Mumbai Local and Jazz at David Lam Park

My calendar is marked and the days set aside each year for the last weekend of the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. Always on the Canada Day long weekend for as far back as I can remember, the festival organizers set up a big stage in the park and present acts from noon until about 10 pm (Saturday and Sunday). All kinds of jazz, blues funk etc. bands play and all you need to worry about is the weather. I have a collection of CDs and downloads from some of the more impressive bands we have seen over the years.
This year (so far), impressing the heck out of me was the Istanbul Sessions Band including bass guitar player extraordinaire, Alp Ersonmez who variously thumped his strings with a drum stick, tapped notes with both hands high on the neck of his instrument and employed various effect pedals, one of which (presumably) gave him access to notes at least an octave up from what bass strings produce! 
All that music makes folks hungry and we took a break and went for a walk up to Mumbai Local, an Indian restaurant specializing in the street foods of India. I have been meaning to revisit since first I sampled their food on a Vanfoodster Tasting Plates event back in February of this year.
On that comparatively chilly evening, we tried a sampler of chaat and a tasty Indian dessert.
On this visit, Marie and I tried some of their specials from the West End Farmer's Market. On Saturday morning, these folks peruse the market seeking the best and freshest local ingredients and then use Indian recipes and techniques to create some wonderful dishes.
The first thing we tried was Swiss Chard Vadi. Battered with chana flour and deep fried, rolled sushi style and served with fried curry leaves, nasturtium petals, mustard seeds and coconut. This was a little over salted but an amazingly conceived dish. It was a little crunchy and delicious and we loved it!
Next up was Dum Aloo, a Kashmiri dish of baby potatoes with cashew curry and caramelized onions garnished again with the nasturtium leaves. The nasturtium leaves and petals are edible and a little peppery and reminded me of stealing leaves off my Aunt's plants when we were kids! This was also a wonderful vegan dish with fried purple potato chips and a complex sauce which I finished with a spoon after the potatoes were gone!
It was served with bread that I cannot remember the name of (No. It wasn't roti. I know what roti is.), that had beet in the dough and as a filling. Nice!
Finally, off the regular menu, we had Dahi Puri, tasty crackers filled with yogurt, chickpea and tamarind and date chutnies. Refreshing!
Mumbai Local is a comfortable, casual space. Our server gave us excellent advice and explained their impressive West End Farmer's Market plan. I would not have caught on to that without her advice! This is a great Davie Street eatery, very affordable,  with some creative and interesting choices.
For what its worth, we give Mumbai Local 4 1/2 out of 5. 

Mumbai Local Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

West Coast Fishing Club - North Island Lodge - Langara Island - Part Three

We were up and at 'em on Sunday morning, and our last full day of fishing from North Island Lodge brought a continuing good catch.
More of the same today folks. We admired some wildlife including more sea lions, a pair of breaching whales in the distance (too far away to photograph), auklets and this deer (Sitka Black-Tailed Deer?), which is an introduced species and a bit of a problem.
We caught some fish too! That shouldn't be surprising!
But let's get back to the food!
Appetizers in the lounge including not just one type of chicken wings but three! The Buffalo Hot Wings packed a bit of a punch but all three were hot, crispy and yet tender.
What makes Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Balls better? Smoked Salmon does! 
While we were munching on these tasty bites, Chef Luke Mussato was smoking some salmon with a bit of a mustard glaze for our dinner.
Dinner started with a riff on a Greek Salad accompanied by Pita and Tzatziki.
Roast Chicken and Gravy with Fingerling Potatoes, Yams, Broccoli and Green Beans. They actually have been feeding us more fresh vegetables that many of us eat at home. This was a wonderful roasted chicken and a very comforting meal.
Here is the result of Chef Luke's work at the smoker. The Maple Dijon Glaze was just slightly sweet but did not intrude on the smokey and tender fish. I notice that apple slices have served as a serving platform in several cases. Nice idea!
Dessert was Chocolate Mousse, creatively served in Mason jars with a chocolate shortbread crumble and raspberry coulis. 
Of course, this could not go on forever (I would be up to 300 lbs before long) and the next morning, this crew of Bert's Electric's employees made the trip home.
We did not go home empty handed however and will be eating Haida Gwaii salmon for some time. We all hope to be going back at some time. Thanks, North Island Lodge and thanks again Bert's Electric!

West Coast Fishing Club - North Island Lodge - Langara Island - Part Two

Saturday morning came early enough after a decent nights sleep. Breakfast presented some typical hot breakfast items (scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage etc) along with cereal, toast, fruit, etc. I have to confess right here that occasionally, I battle motion sickness on the water and so my strategy for breakfast is toast and peanut butter and jam and nothing too rich.
They suited everyone up at the lodge with rain gear and coolers full of snack and beverages, while the guides were fully equipped for catching the big ones. All we were required to do was to show up conscious and enthusiastic. That we were able to do. Out on the water at 7:30, the day started quietly but once we found the sweets spots, that all changed.
Not overly keen on posting pictures of my ugly self, this is proof that I did catch a few and I seem pretty happy about this one!
Having caught a bunch of fish and at this point feeling a bit queasy myself owing to some inclement weather and large swells, we went sightseeing. Our guide (we were two amateur fishermen and one guide per boat) took us to see some sea lions in calmer waters. These guys really weren't that interested in us but they were fun to watch. 
Next inevitably came lunch (and I was feeling better by then. One great thing about fishing from North Island Lodge is that even if you feel seasick, you are never that far from calmer waters and relief!)
I chose the Cobb Salad for lunch. Yes, I know it doesn't look like a Cobb Salad but all the elements are there including the most critical, namely the blue cheese. Loved it! The fishing grounds being close to the lodge meant it was easy to come in for lunch and a nice nap. Then we were ready to fish again. 
Skipping some details and jumping right to the evening, the kitchen seemed to outdo themselves every day.
Prosciutto Wrapped Prawns and cocktail sauce. Obviously, these disappeared quickly and did the ridiculously fall off the bones ribs with a rich molasses based sauce. I had trouble photographing them as they provoked a feeding frenzy! 
Remember that thing I said about not eating too much before dinner? Good luck.
Dinner started with another memorable salad this time with Port soaked figs, goat cheese and candied walnuts.
This was followed by a Grilled Pork Chop on Mushroom Risotto with Apple Balsamic Onion Relish. The risotto was perfectly al dente while the pork chop was amazingly tender. This dish was met with rave reviews.
Next were Seared Scallops with Apple Fennel Slaw. These scallops were so tender that the having of teeth was not a requirement on the part of the eater!
And to close, Apple Crumble with Vanilla Ice Cream (from Mario's Gelato in Olympic Village, no less. I had insisted it must be house-made).
So the day two drew to a close in the usual civilized manner! A nightcap and discourse with new and old friends and off to sleep!
Stay tuned for part three.

West Coast Fishing Club - North Island Lodge - Langara Island - Part One

Management at Bert's Electric has been pretty generous about ploughing some of the profits back into entertaining and rewarding their employees. We golf, we fish, we barbeque, we Christmas party, we go to hockey games. So first of all, thanks, bosses! In that spirit, this past weekend a dozen of us (site supervisors, project managers etc.) were flown up to Haida Gwaii for an amazing stay at North Island Lodge, one of three West Coast Fishing Club properties, for fishing, eating, drinking, relaxing and a generally good time (another dozen of us will make the trip in July).
We met at Bert's offices at 6:00 am on Friday and we were fishing by 1:00 pm. Our 2-hour flight from south terminal YVR on a Dash 8 was followed by a 30 minute Sikorski helicopter ride right to the lodge. Once we settled in, they made a  start (and would not stop) of feeding us. We came for the fishing and stayed for the food (well, we stayed for the fishing too). Since this is allegedly a food blog, I intend to provide a blow by blow on the eating activities!
Eggs Benedict with cold smoked salmon. The first of what would be an amazing stream of deliciousness to come out of the kitchen prepared by chef Luke Mussato and his staff of Andy (Buon Giorno!) and Hunter (Who I never actually met...apologies). Perfectly poached eggs with deep yellow yolks and creamy wonderful hollandaise. From that first bite, I knew we were in for some special eats this weekend. But on to the main event and it was not long before we were hauling in the Chinook.
Not to be overlooked in between bites was the fact that we were in such a beautiful place. The weather was generally sombre during our stay but that certainly did not detract from the primal draw of the sea and nature (and it was lovely not to have cellular service for a few days).
By the time our Friday afternoon session had drawn to a close, we all had stories of battles with the feisty salmon and our first few catches. Back at the lodge, they somehow knew we would be hungry and some amazing appetizers awaited us. We quickly learned that the trick was not to eat too much before dinner was served. We learned that that was the trick but never seemed to pull it off.
Seriously, the first thing we faced on getting to the lounge was arancini. I dare you to eat just one! 
A nice selection of cured and smoked fish were served, including baby octopus and even some fruits and vegetables and anything else you could ask for. On the liquid side our folks drank some fine wine and some premium label spirits. And then, the dinner bell rang!
The dining room at North Island Lodge seats about 24 which coincidentally is the number of people the lodge can accommodate (give or take). With a lovely view of the water and the dock, I could happily sit there all day and let these people feed me.
Dinner started with a wonderful Baby Kale Ceasar with among other things, fried capers which added a nice little salty burst.
It was followed by a perfectly cooked strip loin with veggies, Yorkshire Pudding and a demi-glace.
As if this was not enough, the Smoked Sable Fish with Gremolata was subtle and gently flavoured. This required savouring to be truly appreciated. Dessert of course was never missing from the bill of fare.
Enough Tiramisu for two people but still light, sweet and delicious. From here, some of us dragged ourselves to bed  (we shared rooms with views of the water and Langara Island and were gently rocked to sleep in this floating lodge) while others continued the evening in the lounge playing cards, conversing and getting to know other guests and enjoying a nightcap. Stay tuned for part two of this blog post where I will try to continue to cover some highlights of this excellent weekend!

Mr. Tonkatsu

No matter what your gender identification and choice of pronouns, if your surname is Tonkatsu, I am there. When we heard that this Toronto based restaurant had landed in Metro Vancouver, we started making plans to visit. Cursed with a web site that is a little glitchy (at least at the moment), they seem to indicate that there are 2 Toronto locations and now Guildford (Surrey).
As comparisons to Saku on Robson Street are inevitable, Mr Tonkatsu has a similar menu but with a few more choices.
I don't remember Karaage Wings being a choice at Saku but they are among the appetizers here. Served with Japanese Mayo, these were simply battered, juicy and tasty, arriving hot from the fryer.
Also on this menu is Donburi with Soba. We chose the ebi which were tasty enough but not life-changing or anything. I can't use that 'snap' adjective when describing the shrimp except to mention that it was missing. The rest of the dish was nicely put together and I cheated and added a little of their tonkatsu sauce to the rice. Served with miso soup and soba noodles in broth.
The Soba Noodles were the source of some pleasure. Nicely chewy noodles and the broth was fragrant with Konbu.
The main event was the Pork Tenderloin Tonkatsu Set. Steamed rice, cabbage and miso soup are served on the side. Like at Saku, you can have seconds of cabbage, rice or miso. At Saku however, they came around and offered but here, I think you need to ask (not that we needed more). The tenderloin was wonderfully tender and very good. And we loved the katsu sauce with its fruity Worcestershire sauce flavour. The panko breadcrumbs were also quite impressive probably due to the fact that they make their own bread to make the breadcrumbs. Nice!
We also kind of like the little bowl of sesame seeds that they bring you to pound up and add to your katsu sauce. It's good to have something to do while you await your food!
So it's a nice little place. We waited briefly for a table at just after noon on Sunday which is not surprising. Remember to write your name down when you arrive. The staff were quite friendly and attentive. I know I always say that. so maybe it's just because we're so delightful!
For what our opinion is worth, we give Mr Tonkatsu 3 1/2 out of 5.
Mr Tonkatsu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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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...