Go Fish – Vancouver, BC


Go Fish Ocean Emporium
1505 W 1st Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 730-5040

“Thirty minute wait for anything fried and ten minutes for the grilled items”.  That’s what was being hollered out to the still not fully depleted lineup as the last business hour of the day approached this fine sunny weekend day.   With hungry bellies, our rat pack of five quickly huddled and decided we’d opt for the healthier and quicker grilled menu choices, and that was by no means a default as these creations as you’ll see here did not disappoint or a downgrade to the more popular deep fried dishes like their fish ‘n chips.

In reality, the wait was indeed longer than advertised, but I assumed their time clock began once they could actually begin cooking your order, and not from the point of time when the order was actually received and paid for at the til.  But with the nearby bench seating providing a view like this, the clock moving slowly isn’t all bad…

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Everything Cafe – Vancouver, BC


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.

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Meat & Bread – Vancouver, BC


Meat & Bread
370 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 566-9003

The speed of news delivery and the response rate of this city’s fanatical food bloggers never ceases to amaze me.  There seems to be a continual rush by this unique niche of internet-based writers to first discover any freshly opened location and swarm on it like a pack of hungry wolves.  Incredible I say, and more power to them as spreading any new intel about good eats is fine by us here at foodosophy.  Keep ’em coming my cohorts, as after the buzz subsides somewhat, I’ll usually make my way down and partake in a meal much like a hyena or a vulture after the lions have dismantled the wildebeest carcass. 🙂  A case in point, my weekend jaunt down to Gastown to visit the very hot (from a posting perspective) space known as Meat & Bread.

I honestly can’t recall what business occupied this historic building, but it has character written all over it.  The hanging chains and massive steel meat hooks right by the front door window is a sign of things you can expect inside.  The very industrial theme is then juxtaposed by the very modern-rustic sensibilities of the decor within, highlighted by the thick and elongated wooden table that falls into your field of view immediately upon entering the front door.  The warmth of the natural elements continues into the design aspect of the service area with its angled placement of off-colored wood pieces on the counter, and the light colored wooden mini-chopping boards that make up the serving trays upon which the sandwich creations are presented.  White painted brick completed the motif, along with glass, stainless steel appliances and multiple units of these large round hanging lights that reminded me of those used in interrogation rooms of spy movies.  A large matte black, almost chalkboard-like in appearance wall  sign that sits near the front window is the only menu that I saw; as limited as that was with a spartan listing of just their four signature sandwiches.  I’ve seen the lamb replaced with veal in other reports so its quite possible that this is one that is in flux.

Porchetta – $8
Roast Lamb – $8
Meatball – $7
Grilled cheese – $7

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MRKT (Market) Restaurant – Edmonton, AB


MRKT (Market) Restaurant
10542 Jasper Ave NW
Edmonton, AB
(780) 757-6758

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.

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Zibetto Espresso Bar & Manhattan Gourmet 56 – New York, NY


Zibetto Espresso Bar
1385 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY

&

Manhattan Gourmet 56
1377 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
(212) 246-4410

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.

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Pho Thai Hoa – Vancouver, BC


Pho Thai Hoa
1625 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 873-2348

Pho Thai Hoa is one of the best and most well known Vietnamese restaurants in Vancouver. It has a lot of competition along Kingsway – Vancouver’s version of little Saigon. Pho Thai Hoa differentiates itself from most of the other Vietnamese restaurants in the area with its clean premises, extensive (and nicely photographed) menu, and generally good food. It is known for its good pho and other Vietnamese classics. Now it is doing something new for this town: a hot banh mi with grilled meats.

Now, I am perhaps presumptuous in my pronouncement that hot banh mi is a recent phenomenon here in Vancouver. After all, I have certainly not eaten at all the Vietnamese places in town. However, in my explorations along Kingsway, known to be on a cutting edge of authentic Vietnamese food, this is the first I have seen this. More recent second-hand reports from others indicate that there are a few places that serve a grilled meat banh mi – but none seem to be attempting it to this scale. Is it perhaps grilled fillings are really only possible in a full kitchen – something a typical banh mi joint does not usually have? Also it is somewhat unusual for the pho-centric restaurant to be serving banh mi.

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Foodosophy of Banh Mi (in Vancouver)


There are three names that usually come up when Vancouverites talk about their favourite banh mi: Au Petit Cafe, Ba Le, and Tung Hing . I needed to grab a quick lunch from my kids and their friends one day after school. I was going to drive right past these three restaurants so I thought I would take this opportunity to do a side-by-side photo-essay.

I ordered the “Special” at each place to set a base-line comparison. Having ordered the Specials at all three spots over the years, I know how consistent they all are with their production – in other words, what you see here is what you would typically get.

From the left to right: Au Petit Cafe, Ba Le (Kingsway), Tung Hing.

As you can see, Tung Hing’s banh mi is at least 2″ longer than the other two – 10″ vs 8″. Au Petit Cafe has their bread specially made by La Baguette et L’echalotte which has a storefront on Granville Island. Ba Le currently sources from Empress Bakery (I incorrectly attributed their source as Paris Bakery in my earlier post here), but are about to embark on their own baking operation in-house with the installation of some new ovens at the Kingsway location.

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MIX the Bakery – Vancouver, BC


MIX the Bakery
4430 West 10th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 221-4145
Monday to Saturday 7am to 5pm; Sunday 8am to 4pm

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My neck of the woods has a few gems when it comes to simple but cozy cafés that pump out solid sandwiches. I’ve written about some of them previously: Coco et Olive, and Pane e Formaggio.

MIX the Bakery is another one that churns out not only fabulous artisan breads made fresh in-house (which can be seen from the order counter at the front of the house), but also a solid array of sweet desserts and pastries, and take home preserves that utilize wonderful BC sources (such as Fraser Valley blueberries and Okanagan peaches).  To top it off, they also have a catering service as well.  It’s a great spot for a quick lunchtime meal or takeout, and the following are my thoughts on two recent pickups there…

A hearty but incredibly satisfying part of MIX’s menu are their homemade soups.  With the weather turning for the worse as we head towards winter, I can’t think of a better way to get a meal going.  On this day, they had a trio of offerings: a pork adobo, a butternut squash, and pictured above, a corn chicken chowder.  Filled with healthy vegetables including onions, potato, celery and flavoured generously with cilantro and cumin, it was not fully creamy like a seafood chowder would be, but not totally thin and liquid-y in consistency either.  The large size take away container (three inches high, and four-and-half inches in diameter) was plenty for two.

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Pane e Formaggio – Vancouver, BC


Pane e Formaggio
4532 10th Ave W
Vancouver, BC
(604) 224-1623

Artisan breads and specialty cheeses are a big deal here in Vancouver.  Plenty of competition for this segment of the retail and dine-in scene, with new ones seemingly popping up from time to time throughout the city.  Personally, I try to frequent these shops on weekend mornings when I have more free time to browse around, explore all the shelves and showcases and try to gain some knowledge from the folks behind the counter about what they create and sell.  I love hearing the passion they have for their product and how genuinely interested they are in sharing their knowledge and teaching others about things such as cheeses, which can be overwhelming at times given how many varieties are out there…

Located on the far west end of 10th Avenue towards the entrance of the UBC campus, Pane e Formaggio has been around since the start of this decade and has carved a niche as a popular Saturday breakfast/brunch spot for the residents of West Point Grey.  Despite the narrow, bowling alley-like layout, the bright airiness of the space and the fine touches like the dark wooden flooring, high ceilings, and European-inspired tables and chairs, makes this a very inviting and comfortable place to spend your weekend mornings.  It’s usually pretty tough getting one of the available tables however, so take-out is also available.

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Coco et Olive – Vancouver, BC


Coco et Olive Fine Foods & Café
3476 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736 7080

Coco Et Olive on Urbanspoon

As I heard from my Alberta-based friends over the weekend complaining about the snow on the ground and the ongoing colder weather, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for them as I strolled outside in nice sunny weather this past week along West Broadway in over 10 degrees Celsius weather.   With a clam breeze in the air, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to stop into a little café and grab something warm to drink as well as a bite to eat.

Coco et Olive is probably best known among those who live in this end of Vancouver.  And by end, I truly mean that.  It really is far from the hustle and bustle of the more central and thus busier sections of this strip.  In the daytime on weekends, and lunch hours during the week, its filled with people from the neighborhood who clearly have more than their share of free time.

My assumption of this is based on the fact that a) there’s a lot of older folks who probably don’t have to work for a living anymore due to age, and b) younger uppity people who look like they are well off and don’t need to work.  Ah, I wish I could be one of the latter… minus the attitude of course!

With an eclectic arrangement of furniture as seating, and an airy bistro feel, its really easy to feel at home and want to lounge about alone with a cup of coffee (they serve Intelligentsia) or with friends sharing any number of sweets and sandwiches on the menu.  But with a full house and nary a seat to take, I chose an order to go.  [The associated pictures you see here are just simple plated shots once I was back in my kitchen]

The ordering process is straight forward, as the cashier will jot down your order on a notepad and go through the motions of pulling it from the case and if the line is busy, another staffer will handle the grilling.  As simple as that is, I sensed a lack of flow among the staff.  Some confusion among orders despite the written list, an absence of speed as there clearly is not enough space under the griller when more than a few sandwiches are on deck, were just some of the amateurish things I picked up on the service front.

On this day, there were about twelve different sandwiches on board, though some had nothing next to the name plates in the refrigerated case next to the ordering counter.  I did notice as time passed that re-fills from the back kitchen soon made their way into the display area.  The casual feel must pervade from the back, as people would walk in and out from the hidden room to the entrance door.  They seemed like staff, or perhaps friends of the owners (heard a lot of French flying back and forth), but they all seemed to be treating the place as if it were someone’s home, and not really concerned they were cutting in front of paying customers who were scanning the sandwich offerings.

Making your mind from the tantalizing choices is an exercise in both judgment and restraint.  After pacing in front of the case, I ended up picking the Lemon and Herb Chicken ($6.99), as well as a White Tuna Panini.  One of which was chosen as a sandwich & soup combo – an added $3 to the price – and the selection was a Moroccan Lentils soup.

Being handmade, you could immediately see the hodgepodge of sizes for the same kind of sandwich.  Overall, the paninis, of which I preferred the softer texture of the tuna spread as well as the flavor combination, were fairly good, though I wouldn’t go as far as to say they were outstanding or the best paninis I’ve ever tasted.

As a sweet dessert to round out the pair of meals that I was taking back home, I asked for two of the Almond Croissants.  They just seemed to beckon me, sitting on top of the sandwich display case, as I waited for my paninis to be grilled in the press.  I must say, they were absolutely fantastic.  A perfectly light flaky and crispy crust, and an oozy centre of almond cream, with an ample spread of sliced almonds on top.  I will definitely be back for these, and to try out some of the other cookies, scones, cakes, tarts, and brownies that are made in-house…

Coco Et Olive on Urbanspoon

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies – North Vancouver, BC


Honey Doughnuts and Goodies
4373 Gallant Avenue
North Vancouver, BC
(604) 929 4988

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies on Urbanspoon

The easternmost district in North Vancouver known as Deep Cove, is home to a quaint little street populated by several eateries and shops.  This two-block stretch of Gallant Avenue is where visitors and locals alike can stop in for a bite to eat while enjoying the natural surroundings.  Honey Doughnuts and Goodies stands out as the most popular destination along this strip, given its decent sized eat-in space and convenient snack offerings that are easy to buy-and-go.  I’m sure part of its appeal is also due in part to the steady line-up that brings in the curious and the sweet smells that flow out onto the sidewalk.

As the name suggests, doughnuts are a hot seller.  In the glass display case inside where you also place your order, an assortment of healthy (e.g organic) and more sugary varieties of doughnuts can be had, as well as scones, muffins and other pastries.  The donuts here are “richer” looking, the kind with a heavier consistency and the glazed ones I saw were really attractive.  I would not go as far as to say they were all-out gourmet, but certainly more than the generic Tim Horton’s.

While in line on this day, a man ahead of me in the cue ordered a whopping $150 worth of donuts!  Its not like he had pre-ordered this, so as the girls behind the counter were busy counting and putting them into brown paper bags, it was clear the supplies would be threatened for those us in still waiting to get our goods. I later saw a tented parking lot that looked like it was an eating area for a film set, which might explain this large order – as homes in the neighborhood are often rented by the television and movie industry.

In addition to the sweets, Honey Donuts and Goodies also has on their menu, some good looking breakfast dishes, along with some soups and sandwiches.  With plans to go hiking on the nearby Badden-Powel Trail, I thought it best to warm up and chose the Soup & Bread Combo, with the soup being Chicken Kale.  It was a hearty soup, with beans, onions, plenty of kale, and chunks of chicken in a rich, slightly salty broth.  Aside from this, I got a Blueberry Muffin to go as a snack for later on (sorry, not pictured).  Towards the end of my hike, I opened it up and had a few bites.  Good flavor, not too brittle and dried out.  I am sure they taste much better hot out of the oven.

I found it interesting that it seemed many members of the kitchen/wait staff were of Latino heritage.  We overheard a discussion, it seemed there was some mention about Argentina between one of them and another person in line, so its possible that’s where they are from.  I don’t think its had a huge impact on their menu, but interesting nonetheless.

Honey Doughnuts and Goodies on Urbanspoon

Tung Hing – Vancouver, BC


Tung Hing Bakery
1196 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5V 3C8
(604) 875-3394

Tung Hing Bakery on Urbanspoon

I had mentioned in an earlier post that Banh Mi provides (for me) the best value in a lunch time meal. Where else can you get a filling, fresh and healthy lunch for under $3? It makes a great “recession” meal. Look at this monster below…a full 12 inches worth of goodness….all for a paltry $2.75.

bahn_mi_glory_shot_1

Tung Hing is located on an unassuming stripmall on Kingsway that is occupied by an insurance company and yet another Banh Mi joint and bakery. This downtrodden part of Kingsway is strewn with Vietnamese businesses of all kinds. There may be over a dozen Pho joints within a stone’s throw of each other. There are also quite a number of Ca Phe (Vietnamese coffee houses) and Delis that also serve these sandwiches. None of these places have offerings that can compare to Tung Hing’s.
outside_tung_hing_1

Upon entering the bakery, you are greeted with an golden array of Chinese-style pastries in a glass display case. These pastries lead me to believe that the operators are Vietnamese of Chinese descent. The pastries they sell there are also very good and very fresh. You can get all the favourites here (coconut or cocktail bun, custard bun, egg tarts, and so forth).
pastry_tung_hing_1

I can smell the aroma of freshly baking bread…a indication that a fresh batch has just come out of the oven. This busy bakery seems to supply Vietnamese baguettes to other Banh Mi joints in the surrounding area…I have seen deliveries of bags and boxes full of this stuff going out the door on occasion. You can see the baker manning the small deck ovens in the back of the store in the picture below.
bread_tung_hing_1

The sandwich bar is on the right side of the store. I like this arrangement  –  the bar  is visible behind a glass divider and in front of the ovens. This gives me the opportunity to watch the Banh Mi as they are made from start to finish – the bread leaves the oven, it goes on cooling rack, it is deftly slit open and filled.
sandwich_bar_tung_hing_1

Today, I was promptly greeted by the friendly sandwich ladies. I most often order the the Dac Biet (“Special”)…in this case a sandwich with Cha Lua (Vietnamese white “ham”) , Char Siu (Chinese-style BBQ Pork unusually sliced lengthwise and is much more tender and moist than the Chinese rendition), and liver pate. Fresh-tasting daikon and carrot pickle, cucumber, some onions, herbs, pepper, and finally a dash of soya or the soya-like Maggi seasoning to round it out. The sandwich is then traditionally wrapped in wax paper and strapped with a small elastic band.

banh_mi_tung_hing_1

A good Banh Mi like this has achieved a balance…a perfect equilateral triangle really: the Bread (a light and airy crumb and crispy crust); the Meats – (not too much since we aren’t trying to make a Reuben here); and the Vegetables (a good daikon and carrot pickle, some crisp cucumbers and so forth). Since Tung Hing makes their own bread (an excellent rendition of a “French” baguette), you are almost guaranteed freshness in this department. The bread is often still warm from the oven when you get it.

pinch_test_tung_hing_1

One thing Tung Hing has over the other Banh Mi joints in the area: I have never seen them run out of Banh Mi as often happens at other purveyors (this  actually means they have run out of baguettes).

I dare not say that this is the “best” Banh Mi in town since food is such a subjective topic. I can safely say it is my favourite Banh Mi joint. It certainly rivals the favourites such as Au Petit Cafe on Main St. It’s worth heading eastward on Kingsway just for this.

Tung Hing Bakery on Urbanspoon

Terra Breads (Kitsilano) Bakery & Café – Vancouver, BC


Terra Breads (Kitsilano) Bakery & Café
2380 West 4th Avenue
Vancouver, BC
(604) 736 1838

Terra Breads Cafe on Urbanspoon

Aside from the occasional pickup of some French baguettes and loaves, and multigrain breads, my forays into the original location of Terra Breads in Kitsilano and their bakery in the Public Market on Granville Island have been limited.  So on this day I thought I would expand upon the range of my usual purchases and check out some of their pastries and sandwiches.  Actually I was torn between trying out their daily changing savoury focaccias (on this day it was a simple tomato & pesto variety) but decided on a sandwich, in order to see if any of their other artisan breads suited my tastes.

The collection of pastries pictured above are the Apple Focaccia with caramel, sesame and thyme, a Blueberry White Chocolate Bread, Macaroons, and a Blueberry Scone.  It wasn’t a deliberate decision, but I found as I was eating my way through them with some friends that there was an interesting mix of textures and flavors among just this simple set.  The sweet focaccia with its great crispy portions and a softer chewy texture on the inside was probably my favorite of the bunch – I would get this again for sure.  The Blueberry bread was a bit more crumbly but not as much as my beloved scones.  I think you can clearly get a sense that blueberries are among my most favorite fruits.  The Macaroons were an attempt to battle my lifelong dislike for coconuts (I can handle them when they are made of sliced almonds) in foods.  Funny how I don’t mind the inclusion of coconut cream in Piña Coladas though…

A pair of sandwiches were chosen.  The first of which was the Roast Chicken + Bacon on Pain de Campagne.  Described as a roasted, free-range chicken, double smoked bacon,  roma tomatoes, organic mixed baby greens, and tarragon mayonnaise, I was quite satisfied.  The smoky properties of the chicken and bacon were a perfect match, and the veggies adds a cruncy textural element that completed the composition.  The bread was a neutral variety that wasn’t overly bold thus not overwhelming the ingredients sandwiched between.

The second meat and bread combination was the Roast Turkey + Chutney on a Pumpkin Seed Bread and contained slices of roasted turkey breast, cucumber, cranberry walnut chutney, organic greens, and mayonnaise.  I personally didn’t enjoy this as much as the earlier one, mainly for the fact of that sweet chutney.  I think eating this while taking bites of the pastries might have influenced my thinking here, but I didn’t really want any sweet elements in the sandwich.  The bread used was interesting, I think I will pick up some next time and try out with other fillings and condiments.

At this location, you can elect to eat your meal at the communal table that is plopped right in the middle of the café, or along one of the bar counters facing the street.  It seems to always be packed however, and I’ve never seen an open seat, though imagine there is some pretty fast turnover, just not when I am there.  As we left with our purchases we walked a bit further along 4th Ave, and popped into the Take 5 Café for some coffee.  Again, a similar scene as all of the seats were occupied.  They had similar looking sandwiches there available to order (as well as some soups), which made me wonder if they bought from Terra Breads.  Anybody know?

Terra Breads Cafe on Urbanspoon

Ba Le – Vancouver, BC


Ba Le French Sandwiches
701 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC V5T 3K6
(604) 875-6322

Ba Le French Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

inside_ba_le1

I have not yet found a lunch meal with a bigger bang for the buck than a Vietnamese sandwich. Bahn Mi, for me, is the ultimate in fast foods. You can walk in to a Bahn Mi joint and walk out within a couple of minutes with a fresh, (relatively) healthy and incredibly satisfying meal..all for less than $3 CAD.

outside_ba_le

I have two “go-to” Bahn Mi joints in Vancouver: Tung Hing on Kingsway (which is my favorite, if you must know – I will post on Tung Hing soon)  and the subject of this posting – Ba Le – also on Kingsway….right at “The Triangle” formed by the intersection with Fraser St.

banh_mi_ba_le

I judge Bahn Mi joints by the quality and freshness of their bread. Tung Hing, for example, bakes their bread on premises…and you can get a sandwich prepared with beautifully crusty bread pulled out of the oven just a couple of minutes prior.

Though Ba Le does not have a bakery on-site – their bread is still quite fresh (the crispy crust explodes with crumbs and the interior crumb is soft and fluffy.)

bread_ba_le

What they lack in baking facilities, they more than make up for in their filling: Ba Le makes their own charcuterie. Their specialty is their Vietnamese “bacon” – the rolled pork belly you see below. They have other fillings as well Cha Lua (the ubiquitous Vietnamese “ham” or “spam”, Char Siu Chinese BBQ pork, Liver paste and a number of others. Their pickled carrot and daikon (which is traditionally part of Bahn Mi) is very fresh tasting.

bacon_ba_le

Kingsway (which has quickly become Vancouver’s “Little Saigon” ) is dotted with very good budget Vietnamese restaurants and there are a quite a number of worthy destinations on this street. Ba Le is certainly worth the stop if you just happen to be in the area.

Ba Le French Sandwiches on Urbanspoon

Rustic Sourdough Bakery – Calgary, AB


Rustic Sourdough Bakery & Deli
1305 – 17th Avenue SW
Calgary, AB T2T 0C4

(403) 245-2113

Sandwiches are a bit of an enigma for me. Growing up, unlike most kids, I rarely got sandwiches for lunch. Instead, i got this hodgepodge of foods that made me stand out from the rest of the crowd. Not exactly a good thing when you’re 8. I wanted sandwiches. I wanted to be like the other kids.

Fast forward a few years – I had developed a better understanding of barter, and had gotten plenty of exposure to sandwiches. I realized I didn’t really like them. Peanut butter and jelly. Salami. Some unrecognizable meat called Bologna. Dry, icky bread. Tasteless spread. I guess I would stick to my stinky, garlic-loaded leftovers after all.

It took me a long time to appreciate that sandwiches could be so much more than the bread-meat-veg combos of my youth. I came to appreciate fresh bread, freshly roasted meats, with a well-made spread, some veg, all stacked in the proper proportion. Bread didn’t have to come in white or whole wheat, there was an entire spectrum of tasty choices. I got to experience some great sandwiches, but came to realize that they were generally few and far between. While they aren’t perfect, in Calgary, my favorite place is Rustic Sourdough Bakery.

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Rustic Sourdough Bakery is a European Deli and Bakery located at the outer edge of 17th Avenue. Fairly nondescript, one could pass by daily, and still not notice the awning in the sea of color and neon that populate the strip. Inside, things are divided up into two sections – a bakery side that produces fantastic bread, pastries, and other delights, and a deli, that offers up a large selection of cheese and meats.

Im not 100% sure how Rustic Sourdough Bakery started in the sandwich business, but it seems like a very natural combination. Fresh bread, freshly sliced meats, add some veg and spreads, and you have the makings of a great sandwich. For $6.00, you choose your bread from a wide variety of options. You can choose from most of the meats available, excluding some of the high end cuts like prosciutto, and choose your cheese from a wide selection as well. Pretty much any combination is available. They add your choices of veggies, condiments, and pack it all up for you. For an additional couple bucks, you can get one of three homemade daily soups. A steal of a price.

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At the Rustic Sourdough Bakery, the sandwiches are really good. My only complaint is really no complaint at all – just that i would like there to be fresh roasted chicken, roast beef, or other meats instead of all deli meats. I like the variety, and generally prefer a little more “substance” to my sandwiches. But that aside, the veg is fresh, the bread is fantastic (i choose the fresh “pita” option, that has structure, yet is light and soft). The cheeses and meats, of course are fantastic. And the sandwich is so large, i generally order one and eat only half and the soup for lunch. I save the other half for another day.

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The soups are really good as well. Homemade, they often run out, or are down to the least popular one half way through lunch service. They are hot, and full of flavour, and there is always enough soup diversity that you never really get bored.

Rustic Sourdough Bakery is one of those places that is busy enough – and I thought twice about writing about. To be honest, I didn’t really want to add to my already long wait for a sandwich when im in that part of town. But the cat is out of the bag now. If you’re looking for a sandwich, and price, taste, quantity and value all matter, this is the place. They make a great sandwich. Picking up a pastry from the bakery never hurts either. It really makes for an affordable, quality, tasty lunch. And compared to the sandwiches of my childhood, it is a welcome thing indeed. Especially when i don’t need to trade my home cooked meals for them anymore!

Rustic Sourdough Bakery & Deli on Urbanspoon