gracecheung604 | write on time: July 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Family Dinner at Poor Italian

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A few weeks ago, in honour of my sister's arrival in Vancouver, our family went out for dinner at The Poor Italian. It's the perfect middle point between my new home, and my parent's home, where my sister is staying.
I'm not going to tell you what we ordered, you'll just have to wait and see. First, the bread basket...it looks simple, but it's not...keep digging...
And your reward, raspberry and blueberry bread, in the gratis bread basket...
Oh, and look, sundried tomato, savoury artichoke and pickled onion topped bread, awesome find!
To start, we ordered their antipasto platter for four, even though there were eight of us. As you can see below, even four orders is a LOT of food. Loaded with proscuitto, smoked salmon, capers and onions, there was also a smattering of olives, some grano pandano, as well as some chicken liver pate. Not to mention the marinated vegetables, such as eggplant and zucchini. There were some pickled onions, and artichokes and red peppers, to go along with the bruschetta. A few whole anchovies lined the platter, along with a refreshing tomato and mozzarella salad. Rounding out the whole thing were roma tomatoes and gherkins...the sourest you've ever tasted!
Another appetizer we ordered was the Funghi Pizza, filled with oyster and button mushrooms, on a thin crust pizza pie.  
Proscuitto, smoked salmon with onions and capers, with some olives, and the tomato and mozzarella cheese ...
Marinated goodness, the pate, the peppers and onions and some olives... 
Bruschetta topped with sundried tomatoes and artichokes... 
My portion of the antipasto - round one
My neice ordered the Linguine alla Vongole for herself, clams with a light garlic flavoured olive oil. There was a light lemon tang, but you could tell that the pasta was very fresh. There was a mixture of regular clams as well as a smattering of baby clams. Fortunately, the garlic didn't overpower the whole dish.
My mom ordered the Grilled Halibut, which was lightly crispy on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside. You know my mom loved it because she didn't offer us a single bite!  
My stepdad ordered the Lamb Sausage special. Despite the fact that it was a sausage, I couldn' believe how much lamb flavour there was in each bite. It was served with a flaky onion tart and a side of grilled artichoke. A perfectly plated dish...meat and veggies paired wonderfully.
My order was a combination of their Rigatoni and their Rack of Lamb. Here is a close up of the rigatoni...precise tubes of pasta tossed with spicy Italian sausage. 
The Rack of Lamb was highly recommended by my stepdad, and I can see why. Nicely grilled on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. We had four meaty pieces of the lamb, and the smokey flavour was prominent throughout.
It was served family style with a small side of roasted veggies (which they initially forgot, but brought over once we noticed its absence). 
Although the service at this place can be stretched a bit thin at times, the food more than makes up for it. Prepare for a long leisurely meal, and just take your time. Enjoy the food and the wine, and don't expect overly attentive service. Mind you, the service is good, just not smothering. 

Poor Italian on Urbanspoon

On the search for Spam at McD's in Maui

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Heard rumours of Spam being sold in McDonald's in Maui...so the hunt was on! The restaurant was totally decorated for kids...this is what greeted us upon arrival. Little burgers...
Little Fries... 
...and Grimace. 
Alas, there was nothing there even remotely related to SPAM, but we still couldn't leave empty handed...so a Sirloin Burger was procured, along with a medium fries. Does anyone else load their ketchup up with pepper??
Although we didn't track down the elusive Spam product at McDonald's this time around, I think we will succeed in the end...Mahalo...

L'artista with Mommy

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The week before I headed to Toronto, I had a delicious dinner with my mom and stepdad at one of our favourite neighbourhood joints. The place is call L'artista. We discovered them at first through the Entertainment book, but have returned because of the quality of the food and service. Places where the chef is also the owner usually have a certain sense of pride that you don't find otherwise. Federico Murruni is the chef/owner of this place and you can tell he loves his food!
My mom loves her seafood, and decided to order their pasta special that night It was a Penne ai Frutti di Mare, and it was loaded with mussels and clams, all tossed in a tomato sauce that tasted like it had been stewing all day. 
My favourite here is the Linguine Della Casa...it's linguine with Italian sausage, peppers & artichoke in a tomato sauce, and under $15! You can always ask them to make it spicier, but it has a good kick for most people...not me though! 
I am not a 100% sure, but I believe my stepdad got their veal special...which came with beans, carrots, purple cabbage and potato wedges...I think the "vino" was getting to me at this point! 
Our family comes here all the time, and have always loved the fresh warm rolls they bring, the hominess of the jug of their house wine, and their attentive service. If you are looking for something in Burnaby, give L'artista a try, you won't be disappointed! 
L'Artista Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My first Tweetup...

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A few Sundays ago, I hosted my first un-official tweetup at Yew. In attendance were @bennettchin, @omurices, @dennispang and @pawspix. There was one more girl there that night, but she's not on Twitter! Shocker! We scored the BIG table, probably made of a yew tree, not to be confused with the Big Room, which is like their wine room and probably seats about 12. I've been to Yew several times but never with enough people to warrant the Yew table. I was excited!
The one thing that joined all of us strangers was our common love of wine. I hate to spill the beans (so I won't) about Yew, but suffice it to say...they have a WICKED deal on vino on Sundays.
We received some bread and butter to start. The bread was rustic warm and filling.  
The butter was lightly dusted with some fleur de sel.
We started with eight oysters, four miyagi and four kumomoto. Instead of coming atop a bed of ice, which eventually melts into water, these arrived on a bed of salt. Really good presentation without risk of melting water.  
The oysters come with four homemade sauces (that's why we got eight oysters, so we could try one with each sauce. See what we are willing to do to get you the best vicarious experience? We will try everything, so you don't have to. 
Going from upper left (clockwise) a Icewine Mignonette, a Citrus Ponzu, then the Guava Horseradish and lastly, the House Made Tobasco. My favourite was the guava one...tangy with a little bit of a kick.  
@dennispang had the calamari, with a tzatziki sauce. It looked a little soggy and soft, and I've never been a fan of calamari strips, always loved it in rings and tentacles...Oh, and tell them to "go easy on the salt"...
@pawspix and another girl ordered a cheese plate, it came with blue cheese and another hard cheese called Alaskan Gold. I've never had the latter, but it is reminiscent of an aged cheddar. Served with some nuts, and honey and a few slices of bread. A very good choice for accompanying wine. 
Our entree came next, and it's a pork belly with a shrimp dumpling. Sounds simple, but it's so not! 
Sitting on top of a bed of spinach and shimeji mushrooms, the pork belly was topped by a shrimp patty. 
The belly was nice and tender, and a huge portion. We removed the dumpling so you can see how nicely done the belly was. The dumpling was the only disappointment in the dish...again...overly salty. 
The other entree we ordered was the Cold Appetizer selection...for ~$25, you get to sample four of the appetizers from the Cold appys section. 
Oh, that's right, it came with some flat bread too!
The scallop ceviche was the one I was looking forward to the most. I don't like cooked scallops, but I love it raw/sashimi style and I also love it dried, Chinese style. The ceviche was really refreshing and the radish and black sesame gave the dish some much needed crunch. A little hint of jalepano peppers made it even better!  
The next dish we tried was the Tuna Nicoise...the most lacklustre of the bunch. Overly dressed and almost cloyingly sweet. I guess they tried to counterbalance this with some olives, but the flavour just became all blended, leaving you with a taste of overpowering olive tepanade...the tuna flavour was completely lost. I ddin't enjoy this one at all. 
The lobster roll has long been one of my favourites from Yew...one of the few places I've found in Vancouver that doesn't believe every roll can benefit with the addition of avocado. The lobster meat, the cucumber and the mango...it's really all you need. The rice paper wrapper is a pleasant change from nori, which probably would get too soggy with all the juiciness of the roll. 
My other favourite dish was the tako...a perfectly tossed mixture of peppers, parsley and dressing. If you like octopus, you'll love this dish too! 
We also ordered a side serving of Gnocchi, the minute I saw that it was topped with truffle oil, it had me. It was delicious...rich and topped with buttered bread crumbs. Probably way too much food, but definitely worth trying.
@Omurices ordered the Surf and Turf. It was a rather small serving of tenderloin, with a little iron crock pot of lobster macaroni and cheese. 
Sitting atop a bed of fresh white asparagus, the tenderloin was perfectly cooked (yet a bit salty), and it was clearly quite juicy. The Lobster mac and cheese wasn't really made with macaroni...more of a long pasta...still rolled up to soak up the cheese goodness and the sweetness of the lobster. A good dish if you are sharing, because the pasta pot is quite filling. 
After dinner, we received a small smattering of dessert nibbles...nuts rolled in cocoa and powder, as well as some gelee gummies. All delicious and a great way to end the meal! 
Wines we consumed tonight included a Quail's Gate Gwertz, a Kim Crawford Pinot Noir and the Joie Farm Rose...awesome prices for all the wines.  
Our server was a delight, handling all our photo demands, billing requests and general rowdiness. No complaints, and I'm sure we'll be back! 
YEW Restaurant + Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kicking it at the Keg

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Keg Steakhouse and Bar - Yaletown on Urbanspoon
The night before my work/fun trip to Toronto, we decided to head to the Keg Yaletown to use a Vancouver Art Gallery coupon we had, something about either a New York steak or a Keg Prime Rib dinner for the price of the steak only. Don't ask me about coupons...I don't remember details, except for the expiry date.
Since my friend couldn't be a babysitter, we went with a child in tow. Little did we know...they have the cutest kids menu. It starts off with a Kid's Appetizer...with fresh veggies & dip, some crackers and fruits.
As all wait staff know, a kid with food is much more pleasant than a kid waiting for food. The next thing to arrive at our table was the chicken strips and fries. It was a generous portion of chicken strips, way bigger than the McNuggets most kids are used to. The fries were really good...I'm guilty of stealing fries from kids...hey, it's not like it was candy!
As the kid was eating, our salads arrived...undressed, exactly how we ordered it. The cheese was freshly shaved and layered on top. The croutons were fresh and crunchy, way better than the Keg in Burnaby near the Costco. I dipped my romaine chunks into the dressing and was pleasantly surprised, it didn't kick you in the butt with garlic. I couldn't believe how much dressing they gave us for a side salad, so glad we got it on the side!
The next plate to come were the Mushrooms Neptune...an order comes with 6, but as I am just an amateur blogger and an experienced eater, I ate one before remembering to photograph the food. The mushrooms were stuffed and overflowing with cream cheese and crab meat, and perfectly browned. Be careful, this plate and the contents are HOT! The mushrooms are really moist and juicy, so when you bite into it, expect a burst of juicese and boy, it's HOT!
I got my usual NY cut...and was a little bit surprised at how well done it appeared. However, upon slicing into it, I was even MORE surprised at how juicy and pink it was. The steamed veggies were completely overdone, but then again, this is a STEAK house...so maybe I was setting my standards a little too high for the veggies.
My friend got the Prime Rib dinner, and OMG...Will you take a look at how GI-normous this serving of meat is!?! Perfectly medium rare, I was about to toss my dinner aside, or sweetly offer to trade. We reached a happy compromise and each shared a bit of the steaks. Surprisingly enough, neither of us were willing to take the veggies instead.
As those "more-observant" of you have noticed....both our baked potatoes were naked. It's now I always order my potatoes, because I never know how much of each topping I want until I am about to eat it. Butter, sour cream, green onions and bacon...all on the side, and all you have to do it layer those babies on!
I was delighted with the meal and the very generous portion side. I think that is the allure of a chain restaurant...the right ones have a certain standard, and no matter where in the city you go, you should expect the same service, quality and experience. My only exception...the Keg by the Burnaby Costco...truly disappointing. It's the only place where I actually complained, only to have the manager return my call, and say "I have no idea why you are complaining".

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