Photo Visit – Nicli Antica Pizzeria – March 2014

2 Apr

62 East Cordova
Vancouver, BC
V6A 1K3

T: 604 669 6985
www.nicli-antica-pizzeria.ca

For some reason I’ve been having major pizza cravings lately (perhaps stemming from our Italian trip in October) and, with Nicli being one of my favourite pizza places in the city, I made it a point to return twice in March to get my much-needed fix. My sister and I were able to get a table on a Wednesday evening at about 8pm without any hassle but if you want to be assured that you won’t have to wait in-line at all, try a lunch time on the weekend – I was recently back for lunch with B on a Saturday and we walked straight in. Alternatively, you can join their wait-list by using the no-wait app.

Although I hadn’t been to Nicli in a while, they are still turning out great food in a modern space. My only complaint is that they won’t cut the pizza for you (I asked) and so it can be a bit of a struggle to cut your pizza on the slippery white plates.

Daily Special: Prosciutto, jalapenos, arugula

P1080524Pesto BBT

Afternoon Tea with Beta 5 Chocolates

22 Mar

413 Industrial Ave
Vancouver, BC
V6A 2P8

T: 604 669 3336
www.beta5chocolates.com

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet from Beta 5 Chocolates announcing that they would be hosting a limited-seating afternoon tea. I jumped at the chance to attend because, if you didn’t already know, Beta 5 is one of the top chocolatiers in the city and they don’t host afternoon tea regularly (I was told the last time they held one was Mother’s Day 2013). I made it my mission to secure tickets to the event, which was held today, so that I could see how a chocolatier approaches afternoon tea.

Beta 5′s space is an industrial, yet contemporary, warehouse in a somewhat secluded part of town. After a quick walk-through their working kitchens, we were taken upstairs to a space that was elegantly decorated with ambient lighting, beautiful flowers, and stacks of cook books.

The setting for afternoon tea.

P1080555Who doesn’t love a beautiful bouquet of flowers?

Beta 5 showcased their modern approach to afternoon tea with an absence of traditional scones and mini-sandwiches, and instead we were given “An Afternoon in New Orleans”. On the menu was brioche with yuzu marmalade, a pecan pie cream puff, a café au lait beignet, bananas foster ice cream sandwich, and two tiny lemon tea cakes, all served with your choice of tea from a selection of four different teas. After we had finished this part of the tea, we were served a small tray of chocolates (some praline pecans and a cocoa nib truffle), although we were so full by this stage we took them home with us.

Tea and flowers…how delightful.

The selection for afternoon tea.

P1080552

Chocolates to finish.

I thoroughly enjoyed our experience and, although the menu wasn’t what I would associate with traditional afternoon tea, I liked it. I prefer when the choice is taken away and you are able to experience different tastes and flavours that you might not typically order (I have a tendency to stick with what I know). I had been told that the afternoon teas were likely to be happening more regularly so I’m looking forward to returning and sampling their other afternoon tea menus. Tickets were $25 and I booked them through the store.

Photo Visit – Nook Kitsilano – March 2014

16 Mar

1525 Yew Street
Vancouver, BC
V6K 3E4

T: 604 734 3381
www.nookrestaurant.ca

Since becoming home-owners late last year, we have been trying to save a few pennies by foregoing our usual weekend brunches out. Unfortunately, habits are hard to break and we’ve found ourselves returning to our brunching ways. I have found myself brunching at Nook Kitsilano the past three weekends in a row. I could pretend to be shameful right now but the brunch is so good that I hold my head high. Nook is, without a doubt, the restaurant that I find myself at the most. I’ve talked about my love for Nook on this blog numerous times and so it comes as no surprise that I would also enjoy their brunch offerings.

A typical breakfast diner this is not (head up the street to Abigail’s if that is what you are after) but you will find Italian-influenced skillet dishes, pizza, and these two dishes; the baby Dutch pancake (almost like a sweet Yorkshire pudding) and the Italian breakfast (a plate of Italian meats and cheeses). Be warned: the Italian breakfast is like a hot girl that walked into a room – heads turn when this dish gets delivered to your table. I’ve had other diners stare at my ordered brunch of Italian breakfast and ask “What is that?!” and then proceed to order it. It is a meaty start to the day and only $14.

Besides hearty breakfast dishes, the coffee is also quite good meaning that this is a one-stop shop – no need to get a caffeine hit before, or after, brunch.

The Baby Dutch Pancake

P1080528

The Italian Breakfast

Brunch special: lentils with lamb sausage ragu and poached eggs

Brunch special: guanciale, spinach, egg, and parmesan pizza

Bites of Italy – Part 3 of 3

10 Mar

Bruschetta

P1080118

Spaghetti Carbonara

P1080119Wild Boar Pappardelle

Platter of Tuscan meats and cheeses

Grapefruit and Prosecco Gelato

Dinner made up from our market finds

Porcini Fettucine from the incredible Le Logge del Vignola, Montepulciano

Porcini risotto from Le Logge del Vignola, Montepulciano

Wines from Poggio Antico winery

Bites of Italy – Part 2 of 3

4 Mar

Pappardelle with wild boar ragout from Borgo Antico, Florence.

P1080030

 Rigatoni with bacon and tomato sauce from Borgo Antico, Florence.

Pizza from O’Munaciello, Florence.

Porchetta sandwich, Florence.

P1080104A simple, yet tasty, lunch that we had whilst on a bike tour through Tuscany.

We didn’t meet a bottle of Italian red that we didn’t like…

Although not visually appealing, ribollita was surprisingly delicious.

 Mushrooms at San Lorenzo Mercato Centrale, Florence - a must visit for foodies.

More truffles!!

Bites of Italy – Part 1 of 3

2 Mar

Italian food is some of my all-time favourite food and this was reconfirmed when we were in Italy last October. I was in my element as we dined for more than two weeks on pizza, pasta, risotto, gelato, robust red wines, fizzy Prosecco, cappucino, sliced meats, and different varieties of cheese. What strikes me most about Italian food is that it is honest and uncomplicated. Rather than relying on heavy sauces or complicated dishes, the Italians prefer the ingredients to speak for themselves.

As we were there in the Fall, we were just in time for the season of chewy porcini and fragrant truffles, of which we consumed a lot. Pasta was a regular item on our daily menu – which I was incredibly grateful for as I never tire of eating pasta – as were the divine Italian red wines that we sampled (our favourite being a type of wine called Nobile di Montepulciano).

The following images (and the others that will follow) are a capture of some of memorable dishes that we had the pleasure of experiencing whilst in Italy.

A breakfast of crema croissant and cappuccinos.

Flavour-packed pizza sold by weight. The porcini and proscuitto pizza was a favourite.

Piles of tasty and affordable panini from All’antico Vinaio, Florence.

Porchetta and truffle panini from All’Antico Vinaio, Florence.

Wine by the glass for only €2.

Heapings of Tuscan ham and mozzarella from Borgo Antico, Florence.

Duck tortellini in a light broth from Il Santo Bevitore, Florence.

 Shaved truffles over house-made pasta - simply divine.

Paris on my mind…

1 Mar

Paris…who hasn’t daydreamed of Paris? There are many reasons why this city, the City of Lights, gets under people’s skin. For me, Paris has the perfect blend of beauty, food, art, architecture, and an appreciation of the finer things in life.

I don’t claim to know Paris well. I’ve been there a number of times but only twice recently – so I’m no expert. But thankfully, I don’t need to be, as there are many experts out there sharing info with us. Whilst I was researching our trip, I came across many blogs, articles, and books written about Paris so we ended up with quite an ambitious list of food stops for our limited time in the French capital.

The streets of Paris

If you don’t enjoy spending hours researching and cross-referencing your list, like I do, then you are in luck! Below, I am sharing my list of places that I had hoped to visit on our trip. I can’t vouch for most of them as we simply did not have the time to visit them all but I’ve put a star next to the ones that we actually made it to. As you can see, there are lots left for us to try next time we go. In the meantime, I will continue to daydream about our next trip to Paris…

Restaurants & Bistros:

Verjus - 52 Rue de Richelieu, 75001 – LOVED this place! I highly recommend a visit. Very quaint and romantic and the food was incredible.*

L’Atelier Saint-Germain de Joel Robuchon – 5 Rue de Montalembert, 75007 – Whilst our overall experience wasn’t what I had hoped it to be, there was no denying that the food was flawless.*

Le Chateaubriand – 129 Avenue de Parmentier, 75011 – Although the Le Chateaubriand menu was a little adventurous for this dull foodie, it is highly rated on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant List (#18).*

Septime - 80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 – I really wanted to visit as it is ranked 49th on the San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurant List and has a lot of buzz, but we missed out – book in advance!

L’Ami Jean – 27 Rue Malar, 75007 – I like that these guys don’t take themselves too seriously but the food is highly rated. The rice pudding dessert is a speciality.

L’auberge du 15 – 15 Rue de la Sante, 75013 – Disappointed to have not made it to this one. Reviews are extremely positive and the food sounds and looks incredible, albeit pricey.

Le Grand Vefour – 17 Rue de Beaujolas, 75001 – This would only be for a splurge as prices start at about €80! I’ve heard that the lunch special (€98) is better value for money and, with its opulent decor, it would make a perfect location for a romantic dinner. This post should whet your appetite – look at that cheese plate!!

Les Ombres – At the top of the Quai Branly museum – I was more keen to visit for the spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower than the food, which got pretty average reviews.

Le Timbre – 3 Rue Sainte Beuve, 75006. Lots of great reviews about this small bistro. Open for lunch and dinner.

Chez Paul – 13 Rue de Charonne, 75011 – Recommended by resident Paris foodie, David Lebovitz. Popular with locals for its well-made bistro fare.

Bistrot Paul-Bert – 18 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 – Another traditional bistrot. The steak frites and the desserts come highly recommended by David Lebovitz. This review, with pictures, should get you interested.

Cafe Constant: 135 Rue Saint-Dominique, 75007 – No reservations accepted, looks cute and very reasonably priced at €23 for a 3 course dinner.

Wine Bars:

Septime Cave  – 3 Rue Basfroi, 75011 – A wine bar brought to you by the same people that run well-known and popular, Septime (restaurant).

Verjus - 47 Rue Montpensier, 75001 – If you can’t get into Verjus the restaurant, try their bar instead. Apparently the fried chicken is a must-order (not very French, but who cares?! It is fried chicken!!

O Chateau – If you are new to French wines and would like to sample some different varieties, or maybe you’d like to partake in a wine course, perhaps try this place. Their wine bar has over 40 wines by the glass, which allows for a lot of sampling.

Patisseries, Chocolatiers & Boulangeries:

Gerard Mulotmultiple locations – Our hotel was charging €15 pp for breakfast, we said screw that, and walked to Gerard and picked up freshly baked buttery croissants with coffees for about €7 for the two of us. Gerard’s cabinets are lined with food porn (see pic below). I challenge you to walk out with just one thing! You can also pick up some supplies for picnics here (salads, quiches, sandwiches, fresh bread, pastries). Yum! *

Eric Kayser – multiple locations – A popular chain of boulangerie that makes bread worth lining up for. Stock up here for supplies for picnics (breads and pastries). *

Pierre Herme - 72 Rue Bonaparte, 75006 – If it is macarons that you want, then this is one of the places you should try whilst in Paris. Expect to queue but also expect incredibly interesting flavours, such as white truffle with hazelnut. *

Jean-Paul Hévin – multiple locations – Perhaps pastries and breads don’t float your boat? If you are a chocolate fiend, get your butt to Jean-Paul Hévin. Everything is exquisitely presented like only the French can do.*

Le Grenier a Pain – 38 Rue des Abbesses, 75018 – Gourmet Fury, another passionate foodie, highly recommends Le Grenier as the best croissant in Paris. I didn’t make it out that far but I must admit it looks pretty good. Certainly on my list for next time. 

Gerard Mulot – Loved this place!

Coffee

Telescope – 5 Rue Villedo, 75001 – We really liked this place. Cute, small, tucked away on a side street – definitely worth the trek for the fabulous coffee.*

La Cafeotheque – 52 Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville, 75004

Coutume Café – 47 Rue de Babylone, 75007

Telescope coffee – worth hunting down

Cheese & Markets:

Rue Mouffetard Market - an open air market in the 5th arrondissement.

Fromagerie Sanders: 4 Rue Lobineau, 75006(inside Marche Saint Germain)

If you are too intimidated to go to an actual cheese store, try to find a small supermarket (we stumbled upon them every now and then) and raid their cheese fridges. These aren’t the same pitiful cheese selections that you’ll find in your North American supermarket. We walked out with huge wedges of cheese, and bottles of wine and Champagne for a fraction of what it would cost in the restaurants (and back home).

Great sources of information:

www.parisbymouth.com

www.lostincheeseland.com

www.godiloveparis.blogspot.ca - This blog and the author’s book “Paris, My Sweet” are must-reads for those travellers with a sweet tooth.

www.davidlebovitz.com/paris/ - David is a wealth of knowledge on the Paris food scene and he shares it all on his blog. I found this post of his particularly helpful at building anticipation for the trip.

www.smokysweet.com/roaming/paris/ – Vancouver-based foodie who has some great suggestions for Paris foodie experiences.

Article by Mark Bittman of the New York Times

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