Flip Top Filipino fusion food truck

Enjoying Vancouver Tasting Plates Mount Pleasant

Another Vancouver Foodster Tasting Plates has come and gone.  The neighbourhood we visited this time was Mount Pleasant.  It was quite a fun event with new cuisine to many of us, in particular Filipino and Peruvian food.  The restaurants / food trucks we visited on this trip and my comments and pictures of each venue are below.  Enjoy!

Flip Top Food Truck

Flip Top Filipino fusion food truck

Flip Top Filipino fusion food truck

This is one of the newer food trucks in Vancouver.  It has some very tasty Filipino treats that I think most people have not had a chance to try.  It’s hard to miss this truck, brightly coloured in the Philippines flag colours, reminding me of the decorated jeepneys in Manila.

Lumpia, bbq pork, and Pacman Pandesal slider

Lumpia, bbq pork, and Pacman Pandesal slider

Lumpia is a a deep fried spring roll that can be filled with sweet or savory fillings.  This one was vegetarian and served with a sweet chili dipping sauce.  I really enjoyed the BBQ pork skewer.  The pork was soft and so full of flavour.  It was glazed with Flip Top’s signature BBQ sauce.  Everyone I talked to loved the BBQ skewer.  The last item on the plate was their Pacman Pandesal slider.  There are 2 things to note about this slider.  First is that they use Pandesal, which is a sweet Filipino bun.  There are a few Filipino bakeries in town that make Pandesal, and people tend to line up to get it fresh from the oven.  The other item to note is “Pacman“.  If you didn’t know, Pacman is the nickname for Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.  According to Wikipedia, “He was named “Fighter of the Decade” for the 2000s (decade) by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Organization (WBO).” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manny_Pacquiao).  So to me, with the tip to Manny, they are putting up their burger against all others.  It definitely is a contender!

Le Tigre Cuisine Food Truck

Le Tigre food truck

Le Tigre food truck

Le Tigre is well known around Vancouver.  The chefs are especially characters, wearing Hello Kitty glasses.  They cooked a very tasty salmon miso chowder.  Really full of flavour.  The salmon not overcooked.

Le Tigre miso salmon chowder

Le Tigre miso salmon chowder

I would not hesitate to order this dish again.

Milano Coffee Roasters

Milano Coffee Roasters was our starting point for Tasting Plates.  I had a shot of their 2012 Gold Medal Winner, La Furtura, from a competition in Italy. Espresso with a chocolate overtone. Nice acidity.

Milano Coffee Roasters La Futura espresso

Milano Coffee Roasters La Futura espresso

Urban Fare (False Creek)

Urban Fare in the Olympic Village area of False Creek served us a mixed platter of prosciutto and melon skewer, coconut Gouda cheese drizzled with Callebaut chocolate, and a macaron, and served it with a taste of wine from BC’s Blasted Church.  I had my platter of with a glass of Hatfield’s Fuse.  The cheese with the chocolate was very tasty, as was the crostini that was topped with curried chicken. The Blasted Church Hatfield’s Fuse was a good accompaniment.

Urban Fare crostini, proscutto and melon, cheese with chocolate ,and macaron

Urban Fare crostini, prosciutto and melon skewer, cheese with chocolate ,and a macaron

Bonchaz Bakery Cafe

Sweet and savory Bon Chaz buns

Sweet and savory Bon Chaz buns

BonChaz offers a unique bun to it’s customers.  The traditional BonChaz bun has butter inside and icing sugar dusting the top.  One of these buns fresh out of the oven with the butter melted inside is very decant.  Bump the decadence up with an Apple Cinnamon BonChaz bun.  And a coffee of course.

Chicha Restaurant

Besides Flip Top, Chicha Restaurant was another delightful surpise during Tasting Plates.  In South America, people from the surrounding countries that I have talked to say that Peru produces the best, most flavourful food.  They are especially known for their ceviche.  Today there was no ceviche on our tasting menu, but we did have very tasty food.

Chicha Restaurant menu

Chicha Restaurant menu

All the food was very well done.  In particular I liked the wild salmon sliders with the salsa criolla and the Aji Amarillo aioli.  Lots of flavours between the salmon, the aioli and the onion salsa.

Chicha salmon slider quinoa salad and home made potato chips

Chicha salmon slider quinoa salad and home made potato chips

Baylor’s Groceries

My last stop was Baylor’s Groceries where Chef Tim has been cooking and serving his special home made soups.  This evening we had a choice of curried pumpkin bisque with pureed cashews, or cream of chicken and mushroom.  With the coolness of fall in the air, I opted for the curried pumpkin soup, which I really enjoyed.  It was wonderfully spiced with bright and earthy flavours.

Curried pumpkin bisque with pureed cashews

Curried pumpkin bisque with pureed cashews

Vancouver Foodster Presents Food Talks Vol. 7 on April 2nd

If you haven’t been to a Food Talk and you are a foodie, where have u been?  Don’t miss out on lucky #7!  The theme for this talk is “Food Trucks“. Here is the info from Vancouver Foodster about his event.

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roaming dragon food truck

Roaming Dragon food truck

This is the seventh event in this Food Talks series! This edition of Food Talks is themed Food Trucks: The business & the movement. This event takes on a specific theme and will create discussion and hopefully answer any questions people may have about starting their own food truck, or touch on why food trucks are all the rage in our city and throughout North America!  You will get the inside scoop on the new Food Truck Pods and Festivals the City of Vancouver is planning for the coming summer!

Join us over Appetizers from the chefs at the Electric Owl and then to hear some enlightening speakers from the food community. We are thrilled to be featuring one of the Producers & Creators of the popular Food Network TV Show Eat St.at this edition of Food Talks.

5 Speakers:

  • Jory Simkin and Jason Apple, Roaming Dragon and Gourmet Syndicate Inc
  • Sarb Mund, Soho Road Truck & Food Truck Incubator
  • Councillor Heather Deal, City of Vancouver
  • Clement Chan and Steve Kuan, Le Tigre Truck
  • Audrey Mehler, Paperny Entertainment

The Evening:

Enjoy a wonderful line-up of speakers who will talk about themselves and their role related to the Food Trucks: The business & the movement. There will be a Q & A where you will have a chance to ask questions and engage with the speakers. There will be a draw for prizes.* Wine, beer, cocktails and other beverages will be available for purchase.

Growing Chefs is our designated charity, support their wonderful organization that educates children on the food community in the public schools.

Tickets:

$15 per person before March 29. * $21 per person after March 29 at 11pm and at the door. (eventbrite fee extra). A donation of $3 from each ticket purchased will go to support Growing Chefs.

Purchase tickets here http://foodtalksvolume7.eventbrite.com/

Full details of the event including the Speakers bio’s is here
http://foodtalks.ca/food-talks-volume-7-april-2/

See the past 30 Food Talks Speakers presentations 

Tasting Plates Vancouver Fall Edition – A Real Cultural Mix

The latest Vancouver Foodster Tasting Plates Vancouver Fall Edition was last week, November 21.  It was the most diverse tasting of food since the Tasting Plates started IMHO.  There were 2 Chinese Tea shops, Moroccan cuisine, a raw oyster bar, a funky night club, a pizza food truck, and more chocolate (you can never have enough chocolate tasting), amongst other venues.  Here are my favourites of the night.

The Electric Owl

This night club on Main Street was quite surprising with their Asian inspired cuisine.  I thougth their Mini Eggplant Sub (a take off of a Vietnamese sub) was very tasty.  I liked the crunchy sub bun.  Lots of flavour, and not too spicy.  Also the Fukuro burger sliders were super ppoular.  I like the wasabi slaw that gave the burger some heat.  And the Mini Sakana Chipu, a Grey Goose battered ling code bite was done right; crispy and not greasy.

Fukuro burger slider from Electric Owl

Fukuro burger slider from Electric Owl

Grey Goose battered ling cod bite from Electric Owl

Grey Goose battered ling cod bite from Electric Owl

Mini eggplant sub from Electric Owl

Mini eggplant sub from Electric Owl

Harvest Community Foods

It started out as a cool night, so walking into Harvest Community Foods, with their steam filled windows was welcome.  They served a bone warming ramen with Fraser Valley pork shoulder and SOLE food radish.

Ramen with Fraser Valley pork shoulder from Harvest

Ramen with Fraser Valley pork shoulder from Harvest

East of Main Cafe

How many Moroccan restaurants can you name in Vancouver?  Well now you can say 1 for sure with the East of Main Cafe.  They offered a tasting plate containing:

  • Kefta skewer with spicy tomato sauce (I liked the tomato sauce)
  • Onion Soup (another bone warmer, with lots of flavour, and not salty as some onion soups can be)
  • Spanish torta with mojo sauce (I think my favourite of the items here. The mojo sauce had a nice smoky flavour to it)
  • Spiced almond labneh with preserved lemon and herb salsa on a pita chip
Tasting plate from East of Main Cafe

Tasting plate from East of Main Cafe

Oyster Express

You can never go wrong with getting a fresh local beach oyster on the half shell, with a squeeze of lemon!

Fresh beach oysters from Oyster Express

Fresh beach oysters from Oyster Express

The Chinese Tea Shop

This was very interesting.  As each wave of people entered the shop, we w0uld sit down and learn a bit about brewing tea the Chinese way.  I learned much about special clay tea pots, and size does matter (the smaller the better btw). Also the temperature of the water matters depending on which type of tea you are serving.  We tried the Cloud Mist Green tea (served at a cooler temperature) and a Mini Tao Black Pu-erh tea (at a higher temperature).

The Chinese Tea Shop

The Chinese Tea Shop

Pazza Rella Pizza Food Truck

This was my last stop of the evening.  I was stuffed like a calzone, but had to try a slice of pizza from their wood fired oven.  My slice was from a Margherita pizza, a blend of olive oil, garlic, fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.  Nice thin crispy crust and flavourful toppings.

Pazza Rella wood burning pizza oven

Pazza Rella wood burning pizza oven

Beta 5

Last but not least was dessert for the evening.  Beta 5 offered a do-it-yourself hot chocolate milk.  They served you a steaming cup of milk, and your choice of a stick containing a block of milk or dark chocolate.  I went the dark chocolate route.  It was very filling.  They also had assorted candies anda  seasonal creampuff too.

Seasonal cream puff from Beta 5

Seasonal cream puff from Beta 5

Get Your Tickets to Vancouver Tasting Plates Fall Edition

Tasting Plates Vancouver Fall editionTantalize your taste buds at several restaurants in Chinatown, Strathcona and the East Side! This evening tasting extravaganza goes from 6pm until 9:30 pm and is presented by Vancouver Foodster.

If you have not attended a Tasting Plates event in the past, here are links to my experiences:

Each restaurant will be serving up Tasting Plates for guests to enjoy and you will have a chance to visit many different types of restaurants throughout the evening, meet some new food loving friends, meet the chefs, and learn about each of the participating restaurants.

  • Vegetarian options will be available at many of the participating restaurants.
  • Bring along a friend or two, your significant other, your family or come solo.
  • A food networking dinner event connecting Vancouver’s vibrant food community.

Visit each of the participating restaurants at your leisure by bike, moped, car, transit, walking, roller skates, skateboarding or carpooling.

$3 from each ticket purchased will go to support Project Limelight

Registration:

Beta 5 at 413 Industrial Avenue (parking lot) -this is where you will show us your printed or digital tickets and will pick up your Tasting Plates Cards.

Participating Restaurants:

Purchase tickets via Eventbrite:

http://tastingplatesyvrfall.eventbrite.com/

Advance Tickets: $30 per person (eventbrite fee extra) after September 28th. $100 for 4 pak of tickets or $120 for 6 pak of tickets (get a group of your friends/family together and save by purchasing a 4 pak or a 6 pak (eventbrite fee extra). Tickets $40 per person (eventbrite fee extra) after November 18th.

Ticket price includes tasting plates at each of the participating restaurants throughout the evening. A donation of $3 from each ticket purchased will go to support Project Limelight. (Beverages are included at some restaurants which will be noted, you are welcome to purchase wine, beer, cocktails or mocktails at each of the participating restaurants).

My Bada Bing Food Truck Experience

Bada Bing Truck with menu

After a quick meeting downtown today, it was almost noon, so I decided to try a food truck.  Beside the Burrard Skytrain station was the Bada Bing truck. They proudly list that they make a chicken and a steak Philly Cheese sandwich.  I decided to go for the chicken this time.  The sandwich came on a foot-long bun, loaded with bite sized pieces of chicken in a light Middle Eastern flavoured sauce to me, along with lots of fried onions, and melted provolone cheese.  The sandwich was piping hot, the way I like it.  I didn’t try to add any extra condiments, but wished I did.  The sandwich was good, and filling, but there was no bright or sour flavours to complement the chicken & fried onions.  I think some dill pickle, or picked banana peppers would have been a great addition to the sandwich.  I will have to try next time.

What wine would I have with this Chicken Philly Cheese?  I think a juicy Gamay would be my first choice.  Not overly heavy bodied or too much dark fruit flavours.  A few gamays that I can recommend are:

  • Bada Bing Chicken Philly Cheese

    Henry Fessy Julienas 2009, France ($25.99). If you like lighter bodied reds, such as from Pinot Noir, you may also like this wine, which is made from the Gamay grape. Nice medium ruby colour. Light cherry nose.  Medium body with light tannins and medium acidity. Cherry flavours. Easy to enjoy.

  • Henry Fessy “St. Amour”, 2009, France ($24.99). This is a Beaujolais from the eastern part of France (south of Burgundy), made from the Gamay grape.  Pale ruby in colour.  Cherry bon bon nose. Light body and lower tannins.  Cherry flavour. Lighter in body than a Bordeaux, similar in weight to a lighter Pinot Noir.
  • Volcanic Hills Estate Winery Gamay Noir 2009, BC ($12.90).  An unbelievable price for a single varietal wine from the Okanagan. This is a nice light bodied wine that you can serve slightly chilled.  The wine was pale cherry in colour.  Restrained aromas of red cherry and red currants, and a hint of smoke. On the palate there was violets, roses, cherries, black pepper and a bit of spice.  Refreshing acidity and quite a long finish.

If you do not like red wine, try these white wines:

  • Stags Hollow Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc 2010

    Stags Hollow Viognier 2010, BC. This Viognier was pale in colour with some sweetness, orange, and flower aromas. Very pretty. Tropical fruit and cinnamon flavours.  Medium body.

  • Thornhaven Estates Winery Pinot Gris 2010, BC. I think there is something specific about the terroir for this wine that makes this Pinot Gris have a wonderful grapefruit nose and flavour.  I haven’t seen this in other Okanagan Pinot Gris. Pale lemon in colour with red grapefruit nose. Flowery with citrus, grapefruit flavours. Yum.
  • Monmousseau Cuvee JM Brut 2007, France ($19.99). This sparkler is made from 100% Chenin Blanc grapes. Light lemon in colour .  Light citrus with a hint of honey aromas.  Cinnamon greets your lips up front on the palate, followed with citrus and apple flavours.  Medium acid and length.  Very tasty.

I hope to have more time to visit other food trucks in downtown Vancouver this summer, and give you my wine pairing recommendations. Enjoy!

A Tasty Evening at Tasting Plates Vancouver

Tasting Plates Vancouver

Last night was the Tasting Plates event in downtown Vancouver.  It was a perfect night, no rain, no wind.  So walking to the restaurants/carts would be a pleasure.  If you hadn’t heard about Tasting Plates it was a walk about event where you visit up to 10 food vendors, and they give you a selection of appetizers and/or drinks to try from them.  For this evening the participating vendors were:

  • Juice Truck
  • Cosca Restaurant
  • Cupcakes Denman
  • Bonchaz Bakery Cafe
  • Footo Delights
  • Notturno Paninoteca
  • WE. Coffee Inc.
  • Soho Road
  • W2 Media Cafe
  • Leonadis Chocolate

My Highlight Tastings

I started out at 5:30pm, walking, drinking, and tasting till 8:30pm.  In that time I was able to visit Notturno Paninoteca, Bonchaz, Juice Truck, Leonadis Chocolate, Soho Road and Footo Delights.  What were my highlight tastings?

Notturno Paninoteca

Notturno tasting plate

Located at 280 Carrall Street, this place had my favourite food overall.   A narrow restaurant with a nice bar. Just opened in November last year and recently getting their liquor license.  They served 3 appetizers, and I paired them with a nice glass of Prosecco.  The appetizers, all winners were:

  • Tartufo di Capra – black truffle goat cheese, greens, tomato pearls
  • Crudo – albacore tuna crudo, cucumber, tomato, chili aoli, balsamic pearls
  • Fico – blue cheese aoli, fig, black olive, walnuts

My favorite of the 3 was the Tuna Crudo.  It had high acidity with fresh flavours and some spiciness in the background.  The Fico with blue cheese aoli was also quite nice.  You had a combination of sweetness, the blue cheese sharpness and the crustiness of the bread.

Soho Road

Soho Road Beef Seekh Naan Kebab

My next favorite place was Soho Road, a food truck located at the corner of Smithe and Howe streets.  Again 3 appetizers, some nice hot chai for a cold night.  The appetizers were:

  • Butter Chicken Naan Kebab – Tandoori chicken smothered in our famous butter chicken sauce and topped off with a salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion and cilantro all on a freshly baked Naan.
  • Beef Seekh Naan Kebab – Ground spicy Beef kebab with chaat masala,  and drizzled with a tamarind chutney. Topped off  with a salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion and cilantro all on a freshly baked Naan.
  • Mixed Vegetable Subji – Carrots, Peas, Potatoes and onions cooked with cumin, coriander and other traditional spices, topped with a light mayonnaise and a salad of cucumber, tomato, red onion and cilantro served on a freshly baked Naan.

Of these, there was unanimous agreement amongst the foodies there that the Beef Seekh Naan Kebab.  Again bursting with flavour from the spiced beef and the salad, especially the cilantro.  Some Riesling or maybe a Pinotage would have been a nice accompaniment. My next favorite was the Mixed Vegetable Subji.  Lots of nice textures in your mouth.

Leonadis Chocolate

Leonadis Liege Waffles and macaron

Leonadis won my third place vote, in particular for their Liege waffle.  Their tasting plate consisted of:

  • Piece of Leonidas chocolate
  • Liege Waffle
  • Espresso Con Panna
  • Shot of our regular Hot Chocolate (52.3%)
  • Shot of our Frozen Noisette

This is a Belgian inspired coffee/waffle/chocolate shop.  I had never had a Liege Waffle before, but loved it.  The waffle had a cake-like texture, not doughy like waffles are here.  It also tasted like there could have been some apple mixed in with the waffle as I picked up an apple flavour. To this I think the Hot Chocolate paired nicely.  On the way out we had our choice of one of several hand made Belgian chocolates.  If you want to find out more about Liege Waffles, here is a recipe I found online.

If you want to find out more about all the vendors you can follow them on Twitter.  Their Twitter handles are @CoscaRestaurant @WECoffeeInc  @CupcakesDenman @FootoDelights @NotturnoGastown @juicetruck @W2MediaCafe @LeonidasChocola  @bonchaz @sohoroad

Thank you very much for Richard Wolak aka @vanfoodster for arranging this fun event. Enjoy!

Portland: A Great Food and Wine Destination

Portland: Island Grill BBQ food cart

Recently I had a chance to travel to Portland, Oregon for a weekend. I had 3 things I wanted to do:

  • Try the food carts
  • Buy some Oregon Pinot Noir
  • Try the restaurants

I did get to try all three. Here is my synopsis.

Portland Food Carts

Portland has a great food cart scene.  Food carts are grouped into “pods”, which are typically around parking lots.  Most of the food carts are downtown, but there are many outside of the downtown core.  I love Cajun food, and Southern BBQ, so I checked out the Food Carts Portland website to narrow down my search.  (Note this website has a set of Google Maps showing the pods and the carts at each pod.) The food carts I eventually tried was:

  • Island Grill Hawaiian BBQ
  • A Little Bit of Smoke

Portland: A Little Bit of Smoke food cart

I also have a soft spot for Hawaiian lunch plates, which are typically some bbq’d meat (in my case Kalua pork), a scoop of rice, and a scoop of potato salad. If you go to Hawaii, look out for Hawaiian lunch plates.  They are always a great value!

At the Island Grill Hawaiian BBQ, I did have the Kalua pork lunch plate, as outlined above.  The pork had a nice smokiness to it, and was very juicy. They have a mini for $5 and a large for a few dollars more.  I enjoyed the mini.  This left me some room for my next food cart.

A Little Bit of Smoke is Carolina-style BBQ.  I ordered their “Hogpile“, which was a bowl loaded with black-eyed peas, pulled pork, slaw and their special red barbeque sauce.  A ton of flavours in your mouth; sweet, spicy, smokey, earthy all in one bite, plus the crunchiness of the slaw!

Oregon Pinot Noir and Wine Stores

Oregon is well known for their wines, especially Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, two cool climate grapes. Just around from my hotel downtown was a fantastic wine shop called Vinopolis Wine Shop (1025 Southwest Washington Street).  Nothing glitzy about this store, just boxes and boxes of fine wine from around the world.  I spent a few hours just walking through this store, checking out wines that I have not seen in Vancouver.  I was tempted to pick up some Rhone wines, but I settled on two Oregonian Pinot Noirs:

  • Belle Pente Belle Pente VIneyard Pinot Noir 2008

    Belle Pente Belle Pente Vineyard Pinot Noir 2008

  • Patricia Green Cellars Olenik Pinot Noir 2009

I picked Belle Pente in part because Burghound had reviewed this winery.  Burghound is best known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Burgundy, so when he spent time to taste and review Belle Pente, that was a hint to me that this is a wine I should consider. You can read about Belle Pente’s wines here.

I also have been hearing many good things about Patrica Green Cellars and knew this is one wine I had to buy.  You can read about Patricia Green Cellars on their website.

I don’t have much to say about these two wines as I did not open the bottles yet.  They have to sit in my cellar for a few years.  I will let you know when I open them!

Portland’s Restaurant Scene

Getting into a restaurant in downtown Portland is a challenge.  Don’t show up at their door, even on a Monday night and expect to get a table.  If you want a table you have to book at least 1 day in advance, at least for the restaurants I tried.  I did go to three restaurants, and enjoyed 3 dinners:

  • Irving Street Kitchen
  • 50 Plates
  • Andina

Irving Street Kitchen has a working kitchen in the centre of the restaurant.  Everything is open, with funky, stripped down, industrial style interior.  My meal was perfectly cooked duck breast served with corn grits.

At 50 Plates, I shared a green chili seafood chowder and a paella.  Seafood chowder made with green chilies is new to me, but it tastes great.  A bit of southwestern flavour mixed with northeast seafood chowder.  The paella was listed as Florida style.  I’m not sure the difference, but the paella was chock full of seafood.

Andina Peruvian Restaurant Draper Chicken with Yam

Andina advertises themselves as novo-Peruvian food.  Peruvian food is described by all South American countries as being the best food in South America.  After trying Andina’s food, I agree.  I was in Chile 2 years ago, and the Chileans recommended for me to try the Peruvian food.  Peruvian seafood dishes are highly rated.  For me though, all the restaurants I visited in Portland had local Draper Valley chicken.  I had to try it, so I ordered the ESCABECHE DE POLLITO CON DUO DE CAMOTE, which is described as  Pisco-brined Draper Valley chicken, pan-roasted to order, and served “escabeche” style; with pickled onions, Botija olives, quail eggs, cherry tomatoes and sweet potato served two ways: crispy quinoa croquettes and huacatay-cotija cheese gratin.  The sweet potato cooked 2 ways  were fantastic.  The quinoa coated yam croquettes were crunchy and had a sweet onion relish.  The huacatay-cotija cheese grain, was paper thin slices of yam piled high and coated with cheese and baked.  The yam had a dill flavour to it.  I couldn’t see any dill in the dish, but it was delish.  I will have to try recreating this on my own.  The chicken was of course cooked to perfection and was very enjoyable when you ate it with mouthfuls of the olives, quails egg, cherry tomatoes… To this dish I had a glass of Graffigna Pinot Gris Reserva from Argentina.  Nice stone fruit and acidity paired perfectly with the chicken.

Of the three restaurants, although all had really good food, Andina was exceptionally good.  If you are planning a trip to Portland, do not miss a visit to Andina!

If you would like to visit these restaurants, here are their websites:

Enjoy!