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Little Frog

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    Vancouver, BC
  1. Ah, now that would be something to look forward to!
  2. After foolishly trying to go to La Buca without a reso, I finally made it to there on my birthday and had a great dinner! Very straightforward take on Italian food, nothing overly intricate or trying too hard to impress. Just very good dishes from all over Italy, many of them with a rustic feel, but taken to the next level of refinement by skillful cooking and the liberal use of fresh herbs. The room itself would definitely not be out of place in Italy, with its black and white flooring, closely spaced tables and unadorned look. Space is at a premium and the room is quite plain, yet La Buca feels comfortable. The friendly and attentive service probably plays a great role in how welcoming this place is. While perusing the menu, I happily munched on the thick fennel gressini, which were excellent. Things were off to a good start! I had the zuppa di pesce as my appetizer, a very generously served tomato-based soup, chock full of seafood - a steal at $9.00. Many restaurants in town would sell a smaller portion than this as a main course. The seafood was very fresh and not overcooked as is often the case. The soup had a clean, rich taste to which lots and lots of chopped parsley added a slight lemony note. I had mentioned to my waiter that, even though I love wine, I am not a big drinker. He suggested a half quartino of Spanish rose to go with the zuppa di pesce, followed by another half quartino of Masi chianti with my main course. Both pairings worked quite well and it was just enough wine for me (roughly a glass or maybe a little less. Plus, the tiny carafes just look adorable!) I then had the saltimbocca, one of my favourite Italian dishes. I always had seen it prepared with a very thin veal cutlet, then rolled up with the sage and prosciutto. Here, a thicker cut of veal is used and the meat is simply topped with the sage and prosciutto. The veal was extremely tender and juicy and the kitchen certainly did not skimp on the sage and prosciutto. One of the best saltimbocca I have ever had. I had absolutely no room for dessert that night, but I am already planning a return visit to try the osso bucco and I will make sure to leave room for the tiramisu. Both food and service were excellent and prices are very reasonable. If you are thinking of giving La Buca a try - and I highly recommend you do! - by all means do make a reservation. Even on a chilly Monday night in January, the place was packed...
  3. - La Buca for my birthday, where I had a delicious seafood soup and a great saltimbocca, paired respectively with a Spanish rose and a Chianti. No room for dessert that night, but I will be back for more before long! - Parkside for my last DOV dinner this year. Perfect from beginning to end - Fuel last night for a belated birthday dinner. I had an excellent shrimp and squid appetizer, served with homemade chorizo and little rizotto "croquettes". I particularly enjoyed the contrasts between the different textures. The shrimp and the squid were perfectly cooked and very tender. My main was the rosemary lamb on a bed of cauliflower gratin with green olives. All the flavours mingled beautifully, the saltiness of the gratin bringing out the sweetness of the lamb. My boyfriend had the sablefish and really enjoyed it. The wine list has a very decent selection by the glass. There are some nice touches, such as the very good bread, served warm with butter and kosher salt, and the interestingly plated amuse-bouche. Service was attentive and pleasant but a little hit-and-miss.
  4. My last DOV dinner this year was at Parkside. It was my first time there and... Wow! I can see why it ranks so high on many people's lists I already was in a particularly good mood when I arrived at the restaurant: see, I was meeting with a lovely couple of eGulleters and a friend of theirs, who had offered to rescue me from solo DOV dining, even though they didn't know me from Adam. Random acts of friendliness always make my day I rarely drink cocktails, but the blood orange Negroni came highly recommended and it was indeed delicious. Seasonal ingredients, bold yet refined and perfectly balanced flavours, this was a cocktail that set the tone for the rest of the menu. All the appetizers sounded very tempting. The oxtail consomme with bone marrow dumplings finally got my vote, as it is not a dish that I am likely to find very often in Vancouver. The consomme was beautifully executed with clean yet deep flavours; the dumplings had a surprisingly light texture and tasted heavenly. I then had the steelhead trout, which was superb as well. I particularly enjoyed the skill and creativity that went into the sides and accompaniments: the scallop tartelette was excellent and those roasted hazelnuts were to die for! For dessert, the espresso panna cotta was calling my name, although the prune / armagnac ice cream sounded wonderful too. The panna cotta was served in a large (and by this I mean *large*) cup and looked exactly like a well-made cappuccino, topped by a dense white foam (white chocolate in this case). Although the portion was more than generous, it was so good that it promptly disappeared! Everyone at the table shared a bottle of a very enjoyable Blue Mountain Pinot Blanc, which I will order again next time I see it on a wine list. Service was very good, unobtrusive and efficient but never rushed. Needless to say, after this first experience, I am very much looking forward to going back and trying more dishes from their regular menu. I will be recommending Parkside to anyone who will listen for the next little while, I think...
  5. I had a reso at Bravo Bistro for last Saturday. It is only the day before that I got an email through Opentable, explaining that the restaurant had closed down and could not honour our reservation Does anyone know what happened? Really too bad, especially considering that there are so few places offering Moroccan-influenced food in Vancouver...
  6. My birthday is tomorrow and, instead of spending weeks planning a big party as I usually do, I decided to take tomorrow off and give myself two days of really good eating. No planning, just spur of the moment, no strict budget and no other rule than to enjoy these two days as much as I can... bring on the good food, I say! - Had a late breakfast and went back to Keis Bakery to sample their matcha financier (very light texture and great matcha flavour) and the walnut pan, which was full of good quality, sweet walnuts. I found the pan itself a little too soft for my taste but this is just a matter of personal preference. For some reason, I always expect savoury breads to be crusty. - I then had two cups of Colombian coffee at the Elysian Room. I am usually partial to espresso, but I love sampling the coffee by the cup at the Elysian and I trust them not to brew it weak. As always, my coffee was excellent: medium-bodied but very flavourful, smooth and complex, with a sweet and nutty undertone. I will be back for more, even though the Ethiopian selection sounds very tempting too... - It was already late and I was not particularly hungry after leaving the Elysian, so instead of having lunch somewhere, I went home where I nibbled on some delicious blood oranges and a little later, some Vacherin Mont D'Or on Irish soda bread. - For dinner, I tried to go to La Buca, but it was packed and I could not get a table. Some diners who were leaving, seeing that I could not get in, strongly recommended that I try again another day as the food was well worth it. It was good to hear that they had a great time and so nice of them to take the time to let me know I ended up going to Zest and am I ever happy I went! I never had a bad meal there but tonight's dinner was simply perfect. I had a wonderful seafood sunomono that came with a deliciously smoky jelly, some great negitoro, uni and tobiko sushi and the always reliable roasted duck, paired with a very nice sake. Even the genmaicha was good, a nice relief from the weak, nasty tea that most Japanese restaurants serve. The waitress was attentive and efficient, as always. A delicious meal in a good-looking room with a nice, subdued atmosphere, all of that for under $50 before tip (including sake)... it doesn't get much better than that
  7. A friend and I went to Cassis Bistro on Thursday night. It was our first time there and we may not have tried this restaurant otherwise, as this is not a neighbourhood either of us frequents much. The room was almost full when we arrived but we were greeted and seated immediately. We got great service throughout our meal, informed and efficient but never rushed. The wine selection had several tempting options and when we hesitated between two whites, our waiter brought us a sample of one of them so that we could make up our mind. We ended up going with a lovely Alsace, a Pfaffenheim whose smoothness and fruitiness worked very well with our meal. My friend and I ordered the same appetizer and main: - beet salad with julienned arugula and a hint of blue cheese, very nice and refreshing - bouillabaisse with a side of ratatouille. The bouillabaisse was not exactly authentic (it had prawns and scallops in addition to the white fish), but the broth was excellent and the seafood cooked just right. The aioli mentioned on the menu never materialized, alas, but the flavours in that dish were bright and clean enough that we did not really miss it. The ratatouille was quite good, with vegetables cooked slightly more "al dente" than usual, which I actually prefer. We ended our meal by sharing a nice chocolate torte and a great creme brulee... both for the creamy taste and the silky texture, it may well be one of the best creme brulees I have had. Very nice food, excellent service and interesting wine list. We will definitely be back, if only to sample the coq au vin and the boeuf bourguignon. My only complaint is that the music was really loud, and with the place being packed, it was sometimes hard to hear each other.
  8. Here is what I picked up today: - spicy squid - bamboo shoots (thanks for the tip Sam, I had some tonight to go with the squid and they are indeed very good!) - two chicken rice wraps - BBQ pork with lemongrass - BBQ duck - Japanese cucumbers - brown mushrooms - a young coconut - crispy sesame balls I think this should tide me over until the end of the week
  9. - Keis Bakery: picked up an assortment of their Japanese pastries. My favourites were the Mt Matcha and the Banana. I also tried the Red Bean but it was too sweet for my taste. The owner also gave me a cream bun and some biscotti to try; both were very good. He told me the biscotti were made and specially packaged to celebrate the bakery's first anniversary. I hope there will be many more anniversaries for them, as their pastries are well worth trying and the young owners very nice - Solly's (W. Broadway): I tried their chocolate babka, which has no fruit or rum in it, but found it much too heavy; it sat in my stomach all day. On the other hand, the whole wheat bagel I had for breakfast the next day was delicious: great shiny crust and chewy but not overly dense inside. Yum! - Shiro: Finally made it there after hearing many good things about the place. I really enjoyed the sushi being served warmer than at most other restaurants. Much more flavourful that way. I tried all of my favourites (saba, tobiko, unagi, uni) and was quite impressed with the quality of the sushi. The squid was excellent too. Some other robata-style dishes were good but not as memorable. So far I prefer Toshi for the hot food, but Shiro is the new benchmark as far as sushi is concerned
  10. I am pretty sure they had the bamboo shoots last Saturday - adding them to my list of dishes to try! Beebs, welcome and thank you for the many recommendations!
  11. Thank you very much for the recommendations everyone! I will put some of these ideas to good use this week On Saturday I tried the Jumbo steamed bun (pork, vegetables, yolk), very tasty and filling! I was also quite excited to find fried sesame balls, which I had not had in years. The ones I used to get had a coconut filling, but T&T does not seem to carry these. I tried a red bean sesame ball instead... and after just one bite I had a big smile on my face and a head full of memories of the 13th Arrondissement in Paris, where I used to get the sesame-covered balls of greasy goodness. It was delicious, even though I could not tell what was the sweetest, the filling or the memories I found the taste very similar to that of an an egg tart. The green tea flavour was there, but not very strong at all. Compared to most green tea ice creams I have had (the benchmark for me being the one at Musashi), the flavour was less "grassy" and definitely much, much fainter. The pastry was very good though, with a buttery crust and a filling that was not overly sweet.
  12. Yum, BBQ duck! That sounds like an excellent idea for when I do not feel like cooking. Today I picked up a BBQ pork bun and a green tea milk tart from one of the hot food stations. I ate lunch at my desk and my colleagues could not help but stare at the bright green pastry I very much enjoyed my lunch and will go back soon to try something else from their selection. Will report back later!
  13. Thank you for the recommendations! I tried the IGA on Burrard tonight but they did not have it. A visit to Kingsway is in order! I will keep my eyes open for the Trung Nguyen coffee.
  14. I would like to buy some Vietnamese coffee, as well as the filter to prepare it. Does anyone know where I could find this in Vancouver? Thanks in advance!
  15. Looking for ideas! I love going into the Chinatown T&T supermarket to look at all the unfamiliar (to me) foods on display, but I never quite know what to buy. So, please educate me, lest I leave the place with a basket full of instant ramen noodles What do you usually get there? Any favourites I should not miss? My knowledge of Chinese cooking techniques is rather limited, so I should probably stick to fairly basic things for now. It does not have to be ready-to-eat, though, as I have a decent quality wok and a bamboo steamer. I usually prefer savoury foods, but some of the baked goods look tempting, so if you think there are some good pastries (preferably not overly sweet) that I should try, please let me know! I do like organ meats; like many French people, I grew up eating liver, kidneys, brain, tongue and sweetbreads (hey! Why is everyone turning green!?! ) The only thing that I can be a little picky about is texture: I am not a big fan of overly chewy or gelatinous foods. No chicken feet pour moi, I guess...
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