30 June 2008

Breakfast in Vancouver...

I ate an amazing sandwich for breakfast while in Vancouver...

A fresh bagel with egg, cheese, and smoked meat. Oh yeah. It's maybe weird, but it's very good...

It was really nice on the inside...

Yeah, it was so amazing. I really enjoyed it, as did G. We had a great time. Our sandwich location had an amazing view...

Yeah. It's so beautiful. The weather was gorgeous. The conference was very informative. I met a lot of people, and I had a brilliant time. I could totally live there. If I didn't live here. But I do. So there.

(I have posted a few things tonight... keep going for amazing Indian food!)

Lift Off!

We had lunch at a restaurant in (near?) Stanley Park on Saturday, after attending the conference. The restaurant was called Lift and is right on the water.

Because it was such a beautiful day, we opted to sit out on the patio. And because it was Vancouver, we opted to order fish and chips.

Oh baby!

Lightly fried Halibut served with delish pomme frites, tartar sauce and coleslaw. And a cute bunch of condiments... Don't believe me? I warned you!

Ahhhh. Little pots of ketchup and some malt vinegar.

And cocktails... the photo of me below is at this restaurant, where I had a little bubbly. G ordered a martini...

It was so fantastic... The view was beautiful... I can show you... I have the technology...

Vancouver is so ugly. Blech. (tee hee.)

Boneta Loves You Indeed.

G had a business dinner that I was invited to join while in Vancouver, so I could not take photos, though after having met the people we dined with, I don't think they would have cared! But one doesn't know that when going into a situation, so on the Friday night I did not take pictures of the food, despite the earth-shattering goodness of the dinner.

Where did we go? Boneta in Gastown. Wow. The food was absolutely amazing. I am not going to go into what everyone ordered, but I will hit the highlights...

G had another carpaccio, this time made of bison, and rocking the house. Really nice. For my main, I had the roasted lamb loin with ratatouille (rat patootie), spinach, lamb cheek cappelletti, and rosemary jus. It was delicious! The cappelletti was very tender and the lamb cheek (shredded) inside was so savory! The cheek was very tender and very very rich. The loin was perfectly cooked (not too rare, but pink enough to still be tender) and the ratatouille was served on top of the spinach, which ensured that I ate the spinach because it made the whole lot taste lovely.

For dessert, I had the caramel bavaroise with breton sable, caramelised apple and vanilla parfait. You will notice that out of all the heavy dinners we had, this was the only place I had dessert. That happened for a couple of reasons... one) everyone else was ordering and two) the portions weren't huge and I was in the mood for something sweet.

The meal was amazing and the conversation delightful. I entered the evening with a mind-numbing migraine, and after a couple of "two twenty twos" so kindly offered by our guest, I left the restaurant headache free. Needless to say, I went to the pharmacy the next day and got my own. (These miracle pills are over the counter aspirin, caffeine and codeine pills. Amazing. Go Canada.)

While at dinner, we had a celebrity sighting... Gil Bellows was there. He was at a birthday party, it appeared, and seemed in good spirits. I really enjoyed the dinner and would go back there in a second. It's a great place and really comfortable. Oh, and all the waitresses had lovely tattoos. Cool.

Food and Wine Recommends...

I really wanted to try "Italian Kitchen"... I had read about it in Food and Wine magazine, I love Italian food, and I just thought it sounded amazing. But I landed in Vancouver with a killer headache, and after a day of conferencing, I felt completely spent on Thursday (our only available night for this restaurant). I put on jeans and my mary jane crocs (that I love love love) and a cozy shirt, and we set out to do something low key.

And then we walked by the Italian Kitchen. And we had to stop and go in and eat dinner. And I felt underdressed. And I didn't have my camera. And I enjoyed every single delicious bite of my food.

So, I am going to tell you about it, even though I can't show it to you.

First, we started with a lovely order of the prosciutto bruschetta. It is served on their pizza crust, and was really simple and delicious. G ordered the beef tenderloin carpaccio with gorgonzola polenta... really really nice. The carpaccio was wafer thin and had a beautiful wedge of parmesan with it. The polenta was creamy and a lovely counter to the carpaccio.

For our main courses, we both ordered the handmade gnocchi with wild mushrooms. Wow. The gnocchi were really heavenly, thick and nicely matched by the fantastically creamy goat cheese. The wild mushrooms were amazing, softly sauteed and buttery. I really really enjoyed my dinner and highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for an amazing dinner in a comfortable setting. I was thrilled to no end to be eating there!

The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of

I had to go to Vancouver for a conference. It's a several day affair, and I was on the planning committee, so I needed to be there bright and early to help with the set up. G was planning on going to Vancouver sometime in June, and so she decided to go the same time as me, so that we could travel together.

Vancouver offered many tasty meals to us last week. We had been talking about having fancy Indian food, and many people had recommended Vij's to us, so our first night in Vancouver, we grabbed a cab and headed out for a late dinner...

We'd been warned that at Vij's you had to wait for a table. What we were surprised about was that they brought around food the entire time. Delicious food. (And one thing that I think may have had crickets in it, but I am trying not to think about that too much...) So we snacked on cassava fries, chappati's, etc., and had a drink and chit-chatted. Very pleasant.

We also perused the menu. And G of course honed in on two things, shrimp and lamb. I ixnayed the shrimpay but said HELLO to the lamb. So we pretty much narrowed down the menu to a few (maybe too many) choice things and waited patiently. Snacking the whole time.

We were seated after about 20 minutes, which was certainly not interminable by any stretch of the imagination. The restaurant is really modern, with a pretty casual feel despite the (much-deserved, we would discover) hype and hoo-ha.

Our waitress immediately brought us water, and G whipped out the camera and had to take a shot of it...

Ahhh... it was icy cold and wonderful!

And then we ordered. We started with some amazing appetizers (which came with naan).

First up was paneer, eggplant and green bean in a tamarind curry. The paneer was so amazing. Really soft but firm, and just filled with the curry flavour...

It came with some really lovely chappati's that had green onion or something in them. They were grilled and had a really nice, slightly charred taste.

We moved from there to the local mushrooms in creamy potato curry, which was served on a bed of brown rice. Wowie.

I love the bowl, and the curry. I absolutely love curry, love mushrooms, love rice, and loved every mouthful of this dish. It was subtle in it's spice, but really tremendous.

G ordered one spoon of the dungeness crab in coconut and cilantro with candied beets. She said it was amazing, but the beets were HOT! The first bite was very sweet, and then the hot just hit you in the mouth on the finish. Really tasty...

Phew. You can see, we had already fallen in love with the place.

Then came the mains... first up was a chicken dish... Specialty chicken breast in clove, garlic and tomato curry with red bell peppers and shallots in yogurt masala. This was really amazing. The chicken breast was grilled and spiced, and lying on top of the dish, and the curry had pieces of chicken thigh that was amazingly tender and flavourful...

It was so wonderful... I really enjoyed the lightness of the curry, and the grilled chicken was just amazing...

It also came with naan...

And you can see the basmati peeking in the corner of that photo...

We also ordered the house specialty, the Wine marinated lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream curry on turmeric spinach potatoes.

Oh. My. G-d. This is a must eat dish. It's beyond amazing. I bought the Vij's Cookbook JUST so that I can make this recipe at home. It's just unlike anything I have ever tasted...

I mean, honestly. Wow. The sauce is just so rich and light and creamy, with the potatoes (which you can't really see, but trust me, they're in there) were tender and flavourful. The grilled lamb was absolutely perfectly cooked with hardly any game-y flavour. I hope when I try this out at home, it turns out a tenth as good as this... I will let you know.

In addition to all the grub above, I had a beer and G had a ginger lemon drink. Our bill came out to around $75, which was a steal for the amazingness of the whole dinner. I couldn't get over how amazing it was... we raved about it everywhere we went.

But it was just the first of many great dinners. Stay tuned....

Vancouver... I Salute You!

I just returned home from a conference in Vancouver, and wow, what can be said? Vancouver? It totally doesn't suck. What a glorious time, and lots of food to boot... coming soon....

15 June 2008

A Few Dinners.

We have had a few interesting -ish meals this past week. We tried Good View Restaurant for Chinese takeaway the other night. It was one of those instances where you aren't sure what to order, so you just get a bunch of things. Here's a look at my plate about four bites into it:

We ordered chicken fried rice, tingly beef and black bean, spicy chicken, egg foo young (which was a GIANT omelet), some fried dumplings, and a noodle dish that only G ate. The food was really pretty good, not crazily expensive, and just fine.

We have been having lots of asparagus since it's in season right now, so here's a dish utilizing the asparagus. Or it would have done, had I not roasted it for so long it carmelized, which is nice in a way, but not really. We bought a spatchcocked chicken from Cumbrae's that was marinating away in piri piri sauce, and I made a potato salad. Really good.

The potato salad was a first try for me. Here's a close-up:

I used a few small new potatoes, boiled them until they were softish. While hot, I mixed them with some dijon and olive oil that I blended with salt and pepper and lemon juice. I then added fresh chopped parsley and thinly sliced red onion that had been soaked in cold water for about 30 minutes. I really enjoyed it. I think it was too creamy for G, but I really liked it.

Friday's dinner. Well. It just wasn't right. G wanted to try to make scallops. Now you may have noticed that there is a lack of all things fishy on this blog, and that's because I am really not keen. Really. Not keen. At all. But G wanted to try scallops, and so I saw a recipe in delicious. magazine that we decided to try. It sounded good. Scallops, chickpeas, lemon. But no. It wasn't good. This was my plate.

I ate one and a half scallops, a couple of the asparagus that was too undercooked, and a few chickpeas. Then I threw it away and made a grilled cheese sandwich. Yummy. It's not that G's food was bad. It was just too many things not working on one plate. So scallops, at least for the time being, are better left to the professionals.

(please note that I have a few new entries, so keep scrolling down...)

Cat in the Box.

He loves to hide. Only his tail gives his secret hiding place away!

My villi.

The doctor and lab tech are looking at my villi. I imagine they look something like this drawing above. Who knows. During my procedures the other week, the doctor took several biopsies, some of which were of my villi. The purpose of the villi test was to see if there was any damage that would/could be caused by celiac. When I did the gluten-free trial, my stomach felt much better, but the blood work was borderline, so the doctor wanted to give it a look to see if anything else was going on... So that means looking at the villi.

I should get the results this coming week. Dietary changes are on the horizon. We'll see how it goes. It seems that if it's celiac or IBS, I have been told by several medical professionals that I appear to have a wheat intolerance (which differs from an allergy) so we will see if cutting that out makes any sort of difference. Regardless of what the GI scope and colonoscopy show, I have to do something to make my stomach less upset. I did buy some Hyland's Homeopathic Upset Stomach today. Has anyone tried this? I love their Calm's Forte, so I hope this new one works. I have taken my weight in Gravol this past two weeks, so I am looking for something a little less hardcore.

ANYWAY, let's see what happens. It seems like this has been the slowboat to diagnosis, but we are getting closer!!!

(And for those who may not have spent the last 8 months or so investigating stomach ailments, villi are little things that line the small intestines, and are responsible for food absorption, etc.  When a person has celiac, the villi become damaged, so intestinal biopsies are the final diagnostic step for concluding celiac.) 

Winfield's, not just for old people...

G's parent's love this restaurant in their old neighborhood called Winfield's. It seems to have a Greek theme, but it's one of those places with lots of stuff on the menu. G's dad wanted to have dinner, and we agreed to go somewhere in between their new house and our house. So there we were at Winfield's.

G's dad ordered the French Onion Soup. It was cheeeeeeeeesssssssssssssy.

Whoa. It was really tasty, though. Nice and beefy, lots of onion, the bread was cutable, and the cheese delightfully stringy. He seemed to enjoy it.

G's mom ordered the prime rib. I don't get prime rib, it always seems so fatty and thick and raw. I know it's supposed to be deluxe, but I have never seen an instance where prime rib made me think, 'oh yeah, that's exactly what I want!!!'. At least I don't think it has. Who can say.

Anyway... I took a photo anyway...

I don't now. This piece was incredibly fatty. G's mom wasn't too impressed.

I ordered the chicken souvlaki, which came with rice, potatoes and salad. Oh, and chicken.

There was way too much salad. But then, I am not a huge salad eater. But everything else was just fine. G had the lamb souvlaki, so it looked exactly like my plate, but with brown bits of meat instead of white bits of meat.

The price is pretty good, the servings are fine, and the food is generally okay. It's full of old people at the hour that we tend to go, but it's all okay when you have good company and nice conversation.

But that being said, I'd never likely eat there of my own will without it being related to G's parents in some manner. Not that it's bad, there's just a lot of better places that are closer to home, etc.

Vegetarian Night -- It's good (honest!)

I am in love with all of the food magazines that I read. Some months, it's a total throw-away and I find nothing that I really want to make. But then other months, pages are dogeared and grocery lists are made as I am reading.

We have been having a Vegetarian Night once a week with our friends from upstairs, and while there have been a few things I would not necessarily eat again, we've had lots of luck. But the May issue of BBC GoodFood really made me smile.

There was a recipe for Roast Veggie Moussaka with Feta that looked pretty delicious, and I was really keen to give it a go. Unfortunately, duty called and I was at work much later than I had anticipated. G stepped up and made the dinner, which turned out absolutely fantastic. I took some not so great photos, but I do what I can...

Can you see it through all the steam?! It was really pretty easy, though not particularly fast. G said that everything took longer to make then the recipe said, but... I am posting it for you anyway, because it's just so good and easy that everyone will love it...

Roast Veggie Moussaka with Feta

2 yellow peppers, cut into chunks
2 red onions, cut into wedges
2 medium courgettes, thickly sliced
1 large eggplant, cut into chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
3 oz feta
1 egg
200 ml tub Greek yogurt
700g bottle of passata
2tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 2 tsp dried

1. Heat oven to 200C. Scatter the vegetables into a large roasting roasting tin. Toss with the oil, season then roast for 25 mins until softened (actually took about 40ish minutes).
2. Break up the feta with a fork, then mix well with the egg, yogurt and seasoning. When the vegetables are ready, tip them into an ovenproof dish, then stir in the passata and oregano. Spoon over the creamy topping, turn up the oven to 220C, then bake for 20-25 mins until the filling is hot and topping is brown and bubbly. (G said that this took about 35 minutes with a quick whack under the broiler).

It's really good, and fairly easy, and a great way to get all your veg in one go! Our sauce wasn't quite as thick, and G used more feta, and it was all just a good dinner!!!!

02 June 2008

And what WAS for dinner...

I am sitting here in a bit of post-procedure haze. The tests were fine, but I didn't stay hydrated enough over the course of the "cleansing" and so I am feeling really not-so-great today from the sedatives and everything. But, biopsies were performed and we will know what's going on in ten days. Ten days! I wanted to walk out of there with an action plan, not a 'we'll know better in ten days' lack of an action plan. But such is life, I suppose.

Anyway, I thought I would post about some of last weeks delightful meals. Last week was a bit hectic for me. It was the first one without my assistant, and it had a fair number of stressful moments, but G saw to it that we had some tasty grub...

Case in point. This delightful cheese covered plate of pasta was part of my effort to continue keeping the gluten in me in preparation for my today's tests. And I succeeded on this front. We bought some wonderful fresh pasta at the fresh pasta place at the St. Lawrence Market, along with one of their "mixed" sauces with tomato, alfredo and pesto mixed together. It was spicy and delicious! I don't know the name of that place, but it's not a proper stall, and there are a million kinds of pasta.

I also had a craving for a bean stew. Now you may ask, why in the name of G-d, when it's finally starting to be warm outside would you crave a bean stew? And I say? The stomach wants what it wants. Full stop.

This recipe came from G's Sephardi cookbook from Harare, it's quite simple. You brown the meat, cook the onion, put the beans in, some water, salt and pepper, lemon juice and you cook it until it's done. Wow. That's the best kind of cooking. And a big plate of rice to boot. Yum yum yum!

And then... dinner one night was out of this world. G's work friend had mentioned that she lived in the Polish part of Toronto, and knew of this great store to buy pierogies. G asked if she wouldn't mind picking some up for us, as our love of the pierogie is legendary. (Okay, maybe it's only legendary to us, but still, it's vast). So I came home from work around 8pm, and look what was waiting...

Pierogies and fresh fresh fresh Ontario asparagus. G sauteed some onion to put on top. It was absolutely delicious!!! I love fresh Ontario asparagus. It's so flavorful and really raises the game on what asparagus should taste like. These were fatty asparagus, but they were absolutely lovely.

So all in all, G made sure that for most of last week, we had good home-cooked meals. She's good like that. Me? I love to cook, but honestly, the thought of doing dishes just makes me want to scream and run for the covers. But the goal is to keep eating at home more than we eat out.

Now I say this as I have just made a delivery order from the Thai place around the corner. I made the order though because my new favorite comfort food when I am sick is Tom Yum Kai soup. And I have tried, but I can't seem to make it. My stomach is a little upset from the procedures this morning, and I really want that soup. So there. Tomorrow is a new day.


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