfectly dressed and though you might think it's alot of lettuce the form it's served allows for easier management. I really dislike navigating on palm sized pieces of romaine in a Caesar. The garlic croutons are dangerously addictive.

The Beef Tenderloin was a saline disappointment. As D put it, each component was too salty, the beef, jus, mushrooms and streudel... all separately slightly too salty. D is nicer than I. I would have sent it back. The only time we've sent something back was at Coast and it was so salty that your fingers pruned upon approach. In this case, it was at the point were it wasn't inedible but it built up as you ate it. Too bad. It looked great on the plate and smelled wonderful.

My selection on the Prix 'Fixe' menu were:

Riesling-poached Pear with gorgonzola, toasted filberts and greens tossed in a dijon vinaigrette.
Pan-seared Lingcod scallion dumplings, dashi ponzu broth, bok choy sprouts, ginger and chillies.

My starter was gorgeous. The pear was perfumed by the Riesling. It was slighly underdone. I did need my knife and needed to 'work it'. The filberts were nicely toasted and paired, excuse the pun, with the gorgonzola. The greens were gently dressed. Very nice.

My main course was perfect. What I hadn't realised however, and would have liked, was that the dish works best when you tear it down. The dish came, as you can see, constructed with the nicely seared lingcod perched atop the baby bok choy topped with the ginger and chillies. The dashi seemed rather plain until some of the relish on top fell into it. When I tore up the lingcod as I tired of using my knife, fork and spoon, the dish sang. Delish combination of flavours and textures. The cod couldn't have been cooked better. Just barely done in the middle and crispy on the top. I highly recommend this dish. I did not have a problem with the seasoning on this dish.

We shared the desserts:

Grand Cru Chocolate Truffle with peanut butter mascarpone mousse
Little Goat Cheese Cake with port-stewed fruits and orange ginger snap

Oh my goodness, if I had only come this night for the dessert, I would have left sated. Fantastic! The I could have savoured the little Goat cheese cake all night. The stewed figs and cherries, I believe were a nice accompaniment. The ginger cookies were nice but not necessary. The Grand Cru Choclate Truffle... sigh.... where do I begin. It was unbelievable. How do you describe something that was simultaneously, decadent, light yet rich and thoroughly chocolatey without tasting it for yourself. That is the truffle alone! The peanut butter marscapone was such a nice surprise. I will try to replicate this at home for sure. I could have a big bowl of just that mousse. D noticed right away that I was intending to bogart most of it. ... though honestly, I did it rather subconsciously. The only detraction on this dish is the raspberry coulee decorating the dish. It was completely superfluous. I don't know if it's just habit for a chocolate dish to require this as an accoutrement. Un-needed, really. Actually the sourness didn't go very well with the peanut butter mousse. That said, I would order these two desserts again and again!

Cost: $$$$ (On five base rating)i.e. dinner for two with wine, ~170$
Ambience: intimate
Staff: knowledgeable, friendly and warm
Location: Invisible. It has a very small sidewalk claim.

Cru Restaurant
1459 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
V6H 1H6
(604) 677-4111

(Broadway just East of Granville)

Cru on Urbanspoon

Only four because of D's salty main. Frankly, had it been my main that was too salty, I would have given it a two. There is nothing you can do with that but send it back but like I said D is too nice and doesn't like to fuss. For nearly 100$ with tip, I think you should.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Feb 18th - Baked Cod Filets with Asparagus in Sage and Shallots and Sweet Potato Maple Mash

Tonight was a stressful Olympic night to say the least. Canadian Men's hockey was playing Switzerland but but, I hadn't been to the gym in nearly a week. I over did it on a run last week and my knees were a bit tender. I was able to justify that to myself for an extended few days supplemented with the all the walking we were doing with the Olympic events and venues. Well, tonight ran out on excuses except for Hockey. Though it was only a prelim game, there is something about Hockey that is captivating us all this year, Men's and Women's.

Unfortunately, I couldn't not entirely manage my day from work to cooperate. The darned game started at 4h30. I am working from home but I had an important call until 5pm. I was good enough not to have the game on during that call and didn't miss too much, just the first Canadian goal. I decided to stay home until the end of the first period and dash off to the gym during the intermission. I only just barely made it. I could have sworn the break was longer.

Anyhoo, suffice it to say that I got trapped at the gym through the second and third period. Second period ended with a heartbreaking own goal tie with a scoreless third. I had thought I'd get 2o minutes between the end of the nailbiting third period to run home. Alas no! So there I was with my coat on with my gross gym stuff underneath my jeans and sweater, sitting on a weight bench watching the Overtime. Then, as if it weren't stressful enough to watch a 5 minute sudden death overtime with a bunch of strangers without my cowbell or the ability to curse and yell at the TV, it went into Shootouts!!! AAAAAAAA

After the first cycle, and still scoreless they rounded back around the shootout roster and FINALLY Sid the Kid, Sidney Crosby scored on the unstoppable Hillier. A gigantic collective, PHEW was heard around the country, with one loud Woohoo echoing through the Fitness World gym and some applause from the others. I ran home as fast as I could to enjoy a glass of wine with the good result and make dinner.

Baked Cod with Asparagus in Sage and Shallots

2 cod fillets, 200-250g per person
1 shallot sliced
10 sage leaves, fresh, chiffonade (ribbons)
lemon zest
dried parsley
olive oil

Rub the fillets with olive oil and sprinkle with the dried parsley and lemon zest. You can do this ahead, in the morning or the night before.

Heat the oven to 375 and put a rack at the lowest level. In a shallow baking dish, rub the asparagus spears with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Lay in one layer in the pan. Spread the shallots all over as well as the sage leaves. Lay the cod fillets over the asparagus. Bake for 15 minutes. If the tops seem a bit underdone, you can check by flaking a peace, place under the broiler for an additional 5 minutes.

Sweet Potato Sour Cream Mash

1 large orange sweet potato
1/2 c sour cream, low fat
1 T maple syrup, real stuff or nothing!
salt and pepper

Peel and cut a large orange sweet potato into 1 inch cubes. Place an inch of water in a large sauce pan and on top place a steamer tray. Bring the water to boil. Steam the cubed potatoes for 10 minute or until tender. This is MUCH faster and MUCH healthier than microwaving sweet potatoes! It retains much more of the nutrients and is actually faster. Been there and seen it!

Set the whole pot aside until you're ready or right away if you can juggle the rest.

Carefully lift the steamer out and set aside while you drain almost all but a few T of water away. Drop the potato chunks back into the pot. Add the syrup and LOWFAT sour cream. Mash with a masher or fork. Taste. Season with seasalt and pepper to taste. THIS IS SOOOOOO YUMMO!

Orange sweet potatoes is considered one of the 'perfect' foods along with Red Bell pepper. Super Foods!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Feb 17th - Olympic Street Food Orgy

We hit an all time low today junkfood-wise. I felt bad enough that had had nearly back to back samosa's going to events at the BC Stadium but today was gloriously worse. I met D downtown by Live City Yaletown afterwork.

There was a delightful Canadian cultural show called DRUM! It was a bit odd. It jumped around culturally from African to Aboriginal to Celtic with an underlying story of the expulsion of the Acadians from eastern Canada. If you ignored the choppy story, the music was lovely. The foodcourt in the fenced in David Lam Park come Live City Yaletown, has half a dozen extortionately priced 'Taste of.." booths. Canada, Jamaica, China, and India, that I can remember. I was very disappointed to see that the Taste of Canada was mainly hotdogs and french fries... booo.

D got us an over priced Jamaican Patty from the Taste of Jamaica. Shocking, D had never had a Jamaican patty before. Isn't that crazy!? He got us a veggie one which is normally a pea and carrot based stew. It was not very good. The crust tasted authetic with that flavour that reminds me slightly of a ritz cracker but it was cold, and 70% crust!!! The spice was good but there wasn't much of it.

Taste of Jamaica
David Lam Park - Live City Yaletown
Vancouver (during Olympics)
Cost: $$ (poor value for street food)

We then headed over to Granville Island to meet friends to catch Karkwar on the Francophonie stage. They were great! French version of Radiohead is often said of them. Though I'll say their sound guy must be going deaf because their volume was several hundred decibels way too high for that stage area. It was definitely good to hear french music that isn't folky or celtic. I'm pretty tired of stuff that sounds like our parents used to rock to it. That's all CBC French plays on the radio. Yawn!

On the way down, we bought a family sized bags of Cheddar Sun Chips. D had a decent lunch but I didn't so I headed to the Public Market in the intermission. I had to hustle though because the planners never thought to get the Public Market to consider extending their hours during the Olympics despite the fact that they're surrounded by pavillions. I barely got there in time as most of the vendors were down to their last bits and pieces. I went to a bakery I keep expecting more of and am normally luke warm on the results. Laurelle's fine foods on the Eastside food court near the Arts Club exit. It has lots of tasty looking goodies that look homemade. There are lots of veggie, soy and seafood versions of classic pastries like pot pies, rolles, pasties. That said, they're usually taste slightly old. I don't know if they're baked the night before or if I'm eating yesterdays stuff. The few times I've eaten there, it is under seasoned on top of that old taste. Tonight I had a Wild Sockeye Salmon Roll (like a traditional sausage roll). It was rather small and though had a decent amount of salmon chunks, it was utterly flavourless.

Laurelle's Fine Foods

Granville Island Public Market
Vancouver, BC
Cost: $

I went back to the Francophonie beer tent where everyone was watching the Ladies Speed Skating 500 m medal finals. They were playing that rather than the Medal Ceremony since it was a live event with a Canadian in medal contention. We did see Maelle Ricker recieve her Gold in Boarder Cross after watching Canadian Marianne St. Gelais win Silver in the sprint! I was still hungry after that puny flavourless salmon roll so I got poutine from the poutine truck in the Franco zone.

It is a small, red carnival truck run by what appeared to be a family. Father, Mother and Son. The mom was making the Queue de Castor or Beavertails, which were gianormous and the Pogos. The son was squeezing out fresh BC potatoes into french fries while Dad served up the poutine with a nice load of cheese curds and gravy. Where did this family get so many cheese curds? Whenever we go to the farmers' markets, the curds always sell out so fast! The fresh cut fries fried to order were great. The curds could have been squiggier but they were good. The gravy could have used more seasoning. D thinks it was a celery based gravy. I couldn't pick up on that. I doused half the dish in ketchup like is done by some. Not by the purists, D would say. The fries were crispy and hot with a good texture. The cheese melted under the gravy well.

We both have roots or history in Quebec so we know our Poutine! The best permanent place to get good poutine in town is Fritz on Davie near Granville Street. Actually, my first Ultimate Frisbee team in University was called Cold Poutine! I named it when I had come up with something to put on the form last minute.

Poutine Truck
Francophonie Place - Granville Island Tennis Courts
Vancouver, BC - During Olympics
Cost: $$ (for Street Food)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feb 16th - Jumbo Walnut and Gorgonzola Tortellini in Basil Pesto Sauce

Duso's Pasta Counter
Pesto is very simple to make and tastes so much better if you do it yourself. In addition to the freshness, you can play with the herbs and nuts you use. Now the original or rather standard is Basil. Basil ground with only oil is called Pistou and the French will claim it as their own and that the Italians 'bastardised' it by adding cheese and pinenuts. That is called Pesto Genovese. You can replace pinenuts with almonds, walnuts or cashews. I wouldn't recommend you do all cashews or walnuts though. Cashews are too soft and heavy and walnuts too strong. Do not try it with peanuts. Blech. My favourite is the standard pinenuts with a mix of fresh Basil and Arugula (aka Rocket). The arugula adds a nice sharpness. You can also use mustard greens or other herbs.

I usually make large batches and freeze the remainder in ice cube trays. I use more garlic than most and more pepper. Don't try to freeze it in one large container. You'll be cursing me as you hack at it with a knife and hammer later. It can keep like this for over a year. Wrap tightly so they don't absorb neighboring flavours.

Basil and Arugula Pesto

3 cups basil leaves
3 cups arugula leaves
1 cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
1 cup pinenuts
1 cup olive oil (+/- 1/4 cup depending on consistency you like)
7 cloves garlic
2 t fresh black pepper
1/2 lemon, zest and juice

In your food processor, blitz the leaves. Add more leaves as more spaces is created with the blitzing. Add the garlic and pulse until chopped. Add the cheese and pinenuts. Pulse until the consistence of a tapenade or fine, well blended mince. Add the zest and juice, for the brightness in flavour and keeps the basil slightly greener. Season to taste. With the spout open, drizzle in the oil until you see the consistency you like. THIS WILL MAKE ALOT ALOT. But I bought a big big bunch of farm fresh arugula.

When you're ready to eat from frozen, take out 1.5 to 2 cubes per person and let defrost in the bowl as you cook or nuke for a bare 10-15 seconds. The high oil and water content will melt it really quickly. Toss the cooked pasta directly into the pesto.

We bought tonight's Walnut and Gorgonzola Tortellini from Duso's on Granville Island in the Public Market. They have a fantastic selection of fresh pasta, cheeses and other italian goodies ready to eat. after visiting some of the Olympic pavillions on Sunday. They were handmade and far more homey looking that the rest in the counter. Though all their pasta is quite nice. It is slightly more expensive than in little Italy but it is definitely more central.

They're large so boil for 12-14 minutes. Gently toss in the pesto, with some of the pasta water.

YUMMO! The gorgonzola was very gentle and there were still chunks of walnut in the filling. Very nice! Start with only 2 T of pesto each. You don't want to drown out the filling, particularly the gorzonola.