Monday, May 31, 2010

May 24th - Tu Lan, Tenderloin - SOMA - Noodles worth a streetfight :^P

D and I had wide-open day in the city today.  Everytime we come in I have an unvoiced desire to visit the Haight and Ashbury area.  D never seems so interested.  I think I'll have to make a push for it next time because I get pretty bored of the same old shops in Union Square.  There are times when I forget where I am.  It could be shopping district anywhere with a few exceptions like Tu Lan. 

We went from Slanted Door to Tu Lan, in a day.  How big a testimony to diversity of San Francisco is that!?  Tu Lan is 'real' Vietnamese.  It is one of D's favourites and mine.  I have been there 4 times which is huge considering I have only been in San Francisco like 6.  It is hearty, greasy, fresh and generous helpings of down to earth Asian food.  They say it's Vietnamese but it seems more Chinese, particularly my favourite #20 Crispy Fried Noodles with Vegetables and Shrimp.  Well originally it comes with Pork and Chicken too but I ask for Shrimp alone and they do not blink and do not skimp on the Shrimp.

It is on the edge of the Downtown core in the area called the Tenderloin.  It can be a tad dodgy and the city has been trying for ages to 'clean' it up.  The name Tenderloin originated from the fact that way way way back when the Cops who patrolled the area received the best, juiciest kickbacks; Tenderloins. Anyhoo, if they were here today, I doubt they would struggle to recognise it.  Two doors away from Tu Lan, two gentlmen from the Italian Bar on the corner were trying to break up a fight between two walking homeless people over ownership of a wheelchair. I was caught in the cross-fire as one of them propelled his Vitamin Water at the other.  Upscale for homeless quaff, I have to say.  As well, I am glad it was just Vitamin Water.  What a waste really for him. 

Like I said, I ordered my usual of Crispy Noodles with Shrimp.  It's a generic brown asian sauce but it is an enormous heaping helping of crispy, vermicelli egg noodles with Broccoli, Straw Mushrooms, Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots and Baby Corn, with lots and lots of Shrimp.  It was piping hot and made to order.  It was a tad greasy but nothing out of the ordinary for stirfry.  I like that there is Hoisin and Sirachi Hot Sauce on the Table.  The cutlery is on the table too as is the case in many authetic Asian restaurants.  I would suggest wiping it down with our napkin first.

D ordered the Shaking Beef.  They had this on the menu at Slanted Door.  I would have been interested in the comparison.  This one looked quite substantial.  Lots of fresh meat, not over cooked. Again, it was cooked to order and piping hot.  D explained that Shaking Beef was the description of the syle of cooking Vietnamese stir fry and not the beef itself.  Interesting.  He orders that dish regularly too. 

Do not get put off by the location or the odd sketch of Julia Child on the menu.  Apparently she ate there once.  It has high turn over and a regular be-suited lunch crowd.  They handle substitues gracefully and service is super fast.

Cost: $ - $$
Location: Tenderloin 2 blocks from Union Square
Ambiance: Diner/'greasy spoon'
Staff: Efficient and friendly enuff
Tu Lan
8 6th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-0927

Tu Lan on Urbanspoon

May 23 - Slanted Door, San Francisco - Haute Vietnamese, a Local Fave

We rushed.  I mean Rushed back from Monterey.  After my so-so day in Monterey, D knew he would not have heard the end of it if we missed our reservations at the Slanted Door.  The computer and camera gadgets he would have had to buy me to make up for it just were not going to be worth it.  O was being her regular cheerful self, tell me that at least we got to hang out and chat.  I see that now but in that car after hanging out sleepy Monterey eating terrible food at Paradiso Trattoria, all I saw was red. If you do not want overpriced souvenirs or the icey cold diving, do not go to Monterey.  Oh yes, there is the aquarium.

It could not have been closer.  We called the restaurant to see if there was any wiggle room on the reservation.  When I first made the booking, I thought to myself, it's sunday night, really, how full could it be?  I only saw three openings but I assumed it was only because alot of places do no use OpenTable for all their tables.  Anyhoo, Slanted Door told us that they could only hold our table for 15 minutes.  As we trucked along, I had O's GPS in my lap screaming, 'you're not gonna make it.'. We ran a few scenarios where we dropped N off at home first, or we changed first. Then we ran out of gas.  D said he'd been running on fumes for at least 20k.  We got off and I thought that was it.  Though at this point we were aiming for 7h15 not 7.

It was decided for us that N had to be dropped of in Portrero first and we had to go in our grubbies to the top rated restaurant in San Francisco.  I was horrified.  It was that or miss it. We came to a skidding stop in front of the Ferry Building at 7h10.  O and I ran in to get our table and D went to park.  We were seated almost right away and the hostess made no comment about how close we were.  Some snooty places do that, like I don't have a watch or hadn't been clutching, white knuckled to the GPS.

We had a lovely middle table in front of the water.  Normally, I have a strong aversion to middle of the room tables.  An odd thing that D has grown accustomed to dealing with.  We were in the middle of the middle but we were there!

We started with drinks.  I had a Tangerine Mojito, O a Pisco Sour and D an Indian Summer.  My Mojito was a nice salve to the stressed out arrival though far too much ice for the tall glass.  O's Pisco Sour had a nice head of the traditional Egg White.  The strange thing was that the lovely Fron that was drawn in the foam, morphed into, without coaxing, into a smiley face.  How funny?

Slanted door is a high end, slightly fusion Vietnamese restaurant.  The food is served family style and meant for sharing.  The whole menu highlights the various farms and local butchers from whence the ingredients were procured.

Our appetisers were Seared Dayboat Scallops with Spicy Red Curry with Pink lady Apples, Jicama Slaw and Crispy Vegetarian Imperial Rolls  with taro root, cabbage, glass noodles and peanuts. The Scallops were really nicely cooked, tender but cooked through.  The sauce was so good I could have tipped the remnants into my mouth or on my rice had it arrived on time.  It was not Spicy at all though. 

The lightly deep fried Imperial Roll is served with large Cabbage leaves and sauce and shredded Daikon.  D was the one to tell us that we were meant to wrap the pieces of roll in the Cabbage with the Salad, fresh Mint and Sauce.  I really liked this dish.  Be aware if you order the Spring Rolls that do not say Crispy, you are getting the soft cold rolls which I love as well but are not the Chinese variety.

Our server did not tell us how to eat the rolls.  Actually, I found him rather aloof.  The sommelier was nice but our server was not very attentive nor welcoming.  Admittedly, after the rushed arrival, I pretty much tried to order my drink as soon as we sat down and from then on I became invisible to him. There is also the chance I smelled of the Monterey and a rental car.  I was not rude about just quickly blurted out my drink order with a please at the end. It did not matter. He would answer my questions through my sister or D for the rest of the evening.  He never topped off my wine glass unless O and D were already full.  Thankfully, I was picking up the tab ;^) and had the final word.

We also ordered a Grapefruit and Jicama Salad which we waited until the main to come.  Actually, it was dominated by shredded Red Cabbage in volume and flavour.  I did not really care for it and it came nearly at the end of the meal. Our snooty bearded waiter told us it was coming from a different area.  Excuse me?

Wood oven roasted whole Branzino with pickled Green Mango and spicy Gingered Fish sauce.  The fish was lovely.  It was well cooked the sauce was well balanced and on the side!  It was rather disappointing that the servers do not help break up the fish and remove the spine.  I guess that's the dichotomy of it being a family style Asian restaurant while trying to be upscale.  They chose the best parts of both: high prices and low service and high suggest tips ranges.  Nice.

Then came the Hodo Soy Beanery Yuba with Glass Noodles, Parsnips and Pioppini Mushrooms.  The Yuba is the brown bean curd skin you may have seen in pouch form on Sushi.  These were cut in strips for this dish.  It was a great vegetarian light yet 'meaty' add to the dinner.  After all the fried food at lunch, this was what we needed.  The there was an abundance of the Parsnips and Mushrooms so that every serving was evenly meted with Yuba and Veggie goodness.   

I quite enjoyed the food but did not necessarily feel as dazzled as I expected.  D and O like this place but they are essentially locals and as a local remember the more modest yet just as yummo days of Slanted Door or hear the constant buzz about it from which I am immune.  I would concede it is difficult to see Asian food served to it's full potential and Slanted Door does give you that.  I greatly appreciated the use of local ingredients and the freshness was undeniable.  The one minor suggestion I would make is to order the rice for one less person than is in your party.  It was a lot of rice and we had two Asians at our table.  Also, avoid the whole fish if you do not want to mess with the bones.  Volume-wise, it would count as 1 to 1.5 mains if you are assessing what to order.

Book ahead.  It was packed with the bar service full as well on a Sunday evening!  They are on OpenTable. I booked 2 weeks ahead.

Cost: $$$-$$$$
Location: Ferry Building on the Water!
Staff: Inconsistent. Sommelier was lovely. Waiter was aloof and not terribly helpful.  Food arrival was sporadic.
Wine: Great selection and variety

Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 861-8032

(if I factor in  the lack lustre service given the $$$ range)

Slanted Door on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 30, 2010

May 22nd - Saturday Field trip to: Namu, Boccolone and Rose's Cafe at the Ferry Building Farmer's Market

Saturday morning visiting San Francisco means a couple of things.  We normally hit Ritual Cafe but O does not live in the Mission anymore so it would have been a big detour in the car.  Instead we went directly to the Ferry Building to eat breakfast at the Farmer's market.  The tents occupy the large area on the water side of the Ferry Building as well as the front on the sidewalk. 

There are alot of local farmers with produce and meats. Along side them are about a dozen food stalls, much more than we have in Vancouver.  Last time I had a FANTASTIC mixed Ceviche Tostada but I guess it was not in season or they went another way but they were serving Mexican inspired breakfast instead. 

O directed me to a Korean fusion stall run by a local restaurant called NAMU.  I wonder if is the 'anglicised' word for sprout.  Not sure.  Anyhoo.  They had a funny menu that incorporate both Western and Japanese food concepts with Korean classics. 

I and O ordered the Kimchee Okonomiyaki or Korean Kimchi Pancake with the Japanese touch of Mayo and Okomiyaki Sauce with Bonito Flakes.  I ordered an Organic Egg on top which they drop on top at the last minute so it is barely cooked by the heat of the pancake.  That is a tribute to the Korean dish, Bibimbap. O was not so jazzed.  She's never liked underdone yolks whereas I cannot handle a wholly cooked yolk.  It tastes like a big ball of lard to me.

We also ordered some Gamja(Potato) Fries which were topped with Bulgogi (BBQ Beef) and Gochu Jang Chili Paste). D had Korean Kalbi (Korean Short Ribs) Tacos which were Rice, Daikon and Kalbi in a Kym (Seaweed) Taco 'shell'.  It looked more like Kym Bap than a Taco really but we were in San Fran.

The pancake was awesome.  Nice spice but probably toned down a bit for non Koreans.  The nice bright Organic Egg on tip added a lovely velvety mouth feel. The bottom was a bit mushy and could have handled a bit more time on the grill. MMMMM I am going to try to experiment with that at home when D is away.  D like the Tacos but they were pretty small for a meal.  But luckily D was thinking ahead to his next stop that he had planned before we left home.  The Gamja Fries were good but I do not like the name.  It's redundant, no? Potato Fries? Who says that?  We thought we ordered the Garlic Fries we saw someone else order but it was like a Korean Poutine.  I avoided the Bulgogi which O and D were fine with :P but I really liked the combination of the Fries and Kochu Jang.  Who knew?  MMMM

Ferry Building Saturday Farmer's Market OR
439 Balboa St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 386-8332

(three and a half)
Namu on Urbanspoon

This is part of D's bacon pilgrimage.  As per my post on Dynamo Donuts , FoodTV is Bacon obsessed and we are FoodTV obsessed.  We saw this on 'Best thing I ever ate' which is a pretty annoying show.  It's just the same usual suspects patting each other on the back and basking in their own manufactured glory.  Whatever.  Anyhoo, I was mid channel flip when D caught sight of the Salumi Cone at Boccalone.  Finely sliced, three types of Salumi layered in a cone.  They set them up in a wooden holder and when you order a cone, you select your own cone.  O liked it but D did not think he got three types.  The review was that it was tasty but not worth chasing down. If you pay a bit more you can select your meats rather than taking the pre cuts.

Cost: $$-$$$
Location: Ferry Building
Staff: Happy

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 433-6500


Boccalone on Urbanspoon

V and P arrived a bit later and decided to go for something slightly more breakfasty.  They hit the very popular Blue Tent at the top of the food area of the Market. There is usually a huge line.  Since it was closer to noon, there were only a few people left.  The place is always moving.  There are two big pans the back for their yummy home fries... not potato home fries because that would be redundant.  They are constantly being replenished.  When I see the turn over like that I'm somewhat concerned that potatoes may be underdone.  They certainly did not look par cooked going in the pan.  They were nice and crispy.

V ordered a Mushroom Scramble.  It was a nice Organic Egg Scramble heaped with at least 4 different types of mushrooms including Straw and Shitake.  I think I recognised a brown version of those Asian mushrooms that look like large Enokis.  The name escapes me.  Finally there were Buttom mushrooms.  This worked out well for me because V did not want anything but the Buttons.  I asked her why she ordered this then to which she woefully exclaimed she did not know.  P ordered Seared Tuna Pesto Sandwich with a lovely Root Veg Salad.  He loved his Sandwhich and yet again left me most of the Veg! Yay!  Does it look fantastic?  He said the dressing was far too acidic for him and it was pretty acidic, I agree.  But how can I say now to such lovely Artichokes and Radishes. MMMMM  I could not eat all of it though because of the acidity.

I may go back for the scramble but like I said, when I go to the Farmer's Market there, I'm usually looking for something I would not make myself at home or could not get in Vancouver.  If I were in that kind of mood, I may have returned that salad for lack of balance in the dressing.

Cost: $$
Location: Prime Farmer's Market real estate
Staff: fast

Rose's Cafe (Rose Pistola / Terzo at Ferry Building Farmer's Market)
Ferry Building Saturday Farmer's Market OR
2298 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 775-2200


Rose's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 28, 2010

May 21 - A and Rs Wedding at Silver Creek Country Club - San Jose

We went to a gorgeous Hindi wedding today. I won't go into great detail on the wedding ceremony as I could never do it justice. They wrote up fantastic precis for us which was waiting for us on the seats with a little pack of nuts (more on that later).
The 'Full' Ceremony takes several hours up to a full day hence the snacks on the seats.  But that is not what A and R opted for. Whilst it was as true to the classic wedding as it could be outside India, they opted for what the celebrant called an 'abbreviated' version which lasted an hour. The classic full day ceremony is something to see for as much the ceremony itself as the guests who are accustomed to attending them regularly. The wedding goes on up in front whilst the guests mill about, talk and go about their business paying little attention to the elaborate religious event binding the couple together and exchanging symbolic gestures of respect to their gods, family and each other. So even though it was only an hour long, this activity went on and was accomodated by A and R. They had a Tea and Juice Station for people to gather around. They did keep the tradition of the Groom's party and family dancing and celebrating from their 'village'(Country Club Lobby) to the Bride's Family village (Outdoor Wedding Pavillion outside the Country Club) though A did not ride the customary horse. We were encouraged by A's elderly aunts to dance more the whole walk. It was fantastic.
The celebrant was something else. I wonder if it was what A and R were expecting. From the perspective of a non-Hindu guest, he was captivating. He wore white slacks, a bright yellow linen shirt and scarf. His hair was like Krusty the Clown but he was a hundred times funnier. He MC'd the ceremony in English whilst performing it in Sanskrit. He explained the actions and the stages with alot of humour and prompts for photos.

The male friend's of A were given Kurta to wear for the ceremony and the bride's girlfriends were given Sari. It was beautiful. Many of the guests changed into western clothing for the reception and the couple changed as well. The reception was more western but the cuisine was not. It was AMAZING, ALL VEGAN. The cocktail had vegan indian inspired

We started with a Salad of Mixed Greens garnished with Organic Dried Fruits and Hibiscus tossed in a Ginger Dressing.
The mains came to the table family style in large serving bowls.  Anaheim Mirchi - Anaheim and Yellow Peppers stuffed with fresh Coconut, Peanut and Tamarind mixture
  • Daal Saag - Moong and Chana Dhal combinaton cooked with fresh Organic Spinach and delicately spiced with Cumin and Mustard Seeds
  • Kadahi Paneer - Indian fresh Cheese, Bell Peppers, Onions, roasted Cilantro Seeds in a rich Tomato Curry
  • Tindora with lightly fried Cashews - Thin slices of lightly spiced Ivy Gourd sauteed with Cashews.
  • Cucumber Raita or Pachadi - fresh Yogurt relish with chopped Tomatoes and Cucumbers
  • Jeera Rice - Basmati Rice flavoured with Cumin Seeds
  • Whole Wheat Paratha - Soft, hand rolled Whole Wheat Flatbread
  • Achaar - Mango, Lime and Chilies pickled with hot Spices

Dessert were a variety of mini cupcakes. 

The favourite at our table by far was the Kadahi Paneer.  We tried to ask for more but they were done and we were sad to see other tables being cleared with full bowls of the wonderfully rich Paneer dish.  The food was amazing and incredibly fresh.  The Achaar was on the set table so a few of us tried it out as we listened to speeches.  It was very spicy and a perfect side.  The Dried Hibiscus was a surprise.  I had first thought it was a dried apricote or plum.  It was very cool. Tart like a Cranberry and as chewy.  Really could have eaten the Paneer and the Dhal all night.

It was a wonderful event and I felt very fortunate to have been included in such a special day and event.  The detail and respect paid to their culture was very moving.  The couple was glowing all night.  I was very happy that such a lovely pair had such a perfect day.


I cannot give the credit of the food to the Golf Club though.  I can only assume that they had to bring in an outside caterer for the specialty menu.  And the table cards and decorations all looked handmade so I image that A and R did alot of this themselves.  The location setting was spectacular; made for this wedding .  The grounds near the waterfall was ideal for the outdoor ceremony and the dining hall had a view worth the whole investment.  The dinner service-folks were okay.  The valets were very courteous and prompt.

Silver Creek Valley Country Club
5460 Country Club Pkwy
San Jose, CA 95138
(408) 239-5888

Thursday, May 27, 2010

May 20/21st - Dynamo Donuts - Mission, San Francisco, Homer would approve!

We headed to San Francisco on Thursday.   Our friends A and R are getting married in San Jose.  Funny enough, my sister is invited too.  The couple were set up and my sister O's Taiko concert was the first blind date.  It was mentioned on their wedding website which I thought was pretty cool.  So it was easy to ask to crash at her place but she would have let us anyway.  I was sure that we would have time to go pick up a burrito on the way to O's from the Airport but I had not anticipated the time it took to pick up the rental car.  I had skipped dinner at a normal human time for my late evening Burrioto fix after we landed.  Luckily, I had had a pretty big lunch of a Tofu Stirfry with a Korma Sauce at the cafeteria at work. Really, not bad and made to order. Still, I cannot believe I went the whole long weekend without a Papalote Burrito! The whole week was nearly tainted if it were not for the early morning save at Dynamo's.

O had some snacks for me so I was able to stay my normal hypoglycemic grumpiness.  My sisters' have grown accustomed to shoving sweets at me and telling me I should eat something.  Suffice it to say, I woke up early the next day raring for my Dynamo Donut run!
Sticky Bun
We first saw the place on FoodTV.  It was either Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives or the Best Thing I Ever Ate.  Either show is a good bet because they're always very BACON focussed.  Their star is their Maple Glazed Bacon Donut.  All their donuts are made fresh on site and have a-typical, gloriously creative flavours like:  Lemon and Rosemary, Banana de Leche, Apricot Cardamom, Caramel de Sel, Strawberry Shortcake, Blueberry Cornmeal and Spicy Chocolate.  They typically have a dozen or so different flavours and they take the shingle for that flavour down when they sell out.  We were there Friday, mid morning and there was a LINE UP!  We were on vacation but what were these other locals doing there in line for donuts on a school day?  There was a mom with a 1 year old in a stroller playfully screaming 'Donut! Donut!'  His mother was just as puzzled how he knew the word and the location. 
Despite the fact that everyone in line was ordering the Maple Glazed Bacon donuts by the dozen, it did not sell out.  Like I said it is their star and the spotlight on FoodTV probably fuelled that.  It is a yeast donut and is a triple Bacon threat.  It has Bacon in the dough, fat in the glaze (I think) and Bacon bits on top.  I do not normally eat Bacon but I restrict my meat intake wholly for aesthetic reasons only, meaning I do not like the taste.  Above all, I do not like the taste or smell of the fat.   But that's my choice and I do try stuff now and again for adventure or curiousity.  I ordered a Bacon Donut.  D had to eat it for me.  I brought it up to my nose and my nostrils were filled with the Bacon Fat and I was overwhelmed.   I took a bite with my nose plugged and it was more palatable.  It was the taste that is used in Vegan alternatives that I know so well where the fat aroma is missing and why Bacon lovers hate the Vegan stuff :^D  I only had the one bite though.  I had a Cornmeal Blueberry, half a Spiced Chocolate and half a Sticky Bun.  They were all fabulous.  The Cornmeal was very light and had a decent amount of fruit.  The Chocolate was not sweet which was awesome and interesting.  The Sticky Bun was unbelievable.  It was like a gigantic Praline! D had two Bacon Donuts and half a Spiced Chocolate.  We bought O a couple of Bacon Donuts which she inhaled when she got home.  D would have gone back everyday we were down if he had his way.
 Cornmeal Blueberry Donut

The place is adorable and is dominated by their baking area.  The staff are very folksy and friendly.  We stood in line and it moved reasonably well.  Most people took away but we stayed.  D had a couple of Caps and I ordered a Soy Latte, which I fear makes me sound like a Yuppie but it is only a anti-lactose driven requirement.  Kudos on the Latte art.  I really wish I could do better than my 'Cloud'.  :^P

Cost: $
Location: Mission/Portrero Hill
Ambience: Coffee shop meets commune bakery

Dynamo Donuts and Coffee
2760 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 920-1978

Dynamo Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 21, 2010

May 19th - Tofu Thai Green Curry Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

Nice big comforting bowl of noodles on a chilly day cannot be beat.  For D, a noodle soup is a good change from Rice whereas I could probably have rice everyday and not tire of it.  Funny thing is that D does not consider Risotto rice like rice underneath a Curry.  Weird.  D suggested I try this with Buckwheat soba noodles next time but I have tried that in the past and find the taste of the noodle too strong and overpowering for this particular dish but if you like the flavour alot, have at it.  Also the chunky Udon noodles would work well.

Tofu Thai Green Curry Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

1/2 Onion, sliced
1 small head of Broccoli Florets only, chopped
1/2 large Zucchini, sliced
1 small Sweet Potato, cubed
1 Chili, seeded and chopped
1 inch fresh Ginger, sliced
2 cloves Garlic
3-4 T Green Curry Paste (Read the label, there should be nothing you could not buy in the veg section of the market)
1 can Coconut Milk
1 t Fish Sauce
1 can water
2 c Kelp broth (Instant Japanese or Korean, w NO MSG)
150 g Extra Firm Tofu
4-5 fresh Basil Leaves, torn up

2 small bunches of Bean Thread Noodle (the packages mostly come in pre-portioned sections about the size of a fat cell phone)

Soak the Bean Thread Noodle in some boiled Water and set aside.  I like to cut up the noodles with scissors when they are a bit softened otherwise you may end up with a gianormous single endless noodle.

In a large Wok, heat 1 T peanut oil.  Add the Onion and the Zucchini.  Sautee for 2-3 minutes.  Add the other veg in order of listing 1 minute apart.  Make sure your fan is on before you get to the Chili!

When you get to the paste, make sure to try to smash it down and spread it around.  Do not let it burn. 

Add the Coconut Milk and Water from the same can.  Stir and bring down to a simmer.  Partially cover and let gently simmer for 5-8 minutes.   Add the Broth.  Bring back to a simmer then add the Tofu stir briefly for 1-2 minutes.  Turn the heat off and get ready to serve.  You do not need to cook the Tofu long. Add more water/broth if too thick. You want it closer to Soup than Sauce.

Drain the Vermicelli.  Place in the bottom of two large Noodle soup Bowls.  Ladel the Curry over the Noodles.  Garnish with the fresh Basil (or Cilantro)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

May 18th - Joey's Wine Bar - Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Awards After Party

I was very lucky to have an invitation to attend the after-party of the Vancouver Magazine Annual Restaurant Awards.  D's work was a sponsor of the party so I squeezed in.  Yay!  We were greeted at the door with a Sofia Blanc de Blancs mini bubbly.  Very sweet.  Can see the potential of this becoming the next girls' party drink to replace Smirnoff Lemonades or Bacardi Breezers.

It was held at the nicest of the Joey Tomato's chain in the Financial district.  I heard from someone at the party that they were planning on re-vamping all the locations to this same level.  The area was, pardon the pun, just parched for a proper Wine Bar.  There was a specific line up of wine for this party but their Wine Vault looked extensive and their wine bar was impressively equipped for a couple dozen by the glass stations which is thrilling for me!

Upstairs in the mezzanine, they were having a bit of a blind wine taste.  I made the mistake of starting the evening with a big Syrah so I knew I would flop so I just went up to watch.

The restaurant provided all the nibbles that were floating around as well, there were dips of Tsatsiki and a Aubergine and Smoked Trout on the tables with fresh chips.  The chips were served in these adorable mini fry baskets.  It was while grabbing a big Taro Root chip that I spotted Rob Feenie, a local 'celebrity chef' and Iron Chef winner.  I tried to take his photo but I took so long that I started to look like a stalker so I left it.

My favourite nibbles for the evening were the Dungeness Crab Spring Rolls.  They were piping hot no matter where in the serving circuit I caught them.  I'm not sure how they did that.  As well, they did this awesome little thing for their Tuna and Mango snack.  They took the standard 'disposable' wooden chopsticks that are attached at the top and left them attached and so the pinching held the Tuna.  Brilliant!

One cute little taster was this little Frito Parmesan with Herbed Goat Cheese. These are a lot easier than it looks and your guests will be excited if you choose to copy.  All you need to do is put a little mound of fresh 'REAL' grated Parmesan Cheese in a dry non-stick pan on medium heat.  When it is melted and just as it starts to brown, place it in a form to cool. 

They also had mini Chicken Corn dogs and Korean BBQ tacos where the Taco was soft flour wrapper like you would get with mushu pork. The Korea tacos looked amazing. 
Waterbrook Columbia Valley Melage Noir 2007

Dessert were a Mini Burnt, Salted Caramel Ice Cream cones and Mini Raspberry Tart.  I skipped the tart because I kept chasing the Spring Roll until we left.  I did try the ice cream and the 'burn' was pretty dominant.  It was only described as salted so I wonder if it were not intentionally meant to be so smoky. Still it was nice on its warm little cone similar taste and texture to a fortune cookie.
So I did not really get to see this place in 'real' action but from what I saw I would come back.  The staff were super efficient and friendly.  The wine staff were well trained and kept things moving and glasses restocked constantly.  The place was bright yet warm.  The location is right in the middle of the financial district which has a big gap for a nicer drinking hole that doesn't look and smell like a drinking hole.

Joey's Wine Bar
507 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V7X
(604) 915-5639

Joey's (Bentall Centre) on Urbanspoon