Vancouver Foodster's West End Tasting Plates - part 2

After leaving Pasture to Plate on Wednesday evening, I made my way up Davie to Davie Dosa Company. I have become a huge fan of south Indian food in recent months. I mean all Indian food is great but south Indian has some unique flavours including dosa. For the West End Tasting Plates, DDC offered a selection of tasty bites including 2 types of Pakora and 2 65 dishes. A quick Google search reveals that "65" refers to (according to many different opinions)
 either dishes introduced in 1965, 65 chilies or a 65 day preparation time...so I still have no idea but I like it. They all arrived hot at the table and were delectable. Given that there were evidently about 100 people on the Tasting Plates tour, I expect that all of our hosts were kept hopping this evening including the chef preparing pakora! These were served with tamarind, mint and hot sauces which were perfect also. I cleverly walked out of this place having left one of my ear buds on the table, only discovering it when I was too far away to return. Well, it meant that I had the perfect excuse to come back soon! And so Thursday evening, I returned, had a very nice chat with the friendly proprietor and ordered dosa! Dosa is an exquisite thin large crepe made with rice and lentil flours with a filling of your choice (I chose curried cauliflower). I have had quite a few at different places and this one may be the best that I have had.
And it is all about texture, while the dosa is soft and crepe like, it has a crisp shell which makes it unique compared to the French version that we are used to. A dosa is not typically filled to the end like a burrito but you break off pieces to dip in the excellent condiments. The first condiment was a delicious freshly grated coconut chutney (my mouth waters), the second, Sambhar, is a lentil stew while the third, a tomato chutney had a nice little bite! I worked my way to the centre and the lovely curried cauliflower.
So tasty! This is a great little place! Sadly my ambiance photos kind of sucked because I need some photography lessons but you can see what this place looks like on their web site. Open to the street, the sun shone in gently in the evening, whether you sit at the small booths and comfortable tables and chairs. The proprietor and staff that I spoke with were friendly and rightly proud of what they are doing. Highly recommended! Finally, I made it to Tartine Breads and Pies, my final stop on the tasting plates tour. 
I was looking forward to a nice little piece of pie and ice cream to top off the eavening because frankly, I had eaten quite enough so far! This was an excellent Rhubarb Pie that reminded me of something my Mother used to make. Talk about comforting! However, there was more in store as the Tartine tasting offering included a Sante Fe Club Sandwich and side of house made cole slaw!
While this was a very good sandwich on good quality bread and a refreshing slaw, I sadly did not make it to the finish line. This is why I avoid AYCE places as at this time of life, I can no longer do it justice. Still, like every other 
place on this evenings West End Tasting Plates Tour, I can heartily recommend it. I look forward to returning to sample some of their savory pie selection. So I waddled back to sky train and made the trip home to Aldergrove, slightly envious of the West End folks and their choices! Thanks again to Vancouver Foodster for setting this up!
Davie Dosa Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Vancouver Foodster's West End Tasting Plates - part 1

I had clutched my ticket for Vancouver Foodster's West End Tasting Plates in my hot little hands since early bird discounts applied, and I couldn't have been more excited on Wednesday evening! I recently started fooling around on Instagram and am drawn without self control to the delicious food photos that people post, including some from this evenings stops! We met at Milano Coffee on Denman for an espresso (let's pretend that I wasn't already wound up), to pick up our tickets and to listen to some last minute instructions from Richard Wolak (Vancouver Foodster) and off we went!
My first stop was at Izakaya Gon's right across the road. 
I am a big fan of open kitchens. It is fun to watch chefs plying their craft and they are not slouches here!
We were served Premium Wagyu Beef Carpaccio which was sublime. I have never had Wagyu Beef before (and yet I call myself a foodie). So tender and rich ...and beefy! Veggie Tempura, Inari Sushi and Aburi Unagi Oshi-Sushi made up the rest of our taste and based on it, I will be back to try more! After a respectable pause for appreciation, it was on to the next stop, Casablanca Crepe!
Another decent place to eat at the other wise, kind of sad Robson Market. Here our tasting plate
consisted of Moroccan Beef Couscous topped with caramelised raisins. Very nice with mild seasoning and delightful sweetness. Accompanied by Cheesecake Crepe and homemade Macaroons, this was a very nice sampling. Casablanca offers a variety of savoury and sweet crepes at decent pricing and provides a bit of variety at this end of Robson. 
I have to insert right here that I returned to Casablanca Crepe the next day and actually got to talk with the man behind the crepes and taste another of his offerings. 
This is his Kefta Crepe Gourmand with his own homemade cheese, lovely baked ground beef filling, topped with a fried egg. I also enjoyed  Mint Tea. The proprietor is from Marrakesh, no less and has been in Canada for 12 years. In the past he worked as a tour guide (in Morocco ) and a chef, and opened Casablanca Crepes a year and a half ago! A very nice gentleman with some tasty food to serve to you! Put this on your list!
Back to Denman and south to Pasture to Plate. I will admit that I have had misgivings due to content on their website. Naturally they are invested in the organic side of things and I do not blame them for that even though organics in my opinion, is a first world luxury and will never feed the world. On their website, apropos of nothing it states that eight year old children make up the fastest growing cancer getting group. If this is to suggest that non organics or even poor diet are the source of that, one has only to visit the American Cancer Societies page to learn that childhood cancer is not thought to be related to lifestyle! But enough of that!
This was delicious! Organic grassfed marinated beef patty, house cured bacon, quail egg and all the trimmings on a sweet potato bun. So good! Never mind that the greatest thing that you can do for the environment is become a vegetarian, I loved it!
And Kombucha. I have never had this before and assume it is some kind of superfood of which there is no such thing! Regardless it was very refreshing! I will be back to try more here also! Stay tuned for part 2 where I get too full and forget my ear buds on the table at Davie Dosa Company!
Casablanca Crepe Taste of Morocco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ur Restaurant - Surrey

Those of you familiar with the patriarch Abraham, a man of importance to members of the Islamic, Christian and Jewish faiths alike, will recognise Ur as the ancient city of his birth. It was located in southern Iraq and was part of the famed Chaldean Kingdom of Babylon. I would not have known that there was a restaurant bearing the name if it were not for Google maps. I was fooling around looking for an address when I noticed it located on 108a Avenue, a street used by no one but locals (or very lost people).
But there it is! Not much to look at from the outside but a nice little restaurant run by an Iraqi family and as we would see, turning out some delicious food at very good prices. There was some initial humorous confusion ( we arrived at 3:00 in the afternoon and weren't sure if anyone was actually working here!) but I am not shy about sitting down and waiting for someone to appear.
Once we got acquainted with the proprietor ( a very nice gentleman who arrived in Canada 15 years ago from Iraq, if I understood correctly) and looked at the menu, we started with an excellent Fatoush Salad. This was full of mint and fresh crunchy vegetables. It was refreshing on this hot day.
The Babaganoush was spectacular ! It was smokey and glazed in rich olive oil. It was perfect for dipping with very nice pita of the thicker  more pillowy variety, that was quite fresh.
For main courses, the restaurant offers smaller plates for around $10 (which were frankly not small at all!). We tried the Chicken Taouk and Ur Kabob plates and as you can see from the photos each comes with one skewer but lots of rice and veges.
My partner registered a smile of delight as soon as she dug into the chicken. I knew we were onto something here and sure enough, it was nicely charred yet tender and redolent of the yogurt and lemon in which it had obviously been marinating. 
The Ur Kabob was ground lamb and beef , gently spiced and tender. The full dish would come with a second kabob. I only took one photo of the interior of the restaurant which for some reason is quite blurry but you can see the room on Google. It is a very nice space with plants and comfortable seating, and easy on the eyes, appropriate decor. Adjacent to the restaurant is a little Syrian bakery which boasts some beautiful looking desserts that we intend to explore on another occasion. You know that feeling of finding a hidden gem? That is how we feel right now! Bookmark Ur Restaurant as a place to visit soon!
Ur Retsaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Seoul Truck Street Food - Coquitlam

Walking into Henderson Place Mall in Coquitlam makes me a little sad. It doesn't have the air of a thriving centre of commerce with several empty store fronts and evidence of businesses that did not make it. There is upstairs however, a nice little food court with a few interesting places that I would like to try and that always cheers me up! We started with Seoul Truck Street Food that we have wanted to visit for some time.
The menu here is fairly simple based around some pretty good fried chicken.  It is Korean street food as you may have guessed by the name but bills itself as being with a modern twist. It seems to be a successful twist for sure!

We tried 2 types of their popcorn fried chicken in the Soy and Garlic flavours. These were tender and crisp little morsels that were delicious in both flavours. It was the start of some extreme garlic breath but we did not mind!
I mean this is a lot of garlic. My response to that was to order even more garlic!
These were the Seoul Soul City signature chicken wings with garlic and green onion sauce. These are pretty decent wings with another great quantity of raw garlic. We loved it and will probably not get another cold for months. Be prepared with some sort of breath mints! I mean seriously. 
I've come to really enjoy Korean rice cakes. Ddeok-ko-chi in red  (sweet and spicy) and yellow (cheddar cheese with sprinkled sugar), these are deep fried and have a lovely chewy texture. They are not quite as vibrant looking as the food styled web site picture but they are tasty just the same.
Pickled radish is a perfect foil for all that deep fried food. A nice choice in a decent food court close to the sky train station. Give this place a try!

Seoul Truck Street Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Big Star Sandwich - South Surrey

If I'm on the road and hungry or in a rush and need to grab a bite, my go to has always been Subway. A 12 inch Veggie Delight on whole wheat is a tasty, cheap, moderately healthy choice. It is infinitely  better than the regular fast food choices of tasteless burgers and fries et al. These days I am intrigued to see a few sandwich places that have upped their game. Not quite as fast or cheap as Subway, but taste and value wise maybe even further ahead of the majority of the usual quick lunch places is Big Star Sandwich.
Big Star boasts in house slow roasted beef and turkey and fresh daily Filone bread from their facility in Maple Ridge. A small Roast Beef, Provolone and Garlic Aioli Sandwich is only $9 and is plenty for a quick lunch but it is also worth lingering over.
I was seriously more than a little impressed with the bread. It had some chew and crunchy crust but was not so challenging that it could not work as a sandwich.  The beef too, lived up to the hype. It was moist and tender and with some flavour. Finished with Siracha mayo and the other accompaniments, I would call this a success.
I had Horseradish potato salad as a side. This was decent creamy potato salad and provided a serious hit of up your nose horseradish.
To go for later, I ordered a Corned Beef, Swiss and Mack Sauce (on Rye) and this was also a satisfying sandwich. Again, very nice corned beef and I like the addition of hickory sticks. I am confused only that sauerkraut is not available. Maybe that only works when the sandwich is grilled. Still, I liked it.
The young folks at the South Surrey store during my visit were efficient and friendly. They didn't seem mind my nosy questions. A decent alternative for lunch on the go or just to enjoy a nice sandwich!
Big Star Sandwich Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pho Hilton - Cloverdale

I have had an uncontrollable craving for soft white fresh French bread with a crunchy crust. This is surprising as I am not  a white bread guy. When I do eat bread, I prefer the dense, seed and grain filled healthy (or so I believe) variety or a whole wheat pita or other flat bread. Still, sometimes the mood takes you. I guess that I have been reading (or looking at on Instagram) Bahn Mi. And so on Monday after work, I made my way to Pho Hilton.
It turns out to be a friendly little, family run place. My arrival interrupted the family's mid day repast but they quickly seated me and took my order.
In our rush to eat Pho and Bahn Mi, we sometimes forget that the Vietnamese often serve a masterful Beef Stew (it's the French influence!). This was a very good version, maybe a little closer to soup than I expected but so flavorful that my mouth is watering even as I look at the photo! Several pieces of tender beef lurking below the surface with big chunks of carrot, onions, cilantro and hints of five spice and lemongrass. Lovely!
Of course, I did not forget my Bahn Mi craving and this was also tasty. I know the bread was nice and fresh as I saw it come in the door from Save On (presumably) which I can't hold against them. Baking bread is a big deal for a small place and frankly, the Save On bread was great! (should I be reviewing a grocery store next?) This is their Special Sub with three kinds of meat that I am guessing were all pork and liver paste (I am likely wrong). Crunchy vegetable pieces make the Bahn Mi for me and this part was just OK. Still, I got what I came for.
Finally, I ordered Pho to go which I artfully assembled at home. Excellent flavorful broth was host to a generous serving of meats including tripe and rare beef, with noodles and sprouts galore! I am looking forward to left overs tonight!
They have been open a year and I wish them good continued success. Prices are reasonable and portions are generous. I recommend that you pay them a visit!
Pho Hilton Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Italian Day on The Drive and Thoughts About Anthony Bourdain

We finally made it to Italian Day on The Drive! Something has always come up in years past that prevented attending, much to my consternation. Well, this year we made it and I am happy to tell you about it.
But first, it seems a little disrespectful to move on without a few words about Anthony Bourdain who will be missed by many. I am not in a position to write an "article " about him and I certainly didn't know him beyond what we could all know from his books and TV shows. I have been and will continue to be a big fan and have been greatly influenced by his attitude towards and approach to food. I would just like to share a few of my favourite moments and comments from the man, in no particular order ; "Chicken is for people who don't know what to order"; "Never order the fish special on Monday"; the moment in Vietnam when we watched him eat the still beating heart of a cobra; having eaten a sample of a fermented shark meat delicacy in Iceland (the birthplace of my maternal grandparents) he looked directly into the camera and said, "Worst thing I have ever put in my mouth"; not too mention episodes in eastern Europe and Russia when he and his friend Zamir Gotta drank prodigious quantities of Vodka and who knows what else. He never shied away from any local delicacy that he came across, and was never afraid to travel well off of the main roads and away from the tourist routes. We will always be able to see his photograph at Japadog on Burrard but more importantly we can buy into his drive to expand our cultural horizons. And I think he would love Italian Day on The Drive.
Marie and I started our afternoon with some sampling of DOP products in an area set up by the Italian Chamber of Commerce. We tasted some wonderful cheeses and meats, not to mention freshly made extruded pasta and even a couple of Italian sodas.
Prosciutto Di Norcia, Salsiccia Calabrese, Arugula, Balsamico, Olio and Pane
Pasta Extruder
Preparing sample plates
From there we wandered happily the length of the 14 blocks and back amongst the 200,000 +/- 
festival goers.
                                    We loved the Vancouver Fire Rescue Swing / Big Band!
And what Italian event would be complete without a sampling of the Opera.
I have to admit that even when I don't understand the songs, some of this stuff brings a tears to my eyes. And of course, there was more food!
Marie and I enjoyed Penne with a sausage meat sauce awkwardly feeding each other, standing on the sidewalk ( hands full, seating was at a premium) from Arriva and finished out our eating with a couple of canneloni from Canneloni King!
There was much more eating that could have been done! Italian day needs to be either days or a more than once a year thing! With literally over 100 vendors and participants and organisations, there was much we did not see or taste! I am already looking forward to next year!


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Are you guys eating again? At some point Marie and I became the kind of people who take pictures of everything we eat, whether in a restaura...