Café Portrait

Here is where the specific categories I’ve created for this website keep getting blurred.

Where do you put coffee and eye candy?

Photo: d. king

Unique, unexpected, creative, inspiring…Art with a side of Coffee.

An establishment like Café Portrait in Vancouver’s West End is so much more than just a place to grab a coffee or croissant. Sidenote: the pistachio croissant is the best I’ve tried.  It’s also a breakfast/brunch spot and an art gallery unlike any other.  The entire café is filled with original portraits on the walls, tables…even in a corner with hoodies and coffee cups available for purchase.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

Told you so!

https://www.cafeportrait.com/

1120 Denman Street (close to Davie)

 

 

 

Wining & Dining at Chaberton

We’re pretty spoiled living here in British Columbia.  We’re blessed with a.bun.dance…a very large quantity of something. We live sandwiched between ocean and mountains with no shortage of sports. It doesn’t get much better.

Photo: Paul Lemay

But speaking of sandwiches…Vancouver is a foodie city.  Condé Nast Traveler named it one of the best food cities in the world. And for a lot more than just a sandwich.  More on this some other time.

We’re also known for wine. Of course it’s better to be here to enjoy the full experience as many wineries (and there are a plenty) do not ship outside B.C.  And the few that do, do not ship all their supply as for the most part they’re smaller batch lots. Which in turn makes the tasting experience that much more personal.

For those of you familiar with wines of British Columbia you probably know about the Okanagan wine region – located in southern British Columbia, and one of the warmest regions in all of Canada.

Having said this, we have several local wineries closer to our home in Vancouver.  And bit by bit we’re exploring all of them.  For this post I’ll focus on Chaberton Estate Winery in Langley, B.C. – about 45 minutes outside Vancouver.

Catherine, our knowledgeable wine server
Tribute Fortified Wine

Langley is a part of the Fraser Valley wine region, which produces high-quality and hand-crafted wines with different styles and varieties. The fertile farmland around the city, especially in the Fraser Valley, is home to many historic orchards and fruit fields that grow berries.

The terroir in South Langley is similar to that of some of the best wineries in Northern France, making it the ideal place to grow a range of different cool weather grapes.  The history of the winery dates back to 1975 when the founders, Claude and Inge Violet sold their winery and vineyard in France and decided to start their next chapter in the “New World”.  So I suppose this means we are considered “New World Wine” with still a way to go.  But if you weren’t already aware of this, you might not even be able to tell. 

If wining were a sport we would win the gold medal.  Actually, we kind of treat it like a sport.

Tamara and Me

Tamara (my partner in wine and crime) and I enjoyed a deluxe private tasting last week before a delicious lunch at their award winning French inspired bistro.  Rated by the Vancouver Sun as one of the top 3 al Fresco dining restaurants in Vancouver, the Bacchus Bistro with a vineyard view, serves authentic French cuisine prepared with local ingredients and a West Coast flair. Coupled with a glass of wine, it was superb.  Tamara had Gamay Noir and I had late harvest Chardonnay.

Bacchus Bistro mussels were the best in the west.  The other stuff was pretty good too (Ling cod in a saffron sauce, seafood crepes, scalloped potatoes au gratin).

After our tasting we both agreed that our favourite white is their estate grown Siegerrebe (a grape grown primarily in Germany) – hand picked right from the Langley Estate.  The flavour is bursting with honeydew melon and mango notes, with fresh grapefruit and velvet feel on the palate.  We bought a few bottles from the wine shop on our way out.

On a nice day you can enjoy a tasting flight at an outdoor picnic table.

As we tend to say upon leaving a place we want to re-visit…We’ll be back.”

Chaberton Estate Winery

 

The steaks are high

Although I hardly eat meat anymore I’ve always loved a good grilled rib-eye steak.  It’s my favourite cut.  I recently came across this online article from “The Times of Israel” and found it intriguing.  Thought it worth a share.

Have you heard about this?

An Israeli company announced earlier this month that it has made the world’s first laboratory cultivated rib-eye steak complete with all the flavor and texture of regular meat, minus the harm to animals.

A rib-eye steak produced from meat cells cultivated in a laboratory by Israeli start-up Aleph Farms. (Courtesy: Aleph Farms/Technion Institute of Technology)

Aleph Farms claims its printed meat has all the flavor and texture a butcher can offer but *without harming animals, opening the way for sustainable food production.

*Key Words. I really hope this new method becomes the norm.

See link below for full story by Stuart Winer – The Times of Israel (February 10th, 2021)

https://www.timesofisrael.com/higher-steaks-as-israeli-company-makes-first-lab-cultivated-rib-eye-cut/

Dine-Out

Foodies Unite!

DINE OUT VANCOUVER FESTIVAL

I’m looking forward to this…

Dine Out Vancouver Festival is about community, collaboration, and sharing Vancouver’s culinary story.

Along with the Wines of British Columbia, and a host of other Community Partners, Tourism Vancouver is proud to continue to showcase Vancouver’s culinary talent as well as the many different culinary and cultural experiences that only a city like ours can offer.

It all started with an idea. A group of food and wine enthusiasts got together with the team at Tourism Vancouver back in 2002 and pitched the idea of a fixed-price menu deal to get Vancouverites out and into restaurants during a normally slow time of the year. Fifty-seven restaurants jumped on board and from that stellar yet humble beginning, Dine Out Vancouver Festival has grown into Canada’s largest food and drink festival.

Today, the festival is a promotional umbrella that brings together hundreds of chefs, more than 300 restaurants, wineries, craft breweries, suppliers and more for a month of dining, food-forward virtual events and experiences designed to give culinary enthusiasts the opportunity to taste the best flavours of the city. Dine Out Vancouver Festival also includes special hotel offers to help make an overnight Dine Out experience both safe and relaxing.

For 2021, we wish our out-of-Province and International friends could join us, but unfortunately for now, non-essential travel into Canada is not permitted and not recommended into and within British Columbia. BC Residents, let’s do our part by continuing to follow current public health orders.  Stay local and support local, with your immediate household or bubble in accordance with the latest guidelines.

Runs February 5 – March 7, 2021.

Ask For Luigi

Source: “about”

Check out the participating restaurants and hotels:

https://www.dineoutvancouver.com/restaurants/

Veggie Good Pad Thai

This is one of my favorite Vegetarian dishes.  It hits all the taste sensations; sweet, savory, sour and nutty.

One of the things I love best when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai.  One of the things I like least when ordering Thai food is Pad Thai...when it is not up to par. I’ve been disappointed more than once. So I’ve been making my own.

Making Pad Thai is much easier than you think.  You can tweak ingredients to your own liking and add chicken and/or shrimp to make it non vegetarian or omit the egg to make it vegan.  Experimenting with flavors is best. For me personally, I love an excellent homemade vegetarian Pad Thai using rice noodles.  Depending on my mood I might switch up the veggies or make more or less of the sauce.  So this is kind of a non-recipe recipe.

Before we get started a few basics you should know:

TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST PAD THAI

  1. Prep your ingredients. Have all your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin. Cooking Pad Thai is a very fast process and by having your ingredients prepped and within hands reach, this will ensure that everything goes smoothly.
  2. Continuously stir. I use a huge frying pan (you can also use a wok). You will need to continuously stir veggies throughout the cooking process to ensure even distribution of heat and even cooking.
  3. Do not overcook the noodles. I always pre-cook noodles in a separate pot and add them last (they may appear a bit lumped together if you don’t use them right away, however they do separate once you add them to the pan). Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain. Cook veggies until the sauce dries. The noodles should still be firm and not mushy when you add them to the pan. Fully-cooked noodles will change color from transparent to white. If you are new to stir-frying noodles, I would recommend turning down the heat while cooking, as things move fast.
  4. Serve hot. Pad Thai is best served immediately. Once the noodles turn cold, they will start to lose their texture and flavor.
  5.  Toppings are Everything. Serve Pad Thai topped with fresh bean sprouts, green onion (cut on the bias), cilantro, shaved carrot, chopped peanuts and lime wedges.

Ingredients (for two):

1 package Flat Rice Noodles (you can find ones specifically for Pad Thai)

1 Red Bell Pepper cut into strips

1 Onion thinly sliced

2-3 Garlic cloves, chopped

1 inch chopped fresh Ginger

Extra Firm Tofu cut up into cubes

1 Large Egg, slightly beaten (optional and added to hot pan before noodles)

Handful of Snap Peas

1 Carrot (cut into small chunks)

The above is my go-to but you can also add sliced mushrooms and/or broccoli 

Right before serving add the following:

Handful of Peanuts finely chopped

Fresh Bean Sprouts

Chopped Cilantro

Chopped Green onion

Shredded Carrot

Lime wedges

Cook the noodles according to package directions and drain.

You can use a combination of some or all of the below ingredients for the sauce.  My suggestion is to try what I recommend at first and then adjust according to your taste.  Omit any that don’t sit well with you.  For instance, I don’t always use fish sauce.

These are general guidelines as I don’t have a set recipe.

2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil, 2 Tbsp. Rice vinegar, 1-2 Tbsp. Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce, 1 Tbsp. chili-garlic sauce, 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce (optional), 2 Tbsp. store bought peanut sauce, 1 Tbsp. Lime Juice, 1 Tbsp. tamarind paste (not difficult to find in the Asian section of almost every grocery store).

TO MAKE *SAUCE:

Pour about 2 Tbsps of toasted sesame oil in a large frypan or wok.  When hot. add the garlic, ginger, onion + pepper.  Stir until fragrant.  Add any other veggies (snap peas, carrot, tofu, mushrooms, etc.) and then add your rice vinegar, soy, fish sauce, chili-garlic sauce, tamarind paste and lime juice.  With wooden spoon, stir veggies and coat with sauce.  When all veggies are just about done, add the slightly beaten egg, then the noodles to the pan or wok. 

TOSS together then:

Add peanut sauce to the pan; to taste.  Divide mixture among two plates and top with bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, shredded carrot and chopped peanuts.  Serve with lime wedges.  If you like it spicier add a bit more chili sauce.

Let me know how you like it.

*you can buy store-bought pad thai sauce to try if you like, but some of the ingredients are things like ketchup, corn starch and sugar.  Some people making homemade sauce add ketchup and a bit of peanut butter to the sauce.  I omit ketchup all together (really not necessary) but I like adding some spicy peanut sauce. It’s all up to personal taste.

Cheese Biscuits with Lavender Pepper

Canadian Thanksgiving is this coming Monday, October 12th.  With whomever you decide to celebrate with, be it friends or family in your small group – here is an easy and delicious little recipe to add to your dinner.  Or; just have them for breakfast or afternoon tea.

photo: d. king
This plate belonged to my grandmother.

I used Wensleydale cheese only because I was looking for a good way to use up this cheese which is one of my least favourites, and I love cheese.  This type of cheese is not easy to spread on crackers as it crumbles and it has a slightly sweet taste. However it’s awesome in this recipe. You can also use aged cheddar or a combo of cheddar/parmesan.  I bet Gruyère would be good too.  This recipe was supposed to be scones but I think they turn out more like biscuits.  The lavender pepper is a nice added touch and something I’ll continue to use.

Cheese Biscuits with Lavender Pepper

Ingredients

  • 1¾ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 Tablespoons cold butter, cubed
  • ¾ to 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup shredded *Wensleydale (the one without cranberries) or other cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried, culinary lavender flowers (or use 1 teaspoon fresh lavender flowers)
  • 1 tsp. **Lavender Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a shallow mixing bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and lavender pepper.
  3. Add the cubed butter and cut into the flour using a pastry cutter or a fork until butter is about the size of small peas.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk, a quarter of a cup at a time, until it forms a wet dough. Stir in the cheese until completely combined.
  5. Scoop onto a baking sheet by large spoonfuls and bake 12 to 15 minutes until tops are golden brown.
photo: d. king. Adding red chili pepper spread is yummy.

*Fun Facts: According to the official website of the Wensleydale Creamery in Hawes, a.k.a. the company that produces Wensleydale Cheese, the first people to make this particular dairy delight were French Cistercian monks back in the 12th century. After arriving in Wensleydale and the nearby surrounds, they set about making their cheese, albeit with ewe’s milk rather than the cow’s milk typical today.  I say Ewwww!

Wallace (of Wallace and Gromit fame) is an advocate of a good hunk of Wensleydale, but did you know that the Aardman Animations shorts helped revive the company back in the 1990s? It’s true! The brand was floundering, but animator Nick Park’s (coincidental) decision to namedrop Wensleydale Cheese helped boost sales. You can now even get Wensleydale Cheese wrapped in Wallace and Gromit branded packaging.

Another fun fact: I never watched Wallace and Gromit – but I think this marketing ploy was genius.

**To make lavender pepper combine black peppercorns with lavender flowers (half and half) and grind together using a clean coffee grinder or herb grinder.

The lavender works surprisingly well with pepper, offering a flowery note that stands up to the peppery bite without the bitterness.  Also good to use on pork, chicken or beef.

Enjoy!

someone bought me this dish towel

Here is the original recipe:

Wensleydale Scones

Fun Food Facts

Little Healthy Tidbits of Info.

Now, more than ever, we must strive to stay the healthiest we can.  We already know what food groups are most beneficial for us, however we don’t always look into the science behind why that is.  Thought it would be of interest to share the science behind An Apple A Day – taken from Edible (the magazine for Vancouver food & wine country).

What role does the proverbial apple-a-day have in keeping the doctor away? The fruit is rich in bacteria, and some of those are highly beneficial to human health. A single apple can carry more than a 100 million microbes, according to a July 2019 article in The Guardian.

Once in your gut, those bacteria colonize and improve your personal microbiome, which research suggests is linked to overall health, including mood and cognition.  In Gut feelings: How food affects your mood (Harvard Health Publishing), Dr. Uma Naidoo reports that 90 percent of serotonin receptors are found in the gut.

Diversity is an important factor for a thriving biome, and organic apples reportedly have a greater range of microbes – yet another reason to choose organically grown apples if you can afford to.  Most of the bacteria will be killed by cooking, so eating the raw fruit will make your biome happiest.

Le Vallauris – One for the Books

Last night I went for dinner to a slightly casual fancy French restaurant. 

That’s how I’d describe it.

 One considered to be Michelin star, situated in a restored historical landmark.  With a gorgeous setting; named after a village in Southern France where Picasso spent his pottery and ceramic painting years.

One I’ve been wanting to try and waiting for a special occasion but the occasion never arrived.  So I decided last night would be it.

Alone.  Well, not completely alone because I had my two shelties in tow…because you can do that in Palm Springs.  You may not be able to take them on many hiking trails anymore, but restaurants welcome well behaved canines. I’m not going to question this logic.   Think it has something to do with them disturbing big-horn sheep. Anyway, having said that, they were the only two in the place and did receive some attention as a result of.  They lay down quietly and behaved themselves.

It felt quite natural and somewhat bold up until the maitre d, realizing no one would be joining me, took the other place setting away and the couples started rolling in. Before too long the place filled up. One couple even brought a youngster at which point I felt my dogs were more well behaved.

I tried to ignore the couples however it began to feel somewhere in between completely natural and slightly awkward.  A waiter positioned a large white board featuring daily specials handwritten like artwork on an easel in front of me and placed a leather bound menu on the table.  I decided on the dégustation menu – a sampling of smaller portions of some of the chef’s signature dishes. This offering changes weekly.  It was incredible.

In between courses over an enjoyable glass of pinot noir, I began to question why I should feel strange sitting on my own.  After all I wanted to enjoy a quiet gastronomic experience.

I guess perhaps because it was not a cafeteria or a coffee shop but instead a romantic restaurant. 

In any event I’m happy I experienced taking myself out on a romantic date.  I can now cross this little chapter off my list and go back to cafeterias and coffee shops by myself.  And Luckily there are no big horn sheep allowed in the restaurants….so far.  Because my dogs make darn good dining companions.  The customers don’t seem to disturb them but the sheep would.

Happy Ending with a Grand Marnier Soufflé – light, fluffy, lovely. Photo: d. king

Le Vallauris celebrates it’s 40th year in Palm Springs as the leading French –  Mediterranean restaurant with the highest rating in the Valley by Zagat Survey, AAA, American Express and many others for many years

.http://www.levallauris.com/

Delectable Desserts

There are desserts and then there are DESSERTS; know what I’m talking about?

A friend introduced me to a new not-your-run-of-the-mill bakery.  Definitely not!  I was really impressed by the quantity and quality of specialty treats found at Forêt Noire – a high end French patisserie located in Vancouver in an offbeat area considering the kind of establishment.  You would be more likely to expect running across something like this on South Granville or maybe Yaletown.

They say simplicity is their touch.  Maybe so; if fancy upscale works of art in the shape of tasty treats are your thing.  

We went in for the best double baked almond croissant in the city, but once there we also tried the cheese (filled with feta + riccotta) which was also excellent.  Then we left with 3 pastries (one hazelnut filled, a pistachio cake and a vanilla with fresh mango pudding).  All outstanding.

Packaged in a pink take-out box.

Think I’m in trouble.

Know what I’m talking about?

Website:

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Feel-good Friday: High Tea Time

Afternoon Tea

is high on my list of feel-good things to do in the Fall.  There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of Tea.

d. king

High Tea is what happens between breakfast and lunch where you catch up with a good friend over a piping hot pot of earl grey and fancy little finger sandwiches, petite scones and petit fours.  I love the variety.  Yesterday I caught up with my friend Marion at Secret Garden Tea Company in Kerrisdale.  It was lovely and delicious.

october & november high tea menu

Your table awaits

From the gleaming china and linen napkins, to the charming tea cozy that nestles your selection of specially blended Secret Garden Tea, our High Tea experience is designed to delight. So settle in. Select your tea and savour your three tier tray of beautifully hand-crafted Signature Miniatures, including sweets, sandwiches, scones, jam and, of course, Devonshire Cream.

High Tea Menu is regularly updated with seasonal delicacies.

d. king

d. king

d. king

I also left with a bag of chocolate cranberry shortbread cookies – the best!

Let’s do it again soon

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