Spicy lemongrass vermicelli noodles at Five Elements

Noodle Mania 2 – My Picks For You

Vancouver Foodster’s Second Annual Noodle Mania has come and gone.  It had an interesting lineup of restaurants and dishes.  We had both sweet and savoury noodle dishes to sample, for vegans and omnivores.  The restaurants and their dishes are below, together with a few of my comments/recommendations and pictures.  Enjoy.

Atithi

  • Veggie noodle samosa with tamarind chutney
  • Chicken chow mein samosa with tamarind chutney

This was actually my last stop during Noodle Mania, but was one of my favourite.  The chef was telling us how on a trip to India last year, that he came across a new “craze” which was to put noodles inside samoas.  He must have liked the taste enough, that he brought the idea back with him to Vancouver.  I enjoy veggie samoas, so I picked the veggie option.  The samosa was full of flavour, with thin rice noodles and vegetables mixed with light curry spices.  I would go back here to have a few more as well as enjoying their other Indian dishes.

Veggie noodle samosa with tamarind chutney

Veggie noodle samosa with tamarind chutney

Xoxolat

  • Savory noodle with dark chocolate
  • Sweet noodle with milk chocolate
  • Tasting of different flavoured xoxolat chocolate bars

I was not sure what to expect from a chocolate shop for noodle mania.  They made 2 different noodle dishes, one with dark chocolate and the other with milk.   The dishes were interesting, but I think just having a tiny sample was enough for me.  I do not know that a whole plate would have worked for me.  But besides the noodle dishes, there was a sampling table of various chocolate bars made by xoxolat and those were very good.  I purchased two chocolate bars; one chocolate with lavendar, and the other was tortilla chips and lime with chocolate.

Dark chocolate savory noodles in the making

Dark chocolate savory noodles in the making

Graze Vegetarian

  • Brown rice elbow macaroni in smoky coconut milk based “cheese” sauce topped with toasted nut crumble (GF)
  • Beetroot linguine topped with a porcini infused cashew cream sauce

Graze Vegetarian looked vaguely familiar as I stepped through the doors, but was told by the other foodies I was with that this used to be The Fray restaurant.  Quite a change, with creamy white walls and an elegant wall mural on one wall.  As I try to eat gluten free, I was looking forward to trying their GF “mac and cheese”.  The mac and cheese really did taste very cheesy, but it did have a bit of a sour note to the sauce, which I found out was from fermented coconut milk.  Some people at my table enjoyed the sour tang to this dish.  The other dish was the beetroot linguini which had nice earthy flavour to it, which I quite enjoyed.

Vegan macaroni and coconut milk cheese and beetroot linguini

Vegan macaroni and coconut milk cheese and beetroot linguini

Bella Gelateria

  • Faloudeh Sorbetto – originally from Shiraz in Southwest Iran.  Rose water with rice noodles and fresh lime juice

Toward the end of our tastings, we decided to stop at Bella Gelateria for a palate cleansing sorbetto.  This one had very bold flavours with the rose water and lime juice.  I agreed with my Noodle Mania companions that the flavours were quite intense and maybe could be toned down just a bit, but I did enjoy the flavour combination.  Try this out in the summer while you sit by the convention centre watching the boats in the harbour.

Faloudeh Sorbetto (rose water and lime)

Faloudeh Sorbetto (rose water and lime)

Federico’s Supper Club

  • Strozzapreti con ragu bolognese
  • Rigatoni alla Norma

This was the first stop at Noodle Mania and I really enjoyed their pasta.  In particular I thought the Riagoni was excellent.  I really liked the bright tomato flavour and the bits of eggplant in it.  For those of you who like heartier dishes there was the Strozzapreti con ragu bolognese, which of course is a pasta dish cooked with a meaty ragu sauce.  Beside the meatiness of the sauce, I did also like the buttery component, which may have come from the noodles?

Strozzapreti con ragu bolognese and Rigatoni alla Norma

Strozzapreti con ragu bolognese and Rigatoni alla Norma

Five Elements

  • Pho sate peanut sauce
  • Spicy lemongrass vermicelli noodles
  • Pho – rice noodle soup with beef

Pho soup, for those that haven’t tried it is a flavourful, filling bowl of noodles with various cuts of beef (usually), bean sprouts, basil, lime, in a tasty clear broth.  I usually add some chili sauce to my pho for an extra kick.  I had the pho with meatball and beef brisket.  I picked this dish in particular because beef brisket is always tender, melting in your mouth as you enjoy the rest of your soup.  You can get pho with rare steak, but that tends to be chewier than the brisket.  I just love the flavour and texture of the brisket.  Try some pho on one of these cold, rainy days in Vancouver.  You will be glad you did.

Special pho with meatball and beef brisket

Special pho with meatball and beef brisket

Bob Likes Thai Food

  • Kanom Jeen
  • Pad Thai

Kanom Jeen is a traditional Thai dish consisting of green curry chicken over rice noodles, lime, bamboo shoots, basil, eggplant, and more.  I really enjoyed this dish.  It had bright flavours, was medium spicy, and you also had some crunchy vegetables too.  The sliced cucumber was really a nice accompanyment.  The Pad Thai was also cooked perfectly with it’s fried noodles in tamarind and fish sauce, smoked tofu, peanuts, eggs, garlic and bean sprouts.   I have no problems coming here again to enjoy their Thai food.

Kanom Jeen and Pad Thai noodles

Kanom Jeen and Pad Thai noodles

Thanks again to Richard ,Vancouver Foodster, for his ongoing efforts to put together this event plus other foodie events around Vancouver.

Vancouver Chefs Dishes Festival

Chefs Signature Dishes Festival – Get Your Tickets

Vancouver Chefs Dishes Festival

Vancouver Chefs Dishes Festival

Wouldn’t you be honoured if a chef made a dish specially for you to try, not on their menu?   I would. This is the opportunity that Vancouver Foodster is offering to you through his Chef’s Signature Dishes Festival.  Below are the details of the event from Vancouver Foodster.  Bon Appetit!

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We are fortunate to live in a city which has one of the most exciting culinary scenes in North America, where chefs are passionate about the ingredients that they use, are committed to pushing boundaries and are creating dishes to excite the diners palate. I have created this Signature Dishes Festival to put the spotlight on these creative chefs and their restaurants who support their creativity and passion; said Richard Wolak, this festival is also a challenge featuring 15 participating Chefs and their Restaurants in Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond and Langley where diners are invited to vote for their favourite dishes, this festival runs from September 6-30, 2013.

Chefs create a must try signature dish (this dish can-not be on the restaurant’s menu, it must be a new dish created by the chef) to enter in this Chefs Signature Dishes Festival. The Chefs creation can be simple to fancy, using unique and innovative ingredients, any type, as nutritious or indulgent as he/she wants, I told them to be creative and imaginative and to stay true to their type of cuisine or restaurant

Participating restaurants are featuring their Chefs who have created a new Signature Dish creation

These are just some of the creative Chefs and their Signature Dish creations in this festival:

PARTICIPATING CHEFS & RESTAURANTS

Chef Dan Craig

EBO Restaurant

Signature Appetizer Dish: Tasting of Dungeness Crab and Butternut Squash

Pink Salmon, Crab Chawanmushi and croquette, Butternut Squash Terrine.

Price: $14

Delta Burnaby Hotel and Conference Centre, 4331 Dominion Street, Burnaby

Tel: (604) 453-0788

Web:  http://www.eborestaurant.com/

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Chef Siriwan (Grace) Rerksuttisiridach

Simply Thai Restaurant

Signature Dish: Thai Steak

Prime sirloin steak strips on a bed of steamed broccoli topped with Simply Thai’s red curry sauce. Jasmine rice topped with bell peppers, fresh basil and lime leaves complete this plate.

Price: $25

1211 Hamilton St, Vancouver

Tel:(604) 642-0123

Web: http://www.simplythairestaurant.com/

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Chef Matt Repeto

The Bibo

Signature Dish: Risotto Mediterraneo

Delicate Risotto with the best B.C. seafood that join the Italian traditional with a taste of the sea.

Price: $24

Offered: Wednesday dinner, Thursday lunch and Thursday dinner

1835 W 4th Ave, Vancouver

Tel: 604-568-6177

Web:  http://www.thebibo.com

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Chef Brian Fowke

Kitsilano Daily Kitchen

Signature Dish: Brown Butter Broiled Organic Peace Country Beef Marrow ‘Provençal’ with fried green heirloom tomatoes, bourbon onion jam, butter potato gnocchi and chanterelle mushroom cornbread.

Price: Appetizer (without the gnocchi or cornbread): $18 OR Entrée: $32

Special Add-on: A complete bone’s pour of White American Bourbon to finish your meal – $12 (bring a bib)

Offered: Dinner nightly (starting Sept 7)

1809 W 1st Ave, Vancouver

Tel: (604) 569-2741

Web: http://www.kitsdaily.com/

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The full list of Chefs and their Dishes creations with details including the participating restaurants are listed here
http://vancouverfoodster.com/2013/09/06/vancouver-chefs-dishes-festival/

How people can Vote for their favourite Signature Dish Creations?

Once people have ordered and tried the Signature Dish Creations at the participating restaurants, they can vote on their mobile phones or ipads from their table in the restaurants or later in the day. People can cast their vote once a day, so if they are visiting the other participating restaurants daily or during the festival they can vote for their other favourites as well.

You are invited to try these signature dish creations at the participating restaurants, keeping in mind this criteria – originality, creativity, uniqueness, traditional, non-traditional, price, value and most importantly taste.  You are then encouraged to VOTE for their favourite Dish creations at http://vancouverfoodster.com/chefs-dishes-festival/

We will announce the winning Chefs and their Dish Creations on October 1, 2013.

Barbecue at Bistro Pastis Mais Oui!

Summer wouldn’t be complete without grilling on the BBQ. Whether you love the smell of the charcoal, the sizzle of the grill, or the smell of the food, Chef Will Beere knows what it takes to tantalize your senses during the dog days of summer. So much so that he has created a special three-course prix fixe menu that celebrates the great summer pastime.

Three course Barbecue Prix Fix menu for $48 is only available from August 21th to September 8th.

Reservations essential: 604-731-5020 / http://www.bistropastis.com/reservations/

Barbecue Menu

August 21th – September 8th

Barbecue Duck Confit Croquette
Mozzarella, Smoked Onion Coulis

– or –

Beer Braised Pork Belly
Peach and Onion Salsa, Arugula Salad, Apple Gastrique

– or –

Grilled Prawns
Pickled Watermelon, Feta Cheese, Preserved Lemon Aïoli

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Smoked Pork Ribs
Grilled Jalapeño Corn Bread, Coleslaw, House made Barbecue Sauce

– or –

Braised Beef Brisket
Black Bean Purée, Grilled Corn, Asparagus, Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce

– or –

Cedar Smoked Sockeye Salmon
Grilled Vegetables and Quinoa Salad, Citrus Sauce

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Smores
Toasted Marshmallow, Dark Chocolate, Graham Cracker Crumb

– or –

Grilled Okanagan Peach Melba
Roasted Almonds, Raspberry Coulis, Vanilla Ice Cream

$48.00

2153 W 4th Ave. Vancouver, BC V6K 1N7 | Tel: (604) 731.5020 | Fax: (604) 731.5039

www.bistropastis.com

Enjoying the Northern Icon, Southern Gem, Concha y Toro Dinner

Northern Gem Southern Icon - Concha y Toro at Blue Water Cafe

Northern Gem Southern Icon - Concha y Toro at Blue Water Cafe

The largest and most well-known winery from Chile in my opinion is Viña Concha y Toro.  This winery has been recognized by many wine publications and has 15 awards as “Winery of the Year” in Wine & Spirits.  They are also acknowledged as “Second most powerful wine brand in the world” according to The Power 100 survey by Intangible business.  Concha y Toro does not rest on their past, but still strives to produce wines of extraordinary expression of contemporary Chile. One iconic wine in particular is particularly nurtured each vintage, “Don Melchor“, led by top wine maker, Enrique Tirado, to produce this wine.  With great anticipation, as part of the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, I arrived at the door of the Blue Water Cafe in Yaletown to sample the carefully crafted and paired coastal cuisine of Executive Chef Frank Pabst with Concha y Toro’s wines.

Leading the tasting is Isabel Guilisasti Gana, the Marketing Director Origin Wines for Concha y Toro and wine maker Tamara Baeremaecker.

Concha y Toro Chardonnay Carmenere and Don Melchor bottles

The Guilisasti family has a long history in Chile and in the wine trade.  Isabel Guilisasti joined Concha y Toro in 2000.  As marketing manager, she is responsible for Concha y Toro’s ultra premium and super premium brands.Tamara joined Concha y Toro in 1998 after receiving her degree in oenology from the Universidad Catolica de Chile. She has worked on many of their premium-brand wines and in 2006 became part of the Don Melchor wine making team.

Our private tasting room at the Blue Water Cafe was laid out as two long table, with each person getting a name card for their particular seat.  It was quite interesting.  Some of the people I sat with were other media, but I also sat with people who were there as they love Chilean wine and Blue Water Cafe.  I had fun chatting with everyone around me.

Our Dinner

Scallop prawn and oyster with Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2009

Our first pairing:

  • Pan seared scallop with fennel basil slaw and kumquat ginger puree, Grilled prawn with garlic and rosemary, mango salsa and avocado, and Smoked Stellar Bayer oyster in brick leaf with white onion grape soubise and toasted hazelnuts. These 3 seafood morsels was paired with Concha y Toro’s Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay 2009 from the Limari Valley.

I thought the pairing of each seafood, with their own unique flavours and textures, all paired very well with the Chardonnay. The Chardonnay was medium lemon in colour.  A very fruity tropical fruit nose with some vanilla too. Medium plus body with high acidity leaving a prickle on your tongue, but it still had some roundness to it. Full of tropical fruit flavours with vanilla on the finish.  The higher acidity from the wine comes from the cooler coastal Limari Valley.

The scallop was very fresh, seared lightly on the outside and tasted very nice with the citrusy flavour of the kumquat and the fennel flavour of the slaw.  The latin-spiced, grilled prawn with the mango salsa and avocado were nicely complemented by the tropical fruit flavours of the Chardonnay.

White sturgeon with Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere 2009

Our second pairing:

  • Farmed white Sechelt sturgeon with beluga lentils and Berkshire pork cheeks with a mild Madras curry tomato sauce. This was paired with the Marques de Casa Concha Carmenere Peumo vineyard 2009 from the Rapel Valley.

The Carmenere was deep ruby in the glass with a bright rim. Dark fruit, vanilla and very slight capsicum aromas. Very ripe plums, quite spicy with black pepper on the palate. Round and full bodied up front and then lightens up mid-palate.

The sturgeon was soft with fine texture.  The lentils added an earthiness to the dish and the light curry tied the two elements together.  The curry flavour also made a red berry flavour come out of the Carmenere.  Another great pairing.

Bison Churrasco with Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2008

Our third pairing:

  • Marinated bison flat iron steak, grilled and served with cassava root gnocchi, sauteed salsify, eggplant caviar with oregano, and chimichurri sauce.  Our pairing was the Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Puente Alto-Maipo Valley.

This was the youngest Don Melchor in our mini-vertical that Concha y Toro provided to us.  Don Melchor, Chile’s first ultra-premium wine is the only one with 21 vintages to its credit that are prize winning and known by wine critic around the world.  Don Melchor is produced from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape from the Puente Alto vineyard in the Alto Maipo Valley near Santiago.  2008 was a cooler vintage for this wine and it was more restrained than the 2007 vintage.  The 2008 Don Melchor was opaque ruby.  Light red cherries, some stemminess and cassis aromas.   Full body.  Very spicy mid palate with ripe plums and cherry flavours.  Dry with some minerality.  As this wine breathed in the glass the cassis flavour became more prominent. Still a young, tight wine, but one that you could enjoy now, or in another 10 or 20 years.

The Bison Churrasco was a wow dish for me.  It was soft, medium rare.  The Chimichurri sauce with olive oil, parsley, cilantro, salt, and garlic flavours really enhanced the bison flavour.  Red wine loves protein and this held true for the Don Melchor and the bison.  In addition the chimichurri sauce I think helped to tone down the spiciness of the wine.

Wagyu beef shortrib with Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 and 1995

Our fourth pairing:

  • Wagyu beef shortrib braised with merken spice and espresso, sauteed portobello mushroom whipped potatoes, green beans, and braising juices reduced with tamarind. To this we had 2 Don Melchor wines.  A 2007 and a 1995 vintage.

The Don Melchor 2007 came from a warmer vintage than the 2008 vintage and you could smell and taste the more opulence of this wine.  It had lots of plum, vanilla and capsicum on the nose.  Very silky mouthfeel.  Peppery round and dry on the palate, with black cherries cassis and oak flavours, and vanilla on the finish.  A very nice wine.

The Don Melchor 1995 is now 17 years old.  You would expect the colour and fruit flavours to have diminished, which they have to some extent.  The wine has changed to a medium plus garnet colour with very slight bricking on the rim. The aromas are more complex with capsicum, chocolate and dark fruit aromas.  Soft, medium body in your mouth.  Pencil leads and dark fruit flavour with higher acidity.  A very balanced, complex wine.

If you have never had Wagyu beef, you should try it.  It is so soft and so buttery rich.  The shortrib was cooked to perfection wit the beef falling apart easily.  I think the Wagyu beef with the big braised flavours with the espresso needed a full bodied wine, and the 2007 Don Melchor fit the bill.  The fruit from this wine paired with the strong flavours of the beef.  The 1995 Don Melchor to me is not as fruity, with more complex aromas and flavours.  It was not quite as good to me with the Wagyu beef, but I would have loved a plate of cheeses to try with it and savour them both together.

Kalamansi honey cheese cake with Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Our fifth (and last) pairing:

  • Kalamansi honey cheese cake with papaya and strawberry salsa.  Paired with Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 from the Maule Valley.

The Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc 2008 was pear skin in colour.  Honey and peach aromas.  Medium body with honey, spice, peaches, apples and flowers flavours. Medium sweetness.  I think this wine paired nicely with the Kalamansi citrus from the cheese cake and the peachy fruit from the wine.

Blue Water Cafe and Don Melchor

If you have never been to Blue Water Cafe, I hope this review of the food and wine pairing convinces you to enjoy a lunch or dinner with them.  Executive Chef Frank Pabst is recognized for his creative flair and his dedication towards responsible seafood practices.  He has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants throughout Germany and France.  In 2010 he was recognized by Vancouver Magazine as “Chef of the Year” and inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame.  Quite an achievement.

Here is a web link if you would like to find more information about Concha y Toro’s Don Melchor wine,

I really enjoyed this dinner.  All the food and wine were paired wonderfully by the Blue Water Cafe.  I look forward to the next time I sit down and enjoy dinner with friends there.

Dine Out Vancouver – Enjoying Wild Rice

Hot and sour soup

Well I went to my third Dine Out Vancouver restaurant today with friends.  This time we went to Wild Rice, which is located close to the west edge of Chinatown.  It’s a short 2 block walk from the Stadium skytrain station.  The food for all 3 courses were all great, both for me and the others.  What I ordered:

  • Hot and Sour Soup
  • House Roasted BBQ Pork, Baby Bok Choy, jasmine rice
  • Szechuan Chocolate Brownie

House Roasted BBQ Pork

To this I paired a glass of Rollingdale Pinot Noir, from West Okanagan.  The pinot noir has low tannins, light body, some violet aromas/flavours, and higher acidity, and thought it would pair nicely with the BBQ pork.

The hot and sour soup had just the right amount of heat for most people to handle.  I loved the slices of shitake mushrooms in the soup.  The House Roasted BBQ pork was tender and had a tasty sweet brown sauce.  This worked with the acidity of the Rollingdale Pinot Noir.  I wished it did have some crispy pork skin though. The Szechuan chocolate brownie was decadent, covered with a light chocolate sauce and crunchy ribbons of orange peels on top.  Enjoy with a coffee, or maybe port.

Szechuan Chocolate Brownie

I also was able to try some of the Salt and Pepper Tofu, Satay Sauce, Orange Braised Pemberton Beef, Drunken 5 treasure quinoa, and 5 Spice Carrot Cake with Ginger Icing. The panfried tofu with crushed chili flakes was accompanied by a peanut sauce mixed with some lemon grass.  A very tasty dish.  The Pemberton Beef came shredded, reminding me of pulled pork, but with a beefy flavour.  Very succulent.  The 5 Spice Carrot Cake was very gingery and tasted wonderful with the cream cheese icing.  I could have eaten a few plates of these carrot cakes.

I recommend coming to Wild Rice for Dineout Vancouver.  Enjoy!