Why I am not following my dream

Around this time last year I was full-swing in the midst of my pastry school experience and I cannot deny that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Seriously.  You can read in my previous posts about why I chose to go, and how intensely I am passionate about baking. I love both the science of it and the artistic elements required to make beautiful desserts. I have grown particularly fond of cake decorating, as you may have noticed in my Instagram feed.

Julia Child says, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

I have to admit, this quote still rings true for me but I view it differently than I did last year. Continue reading

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…

Cream and Sugar, yes please!

Cream and Sugar

Cream and Sugar

Here is a sweet new blog I recently discovered, called CreamandSugar.ca. They have a creative concept, not to mention a fabulous title,  where two bloggers, with two different lifestyles, from two different cities collide under one URL sharing their love of food.  One blogger is from Edmonton, who brings the sugar, and the other is from Vancouver, and brings the cream. Sweet.

I just saw the heavenly looking post titled salted white chocolate oatmeal cookies – I know what I’m baking next!

And I particularly love Cream’s “solo suppers beyond cereal” series, and Sugar’s “dinner for two and a half” series.  Brilliant posts, and their titles are catchy. The fun dual content, great photos and array of recipe ideas makes this food blogging tale of two cities worth bookmarking…

PS. These ladies Facebook and Tweet too!

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!

Home for the Holidays!

With December less than 48 hours away, here is the holiday segment from The Express Vancouver at the Dirty Apron Cooking School (the clip begins 7mins in).

Let me know what you think in the comments below! Happy Holidays!

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.

#30 – Without a doubt, read SCOUT.

Scout Magazine: Gluttony Blog

Scout Magazine: Gluttony Blog

For my final blog or bust share #30, I am delighted to spread the word on Scout Magazine – for many, the site really needs no introduction….

Andrew Morrison is the master mind food-writer behind this site, along with several contributors, and his content has grown to cover more material now than just food. But the Gluttony blog section of his magazine is the bookmark of all restaurant-news-bookmarks to have in Vancouver. Through my journey over the past several months, I have heard about Andrew’s site on many occasions.  He is known for being in the know on Vancouver’s food scene; if it’s new in town, re-opening, or re-invented – Scout Magazine has it covered.

So, without a doubt, read Scout!

#28 – A Day in the Life of a Vancouver Food Blogger

@Sherman38

Photo credit: @Sherman38

“Wherever there is food I will go and eat it – I just think food is great wherever you find it.”

On Monday Sherman will celebrate two years of food blogging in Vancouver. A Teacher by day who never thought he’d have time to blog, soon found himself blogging daily and capturing a hearty audience with Sherman’s Food Adventures.  He now sits atop the UrbanSpoonVancouver Blog Leader Board. His then to now story is a humble one all the way, as I learned when we met recently.

Do you blog full time? No, it’s just my hobby still.

How did it start? We would go out and eat after [hockey] and I would Tweet or Facebook that I’m at this restaurant.  Then people would say, ‘hey Sherman, why don’t you tell us more about the food you’re eating?” But I wasn’t really into it. I just liked eating and taking pictures. One teammate continued to bug me about it, saying you like it, so you should write about it. I said, I’m busy I have a full time job, a family, there is no way I can do this. People kept pestering me, then, I signed up for an account. I wrote one post… The writing was simple… I posted it up, and a few more posts. Then, finally I got my first comment!

Were you promoting your blog? No …I thought, someone is reading this other than my friends? Like Julie & Julia. Then I’d write some more, and I started carrying a better camera around. I don’t know when it happened, but it became that I wanted to do it, I wanted to do it better, and so I did.

Which of your posts generate the most activity? The posts that I get the most hits on are for La Charcuterie, it’s just this sandwich shop in Port Kells [Surrey] with this sandwich guy called the Sandwich Nazi who berates his customers. The sandwiches are ok, they are good value; I guess people want to experience ‘the Sandwich Nazi’. Other than that, a lot of trendy restaurants from tourists and people looking for the hot spots in town.

Do you follow other bloggers? You have to, because no one person can follow everything. I guess that’s why people read blogs in general, because I want new ideas to eat out too. I can’t drive around and try everything. I’ll read other blogs and if it looks good I’ll check it out…to confirm it, or dispel if it is bad. I’ve met a lot of other bloggers too…we are sort of like a little community.

Describe an average blogging day? I generally blog about every meal. Blogging used to be a lot busier, but now I’ve built up a bank of posts…  Before work was busy, I would intentionally go out to eat after work and meet up with some other bloggers. Go home. Download photos. Post-process them. Maybe write the article, maybe not, if I’m tired, I won’t. Refer to my notes… Sometimes, I wouldn’t be done until 2am.

[On posting schedules] Some of them I post right away, strike the coal while it’s hot. Like some of these new food carts, people want to know about them. If I leave it to two months later it will be old. So I post it right away.

Have you tried many of the food carts? Yes I have been to a few of them. The best one I’ve been to is Re-Up BBQ: it’s a pulled pork sandwich. It’s right near the art gallery. For what it’s worth, it’s really good. Obviously someone from down south might think otherwise, but we are in Vancouver….  It’s good, it’s $6 and it’s filling.

Are most of your adventures in Vancouver? Mostly Vancouver, I traveled a lot prior to blogging – I wish I started [blogging] earlier. …But I do blog about restaurants when I’m out of town. Recently I came back from Portland in August, there are some really good restaurants down there, it is very eclectic.

What did you like in Portland? I went to a place that was featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives: Pine State Biscuits. They just make biscuits. There is one called the Reggie, it is a biscuit, a piece of fried chicken, bacon, cheddar, and option of a fried egg with country gravy. It puts the double down to shame. But it’s delicious. You can’t get that here.

Pine State Biscuits: The Reggie

Pine State Biscuits: The Reggie

Do you cover a diverse range when eating out? I like anything. From the dives to the best restaurant in town. To Langley, to downtown, to the North Shore, to Abbotsford. Wherever there is food I will go and eat it – I just think food is great wherever you find it.

We wrapped up talking about an industry event we both had recently attended. We agreed how it is nice to meet the people (i.e. chefs) behind the scenes, he added, “You know what is surprising about Vancouver: you walk into Bishop’s and John Bishop greets you, you walk into Vij’s and Vikram Vij greets you, you walk into Cioppino’s and Pino is cooking in the kitchen. You don’t get a lot of that in some of the other cities…  Every time I’ve been to these restaurants, they are there; and that provides a personal touch that they really do care about their business and are there for their customers.”

Sherman is a genuine foodie through and through! A delight to talk to, and is well known in the food blogging community. He’s even joining some fellow bloggers at a food blog convention in San Francisco soon. I kind of wish I was going too…

Sherman's Food Adventures

Blog or Bust Share #28: Sherman's Food Adventures