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tarteausucre

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  1. The new Yutaka izakaya on Jervis (just off of Robson) opened tonight. It's just near my building so I've been charting its progress on my way to get groceries. I checked out the menu tonight and was not particulary wowed by the level of innovation or decor. However, when I'm too lazy to walk the extra block to get to Hapa, I might check it out. I'll report back.
  2. I'm chiming in with a second (or is a third) for Trafalgar's and Diva. Keep in mind that the ambiance is quite different - the former is much more low key while the latter would be much more of a done-up affair. Trafalgar's definitely for quantity in terms of selection and good quality. Diva for fantastic quality (closes her eyes in remembrance of Thomas Haas desserts
  3. "Still, for the same price as a dinner at Joeys, I could buy a much better meal at Bin, Lolita's, Cru, Aurora Bistro, Hapa Izakaya, Cassis and numerous other casual fine-dining independents, where the servers have sass and the rooms have sizzle. Call me radical, but I'd just rather support the struggling independents with heart and passion than line the pockets of an extremely wealthy family that already dominates the market with mediocre food and corporate conformity" The discussion is getting interesting so I'm going to wade into its ambiguous depths. I have comments about the "wealth," cash flow, etc. but I'll save those comments for a later post. I personally take issue with the fact that both Gill and many detractors of CFDs create a separation between a) CFDs like Joey's and "struggling independents"and b) CFDs and so-called sophisticated diners. a) I think it's a simplification of the market to create such a dichotomous relationship between these supposed restaurant groups. It's relatively easy to label "big" as bad and relatively "smaller" as virtuously free of capitalist influences. I myself have been guilty of this sort of binary thinking. However, it would be far more productive to think about the two as interconnected in a dynamic and interactive relationship. A Joeys and a Hapa Izakaya don't operate in their own isolated spheres. Instead, as restaurants converge in terms of price point and even in terms of style of dining and menu selections, the two are being increasingly more difficult to separate in a demon/angel dichotomy. I think instead of focusing on their seeming oppositional qualities, it would be good to think about the points of contact between the two. How do they "feed" off one another's business strategies, menu development, etc.? How does a Joeys force a Hapa to push itself further and vice versa? b) Secondly, I think that "we" as "foodies" like to think that we stand above the masses who stand at the feeding trough and take whatever leavings large restaurants choose to dish out to them. However, it appears that many of us do eat at these CFDs. Joeys isn't only serving food to the Fuller family and I don't think the Fuller family is holding a gun to our heads. Based on a recent visit, there was a diversity of ages, "races," and genders in that particular restaurant space. I couldn't see into their dining histories but these people, like myself, may very well go to Aurora and Cru, on occasion. Therefore, instead of thinking of ourselves as disconnected from this "corporate comformity" perhaps we should think of ourselves as participants. And as participants, how are we demanding more of these restaurants? How are we forcing them to constantly innovate to meet the fickleness of consumers? And lastly, the mirror should turn the other way, on occasion. It might be profitable to consider in more depth and complexity why we choose to go to restaurants like Joeys (besides automatic responses like there aren't any other options), as opposed to decrying them for their success while we're busy eating their food. It's too early to be particularly cogent but that's my spewing for the day.
  4. My abbreviated list was not meant to detract from the breadth of awards that were given out yesterday - merely a sign of typing fatigue on my part. Also, check out the 2006 Wine List Awards here: http://www.playhousewinefest.com/index.php/articles/docs/16
  5. Thought I'd start the discussion going! *** They came, they ate, they accepted their accolades. Yesterday afternoon, Vancouver Magazine held its 17th annual Restaurant Awards, a gala event at the Sheraton Wall Centre in which the who's who of the foodie world gathered to pay tribute to the best in culinary excellence. Food highlights included taro coated prawns with a sweet chili dipping sauce, tomato and bocconcini on skewers, and pan fried sablefish with sauteed fiddleheads. Out of the dessert selections, the silky milk chocolate tart provided by La Regalade was especially decadent. The wine also flowed abundantly with the Wines of South Africa sponsoring and providing the beverages for the event. After much mingling in a room warm with chatter and good food, the lights dimmed to signal the start of the award ceremony. Gloria Macarenko and Steve Burgess were effervescent hosts who managed to keep the show moving at an entertaining, yet efficient pace. Video clips that included Thomas Haas crafting his chocolate desserts and the owners of Lolita's Cantina extolling the glories of tequila, punctuated the handing out of the many awards. Award winners were brief in their acceptance speeches but still managed to convey the passion and dedication that have contributed to their successes. The quirky Gord Martin of Bin 941/942 unofficially won the award for "Best Dressed" while Robert Clark from C Restaurant garnered the award for "Future Best Dressed" with his winning of an Ermenegildo Zegna gift certificate that accompanied his Chef of the Year award. Especially moving were tributes given by Jamie Maw and Vicki Gabereau to three Vancouver legends, Jean-Claude Ramond, Werner Forster, and Joel Thibault, who all passed away this year, leaving legacies as impressive as the food and the restaurants that they created. After much fanfare, the Restaurant of the Year was announced to be yet again, West , that outdid itself in its commitment to impeccably innovative, high quality cuisine. Amidst the applause and the congratulatory handshaking, the crowd slowly filtered out to enjoy celebratory bubbles and chocolate dipped strawberries. A very satisfying end to a year of exceptional dining on the Vancouver food scene. Award highlights (Due to lack of energy on the writer's part, see your May 2006 issue of Vancouver Magazine for full listing): Restaurant of the Year: Gold - West; Silver - Lumiere; Bronze - C Restaurant Chef of the Year: Gold - Robert Clark (C Restaurant); Silver - Jeff Van Geest (Aurora); Bronze - Pino Posteraro (Cioppino's/Enoteca) Best New Fine Dining: Gold - Nu; Silver - Senova; Bronze - Mistral French Bistro Best New Informal: Gold - Diner; Silver - Habit Lounge; Bronze - Lolita's South of the Border Cantina Best Regional: Gold - Raincity Grill; Silver - C Restaurant; Bronze - Aurora Best Seafood: Gold - C Restaurant; Silver - Blue Water Cafe; Bronze - Tojo's Best Small Plates: Gold - Bin 941/942; Silver - Nu; Bronze - Lumiere Tasting Bar How did everyone else's night go?
  6. Methinks that these sugary demons are going to increase the incidence of diabetes in Kitsilano. The cupcakes themselves are hardly the stuff of dessert dreams. However, the nostalgia factor alone is worth the trip. Who doesn't want to consume a "sweet sixteen cake" and relive that pastel world of adolescent innocence? I wonder how many of us were actually that sweet at the time? That and the fact that the waif-like Katie Holmes pretends to eat them in great quantities. In any case, bring on the buttercream is all I can say!
  7. Hi, I'm thinking of going out with my family to La Regalade and I was wondering whether it's particularly noisy? I adore the food but I can't remember if it's appropriate for older relatives who like quieter settings.
  8. I stopped by Chocoatl last night to see whether it lives up to all the hype! And it does! I had a chance to chat with Themis Vegis who is incredibly personable and obviously very enthusiastic and passionate about what he is doing. I wish him all the best with this new enterprise! I had the azteca hot chocolate which was divine and left me with a warm glow for the rest of the evening. My friend had the white hot chocolate with mandarin after discovering that they were out of the hazelnut hot chocolate. I was given a sample of this drink and I thought the mandarin flavouring hit the right subtle note. Vegis assued me that desserts would be coming next week. I tried one of their white chocolate saffron truffles which was quite good, although not nearly as unforgettable as their hot chocolate drinks.
  9. Hmm... have you called Provence Marinaside, Circolo, or Amacord in Yaletown? They strike me as restaurants that would work for an "older" crowd and for those who are not overly adventurous. You might have to do a set menu though...
  10. Just to add to my post, I realized that I was incredibly remiss in not thanking Lee for organizing what turned out to be an absolutely fabulous evening. I really do appreciate all the effort and work you put into making the event a reality. Also, thanks to Jeff, Chef Julian, and all the people at Cactus Club for their gracious hospitality and willingness to put up with the egullet foodie "weirdos" for the night! We all had a great time and felt really privileged to have been given the chance to see the inner workings of your restaurant and to sample both new and regular menu items. Til next time!
  11. If anyone wants to abuse me with free food, they are more then welcome to do so! I suppose we always have to be slightly cautious of restaurant "goodwill" since it indeed serves both a customer relations and market research purpose. However, Cactus Club was incredibly gracious and the free food didn't prevent us from being constructively critical of both the dishes that were served to us, and the restaurant itself. I think the underlying branding message of the free food was that Cactus Club has moved beyond its original "burger and fries" roots. Bond himself acknowledged that Cactus Club serves a "good" burger but not necessarily the best burger in the entire world. And I think if we all judged the burger in isolation, we would tend to agree. I think the same can be said for each of the menu items if they were forced to stand on their own. Certainly, some of them were inspired, like the sablefish and the poke, but when a restaurant is seeking to please such a large and diverse demographic, I think it is the menu as a collective experience that becomes important. Anyway, I suppose the extra food did lead us slightly astray from the original burger testing purpose but it did make me consider the evolution of a once burger joint. It is a fairly difficult feat to be able to serve sablefish, szechuan green beans, and burgers and fries on the same menu and be popular. I think most of us came out with a deeper respect for the work, innovation, and sheer energy of maintaining the type of success that Cactus Club enjoys. Other chains like Moxie's and White Spot that have tried to reinvent themselves have been much less successful. End conclusion: Would I go there specifically for the burger. No. Would I go there on occasion, for a meal with little fuss, decent ambiance and food? Yes. And I guess that end result is what Cactus Club was aiming for when they invited us into their inner sanctum! Perhaps I have been "used"
  12. Does anyone have a phone number and their hours? I was wanting to check them out last night but wasn't sure if they'd be open.
  13. Sugar cookie Valentine's Day cookies ... (once again excuse the less than stellar image - must save up and buy new digital camera)
  14. I think it's extremely easy to beat up on the CFD restaurants and laud the indie ones. However, I think the two are a different species altogether, have a different business ethic, and are catering to different market segments. First of all, CFDs are businesses and I think this is above all, the most important point to keep in mind. When you judge them as businesses and not as works of culinary feat, I think you have to give them the credit that they're due. These businesses do a phenomenal job of positioning themselves on the marketplace as restaurants that offer a dining experience that projects a facade of chic while still being comfortable enough for "the masses" to enjoy. They are selling an image, a brand, and a certain predictability that encourages their diners to return over and over again. Volume requires a certain uniformity both in terms of staff and menu choices - a packaged feel that many of us on this forum understandably reject. I have always been impressed by the way companies like Cactus Club and Earl's are able to reinvent themselves in order to continue to be novel, yet familiar to their target demographic. Consider the shift in decor at the new Paramount Earl's or the image of Cactus Club before they metamorphosed into an uber-Hooter's experience. Also, reinvention of the menu is also incredibly difficult. Consider having to appeal to the fickle tastes of diners who come from a marketplace of constant innovation that is obsessed with image and the next item to be consumed. The menu has to be "trendy" yet comfortable, innovative yet not too wild for palates used to burgers and fries, American chain food yet reflective of Westcoast, Asian, and "global" influences. And all of this has to be achieved by keeping food costs, wages, and overhead expenses low. Whew!
  15. Here is the Raspberry Miroire cake I made for Chinese New Year - Year of the Dog. I apologize for the less than stellar quality of the image. The cake is a cassis infused, raspberry mousse atop a layer of genoise sponge and dark chocolate ganache. The top layer is a cassis/raspberry jelly.
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