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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Last night, I met up with my foodie friend – Nicole, Lan, and Missy – for a little culinary tour of Chinatown.  Nicole, our guide on this trek, had us hopping from one place to the next, covering four different places in which we sampled about a dozen different dishes…

Fellow foodies: Nicole, Lan, and Missy.

Fellow foodies: Nicole, Lan, and Missy.

We met at The Pie Shoppe, a tiny place that offers a variety of pies both sweet and savory.  On this night, only half an hour away from closing, they were out of savory options so we settled for (and by settled, I mean devoured) two of the sweet pies: apple-rhubarb and chocolate pecan.  I can’t fairly judge a fruit pie without ice cream so I won’t weigh in on the apple-rhubarb, but that chocolate-pecan pie was outstanding on its own. I was tempted to try the salted honey pie but Nicole had to remind me to pace myself.  This, after all, was a marathon.

A plethora of pies

A plethora of pies

From there, we headed one block over to a place called Oyster Express that offered about a dozen varieties of oysters on the shell in addition to a number of other menu items.  But, come on!  The place is called Oyster Express!  So we ordered two dozen assorted raw oysters.  They were all excellent.  Akemi, who had to beg off because she was feeling under the weather, would have loved it.

On the half shell at the Oyster

On the half shell at Oyster Express

One block over and two blocks down, we hit Besties, a restaurant specializing in sausages.

With by besties at Besties

With by besties at Besties

We ordered a number of items and shared.  Among them:

The sausage slider

The sausage slider

Currywurst

Currywurst

Asparagus with hollandaise.  Oh, and an egg!

Asparagus with hollandaise. Oh, and an egg!

For me, the highlight of this stop was the venison and blueberry sausage (that, for some reason, I failed to snap).  They were out of the intriguing sounding Butter Chicken sausage, so I’ll definitely have to make a return visit.

From there, it was one block over, three blocks up (through the downtown east side’s more colourful area), and around the corner to the Dunleavy Snack Bar.  At this point, Lan was tapped out and declared himself stuffed.  BUT that didn’t stop him from having some of the bimbimbap – and later, finishing it off when the waiter asked/threatened to take the plate away…

Pork belly and Korean chicken steamed buns

Pork belly and Korean chicken steamed buns.  I was hoping the chicken would be spicier, like they serve at that Korean restaurant in Shinjuku where the chicken is so spicy they serve it with a side order of surgical gloves so that you don’t burn your fingers while eating.

We didn’t order dessert, but only because we’d already had some at the start of our tour.

Thanks to Nicole for organizing and Lan and Missy batting clean-up on those fries and rice.

Next up, braise and bourbon at my place!

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis re-watch with…The Shrine.

1Our viewing of this fan favorite episode kicked off with this out-of-left-field exchange:

Akemi: “Teyla is weird name.  Like fixing clothes.”

Me: “No.  That’s TAI-LOR.”

Akemi (clearly disappointed): “Oh.”

This episode reinforced David Hewlitt’s talents as an actor: “McKay is a good actor.”

And also reinforced how pretty Jewel Staite is: “Jewel is very cute, don’t you think so?”  Hmmm.  Is this a trick question?

Akemi was also delighted to see actor Jason Momoa get a few more lines than his average: “Happy to see handsome guy speak a little more than usual.”

She loved the night time establisher of Atlantis all lit up: “Beautiful!  Like Shanghai or Hong Kong.”

But found the lighting in the famed pier scene a little “too dramatic”.  As for the gorgeous night time setting: “Nice scene for young couple but instead two middle-aged guys.”

Again, high marks to Mark Savela and the VFX team: “I liked the insect coming out.  It looked really real!.”

But the surgery scene – moreover, the prospect of the scene – made her squeamish.

In the end though: “I found it sad from the get-go.  Very sad episode but happy ending – which I like!”

Today’s entry is dedicated to Denise McInerney.  Condolences on the passing of your beloved Jeter.

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Yesterday, Akemi and I (and our lodger, Petunia) met up with fellow foodies Nicole, Missy, Lan, and Milla Jovovich (No, not THAT Milla Jovovich) for a Sunday food truck tour, Vancouver style!  And by “Vancouver style!” I mean wet and miserable. But only the weather!  The food was pretty darn good.

Since we were food truck trekking on a Sunday, our options were limited.  Even our limited options were further limited by the no-shows of several food trucks (Yes, Feastro the Rolling Bistro and Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck, I’m talking about you). But we made the best of things…

Milla and Petunia, "the cleaners".

Milla and Petunia, “the cleaners”.

First stop: The Yolk Truck

First stop: The Yolk Truck

Fellow foodies MIssy, Len, and Nicole.

Fellow foodies MIssy, Lan, and Nicole.

Clockwise from left: 1) Organic pork belly confit and free-range egg sandwich with spinach, yolks, and honey dijon, 2) truffle potato skewers, 3) extra bacon.

Clockwise from left: 1) Organic pork belly confit and free-range egg sandwich with spinach, yolks, and honey dijon, 2) truffle potato skewers, 3) extra bacon.  That is one messy but delicious sandwich!

And for dessert - some damn big beignets (cinnamon and powdered sugar) along with a salted caramel dipping sauce.

And for dessert – some damn big beignets (cinnamon and powdered sugar) along with a salted caramel dipping sauce.

From there, we headed over to the Japadog shop for a Japanese take on a North American favorite.  We sampled three varieties…

Cheese smoke with cream cheese and avocado.  I say yes to the avocado and a polite no to the cream cheese.  But this seemed to be Nicole's favorite.

Cheese smoke with cream cheese and avocado. I say yes to the avocado and a polite no to the cream cheese. But this seemed to be Nicole’s favorite.

Ebi (shrimp) tempura dog on top and croquette (crispy mashed potato) dog on the bottom.  I'd give both a solid meh.  Akemi found the addition of rice in the croquette dog a bizarre double carb decision.

Ebi (shrimp) tempura dog on top and croquette (crispy mashed potato) dog on the bottom. I’d give both a solid meh. Akemi found the addition of rice in the croquette dog a bizarre double carb decision.

We picked up Japadog and, since it was so cold and miserable (and we had the dogs), we decided to just eat in the car.  On our way there, Nicole noticed a shop called Mancakes that specializes in Manly cupcakes.  Well, what’s a food truck tour without dessert?

The entire Mancakes lineup - mini version.

The entire Mancakes lineup – mini version.

The manly cupcake flavors included: Chicago Popcorn, Buffalo Wing, King Kong (chocolate, banana cream, and espresso marshmallow), Breakfast (bacon, egg cream, granola and maple syrup), Apple Brie, Tequila Pineapple, Whiskey Lime, Bacon Chili Chocolate, Chocolate Red Wine, Pink Peppercorn Grapefruit, Rum and Coke, and the daily special which was, I believe, Pepperoni Pizza.  Winners: Buffalo Wing, Whiskey Lime, Chicago Popcorn, Pink Peppercorn Grapefruit.  Loser: That Pepperoni Pizza.  Sausage and cream = not a good mix.

Akemi and Petunia, staying out of the cold.

Akemi and Petunia, staying out of the cold.

 A great time was had by all.  Next time, Nicole will be leading our Chinatown tour!

 

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#10

@www.health.com

@www.health.com

Apple pie a la mode

#9

@AprilAthena7.com

@AprilAthena7.com

Pumpkin pie with whipped cream

#8

www.marthastewart.com

@www.marthastewart.com

Mississippi mud pie

#7

@www.roadfood.com

@www.roadfood.com

Banana cream pie

#6

Tourtiere

#5

Sugar pie

#4

@www.justataste.com

@www.justataste.com

Joe’s Stone Crab key lime pie

#3

www.chefseattle.com

@www.chefseattle.com

Cherry pie a la mode

#2

www.wikipedia.org

@www.wikipedia.org

Pecan pie

#1

@www.arktimes.com

@www.arktimes.com

Blueberry pie a la mode

And one I’m looking forward to checking out:

@www.makersmark.com

@www.makersmark.com

Buttermilk bourbon pie (Buttermilk Bourbon Pie)

Agree?  Fiercely disagree?  Let’s see you vehemently defend your favorite pie!

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I checked the mailbox today where I discovered a note from Canada Post informing me that they tried to deliver a package yesterday morning but no one was home.  If I wanted to pick up the parcel, I could do so at the nearby post office.  “Package for me?”asked Akemi as I walked back into the house.

“No,”I said.  “It’s for me.”  And showed her the note.  It read: “Akemi’s Joseph Mallozzi.”

“But the package is for me,”she insisted.  “It’s from my father in Japan.”

“Maybe,”I said, “but it says Akemi’s Joseph Mallozzi.  And since I am YOUR Joseph Mallozzi, that means it’s for me.”

“Do you think I’ll have to show my I.D. to pick it up?  Or should you bring your I.D.?”

“I think we should both bring our I.D.  You have to prove you’re Akemi and then I have to prove I’m Joseph Mallozzi.  After all, I could be anyone’s Joseph Mallozzi.”

So we went to the post office and picked up the package which ended up containing items for both of us: lipstick for her, green tea for both of us, and…

1Joe and Hers chopsticks.  Check ‘em out.  They have my name on them.  “Why my name is not on the other chopsticks?”wondered Akemi.

Beats me.  “Maybe he forgot your name?”  She frowned but I cheered her up by promising to etch her name into her chopstick with my exacto knife later this week.

Also in the package, for me, were this set of hiragana/katakana/workbooks.

1I imagine that, at some point last month, the family was going through all the signatures in Akemi’s sister’s wedding book and came across what no doubt looked like a child’s scrawl, or the Japanese script of a plucky dimwit.  Upon closer scrutiny, however, they no doubt realized it was neither A nor B but C)  A spirited attempt to spell the name “Joe” by yours truly.  Clearly horrified, they decided to send me these in preparation for the next big family event.

1I’m thinking of starting an occasional Best of Vancouver column in which I highlight the city’s best.  The best place to go for chocolate.  The best place to go for chocolate desserts.  The best place to go for hot chocolate.  The best place to go for non-chocolate anything.  One of the places that may well make the list of Best Places to go for a cheap eats is the Congee House on East Broadway.  The other day, Akemi and I stopped by for a tasty lunch of…

1Crispy pork on rice.  How do they get the skin so light and crispy?  Every attempt we’ve made to replicate our pork skin has failed miserably – and, in some instances, painfully.

1Congee.  I like mine with those century eggs (that, it sadly turns out aren’t 1000 years old at all but just a few months old as that’s how long it takes for the egg to incorporate aspects of the clay and ash in which it’s been preserved).

And back on the home front…

1Akemi loves making this phyllo-layered pastry pizza.

1 While I tried my hand at gumbo.

1And, since Akemi was in the mood for something raw – tuna sashimi with avocado on rice.

In the spirit of Dogs Eating Ice Cream, I present Dogs Eating Phyllo Crisps…

1It never fails.  No matter what she eats, Jelly invariably ends up with food on her face.

Today’s entry is dedicated to blog regulars Das and birthday boy Woody Woodward!

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But I mean that in the most positive way possible.  In fact, Campagnola Roma’s recent Quinto Quarto: No Guts, No Glory dinner was perhaps the best offal dinner I’ve had.

There were actually TWO offal dinners happening in Vancouver that night and, while I was greatly tempted by the 7:00 p.m. seating at the other place, I elected to attend the Roma feast, despite the 8 o’ clock kickoff, because the menu appealed more.  Crispy pig ears?  Lamb neck?  I’m in!

Also “in” for the feastly festivities on this night was our friend, let’s call her Agent 17, but you know her here on this blog as kathode, two other Katherines, and Akemi who enthusiastically committed to the dinner after misreading a menu item as Peking Duck instead of Pekin Duck.

The night in pictures…

K2 armed with her superior camera

K2 armed with her superior camera

Agent 17 with her better-than-my-iPhone camera

Agent 17 with her better-than-my-iPhone camera

Let the eating begin…

1Course #1: Crispy pig ears and geoduck with lemon aioli and green tomato chutney.

The thought of eating a pig’s ear and geoduck (elephant trunk clam) may be off-putting to some but those willing to venture into uncharted culinary territory were well-rewarded here.  It was Akemi’s first time having geoduck and she ended up zeroing in and helping herself to the pieces on my plate.  The accompanying tomato chutney was good, but the lemon aioli was unbelievable.  In fact, after our plates were cleared, we refused to let them take the aioli, keeping it for the subsequent courses.  My only quibble was the uneven preparation of the ear.  Some was crispy, some less so, but it was all very tasty nevertheless.  Despite Akemi’s warnings, I admittedly overdid it on the ears.

1Course #2: Pekin (not Peking!) Duck three ways – spicy duck feet, duck heart tartare alla putanesca, and duck gizzard fritters.

The tartare was a hit, gorgeous flavors perfectly complimented by the smoky beer accompaniment.  Everyone liked the gizzard fritters – but, let’s be real.  It’s deep fried something.  Of course they’ll like it!  Not much love for the duck feet that most found too lacking in meat.  Mainly skin and bones and not worth the effort for many of my table mates, but I liked the flavors and bold spiciness.

1Course #3: Roasted lamb kidneys with pine nuts, fennel, and tarragon.

Next to the promised plums in the pork crackling dessert, this was the only menu item that gave me pause.  As much as I love my nose to tail dining, I’ve never been a big fan of kidneys that, I’ve found, have always possessed a certain…funkiness. But, surprisingly, this version was actually quite nice.

1Course #4: Pacifica octopus with fregola, black pudding sausage, and peas.

This plate was the big winner among my table mates.  The octopus was perfectly tender, the sausage savory with a hint of sweet.  Plenty of raves for the couscous lookalike fregola, a Sardinian oven-toasted pasta.

1I’m not a huge beer guy, but I thoroughly enjoyed the ones we were served, compliments of the R&B Brewing Co.

1

Course #5: Braised lamb neck.

I had a feeling this would be my favorite plate of the night and – guess what?  It was!  Akin to an ultra-tender, slow-braised short rib.

 1

Roasted bone marrow, drippings, with grilled black kale and celeriac.

Accompanying the lamb neck were these delectable-looking marrow bones.  After the ladies helped themselves, I ended up with the biggest piece – which, unfortunately, wasn’t cooked through, so this one was a miss for me.

1Course #6: White chocolate caramelized crackling with plums, black cherry pana cotta with honeycomb and crystallized mint leaves, strawberry custard and meringue.

1And foie gras and mission fig soft serve ice cream.

Probably the best dessert I’ve had at one of these events.  Yes, better than the brain pana cotta that one time and the blood-chocolate ice cream the other.  I could take or leave the cracklings but, overall, very nicely done.  And the soft serve!  Who would have thought a foie gras ice cream would actually be good?!  Well, me.  But it was great to have my suspicions deliciously confirmed.

1And, when all was said done (and eaten), we were ready for bad.

A fabulous meal!  Apparently, another blog semi-regular was also in attendance (Nicole) and, even though she recognized me, she was too shy to approach and say hi.  I’ll admit, I can look pretty fearsome when I’m eating but next time, Nicole, stop on by and introduce yourself.  Just don’t put your fingers near my mouth.

You’ve been warned.

Thanks to Agent 17 for some of the pics!

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This morning, on the drive back home from the farmers market, the conversation turned to eyes.  According to Akemi, one of the instructors at her English language school: “Has eyes like Husky!”.  Clearly, them’s some lovely eyes.  But, apparently, they don’t hold a candle to those of my writing partner.  “Munyu Munyu’s eyes [her nickname for Paul] have more power.”  Yeah, he gets that a lot.  Akemi likes his eyes.  He wins the male category.  When it comes to the female category, Robert Cooper’s wife, Hillary, is the big winner: “She has beautiful eyes.  Like flowers inside!”  Like flowers!

In addition to her unique turns of phrase, Akemi has produced some equally inspired creations in the kitchen.  Check out these Stargate cookies:

1

Cacio e pepe…

1Her sage and brown butter sweet potato gnocchi…

1

And this homemade eggnog for yours truly:

1Inspired by her inspired creations, check out my oven roasted egg-in-an-avocado-hole…

1

And roasted chicken meatballs (hiding melted cheese centers)…

1

Akemi flexes her culinary muscles…

1

Continuing our Book of the Month Club discussion of Terms of Enlistment

Kathode writes: “And did anyone else get annoyed that we never learn Halley’s first name? WTF? She calls him Andrew, and he refers to her exclusively by her last name, even in his thoughts? That’s kinda fucked up, no?”

Answer: Wait, I thought Halley WAS her first name.  No?  Then that is mighty strange.  We made this a gag in the SG-1 episode 200 when Jack calls Sam “Carter” on their wedding day!

Katholde writes: “I only brought it up because Grayson himself felt the weight of what he’d done when he saw the floors above the grenade impact site pancake one on top of the other. He told us he felt bad that he’d been responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people. If he’d really felt entirely blameless in his actions, he’d have had no problem telling Halley about it via email.”

Answer: Well that’s what I found so strange.  He expresses that initial regret, clearly doesn’t want to discuss it in the email, but we delve no deeper into his conflicted feelings.  Sure, he feels justified for his actions, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t still feel conflicted or somewhat guilty.

Line Noise writes: “Re: Andrew being at the right place at the right time. I think that’s a limitation of first person narrative. Because you only have the point of view of one person in the story the author needs to contrive situations that gets that person to where the next part of the story goes. If the story was third person and following several characters then I think it would have been structured differently (Andrew staying on Earth and Halley encountering the aliens, for example).”

Answer: The need for something to happen is not an acceptable excuse for coincidental or contrived development.  There are other, albeit trickier, ways to get there.  They just require more thought and effort.

Line Noise writes: “Re: soul searching and self- torture. One of my least favourite book series that I read was The Seafort Saga by David Feintuch. The hero starts off as a Midshipman in the space Navy and through a series of events over many books makes lots of hard decisions that kills a lot of people in order to save many, many more. He is so consumed with guilt that I ended up hating him because of his self-pity.”

Answer: I’d argue there’s a fairly wide-ranging middle ground between feeling guiltless and consumed by self-pity

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I eat my vegetables.  Honest, I do.  The only problem is they’re always the same half dozen prepared one of three different ways.  I suspect I’d eat – and enjoy them – a hell of a lot more if I could add some new, and more importantly TASTY, recipes to my repertoire.  Something like cheesy cauliflower sliders or garlic-roasted cabbage steaks or these -

1

Avocado-edamame cakes inspired by a recent episode of Iron Chef America.  I say inspired because the show never offers exact recipes and I couldn’t find one online so we winged it – with mighty fine results.

Your mission, dear readers, if you choose to accept it, is to post your favorite, can’t-miss, veggie recipe.  I’m not looking to replace my meaty main course with an equally great vegetarian option (because I honestly don’t believe it’s even possible). I’m just looking for a terrific side dish.

This little gem from Akemi earlier today.  We were watching the news when the station cut to footage of police officers brutally manhandling demonstrators in Russia.  “What’s going on?”asked Akemi in wide-eyed shock.

“It’s a demonstration,”I said.

“Demonstration of what?”she asked in bewildered seriousness.  “How to kick people?”

Continuing our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…Before I Sleep!

1As soon as she heard the words “time travel”, Akemi’s response was a swift: “Oh, no.”  But this episode didn’t turn out to be the brain strainer she originally feared. “Not as complicated as I first thought!”she said after the final fade.  All thanks to writer Carl Binder’s ability to present the time travel and flashback elements in a concise, straightforward manner.  Either that or temporal displacement has become old hat to her.

Always, at the end of every episode, I ask Akemi the same two questions: “What did you like?” and “What didn’t you like?”.  In this particular case…

Highpoint: “I’m amazed by old people make-up.  And that she had grandma eyes.”

Lowpoint: “Weird birthday present.”  I suppose Sheppard could have done better than Athosian pottery.

And in response to whether or not she liked this episode: “Mmmm.  Sure.  So nothing really happened.”  Well, yes.  But, I suppose, no.

So what did you all think of Before I Sleep?

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Alas, it was a herculean task and despite my best efforts, I came up short.  In the end, I sampled only 47 of the some 60 varieties of hot chocolate offered for this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival.  Still, 47 hot chocolates in 24 days aint bad, especially considering I took those four days off to visit mom in Montreal.  This year, I doubled last year’s score.  And, next year, I vow to do even better!

So, what were the standouts?  Well, what follows is my list of the Top 5 Hot Chocolates of this year’s Hot Chocolate Festival!

When all was said and done, six hot chocolates actually made by top 5 list.  After much consideration, I decided to offer a Top 5 +1 for good luck!

Honorable mention goes to…

1

A Snowball’s Chance in Hell: Single origin Mexican chocolate with Mexican chili poured over house made chocolate ice cream. Accompanied by a flourless chocolate cookie.

Available at: Chocolate Arts 1620 West 3rd Ave., Vancouver (Kitsilano).

http://www.chocolatearts.com/

#5…

1

Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.com

#4..

1

Banana Split: Made from 36% Valrhona Caramelia chocolate and topped with walnut marshmallows.  Served with banana pound cake.

Available at: Bel Cafe, 801 West Georgia Street @ Howe (at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia)

http://www.belcafe.com/

#3…

1

Trio of Chocolate: The base of this hot chocolate is 66% Mokaya chocolate by Michel Cluizel. Served with a disk of 45% Kayambe milk chocolate and white chocolate ice cream.

Available at: Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe 1059 Alberni Street

http://www.thierrychocolates.com/

#2…

1

Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

#1…

1

Paula Dean White Trash Trainwreck: A 70% dark chocolate ganache with condensed milk, salted kettle chips, and vanilla whipped cream.  Served with a 72% dark chocolate wafer.

Available at: Mink Chocolates, 863 West Hastings St., Vancouver. On the park (cross street, Hornby.)

mink.chocolates

Congratulations to all the winners.  I’m hoping I’ll get to see you again soon.  REAL soon.

Continuing Stargate: Atlantis rewatch with…The Eye!

1Ah, now this is more like it!  Akemi was on the edge of her seat (or, actually, her side of the bed) throughout this episode.  She loved it.  Action!  Suspense!  Humor! And, best of all, those dazzling visual effects!  She was blown away by the the sequence of Atlantis shielding itself within seconds of the giant wave crashing down on the city (“Always very last minute your show!”) and also had high praise for the Teyla-Sora showdown (compliments of our former SGA stunt coordinator James Bam Bam Bamford).  She continues to enjoy McKay, greatly appreciated seeing her favorite Dr. Beckett, and is even warming up to Sheppard.  She had one big bump = McKay dressing his arm wound OVER his sleeve.

Overall: “I liked it a lot.  I’m getting used to this city.  At first I thought not as good as SGU’s ship but now pretty cool.”  And then: “I’m beginning to like SGA too!”

A couple of years ago, I offered some thoughts on this episode (and the next one) in one of my Trip Down Memory Lane entries:

June 13, 2012: Dark Matter at Comic Con! Save Lennox the dog! Days of Stargate Past, Atlantis! The Eye and The Defiant One! Vote on our favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter for a chance to win!

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We’re in the stretch run of our Hot Chocolate marathon!

Round #16…

1

High Society:  Earl Grey drinking chocolate.  Served with East Van Roasters’ signature gluten-free brownie and candied orange.

Available at: East Van Roasters, 319 Carrall St, Vancouver, B.C.

East Van Roasters

A great cup of hot chocolate with a  pronounced Earl Grey flavor,  served with an equally great brownie.   One of Akemi’s favorites.

1The Black Widow: Uva’s HC-inspired cocktail: reposado tequila influenced with cacao beans and coffee, Cherry Heering liquer, Amaro averna, Bittered Sling plum and rootbeer bitters.

Available at: UVA Wine Bar (and Bittered Sling)

UVA WINE BAR

Wow.  A nice depth of flavors but this one was so strong I only managed a few sips.

Verdict: Both respectful entries, but – DAMN – that was strong.

Winner: High Society (East Van Roasters)

Round #17…

1

Chartreuse Milkshake: Uva’s HC-inspired cocktail: Citadelle gin, green Chartreuse, cacao beans, lime and orange juice, Bittered Sling Malagasy chocolate bitters, egg white.

Available at: UVA Wine Bar (and Bittered Sling)

UVA WINE BAR

Another drink that packed an alcoholic punch.  The Chartreuse was front and center.  The cacao beans less so.

1

Black Magic: gBAR flavoured with black sesame and matcha tea.   Served with Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” Banana Bread.

Available at: Bella Gelateria, 1001 West Cordova Street.

www.bellagelateria.com

I’ve found that, in my past visits, the flavors of the gelato bars got lost in the hot chocolate so I requested a cup with half the milk.  The result was a cup with a more concentrated hot chocolate that actually did a better job of showcasing the individual gelato flavors – in this case, black sesame and matcha.

Verdict: I’m a traditionalist, preferring my hot chocolates hot and chocolatey.

Winner: Black Magic (Bella Gelateria)

Round #18…

1

Red Hot Chili Pepper: gBAR flavoured with chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne.   Served with Erin Ireland’s “To Die For” Banana Bread.

Available at: Bella Gelateria, 1001 West Cordova Street.

www.bellagelateria.com

Again, I had it with half the milk.  Pleasantly spicy.

1

Chocofraiche: A hot drink composed of slow-melted dark chocolate and heavy cream, infused with chili, vanilla bean and cinnamon with a dollop of creme fraiche.  Served with zeppoli (Italian doughnuts!)

Available at: UVA Wine Bar (and Bittered Sling)

UVA WINE BAR

A very nice sipping chocolate.  This one actually had more punch and a longer linger.  The accompanying zeppoli were a letdown – undercooked and doughy.

Verdict: I like my spicy chocolate.

Winner: Chocofraiche (UVA Wine Bar)

Round #19…

1

Sour Cherry Tisane: Cold mocha rooibos tea, sour cherry and Pedro Ximénez cordial, Bittered Sling orange and juniper bitters.  Served with zeppoli (Italian doughnuts!)

Available at: UVA Wine Bar (and Bittered Sling)

UVA WINE BAR

Pleasantly refreshing.  A wonderful flavor combo highlighted by the rooibos.  One damn fine iced tea.

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9 O Clock Gun:  An aromatic cedar hot chocolate – perfect for a stroll around Stanley Park.  Served with an Elderberry Caramel Bar.

Available at: Soirette Macarons & Tea 1433 West Pender Street, Vancouver. (Coal Harbour)

www.soirette.com

Strange, but not for the reasons advertised.  Instead of the expected subtle cedar, I (and my friend Kathy) picked up notes of cheese – blue or roquefort.  I inquired and cheese was not one of the ingredients.  Hmmmm.

Verdict: I do prefer my hot chocolates hot and chocolatey – but not surprisingly cheesy.

Winner: Sour Cherry Tisane (UVA Wine Bar)

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Hera’s Habit: Made from 50% deep milk chocolate with malted milk balls.  Served with vanilla bean cinnamon shortbread.

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

Oh my!  You’ll be hard-pressed to find a thicker, richer cup of hot chocolate in this festival.  And the slow-melting malt ball at the heart of the cup was a delightful bonus.

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Hungers Satisfied: Dark Chocolate with black pepper.  Served with a vanilla/maldon salt cookie.

Available at: Beaucoup Bakery  2150 Fir Street (in Kitsilano)

www.beaucoupbakery.com/

Subtle hints of black pepper in a fairly restrained cup.  Akemi felt it tasted more like a latte than an actual hot chocolate.

Verdict: Did I mentioned that slow-melting malt ball?

Winner: Hera’s Habit (Cocoa Nymph)

Our Stargate: Atlantis rewatch continues with…Home!

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As soon as my name came up on screen alongside the written by credit, Akemi was instantly on guard: “I’m very nervous about your episodes because you’re twisted.”

True.  And, as expected, she was plenty confused by the episode.  But that was the point!  The audience is supposed to be confused – until the big reveal at episode’s end.  Unfortunately, said big reveal only succeeded in confusing her even more: “Very confusing.  Very complicated.  Don’t you think so?  Were you okay when you wrote the episode?  Like person who did marijuana.”

But after I took the time to break it down for her, explaining the mist was sentient and responsible for their hallucinations: “Ah, interesting. Now makes sense!  Takes so long.  So fog was smart!”  Indeed.

Some other insights she offered while watching…

On Weir motoring around in her vintage car: “She is piece of Mrs. Old Fashioned.”

On Sheppard: “He seems to like girls.”

On McKay: “I like his t-shirt, I’m with Genius.” Thank you.  “I like the fact no one left message and he’s eating old chips.”

On the necklace Simon gifts Weir: “She seems to make a lot of money.  And he seems to make a lot of money, right?  Nice brand necklace is better.  Very cheap.”

Overall – in retrospect, she liked it.  Interestingly: “I feel like I’m watching SGU this episode.  Technical terms a lot.”

My thoughts on this episode in a previous blog entry: June 12, 2012: Pirates! Days of Stargate Past – Atlantis! Home and The Storm! Pick your favorite Stargate mid-season two-parter and WIN!

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Catching up on our tour of the ongoing Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival.  Today, a couple of three-way throwdowns and a few surprises.

Round #10…

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The Proposition: Eggnog and Rum Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon.  Served with your choice of cookie.

Available at: Koko Monk,  1849 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver

LevniKokoMonk

Ah, one sip and I was instantly transported.  It was Christmas all over again.  Alas, we didn’t receive the promised cookie, but we were so full after a big dinner, we hardly missed it.

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Phaun’s Fancy: Made from 64% dark chocolate with parmesan and fresh nutmeg.  Served with a side of Umami No. 5 fudge

Available: At Cocoa Nymph 3739 W. 10th Ave (at Alma), Vancouver

www.cocoanymph.co

My first response to reading the description was: “Chocolate and parmesan?  No.” But after tasting it: “Yes!”.  It was the exact same reaction I had to one of Cocoa Nymph’s 2013 Hot Chocolate Festival entries that combined dark chocolate with basil and balsamic to create what turned out to be one of my Top 5 Fest Favorites. In this case, the scent of the parmesan wafts up off the cup but, when you sip it, it’s all chocolate up front with just a wisp of lingering sharpness at the back.  It was reminiscent of the sweet and savory marriage of bacon and caramel.  At first blush, you don’t think it will work but it does.  And it’s delicious.  Really!  Special mention should be made of the Umami No. 5 fudge that accompanied the hot chocolate.  If it was on the regular shop menu, I’d buy it by the box.

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Passionista: Fresh passion fruit-infused hot chocolate with Grand Marnier chantilly. Served with passion fruit pate de fruit.

Available at: Thomas Haas, 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.

http://www.thomashaas.com/

This one was Akemi’s favorite of the six we sampled over this three-day span.   It packs a passionfruit punch without overwhelming the chocolate.  A lovely balance. And that Grand Marnier chantilly?  Killer!

Verdict: On paper, it would have been a toss-up between the two runners-up.  But in the all important taste-off, I have to go with a most unlikely winner…

Winner: Phaun’s Fancy (Cocoa Nymph)

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The Brunette Bangle: Hot Chocolate with the exotic hint of curry.  Served with your choice of cookie.

Available at: Koko Monk,  1849 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver

LevniKokoMonk

A very nice sipping chocolate with a hint of lingering spice.  Another unique yet surprisingly good entry.

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The Intimate Act: Milk Chocolate with passionfruit.  Served with a hazelnut cookie.

Available at: Beaucoup Bakery  2150 Fir Street (in Kitsilano)

www.beaucoupbakery.com/

A subtle drink with an excellent passionfruit flavor that shines although the chocolate is strangely muted here.

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The Campfire: A classic hot chocolate, only with smoky caramel, smoked Hawaiian sea salt.  Served with vanilla marshmallows.

Available at: Thomas Haas, 2539 West Broadway, Vancouver.

http://www.thomashaas.com/

One of the best combinations of sweet and savory so far.  The vanilla marshmallow, lightly studded with smoked Hawaiian sea salt, was fabulous.

Verdict: Another tough call, but if I had to choose one…

Winner: The Campfire (Thomas Haas)

27 flavors down!  35 to go!

Ready to go?!

Ready to go?!

Everyone prepared to trek off to the Pegasus Galaxy one more time?  Hope so because our Stargate: Atlantis rematch kicks off today with the episode that started it all: Rising I.  Watch it today and come armed with your insights, accolades, critiques, and questions tomorrow!  Also, be prepared for Akemi’s unique take on the show as I relay her thoughts on the episode in tomorrow’s blog entry.  Yes, it’s Rising I: The Japanese Girlfriend Review!

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