Happy Friday, friends!
Whew. How did that week go for you? Mine was a blur. I’ve been out and about, and in other words, I’ve returned to Waterloo, Ontario – with my dad! He will be here for 12 days in total. I’m so lucky to have him around for another week! On Monday morning, we rented a car from the local Enterprise, braved the cold a couple hundred times, bought essentials from Costco, had brunch…
… enjoyed lattes and hot chocolate from Princess Cafe, bought a printer from Staples, and went grocery shopping at Sobeys. Dad stocked up on instant noodles, microwaveable chicken strips and fish strips, nacho chips, and croissants.
Mom’s been a busy lady back in BC! One day, she made a roast beef with vegetables and served it with mashed potatoes and gravy. This was a popular meal, she reports 🙂 Another day, Mom made sauteed tofu with vegetables, chicken drumsticks, cucumber, and yellow turmeric rice. Dessert was cream puffs with berry, honey, and toasty coconut.
Mom also hopped onto the baking bandwagon – here, she tried a new recipe for lemon berry muffins. These look so delicious! Wish I could try some, too.
That’s just what’s been up lately! I didn’t post much during my winter break semi-hiatus, but I have definitely been eating. Here are some of the most memorable meals that I enjoyed out and about in Vancouver.
Lunch at Ajisai Sushi with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandma
Waterloo suffers from a serious sushi famine, hence my choice of Japanese food as my first meal off the plane! I originally wanted to enjoy a meal at Kishimoto Sushi on Commercial Drive, but they were closed for lunch. Instead, we lined up in Ajisai Sushi Bar for over half an hour. Poor Seline whose wisdom teeth had just been removed, skipped breakfast as usual and was one grumpy girl.
The Seafood Salad is a very popular dish. The shrimp was my favourite part – chilled, fresh, with the perfect flavor. Cornflakes were sprinkled on top for texture, but I found this quite bizarre! The sushi was quite tasty as well. We ordered lots of California rolls for Seline!
We also enjoyed some pressed sushi – salmon and eel, both of which were yummy. There was a hint of wasabi in the rice, which grossed Dad out. But the fish was top-notch and super fresh. The black cod was seared, and one of the most tender filets I’ve ever enjoyed in my life. The charred outsides were crispy and flavourful, but the interior was so soft and melted in my mouth. My family and I loved the black cod so much that we ordered a second one, even before finishing the first.
Ajisai was great, but wasn’t worth the 30-minute wait. I much prefer Kishimoto Sushi for high-quality sushi and their much better presentation. 🙂
Lunch at Railtown Café with Hollie and Jia
The salad I ordered at Railtown Café was, without a doubt, the best salad I’ve ever eaten in my life. I had a dark hot chocolate and a roasted winter squash soup with that, but none of the sides even came close to the amazing salad.
Hollie enjoyed the popular chicken club sandwich and a hot chocolate, while Jia nommed on the spinach salad with a peppermint mocha.
My salad was a foodie’s dream: topped with avocado, sliced grilled chicken, pesto baby mozzarella, beets, feta, squash chips (delicious!), and toasted pumpkin seed vinaigrette over a bed of arugula. I savoured every bite.
My supposedly “dark” hot chocolate wasn’t very dark, and wasn’t very rich. Keep in mind, though, I do compare every hot chocolate to the rich l’Africaine (basically, a pot of melted chocolate) that my sister and I enjoyed in Angelina’s Tea Salon in Paris. I believe this one was made with water and dark chocolate powder, because the bottom of the cup was a little grainy and powdery. I finished the whole thing, though, and enjoyed it 🙂
For dessert, we split a peanut butter crunch bar three ways and nibbled at pinches of this hazelnut chocolate muffin, which had an excellent muffin top and great cinnamon flavor. Hazelnut and chocolate was a beautiful flavor combination, and with cinnamon, this muffin was top-notch. The PB crunch bar was too yummy for words, and I kind of need an endless supply of these guys in my life.
I will absolutely be back, hopefully with someone with a car who can drive us past the sketchy downtown Eastside 😉
Breakfast at Beaucoup Bakery with Mom
I think I have the world’s best Mom. Ever since visiting Beaucoup Bakery late last spring, I couldn’t get this amazing patisserie out of my mind. I honestly think this place creates croissants that rivals the best of Paris, France.
On the table today: one almond croissant, one apple pie croissant, one hot chocolate for me, and a coffee for Mom. We asked for the croissants to be cut in equal halves so we could both try both. Mom is my food friend with food benefits. Does that make sense? 😉
My hot chocolate was fairly thick, with a hint of sea salt that cut through the sweet richness of the cocoa powder and milk. It was a little foamy on top and had the cutest, um, heart (?) on top. The hot chocolate was absolutely amazing, but I need more of these croissants ASAP!
Lunch at Joey with Natasha, Medha, and Sally
I can’t believe it’s been half a year since I’ve seen these girls! We’ve been friends throughout high school and went through so many highs and lows together – from crying in Calculus (seriously… multiple times. Mostly me.), to slicing shark reproductive organs and bouncing their eyeballs on the floor, to making dance videos in a locked bus on a July afternoon (AKA dying of heatstroke). We even spent prom night together. 🙂 Oh, good times.
L to R: Natasha, Sally, Medha, me! 🙂
This was the Ahi Tuna Sashimi Salad, which my friend Vivian recommended. Vivian works full-time at Joey Coquitlam, where she specializes in desserts. I can’t believe Vivian is my age – she has 50 times the talent when it comes to creating beautiful and delicious food.
My salad was fresh and much bigger than it looks. The greens were packed in here, there was an entire half avocado, and toppings were hearty with plenty of roasted salted peanuts, tomatoes, mangoes, and crispy noodles. The wasabi sauce was fresh and gave the seared fish lots of zing. I just wish the iceberg lettuce could have been replaced with arugula or spinach, and I found the salad slightly overdressed.
One of their most famous desserts is the apple pie: hand-rolled pastry crust with caramelized apple, nuts, and maple ice cream. We asked for this to be cut into quarters to share, and that was just the right size. The maple ice cream had a prominent maple syrup flavour, and the buttery crust was the best part. With caramel sauce and melty ice cream on the pastry, this dessert was to die for.
The chocolate cake was sweet, decadent, and rich to the maximum. This was also split into quarters at the table, and we divided the vanilla ice cream as well. The raspberries provided great contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate. The middle was gooey perfection and I’m still drooling just by looking at that picture. Mmmmm.
Brunch at Wendel’s with Mom, Aunt Mimi, and Uncle Charles
Mimi and Charles have been telling me about Wendel’s for over a year, but since I spent the summer volunteering at the aquarium, visiting the Sunshine Coast with my family, and living in Paris with my sister, we never got the chance to go. They raved so much about the famous French onion soup and coziness of the place that I made this the #1 place to visit during my return to BC.
Wendel’s is located in Fort Langley, the historic part of town. It’s on such a quaint street that reminds me of uptown Waterloo. Wendel’s is connected to its own little bookstore filled with all sorts of journals, colouring books, and novels. We arrived at 9:00, when it opened, and the seats were practically full already!
Mom enjoyed a blueberry scone and coffee, and was kind enough to share parts of her scone with me. Warm and buttery, this was one of the best scone’s I’ve had. Charles ordered French onion soup with a turkey sandwich on multigrain bread.
Mimi’s brunch was also French onion soup, with a grilled cheese with red peppers on multigrain. She shared some of her soup with me, and oh my goodness, I can see why it’s their signature dish. Creamy cheese, rich and dark onions with a flavourful broth, I absolutely loved this dish and will be ordering it next time for sure.
My brunch dish of choice is almost always eggs benedict. See Case 1, Case 2, and Case 3. Just can’t get enough! Do you guys like eggs benedict for brunch? I ALWAYS order it because poached eggs and Hollandaise are something that intimidate me too much to make at home, and I have a serious soft spot for biscuits and gooey egg yolk. This one had smoked salmon and beautifully poached eggs on English muffin, with potatoes. I wish they served freshly-baked biscuits instead of English muffin for their bennies, but this was still quite yummy.
Dessert time! Wendel’s has a massive selection of sweet treats, from decadent ones to desserts that are gluten-free and vegan. We ordered four for the four of us, and one of them was the lemon meringue in a jar which was exclusively for Charles. One time, he ate TWO jars in one sitting after lunch – that’s how popular and delicious these sweets are.
L: Coffee chocolate ganache cake
M: Salted caramel chocolate brownie cheesecake – this was my favourite 🙂
R: Bee sting cake with Bavarian cream, vanilla sponge, honey, coconut and almond topping – the contrast between layers here was incredible. Would also order this again! Would be awesome with a mug of tea or hot chocolate.
I love Wendel’s, and so did everyone at our table. We are already making plans to return for lunch next time!
Lunch at Heirloom Vegetarian with Rachel
Do you guys know Rachel? She’s a food blogger extraordinaire, and my Vancouver food adventure buddy. We’ve enjoyed brunch together at Matchstick Coffee and Lebanese food at Nuba. I’m sure there’s another place we checked out together, but I can’t seem to remember it now! Anyways, you MUST take a look at Rachel’s blog at http://www.momentswithrae.com and be prepared to be WOWed by her stunning photography and editing skills.
Heirloom has both a vegetarian menu and a vegan menu, and an extensive list of drinks. I started with the London Fog latte, which was unsweetened and served with a little cup of cane sugar. I was a little disappointed because although we arrived before noon, it wasn’t until 1:00 until our food came. Not a big deal, though, because we got lots of talking done!
Here’s is Rachel’s Heirloom Scramble, with organic Saskatchewan quinoa, green onion, leeks, oven roasted tomato, kale, artichoke hearts,
rennet free goat cheese, topped with scrambled free range eggs tofu and salsa verde. She made a couple subs but apparently there were still bits of goat cheese in there. 😦 I tried some of her scrambled tofu and was pleasantly surprised. I have no idea how they got tofu to taste and feel “eggy”, but I’m sure nutritional yeast and turmeric were involved. Yummy!
I was originally going for the Mushroom Hash, with caramelized onion, arugula, kale, scrambled tofu, bell peppers, and hash browns on a roasted leek puree. Unfortnately, they had just sold out and I settled on the California Hash, which came with organic Saskatchewan quinoa nut fritters, collard greens, yams, bell peppers, and hash browns, on creamy cilantro sauce, topped with seahorse dressing and pea sprouts.
“Settled on” would be the wrong words to describe this. After my first bite, I was completely blown away. Beautifully-cooked vegetables and fresh, flavourful sauce made a filling meal to remember. The quinoa nut fritters were like chewy falafels with a glorious crust, and reminded me of a cross between zucchini fritters from Paris and chickpea falafels from Thrive Energy lab. The green sauce underneath was made of cilantro and walnut, and the yellow spots are a vegan Hollandaise. I demolished this bowl and couldn’t get enough of those fritters, the sauce, and the yams. Mmmmm.
The dessert of the day was underwhelming for me. It sounded great theoretically: vegan chocolate brownie with dates, walnuts, and almonds, and an avocado chocolate ganache served with berries. We asked for this square to be cut in half so we could share, but it turned out to be extremely filling. The “brownie” part itself was very chewy and firm, and the flavor seemed to be “off”. The avocado chocolate ganache was decent, though, and I was disappointed to see sliced apples on my plate instead of berries. I would not order this again and much, much prefer peanut butter-chocolate chip Larabars or black bean brownies for their texture and flavor.
Thank you Rachel, for a delicious meal! What is our next destination? 😉
Dinner at The Flying Pig with Mom, Dad, Seline, and Grandpa
Have any of you seen Cirque du Soleil before? I saw one show in Montreal, Quebec in the summer of 2014 and another one right before this lovely dinner at The Flying Pig. Kooza was a funny and mega-entertaining show, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the performers and their incredible stunts. The sounds (live music!), costumes, and pure skill was unbelievable. I can’t even describe how good the show was – both this one, and the one I saw in Montreal. If you haven’t had the chance to watch Cirque du Soleil, I’m begging you to! What the human body can accomplish simply mesmerizes me every time.
Back to the food! Rachel introduced me to The Flying Pig and raved about the brunches she’s enjoyed here, so I knew that we had to stop by after the show. It certainly did not disappoint! My favourite bite was goat cheese + caramelized walnut + beet + arugula, but the seared cod was tender and equally delicious. I’m going to have to try brunch here next time!
- Beet salad with arugula and goat cheese, candied walnuts
- Pulled pork poutine
- Chicken breast with asparagus and mashed potatoes
- Seared cod with spring vegetables
Lunch at Olive Garden Bellingham with Dad, Seline, Uncle Charles and Aunt Mimi
One of the highest-priority things on my “To-Do in BC” list was go to Trader Joe’s! And for one reason only – I wanted a jar of TJ’s SunButter. Thanks, Jack, for getting me totally addicted to the stuff! Sunflower butter is so dang delicious on bananas, in oatmeal, and on yogurt. So we drove to the states, shopped, bought clothes, got my precious jar of SunButter (which, unfortunately, had to STAY in BC because of airplane regulations), and enjoyed a meal at Olive Garden, the usual.
I started with some chicken and gnocchi soup. Guys, I LOVE gnocchi! Have you tried it before? I’ve only ever had it a couple times from Olive Garden, and once from Wild Rice, and I enjoy ever single chewy, creamy, doughy bite. Next on my must-eat list = sweet potato gnocchi!
Dad had a customizable pasta bowl which included cavatappi pasta, crispy chicken, a spicy meat sauce, and parmesan.
Mimi and I decided to go halfsies, and I ordered something from their “Lighter Fare” menu. Tilapia with shrimp and a butter, garlic, and white wine sauce with lots of herbs, served with broccoli. Mimi enjoyed the smoked mozzarella manicotti, and we shared. 🙂 The filling in her manicotti was delicious, and I loved my tilapia. The broccoli was really unsatisfying. Chopped into tiny florets and boiled for probably 10+ minutes, this broccoli was mushy hospital food at best. Still, broccoli is broccoli and I ate it all.
Dessert was redeeming! Apple galette with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I really enjoyed the flaky, buttery pastry with the cool ice cream. Would definitely order this dessert again 🙂
Going to TJs, the Bellis Fair mall, and Olive Garden is becoming a yearly tradition for our family! I love it. Do you have any family traditions? 🙂
And, because I have no idea when else to post this – here’s Seline’s favourite recipe for macaroni and cheese. It’s super quick and easy to make, yet decadent and meets all the requirements for comfort food. For added nutrition, try adding some chopped non-hospital-mushy-like broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, asparagus, or mushrooms. You could also go the Whole Foods route and add breadcrumbs to the top, then broiling until they become crispy. Yum!
Seline’s Classic Mac and Cheese
Serves two, or one hungry teenager after school
- 4 oz macaroni
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk and ½ cup cream OR ¾ cup half-and-half and ¼ cup milk
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper, or more to taste
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (can use a mix)
- Boil water, salt heavily, and cook macaroni according to package directions. Set aside.
- Melt butter over medium heat.
- Add flour, salt and pepper. Whisk until well blended.
- Pour milk and cream gradually and stir constantly.
- Bring mixture to a light boil and cook, stirring constantly.
- Reduce heat and cook, stirring constantly, for ten minutes or until thickened.
- Add shredded cheddar cheese and whisk to melt. Simmer until all cheese is melted. Taste the sauce – you can add extra flavourings here: more salt, more pepper, some spices like paprika, garlic, or maybe some Dijon mustard.
- Add cooked macaroni noodles to the saucepan. Stir and toss to coat with cheese sauce.
That is definitely it for today, because I have LOTS of work to get done and things to prepare for next week. Dad and I have plans to tour Toronto for two days – tomorrow and Sunday! – so I need to get ahead with schoolwork. This semester is a busy one for me, as I have seven courses: human physiology, physics, psychology (my favourite course, surprisingly), anatomy + anatomy lab, a clinical practice lab, and French. 🙂
I hope your weekend will be filled with great moments and yummy food as well!