Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hokkaido Santouka Ramen

C, my sis in law, is a foodie and has given us countless recommendations.  She was the one who told us about Santouka Ramen.  She said everything was good but try the pork jowl ramen - that really stood out.  I'll take her recommendations any time.

santouka ramen
So we walked from Sears on Robson down to almost Denman which sure worked up our appetite.

We were seated immediately and zeroed in on the pork jowl ramen (Toroniku Ramen) - there were photos in the menu and that did indeed look like the best one to order.  The Toroniku Ramen is pork jowl (pork cheeks) served with bamboo shoots, spring onions and black fungus.  D had the salt flavoured one and I had the miso.

I took a bite of the pork jowl and wow - a burst of flavour.  We ate the pork cheek - fat and all.  Melts in your mouth just like butter - you won't believe its pork.

santouka toroniku ramen
Toroniku Ramen
The broth and the ramen was very tasty.  We drained the broth but didn't feel thirsty after.  This place is a keeper and I'll definitely be back for more.

Hokkaido Santouka Ramen
1690 Robson St
VancouverBC V6G
604 681 8121
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I Live to Eat but ....

I live to Eat but once I hit 30, burning off those calories have just become harder and harder.   I've got a sweet tooth and that definitely does not help.  I've put on 4kg (almost 9 lbs) since I got married last year.  D has put on even more but he argues that proportionally by weight I've put on more.  Ok I'll give him that.   How about Brownie?  Well he's too shy to show you.

D is very dedicated and goes to the gym regularly while I try.  I really do!  The gym is a bare 2min drive from where we live and I have no excuse not to go.   I don't really like going to the gym.  The machines intimidate me and I'd rather much be playing tennis, swimming or taking a walk by the sea.

Since our San Francisco trip in May, we've said that we're going to eat more healthily but June rolls around and we've had birthdays and dinners and it is almost impossible with all that good food.  I figure if I don't put my goal down on paper I won't get moving so here it is.  I will exercise at least 3 times a week and try to eat more sensibly to lose the 4 kg in 2 months.  No diet.  Still eat well just exercise more.  Do you think it's possible?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hawksworth @ Hotel Georgia Again

Hawksworth again?  Yup - I couldn't resist.  There were so many dishes on the menu that I still wanted to try.  For starters I was very tempted by the dungeness crab salad.  I really wanted to try something different this time but the little morsel of scallop that I tasted the last round still lingered in my mind so I succumbed and ordered the scallops to start.  Delicious as I remembered but this time round the pork rind was more crispy - much better.  

Hawksworth seared scallops
seared weathervane scallops, xo, beech mushroom, edamame, crackling
For my main, I decided to go with the jungle pork curry.  Great choice.  The pineapple and pork went very well together.  The pork was super tender and juicy, cooked just right.  The curry was slightly spicy, very rich and flavourful.   It went well with the fragrant basmati rice which was presented in a small cute cast iron pot.   I'm fussy about my rice as it is a Chinese staple and like my rice a bit more moist and soft - but that's just me.
Hawksworth Jungle Pork Curry
jungle pork curry, jack fruit, eggplant, basmati, pineapple salad

My other dining companions ordered the dungeness crab salad, crispy halibut tempura and the morel mushroom orchietti so I had a photo and they said the dishes were all very good. 

Hawksworth Dungeness Crab Salad
dungeness crab salad, lemon, heart of palm, celery
Hawksworth Crispy Halibut
crispy halibut tempura, black bean yuzu crumbs, endive, cilantro, chili, miso tartar
Hawksworth Morel Mushroom Orchietti
morel mushroom orchietti, brocollini, chili, parmesean, fennel crumbs
Hawksworth Valronha Milk Chocolate Mousse with Passion Fruit
Valrohna Milk Chocolate Mousse with Passion Fruit
We were too full for dessert but all of us took a small scoop of the chocolate mousse and passion fruit - perfect way to end the meal.

The presentation is just lovely,  the food is consistent,  I love how there is much Asian influence in the menu.  I'll be back soon for dinner.

This time round I saw David Hawksworth but didn't approach him for a photo....maybe the next time.

Check out my first visit to Hawksworth  and their summer tasting menu.

801 West Georgia Street
Vancouver, BC V6C
(604) 682-5566
Hawksworth on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Napa Valley - Day 2

I'm so behind in my posting so here goes the next part of my SF trip.
Day 2 in Napa and we had a very early start.  All the stops today required appointments.  Call ahead. First stop Pride Mountain Vineyards at 9am.  Luckily we didn't have a full brekkie as it was a very windy road leading up to Pride Mountain Vineyards.  I don't travel well and get a bit car sick at times.

Once you get there though, you get a beautiful beautiful view.  Totally worth the drive.
Pride Mountain Vineyards Tasting Room
View from Pride Mountain Patio
Wine Caves
Private Dining Room with a BBQ on the patio
It was a small group of 10 and our guide walked us around the property explaining and tasting as we went.  It was a very cosy set up.

Behrens Family Vineyards
One of the most unique wine tasting experience ever.  Thoroughly enjoyable and I loved the reds though I usually mostly drink whites.
BB going after the chicken on the patio of Behrens  
Lucy - short for Lucifer (there was a wine named after Lucy Behrens & Hitchcocks Chien Lunatique)
Lucy sat next to D right through the wine tasting listening intently.  I think he/she likes Shiraz.
Wine Tasting Room
Very quaint set up don't you think?

Cody greets you at the entrance then follows you in then slumps lazily in the shade.
Making friends
Gorgeous Views
Good place to kick back and enjoy the views. 

It was an enjoyable day.  D outdid himself in planning the schedule :)

We finished off the day with a wonderful dinner at Redd.  (See earlier post)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant - St Helena

The Culinary Institute of America is an impressive building north of St Helena - it is hard to miss.  It makes a good stop for lunch in between wine tastings.

Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant St Helena

We sat out on the patio as the weather was lovely for early May.  Walk through the restaurant and you can see the open kitchen and the various stations preparing food and desserts.

Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant Chicken Confit
Crispy Chicken Confit frisée salad, warm bacon vinaigrette, mushrooms, poached egg
The chicken skin on the chicken confit was indeed crispy and melted in your mouth.  Nice contrast to the fresh green salad.  It is the first time I've had chicken confit and I was impressed.  Much lighter tasting than duck confit - perfect for a summery day.
Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant Bouillbaise
Greystone Bouillabaisse market fish and shellfish, tomato fennel broth, Super‐Premium olive oil aioli  
The seafood in the bouillabaisse was super fresh and done just right.  The broth was tasty and I mopped it all up with the bread. 

We eyed the dessert sampler but we didn't have time to try - maybe the next time.

Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant
2555 Main St
Saint Helena, CA 94574
(707) 967-1010
Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Redd - Yountville

Redd Spring Salad Tasting Menu
Spring Salad
Redd Yellowfin Tuna Tatare
Yellowfin tuna tartare, asian pear, chili oil, fried rice, cilantro
Redd Skate
I think this was the skate - my favourite dish
Rich flavours of saffron, curry and chorizo 
Redd Lobster Risotto
Carnaroli risotto, maine lobster, meyer lemon confit, truffle oil
Redd Glazed Pork Belly
Glazed pork belly, apple purée, burdock, soy caramel
Redd Duck Confit
Crisp duck confit, lentils, foie gras meatballs, späetzle
Redd Lamb
Redd Steak and Shortribs
Prime new york steak and shortribs, salt potatoes, bacon and spring onion ragout
Redd Cheesecake
Redd Trio of Chocolate
Trio of Chocolate Desserts - A chocolate lovers dream
Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Sorbet and a Chocolate Drink
Left me wanting more
The 5 course tasting menu is decided by the chef and we were a bit hesitant in choosing the tasting menu as we had a few dishes that we wanted to try and weren't sure if they would be included.  We asked the server if the pork belly, lobster risotto and scallops were on the tasting menu and he confirmed that they were.  We also asked if he could arrange dishes that didn't have cheese in it for me.  Not an issue there.  OK.  Tasting menu it was then. 

The restaurant was crowded when we were seated.   It was very noisy as there were a couple of big groups.  The decor of the restaurant is very modern and minimalistic with a lot of wood and mirrors which I liked but it doesn't help with the noise.  Redd does have a nice patio to sit out on a nice summer night which probably won't get as noisy.  

The first course arrived promptly but we waited 20-25min in between the first and second course - way too long a wait for my taste.  The server did notice and went to check on our second course for us.  

When the second course finally arrived, the skate was crispy on the outside and buttery smooth on the inside, the broth was very flavourful with clam, saffron, curry and chorizo.  Definitely a special dish with very unique flavours.  I like. 

Another boo boo was that they served me cheesecake for dessert when I had specifically asked for no cheese in my menu.  No worries - I swapped D for his chocolate dessert.

Generally all the dishes were very well executed.  It was nice that we both had different menus each so that we could try a lot of dishes.  I enjoyed the meal but for the long wait and the boo boo with my dessert.  Plus they didn't serve any scallops which they said would be included in the tasting menu.   No doubt Chef Reddington is very talented and it shows in the food and menu but it is the little things that make the meal memorable and special don't you think?

6480 Washington St
YountvilleCA 94599
Redd on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 20, 2011

Creme Brulee

Creme brulee - so smooth, so rich and oohhh so decadent.  I tried making creme brulee before with a recipe that called for a water bath while baking.   However being the clutz that I am, I made a mess while carrying the hot tray of ramekins and water.  I didn't care to repeat that again and was so happy when I came across Justin Quek's recipe on  Chubby Hubby that didn't require a water bath.  In the end,  I thought this was a very easy and impressive recipe.

Creme BruleeCreme Brulee

creme brulee

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My Vancouver


Yesterday was a sad day for Vancouver and it was not reflective of the Vancouver that I've come to know and love.  I sat yesterday mesmerized and unbelieving as I saw the riots unfold in downtown Vancouver on TV after the loss of the Stanley Cup (Ice Hockey).  

Vancouver is beautiful.  The first time I set eyes on this city,  I was impressed - mountains, sea and so much greenery, just so much natural beauty.   The people are friendly, welcoming and cosmopolitan.  Things seem to run efficiently enough.  Lots of great food and produce too.  

This is the Vancouver I know.

Today, citizens are rallying together, cleaning up voluntarily and slowly returning the downtown back to business.   How long will it take to heal?

Granville during Olympics
Downtown during the Winter Olympics
Vancouver Lionsgate Bridge

Canucks Fin

Vancouver Lonsdale Quay

Cherry Blossoms Vancouver
Cherry Blossoms
Gorgeous flowers in Spring
Autumn Leaves Vancouver
Autumn Leaves

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie

Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie serves up tapas style Asian fusion. Since the portions are small, they are great for sharing.  Perfect for a party of 4 but if your party is larger you would probably have to order 2 of everything.   The space is long and tables are tightly packed.  A very quaint and cosy setting - hip chinois yet once seated it felt like I was sitting in my grandma's dining room in the 1970s,  old-style chopsticks, spoons, bowls, wooden tables and chairs - a real blast from the past.
Tofu Duet -Fried hot with sweet soy, garlic sauce and water chestnuts / 
Chilled with scallion, soy, cilantro, pickled chilies and sesame oil
Sticky Rice Cakes - Stir fried julienned pork, salted mustard greens, wood ear mushrooms and bamboo shoots 
Crispy Pork Belly -Sautee of soybeans, Asian cucumber, chili and garlic, 
pickled red onion, tamarind, star anise tomato sauce
The pork belly wasn't as crispy as I had imagined but the pickled onion went well with the tangy sauce and pork belly.
Shao Bing - Crunchy sesame flatbread with braised pork butt, Asian pear, pickled onion and mustard greens
I liked the crunchy, fragrant sesame flatbread and thought that the combination of the pork, the Asian pear and pickled onion were very unusual. I throughly enjoyed it and wanted more than my fair share.
Manila Clams -Butter, Shaoxing, ginger, scallion, rau ram, and cilantro
Dan Dan Noodle
After the meal, we were too full for dessert.  It was a nice treat and most of the dishes were tasty for Asian fusion but not outstanding.  I will however come back for the Shao Bing and the fried rice (didn't get a picture of this).  

Bao Bei was already full and bustling when we were seated at 6.  When we left, the queue was out the door.  They don't allow reservations unless it's for a party of 10.  Best to eat early to avoid the queue or have a drink at the bar while waiting.  I hear their cocktails are pretty good.  

There is also the Chinatown Night Market in summer which has started up so if you get fed up of waiting for a table - try out the chinese street food outside to satisfy your hunger in the meanwhile. 
Chinatown Night Market
BaoBei Chinese Brasserie
163 Keefer St
(604) 688 0876
Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie on Urbanspoon


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