Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mmm mm mm

This is a Japanese Restaurant in White Rock Central. Jenny and Helen used to work here so they were responsible for the ordering since they know which dishes are the most popular. 

All the dishes are beautifully presented. Some dishes are quite unusual such as the deep-fried California Roll. I had been craving for Japanese food for the past two weeks and this ultimately satisfied me. 

Gomae: Spinach with Sesame Paste
Very nicely presented and the sesame sauce was absolutely delectable

Philadelphia Roll: Cream Cheese on the inside and salmon on top!

Sockeye Sashimi: mmm delicious

Other dishes we've ordered

Red Dragon: Very spicy but quite delicious. 
Similar to Dynamite Roll (with shrimp tempura inside) with spicy tuna on top

Spicy Tuna: Different colours of fish roe on top! Spicy!
I've only ever seen the orange and green fish roe, never the yellow and black. 

Deep-Fried California Roll: Very unique.

Reading Break is for Relaxation

We were lucky enough to see the train. I don't remember the last time I've seen a train this long. I stood so close to the track just to feel the sensation of air pushing against my face. The west coast is prettier than usual. The more I see of the ocean, the more I realize why Vancouver is rated in the top 10 places to live in the world. 

This photo and the next are blurry but I like them in a very unusual kind of way. I don't really know how to put it into words, but these photos appeal to me. 

The day was bright and the sky had so much character. The clouds swirled and danced in the gentle breeze and the sunlight peeked through any open spaces between them. 

The sand looked so metallic and view so serene and peaceful. The whole scenery looked surreal. I don't remember the last time I felt like this. It was a relaxing day. 


White Rock

On the bus!

Adorable ladies!

hungry Helen

smiles =)

tell a story...

what's the story?

end of the story

The Newly Wed

It has been so long since my last trip out to White Rock. On Valentine's day, my friends and I took a little walk along the beach of this beautiful town. There were young couples promenading hand in hand along the railway. There were old couples sitting on benches while sipping on their teas. There were children running around with ice cream cones in their hands. There were groups of friends like us, spending this lovely day together and appreciating true friendship. Then there was a newly wed couple having a photo shoot on the sparkling sandy beach. 

She looked dazzling. 

The weather was chilly and the sun wasn't shining like how we have hoped it to be, but the day was bright. The day was filled with love. Everywhere I turned, I saw smiles and hugs and kisses. This optimism was contagious and all sulky singles' hearts were filled with warmth and love. 


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

coco et olive - my new favourite place

I have been talking about going to coco et olive for the longest time. Today I finally did. Coco et Olive is located in Kitsilano near Alma. There is a 17 bus stop right outside of the cafe. If you take the B-line and get off at the Alma stop, you'll have to walk a little bit. It's roughly across from the Eatery.  

This place is absolutely adorable. It's owned by a French couple. There is wireless internet and a wonderful place for studying and for people to meet up and snack. I got myself an americano, a pain au chocolat and a (I don't remember what it is called) almond macaroon. They are so delicately made that it was absolutely worth every penny I paid for.  

The almond macaroon was unlike anything I've tasted before. I am usually not a fan of macaroons because they are exceedingly sweet, but this one was perfect. It's moist inside and has got a lot of almondy flavour.  

The pain au chocolat was equally good. The dough - is that what you call it? - or the pastry part is very very tasty. Unlike some other ones I've tried, this tasted fresh and delicate. I could taste that the chocolate inside is of pretty good quality. It was "oh my!" so good.  

There were so many different things I wanted to try but I've decided to save it for another day. I stayed there for a couple of hours and was very efficient with my studying. I also saw some unsalted organic peanut butter that looked very tasty. I will definitely go back again - maybe soon than expected - and try some of the other delicious treats!

Friday, February 6, 2009

A very unique restaurant: East is East

Today I was feeling very out of it and needed some comfort food. I called Ryan and asked him if he wanted to go out for lunch. We met up by the village and took the 99 out to kitsilano. We first thought about going to Calhoun's and when we got there, I really didn't see any comfort food. It is a very nice place to study though and it's got wireless internet. So we decided to go somewhere else for lunch and come back to Calhoun's to study. 

I had a place in mind: East is East. I've never been there but have walked by numerous times. It looks exotic from the outside and I thought we'd be adventurous and give it a shot. We finally got there with our empty stomaches and went inside. It's got the most unique atmosphere and smell and I loved it. The tables were all made from wood and there were Eastern style rags and carpets and pillows. The candle holders were made of some translucent rock and the flickering light from the candles gave them a very natural look. Instead of one of those ugly napkin holders, the square napkins were neatly placed on each table with a rock on top to act as a weight. Each table had different rocks and were carved to say different things. Ours said 'PEACE' in English and Chinese. I really liked the decorations in the restaurant. They provided a very authentic look. 

Once we were seated and got our menus, Ryan and I looked at each other, a little overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the intense music. The server brought us water and two cute little cups of green chai. I like chai but have never tasted something like this. It had a lot of spice and the taste was quite new. 

This is what we ordered.
$15.00 Eastern Plate (served with Dhal soup, salad, roti, afghan and coconut rice) and two choices from the list. 
I got organic lamb kebab and mango butter squash
Ryan got organic lamb kebab and Saag Paneer

The lamb was very tender and simply delicious. I didn't expect the mango butter squash to be paste-like, but it was still really good. I love the taste of mango and it really stood out in this dish. The Saag Paneer consisted of whipped spinach and paneer (Indian cheese) with mushrooms. This tasted very different in a good way. The spinach just sort of melts in your mouth. Note, the Dhal soup was absolutely amazing. 

The portion was not that big but enough to make you satisfied. I thought $15.00 was on the medium-high price range for what we got. The server came back and asked how everything was. We told her that we were very satisfied. She then told us about the "complimentary refill." We were quite confused because it did not say anything about that on the menu. Apparently we could get more of what we just ordered. I asked her what were my choices for refills and she said whichever ones I wanted or all of it. Was I every surprised! So Ryan and I ended up having a whole second plate of what we just ate. Now we were full. 

Very delicious food. 

I think Ryan like Chai now. We went back to Calhoun's and he got Chai latte and I got Chai tea. Calhoun's is always busy and it is a great place to study. The prices are quite reasonable. I've never had breakfast there, but Ryan said breakfast there is pretty good. Reasonable price. The lighting isn't that great in there so it is ideal to sit at a table with lights on top or close by. It's a neat little place and sells all sorts of different dinner foods and desserts. 

It is most unfortunate that I did not bring my camera with me today! Maybe next time!

East is East
3243 W. Broadway

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I have forgotten how much I love croissants. 

I have decided to take exploration trips all over Vancouver to try to find the best croissants. I made my first short trip between my classes today to Patisserie Bordeaux. Their almond croissant is their specialty. I've never had an almond croissant before and I was more than excited to try it. The croissant itself looks smaller than any other croissants I've ever tried before, but the amount of sliced almonds on top and the almond paste buried within the flaky dough is generous. The dough has a lot of texture when you chew on it. I was snickering like a fool as I sat on a stool by the window by myself in Woodward, savouring this delectable treat. Unlike the stale-tasting croissant I had this morning from the cafeteria, this one satisfied my day.

Vancouver Croissant has an attractive website that tells me that their croissants are something special. They have 29 different types of croissants and 4 certified organic croissants. The Burnaby location is where they manufacture the croissants and sell frozen ones by boxes. Capers carry their fresh croissants. I can't wait to make a trip down to 4th Ave. 

William Sonoma sells croissants made by pastry chef Jean-Yves Charon. I think you have to order them and then they get mailed to you. These are frozen ones as well and they are supposedly really really good. 

It is most unfortunate that I do not have a freezer, a kitchen, or an oven. With frozen croissants, they can be taken out the night before and leave in room temperature for proofing. They will double in size and teasingly say "poke me, poke me." Then you poke them and say your ooooo's and ahhh's. You then put these fellows into the oven and when they are golden on top, it is time to enjoy a freshly baked croissant!

Maybe next year...

In the mean time, there is more croissant hunting to do. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

COBS vs Terra Breads

Vancouver's most well known bakeries are COBS and Terra Breads. I must admit, even though there were COBS on the island, I've never tried it until I came to Vancouver. COBS started in Vancouver in 2003 and has stores all over Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the first store in the States opened in 2007, located in Bellevue, WA. Of all the different types of bread I've tried from COBS, I love Cape Seed the best! When Ryan and I go out to Kits to get groceries, we always stop by COBS to pick up some Cape Seed Loaves. The smell of the sesames and poppy seeds always lured us into eating slices on the bus. Like all breads, they are best eaten fresh. Just last months, we tried their scones. I think the one with chives is really good. During the Christmas holiday, my family bought one with jalapenos in it. My parents are huge fans of jalapenos so they absolutely loved it. 

It was recently that I've come across Terra Breads. I have always heard about it and have been told that I would like it better than COBS. I guess it is because I take the 99 B-line more often than the 4 so I don't go down to 4th avenue very often, which is where the closest Terra Bread is located. When I finally went down there, I was blown away by the huge selection of baked goods they have. I didn't even know where to begin. I didn't know which one to try first!

One of Terra Breads' characteristics is that they use the method of sourdough culture. It is defined as "a mixture of flour and water which attracts the natural yeast from the air and from the flour" (Terra Breads). This makes the dough rise slowly and eventually the bread will have a beautiful crust and be moist inside. When I saw the different types of bread they have, all the loaves looked super hard on the outside. The lady at the store told me that a crisp crust with the inside being soft and moist is the most preferable. I guess I just had bad experiences with really really hard crust. 

The first loaf I bought at Terra Breads was the green olive loaf. It's delectable. I preferred it over the Pane di Casa Olive Loaf from COBS, which was made with black olives. I don't know if it is because black olives are saltier than green olives but the Pane di Casa Olive loaf was a little too salty for me. I was astonished by the amount of olive used in the bread though. I haven't tried enough of the loaves from Terra Breads to be 100% certain of my preference of the two bakeries. Right now I'm still leaning towards the buying loaves from COBS - probably because of my hesitance with hard/crisp crust. However, Terra Breads is the winner of the two for pastries!!

I went to Terra Breads with my mum earlier this week and we bought three baked goods: Peach tart, apricot oatmeal cookie, and their most popular blueberry (with chunks of white chocolate) bread. We had them for dessert that night when we had dinner at Ryan's. We all loved the blueberry bread. I've had similar ones from Blue Chip Cookies from the SUB at UBC. The one from Blue Chip is called the fruit scone and had all sorts of different types of fruits on top with little chunks of, I think, cream cheese. Don't get me wrong, the fruit scone from Blue Chip is quite good but after trying the blueberry bread from Terra Bread, the difference is significantly noticeable. The dough is absolutely to die for. It's chewy. It's moist. It's Wow. 

The day after I've tried the blueberry bread, I wanted to try the grape bread that I've been eyeing. Mama and I went to Granville Island the next day because she needed to go to Maiwa, which is a crafts store that sells yarns, knitting tools, dyes etc. PS. My mum weaves and is recently very interested in dying yarns. Anyway, we were at the public market where another Terra Breads store is located. I took the opportunity and purchased the grape bread. It is absolutely amazing, I think I like it even better than the blueberry bread! I love grapes. 

I told my friend Alexis about it and she found it weird to use grapes in baked goods. I encouraged her to try it because a lot of times we are used to what we like that we are hesitant to try things that sound strange to us. An example would be zucchini bread, which is one of my favourite things to make. 

Terra Breads also sells homemade granola. I ate it yesterday with vanilla yogurt (it was also the first time I've eaten granola with yogurt; I usually eat it with soy milk) and I have to say that it was the best granola I've ever had! I could really taste the honey in the granola and the taste of all the nuts was deliciously present. There are so many ingredients in the mix that I was completely satisfied after eating it. Terra Breads uses organic ingredients in most of of their breads, as well as in the granola. Terra Breads first opened in 1993 and has been a peanut-free bakery since 1996.

Both COBS and Terra Breads do not sell day-old breads. At the end of the day, they give their leftover breads to charity and community kitchens. 

I will continue to go to both bakeries because both are equally superb. Terra Breads originated in Vancouver as well and has three locations:
Kitsilano Bakery and Cafe (the original location) - 2380 West 4th Avenue
False Creek Bakery and Cafe - 53 West 5th Avenue
Granville Island Bakery - Public Market

As for COBS, which stands for Canada's Own Bread Store, it is everywhere. The closest ones to UBC are located at:
2837 West Broadway
2320 West 4th Avenue (just a couple of stores down from Terra Breads)

Images via COBS et Terra Breads

Three Broadway Divas at the Orpheum

Yesterday I watched my first performance at the Orpheum with Ryan. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra provides a deal for full-time university students to see shows for $10.00! You just apply online or by phone for a student access pass and with this, you can see almost all the performances for a very good price. 

We went to see the Three Broadway Divas. They were doing two shows, one on Friday and one last night. We were sitting in A section seats: lower Balcony Row 7 Seats 153 & 154. These seats would have cost us almost $70 each, and that's the student price! What good deals we got! 

First and foremost, the Orpheum is a beautiful building! I didn't expect it to be so classical looking. It definitely has character. Once I walked in, I felt like I was in a different world filled with music and fine arts. I will definitely come back again to see a classical music performance.

The three divas were Jan Horvath, Debbie Gravitte, and Lisa Vroman. I don't think the photo above has Lisa Vroman in it though. All of them had unique voices but my favourite would have to be Gravitte's. Not only was she such a charismatic host for the show, she had a beautiful, rich voice. She sounded the best when she was singing in the middle range. She did a wonderful job on Don't Rain on My Parade. Horvath was very good in Broadway Baby and especially in Don't Cry For Me Argentina. Her voice was fairly quiet most of the time, but at times she just belted out and surprised everybody. I was not a huge fan of Vroman's excessive use of vibrato though she did a beautiful job in I Could Have Danced All Night. There is no doubt that she is a magnificent professional singer and that her voice can go quite high, but perhaps her voice is more suitable for, in my opinion, opera. 

I was disappointed that they did not perform For Good from Wicked, but other than that, I enjoyed the performance very much! It was well worth the $10 I paid for. I absolutely love broadway musicals. I am nuts about Broadway songs. I think I'll have to go see a musical performance sometime. 

The Three Broadway Divas are touring all over North America. Gravitte and Horvath are performing in all the shows and the other singer changes from show to show. 

VSO Access Pass for students is absolutely magnificent! There are many shows in February that are worth going to!

photo via VSO