Friday, July 30, 2010

Lamb Shank You Can Dream About All Day Long ...

I will never forget my lamb shank experience at Voya at the Loden hotel. Picture the most succulent lamb shank with fall-off-the-bone meat marinated in a red wine reduction over lemon, pea and mint risotto. Yes it's true, I lived this experience and now I am telling you all you lamb lovers to go and give this dish a whirl!!!

I also had the pleasure of sampling a few of my friend's dishes. As you can see, the presentation is immaculate at Voya and the taste is just as perfect. The tuna was prepared and garnished nicely except I personally like to eat seared tuna for an appetizer rather than an entree. Not filling enough for me!

Next is their pan roasted halibut with their summer veggies. We all found this to possess a strikingly familiar taste to Asian flavors but coming from Asian backgrounds, we didn't enjoy this plate as much.

Lastly is their signature short rib papperdelle with pine nuts, spinach, and chili garlic. I've grown to really enjoy papperdelle as of late and this is by far my favorite of them all. I also wanted to mention the bison rib eye steak from Voya that is supposedly super tender, delicious and satisfying. A hidden restaurant in the downtown core, I would 100%recommend this spot for a nice birthday dinner or celebration of some sort. The prices are a little bit steep but definitely worth it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Korean Delights at Red Chicken

Another lunchtime spot I discovered working in the heart of downtown is this Korean joint, Red Chicken on Robson and Bute. AF and I started with their pan fried dumplings and they were delicious to begin our meal with.

Secondly, we had their seafood pancake which is a MUST every time I dine Korean. Entangled in strips of potato, imitation crab meat, squid, green onion, and shrimp, this unique treat is crispy, savoury and best dipped with the vinegar sauce above.

One of my favorite things about dining at a Korean restaurant are the side dishes that accompany your meal. They are great to cleanse the palate with and offer a variety of interesting types. For example, this time we had bean sprouts, kimchi, broccoli with spicy sauce and mashed potatoes. Random but lovely! You will also see a milky broth noodle we ordered as well but we weren't big fans of it so definitely not worth my blogging breath.

Monday, July 26, 2010

La Grotta 'Has a Lotta' to Choose From!

Hi Folks! I'm back from my 2 week summer hiatus! I must admit, it was an ad-hoc decision but don't you worry, I have tons of photos and food experiences to share! La Grotta Del Formaggio is one of Commercial Drive's gems. If you enjoy having a fresh grilled panini before your eyes stuffed with grilled veggies-a-plenty, your choice of meat and cheese plus their signature pesto mayo, this is where you need to be. This time I had it with salami and provolone cheese and it just perfect. The deli also has a wide variety of cheese, meats and everything Italian so definitely check it out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ice Cream I Could Eat for Breakfast

I swear I did eat this ice cream bar for breakfast once when I was at Pacific Centre early in the morning with my pal PY years ago. We walked by the Purdy's counter and couldn't resist the ice cream goodness so we stopped, watched the lady dip the vanilla ice cream bar first in dark chocolate sauce and then coat it with nuts into a standstill of dessert perfection. Great for a sunny day irresistible lip-smacking snack.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Easy to Make and Bake Chicken Roll-Ups

Passed down to me by the lovely LC, this stuffed chicken dish is easy to make with minimal ingredients and effort and loved by all! Start out by pounding the chicken breast into a thin layer for easy rolling and faster cooking time. Mix together a filling of cream cheese and diced green peppers. Pack the filling into a log shape and place on one end of the chicken breast and get to rolling!
For added moisture and flavor, top off each chicken breast with a generous scoop of marinara sauce (or really just any red/tomato sauce) and sprinkle shredded Cheddar Cheese on top. Bake in the oven at 350 Celsius for 25-30 minutes and voila!

You've got yourself an envious lunch to bring to work, paired with a side of Uncle Ben's Rice and stir fried veggies. Trust me, you will be the talk of the town (office). MmmMm, cheese in every bite, can life get any better?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Heavenly Meat AND Doughnut balls at Italian Kitchen!

My stomach is seriously growling just re-capping the scrumptious meal I had at Italian Kitchen. And I've only uploaded the photos! Italian Kitchen, one of the many delicious restaurants by The Glowbal Collection, serves its name justice with an extended menu of Italian pasta and pizza favorites. Let's kick this off by talking about their meatballs, their Kobe meatballs to be exact. Does this even need an explanation? Think top notch meat, rounded and plumped to perfection, mixed in a spicy tomato basil sauce, herbed ricotta cheese and tossed with spaghetti strands a plenty. DEEEEEEELISH!

I decided to try out another form of their Kobe meat, in a baked lasagne paired with a tartly dressed organic green salad. This plate was just as appetizing and lighter on the food load.

I also got to sample a slice of the lamb sausage and peppered goat cheese pizza you see here. HOT DAMN this was one flavorful and original pizza. Baked in the oven with wild mushrooms and a free range egg, this pie was tantalizing in flavor and oozing with cheese, exactly how I like my pizzas. I am definitely going to order this next time! Thankfully, I work just down the street so this food is easily accessible for me.

To finish off our delectable meal, we ordered their famous 'Zeppole ci Cioccolato', Italian style doughnuts with a surprise filling of chocolate ganache and then dipped in a creme anglaise. Can you say HEAVEN?! Rumble in the Bronx is happening in my stomach right now from the nolstagia of my amazing food experience there. Trust me people, give all these dishes a whirl!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Little Bit of Santa Fe and Alfredo Does a Body Good

My absolute favorite meal at Earl's. Sharing two entrees featuring their Santa Fe Chicken Salad and Chicken Alfredo pasta. It's the best combination of delicious carbs and a satisfying salad, that way, you're not TOO bull! If you've never tried the above salad, you're in for a real treat. Loaded with avocado, black beans, corn, dates, crispy tortillas, feta, blackened chicken breast, all in a peanut lime vinaigrette, this is a salad not to be reckoned with. Every bite conceals a salty, sweet, and savory burst of goodness and the portion is generous as well. That's why when you divide the plate in 2 to share, it still looks like a full meal - what a steal!

Their rich chicken Alfredo dish is also a winner with a house made cream and butter sauce thickened with Grana Padano Parmesan cheese and hints of nutmeg and garlic. I love me a heavy Alfredo sauce once in a while and Earl's is definitely a place to satisfy this craving.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Double Dragon

This day, I bid a very envious adieu to my Amsterdam-bound-gal-pal MY at The Naam. We gabbed over food and said our goodbyes as she embarked on a 3 month journey abroad, cycling around in cute outfits, meeting hot European men and partying her little heart out. JEALOUS! Anyhoo, we were actually dying to have the lunch Dragon bowl (which I've never had) but we came during breakfast hours and settled for the breakfast version instead. My first experience was a pleasant enough one. We shared three plates of potato-and-egg plentiful dishes and were stuffed silly. Above, you see the open-faced Croissant Witch with scrambled eggs and veggie sausage over their homefries. I'm guessing that their food is made bland (healthy) and the flavor is added on with S&P and ketchup to your liking (which in my case, I had to add a whole lot).

We knew that we had to have their staple Breakfast Dragon Bowl with similar ingredients to the above dish except this was mixed with their famous miso gravy (which I couldn't really taste to be honest). Nonetheless, it was a hearty and filling breakfast. What I did really like was their thick toast and homemade jam, actually!

To compliment our starchy meals, we ordered a cup of their yogurt and fruit bowl which was quite nice and refreshing for our palates.

Why Double Dragon you ask? (Btw, I thought this name was brilliant because I got to experience two 'dragon' foods in one day!) In the afternoon, I met up with a few more friends at Dragon Ball Tea House and had another Phan fave there - the green tea ice cream slush with pearls. This combo is deadly. First of all, I don't know how they manage to get pearl consistency perfection each time. Of all bubble tea places, I think they have the best pearls (close runner ups are Bubble World and Estea). Second, I swear I saw them scoop the ice cream out and microwave it for 15 seconds once (is this their secret tactic?). Then the crazy chemistry of the frozen ice cream and warm pearls magically mixes and solidifies into an amazing dessert drink! It's damn filling, but worth every sip. =)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Best Damn Dim Sum

Two dim sum Phan faves from Western Lake in Vancouver. On the left, is their pan fried chive dumplings exploding with an abundance of fresh shrimp, popping in your mouth as you chew each bite. Best dipped in a bit of soya sauce and hot sauce. And on the right, their radish cake, stir fried in XO sauce (a spicy seafood sauce used in Chinese cuisine) and fried egg. DELISH!

Western Lake is by far my favorite dim sum place because of its big portions, fresh to order style menu and authentic flavors. However, get ready to wait 1.5 hours to get seated (even with reservations unless you have the hook up) and to peruse the streets for a good parking spot. Also, it's not the cheapest dim sum out there but hey, you pay the price for quality and cleanliness for sure. This day I missed out on family dim sum but made sure to request take out of my fave dishes!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Girls' Night Out Is Never Complete Without Great Food

By now, I'm sure you've all heard of the Milestone's Girls' Night Out promotion on Mondays where you get 4 bellinis and 4 select appetizers for $40! Their bellinis are one of my faves because the alcohol level isn't too strong and they come with fun animal figurines! We came here before watching SATC2, very fitting I know. I'm not sure why I keep ending up at Milestone's even though I much prefer Joey's, Cactus and Earl's but hey, it's much better than crappy Moxie's!

Choosing from only a selection of 6 different appetizers (I think they should up the selection), we had the delicious crispy honey phyllo shrimp which was by far, the best. Although, it only came with 7 shrimp and you would think that if the promotion was for 4 girls, it would come with 8 to even it out but apparently, no, they weigh the amount and it is what it is (this phrase taken from my gal pal TS who was there with me that night). Dumb rule!

Next we had their hot spinach and artichoke dip which I've always found to be a bit runny but was still satisfying in taste. In my mind, nothing can trump my fave crab, Parmesan and spinach dip from The Keg. Served with deliciously thick pita style chips, easily the tastiest dip of all time.

I definitely love me some goat cheese so we had their baked goat cheese and slow-roasted garlic flat bread plate which was delicious. Accompaniments included corn, salsa and a cranberry jam but it was quite difficult to spread the cheese, garlic and some on that skinny piece of flat bread. Something to keep in mind when ordering, too messy and oily for a date!

And to top it off, we had the California Spring Salad with a few of my favorite salad ingredients, goat cheese, glazed pecans, and strawberries. Refreshingly delightful! I would recommend this promotion to you but keep in mind that even if you go with less girls, you still have to order the 4 bellinis and 4 appetizers. And I'm told that they have zero tolerance for substitutions, not even a Pepsi for the bellini! Not accommodating at all ...

On another note, my gal pals and I had brunch here one morning after going out the previous night and their menu had a wide array of comfort food offerings. Two dishes that stuck out was their strawberry french toast with vanilla frosting (which helped to coat the 'eggy taste' according to MA) and my staple, the avocado, shrimp and bacon benny, yum!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Lebonese Meal ... Made with Love

Now what kind of Lebanese meal would this be without fresh finely chopped parsley? We embarked on another one of our cultural themed nights and my friend RHM truly outdid herself. How? By slaving away over the cutting board, slicing and dicing the fine particles of tabouli ingredients you see above so that we luvas could enjoy the true authenticity of our first Lebanese meal in.

While us hungry hippos waited on the main, we stuffed ourselves silly with fresh black olives (the best are from the Parthenon Supermarket I'm told), two types of pita bread, AHM's delicious fresh hummous (RHM's momma whom I had the pleasure of meeting and watching MJ's 'This Is It' with!) and the refreshing tabouli I mentioned above.

Sizzling in the oven was RHM's roasted paprika covered chicken drumsticks. Yum!

Nicely plated and paired with roasted potatoes, and dipped in RHM's special garlic 'toum' sauce (and when I say garlic, I mean 10 cloves of garlic spicy-ness) and with a bit of ketchup, we were well on our way to experiencing a night of wonder and intrigue for our tastebuds.

For dessert, I whipped up a simple and crunchy apple pear crumble. Diced and doused in cinnamon, rolled oats, flour, and brown sugar, my crumble came out of the oven crispy and ready to serve. We also had the privlege of pairing our dessert with Thomas Haas' famous 'sparkle cookie' (the bakeable version). PY picked up this delicious delight from Urban Fare and we popped them into the oven and they came out resembling mini lava cakes. Deemed the world's best cookie, this truffle, dessert, or whatever it is, is rich in chocolate and perfect with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream.