Tag Archives: foodie ramblings

The Most Memorable Dishes That I’ve Eaten

14 Jun

Food is a (mostly) glorious thing. Every truly awful dish that I’ve eaten has certainly been over-whelming outnumbered by the number of delectable dishes that I have savoured. Some dishes are more memorable than others and I’d like to share with you the dishes that resonate with me as being the most memorable that I’ve eaten.

I’m not trying to discriminate when selecting these dishes but I did notice that almost all of them are from outside of Vancouver. Perhaps it is a coincidence, or perhaps it is because when travelling you eat out more often and your senses are heightened. Regardless of the answer, the following dishes are my response to the question “What would your last meal be?” Well, this is it for me. Add a bottle of bubbles to this and I would die happy. Oh, so happy!

Moulard Duck Foie Gras En TerrineThe French Laundry, Napa Valley

Arguably the whole evening that we spent at The French Laundry was full of memorable dishes but the one dish that I still daydream about and would travel back to Napa for is the Foie Gras Terrine. I can still remember the glossiness of the terrine as I layered it onto the warm brioche and sprinkled it with salt. I have a difficult time trying to find the words to describe how delectable it was but my taste buds remember.

House Curry with Fresh Prawns – L. Maladee, Ko Lanta, Thailand

Easily the best meal that I ate whilst in Thailand. We returned to this casual, little restaurant many times whilst on the island of Ko Lanta and every meal was delicious, but this curry was the one I remember most vividly. Before we ordered, the server presented the HUGE freshly caught prawns to us and recommended that they be served as the House Curry. I was hesitant because I was already completely in love with their Panang Curry but trust I did, and wow. The curry was creamy, perfectly spicy, and full of fat, juicy prawns.

Aburi Salmon Oshi SushiMinami, Vancouver

The Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, which is pressed local BC salmon, jalapeño, and miku sauce, is the signature dish at Yaletown’s Minami. With slices of delicate salmon, a slightly smoky flavor, and a hint of spice from the jalapeño, it is heavenly. This dish has changed sushi (for the better) for me.

p1060181

Sticky Toffee PuddingRim Rock Café, Whistler

Prior to my first visit to Rim Rock, I was told that I couldn’t leave without ordering the Sticky Toffee Pudding. I did what I was told. Now, whenever I return to Whistler, I try to eat at Rim Rock and will usually – only once have I not – finish my meal with a serving of this deliciousness. I find it rare to find a dish that manages to live up to its much-hyped reputation but the Sticky Toffee Pudding did. B & I even served this dish at our wedding. Who can pass up a warm tower of date pudding, swimming in gooey, sweet toffee? Not me!

Sticky Toffee Pudding (2)

Erik Kayser Baguette and ButterParis, France

I would never have believed that I would add a baguette and butter to my “most memorable dishes” list but here it is. When I was in Paris last November, I joined the long snaking queue at Erik Kayser (a well-known artisan bakery) and chose a warm, crispy baguette and bought a slab of salty French butter to accompany it. My brain and taste buds were tingling as I ate it and, whilst drunk on (carb and fat induced) endorphins, I couldn’t help but marvel at its simplicity. It was truly memorable.

Lobster Brioche Sandwich – Burger & Lobster, London

Again words will fail me but let me attempt to explain how good this dish was. Think of warm, buttery brioche that has been toasted until golden and then filled with plump pieces of sweet lobster, creamy Japanese mayo, and chives. It is rich and decadent and the buttery brioche leaves a glistening butter trail around your mouth as you bite into it…I think you get the picture.

Sturgeon Sabayon – Eleven Madison Park, New York

This dish was memorable for two reasons; 1/ The presentation was unexpected, yet interesting and 2/ I would never expect sturgeon (even the name is ugly) to be this tasty. The sabayon was creamy, foamy, dense, all at once. The size of the dish was also perfect – I was left wanting more.

Unknown Pizza Bar, Florence, Italy

As a child, I wasn’t exposed to authentic Italian food. To put it in context, before I travelled to Italy at the age of 19, the only pizza I had eaten was chain-restaurant pizza (Pizza Hut, for example). Imagine my innocent and naive taste bud’s surprise when they tasted a thick, foccacia-like pizza base, covered in slightly cooked fresh summer vegetables and herbs. The taste was memorable. I can vividly remember tasting every herb, every zucchini, every pepper. I had never tasted pizza that had actual individual flavours like that before. Knowing that food could be that different from what I was used to, pushed me to continue to seek out new tastes and foods.

Beef Masaman CurryHanuman Restaurant, Darwin, Australia

This will always be the Masaman curry that I measure all other Masaman’s against. The beef falls apart at touch, the sauce is thick and creamy and full of spices. And it reminds me of home.

The Hanuman's Massuman Curry

What are the most memorable dishes that you’ve ever eaten? Do you find food more memorable when you sample it in a different country?

Books That Feed The Soul

17 Feb

I have many hobbies. Food, and everything related to food, take up a lot of my time but when I’m not eating, photographing, or cooking, I can typically be found reading. I devour books as feverishly as I devour food. Thankfully, books are better for my waistline.

“Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You To Know About” – Kevin Trudeau

In spite of the cult-like tone and the author’s obvious paranoia, this book changed the way I look at food forever. Before I read this book, I was already curious about food and its power over our bodies, but this book opened my eyes to nasty ingredients in our food and our lifestyles, such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG, processed white flours and sugars, hydrogenated oils, and parabens. The author delves into why the food and pharmaceutical companies want to keep the public in the dark about issues that may cause them diseases, such as ingredients in foods that we eat. The book is frustrating in that it gives you some information but directs you to the author’s website for more details – where you have to pay for advice. Not cool, but besides that, I gained a lot of knowledge reading this book and as a result am much more careful about what I eat now.

“Fast Food Nation” – Eric Schlosser

A non-fiction piece by investigative journalist Eric Schlosser that exposes fast food companies and their practices. The book discusses, not only the food and what goes in it (some of which will terrify you), but also how mass-production for the fast food industry has changed the US farming and meat industries forever. This book was powerful enough that I never ate from certain fast food restaurants again.

“My Life in France” – Julia Child

This book is a must read for those who love food. “My Life in France” is an autobiography of Julia’s life, with a focus on the time she spent living in France. Whilst reading this book, I discovered that I like Julia Child, not just because she was so passionate about French cooking and food, but she was also an independent, ballsy, motivated woman. I found her to be an inspiration as she travelled the world, began cooking as a hobby quite late in life, graduated from Cordon Bleu, co-write the famous cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, and became a TV icon in America. Wow. Not bad!!

Paris, My Sweet – Amy Thomas

An easy read that allows you to get lost in a world of sweets and Parisian life. The book follows the author’s move to Paris and her explorations of the city’s patisseries, chocolatiers, and boulangeries. She also gives valuable advice on New York’s sweet scene as well. I used this book as a guide for my trip to Paris and I was absolutely thrilled with the recommendations.

“Kitchen Confidential”and “Medium Raw” – Anthony Bourdain

Love him or hate him, you have to admit that Anthony Bourdain has a way with words. Personally, I find him quite arrogant but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying his perspective as a restaurant insider, with 25 years of experience in the business. It certainly makes you sympathize with those brave folks who are courageous enough to start their own restaurant but also has you thinking about what has gone on behind the scenes before your plate arrives at your table. Both “Kitchen Confidential”, his first restaurant exposé, and “Medium Raw”, the follow-up book, are engaging.

The Sweet Life in Paris – David Lebovitz

This is a laugh-out-loud recount of pastry chef, David Lebovitz’s, life in Paris. It follows David through his move to Paris and adjusting to the French way of life. David is extremely witty and I found I couldn’t put this one down. The book also contains recipes from his cooking repertoire. You can get an introduction to his writing at his fabulous food blog, www.davidlebovitz.com.

Comfort Me With Apples – Ruth Reichl

I honestly did not know much about Ruth Reichl, a well-known American food writer and critic, before I picked up this book. Ruth’s writing is very honest and candid so you feel as though she is sharing a lot of her life, not just the food side, with you. She shares details of her first job as a restaurant critic, travelling, trying new cuisines, and meeting famous chefs, like Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. She also shows a more personal side by detailing the break down of her first marriage, the start of her second marriage, and the difficulties she faced whilst trying to have a child.

Blood, Bones and Butter – Gabrielle Hamilton

Gabrielle Hamilton writes like a female Anthony Bourdain; brutally honest. The book follows her life from a young girl learning to cook from her mother, through to her extremely interesting life (to me) as a cook in New York. Like Bourdain, some of the stories seem so outrageous that it is hard to believe that they are true but they are certainly entertaining. After years of struggling to find her feet as a chef, we follow Hamilton’s foray into starting her own restaurant (Prune in New York) and the break-down of her marriage.

So, that’s what I like to do when I’m not stuffing my face. What about you? Do you like reading food-focused books? If so, I’d love to hear what books you recommend!

My Year in Review – 2012

26 Dec

What a year 2012 has been and I, for one, am sad to see it end. This year has been absolutely incredible and it has surpassed all of my expectations – I honestly don’t know that I could have crammed much more in! This year has brought with it a lot of firsts, such as visits to world-famous restaurants, as well as the return of familiar experiences, such as Araxi’s Long Table Dinner. So here is my 2012 in food…

Doing a cooking class in Thailand

This had been on my bucket-list for many years and I was so happy when I finally got the chance to tick this one off. Sure, health and safety wise, it was a little dodgy but the food was great and I learned some tips for making some of my favourite food (Thai curries).

Eating incredibly well in Thailand

I absolutely adore Thai food and was adamant that I would only eat Thai food the whole time that I was away. I did, and boy, was it good. One particularly strong meal that stands out was a memorable house prawn curry and Panang curry from a little outdoor restaurant in Ko Lanta. I would travel back there just for those curries!

Eating in San Francisco

It was with much excitement that B and I embarked on our trip to San Francisco. Reservations were made and plenty of good food was eaten. Highlights were Flour + Water, Blue Bottle Cafe, Miette, and Delfina. I would love to return with some more time to try more local favourites in the area.

The French Laundry, Napa Valley

Wow! This is now on my list of the best (and most expensive) meals that I’ve ever eaten. The French Laundry was excellent, from the food to the incredibly attentive service. The whole meal was memorable, but the Foie Gras En Terrine and the Oysters and Pearls dishes stood out as favourites. It was also my first foray into the world of high-end, fine dining.

Araxi Long Table Dinner in Whistler

The Long Table Dinner that Araxi puts on every summer has become mine and B’s traditional way of celebrating our wedding anniversary. This is a fun summer event that has plenty of free-flowing booze, warm days, and delicious local food. This year’s location was a little disappointing after last year’s stunning event, yet we still had a great day.

Wine Tasting in the Okanagan

I really enjoy travelling to the Okanagan in the summer. The heat reminds me of Australia and getting to spend time with family whilst wine-tasting is a great way to spend an afternoon or two. We picked up a few bottles of wine, which we will be keeping for upcoming celebrations.

Dinner at Eleven Madison Park, New York

This was the best meal that I’ve ever eaten in my life! Eleven Madison was a complete experience (see my post for the whole review) and one that I highly recommend. I’m not sure that this experience could be topped.

Dinner at Per Se, New York

After such an oustanding dinner at Thomas Keller’s, The French Laundry, we had to visit his New York restaurant whilst we were in town. It didn’t live up to the hype for us, although we might have been a bit harsh with our comparisons to The French Laundry. It was still an absolutely amazing experience, but we had been spoiled by The French Laundry.

Eating in New York

For two foodies, New York is a pilgrimage. We had so many places to visit in such a short space of time and we had some incredible meals along the way. Besides Eleven Madison Park and Per Se, we were also impressed with Mario Battali’s Del Posto and Eataly, and The Spotted Pig.

p1050377

Big Guns Dinner at Araxi in Whistler

As with the Long Table Dinner, we have started making Big Guns part of our annual events. The dinner isn’t cheap but it is amazing. Big Guns is impressive with its paired wines and excellent food dishes.

p1060524

Eating out in London

Although I didn’t manage to hit any high-end restaurants whilst in London, I did get to visit a Jamie Oliver restaurant and a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, so I was pretty excited by that. The meal that stood out as the most memorable was easily the Lobster Sandwich from Burger and Lobster. It was absolutely sinful.

Stuffing my face in Paris

With only 30 hours to spend in Paris, I made sure that I was eating almost the whole time. I jammed my trip with visits to food markets, bakeries, chocolatiers, and a visit to one of the “Best Restaurants in the World”.

Las Vegas (post pending)

A few weeks ago myself and 9 others travelled to Las Vegas to help my sister celebrate her 30th birthday. It was a crazy, fun time (Oh Vegas!) but we also managed to squeeze in some good eats. A few of us visited Gordon Ramsay Steak restaurant in the Paris hotel and indulged in his well-known Beef Wellington. I can see now why he is so famous for it. We also made a visit to Bouchon Bakery and Bouchon, as well as having a great Spanish tapas dinner at Jaleo, which is a restaurant by José Andrés.

After an epic year in 2012, I really don’t know what 2013 will bring – I have no firm plans going into the new year but I do know that it will be a year of change. Travel and food will always be on the cards but so far, I’m just going with the flow, happy to have had such a fabulous year with the best companion that I could have ever asked for, my partner-in-crime, B.

Mars Bar Battle – US vs. UK

19 Dec

When I was visiting London last month, the hotel that I was staying in offered complimentary chocolate bars. I know, right? Talk about temptation.

Here in Canada, I really don’t enjoy mass-produced chocolate bars but after reading the list of ingredients in the UK chocolate (no corn syrup), I let temptation win and I indulged in a Mars Bar. And because it tasted so good, I did this night after night whilst I was there. There was something so creamy and satisfying about the UK Mars Bar. Confused as to why I liked the UK bar so much more, I decided to bring one back to Canada with me to do a taste comparison with the US Mars Bar.

With three other willing participants, I sampled the two bars in an anonymous taste test. None of the four people sampling the chocolate knew which chocolate bar was which. After sampling the pieces side-by-side, these were the differences that we noticed:

US Mars Bar:

  • Darker in colour than the UK chocolate.
  • A lot sweeter than the UK chocolate. More of a sharper sweetness than a subtle sweetness.
  • Less noticeable layers – flavours of caramel, chocolate, and nougat all blended into one flavour.

UK Mars Bar:

  • Lighter in colour.
  • Slightly denser than the US version.
  • A more rounded flavour, as opposed to just sweet.
  • A creamier tasting chocolate flavour.
  • Noticeable layers of caramel, nougat, and chocolate.P1060664

After we had discussed the differences in the bars, we all voted. Surprisingly, it was unanimous. All four participants in my taste-test, preferred the UK chocolate bar! Everyone agreed that the flavour was more rounded and, although it was sweet, it wasn’t as sweet as the US chocolate. Everyone also preferred that each layer (chocolate, nougat, and caramel) in the UK bar could be tasted.

Have you noticed that you prefer chocolate from certain countries better than your home chocolate? If so, which ones?

Food Rainbow

5 Dec

With all of its shapes, textures, tastes, smells, and colours, food is a glorious tease. Whatever your favourite hue is you can find it on your plate; ready to eat. Whether it is vibrant reds, pretty pinks, or deep blues, food comes in every colour of the rainbow.

Blue:

Brown:

P1040066Black:

Purple:

Pink:

Orange:

White:

Yellow:

Green:

Red:

A few of my favourite things…brunch!

4 Dec

I don’t think I’ve met anyone that dislikes brunch. Seriously, what is there to dislike?? If you want breakfast foods, you can have ‘em. If you want lunch, you can have that too. Prefer sweet to savoury? Have it! It is even socially acceptable to drink at brunch – Mimosa, Caesars, or Bloody Marys, anyone? Yay to drinking before noon!

Hawksworth’s French Toast.

Nelson the Seagull Breakfast.

I truly think that brunch is my favourite meal to eat out, not because the food is better than dinner (no way) but because it is more casual than dinner. You can rock up with no make-up, wearing jeans and a comfy top, and not feel self-conscious. You can be hung-over from the night before, and not be judged. As a bonus to all this, prices are usually more affordable and you get to do it all whilst buzzing on coffee!

Latte from Revolver.

Short Rib Hash from West.

Stuffed French Toast from West.

My weekends typically consist of traipsing all over town looking for new places to brunch at, or visiting favourite brunch spots. My favourite place for brunch is West, the standard of service and food is so high that I really can’t think of anyone doing it better in the city.

Home-made mushrooms on toast.

Other places that I’ve been happy with are Market by Jean-GeorgesProvence MarinasideTwisted Fork BistroTableauWildebeest, and Yolks (a food truck). Brunch is also great at home (B makes a killer brunch) but I must admit that I prefer going out for brunch. Partly because I hate doing dishes, but mostly because I love the wide range of options available to me.

G’day! An introduction to Aussie junk food

28 Nov

There are so many things that I love about Canada but one of the things that I haven’t warmed to at all is Canadian junk food. By junk food, I’m referring to snack foods like chips, biscuits (cookies), candy – things you snack on mindlessly whilst watching a film or TV. I am completely and utterly biased but I truly believe that Australia has some of the best junk food in the world. And the time has come for me to introduce you to some of my favourite junk foods.

Before we start,  you should know that Aussies rarely use the term “candy”.  Instead we use the term “lollies”, which refers to chewy and boiled candies. “Chocolate bars” typically refers to items such as Mars Bars and Snickers Bars, and “chocolate” obviously refers to blocks of chocolates, like Cadbury’s. “Pop” or “soda” is generally referred to as “soft drinks”.

Here we go…

Strawberries & Creams

These chewy, vanilla and strawberry flavoured lollies, are some of my personal favourites and are perfect for mindless snacking. I love biting the “strawberry” off the “cream” and then chewing on the “cream”.

Milko

You can barely find these extremely chewy lollies anymore but back when I was growing up these could be found at every corner store. There used to be a trio of flavours available; Redskins (raspberry flavoured), Spearmints (obviously spearmint flavoured), and Milko (a vanilla-like flavour). I used to pool my pocket money with friends to buy handfuls of them and have lost a filling or two to the taffy-like consistency. Totally worth it.

Clinkers

Clinkers are a hard, crunchy, meringue-like lolly covered in milk chocolate. The fun with Clinkers is that there are three different colours/flavours in each pack and you never know what flavour you are going to get. For some reason, I always seem to end up with the pineapple flavour (yellow), which is my least favourite flavour, but it never stopped me going back for more.

Twisties

I’ve never really been into potato chips because I’ve always been distracted by Twisties. These cheese flavoured chips are in a league of their own. I don’t really have anything to compare them to (except maybe Cheezies) but the flavours are quite different. Twisties also come in chicken flavour but I’ve always been a loyal cheese fan.

Violet Crumble

Violet Crumble falls into the chocolate bar category, although there is very little chocolate involved. The majority of the bar is a hard, crunchy honeycomb (like “seafoam“). It is similar to a Crunchie but they differ in the fact that a Crunchie is a light, almost porous, honeycomb, whereas a Violet Crumble is much firmer and shatters, rather than crunches. B is addicted to these after our trip to Australia last year.

Red Frogs

The funny thing about Red Frogs is that I don’t actually know what flavour they are meant to be! They are just always referred to as “red” or “green” frogs but I don’t believe an actual flavour is ever referenced. Regardless, they are completely addictive with their chewy, jelly-like consistency. Yum!

Cherry Ripe

Cherry Ripes have been around for as long as I can remember but they really got popular in the 80’s (I can still remember the ads on TV selling dreamy Cherry Ripe). From the name it is pretty obvious that they are cherry-flavoured (but not really cherry) treats. The cherry is mixed with coconut and then covered in dark chocolate. Mmmm! Best served, in my opinion, at room temperature when the chocolate is soft.

So there you have it – a brief introduction to some of the junk food that I spent my youth trying to acquire, and now, as an adult, I still find myself longing for. There are many others that I could introduce you to (Tee Vee Snacks, Pods, Minties, Fantales, Hundreds & Thousand biscuits) but this was all I could get my grubby little hands on whilst in the UK.

Along with family and constant sunshine, junk food is one of the things about Australia that I really do miss. As someone with a sweet-tooth, I have devoured many packets of lollies in my time. For the time being, I will have to make do with my care packages from home. Sob sob.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 261 other followers