Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stuffing My Face in Vancouver


I promised in the second to last post that this one would be all about the food, so LET'S GO! You've seen the ice cream croissants...well, that wasn't all I ate, not by a long shot. I ate a lot in Vancouver. A LOT. I didn't get photos of all of it, but I certainly took plenty of photos of the desserts I had :) But I'm starting with something savory first (okay, well it's also kind of sweet)--an early evening snack of salmon candy and a honey lager from Granville Island Brewery. As far as I can tell, salmon candy is pretty much salmon jerky, smoked and glazed with maple syrup. The smoking makes the fish very dense, almost meaty in texture, and the syrup...delicious. It makes such a great snack with beer.

Montreal Smoked Meat on Everything Bagel from Siegel's

One of my favorite things to do in Vancouver is to hop on one of the tiny ferry boats and go wandering around Granville Island. (You may be interested to know that it is not actually an island.) There is a great market here full of all kinds of interesting food stalls, lots of fresh produce, fishmongers, butchers, sausage makers, bakeries....then there is the totem pole workshop and lots of little shops to browse in. It seems mostly to be full of tourists, but I've been a bunch of times and still enjoy it every time I go. Plus it's hard to resist all the piles of fresh fruit (a lot of it grown in B.C.). And I get to eat things like the smoked meat sandwich above! It came wrapped in greaseproof paper with a pickle and mustard and is oh so yummy.

Smoked Meat

This, people, is a regular portion. And can I point out that that's a bagel, not sandwich bread? Still despite its size, I have no problem polishing the whole thing off, and unlike my run-in with the aggressive seagull at English Bay, this time I was able to eat my sandwich in peace. (The seagulls were otherwise occupied by someone who was actually feeding them.) But I digress--vacations are all about indulgence so hold on to your hats because the desserts, they are coming:

Butter Tart

Butter tart! I think the pastry might have been made with shortening because it was surprisingly lacking in flavor, but the filling was sticky and delicious (and had raisins buried in the bottom.)

Okanagan Peach Tart

I bought this peach tart from the same bakery on Granville Island; this was actually for Py (I only snuck a quarter of it!). This was good, with a poached peach half baked into some almond cream. (Screen-cleaner Cat also did not eat any.)

Apple focaccia

I cannot get enough of riding the ferry to Granville Island! This is from another trip (apparently I also cannot resist buying food there) and a different bakery than the previous desserts. This was labeled as an apple focaccia and it certainly is on a bready base but it's definitely more dessert. Or decadent breakfast. There was quite the pool of caramel on it before I carried it home upside down. Which turned out to be good, because I think that would have been too sweet for me.

bluebery galette

Aaaand, from the same bakery, a simple but completely delicious blueberry galette. As you might have gathered from my bento posts, I love blueberries. Ergo, I love this galette.


I did pick up a couple of souvenirs (all of which are the edible type); this is a box of caramels from a local chocolatier, Wendy Boys. Unfortunately, I have not yet tasted one; I'm pretty sure I can convince the recipient to give me one though. In the meantime, I have sneakily opened the package and taken a photo:


My god, do these look amazing or what? You have to congratulate me on my willpower, I have managed not to eat these myself. :)


Finally, here is one more raccoon photo! So cute. Happy Wednesday!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Vancouver Food: PanDa Fresh Bakery

Panda Fresh Bus

I've got a giant roundup coming up of most of the stuff I ate in Vancouver (well, everything I took a photo of, anyway), but I wanted to write a little bit separately about this bakery that we stumbled across. You may know that New York has a large food truck/street food scene (although it cannot compare with say, Hong Kong or Taipei); in fact, we even have an award ceremony for it! The Vendy Awards happen to be taking place tomorrow (sold out, so if you don't have a ticket, write yourself a reminder for next year) and I'll be heading there with my brother; I'm really excited and am ready for some good eating!


But New York is not the only place with a food truck scene; it's starting to take off in Vancouver too. But PanDa Fresh Bakery has done us one better--it's not just a baked goods truck. No, it's a baked goods BUS. And? They are actually baking the flakiest croissants fresh throughout the day. And if a warm, freshly baked croissant isn't enough to get your attention? Guess what--they STUFF IT WITH ICE CREAM.

Green tea & black sesame ice cream croissant

Here's my croissant with a scoop of green tea and a scoop of black sesame ice cream. I had just finished lunch but somehow managed to find room for this too. There was a lady ahead of me who was studying the menu just as intently as I was (because of course, the evil geniuses behind the bakery don't just stuff ice cream in their croissants) and settled on a S'more croissant. Yeah, you read that right. But take a look at their menu:

Panda Fresh Menu
Notice the panda shaped jar? Also, click through for a larger, more legible photo


A slice of cheesecake in a croissant? Oh, be still my beating heart. They also sell savory croissants, including a special the day that I visited of mac and cheese. In a croissant. (I think my heart just had a mild attack.) The guy in the truck was super friendly and didn't bat an eyelid when I took about a zillion photos of everything. He told me that they currently have 4 trucks; the one I went to was parked by David Lam Park, which meant that after I was done asking him my 80thousand questions, I could take my croissant and go sit by the water and indulge.

Ice cream croissant from Panda Fresh Bakery

Oh yes. Life is good.

(PandaFresh doesn't seem to have a website yet, but they are on Twitter! Ah, modern life. And they are soon to be featured on Food Network Canada. Hey guys, if you want to expand to NY, you've already got one fan...)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Vancouver Again


As I mentioned in my first post on my Vancouver trip (I just got back on Saturday! That red-eye flight back to NYC is great for squeezing extra time out of the trip, but not so much when you have a wedding to attend a mere 7 hours after you land!) we took a seaplane up to the Sunshine Coast for a weekend. There's our seaplane! It's very very small (I think it seats 6 total including the pilot). Note the floating Chevron station in the background; I don't know why I am so tickled by the idea of a floating gas station, but there you go. I thoroughly enjoyed our short flight; takeoff and landing all happens on the water and you get amazing views along the way. I wish I could show you, but my camera was in my bag, which was stashed in the tiny little cargo hold. The last time Py took the plane, he saw a whale! We weren't so lucky on this trip, but I thought it was utterly cool when we flew through a cloud.

Pender Harbour in the rain

Unfortunately, it was pretty rainy all weekend despite the Sunshine Coast name! Well, it's got to rain sometime, right? Anyway, this is the view from our friend's marina, and specifically from the back deck of his boat. It's beautiful in the rain, too. And guess what--THERE ARE SEALS LIVING IN THE BAY!!! I kept seeing a seal (although I think there are two that live here) popping his head up above the water, looking around, and then diving back down again. Never did get a photo because I was too busy squealing. Man, I love seals.

Guilty Party

Given the rain, we mostly ate and relaxed but we weren't the only ones--on our way to dinner we saw this deer skulking around. Apparently this is the culprit that's been munching on the recently planted shrubbery around the marina. But it's so cute! Who would begrudge it some leaves, I say.)

Demonic Ice Cream Child

It was a very short trip, but fun! And too soon we were being dropped off at the ferry back to Vancouver, where I found this absolutely terrifying statue in front of an ice cream shop. This does not make me want ice cream.

Webby Feet

Back in Vancouver, I wandered around Denman St. one day and got myself a falafel sandwich for lunch. It was a beautiful day and I thought I was being very clever, carrying my lunch over to the beach at English Bay. Wrong! The beach is very scenic and relaxing, to be sure, but it is also full of seagulls. Very aggressive seagulls! Seagulls that will walk right up to you and wait for you to put your sandwich down or look away. Even after I wrapped mine back up and stashed it in my bag, this guy just stood on the log next to me and watched my bag! I tried to shoo him away; no dice. In the end, I gave up and took my sandwich home to finish. Hmph, darned seagull.


A more successful lunch from Japadog; my oroshi on the left and Py's kurobuta terimayo (billed as the Kobe beef of pork!) on the right. Delicious, of course. I've said it before--these hot dogs are genius! After this particular lunch, Py went back to work and I wandered accidentally across the set of Fringe (a show which I now feel compelled to watch). I saw Joshua Jackson! (He'll always be Pacey to me.) It was strangely exciting, and the film crew were much nicer than the film crews in NYC (who tend to be serious jerks; yeah, I'm talking about you, film crew for Premium Rush.)


Okay, one more photo before I stop (this is getting really long)--here's my caramel banana waffle from Miura Waffle Milk Bar which I had for a between-meals-snack one day. (Hey, wandering around and being a tourist is hard work!) Caramel and bananas is a perfect pairing and combined with a crisp waffle? Oh boy. I'm sort of glad that I'm separated from this place by an entire continent; otherwise I would be eating way too many waffles. It's a cute little shop and they have savory waffle sandwiches as well, not to mention flavored milks (and Yakult!) I'll definitely revisit this place when I go back to Vancouver.

I think my next post will be entirely about food :) Tomorrow's my first day at my new job, wish me luck!

Read the first part of my Vancouver trip here

Friday, September 10, 2010

Greetings from Vancouver

English Bay View

I'm a week into my vacation and I feel utterly relaxed. I left 90 degree weather and arrived to 65 degree weather and I'm sitting at the kitchen table in Py's apartment. There's an absolutely amazing view of English Bay from here (the photo above is pretty much exactly what I'm looking at right now, if you add in a few more clouds) and I've got a mug of tea. These are good conditions for blogging, my friends. (Even if I've only got a tiny little netbook at my disposal! It's cute and functional but dang does it make me feel like I have giant fingers!)


On my first day, we went to Wreck Beach and listened to music and waited for the sun to set. Actually before we did that, we went to Japadog and I had a spicy cheese terimayo; Py has a photo of me looking positively gleeful but you'll have to wait until he uploads it to see. But anyway, back to the beach.


This guy showed up with a shovel and started digging an enormous hole--eventually he ended up planting a bunch of tree trunks in the ground, as you can see above. I dunno if he was out for some exercise or what, but...okay! It looks kind of neat.

Sunset at Wreck Beach

This was as close as we got to sunset, as eventually it just got toooo cold. So we adjourned to Chutney Villa and ate entirely too much food. But it was delicious. And then the good eating continued:


One of my Flickr friends is always posting shots of awesome looking food on her stream, and she happens to be from Vancouver! And ever since I saw her photos of Sun Yee Cafe, I knew we had to go check it out. And we did! This is really far out from where we are, but it happened to be on the way to Rice Lake, so we hopped in the Zipcar (man, what a brilliant service) and drove over to East Hastings. Sun Yee Cafe is kind of an HK style coffee shop and they have absurdly cheap prices. Py got the chicken chop above and I ordered a lunch special of stir fried beef and hor fun noodles (which I neglected to take a photo of). What arrived was an absolutely enormous platter of flat noodles. ENORMOUS. Like, enough for 3 people huge. And that was $6 or $7! It included a drink (lemon tea for me!) and because we had no idea that the portion sizes would be so enormous, we also ordered an appetizer of fried squid:

Salt and pepper squid

Salt and pepper style. Delicious, especially the bits of spicy chili. A bit tough, but for the price, I'm not going to complain. We rolled out of there with leftovers and made our way to Rice Lake for a much needed walk. Rice Lake is pretty, but it was starting to drizzle when we got there so we probably didn't get to experience its full glory. Nice for a walk, though!


On another day we went to Stanley Park and saw a couple of raccoon families--I love raccoons! They are so cute and make the best noises.


There were a couple of young ones which were extra cute; you can see a short video that Py made. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the place we had dinner that night but they had a very reasonably priced set menu which included the new-to-me "tofu cheese". I think it was pretty much cream cheese (possibly mascarpone) and tofu, topped with honey and strawberries and it was surprisingly good. Not enough tofu, though.

Wild Sockeye Salmon

Apparently I arrived at the tail end (no pun intended) of the wild sockeye salmon season; from what I've been reading, they've had the largest run in 100 years. Lucky me! I picked up this gorgeous salmon fillet for something like $7 CAD; do you know how much this would cost in NY???? Probably triple that amount.

Salmon dinner!

We made a really simple dinner with it; the salmon was just salted and then pan-seared for a crispy skin. It was amazing, and I'm not sure I can ever go back to eating farmed salmon. (The roasted potatoes and sauteed sugar snap peas were tasty too, but man, that salmon.) Just what the doctor ordered!

Tomorrow we're hopping on a sea plane (exciting!!) and going up to visit our friends' marina. Hope I get to see some seals!

Friday, September 3, 2010

saying goodbye, saying hello


So, the news I've been sitting on for a month? I'm leaving my job! Today is my very last day, and I find myself with mixed emotions--I'm happy to be moving on, but I'm sad to be leaving some very fine coworkers who have become good friends. How do I tell them that I'm going to miss them dreadfully?


Well, since I have a reputation as a, ahem, not very emotional, mostly crabby person to protect, I say it with cake (mini cupcakes, naturally). And they know me well, so I think they will understand what I mean when I leave these in the pantry with a note that says "Eat eat eat! Thanks for everything. P.S. Please leave the boxes, I need them."

Strawberry lemon on the left, good old Guinness on the right

Dear coworkers--seriously, thanks for everything. You've dealt with my meltdowns, my moods, my silly moments (okay, I know sometimes I have laughing fits and can't stop! It's because you're all really funny!), my obsession with that falafel sandwich place (I'm sorry I made you eat there 3 times in one week), my insistence on showing you the Maru and Meat and Cheese videos 800 times, my attempts at organizing bowling/karaoke/bar night/dinner, my papercrafting, my bitching, moaning and complaining. You are all saints. Please keep in touch. Best wishes to each and everyone of you. Thanks for coming out last night to celebrate with me. Because you are my friends, I know you won't use any of my drunken babblings against me ;)

The monkeys! They keep following me!!

(And after I clean out my desk I'm off to Vancouver for two weeks where I will decompress, take a lot of photos, eat a lot of seafood, and maybe even write a blog post or two. And then I'll say hello to my new job.)