Fermin Calbeton 12
20003 San Sebastian – Donostia
I’ve been eating pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”) all across Euskadi, which is what the Basque people call their region in their own language of Euskara. There will be a long pintxos rundown at some point, but for now here’s a quick hit from San Sebastian. Pintxos generally are one to three bites in size and range in price from 1 to 3.50 euro. In San Sebastian in particular, however, these (very) small plates have been elevated into a high-art form in some kind of game of culinary one-upmanship amongst the countless pintxos establishments. Needless to say, it’s the customers who win in the end.
Borda Berri, located in the Parte Vieja (“Old Part”) of San Sebastian, is one of the places held in great regard by many, and it’s easy to see why. Every single dish here was remarkable in both concept and execution.
I’ve always been more than a bit suspicious of Chinese restaurants whose appearance doesn’t scream “Chinese,” – meaning the divey dumpling joint with specials written on the walls only in Chinese characters or the slightly-tacky upscale Cantonese seafood palace/aquarium – as if compromise in decor suggests similar in the kitchen. Lucky Strike is a Sichuan restaurant with an unfortunate name and a decor which screams “Portland” despite the Chinese theme. Portland oozes hip from seemingly every pore, and no number of dragons is sufficient as camoflage. Countering my normal skepticism were a number of strong reports of real Sichuan food.
Balance is certainly one of the hallmarks of great food no matter what price point or region. Cantonese food seems to balance the sublest flavors like a game of Jenga in a windstorm – the smallest wrong move and the whole thing comes tumbling down. Sichuan food balances flavor Jenga blocks the size of entire buildings, with flavors almost bigger in scale than appropriate for humans. It’s no wonder that some Sichuanese (apocryphally?) wonder why all other cuisines taste so bland. Two of the key flavors are ma, usually translated as “numbing” but to me has a strong hint of “tingling” as well, and la or spicy/hot. The former comes from huajiao or Sichuan peppercorn (among a whole list of names).
Old Vines Restaurant 3303 Boucherie Road
Kelowna, BC V1Z2H3
Located on the stunning grounds of the Quails’ Gate Winery, is the Old Vines Restaurant. Having heard many good reviews from close friends, and finally had the chance to get out to Kelowna, we were excited for the chance to enjoy the sun & water, the local food & wine, and take-in the incredible views. Unfortunately due to some last-minute scheduling changes, we didn’t have a chance to book reservations and were “winging it” for most of our trip (which admittedly is my preferred method of travel).
After a lengthy stop in the wine shop to sample some (I should be honest – ALL) of their wines, and subsequently hauling boxes of my purchases to the vehicle, we peeked over at the restaurant to see if we could secure a table for the evening. Thinking that we didn’t have much of a chance for a table at such short notice, we were pleasantly surprised to find they could squeeze us in for a late dinner. In this case, it was truly better late than never!
My poor camera was dropped at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, and the lens no longer retracts. I loved that camera – but after extensive research, im back in the game with a new camera! Happy to do my first post with pics from my new baby.
On a rainy dreary day, we head down the “ugly” part of Jasper Avenue to try the new restaurant by Carla Alexander of Soul Soup and Sal Di Maio who owns the gastropub downstairs, Red Star. MRKT Market is simply that – a “fresh market” concept restaurant where the limited menu provides you with a few choices in terms of sandwiches, soups, and specials. 3 sandwiches, 3 soups, one special the day we were there.
The interior feels like a wooden airplane fuselage. I’ve heard canoe, and upscale log cabin (rather generous i’d say), it is nonetheless hip, while managing some warmth. The most prominent feature of MRKT market is the long table that allows many diners to share a meal.
A rough collection of iPhone images from various meals and food/drink pickups from an ongoing month spent in the steaming hot summer days of Osaka, Japan. Come back for more as I’m sure I’ll update this post with more shots when I get some free time…
Le Pain Quotidien
922 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY
Artisan breads, sweet pastries and pantry goods like coffee and jams are what you can expect to find in the burgeoning outlets of this chain of bakeries where one can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner items that are carefully prepared with a health conscious outlook. Organic ingredients are incorporated in many of their menu items, as well this ecological philosophy is apparent in their building design and construction as well – loved the reclaimed wood that permeated the interior, giving it a very welcoming and warm touch despite being smack dab in the middle of a concrete jungle, albeit with Central Park only a few short minutes away.
The Le Pain Quotidien empire has now spread out across the United States (mainly on the east and west coasts) as well as places in western Europe and the Middle East. The Canadian outlets seemingly only sprouting up in the Toronto area. I imagine it would be a good fit in the Vancouver area as well given the local climate and penchant for things with a healthy and organic twist.
5880 Marine Drive
Its hard to believe but it was a year ago this week that I was chilling out and relaxing on the beaches of the Hawaiian islands. Good memories and fun times eating my way around Oahu are still fresh in my mind. I can remember upon my return to the west coast that I had it in my mind to try and find anything in the GVRD that resembled the offerings or stylings of my trip. I reckoned my best bet would be something like this, as it had some familiar North American fast food/diner items. After some very preliminary searching, I discovered an establishment on Kingsway with Honolulu in the name, but alas, disappointingly I learned that it was more of a Hong Kong-style cafe.
So it was with a tingle of excitement that caused me to stop when I randomly drove past the Hawaii Cafe. Built into the same building as a convenience store and near a gasoline stand at an awkward three-way stop intersection, parking is sparse and difficult to acquire. You could park down the road at the larger pub with well-sized car lot and walk down, which would be my suggestion. As I got closer however, my hopes of a Hawaii-themed meal were struck down, as I noted it was billing itself as a “Chinese food and Taiwanese beef noodle” place. Recently opened judging by the signage, I figured since I had come this far, I would venture inside.
Zibetto Espresso Bar
1385 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
Manhattan Gourmet 56
1377 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
A sunny 86F day in NYC with nothing to do in the morning. A perfect setup for a casual walk in Manhattan and to grab a simple breakfast to enjoy on the benches of Central Park. As a die-hard addict in need of a stiff cup of coffee in the morning, my first stop after bypassing those dreadful Starbucks outlets was Zibetto. Essentially a long narrow space that couldn’t be more than eight feet wide and anchored by a sleek looking, white tiled and similarly colored marble counter-top bar accented with some metallic touches, it fit with my mental image of an Italian espresso bar.
Staffed with some slick looking, white shirted gents efficiently buzzing around behind the bar, there was already a strong lineup in place, as well as some other customers enjoying their cups of hot liquid at the tiny armrest like shelves jutting out from the walls. Clearly, its a place to have your drink in a jiffy, no lounging around here sucking up free wi-fi or anything and generally disrupting the business need of turnover on the part of the proprietors.
723 12th St, #3
New Westminster, BC
I’ll come out and say it. I’m struggling to find a truly amazing and tasty shawarma/gyro/döner kebab/donair here in the GVRD that I’m really happy with and a place that makes it that I would frequent regularly if it blew me away. If anyone can help me by directing me to one that is at the top of the class, please, please, please let me know.
As any visitor to Crystal Mall in Burnaby can attest, it is heavily East Asian in context. Walking inside you feel like you are transported across the Pacific, both in terms of the kinds of shops and eateries and the people packed inside. So stepping just outside to Abdul’s was a refreshing change to get away from the sea of black hair. 🙂 My experience on this visit was completed by the pack of about fifteen Persians who suddenly came into the store when I was ordering, complete with traditional dress on the part of the females in the contingent. Pretty amazing and a boost to my expectations of what I could get from this place.
205 – 3355 North Road
As alluded to at the end of this previous post, the meal journey of that day was far from over. In fact, it continued along the same chicken wing theme, as we ventured along the streets towards the Burnaby-Coquitlam border. After being rebuffed at Mexican Chicken Hofand Honey’s Bistrosince they were both not open for the day, we decided on a longer journey out to Port Moody to check out Rehanah’s Roti.
But suddenly out of the corner of our eye we saw the humorous signage for Chicken Party.
A quick lane change and entry into the parking lot where this business was housed. Was it some kind of party house stocked with poultry-themed costumes? An exclusive entertainment club for chicken farmers?
Guu in Aberdeen
4151 Hazelbridge Way
I’ve come out and said it beforebut my personal desire to explore the full realm of the Vancouver izakaya scene is not exactly the strongest. Again, its not that they are bad or a terrible bastardization of this unique genre of dining out found in Japan, but that the context is lost on me and my memories of many izakaya outings overseas has ruined me and thus nothing will ever compare. I’m sure I’d say the same for other specific segments of popular national food from around the globe if I had the similar depth and breadth of experience such as say in the diverse Liguria regional cuisine of Italy or the so called ‘rainbow cuisine’ that is reputed to be available in Southern Africa. Any transplanted replica outside of those regions would just seem, well, how can I put it… “off”?
I suppose I should relax this hesitation I feel whenever I hear the names of well known joints such as Hapa, Kingyo, and so on. Believe me I’ve tried. And a pair of visits to the Guu chain should be proof that I’m not all that stubborn in my beliefs. This particular post is about the Aberdeen location, found in that shopping mall in Richmond best known for drivers in the parking lot who feel that there is nothing wrong with holding up a long line of cars just to secure a precious parking spot near one of the mall entrances.
I can imagine the instantaneous reaction this post will receive. So I’ll come out and say it.
The fast food burger that I’m enjoying of late is from Triple O’s.
Having not grown up in British Columbia, I don’t harbour the long lasting childhood memories of others, who have had the food from White Spot and the like that seems to be true of many Vancouverites, from their very early days (and perhaps teenage years?).
Georgio’s Cafe & Pizzeria
5236 Rumble Street
Situated practically across the street from Burnaby South Secondary School means a couple of things for places to eat in the area, of which there are a handful. The lunch hour can be a mad hectic time for non-students to try and get in for a bite to eat. As well, the eateries seem to make the wise decision of having special menu items which are priced and portioned accordingly for this hungry younger market. Thankfully, they aren’t limited to the kids and us adults can indulge in these quick, cheap eats too. One of these places is called Georgio’s Cafe & Pizzeria.
Despite the rather convoluted smattering of text and listing of offerings in their windows that seem rather mundane, a quick glance at the makeshift sign was what drew me in. “Filipino style BBQ”? What’s that I thought. Sitting inside was a pair of teenage girls apparently killing time on a break between classes perhaps. A man was behind the counter and I could hear some others in the back kitchen. As I was scanning the photo-included menu board, I quickly spotted the pork and chicken skewered barbecue items, thus answering my call to action.
505-329 North Road
Itshoni (in my eyes, a misspelling of the romaji for the Japanese word ‘together’) emerged from the space previously occupied by the Blue Sea Seafood Restaurant, and is serving up a mix of Korean and Japanese cuisine. It is conveniently located in this high traffic shopping complex that is home to many other places where one can a meal – many of which reported on here at foodosophy.
The interior has received a noticeable makeover with most of the former enclosed spaces and booths removed and replaced with dark wooden tables and chairs. The floor looked re-done as well, in addition to the similarly colored wall treatments and refreshed with new art hanging on the walls. The mural on one of the side walls (not pictured here) really stands out. The place was filled well with both Asian and non-Asian customers (this table of nine got filled up by a big group of women minutes after we were seated nearby).