Monday, January 30, 2012

2nd Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival

Hurry! There is still time left!

Scattered throughout the city are some pretty special chocolate shops participating in the annual Hot Chocolate Festival. During this period of time, each individual shop has come up with their own special menu of hot chocolates. Dan, Bran, and I decided to check out Leonidas.

On their menu :

Raspberry – dark chocolate. Served with a choice of chocolate or liege waffle sample.
Tosca – dark chocolate and rum. Served with a choice of chocolate or liege waffle sample.
Frozen Noisette – milk chocolate. Served with a choice of chocolate or liege waffle sample.
Raspberry Cheesecake – white chocolate. Served with a choice of chocolate or liege waffle sample.
Dan and I both chose the Frozen Noisette. Although, I asked for mine to be hot. Bran chose the Tosca. We all had a waffle each, which were apparently made by Patisserie Lebeau. (They had better descriptions of these crafted drinks at the store. ) 
And oh my goodness, everything was so yummy. I LOVED the hot chocolates that we ordered, especially mine. And thank goodness, it wasn't too sweet. I was so afraid, with it being a chocolate shop, that hot chocolate would simply mean melted chocolate. I've never been into drinking chocolates... they are just much too rich and sweet for me. But, the hot chocolates at Leonidas was milky and creamy ... and simply heavenly. 

And to boot, service was also great. Who would have thought? For a chocolate shop.

The hot chocolate was totally memorable. Even at $8 each, I'm not complainin'.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


One of my most favoritest things to do is to go out for brunch with friends. There is something about the combination a lazy Sunday morning and eggs+sausages+hash. Perhaps it's because a big, hearty breakfast doesn't come very often. And when it does, it's usually when I'm on vacation. Maybe this all mimics the same feeling as being on vacation? Whatever it is, I love it.

Sharing a Sunday morning together. Sharing good food. And sharing stories. Ahh, life is good.

They picked Chewies (located on Yew and 1st in Kitsilano). I believe it had something to do with chicken and waffles on their menu. Some of the boys have been obsessed with the combination of deep fried chicken and waffles and couldn't stop raving about this particular meal that they once had at Hash House in Las Vegas. 

I opted for their hash. Filled with hearty potatoes, sausages, veggies, and an egg. Yum! 

Yah, I think I would go back to Chewies. Certainly a good option for brunch food.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Boy, Have They Grown

Look how much Amelia's grown since last year. Is that really the same kid? Her little sister is now a person, and no longer a baby blob. Love the sister interaction. Their personalities are starting to shine at this age. They crack me up.

Oh yah, I forgot to mention. Little sis insisted on wearing a pink tutu under her chinese outfit.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dine Out Vancouver - L'Abattoir

I used Dine Out Vancouver really as an excuse for a night out with friends. Before going to L'Abattoir, I got a bit of mixed reviews from friends who have been. One claimed it being "Vancouver's Best", and another said it was "between just ok and good, learning more towards good." Reviews are really just reviews; opinions of different people. And the best way to find out if I would like it is of course to try it myself. 

L'Abattoir is located in the heart of Gastown. On a nice, glowy winter night such as tonight, it was beautiful for a night stroll to and from. The down side? Parking.

As I'm creeping up in age, or, time changes taste, I much prefer a boutique kind of restaurant these days minus the loud chattering, but more importantly, the loud thumping music. "Chic and trendy", they might call those. I'm there to enjoy a meal and not there to club... much prefer it relaxed, comfortable, and simple. 

L'Abattoir is a mix. Split into two levels, they had the bar downstairs, and more tables upstairs. Luckily, no head-throbbing music. It was comfortable and relaxed. Although the tables were a little squishy, I didn't mind it so much.

Up first, passionfruit ginger soda. I give this a two thumbs up. Not too sweet. Anything citrusy plus a little ginger is always good in my books.

Then comes the bread basket. And Mmm, mmm, mmm.... Probably one of the best bread baskets I've had. It was warm. Most were flavoured. Either it be sesame or even one with a bit of anchovies. Giving it a tiny fishy and salty contrast to your taste buds. We were off to a good start. I could go back just for the bread.

This was my appetizer. The pork pate. Love the presentation. I think it's beautiful. Makes me not want to destroy it to eat it. I chose it 'cause I was craving something salty. It was just that so it was satisfying. The apricot spread around the outside of the plate went well with it. However, the pate was a bit too hard to be pate. Don't know if it's just me who imagines pate to be somewhat spreadable. 

This other appetizer was better. Oh my goodness, it was so good. The steelhead was sous vide. I surprisingly knew what sous vide meant because my brother had recently talked about making it his next project... to create a machine for the home to sous vide. Anyway, sous viding makes food extra tender and lovely. The steelhead was so moist. Along with the fish, there was also deep fried pork fat, potatoes and a horse radish sauce. 

Lamb and ravioli. Very good as well. Lamb was not too gamey.

Sausage and duck breast with German noodles. The German noodles tasted like gnocchi. Also very yummy.

Not pictured was Jen's fish. Forget what kind now. But she said it was also very well done. Flakey and moist... on top of a delicious bed of white beans. 

For dessert, we all chose the pineapple upside down cake. And a good choice it was. The cake was perfectly moist. Not too sweet. It came with cubes of passionfruit preserves. Poked into the mascapone cream was a dehydrated slice of pineapple... which was place on top of a piece of fresh pineapple. The whole thing was decadent.

Washed it all down with a cup of tea. The tea came with a tiny cookie.

Love simple decor. The lights made me think of fireflies trapped inside glass jars. 

Overall, we all really enjoyed it. I would definitely go back. I don't know if I would rate it as Vancouver's Best, considering how many amazing restaurants there are in Vancouver. (And nothing has yet to top off my experience at La Buca). But, I would definitely say it's better than an ok and even, better than good. Actually, it was quite excellent.

Another great night with the girls - Pat, Maria, and Jen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Gotta Start Somewhere

When there are days that I find there's a whole lot going on in my mind, I head to the gym. I prefer the sea wall and I prefer nice weather, but there are also days for the gym. Since their mini updates and calling it Steve Nash's gym, there's been a whole lot more people going. That's the annoying part when equipments aren't always readily available and you have to wait your turn. 

I jumped on whatever I could find, and went at it. Anything that'll get my heart pumpin' anyway. 

I am determined to get myself back into better shape this year. To be honest, it's been tough. I had once upon a time established a routine. Got out there and did something x number of times a week. Did it for x number of minutes each time. I got results to show that I was slowly but steadily improving. It soon became almost euphoric and after each session, I was on a high. 

Then, life changed. My routine was uprooted. And finding that routine again has been super hard. Now, it's at its pits. It's even harder knowing where you were once upon a time, and it's going to take a whole lot more time and effort to get back there... let alone get beyond. Starting from square one... It mighty sucks. 

But, we all gotta start somewhere. Even if it means, starting over again.

Cannot wait till the weather is better and days are longer... 

I've already committed myself to a race this year. Will see how it goes. 

After my 45 minute session, my head was a whole lot clearer.

(Yes, I was that creepy, crazy gal taking snapshots at the gym with my phone... but only these two shots. What I would do for the sake of this blog).

When I'm Bored

... I make "gow jee's" (dumplings). 

Onion. Chive. Cilantro.

Chop it all up.

Mix in minced pork. Add a bit of corn.

Then, in random proportions, add the sasame oil, soy sauce, and oyster sauce.

Open up the package of wrappers...

... and start wrapping.

The more you make, the more to freeze.

For tomorrow's lunch, I wanted them simply boiled. With it, I'll pack some dipping sauce. Garlic chilli sauce maybe? (Also made a few for dad's midnight snack).

I like!

The day after that, I think I might have them in soup.

Dad says I didn't add enough sauce. Not salty enough. But that was intentional. Less crappy stuff, more healthy. There are always an array of dipping sauces you can make. Then you can taylor it to anyone's taste buds rather than making them too salty to begin with.

Pies For Rainy Skies

Welcome to Acme on West Hastings.

Shum and I had made plans during the holidays to hit up Acme together, but of course, I had to misread my work schedule and ended up having to cancel. I was super miffed. Shum's an out-of-towner now, and I thought I'd get to hang out with her during the holidays. I made her promise me not to go until we can go together. I'm demanding like that sometimes.

I was sitting in the lunchroom on my break at work yesterday, pondering over what I should do on my day off today. My last day off, Sunday, was spent cooped up at home because of the miserable weather outside. I thought today would be the same. Hmm... I spend all week looking forward to a day off, and that's how it'll be...

...then my phone buzzed.

I got a text message from Shum. "Are you off tomorrow?".



"What??? But you said the next time you're in town will be in February!".

She was in town to surprise her parents for the New Year. But I got the surprise just the same. I was ecstatic! And my would-have-been gloomy, miserable day was turned upside down.

That's Shum with her Italian sausage sandwich and her root beer float. 

"You're going to take a photo of the bottle, aren't you." Ahh, she knows me well. The Pop Shoppe. Have you seen it before? Cute bottle. 

After our brunch, we had to have pie. Acme is known for their pies. There was a great selection of it today, but we chose the banana coconut and the lemon meringue. Mmm...

To walk off the food coma, we ended up in PC. We hit up H&M and each found some loot to take home. Then, it was T&T next. 


I was there to see if I could find any Chinese New Year treats and swag on discount. Other people were rummaging through the sweets as we were. It was like we were teleported back to the 80's when we were young. "OMG, my mom used to buy these when we were young!". 

"I used to love these peanut candy!".

"Oh, look at these chews! I remember eating those too!". 

I swear all the see-lai's and retirees shopping on a Tuesday afternoon at T&T were all staring at us through all our excitement. We took our sweet time combing through every aisle and constantly had to refill our car meter with money. I was particularly horrified to see Horlick for $8. I was standing there staring at the product for some time. 

"When did it become $8??? Why is it more expensive than Ovaltine? Why is it in a glass jar now? So we have to pay more for packaging?? $8 for Horlick??". 

"Okay, we gotta go. You're starting to look a little crazy talking to yourself." Shum had to pry me away, but I dumped a Horlick in our basket anyway. 

It was pouring and miserable outside. But for rainy skies, there were pies. All in all, a wonderful day with my muffy sis. 

( We've been calling each other "muffy sisters" since highschool; when we bought matching ear muffs one crazy winter. Those were our teen years.)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Red Pockets

Who doesn't love red pockets?

Do you love these or... do you love these?? These are mine from this year. Hence the dragon ones. They are so incredibly pretty and cute.

This one opens up like a capsule. The envelope has a slip-on lid.

The other one flips open.

I love the loud red and gold and all its colours!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gong Hay Fat Choy! - Or Is It Just... Fat?

Chinese New Years means lots of good food that you don't normally get. Came home from a night shift to some homemade pan-fried Loh Bak Goh (turnip cakes). Yummmm. Thank you, Yee Ma!