Monday, December 24, 2012

Salsa Recipe

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!!

In my quest to recreate a Carnitas plate at home from scratch,  I had to make salsa from scratch too.   It is easy to do and healthy too!  We tried the Fresh is Best Salsa which was pretty tasty but store bought just doesn't cut it anymore.

Anyone know if I should add chopped garlic too?
All you need to make salsa 

Salsa recipe

3 medium sized on the vine tomatoes or roma seeded and chopped
2 tbsp diced red onion
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 serano pepper
pinch of salt

Mix it all together 2 - 4 hours in advance for the flavours to meld.  I found that it was less spicy and more flavourful a day after.  You can adjust the salt, lime and spiciness to your liking.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Canitas Recipe

Printer Friendly Recipe 
We just got back from a week of Mexican food and Carnitas at every available opportunity - what do I do?  We not only head to Chipotle, which just opened in Vancouver, I crave it so much that I cook up a batch of Carnitas :)  Mexican is my new favourite food.  It's tasty, healthy and easy to cook.  We lost weight eating Mexican on our trip and it definitely wasn't from eating light - never before.! You see why I'm sooo enamoured with Mexican food?


Carnitas, Cilantro Lime Rice, Salsa

Carnitas Burrito



3- 4 lbs pork shoulder collar butt (I used the Sakura Pork cuts from TnT, about 3 pieces)
1 Tbsp oil
3/4 Tbsp salt
1 tsp mexican chilli powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic smashed
2 cups chicken broth (canned chicken stock is also fine)

  1. Salt pork a day a head of time if possible, if not just before searing is fine too.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in dutch oven(I used a 3 1/2 qt).  Sear each side of pork till nicely brown, about 2 min each side.
  3. Pour chicken stock till pork is 3/4 covered.  Simmer on stove top.  Once it is simmering, cover with tin foil and cover with lid.
  4. Heat oven to 300F.   Put the pot on the middle shelf for 2 1/2 - 3 hours till fork tender. 
  5. Drain remaining liquid and shred pork.  
  6. Serve with chilli lime rice, burrito, beans, salsa or do a carnitas hash with a sunny side egg to top it off.  
Keep watching this space for recipes for salsa, corn salsa and cilantro lime rice ala Chipotle.

By the way, this is definitely not an  authentic way of cooking carnitas but it is a much, much healthier way. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chipotle Mexican Grill - Vancouver

My first taste of Chipotle was in Seattle mid this year and I was hooked! I dream of it... Fast food Mexican style - it's healthy too if you skip the sour cream, chips and cheese.  Anyways, when I heard that it was coming to Vancouver mid this year,  I was over the moon and was disappointed when they postponed their opening ... but finally now they are open!!!
chipotle mexican grill

Even though we just got back from San Diego and LA and had Mexican food for almost a week, we checked Chipotle out today and at 1145am, the queue was already at the door and by the time we left at 12ish,  the queue was out the door.  Don't get put off by the queue, even though it looked long, it moved pretty quickly.   There is plenty of space to sit and eat and even though the queue was long, the seating never really filled up.

I went with the buritto bowl and D had the buritto.  First off, you get to choose between cilantro lime rice(there is a white rice version and a healthier version),  we both choose the white rice one and we both went with Carnitas (Mexican version of pulled pork).  You can choose from chicken, steak, barbacoa and a vegetarian version too. You also get a choice of pinto or black beans and the various salsas, cheese and sour cream.  It was exactly as I remembered.   A bit tangy, a bit salty, pork that just melts in your mouth.  All D said was "YUMMM" and promptly devoured his burrito.
burrito bowl chipotle vancouver

burrito chipotle vancouver

My only thought was the portion size was not as generous as in the US....perhaps they were trying to make the food last as one of the managers said that they might run out of food  due to the overwhelmingly positive response to the opening and they were actively sourcing for more.  Chipotle has their own guidelines when sourcing for food so I guess they can't just go to Costco to get more.

Whatever it is,  I still dream of Chipotle and I'm so happy that I don't have to drive down to Seattle to satisfy my cravings :)

If you want to recreate Carnitas at home, it's very simple, click here for the recipe.

p.s All the Chipotle outlets are company owned and I think that is how they keep their food so consistent.

818 Howe Street (next to Chapters)
Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Crispy Salted Dark Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie

Crispy Salted Dark Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookie ....Now that's a real mouthful.  A really yummy mouthful.  After I took the first bite,  I knew this recipe was a keeper!  Crisp, chocolatey and buttery with a hint of salt....cookie heaven.  However if you like your oatmeal cookies chewy, this is definitely NOT the recipe for you.  

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated 

1 cup AP flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp table salt
14 tbsp butter, slightly softned (198g or 1 3/4 sitcks)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cup rolled oats
6 oz good quality dark chocolate, chopped (I used Callebaut)
6 oz dried cranberries
1/2 tsp sea salt ( I used pink sea salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling on top)

  1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Link baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and table salt in a bowl. 
  2. Beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl with spatula then add egg and vanilla and beat until incorporated.  Scrape down bowl.  Add flour mixture and gradually mix till just incorporated.  Gradually add oats, dark chocolate and cranberries and mix till well incorporated.
  3. Divide dough into 48 equal portions about 1 tbsp each. Roll between palms into balls then place on baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Using fingertips, gently press down each ball to about 3/4 inch thickness
  4. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on each cookie.  
  5. Bake until deep golden brown, about 13-16 min.
  6. Transfer to wire rack to cool
The dough keeps well frozen too so if you want to make ahead roll dough into 1 inch diameter rolls.  Cut into about 3/4 inch thickness and bake it for a bit longer if you take it directly out of the freezer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ramen Jinya

After months of gorgeous weather, the rainy season is upon us again.  Nothing better than a hot bowl of steamy noodles and soup for lunch.  If you're working right by the library on Robson, Ramen Jinya is a good place to check out.   It is a pretty small place so get there early to avoid a queue.  It ain't as good as Hokkaido Santouka Ramen but it's pretty good, nearby and it's comfort food for me in cold weather.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Meat and Bread

Sorry I've been MIA for awhile. I've been busy setting up my online jewellery store, Brownie Sparkles (  

I must be one of the last few people to try Meat and Bread.  I heard of it awhile back but only made the trip down to Gas Town after an espisode on Triple D where Guy Fieri chowed down on a yummy porchetta sandwich.  
Fitting interiors and communal tables

Friday, August 31, 2012

Edible Canada

D and I had gone for brunch on the weekend at Edible Canada previously and loved the food there so when we I took my mum to Granville Island, we decided to have a mid afternoon snack there.  I was super disappointed with the food and the only thing that was good was the fries.   The seafood in the  soup wasn't fresh and the salmon fish and chips was soggy.  My poor mum, she was looking forward to a good snack.  Anyone else had a bad experience there or did I just go on an off day? 

Edible Canada
Granville Island
1596 Johnston St
Vancouver BC V6H 3R9
(604) 682 6681
Edible Canada at the Market on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Harmony Arts Fest 2012 - Feastro & Dunn's

Harmony Arts Festival is back again running from Aug 3 - Aug 12.  We went last year and thouroughly enjoyed ourselves so this year we went to check it out again.  They have 2 stages with live music and lots of talented jewllery designers and artists showing their work.  I'm also happy to say that they have added more food vendors this year so that there is a bit more variety :)  Most of the vendors were the same as last year but they added a couple, the ones that caught my attention were Feastro, Faux Real and Holy Crepe. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Butchart Gardens - Victoria

If you're based in Vancouver, Butchart Gardens can be a day trip to Victoria or if you'd like you can spend a day or 2 longer to wander around Victoria.

For my mum and I, we took off to Tsawwassen and caught the 11am ferry to Swartz Bay.  Check BC Ferries for more details.  Not much line up as it was a weekday :)  Mum usuallly gets seasick but the ferry was so stable she didn't need the seasick pills.  The ferry ride over is quite picturesques and on a nice sunny day, it's nice to sit out on the deck.  Sometimes you can even catch a talk about the marine life along the BC coast out on the deck.

Mum's very excited about Butchart Gardens, it's her 2nd time here and we spent 4 1/2 hours walking through.  It was nice and leisurely and you really get to drink in all that beauty.  Check out the photos.

Monday, August 6, 2012

VanDusen Gardens - Spring

I actually think VanDusen Garden in Vancouver rivals Butchart Gardens and you don't have to take that expensive ferry ride over to Victoria...but hey Butchart Gardens is definitely a sight to behold especially in full bloom.   What do you think?
Vandusen Gardens Vancouver

Friday, July 27, 2012

Queen Elizabeth Park and Seasons In the Park

My mum loves flowers and since she was here in spring - I planned to take her to QE Park, Van Dusen and Butchart gardens.  It was a great time for rhododendruns which were in full bloom.  After a nice leisurely walk around Queen Elizabeth Park and taking many many photos with my mum, of my mum and a lot of the flowers, we headed to Seasons in the Park for some lunch.  We worked up quite an appetite but decided to share an appetizer of mussels so that we would have space for dessert later.  The mussels were very fresh and we soaked up most of the delicious sauce with the bread.  


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sala Thai

My parents visited Vancouver almost 20 years ago and they've always raved about this little Thai place owned by a nice Thai couple which they found downtown that served the best Pad Thai in the world.  Of course when my mum finally came to visit recently, we went in search of the little Thai place.  All we had to go on was that it was near the Vancouver Hotel and that it was uphill once you came out of the hotel - ok so D searched Urbanspoon and came up with Sala Thai.
Tom Yam Soup with Prawns

Monday, June 11, 2012

Bene & Chef Hung dessert

Bene is now my new favourite Japanese place just for a quick fix of some sashimi and rolls.  In the 3 weeks that my mum visited, we had dinner there 3 times.  They have a very wide menu but we stuck to what we liked - their rolls!  The must try for me was the Lions Gate roll especially since I like tempura prawns, chopped scallop, asparagus and crab meat all combined into 1 roll.  I also liked that there wasn't too much rice in their rolls, just a thin layer to hold all those ingredients togehter and I could eat so much more rolls too! 
Toro Sashimi

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sushi Bella

It was a rainy Saturday night and I'm glad that I made a booking as Sushi Bella was full and there was a short queue at the door.   We ordered the usual suspects - toro sashimi and a couple of rolls.  The sashimi was very fresh and the rolls were well executed.  I especially liked the crunchy gogo roll which had tempura prawns and tempura yams with extra bits of crunchies to top it all off.  All in all an enjoyable meal.
Toro Sashimi
Toro Sashimi
Crunchy gogo Roll and Spider Roll 
Gangster Roll and Bella Roll
Sushi Bella
152 Lonsdale Ave
North Vancouver, BC V7M2E8
(604) 987-8633
 Sushi Bella on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 1, 2012

Daikichi Sushi

This used to be my go to place when I was craving a quick japanese meal as the food is quite decent but poor service drove me to try out Bene instead and now that is where I go when I crave japanese food and it's a hop and a skip away from Chef Hung which serves the most delicious shaved ice dessert (green tea and red bean) - a perfect way to end the meal.

Agedashi Tofu
Karaage Chicken
Karaage Chicken
Crabmeat Mayo Salad

Tempura Prawn
Daikichi Sushi

1739 Marine Drive 
West Vancouver, BC V7V1J3
Daikichi Sushi on Urbanspoon

Friday, May 4, 2012


Stepping into Thierry on a Saturday night was warm and inviting,  you can hear the buzz and smell the coffee.  Plus the delectable selection of pastries is enough to make your mouth water even if you're still full from dinner.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Terracotta Modern Chinese

After a yummy brunch at Au Petit Chavignol, I was still pretty full come dinner.  Luckily, it was tapas style modern chinese food in bite sized, manageable portions.  Terracotta Modern Chinese is located at the edge of gastown and we managed to get rockstar parking right in front of the restaurant. 
Imperial Pepper Prawns

Friday, April 13, 2012

Au Petit Chavignol

I signed a confidentiality agreement for a friends stagette/ hen night - no photos or stories of what happened or else ... but I can safely share what we ate that day.  Part 1 - Lunch at Au Petit Chavignol, Part II - Dinner at Terracotta Modern Chinese,  Part III - Dessert at Thierry.  Poor bride to be - piled on the calories that day.

I was eyeing the Pig Ass Sandwich (pork confit sandwich) but was told that they didn't serve it during Saturday lunch - oh well, next time round.  I settled for the cheese burger instead and added bacon which was perfectly crisp on each bite...mmmm.

The other thing on the menu that I eyed was the crispy pork belly eggs benny - J had it and she said it was pretty good.  The others enjoyed their meals too.

Friday, April 6, 2012

900 West Lounge - Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

I knew I was in for a treat when D said let's got to Hotel Vancouver for lunch.  I usually take a cursory look at the menu, then order the same thing - prime roast beef sandwich - can you blame me?  The tasty beef just melts in my mouth leaving me craving for more ....Always.  I can't bring myself to order anything else here.  
Prime Rib Roast Beef Sandwich Hotel Vancouver

Prime Rib Roast Beef Sandwich

900 West Lounge
900 West Georgia Street
The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Vancouver, BC V6C2W6
 900 West Lounge (at Fairmont Hotel) on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hide Yamamoto - II - Singapore

After D left Singapore, I stayed on for a couple of days and started craving Japanese.   Below is a mixture of their lunch sets -  a salad, some sashmi or mackerel, a rice bowl and dessert.  All fresh and tasty.  I especially liked their sorbets which was a perfect end to the meal.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Moving Masterpiece Based on Qing Ming Shang He Tu

In case all you think what we're only doing in Singapore is just eating, well you're probably right.  We did try to take in some culture by going to the Moving Masterpiece exhibition - The Song Dynasty as Living Art.  This exhibition is based on a painting called "Qing Ming Shang He Tu" which was drawn in the Song Dynasty by Zhang Ze Duan, a imperial court artist in the 12th century.  The original painting measures 5.28m long while the exhibition featured a 128m by 6.5m animated scroll.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Villa Zolitude Food - Phuket Part 2

Sampling of the food at the hotel since it was quite a drive out to restaurants so we ate at the hotel most nights.  Thanks goodness the Thai food was decent!
Villa Zolitude Waffles
Waffles at the breakfast buffet.  Mango - models own.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Villa Zolitude - Phuket Part 1

A week of bliss in Phuket - everyone asked - what are you going to do in Phuket for a week?  Eat and relax?  We were just going to wing it and decide when we got there.  I love Thai food and it seems pretty difficult to get authentic Thai food in Vancouver.  

We stayed at Villa Zolitude in one of their grand pool villas on the top level.   I love the layout of the 2-storey villa, bedroom upstaris as you enter and the pool, deck, outdoor shower and TV room downstairs.  Everything was pretty well thought out.  However, this property isn't brand new and you know how everything in the tropics just wears down faster.  We also had a resident "chichak" or local lizard sharing our room.

Though the resort was pretty far from everything, service was very personal and the dining room served pretty decent Thai food - good enough for me :)  Check out the next post for food photos.

Public beach - 25min drive away

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sea Canoe Adventures - John Gray's Phuket

During our stay in Singapore, we took off for a week to Phuket which is about a 2 hour flight from Singapore.  It's one of my favourite islands to visit - plenty of resorts to choose from, decent infrastructure, lots of activities and of course plenty of beaches.  

Warning - tons of photos in this post as I had such a great time.  This was a sea canoe trip starting at mid day till evening called Hong by Starlight    I'll let the photos speak for themselves.  It really made my trip to Phuket memorable besides spending time with D of course :)  Anyone has other activities to recommend in Phuket?
John Gray's Sea Canoe Brownie in Cave

Phuket Lagoon

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese - II - Singapore

Chinese New Year was just round the corner and every Chinese restaurant in Singapore will serve up a variation of what we call "lou hei","yushang" or prosperity toss.  There is usually radish, carrots, pickles, sesame seeds, lime, cinnamon, pepper and plum sauce just to name a few.  Each ingredient has a special meaning bringing luck and good fortune...but that explanation requires a dedicated post someday as there are so many ingredients.   The "lou hei" at Imperial Treasures was pretty tasty.  I always enjoy this treat during the new year.
Imperial Treasure Lou Hei
Lou Hei

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Macaron Day

How did you spend Macaron Day?  I hope you had some macarons.  Since it is Spring Break in Vancouver, I spent the day with my 3 nieces baking macarons.   We did maple buttercream, vanilla buttercream and chocolate mint - nothing fancy like Pierre Herme flavours.  12 trays of macaron shells and 6 boxes of macarons - now that is macaron heaven.  We had a good time.  I get to have fun with them, then send them home on a sugar high.  :)  My nieces tried this recipe for the first time and look how it turned out.

Piped macaron shells


Want to try your hand at it too?


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