Delightful Afternoon Tea at the Secret Garden Tea Company

Last wekend my girlfriends and I enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea sitting at The Secret Garden Tea Company in the Kerrisdale area of Vancouver. I had heard many good reviews of this place recently and wanted to try it out for myself. Since I love my tea, anytime of day, and enjoy the company of my girlfriends, I thought why not make it a date.

I booked  a reservation ahead of time, and we had a two hour seating from 2:15pm – 4:15pm for five of us. Tea for five, and five for tea! We all arrived on time for our reservation booking and without planning for it, we were all slightly dressed up for the occassion. It just feels like something that warrants your “sunday best”. 



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A cocao bean story and my night at Winnowing Wednesday with @EastVanRoasters

Tonight I went to Winnow Wednesday at EastVanRoasters. It was a great foodie experience all about chocolate and helping a social enterprise at the same time. I discovered this event via a @ScoutMagazine Tweet:

And later read Mia Stainsby’s review of the shop in her Vancouver Sun article.

I signed up instantly.

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Friday Fur Elise: a patisserie in Vancouver

Macarons by Fur Elise Patisserie

Macarons by Fur Elise Patisserie

I recently stumbled upon the perfect patisserie in downtown Vancouver the other night. I was walking home from work, through downtown along Hamilton Street (847 Hamilton St.) and discovered Fur Elise Patisserie. The window display is what first caught my eye, in front of the heritage home, and at first I thought it was a wedding store actually based on the window display. It was also a dark winter night, so until I walked up to the entrance I didn’t realize I was about to enjoy some tasty macarons.

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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…

WHET is Set on Granville Island!

WHET Kitchen.Bar.Patio is NOW OPEN! 1517 Anderson Road, Granville Island

WHET Kitchen.Bar.Patio is NOW OPEN! 1517 Anderson Road, Granville Island

WHET Kitchen patio on the right, overlooks Granville Island harbour.

WHET Kitchen patio on the right, overlooks Granville Island harbour.

A fresh new addition to the Granville Island scene: WHET Kitchen.Bar.Patio! Formerly Sammy J Pepper’s location, the owners have switched things up and shed the pepper scene to go for a more fresh locally sourced menu concept.

With one of the largest patios in Vancouver, overlooking the Granville Island harbour, this will surely be a hot spot in the sun!

WHET opened just a few days ago, and already were hopping with weekend business for their debut weekend. Our table enjoyed a variety of the menu items, and we all left full and happy. The service was friendly, the food was fresh, and that is what I will return for – especially their to-die-for seafood chowder, and these delicious dishes:

Classic fish and chips... The British guests I dined with said the fish passed with flying colours.

Classic fish and chips... The British guests I dined with said the fish passed with flying colours.

Flatbreads too...

Flatbreads too...

Open faced fish sandwich, reportedly is amazing!

Open faced fish sandwich, reportedly is amazing!

HAVE Cafe’s 2nd Annual Cupcake Throwdown!

In January 2011, HAVE Cafe hosted their second annual cupcake throwdown at Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive. It was a SWEET event to say the least and raised over $2600 from ticket sales and donations. Funds support HAVE Cafe, a culinary training school and restaurant in the downtown Vancouver’s eastside. Their mission is “To develop a program that will train “employment barriered” people from the downtown eastside and surrounding neighbourhoods, and to place them in entry level jobs in restaurant kitchens of the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association”.  A cause that melts my heart, and reminds me of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Foundation program. The idea of inspiring people and teaching life skills in the kitchen is amazing to me.  If you have the chance, visit the Cafe – it is the best value eats in more ways than one…

So when an organization like this hosts a cupcake fundraiser it’s an instant sell to me! Cupcake bakers contended with their cupcake displays throughout the night, while patrons tasted all the entries and voted on the winners or presentation and taste.

I honestly had a hard time choosing, they all were good in their own way. I feel like a mom saying that, but it is true. How can you go wrong with a cupcake!?!?

Here are some photo highlights of the sweetest dinner I’ve had so far this year! I can’t wait for the 3rd annual throwdown!!!

Third place winner - sweet potato carrot cupcakes!!!

Third place winner - sweet potato carrot cupcakes!!!

Rainbow cupcakes - I was SERIOUSLY impressed by these ones!

Rainbow cupcakes - I was SERIOUSLY impressed by these ones!

S'more Cupcakes with camping Ken & Barbie

S'more Cupcakes with camping Ken & Barbie

The pinkest ones of all, and flavour was to die for!

The pinkest ones of all, and flavour was to die for!

Mexican Vanilla cupcake filled with blackcurrent cream

Bite-size & flavour packed: Mexican Vanilla cupcake filled with blackcurrent cream and a swirl of cassis flavoured Italian meringue buttercream - topped with a mini french macaron.

YES thats an ice cream cone filled with brownie, vanilla cake, and topped with buttercream frosting!

YES thats an ice cream cone filled with brownie, vanilla cake, and topped with buttercream frosting!

There were a few French displays too...

There were a few French displays too...

Paris too!

Paris too!

Classic chocolate.... enough said. This was my final stop of the night.

Classic chocolate.... enough said. This was my final stop of the night.

The winners of the night were a first place Red Velvet cake, second place coco lime, and third place sweet potato carrot.  The pink pink cassis cake won for best presentation.

It was sincerely sweet success!

Movember ends in Stachoff @thecornersuite!

Live twitter feed shown throughout the event

Live tweets shown throughout the event

Movember ended earlier this week, and I attended my first Tweetup! Hosted by The CornerSuite Bistro in downtown Vancouver, known for their signature blue chairs, it was a fun post-work event to check out the 30-day-upper-lip-mogression! Ladies attending had the option to buy fake-stache by donation, and some of them began to fall off throughout the event which added to the entertainment.

The CornerSuite Bistro's blue chairs

Some of CornerSuite Bistro's signature blue chairs

Here is a clip of a couple of the contests who competed in the stachoff where the top three winners received gift cards to a barber shop.

Have you been to a tweetup before, if so, where was it?

Dirty Apron: a Vancouver Foodie Bucket List Must!

Dirty Apron Cooking School

Dirty Apron Cooking School: 540 Beatty Street, Crosstown, Vancouver BC

I joined a mini-class at Vancouver’s Dirty Apron Cooking School for an upcoming SHAW TV holiday segment, and I certainly felt like a culinary pro! Their cooking school is designed to make everyone feel that way – be a kitchen pro for a day.

First we received a lesson from the Chef on how to make a fun holiday-entertaining appetizer – then we made the same recipe ourselves using their kitchen stations.

My experience was incredibly fun and I dub this a Vancouver Foodie Bucket List must!

The classroom set up reminded me of being in highschool home-ec class, with the demonstration mirrors above the Chef station, and the personal instruction provided to us as we made the recipe on our own.

Learning new things in the kitchen is a top pass-time of mine, and here I learned some new basic knife skills and techniques for preparing the recipe ingredients – I loved every minute of the class. The surroundings were professional and it felt like we were on a food tv set: I was giddy over the gourmet kitchen experience!

Kitchen classroom work stations

Kitchen classroom work stations

Once the Chef’s interactive cooking demonstration was complete, we manned our stations to find everything portioned out for the recipe – just like on tv! Each station is equipped with all necessary tools, pans, and fun kitchen accessories.

My heart raced with excitement as we began by cutting our onions for caramelization. I’ve chopped an onion dozens of times before, at home, but here it became an adrenalin rush for me – I am an foodie-anomaly though!  I was excited to be in the kitchen setting, fitted with my apron and hand towel tucked into my side – we cooked up a storm! And then we feasted!

My first puffed pastry tart, after the first bite:

Savoury goats cheese pesto puff pastry tart

Savoury goats cheese pesto puff pastry tart - garnished with rocket, tomatoes, cheese, walnuts, and drizzle of olive oil.

A tasty tart - perfect for holiday entertaining.

A tasty tart - perfect for holiday entertaining with rich colours of green and red...

At the Dirty Apron Cooking School you’ll WATCH, LEARN, COOK, EAT, and really HAVE FUN! I recommend their classes are for everyone, and they make great gifts too because anyone can participate : from amateurs to culinary-enthusiasts!

Stay tuned at Shaw Express for their holiday entertaining segment from the Dirty Apron Cooking School.


Fun Food in the Mail!

Recently I have received some fun pieces of mail, more than your average spam of  grocery store flyers. Since I like to share all things beyond the dough, I had to share:

Macarons & Makeup! French Macarons are extremely trendy right now! They certainly delicious enough to deserve that title, and I hope they stick around in a permanent way! …All pastry chefs that I have met this year, have raved about them.  The little tasty light morsels, that melt in your mouth, can be seen in infinite colours and flavour pairs. I’ve seen them on hit TV series such as Gossip Girl served at a cocktail party dessert display, and they are frequently in wedding magazines as a new favour – with French flavour! Recently I received a Clinique makeup promo flyer, and usually it falls in the pile with the rest of my spam…. but this piece caught my attention more than usual.

Where have you seen macarons lately??

Macarons and makeup

Macarons and makeup - by Clinique

Italian Kitchen’s Extraordinary Customer Service! Not too long ago I dinned at Italian Kitchen downtown on Alberni Street. The food was great – I love their Bruschetta –  the wine list was wonderful and the service was delivered with a smile. It was actually a short dining experience, followed by some window shopping, but not so short that I didn’t feel well taken care of.  When the bill arrived with customer service cards, I decided to fill one out.  Usually this leads to your name being added to a mailing list, you might get a birthday month promotion generically addressed to the “residents” of your mailing address.  I still felt like my server, Alistair, deserved positive feedback. So often customer service is only used to share complaints, but I like to give credit where credit is due.

A week later I received this in the mail. At first, I assumed it was a simple “welcome to our mailing list” card.

Thank you card

A simple note of thanks...goes a long way!

But I misjudged, I smiled when I opened the mail, to read a hand written thank you note personalized from my server! My earlier instincts of great customer service were spot on: Italian Kitchen knows how to treat their guests.

For this, I will return Italian Kitchen, thank you and keep it up! So the next time you dine out, take the time to give some feedback in your fast paced routine – a hand written note means a lot and really it can only serve the customer better in the end..

Hand written note of thanks

A hand written note of thanks.

Burcouver strip complete with sexy JOEY Burnaby addition!

Tonight the JOEY Restaurant chain launched a preview of their newest addition: JOEY Burnaby. Located in Brentwood area in the former Shark Club location, the sexy restaurant chain certainly adds some heat to the area. After some chic remodeling their new location is worth checking out, when they open to the public on Monday October 4, 2010.

The Lougheed ‘Burcouver’ strip already includes the likes of Earls, Cactus Club, and Milestones; but now with JOEY Burnaby its shaping up to be Robson-like dining strip in Burnaby.

Here is a tour of my night, including some beautiful people and tasty bites of their passed menu items.

Joey_Burnaby

Joey Burnaby front entrance

Chic_Joey_decor

Chic Joey interior decor

Upper_level_Joey

Joey Rooftop level

Sneak peak patio level

Sneak peak: Joey Burnaby Rooftop

Joey Bby launch menu

Joey Burnaby launch menu

Joey Burnaby Wine Cellar

David Scholefield, local wine-expert and Joey Burnaby associate, was in the house; so you can bet this wine cellar is nothing short of stellar!

Joey Burnaby Kitchen

The Joey Burnaby Kitchen - my favourite part...

Joey Friends

Joey Burnaby Friends - a great place to dine after work

Trendy beef sliders...

Trendy & tasty beef sliders...

And drum roll ladies & gentlemen…. Saving the best for last, I may have eaten more than one, but I am a biased sweet-tooth (shhh don’t tell my dentist!):

BAKED APPLE PIE BITES = HEAVEN!

Baked Applie Pie bites

Baked Apple Pie bites with caramel, nuts, pastry, ice cream, and apple compote - delightful!

It was a smooth night overall, the food kept coming, the servers were spot on with drink refills everywhere I looked.  The food was served in perfect bite size pieces, and while the bathrooms aren’t quite Cactus Club – they still rocked with their 12-second-power-eco-friendly hand dryers.

I’ll return for more dessert, and I might finish with an entre!

When will you dine at Joey Burnaby?