EAT! Vancouver 2012

by gigi on June 7, 2012

Jenkins and I were invited to this year’s EAT! Vancouver festival again, which, incidentally, happened to be the 10th anniversary of this venerable eating extravaganza. I can’t believe it’s been ten years already since EAT! Vancouver first started but I guess that’s just how quickly time passes by these days. In my rush to head over to BC Place, I forgot to check my camera’s memory card and as a result, I only had room in my camera for a couple of pictures so hopefully my summary will be descriptive enough with any visual aides.

Eat Vancouver

It seemed to me like there were more booths this year than previously. It took us a while to wind through everything and then backtrack to revisit our favourites so we could pick up some goodies to take home.

Even though the Bosa Foods booth never really has anything that you can’t just find in their stores, I always enjoy visiting their booths as they can always be counted on to have a great variety of samples to try out and this year was no different. I picked up a bottle of pesto sauce with truffle oil so I can finally use up the trofie pasta that I picked up from Italy a couple of years ago. I’m always a little sceptical about things that advertise the presence of truffle oil but the pesto sauce actually had a really great truffle flavour to it. I think it will go great with the bottle of blood orange sparkling juice that I also bought.

I love mushrooms and was really impressed with the dried mushrooms at the Untamed Feast booth. I sampled some of their mushrooms, which were used to make a delicious mushroom cream cheese that I’ll definitely be recreating at home.

I originally wanted to sign up for one of the pop-up cooking classes that were a new introduction for the year but I decided to hold off until next year since I have already been taking a lot of cooking classes this year already. However, I thought it was a great idea and at only $25 per person, it was very reasonable. Hopefully they will continue this next year so I can give it a try.

We were also lucky enough to catch one round of the Western Regional Barista Championships. Each competitor had to make four each of an espresso, cappuccino, and a specialty drink in 15 minutes. Although we couldn’t sample the creations, the smell of freshly brewed espresso was quite intoxicating. while we waited for the competition to start, we snagged mini cups of lattes that were prepared on the side of the competition area. Made with homogenized milk, my latte was creamy, rich, and flavourful.

I thought it was nice that this year’s EAT! Vancouver event had a few new attractions added and that they continue to add interesting exhibitors each year. It can be a bit of a hodge podge sometimes but as long as they try to keep the exhibitors mainly food-related, I think it will continue to be a fun event for people to check out each year.

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Before I start on this week’s Friday Finds, just a little plug for Ho Yummy! Along with other food bloggers including Sherman, Vancouver Foodster, and Eating in Vancouver, Jenkins and I were featured in the March issue of Vancouver View magazine! Now I just need to go look for a hard copy to frame up. Smile Thanks Noa for the terrific write-up.

And now, onto Friday Finds…

Vancouver Food Carts: This link about the Vancouver food cart scene, was sent in by Lucy. By now, many of you have probably heard about how Vancouver will get another 12 food carts in March. Although we don’t know which 12 carts it will be, this article lists some of the applicants so you’ll have an idea of what we may be able to look forward to. Smile

2011-10-13 Mom's Grilled Cheese

Cupcake ATMs: When I first saw this article, I was like, what? But yes, I did read right: the famous Sprinkles cupcake chain will be opening its first cupcake ATM at its Beverly Hills location on Mar 9. I had my first encounter with Sprinkles cupcakes when I visited Palo Alto last spring and although pricey, they were indeed quite delicious. Smile This is an interesting concept though and I’ll be watching to see if this trend catches on with other cupcake outlets.

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Review: Italian Kitchen

by gigi on March 8, 2012

It had been a really long time since I last met up with Chris. When he suggested that we meet up for lunch at Italian Kitchen, I thought it was a great idea. I had only been to Italian Kitchen one other time but didn’t have my camera with me so I didn’t write a review. I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a revisit. I arrived just after noon and although it was bustling, there were still a few tables available. Our server took us to a nice window seat upstairs so we were able to do some people watching while we ate and caught up. While I perused the menu, I quenched my thirst with a cranberry soda.

Italian Kitchen

I always found the Global Group restaurants’ Lunch 45 options to be a fairly good deal and I always liked how they were served quite timely so I decided to go for the porchetta panini, which came with a pesto nocciole salad.

Italian Kitchen

The pork in the porchetta was more tender than it looked but I would have liked for there to be the crispy cracklings that is generally present in porchetta as well. Instead, most of the crunch came from the buttery grilled foccaccia. The quince flavour was actually quite strong and provided a hint of sweetness that went pretty well with this sandwich but I thought the pork could have had a little more flavour than just relying on the quince.

Italian Kitchen

The pesto nocciole salad was interesting. The little pieces of what I’m assuming are nocciole pasta exhibited a nice chewiness and the diced cucumbers provided the requisite crunch. Although the pesto was good, the olives were too salty for my taste and ended up overwhelming the delicate pasta.

Italian Kitchen

Chris ordered the spaghetti and spicy kobe meatballs. Although he didn’t mention much about it one way or another, he seemed to enjoy it quite a bit and didn’t have any complaints.

Italian Kitchen

I had a nice time catching up with Chris. As with my experience at most Glowbal Group restaurants, the food was acceptable but not necessarily spectacular. For the price you pay, you can probably find something better elsewhere but the ambience is pretty good and has offerings that appeal to most people so it is easy to organize a dinner there for larger groups.

Details:
1037 Alberni Street, Vancouver
Tel: 604-687-2858

Summary:
Food: ★★½☆☆
Service: ★★★☆☆
Price: $$

Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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Review: Bel Cafe

by gigi on March 6, 2012

It had been a while since I last met up with Kiyo and a few others from school. We had a dim sum lunch all planned out and for one reason or another, people ended up not being able to make it and it turned out to be just me and Kiyo left. Rather than going to dim sum with just two of us, we decided to do something else for lunch instead. I had really wanted to check out Bel Cafe and since Kiyo had never been there either, we decided to meet there for lunch.

We arrived shortly after noon and although it was bustling inside, we were able to snag a table from a group who was just leaving. We decided to order a couple of sandwiches to split and luckily for us, Darren happened to be dining there as well and he gave us a couple of recommendations to try out. The spiced pulled chicken sounded interesting so that was the first sandwich we ordered. The sandwich came on some toasted ciabatta and was only slightly spicy with some lettuce, peppers, caramalized onions, and provolone cheese. I liked the non greasy but crispy exterior of the sandwich and the sweetness of the onions actually went quite well with spicy chicken.

Bel Cafe

Of the two sandwiches, I liked the roasted berkshire pork sandwich more. The pork was flavourful and tender, which contrasted really well with the crunchy red cabbage and tangy house mustard. The menu indicated that there was jalapeno in the sandwich but it was really quite mild overall. I’m not sure if it was the mustard flavour that I picked up but the cabbage seemed to be slightly pickled as well. Both sandwiches came with a lightly tossed green salad with a very mild vinaigrette and some gerkins.

Bel Cafe

Although really tasty, the sandwiches were a tad small and both of us were quite hungry that day so we also indulged in some dessert. As a huge lemon dessert fan, I was really intrigued by the double lemon tart and Kiyo decided to try the same. This was one of the best lemon tarts I’ve ever had, with a deliciously crispy but not-too-sweet crust which surrounded a smooth, tangy, and very lemony filling. The lemon flavour was tart but slightly sweet, which leads me to think that Meyer lemons may have been used. If you are a lemon fan, this is definitely a must try.

Bel Cafe

Bel Cafe is a great little cafe with a wonderful selection of lunch options. I’ve been back quite a few times to try their hot chocolate selections during the recent Hot Chocolate Festival and thoroughly enjoyed each weekly hot chocolate offering they had. I definitely want to come back to try some more sandwiches as well as their delicious selection of pastries and macarons.

Details:
801 West Georgia Street, Vancouver 
Tel: 604-673-7000

Summary:
Food: ★★★★☆
Service: ★★★½☆
Price: $$

Bel Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Friday Finds

March 2, 2012

It’s been a while since my last Friday Finds article so I thought I’d try and resurrect it. As usual, if you come across something interesting you’d like to share, please let me know! 365 Days of Dining: This link was sent in by Snoopy, who alerted me to the City of Richmond’s quest to [...]

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Niagara Falls: The Keg Steakhouse

March 1, 2012

When we were in Toronto, we took a day trip of sorts to Niagara Falls. It turned out to be more fun than I expected and before it was time to head back to Toronto, we wanted to have dinner first. Since we were only in the area for one day, I wanted our dinner [...]

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