Some Birthday Gratitude – and I’ll bake my own cake, and eat it too

Most people might think that baking their own birthday cake is unfair or simply not right – someone else is supposed to do it, right? Well, not me. I actually want to make my own cake – not only do I enjoy the baking part, but I get to make whatever I want, decorate it how I want, and eat it too. Yes, that’s right folks, tomorrow I’ll have my cake and eat it too. (Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and roasted pecans – to be precise!)

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Edible Stanley Cup Spirit!

These look so amazing and yummy! Now you can EAT your team spirit – Go Canucks Go!

This decadent and designer candy apple is on display at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory on Robson – I wasn’t the only one taking photos either.

What edibles have you made to support our men in blue and green?

I believe…

Hello 2011 – just let me eat CAKE!

I can’t believe how fast 2011 is flying by already, outside my blogging efforts I’m about to start a new job and I’m starting to feel the success of my first food blogging year.  Referrals continue to come in and I’m inspired by the food scene in Vancouver everyday, I wish I could write stories as often as I am inspired… One day maybe!

For now, I wanted to share a few foodie highlights from 2011.  My first adventure this year was learning about urban composting from the folks at CityFarmer.org.  They have such an amazing organization in the core of Vancouver in the West 4th area.  Their passionate gardeners truly care about nature – and even though I visited in the midst of winter, the garden was still a fascinating place to visit.

Sharron, head gardener, and Michael Levenston, Executive Director, shared their stories with me and Sharron toured me around the garden. It is the coolest and greenest place I’ve seen in months, despite lack of green in January. I’ll be back in the spring for sure. Full story to follow soon.

A gateway to greener living in Vancouver, CityFarmer.org

A gateway to greener living in Vancouver, CityFarmer.org

After my gardening experience, I headed to the Second Annual Cupcake Throwdown H.A.V.E Cafe fundraiser, at Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive in Vancouver. HAVE Cafe is a culinary training school in downtown Vancouver’s eastside, and is as inspirational as Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation.

So when I received an invitation with the words “Cupcake Throw-down”, it was not an RSVP to decline – a guaranteed sweet event. It was certainly sweet success raising over $2600 for HAVE Cafe.  Full photo story to follow next!

HAVE Cafe cupcake throw down fundraiser was a hit!

HAVE Cafe cupcake throw down fundraiser was a hit!

A couple cupcake contenders...

A couple cupcake contenders and voters...

The food train continued a couple weekends later when my own brother hosted a sushi potluck dinner party.  A great idea for you folks looking for some fund ways to host dinner with friends!  Host makes the sushi rice and nori paper; and provides the basics including soy sauce, wasabi, rolling mats, chopsticks and maybe some Japanese green tea! Then your guests each bring an ingredient prepared to roll inside your sushi!  EASY PEASY AWESOME!

Potluck ingredients may include bell peppers, yams, prawns, salmon, lettuce, cucumber, cooked egg, avocado, shrimp, carrot, and whatever your heart desires.

Guests take turn making their sushi roll of choice, so yummy and fun!

Guests take turn making their sushi roll of choice, so yummy and fun!

Homemade sushi can be so colourful!

Homemade sushi can be so colourful!

Make your own veggie rolls too!

Make your own veggie rolls too!

Classic cucumber!

Classic cucumber!

Have you ever hosted a sushi potluck? Or another culinary-themed potluck dinner? Tell me about it!

What is Beyond the Dough?

I’m working on a few things to share in the coming weeks, but I am curious what you think Beyond The Dough means and what you’d like to read more about?

Comment below and share your thoughts – I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, Happy Friday, and enjoy some culinary-indulgence this weekend that you would not normally because it is satisfying to try something new…

the grocery store tourist in me

Some people travel to foreign places to see the sites, the beaches, the exotic scenery, the history, the culture, and on, but there are some people who travel for the food. They travel to cities just to check out the restaurants receiving international reviews.  Others, travel, for former reasons, and combine culinary tourism along the way – as I have done before….

In 2006, I lived in London, England for a year and to this day, I remember my first visit through a local Tesco grocery store. I wandered the aisles for 2.5 hours. Yes – and it was amazing – AMAZING!  With my marketing hat on I appreciated the packaging and with my foodie hat on I swooned over new ingredients and sweets. When I’d memorized the grocery stores, I also visited as many markets as I could – my roommate would be ready to go and I could stare at the vendors’ displays forever….

A chocolatier in Borough Market, South London.

A chocolatier in Borough Market, South London.

The dairy aisle in a British grocery store.

Dairy aisle in British grocery store: orange cheese virtually doesn't exist over there

Baked beans, almost full aisles dedicated to them. Beans on toast is a common meal there, as popular as North American's Kraft dinner.

Baked beans, almost full aisles dedicated to them. Beans on toast is a common meal there, as popular as North American's Kraft dinner.

Well back then, I didn’t know I was a grocery store tourist. I knew I loved going into grocery stores, but I never knew it was a thing I could be until recently when I stumbled across someone else online labeling themselves a grocery store tourist. That’s when it hit me,

I am officially a Grocery Store Tourist.

New additions to North Vancouver

New additions to North Vancouver

Grocery store tourism, like all travel, can take place far and near… Last night, I took a little stay-cation down to my local Thrifty’s that recently opened in North Vancouver.  The shelves were lined with brand new products everywhere, freshly packaged meat, cheese, breads, produce glistening from the fresh mist of water, and the bulk candy aisle’s plastic dispensers glistened in the fluorescent lights – not yet tarnished by overuse from years of dispensing…

Neighbouring the new Thrifty’s is Bed, Bath & Beyond – a new addition to North/Vancouver proper. The combination makes for a weeknight culinary tourism spectacle.  Like my first Tesco grocery trip all over again, I wandered the aisles, dreaming of recipes I should make and the fun I could have prepping the ingredients. The basket on my arm began to fall heavy suddenly, and before an embarrassing amount of time could pass, I had to leave. So I wandered to Bed Bath & Beyond, thinking it would be a quick visit, I was soon corrected, and here is why:

BBB's kitchen section...

Part of BBB's kitchen section... I was overwhelmed!

The gadgets intrigue me everytime...

The gadgets always intrigue me: who comes up with this stuff?!

Endless organization options...

Endless organization options...

Are you a grocery store tourist? If so, tell me about it below…