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Everything posted by Claudiak

  1. I'm actually going to have a decently-sized deck once I move into my new place in July, so I'm now planning My Very First Garden. Ever. At an event hosted by the BC Blueberry Council yesterday (where blueberries were used in fabulous Iron Chef-like fashion by Don Letendre of Elixir) I idly threw out the idea of growing blueberries to a commercial blueberry farmer who was sitting at my table. Would you believe he said it's doable, even on the deck of a condo in downtown Vancouver? Provided you can get plants, he says all they need is some acidic soil, a decent source of water, and to have their dead twigs removed in the winter. They'll stay small if you plant them in a small container, but can grow up to 6 feet high if they get enough room, and they're long lived (some in Richmond have continued to produce for 50 or 60 years). He also says the blueberry bushes don't need to be brought inside or kept warm in the winter, because they actually need the cold to regulate how much fruit they bear. He also suggested getting at least two plants to allow them to cross-fertilize each other, and that if you get the right varieties, you could have fresh blueberries from the end of July until mid September. I didn't mention my blueberry-devouring fiend of a niece who will make short work of the miniscule crop. I admit I'm pretty scared to take the project on, but it's intriguing, no?
  2. May I suggest Star Anise as a great pre-theatre choice? They have a $35 three course menu specifically for people rushing to get to a show. Here's the review I published in Metro on October 6, 2006. Hope it helps! As per usual, I had overbooked myself. It left me with raging hunger and only about an hour before curtain at the opening of a new musical at the Stanley Theatre, Cookin’ at the Cookery. To make it even better, it was pouring rain, so tromping around for a few blocks to find somewhere to eat was out of the question even if I had had the time to do it. Then, in a stroke of restaurant serendipity, we rounded the corner and found Star Anise. I sheepishly asked if a meal were at all feasible, and was charmingly ushered in with gracious assurances that everything would be just fine. I later found out Ross was the owner, which explains why he could make such a promise on the kitchen’s behalf. We nestled into elegant chairs in a dining area that felt like the salon in a French home, with dusty rose walls, and even a piece of furniture or two tucked in against the walls. The hunger had morphed into a bit of menu indecisiveness, so I simply snagged four of the five appetizers listed. Watching Ross work the room by himself was like watching a ballet—never hurried, never harried, and never a moment out of step. Maybe his gift for being in the right place all the time stemmed from his Bulgarian acting training, but it certainly seemed like a natural talent too. The fresh bocconcini and tomato salad arrived first, followed quickly by a Dungeness crab cake packed with meat without feeling dense. Then it was on to mesquite smoked venison carpaccio, which melted on the tongue. The prawn and scallop skewer took a little longer to grill, but Ross kept providing us updates so we could gage the time. I just wish there had been another on the plate because it was so good! They must be used to theatregoers rushing through dinner, but the charm and grace added to the process at Star Anise is their own special touch. It left me in the perfect mood to thoroughly enjoy the musical, but that’s another story indeed.
  3. 6-12 blocks (except Serafina) - I walk more than that to get lunch or coffee in the morning. ← A little cab ride certainly isn't out of the question, but living in downtown Vancouver I'm pretty used to doing a ton of walking too. So yes to both counts. Unfortunately it now appears as though the mentor will not be able to join us in Seattle because of poor health, so we're refocussing the point of the trip. No Salumi for lunch unfortunately because I'll be checking out the David's Bridal $99 sale in Tacoma/Tukwila, and the the options for dinner are endless.
  4. Thanks for the suggestions, o lovely egulletters. I'll check them all out. It's a Monday night, which thankfully takes away some of the noise concerns. Much appreciated, and let me buy you a coffee the next time you head to Vancouver.
  5. We're taking a one-day trip to Seattle from Vancouver to see my fiance's mentor for possibly the last time. I was hoping someone could point me toward a dinner location with creative but non-outlandish food, an atmosphere conducive to conversation yet lively enough in case a topic change is warranted, and not so formal that anyone will have to wear clothes that require ironing. (Greyhound bus doncha know) Service is a huge aspect of the restaurant experience for me, and particularly for a special dinner like this, it would have to be attentive but not obtrusive. We're overnighting at a hotel near Denny Way and Westlake Ave, so ideally the restaurant would be within a reasonable walking distance and be open to at least midnight/1 am-ish in case the conversational ball really gets rolling. We're only about a week and a half away so hopefully it would also be a place where it's not too hard to make a reservation. Price could be up to $100 a head, but would preferably be more in the $50-$75 range. We're pretty open to all styles of cuisine. I hope this isn't a totally idealistic restaurant wishlist. Any help would be very much appreciated!!
  6. Not sure if there's any still available, but the IGA Marketplace at Burrard and Smithe was selling 24 500 ml bottles for $3 yesterday morning. The mad water rush appears to have settled down for now though, since I went to the oh-so-convenient new Costco downtown last night and there was tons available.
  7. One last suggestion if I may: www.fratellibakery.com (on Commercial Drive) I ordered a delicious layered fruit, custard and cake concoction for a birthday party for 25 people, and it was only $45.
  8. Hey, after seeing Neil making fun of people who "have faces for radio" before, I had to put him and ToY in the spotlight!
  9. It seems like some of the menu PDFs have been posted and others have not as of this moment--keep clicking through to test out which ones work. The ones I have seen sound delish!
  10. My standard go-to for cheap yet really good sushi downtown is Oysi Oysi, on Alberni near the Wendy's/Tim Hortons. It has really good specials (check out the amazing sashimi boat with tuna, salmon, hokkigai, amaebi, and tai for just $16.88), and serves a good variety of Japanese and Chinese cooked food as well as the sushi.
  11. I had to thank someone for a huge favour that he had done for me, so I booked a table at Saveur (Thurlow and Robson). For $38, you get three courses of simply fabulous Southern French cuisine. I'm writing a review for this Friday's Metro, so I won't say too much more, but if you want a meal that will knock your socks off without blowing a hole through your wallet, this is it.
  12. I inadvertently ended up eating at the new Red Burrito at Broadway and Ash today on it's very first today. The components are good, but the new staff have a little way to go on putting them together in the correct order. Thank God they included a hundred bajillion napkins for messy me though, or the keyboard would have been an utter disaster.
  13. Oh Yeah! The chicken karaage at the west robson location is INSANELY good. My theory is that it is cooked only by virgins who wear blinders so that they cannot see anything impure while they fry the chicken. ← Canucklehead, either you really love fried chicken or you've been sitting too close to the fryer fumes! Good call Makan--fried anything at Phnom Penh is killer.
  14. I go through phases of craving fried chicken too, and would you believe it, the best I've had in a while was at the Guu on Thurlow a couple of weeks ago? It tastes like they marinate it in some kind of soy/brown sugar combo first, and then just quickly dash it through some batter before hucking it into the fryer. Now if they could only fix their service issues!
  15. How about Cassis Bistro? Apparently they have a good cocktail list. ← Clever cayenne! Unfortunately I think the room set up precludes the mingling element maxmillan was looking for...
  16. There's a whole corridor of dim sum around Kingsway and Slocan-ish. Most of them charge $2 per plate no matter what size they are, providing you pay cash. We tend to go to Tsui Yuen a lot.The downside is that they're a little dingier than you might like. Fisherman's Terrace in Richmond also comes highly recommended. If you're going to branch out into Shanghainese I'd recommend Golden Great Wall at Broadway and Heather for having a varied menu that's tasty and cheap. edited to say: I forgot to add Floata in Richmond or Chinatown. They're not bad for the price, and they're the only place that I can think of that serves a whole roasted suckling pig. If you're into that kind of thing.
  17. I have a few suggestions: Balthazar in the West End, Bogart's on Broadway, and Shebeen in Gastown. All are reasonably priced, have good wine/cocktail food menus, and can set aside private spaces. Parking might be an issue though.
  18. I was at Aberdeen Centre on Thursday and Friday to cover the fatal stabbing--the first time I've ever been there, in fact. They didn't close down the mall during the investigation, so shoppers were still going in and out. If the relatively low number of people I saw on both days is any indication of the traffic at the mall, I would be very concerned about the success of all of the businesses there. I've been told mall owner Thomas Fung is losing money hand over fist. I hope I get a chance to check out Sushikan before it closes down (your other pictorial looked awesome Ling!) If not, I hope it relocates to a better location.
  19. I came in on Friday night just to have the infamous GBP! It's the first time I've been in your joint for a while, Mr Wyles. Not sure why I haven't been back, but I'll have to make a dinner and dessert visit soon. I thought it was great, but it wasn't quite what I expected--the cake was very 'smashed' looking on the plate. (We came in quite late so it may have been the last of that particular pan.) It was also less gingery than I expected. The caramel sauce was soooooo good. I was liberally dousing every piece with it. And holy portion size, Pudding Man! I'm so glad I had a friend to share it with me!
  20. I agree with Neil here. This is a game of logistics. It's a busier period I think for most places so tradeoffs need to be made and I'd rather order all three "choices" at the start and have them come on time. If I want the true relaxed experience I won't come during dineout. In a way its a neat experience to see a restaurant totally hopping like a well oiled machine during this period. It's madness! It's exciting to watch. ← Thanks for your perspective on this, gentlemen. I wasn't thinking about that factor. I was also probably getting nitpicky after having a lot of other small things go wrong first. (And even though I did end up ordering all three at one go, they unfortunately didn't come on time.) Going back to the cost factor, I was quite frankly surprised by the great menus that some places were able to offer for $15. I almost thought you couldn't even buy the raw ingredients for that price. If I could play devil's advocate for a minute, what do you all think of offering a $15 menu? Is it worth running at a (potential) loss for 2 weeks worth attracting business for the rest of the year? Does this attract the class of customer that some people on here seem not to enjoy? Just asking.
  21. My Haligonian brother-in-law tells me the goopy stuff is called tomally. If you like it, you should try it sometime at a Chinese restaurant when you order salt and pepper deep fried whole crabs. The legs are all taken out and fried separately, and then you get the shell itself with the tomally fried inside it. It's a little rich to have on a regular basis, but whoo boy, does it ever make a great treat.
  22. This is my first year doing Dine Out, and I'm not sure I would do it again if I didn't have to. I think there were many places that offered great value for the prices, and others who haughtily made it seem as though they were descending from Mount Olympus to serve their ambrosia to the great unwashed. I sorta think iffin you cain't afford the food cost ta do it proper, you shouldn't offer it, ya know? I also recognize the dilemma with turning over tables in time for a subsequent reservation, but what I don't appreciate as a consumer is feeling like I'm being hustled out of a nice restaurant with unseemly haste, which is what happened for me at Parkside. I think I could have taken being told there was a 90 minute table time if it had been delivered in a more friendly way. I then also felt like many of the steps of service that I appreciate in fine dining were being skipped, because they were understaffed/it was Dine Out/my server wasn't very good/I was in a sci fi universe where time was randomly skipping ahead without my control... or some combination of the above. There were a number of other not-enjoyable aspects of the visit, but I don't want to bore you all. I'm pretty sure this is atypical of Parkside, so isn't it a shame that this is what a first time customer remembers of the joint? On at least three of the five DOV dinners I had, I had servers take my order for all three courses off the top and then disappear for the rest of the meal. I felt like I was a chore checklist being ticked off. I know it adds an extra visit to the table to ask what a guest would like for dessert after they finish their entrees, but that's what normally happens when it's not DOV, so shouldn't I get the same treatment as a 'normal' customer? After the rush to grab my order, I was often left waiting to get my food (most notably an HOUR for an appie at one place.) I just wonder if this concern over turning tables in time would be met by having better meal timing? (I say this as a reformed FOH staffer of 10 years during my book-larnin' days) Casual discussions with quite a few people who had been very much looking forward to DOV also reveals they were ALL disappointed with some level of the experience. Does DOV create expectations that can't possibly be met? I would be interested to see from year to year which restaurants never choose to participate, and which choose not to repeat the experience after having gone through it.
  23. Thanks for the very visual tutorial and the welcome, OG! (Although that makes me think of hippity hop and not bivalves for some reason.) I had no idea there was such disparity between what oyster farmers are paid and what we as consumers are paying for them. Is this a case of prices being regulated externally, or competition between different farmers resulting in harm for all? (as in the case of truckers and construction contractors back in the 90s) I personally believe Vancouver consumers are becoming more educated and cosmopolitan about food and dining out all the time, but are oysters the one point where I'm mistaken? Are we bargain basementing ourselves out of locally grown treats? I wonder if competition plays a part in this as well... when I think of places that serve oysters in Vancouver, Rodney's, Joe Fortes, and Blue Water are the only three that spring readily to mind. If more places served them, I think that people would become more accustomed to ordering them, and less inclined to regard them as a luxury food. Wouldn't that also then benefit farmers, by increasing the volume of product they're selling? Could any restaurateurs here address part of my (growing embarrassingly long) list of questions? Why do you, or don't you serve oysters? Also, in my previous post, I forgot to give mad props to the Whistling Oyster in Toronto. Yummy!
  24. All of this oyster talk has prompted me to sign up as an eGulleteer after reading with great interest over the last few weeks! While I quite enjoy Rodney's in Vancouver, I have to say Rodney's in Toronto is awesome. The room is all sleek blonde wood, perfectly set up to grab a bunch of friends and cosy up at a booth. For the year I lived in the T-dot I could pretty much be found waiting with much anticipation at the oyster shucking bar at least a couple of times a month. I chomped my way through Belons, Fanny Bays, Beausoleils, Raspberry and Ship's Points, Kusshis, Kumamotos and the ubiquitous Malpeques, almost always with a spritz of lemon and shallot vinaigrette before I'd upsy daisy the whole concoction down my throat. Putting aside whether there's actually a chemical reason for the aphrodisiac qualities ascribed to oysters, I think the whole process of eating them invokes a certain mood, in both genders. By far the best oyster I've ever had in my life is the Cocomandel (or Coromandel?) Bay from New Zealand. Two or three inches long, but much firmer than you might expect with such a big oyster... even a little bit of crunch a la Chinese style jellyfish. The meat is also quite thick, and the taste! Imagine cucumber mixed with a hint of brine and you'd almost be there. I can't do it justice. By the end of my sojourn in the Big Smoke, Craig the shucker and I had gotten to be fast friends. So when he suggested I eat a live pink scallop, I said I was game. He popped the top half off, and the wee scallop looked quite delicious... until I squirted some lemon on it... and it flinched. eek! I ate it anyway.
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