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Quince – An afternoon of hot chocolate and madeleines

30 Nov

1780 West 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC,
V6J 1K4

T: 604 731 4645
www.quince.ca

Brief Description: Quince is a one-stop food shop. You can purchase pre-packaged frozen food, imported grocery items or freshly baked bread from their store front, enjoy a wholesome and delicious lunch or breakfast in the small deli, or partake in a cooking class.

By now, dear reader, you may be a little over my fascination with Quince. After reading my blog entries you may be disappointed when you finally visit Quince to find that the store is not in fact lined with gold. However, I offer up no apologizes that I am, yet again, writing another review of Quince – I just cannot help myself.

I decided to give my usual food accomplice, B, a day off and instead invited my sister to Quince for an hour of hot chocolate and madeleines. It was definitely something more for the ladies. We made our way there on Saturday afternoon with the thoughts of smooth, creamy hot chocolate and fluffy madeleines running through our heads. And we did not leave disappointed.

Similar to our preview of the French Bistro cooking class, this was more of a demonstration than a hands-on cooking class. Perched on the edge of our seats we watched intently as Chef Andrea showed us how to make genuine hot chocolate from scratch. I am a firm believer in using the best ingredients that you can to cook with as even the simplest dish can be transformed just by using high quality ingredients. It would seem that Chef Andrea shares the same idea and began the recipe by melting dark couverture chocolate (more buttery than run-of-the-mill chocolate) into some cream, cocoa and honey. She then whisked this mixture into some warm milk and topped it with whipped cream and grated chocolate. The result was a silky smooth hot chocolate that had me licking my lips and contemplating pilfering another cup from some of the children in our group. Honestly, this hot chocolate rates as one of the best hot chocolates that I have ever had. The only other real contender was a hot chocolate that I had years ago in Germany that I still vividly remember. Drool…

We sat there quaffing our hot chocolates and prepared ourselves for the next part of the demonstration: the madeleines. For those who don’t know, madeleines originated in France and are small, fluffy sponge cakes shaped into delicate shell-like shapes. They are quintessentially feminine and are the perfect delicacy for an afternoon tea.

The recipe contains only a few ingredients however, it is the process of aerating the eggs and folding in the flour just so that makes this recipe a little tricky. Too little aeration and too much folding will guarantee that your madeleines will fall flat. And that is exactly what you don’t want.

We were served pre-made madeleines and warm ones straight from the oven and, like most baked goods, the ones served warm were more superior (although the others were still fantastic). We were given three of these lovely delights to munch before the class came to an end.

I had a lot of fun attending this short afternoon escape. For $15 we were able to enjoy a decadent hot chocolate and numerous freshly-baked madeleines whilst also getting to learn how to recreate them at home. The recipe handouts are extremely helpful and I will certainly be trying to make these at home (particularly the hot chocolate). If you are planning on catching up with your girlfriends for an afternoon coffee, perhaps consider this as an alternative. Now, please excuse me whilst I lose myself in a day-dream about that hot chocolate…

Quince Studio on Urbanspoon

Quince – Preview of French Bistro Cooking Class

24 Nov

1780 West 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC,
V6J 1K4

T: 604 731 4645
www.quince.ca

Brief Description: Quince is a one-stop food shop. You can purchase pre-packaged frozen food, imported grocery items or freshly baked bread from their store front, enjoy a wholesome and delicious lunch or breakfast in the small deli, or partake in a cooking class.

My Quince love affair continues…Part 3 :)

Quince was celebrating its 4th anniversary on Saturday and to celebrate they were holding a day of events for their customers. These events included previews of their cooking classes and a Black Box competition (think Iron Chef). I desperately wanted to do the Black Box competition but we already had plans for the evening and so, instead, I signed B and I up for the free preview of the French Bistro cooking class and I was delighted when he was eager to go. After so many visits to Quince, I was finally admitted access to where the magic happens – the kitchen! Admittedly, I was a little excited about getting into a proper chef’s kitchen – it certainly has been awhile. My first impressions were of awe. Everything was so organized and tidy. That gives me reassurance that my affair will not be fleeting!

We joined a small group of other interested foodies and gathered around a cook station and watched whilst Chef (and Quince Owner) Andrea gave us a quick ½ hour demonstration on how to cook duck confit with lentils and a side of salad with raspberry vinaigrette. Whilst we absorbed everything that she was teaching us we were given freshly made potato chips that were drizzled with white truffle oil (they were out-of-this-world!) and delicious fresh baguette slices to snack on. It was hard to concentrate with all of the action that my taste buds were getting!

Throughout the demonstration Andrea explained everything that she was doing and also threw in a few helpful tips along the way. Two tips that I took away with me was inserting a knife into a piece of cooking meat to determine how cooked it was. Let the knife sit in the meat for 2 to 3 seconds and then test the temperature of the blade on your wrist (if it’s hot, your meat is cooked). The other was using stock to cook lentils. This might be obvious to some people but it totally went over my head and so for the longest time I’ve been eating awfully bland lentils and have been left puzzled over how restaurants got theirs so full of flavour. Duh!

Once the cooking part of the demonstration was complete, the eating part of the demonstration commenced. We were all treated to a small plate of duck confit and lentils with a glass of full-bodied red that was chosen perfectly to compliment the dish. If you have read my blog before you’d know that I’ve never really had much of an appreciation for duck…that is until I had this duck confit! It was incredible! Hats off to Chef Andrea for a wonderful introduction to French Bistro cooking.

My new goal for 2010 is to sign up for some cooking classes. I’ve been wanting to do it for some time now but this has really given me the kick in the pants to save the money to do them. I had so much fun!!

Quince Studio on Urbanspoon

Quince at home

6 Nov

1780 West 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC,
V6J 1K4

T: 604 731 4645
www.quince.ca

Brief Description: Quince is a one-stop food shop. You can purchase pre-packaged frozen food, imported grocery items or freshly baked bread from their store front, enjoy a wholesome and delicious lunch or breakfast in the small deli, or partake in a cooking class.

I am still in the honey-moon phase of my relationship with Quince. They just can’t seem to do anything wrong in my books (besides one of the servers who is a tad surly). In my last review of Quince I was able to praise their take-out food and coffee but because I hadn’t actually tried any of their frozen food, I was relegated to merely reviewing the “eye appeal” of it. (For the record, it all looks good). This week I was given a Quince gift card from a friend (thank you – you know who you are!) which I used to purchase a 3-course dinner from their frozen food section. I now feel that I qualify to give my opinion.

My goodies

I had already trailed the freezer section numerous times so I knew immediately what I was going to use the voucher on. First thing in my shopping basket was the Dungeness Crab Ravioli as I have been wanting to try them for awhile. I picked up the sage brown butter walnut sauce to pair with it and, for the main course, a vegetarian bean chili. To finish the meal, I just had to try the chocolate mousse.

Dungeness Crab Ravioli

All of the frozen foods are conveniently packaged and labeled and you receive printed cooking instructions to make cooking easier. The instructions are also available on their website, just in case you lose the print-out. Everything that I purchased was soooo easy to prepare. For the ravioli, I just had to cook the ravioli in boiling water, whilst I heated up the sage brown butter walnut sauce on the stove top. Ta-da! There was no prep work involved and we were rewarded with delightful little parcels of Dungeness crab. The butter had a lot of flavour, in fact, I would say that it might have actually been a little too strong to have been paired with the crab. I think that next time I will just cook up some asparagus in butter to go with it and let the crab “talk” a little more.

Vegetarian Bean Chili

The vegetarian bean chili took a while to heat up on the stove top but was well worth it. It was chock-full of beans so I immediately felt healthier just for having eaten it :). The thick chili had a subtle smoky flavour. This would be a perfect mid-week winter dinner for those with limited time. It’s fast, nutritious and filling.

And finally, dessert, which was a chocolate mousse that comes in a convenient, pipe-yourself bag. I piped ours into martini glasses and I must admit that the presentation was a little off-putting (I’ll let you use your imagination) but the mousse itself was delightfully thick and creamy. It contained just the right amount of chocolate – not too much, not too little. At only $7 for two decent servings I would definitely pick this up again for a little after-dinner treat. I was afraid that that would be the case…

Having now experienced just how convenient and wholesome the frozen foods at Quince can be, I am an even bigger fan than I was before. The prices are a little more than most people would expect to pay for a frozen dinner but keep in mind that you aren’t just getting a typical frozen dinner. It’s a bit like Vij’s take-home packs; a bit more expensive but worth the extra money.

Quince Studio on Urbanspoon

Quince

20 Oct

1780 West 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC,
V6J 1K4

T: 604 731 4645
www.quince.ca

Brief Description: Quince is a one-stop food shop.You can purchase pre-packaged frozen food, imported grocery items or freshly baked bread from their store front, enjoy a wholesome and delicious lunch or breakfast in the small deli, or partake in a cooking class.

I love the area where I work. Nestled halfway between West 4th Avenue and Granville Island, I have an array of foodie hot-spots all within walking distance of my office. One such foodie hot-spot that (shamefully) had gone under my radar for too long is Quince. I certainly knew of it but I was under the impression that they focused mainly on cooking classes and team-building cooking sessions (such an awesome idea!). Thankfully, I was wrong. Sure, they do all of that too but they also focus on selling pre-packaged, frozen gourmet food to people that want more than just a boxed frozen dinner from a supermarket. Perfect for the lazy foodie with discerning taste! You can eat restaurant-quality food at home without having to do all the hard work.

Quince

Quince believes in using high-quality, seasonal, farm-based ingredients and they prepare all the food on-site at their location on West 3rd. I am usually anti-frozen foods, preferring to make things from fresh ingredients myself, but I am comforted by the high-standards that Quince has set for itself. Looking through the selection of frozen foods is like reading from a menu at a high-end restaurant; sumac spiced tiger prawns, hand-crafted wild Dungeness crab ravioli, seared Thomas Reid organic chicken breast with preserved lemons & black olives, and red wine braised lamb shanks are just a few of the very tempting dishes on offer. They even do soups, sauces, stocks and dessert for those who are really out to impress with minimal effort.

The prices are, as you would expect, a bit more than what you would pay in the stores for a frozen dinner but there really is no comparison when it comes to the quality. Quince also sells a small selection of cooking supplies, such as Italian olive oils, local cheeses and imported gourmet groceries. From their small store front, they also do great breakfasts, lunches and hot drinks. You can choose to eat them in or take-out. For breakfast, the house-made granola with natural yogurt, quince and fresh fruit is a great way to start the day and it’s only $6. The lattes, with just the right balance of milkiness to coffee strength, remind me of the coffees that I used to get back in Australia and the lunches have been a blessing on the days that I don’t take my lunch to work. The menu changes daily and offerings include delicious grilled panini’s, sandwiches, soups and a special of the day (usually under $10). They update their daily menu on-line every day and so you can see if it tickles your fancy before going there. For lunch yesterday, I had their chickpea masala with rice and a wonderfully dressed salad. I’ve also had the pleasure of lunching on their chickpea ragout with freshly made garlic toast, the vegetarian chilli with garlic toast and various grilled panini’s and it has all been exceptional. The meals have always tasted fresh and healthy and the serving size is adequate but not big enough to give you that drowsy-at-your-desk feeling. Fresh baked goods, such as breads, cookies and slices are also available.

Final Thoughts: For the days when I want to eat out, Quince has proven itself to be reliable. I wanted to test it for awhile before recommending it but in the past few months I have eaten there frequently (perhaps a little too many times!) and I am happy to report that it is consistently yummy. Quince offers wholesome, quick meals without sacrificing on quality and that is something of a rarity these days.

Quince Studio on Urbanspoon

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