Dining Out For Life Vancouver

Every year over 200 restaurants in Vancouver (and Whistler), participate in a the annual Dining Out for Life in support for people living with HIV and AIDS. These restaurants will donate 25% of your food bill to A Loving Spoonful and Friends for Life.

So grab your friends and visit one of the participating restaurants today and enjoy a night on the town. If you can’t make it out tonight to any of the participating restaurants, you can also donate online.

You can follow Dining out for Life on Twitter or join their Facebook page.

You can also enter the “Great Estates of the Okanagan Wine Tour” for two, provided by Sumac Ridge Estate Winery by asking your server for a donation envelope and filling out the ballot.

Valued at more than $1000, the prize will include a two-night stay at the Summerland Waterfront Resort, dinner at Sumac Ridge’s acclaimed Cellar Door Bistro, and specialized VIP winery tour at Nk’Mip Cellars, Inniskillin Okanagan, Jackson-Triggs, See Ya Later Ranch and of course Sumac Ridge Estate Winery.

So as Julia Childs would say “Bon Appétit!”

Pan Dulce – Argentina Style

During Christmas and Easter my grandmother from Argentina used to always make pan dulce (or panettone, so us North Americans like to call it). As a little child I just use to marvel at how she would make HUGE amounts of it and share it with all family members as well as guests when they would stop by for a mate. The last time she was Canada I had asked her for the recipe as I wanted to make it some day. Unfortunately I never got the chance to do it while she was alive.

About a year ago I asked my sister Gladys to see if she had written down the recipe and she was able to send me the details. Alas Argentina, like most European countries, use grams instead of cup measurements and my first few attempts at making pan dulce fell flat, though still tasty. This past weekend I combined another recipe my other sister Maria sent me from a cook book and added the ingredients that my grandmother would add into hers. I here by give you a mash-up of my grandmother’s recipe with one my sister Maria had found.

Pan Dulce

Ingredients

  • 1 dry yeast pack
  • 4 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of yeast extract – marmite
  • 4 whole eggs, 1 egg white (room temperature)
  • one zest of lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla
  • 125 g of unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1 cup of raisins

Instructions

  • Add the yeast pack to about 125ml of warm water with some sugar and let stand to froth for 10 minutes
  • in a bowl combine flour, sugar, 4 eggs, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, salt and yeast mixture and mix until all blended
  • transfer dough onto a lightly floured flat service and knead the dough until the dough has a smooth touch texture and not sticky (about 10 – 15 minutes)
  • place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover it up with a plastic bag and let it sit for 2 – 3 hours in a warm place until the dough doubles in size.
  • place the dough back on a lightly floured flat service and roll out the dough to a rectangle roughly 12″x24″
  • add the walnut and raisins and knead the dough.
  • Split the dough into 2 equal pieces and place then into 2 lightly buttered bread baking dishes
  • cover up with plastic bag and let the dough rise for 2 – 3 hours until the dough just slightly reaches the top
  • in a preheated 375 degree oven, place the baking dish and bake until golden brown (between 30 – 45 minutes depending on your oven).
  • to garnish use 1 egg yolk and wash the crust with it and sprinkle some sugar.

I hope you will enjoy this as much as I do. My grandmother would be so proud of me!

Sorbitol Can Be so "Irritable"

Yesterday while doing our grocery shopping, I got the urge to buy some fruit jelly jubs. I thought this would be a great snack for later on in the day. I was surprised when I read the label and it said “sugar free” and I thought I would try this alternative as I know how sweet these candies can get. The label did say “made with sorbitol” and I thought this is only a sweetener and there is nothing wrong with it.

Later that day, I began to eat my new found sugar free snack and was enjoying my bag. Now you should know that I have a hard time just stopping at one candy, and I pretty much finished the bag.

As is with my usual weekend custom, I took a nap only to be awoken up an hour later with the worst stomach ach I have experienced in some time. I had felt that I had completed over 100 sit-ups and the muscles on my abs were hard as a rock.  Not only was my stomach in knots, but I began to feel that I was being inflated.

Of course all these symptoms were only enhanced by the worst case of diarrhea I have ever experienced. Yes folks a wonderful case of irritable bowel syndrome. Yeah I know this isn’t what you want to read, but I felt I should warn people of this. There were no warning labels on the candy that eating excessive amounts of sorbitol would result in bowel movements that can continue for over a day.

So be warned good people, sorbitol is BAD!!!

On a side note, it’s a great way to loose a few extra pounds 🙂

Granted eating too much of a “good thing” can cause some bad things to happen. Lesson learned!

Rodney's Oyster House Restaurant Review

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This past birthday Russ had asked where I wanted to go for dinner. As we had previously gone to Rodney’s Oyster House in Yaletown before, I decided to go there and have some fish for dinner.

When I arrived from work that day, the dinner almost didn’t happen. Russ had told me that when he called to reserve a table, he was greeted by a very rude person who told him that we had to be out by 8:30pm. I was tempted to cancel the whole thing as I thought that was very rude coming from a staffer, but we went anyways. We arrived at the restaurant just before our 6:30pm reservation only to find out that our table wasn’t reserved for that day, but for the next day. We were both a little shocked, but then one of the hostesses quickly erased our name from our next day’s reservation and quickly sat us down to a table. There was no hesitation on her part and we were both impressed by that.

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From the moment you walk into the restaurant you feel as if you have been transported to a restaurant on the eastern shore. The restaurant resembles a fish shack with many sea and ship items as decoration. Tables ranged from the standard tables, to bar style tables and eating area around the bar itself.

The menu is fairly simple (sorry the link is for their Toronto location) with mainly fish dishes for both appetizers and main courses, as well as their name sake – oysters.  As this was a celebration of sorts, Russ and I ordered oysters as appetizers. The oysters were awesome and you have choice of sauces to try with them which made them even more tasty. I also ordered a Manhattan Clam Chowder, which I was a little disappointed with as it was a tomato base and I felt I was eating a minestrone soup instead.

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For our main course Russ ordered the Shrimp in Coconut & Curry and I ordered the Pasta with Scallops. Both were utterly outstanding. I couldn’t get over the size of the scallops in the pasta and the flavour the shrimp with coconut and curry was.

Overall the experience was very pleasant, the staff was very educated, and we were treated fantastic – minus the reservation screw-up.

I highly recommend you check them out as I’m sure you will be greatly surprised!

Veuve Clicquot Champagne

Through my childhood and early teenage years, my version of Champagne that was served at our special family occasions was always sparkling cider and sometimes sparkling wine.  It really wasn’t until I moved out here to Vancouver that Russ introduced me to true champagne.

You really don’t know what you are missing until you try a true champagne. The flavour, the colour, and the carbonation all seemed to be enhanced.

On our trip 2 years ago to Paris, we took a tour of Reims France (wiki), the home of Champagne, and got to tour a couple of champagne wineries, Piper Heidseick and Moet and Chandon. We of course didn’t get to visit our favourite champagne house – Veuve Clicquot founded in 1772 by Philippe Clicquot-Muiron.

There is just something special about drinking Veuve, the flavour is subtle, the carbonation and the colour all add to the enjoyment. Veuve (as with most champange) is made with a blend of 3 grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier.

Yes the cost is expensive compared to sparkling wine made in North America, but I don’t think you match the flavour true champagne from France brings. Since last week I celebrated 7 years of being in Vancouver, Russ and I shared a wonderful bottle of the bubbly. Champagne that is drunk for any occasion and even by itself is good in my books.

A toast to Veuve Clicquot – May you never stop producing heaven in our mouths!

Some fun links I’ve found regarding Veuve Clicquot products:

Elite Choice
Verve Clicquot Products