Sunday, 5 July 2015

Italian Kitchen

I went to Italian kitchen yesterday for a friend's dinner. This is by far the worst global restaurant I've been to.

We went early to drop off a cake and was told we couldn't consume it on the premises because it's against health code. I don't think I've experienced that ever. So we left and placed it in the fridge at the hotel.

When we arrived we were seated promptly, but as the plates started coming out for appetizers and bread, at least half the plates were still greasy and stained - I'm sure that's not again health code.


The food was decent enough, but our busser was busy talking to other servers and actually asked us to hand him the plates over other guests. That's bad for a "high end" restaurant.



I had the Veal Scallopini because the black truffle called my name. My veal was overcooked and a little tough. But the sauce was good, it was well seasoned with the right amount of tartness to balance the richness of the veal.


We also had freshly grated Parmesan cheese. That was a plus.


B had the pappardelle. He really liked it. The pasta was well cooked, not too rich, and the lamb sausage was moist.



Overall, people liked the food. The service was lacking, but we were in and out in 1.5 hours and they never pushed us to get more drinks, which is weird because that's where the money would come from. Probably because there's an automatic 18% charge for groups.

Will not recommend not return. Prefer Black and Blue or Coast: same quality food, better service.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Catch 122

Went to Catch 122 for brunch today. It was kind of weird when we arrived. There were several empty tables and we were asked to wait 15 minutes. No one was seated before us though. I think it has to do with whether or not a server is ready to serve a table, but seriously, they could've sat us down and have us wait with a glass of water instead of making us stand at the door.


We ordered mimosas and a coffee and they brought us some muffins to start while we waited for our dishes.


I ordered the truffled-scented mushroom omelette. It was pretty good, nice and light. Good amount of goat cheese in it to make it creamy as well. The sides didn't have any truffle taste, but there was more by the middle.


My friend ordered The Catch 122. It came with a perfectly cooked medium poached egg. Well seasoned, the salmon and dill perfectly balanced each other.


Overall a good experience. They didn't rush us after our meal, but not too many people were waiting. We've had dinner there before and it was a good experience. We just don't go back often because we don't want to pay for parking. I would recommend visiting Catch 122 though- for brunch and dinner!

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Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Speakeasy on Broadway

Went to Speakeasy on Friday because it was a sunny day and they have a patio - it's also really close to where one of my friend's live and convenient for us to get to.

I've been there twice before for brunch. The first time, the place was semi-empty (there was one other table). Our server was attentive and ensured that our food was cooked perfectly before he left the table. In general, it was a pretty good experience.

The second time we were a little early and the server told us they wouldn't be open for another 15 minutes. We were standing on the street debating where to go next when we were told by someone (probably the owner) that the kitchen was open and we could sit down. Why didn't the server just tell us to sit down and serve us coffee until they opened? So we sat down in the patio and there were flies EVERYWHERE. Food was still decent and my tiny friend actually finished her entire plate of eggs benedict.

This time, we were there for happy hour. When we sat down, the server came to tell us the drink specials - we ordered the specials ($3 beer). When he brought the beer, he told us the food specials - half off appetizers. That's great, I thought, I'll order a bunch of appetizers. We waited for him to come back and take our order. We waited and waited and waited. Finally, after about half an hour, I was able to flag him down to take our order. He refilled our beer pretty quickly. Then we wanted to leave, so we asked him for the bill when he took our dishes away. He brought it over, but disappeared. We saw him cleaning some other table, taking dishes away, and chatting to other servers in the restaurant. We tried to make eye contact. I was facing the street, and I physically turned around to keep staring at him - no luck. We had our credit cards on the table waiting. I had had enough. We threw down exact change (to the penny - yes, we still carry that around sometimes), and left. I don't think he noticed. I don't know if I'll return any more. Mediocre food is a small thing when you have a patio in the summer - but if you can't even serve me in a timely manner and are holding me hostage while I'm trying to pay, that's a crime.


It's really too bad I had such a terrible experience, because I really did enjoy the chicken wings that I ordered. I ordered the Thai Chilli wings with a side of blue cheese. At first, I thought the wings were too sweet, but once I dipped them in to the blue cheese sauce, it was pretty good. It was sweet, but had a kick of tang to it from the cheese. The wings were crispy and well coated. My companions ordered the hot wings and the barbecue wings. B also ordered the calamari. I wish we read the reviews before we ordered it, because it was soggy and flavourless. It was also served with four pieces of brick they call pita bread.

I wish my server was more attentive so I had a reason to go back. I wouldn't mind having more wings and beer on a nice patio. I suppose there are more around town.

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Monday, 8 June 2015

One Pot Smoked Sausage Skillet Pasta

I got this one-pot pasta recipe from Damn Delicious. This is pretty much like mac and cheese except with sausage and prep work.

Ingredients
(From the pantry)
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cubes mushroom bouillons
  • 12 oz macaroni
  • salt and pepper, to taste
(From the market)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 500g smoked sausage (we used Polish and Ukrainian smoked sausages)
  • 3 tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add garlic, onion, and sausage. Cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Stir in bouillon, 3 cups of water, tomatoes, milk, and pasta.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
  6. Remove from heat and top with cheese.
  7. Cover with lid until cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
It was pretty good. Simple, filling, and not a lot of dishes to wash afterwards. I may make this again in the future instead of my farmer style mac and cheese (which calls for bacon).

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

One Skillet Spicy Chicken

Got this recipe from Well Plated, but changed it quite a bit.

Ingredients
From the Pantry (or market)

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 mushroom bouillon
Fresh from the market (mostly)
  • 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 small tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • cilantro



Directions
  1. Put quinoa, 1.5 cups of water, and bouillon in a pot and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat.
  3. Add chicken and onion.
  4. Sauté, stirring often, 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in bell peppers, black beans, tomatoes, and quinoa.
  6. Bring to boil, then cover.
  7. Simmer on low heat, 5 minutes, or until chicken is done.
  8. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.
  9. Serve topped with cheese and cilantro.




Tuesday, 2 June 2015

One Pot Burrito Bowls

Another quick and easy recipe to get us through the week. This One Pot Burrito Bowls recipe was found on I Heart Naptime.

Ingredients
From the pantry (or market)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 1 cup Uncle Ben's brown rice
  • 1 vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
Fresh (kind of) from the market
  • 1 small red bell pepper (about 1/2 cup diced)
  • 1 small sweet onion (about 1/2 cup diced)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 jalepenos
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Directions
  1. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat.
  2. Saute onions and red bell peppers.
  3. Add ground beef and cook until brown.
  4. Stir in salsa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, jalepenos, taco seasoning, and chili powder.
  5. Pour in 2 cups water and add bouillon and then bring to a light boil.
  6. Cover pan and reduce heat to low.
  7. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is all the way cooked.




I don't know if it's because the dish was so quick to make or if I am craving meat and everything tastes good, but I really liked this recipe and would definitely make it again. We also served it with the extra cabbage from yesterday's Pork Stir Fry recipe.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Vietnamese Caramel Pork Stir Fry

After the lack of meat from last week's meals, I decided we needed some meat. We got this 30-Minute Vietnamese Caramel Pork Stir Fry recipe from How Sweet It is.

Ingredients:
From the Pantry (or market)

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 bouillon Chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (1 cup uncooked Uncle Ben's 20 Minute brown rice)
From the market
  • 1.5 lb pork tenderloin, cut into cubes
  • 1.5 large sweet onion, dicded
  • 3 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 head cabbage, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly torn cilantro
  • 2 limes






Directions:
  1. Prep your ingredients. Season pork with salt & pepper.
  2. Heat oil in large wok over high heat.
  3. Add pork once the oil is hot. Cook until seared and golden brown on all sides, about 6 to 8 minutes.
  4. Remove pork from wok and set aside.
  5. Add onion, ginger, and garlic to the wok, stirring to toss. Cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together chicken stock, sugar, soy sauce, cornstarch, vinegar, and pepper flakes.
  7. Pour mixture into wok and bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  9. Add pork and red pepper into the wok, tossing to coat and cook for another 2 minutes.
  10. Add rice, cilantro, peanuts, and lime juice.
  11. Serve over cabbage.




This was a pretty tasty recipe and pretty simple to make. If you prep all your ingredients in this order (onion, ginger, garlic, red pepper, cabbage, cilantro, pork) and set each one aside, you will only need to wash three bowls, one cutting board, one knife, and one wok. We will probably make it again because it didn't take too long to make.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Kessel&March

Went to Kessel&March for lunch today. My two friends ordered coffee, B ordered a lemonade and I ordered iced tea, which they actually didn't have, but was able to bring me a tea and a glass of ice- which worked out perfectly because I don't like my iced tea sweetened.

I ordered the Pate Sandwich. The sandwich was good, they mixed some cucumber into the pate, so it was fresher and not as heavy. I found the bread a little over toasted, and it kind of hurts when I bite into it. Otherwise, it was decent. I liked the minimal dressing for the side salad.


B ordered the Chorizo Hash. It was okay, he enjoyed it. The flavour was boring and he wished there were more chorizo, but it was good. The egg was cooked perfectly and the brown toast tasted fresh. You can tell it was made in house.

My friends ordered the Meat Skillet and the Benedict Royale (shown in order). I didn't get to taste it but they said it was really good. The eggs looked perfectly cooked too, nice and runny.



You may remember from a precious post that I am often disappointed by lava cakes that aren't runny and gooey. This Lava Cake at Kessel&March was made to perfection.


As soon as you put your spoon in it, the chocolate came flowing out. It was rich, chocolately, and not too sweet.


Unfortunately for Kessel&March, they're located right next to the Port Metro Vancouver container terminal so the neighbourhood stank. At first we couldn't smell it anymore when we stepped into the restaurant, but it crept in near the end.

Overall, it's worth a try, but I probably won't return because although the food was good, it was not worth the trip or the smell.


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Thursday, 28 May 2015

One-Pot Red Beans and Rice

As with the Tandoori Quinoa, we picked this recipe for the "one pot" aspect. We got this recipe from Southern Bite and just tweeked a little bit. We were able to split it into four generous dinners for two people, keeping mostly the same measurements.

Ingredients
From the Pantry (or market)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 chicken bouillons
  • 2 cups Uncle Ben's wholegrain brown rice
From the market
  • 1.5 lbs (700g) Italian sausage,* sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 28oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
*Note: we used Italian sausage because it was the cheapest option available at the market

Instructions
  1. Heat vegetable oil on a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add onion, green pepper, and celery, and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  4. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add chicken bouillons and 2.5 cups water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
  6. Stir in beans and rice.
  7. Reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Cover and cook for 20 minutes (according to cooking instructions on rice packaging) or until rice is tender.
This recipe was really tasty and I don't think there's anything else we would change aside from perhaps adding some herbs to it next (i.e. parsley or thyme). I know we changed a lot already - went away from the cajun sausage and the creole seasoning, but the ingredients were good and the dish ended up being quite tasty.

One Pot Tandoori Quinoa

We got this recipe from Yup...it's Vegan! mostly because it said "One Pot" and it looked really quick and easy to make. As usual, just a few tweeks to the recipe, but all the measurements remained the same. We were able to have it for lunch Monday through Friday, for two people.

Ingredients
From the pantry (or market if you don't already have these)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 cube vegetable bouillon
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
From the market
  • 1 sweet potato,* diced into small cubes (~ 1cm)
  • 1 small onion,* finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 on the vine tomatoes, diced
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
* Note 1: the sweet potatoes in the Vancouver are white - the orange kind on the website are yams
* Note 2: we didn't use the red onions because they were really big and we didn't want to waste food

Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Add sweet potatoes, cook for about 6-8 minutes (until softened), stirring frequently.
  3. Add onions, cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add garlic, jalepeno, and ginger, cook for another minute (until fragrant).
  5. Stir in garam masala, cook for 30 seconds.
  6. Add quinoa, vegetable bouillon, 1 and 1/4 cup water, chickpeas, tomatoes, and sugar, and stir to combine.
  7. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
  8. Cook until the quinoa and sweet potatoes are cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  9. If there seems to be too much liquid, uncover for a few minutes to evaporate excess.
  10. Add salt, pepper, and additional garam masala to taste.
  11. Mix in lime juice and chopped cilantro.
  12. Serve with Srirarcha.

I must admit splitting it into basically 10 servings was kind of on the smaller side. Next time, we will probably add a yam in and maybe multiply the quinoa by one-and-a-half. Otherwise, it was really easy and quick - tasty too if you're into Indian food.