While the simplest of the day’s standard trio of meals, it is often my favorite time to eat when I’m traveling internationally. Reasons why include its generally easy, I can enjoy it on my own (if I am with others who are not as inclined for morning walkabouts, and the reasonable charges for morning meals makes wonderful meals all the more appreciated (or in the case they bomb, not too hard on the pocketbook, so regrets are tempered).
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that more often than not, something interesting to eat always lurks around the corner not long after the sun has come up and when I’m abroad in unfamiliar surroundings. I look at these impromptu discoveries as my personal reward. For taking the time and effort to traverse a new locale on foot. Meandering down random streets and alleys taking in the native sights, sounds and often smells, in my never-ending quest to learn more about where I am and this beautiful world in which we live.
My usual wandering (aimlessly and map-less) when I explore a new village, town, or city for the first time can lead me to interact with unknown strangers on the street – language and sometimes cultural barriers included. At times they are helpful. Especially with suggestions about what I might enjoy trying to eat. Local, with some variety, and a “what would you have?” are my usual parameters that I try to get across to my sometimes puzzled conversation mates, achieved in part with some physical gestures and drastically simplified English.
Everything Cafe 75 East Pender Street Vancouver, BC (604) 681-3115
Strolling around in Chinatown is an interesting activity. I see many tourists doing it, with cameras slung from their necks, taking in all this part of Vancouver has to offer. Not only visually but also the many places to eat. After all, Chinese culture has a long culinary history and has pervaded its way into North American dining, and has a wide spread familiarity, albeit perhaps not always along the true lines of authentic and regional cuisine that the country has to offer and is yet under-explored by many. I’d say stick around here on foodosophy, as one of our keen writers GastronomyDomine (aka fmed) is a knowledgeable fellow when it comes to this genre and has posted more than a few reports on places you should try out. And hopefully more to come. (nudge, dudge, wink, wink)
Amid a mainly Asian collection of shops, eateries and other stores, you can find the slow spread of other kinds of places that are merging into this neighborhood. You can notice is especially if you walk from Gastown towards the heart of Chinatown. Now whether this is a good or bad thing, it surely is up for debate depending on your stance. I applaud though from a business perspective to give new things a shot, and inject old areas with new life and different choices. At least for me, coming across these on random strolls makes things interesting. Enough so to entice me to stop and go inside. The Everything Cafe was once such place.
The Grove Yerba Buena 690 Mission Street San Francisco, CA (415) 957-0558
Unfortunately I did not bother to shoot a photo of the exterior of The Grove’s outlet in Yerba Buena, so this below capture from Google Street View that shows the location before they set up shop was the best I could do. Suffice it to say, its easy to find being just three blocks from the Montgomery Street BART station, and just a block from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Next door is a coffee house and the general area is populated by numerous large hotel chains for the business and leisure traveler. After overpaying for some ridiculously priced hotel breakfast the previous day, we opted to drag our overworked behinds out onto the streets and by sure luck we found this place where things were more relaxed, both in terms of atmosphere and prices.
Something about the west coast lifestyle that pervades in this beautiful city must have impregnated itself in my mind for breakfast, as I was on the hunt for something nutritious and light. Coupled with a smooth tasting Americano, my order ended up being a simple plate of fresh ingredients, highlighted by two small poached eggs, two thick slices of grilled zucchini, and tomato bruschetta. Given the backup in the kitchen, a number sign was given to me and it was brought out to my table by a server in a few minutes time.
Aling Mary’s Filipino Store
2656 Main Street
Pillowy-soft little packets of sweet-savory goodness. That’s my shorthand description of what you can get at Aling Mary’s Store on Main Street in Vancouver, just off the busy Broadway zone. I can still remember the first time I wandered in here randomly and getting engulfed in the fabulous smells that only a fresh bakery can provide, and walking out with two dozen of their popular Pan de Sal. I’ve heard them referred to as Filipino bread rolls, not sure if that’s 100% accurate, but regardless, they are something every Vancouverite should try once in their lifetime.
Honestly, I’ve been back at least a half dozen times since that virgin visit, and even found them being sold in Richmond of all places too. White flour, whole wheat, tried them both. Nothing better though then getting then right out of the oven, timing is important, and I’ve had hits and misses when I’ve gone inside here, depending on their baking schedule and how voracious other customers are in walking out with batches of them. On my last weekend morning stop, I got lucky.
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.
Without significant commentary or respectable photographs to complete more solo posts on establishments visited earlier this month on a trip to Calgary, I thought I’d quickly sum up a few thoughts on a trio of places to wrap up this busy week…
12111 3rd Avenue
An early morning visit to Steveston village precipitated the need to indulge in that classic weekend jump start – bad coffee and breakie in a greasy spoon – as we were in dire need of some sustenance and were tired of driving and walking around. Just another random stop resulting in a brief foodosophy posting, I swear if not for the sake of filling up space on this blog, I’d probably never step foot into them. 🙂
Situated across the street from the relic buildings of an old cannery and a museum featuring the same, as well as a pub next door, the Steveston Cafe is a definitive example of a small town breakfast joint. Nothing extravagant on the outside, and indoors, full of young families, and older folks who are probably on some kind of fixed income support and appreciate the low prices of diners like this.