Category Archives: Food

The Island of Simple Pleasures

Today starts out no different from any other day. I make a list of what I hope to accomplish and away we go. At the top of my list is buying a new diaper bag. I convince my husband to come with me. After about 30 minutes of deliberation and modeling every diaper bag they have in front of the full-length mirror (and thoroughly trying my husband’s patience) I finally settle on a JJ Cole 180 in lime green and steel gray.

As we sit in the car I check off one more item on my to-do list and start lecturing my husband on what we need to do next. He has other plans however. “Where are we going?” I ask him “this isn’t the way to the supermarket.” He gives me a furtive smile and says “I thought we’d go for a drive to False Creek.” I try to talk him out it, but that doesn’t work. We only have one more hour of babysitting left so I’m rather anxious to make productive use of our time.

We arrive at Granville Island and surprisingly find parking right away. I hear the seagulls overhead, making virtual trails in the afternoon haze. Aroused by the aroma of fresh baked bread our first stop is La Baguette & L’Echalote. After sampling various breads and pastries, we decide to share an extravagant pan au chocolat. We go outside and sit in the courtyard. I take the first bite. The flaky pastry gives way to dark oozing chocolate. For a minute or two I have completely forgotten about my to-do list. We are serenaded by the sultry sounds of Spanish guitar as a busker takes residence in front of us. A delivery truck pulls up behind us and as I turn my head the driver rolls up the back door. He’s delivering flowers to the market. He pulls out a crate of white lilies. Their delicate stems dance in the wind and the sweet intoxicating fragrance overwhelms my senses.

“We should go.” I say reluctantly looking over at my husband. He decides to take the long way home and we drive up Lamey’s Mill Road, a quiet residential street. Suddenly I shout “Stop!” and point. I see the most amazing view of downtown Vancouver. I have lived in this city for over 15 years but never seen it look more beautiful. As my eyes fill with tears I think to myself ‘Wow, I live here!’

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Filed under Food, Vancouver Is Beautiful

Greek Celebration at Northlands Bar and Grill

I LOVE Greek food. So you can imagine my delight when I was among the select group of people invited to the Kambolis family Greek Celebration at the Northlands Bar and Grill on Sunday.  If you recognize the Kambolis name, that’s because they own three highly acclaimed restaurants in Vancouver, Raincity Grill, Nu and C Restaurant.

As we ascended the staircase up to the restaurant, we were greeted by intoxicating aromas and a gregarious atmosphere.  The food was served buffet style under a tent. They had set up the tent on their rear patio (anticipating good weather no doubt) but unfortunately that day it was chilly and rained almost all day. Still I thought the tent with its’ blue and white awning was a good idea and gave an authentic ‘taverna’ feel to the event.

There were so many people jostling for food that I felt as if I was navigating my way through a heard of ravenous wilder-beast that had just seen an oasis. There was the staple Greek fare of course, including greek salad, dolmades, homous, spanakopita, tyropita (Greek cheese pie), assorted souvlaki and warm pita bread. They had also roasted a couple of whole lambs and pigs that morning. My husband (who is Greek) always tells me that the best part of a roasted animal is the crispy skin. Since I still find the thought of eating crispy skin unappetizing, I’m going to just take his word for it.

There were a couple of stand out dishes for me, first the succulent moussaka oozing with cheese and a decadent Béchamel sauce. I have become something of a moussaka connoisseur over the years, since I have never successfully made it from scratch at home (just ask my husband!).

I  also loved the warm comforting gigantes plaki, which is butter beans baked with fresh herbs in a tomato sauce  (it’s also delicious topped with feta cheese just before serving). I have scoured the internet and below are links to three of my favourite recipe variations of this dish – so you can try it at home.

Recipe #1: Gigantes Sto Fourno (Baked Butter Beans)

Recipe #2: Gigantes Plaki (Greek Baked Beans)

To accompany the food they had live bouzouki music (the bouzouki or bouzoukia as it is sometimes know, is a Greek stringed instrument with a long neck and a pear-shaped body) and with many people trying their hand at traditional Greek dancing. Not me of course, honestly you don’t want to see me dancing – remember the episode in Seinfeld where Elaine is dancing? You get the idea!

Greek food is irresistible because it is a reflection of its people – warm, vibrant and hospitable. The event was thoroughly enjoyable and lucky for me I have enough Greek family that I don’t have to wait too long before I have another opportunity to celebrate Greek style. OPA!

A note on the photographs – the first depicts our venue, you’ll notice golf carts parked outside and that’s because it’s situated on Northlands Golf Course. The second photo shows the gorgeous view we had from the patio.

Have you been to Greece or have a Greek food experience or recipe to share? Then I would love to hear from you – send me a comment.

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Filed under Events, Food

Would YOU Eat Something Off the Floor of a Bus?

I take public transit on a fairly regular basis. Today I witnessed something so disgusting, that I decided I had to share it with the world. I’m sitting on the bus minding my own business when two young women jump on the bus at the last-minute. It’s rush hour, so of course there is nowhere to sit. So what do they do? Do they grab on to a support pole, no of course not – that would be too obvious. They decide to eat instead. Suddenly the bus lurches forward and their food goes hurtling through the air and lands on the floor of the bus. What happened next shook me to the very core; they bend down and pick the food. No, not to throw it away, but to EAT IT!!!!

Why would you eat something that fell on the floor of a bus? If you were homeless and starving then you probably would. Well these women were well-groomed, fashionably dressed and didn’t look homeless to me. Perhaps they thought the floor looked clean? Which do you think is more full of bacteria, the floor of a busy public bus or the floor of a public toilet? I’d say the bus, why? Because the toilet probably gets cleaned from time to time. But I don’t think anyone ever cleans a bus. Why couldn’t they just wait till they got to their destination? Or wait till a seat opens up?

Just writing this and reliving the memory is causing me to lose my appetite. Probably not a bad thing considering I’m not exactly on the skinny side! Do you have any gross eating stories to share? Then let me know in the comments area.

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com

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Filed under Food, Public Transit

Give Me Substance Over Style Any Day

diner HDR Pictures, Images and Photos

Are your weekends busy? Mine certainly are. Yesterday was no exception, with two meetings in the morning and only the afternoon to get things done. One thing I was looking forward to was lunch with my husband. After some deliberation we decided to go to a trendy new restaurant we had been meaning to try. We had heard that they serve crepes on square plates and illy coffee in tiny espresso cups. After waiting for twenty minutes and listening to the weird techno music playing in the background, we were  finally showed to our tiny stainless steel table. It took them another ten minutes to get to our table and take our order. Thirty minutes later I was starving and fuming because the tables around us (seated at the same time as us) had already finished eating and we hadn’t even been served yet. With no food in sight, I politely informed the server that because of the abysmal service, we would pay for our drinks, cancel the rest of our order and be on our way.

Still ravenous, we jumped in the car and booted down the road to a small reliable diner we had frequented before. A sign near the front door instructed us to seat ourselves in one of their salmon pink ample PVC booths. They took the order five minutes later and we got the food ten minutes later.  They brought our food in plain round plates and coffee in hunky white mugs. Flock of Seagulls  “I Ran”  was playing in the background. Everything was perfect.

We had gone from pretentious to practical and couldn’t have been happier. This was a profound realization for me,  because in my younger days I was all about keeping up with the latest trends in everything. From the latest handbag and shoes, to eating at fancy restaurants so then I could say to my friends “Oh I’ve eaten there, it’s not bad. You should try the chilled fennel consomme.” Now that I have a little more gray hair (okay that’s a lie, I have a lot more!!), I’d rather eat in a diner than a fancy restaurant any day and I really don’t care what my friends think of me. When I buy a handbag or pair of shoes it’s all about functionality and comfort. Is this transformation a right of passage that we all go through or is it just me? What do you think?

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com.

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Filed under Food, Personal Growth

The Cupcake of My Dreams

I have never eaten a cupcake. I know it sounds ridiculous, but when I woke up this morning that’s all I could think about, so I thought I would share it with you. As I sit here with my eyes closed, I take a deep breath and imagine that first bite into a large, sumptuous dark chocolate cupcake covered with fluffy pink buttercream and pink sugar crystals. I don’t know why the buttercream has to be pink, but it does.

What’s wrong with me? Why haven’t I given into temptation and devoured the cupcake of my dreams?

Well it’s not that Vancouver doesn’t have cupcake stores because we do, lots of them. It’s me – I’m crazy. I worry about the fat content. I worry about the calories. I worry about the sodium (there is too salt in cupcakes!). Of course I worry about the cholesterol. Most of all, I worry about the sugar and how this one little cupcake will be the last straw that sends me careening into diabetes. AHHHHHHH!!

Find me a fat-free, sugar-free, aspartame-free, salt-free, cholesterol-free chocolate cupcake covered with pink buttercream frosting, that doesn’t taste like cardboard and I am so there. Or I could just stop worrying!

Photo courtesy of photobucket.com…isn’t it a gorgeous pic.

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Filed under Food

Restaurants, Parking Meters and the HST

As of January 2010 parking meter hours in the City of Vancouver were extended from 9am – 8pm to 9am – 10pm. Now there are at least 8,500 parking meter spots Vancouver and in many parts of town those are the only places you can park, unless you go to a lot or circle the side streets for an hour looking for that elusive ‘free’ spot. Each one of these spots already costs us between $1 – $5 per hour depending on the location (by the way rates are going up in the spring in Downtown Vancouver). The motivation behind this is simple, the City of Vancouver is facing a $60 million deficit in 2010 and needs to generate more revenue.

Now couple this with the incoming HST (a gift from our provincial government) and you have a formulae that will make eating out in Vancouver much more expensive. If we have to pay an extra 7% with every meal plus 2 hours more at the parking meter every single time we go out that’s really going to add up. I’ve worked in the restaurant industry (haven’t we all!) and most of them just get by with small margins. Before they implement new policies different levels of government need to communicate with each other and look at the implications of their actions, not only on consumers, but also on the small businesses that keep the economy alive.

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Filed under Food, Politics

Eating Ice Cream in the Morning

One of my favourite local writers is the Province’s columnist Dana Gee. Recently she recapped her favourite films of the decade and mentioned the Jonathan Dayton film Little Miss Sunshine (2006). As it happens it was on TV the other night so I had the opportunity to see it for the first time. While I don’t agree that it’s one of the best films of the decade (sorry Dana), the screenplay does have moments of brilliance.  The characters are written so well, that even though each one is profoundly flawed and irritating, by the end of the film you care about what happens to them.

The most memorable moment in the film for me is when the ever optimistic Olive (the little girl played by the adorable Abigail Bresil) orders her breakfast waffles a la mode because she loves ice cream, even in the morning. Her father proceeds to lecture her on the fat and calories.  After much deliberation and support from the rest of the family, she decides to eat it and gobbles the chocolate ice cream up with gusto. Throughout the film she always sets her mind on something and goes for it. No over thinking or self-doubt. That’s something we could all learn to emulate. So as one of my new year’s resolutions I’ve decided to eat ice cream in the morning at least once and hope that her other qualities will rub off on me.

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Filed under Film, Food