Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver Restaurants’

I’m off to Toronto tomorrow, returning Friday.  That gives me eight dinners, roughly fifteen meals (minus the turducken/piecaken extravaganza I have planned for Canadian Thanksgiving next Sunday)  to enjoy in Vancouver before I leave it – for seven months!

Last night, Akemi and I got together with our foodie friends, Nicole and Lan, for the first of our many farewell feasts.  Rather than visit an old favorite, however, I decided to try somewhere new – The Union in the city’s Strathcona district – partly because the menu intrigued, and partly because it’s located steps from Crackle Creme and their varied creme brûlées.

The Union is very casual.  Menu items range from spicy wings to Singapore Laksa. Perfect for sharing.  We ended up ordering – well, a lot.  Some of the highlights…


The Cha Ca Hanoi: fresh snapper, market greens, turmeric chill coconut milk, dill, rice vermicelli, nuoc cham, fresh herbs and scallions.  So good I had to resist the temptation to drink the sauce.


Sweet & Sour Pork Crepes with marinated pulled pork and spicy pineapple slaw. Akemi loved these so much she couldn’t stop talking about them.


Sweet & Sour Fried Fish Banh Mi with spicy sriracha aioli, jalapeños, daikon and carrot pickles, cucumber, and cilantro.  This was the first time I’ve tried a fried fish version of the Vietnamese-style sandwich – and I was completely won over.

In truth, pretty much everything we ate was terrific (crispy pork belly banh mi, Hawk thai chicken wings with sweet and spicy nahm jim glaze, fried pork dumplings with scallion soy dipping sauce) with the exception of the bland Nasi Goreng.

Rather than sample dessert (which I’m sure is excellent), we walked over to Crackle Creme for an assortment of creme brûlées…


Owner Daniel Wong fires ’em up!

1Flavors – clockwise from left to right: Madagascar vanilla bean, lemon basil, ferrero richer, black sesame-matcha cheesecake with mango sauce, Guinness-espresso topped with roasted marshmallows.

While I’m away, I’ll have to enjoy my Vancouver meals vicariously through this site – my favorite local food blog: http://dennisthefoodie.com

The Union: 219 Union St, Vancouver – 604-568-3230

Crackle Creme: 245 Union St, Vancouver – 778-847-8533

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The other night, Akemi and I checked out one of the buzziest Taiwanese restaurants in Vancouver, the well-reviewed, foodie favorite: Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant.  Akemi has a couple of Taiwanese friends who swear by the place and so, more than a little intrigued, we headed out to Victoria Street to see (and taste) for ourselves.

The restaurant is notoriously busy.  Reservations are recommended. And arriving promptly for your reservations is also strongly advised. Not wishing to take any chances, we booked a table for 5:30 p.m. and arrived early – only to realize it doesn’t open until 5:30 p.m.  And so, after a stroll through the neighborhood, we were at the door – then at our table – on time for our reservations.

It didn’t get busy until 6:00 p.m. or so at which point the tiny room was packed, mostly with – from what I could tell – regulars.  Prior to that, however, we had the place – and the staff – more or less to ourselves.  The service was attentive, friendly, and downright warm. We placed our orders and our dishes arrived sooner after, all bold, wonderfully balanced flavors.  Some of the highlights included…

Pig ear

Spicy pig’s ear.

Not for everyone but I love the texture – crunchy and chewy – and Kalvin’s version is, by far, the best I’ve ever had.  We were asked to specify a spice level and we elected to go medium, which packed a nice little kick.  Next time, I think I might hazard the hot.


Diced chicken and peanuts with chili peppers

The restaurant offers many traditional Taiwanese dishes but, as the name implies, some Szechuan fare as well – like the above dish, Akemi’s favorite.  A robust and, yes, fiery dish.  Despite their size, the chicken morsels are moist and tender, a step above the tougher, drier versions I’ve had elsewhere.


Shredded pork with garlic and chili sauce

This one came highly recommended on a couple of the foodie blogs and I wasn’t disappointed.  Also spicy but possessed of an aromatic spice I couldn’t quite place that simply wowed.

We rounded things out with a hearty, slightly sweet corn soup, 5-spice beef rolls, and a spring roll.  Throughout our meal, Chef and Owner Kalvin himself popped out of the kitchen – when it wasn’t too busy – to see how we were enjoying what we’d ordered.  And then, as more customers filed in, he broke off to greet them – most by name.  I felt like I was in the Cheers of Taiwanese restaurants.

According to Kalvin, his restaurant will celebrate 30 years in business this year.  30 years!  Given my first-time experience – and the obvious loyalty of his cliente – I’m not at all surprised.


Chef Kalvin and (I believe) his wife.

Kalvin’s Szechuan Restaurant (604-321-2888)

Open for lunch and dinner daily (except Wednesdays)

5225 Victoria Dr

Then, on Saturday, Akemi and I paid a return visit to the Bakers Market.  This time, Bubba stayed home so Akemi was free to take her time and roam the aisles.  Like last weekend, we loaded up on a variety of treats –


First stop was Mamaz Sweetz N’ Treatz where I picked up –

Red velvet chocolate chip cookie

Red velvet white chocolate chip cookies.  Surprisingly, this was the first time I’d had red velvet in cookie form.  A winner.

Last week, I picked up chocolate biscotti from home baker Giada Vacca’s Treats and Blossoms.  On this visit, these caught my eye –


Amaretti – crunchy AND chewy, a tough balance to pull off.

A return visit to my friend at Life’s Lemons…


Last weekend, I was their first sale ever.  This weekend, they apparently sold out.  I’m clearly a trendsetter.


This time out, it was the Apple Pie shortbread cookies that tasted…yes, amazingly like apple pie!


[in the oven] offers assorted caramels and a killer salted caramel sauce.

The owner recognized me from last weekend and asked how I enjoyed the caramel sauce.  I admitted that I hadn’t tried it yet because I’d run out of ice cream.  “You can eat it right out of the jar,”she assured me. “I won’t judge you.”  Well, I forgot to pick up ice cream on the way back home so I did end up trying it right of out of the jar after all.  And it was unbelievable.

Don’t judge me!


The gals from Sweet Talk, bakers of my surprise favorite on last weekend’s visit: the lemon poppyseed cake.  And, this weekend, I discovered they bake a pretty mean chocolate salted caramel tart.


And a return visit to Sweet Lily, this time for –


Chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and lime cornmeal cookies.


Maple bourbon pecan brioche.


The ladies of (my favorite cupcakes) Vivi’s cupcakes, sweets and treats


Chocolate cupcake, red velvet cupcake, and cheesecake brownie.


The plan was to just sample a bit (so we could try a bit of everything) and have the rest after dinner.  Well, that WAS the plan.

Baker’s Market – Bakers Market – The Sweetest Event in Vancouver

Treats and Blossoms | Facebook

Life’s Lemons- sweet treats baking co. – Vancouver, BC – Community …

[in the oven]


Sweet Lily Bakery – Vancouver, BC – Food & Grocery | Facebook

Vivi’s cupcakes, sweets & treats – Vancouver, BC … – Facebook

Finally, what sweet Saturday would be complete without a visit to Vancouver’s premiere chocolate shop: Beta 5.  Their selection changes monthly and, this weekend, they kicked off their April Union Pack with an outdoor theme: “On the Forest Floor”.  Among the offerings are “deer droppings” (a mix of 63% dark chocolate covered raisins, and 39% milk chocolate covered peanuts), melt-in-your-mouth “candy cap caramels” (earthy, sweet Candy Cap mushrooms captured in a buttery, caramel bite with a flavor reminiscent of maple syrup)…


French Toast Toadstools: house made brioche soaked in a ganache of “blonde” chocolate maple syrup, cinnamon and rum, then paired with a dollop of spiced apple butter.  Unbelievable.


Chocolate twigs: 45% milk chocolate and 63%, 72% and 85% dark chocolate sticks dusted with cocoa powder and presented on a bed of matcha white chocolate.  Akemi’s favorite!


Bark: olive oil and salt roasted Marcona almond, blended with 50% milk chocolate from Madagascar, and finished with a touch of flaked sea salt.  Nearly impossible to stop eating once you start.

They ship!  http://beta-5.com/

Our Supermovie of the Week Club reconvenes tomorrow with guest film reviewer, Cookie Monster, weighing in on his latest superhero-themed screening: Super Capers.  If you haven’t already seen it in preparation for tomorrow’s discussion – spoiler alert! – it’s beyond awful.  Don’t bother.  But do stop in to check out monster’s thoughts on what could arguable be the worst superhero movie yet.

For Cookie’s previous supermovie reviews (as well as his opinion on Snakes on a Plane and There Will Be Blood), head on over here: http://cookiemonstermovereviews.wordpress.com/ 

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Akemi and I don’t get out as much as we used to but, the other night, we hung up our pots and pans (and packed away the sous vide machine) in favor of a night out.  We headed to Gastown to check out Pidgin, one of the newest additions (less than a week old!) to the local dining scene.  The man behind the menu, Chef Makoto Ono, was the winner of the first Canadian Culinary Championship at Gold Medal Plates back in 2007.  Since then, he has opened Makoto restaurant in Beijing, as well as Liberty Exchange and Liberty Private Works (which made the World’s Best 50 Restaurants) in Hong Kong.  And finally, Chef Ono has set up shop in Vancouver.

I’ve heard the menu described as mix of French, Japanese, and Korean influences with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients.  Akemi and I were intrigued…


The menu is a one-sheet covering everything from appetizers to larger plates, the individual prices a guide to their relative portion sizes.  We started small and worked our way up.

The rice crackers and sweet soy anchovies weren’t my thing (as I enjoy neither rice cracker or anchovies) but Akemi is a big fan of both and loved this starter.


Akemi concentrates on eating.


More my speed where the fried shisito (Japanese) peppers with parmesan and pine nuts.  I’m a big fan of their sweet and slightly bitter taste, also the fact that roughly one in every three is mouth-blastingly hot.


Akemi presents…

One of the highlights of the night, however, was the sea urchin with cauliflower mousse, ponzu jalapeno salsa, and dashi.  Forget what you think you know about sea urchin.  Most of the stuff served at many sushi restaurants is packaged and possessed of an unpleasant funkiness.  But get them fresh – as served here – and they’re nothing but creamy sweetness melting in your mouth.  I ended up having two servings.

Akemi also did a wedge salad with tofu dressing, nori, and bonito flakes.  Again, not my thing but very much hers.

The only dish that didn’t impress was the Korean rice cakes with pork belly with tomato sauce and furikake.  It wasn’t bad, but I thought the belly and rice cakes an odd textural combination.


On the other hand, there was the other highlight of the night: beef tongue and cheek with broccoli pistou and mustard.  A marvelous dish but, I thought, a little pricey given the portion size.

We had three options for dessert and, rather than risk second-guessing myself, I decided to go with all three.

The black sesame cream with red bean and snow fungus was interesting and I loved the little crunch imparted by the fungus, but it felt like a very good Chinese dessert – which is my way of saying it was better than what I’d expected but not something I’d order again.

The chocolate fritters with the matcha dipping sauce were a bittersweet treat.  My only quibble was that the chocolate inside the fritters hadn’t totally melted and were solid and cool at their center.

The meringue with yuzu curd, vanilla, and celery (Yes, celery!) was excellent – and Akemi’s favorite.  This was the dish she was talking about on the way home.

The verdict?  Akemi put it best: fresh, clean flavors.

We’ll definitely be back and, on our return visit, I’m definitely getting the one menu item I regretted missing: the foie gras rice bowl with chesnuts, daikon, and unagi glaze!



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Last night, Akemi and I met up with Simon and Sean for dinner at a restaurant I’ve been eager to check out for quite some time: Wildebeest.  According to the restaurant’s website, its focus is on “Meat-centric, off-cut farmhouse fare simply prepared with immaculate ingredients and thoughtful creativity”, reminiscent of L.A.’s Animal and Toronto’s Black Hoof, two other places I’ve been dying to try.

Because of the recent snowfall Vancouver’s inept drivers we gave ourselves plenty of time, leaving the house one full hour ahead of our 6:00 p.m. reservation and arriving fifteen minutes early.  Surprisingly, Simon also erred the side of caution and showed up at the same time. Sean, unfortunately, ended up stuck in traffic and didn’t get there until 6:30 – so we went ahead and made the executive dinner decisions.

To be honest, I wanted to try pretty much everything on the menu.  As Akemi put it, it would have been far simpler to just tell our waiter what we DIDN’T want from the listed items.  In the end, we decided to go with a few starters, a few mains, and a few sides.  This is how our meal broke down:


Pork schnitzel with Wildebeest mustard

The pork was perfectly prepared, crisp and succulent, and the Wildebeest mustard (honey dijon) made for a great dipping accompaniment.  Simon, however, wasn’t totally sold on the coating.


Bacon-wrapped country pate with pistachio, seasonal jam, and pickled vegetables.

Wonderfully rustic, studded with pistachio and hazelnuts.  Akemi, with a taste for the slightly sour, polished off the pickled veggies.


Popcorn chicken hearts, crispy shallot dust, caper relish.

One of the more intriguing plates of the night.  I liked it but didn’t love it.  Hearts are tricky at the best of times, predisposed to being a little tough, and deep-frying them renders them that much chewier.


Grilled beef tongue, wild mushroom consomme, toasted grains, mustard greens.

While Akemi prefers her tongue crispier and thinly sliced, Simon and I marveled over its mouth-meltingly tender texture here.  The broth was outstanding.


Roasted sweetbreads, caramelized buttermilk, wild mushrooms, porcini vinaigrette.

I’ll got ahead and call this my favorite dish of the night.  A nice contrast of tastes and textures – crisp, tender, sweet and savory. Probably the best preparation of the sweetbreads I’ve ever had.


Pork jowl, long pepper-scented oats, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup.

I know you’d think I’d be a belly guy but, in truth, my favorite part of the pig is the jowl (with the temple coming in a close second).  You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more tender cut and Wildebeest’s take does it full justice.


Sunchokes and brussel sprouts.

An addition to the regular menu.  I liked the preparation but found the sunchokes underdone.


Slow-cooked natural Angus beef short rib, smoked salt, hay-infused jus.

Heavily marbled but deliciously smokey.


Poutine, roasted foie gras.

I’m used to the Au Pied de Cochon version which is a lot heavier on the foie, but this one was a consensus winner – surprisingly, less so for the foie than for the crunchy yet meaty golden fries.


Foie gras torchon, Earl Grey tea, orange blossom bread.

This one was a late addition.  As much as I enjoy a good pate or a pan-seared preparation, nothing beats a good torchon.  And Wildebeest does a damn good one.

We decided to run the table on dessert, ordering all four on the menu…


Pink Lady apple sorbet, vanilla grapefruit creme anglaise, granola, 63C egg yolk.

This was the dessert I was most looking forward to, less so for the fruit elements (of course) than for the inclusion of the 63 degree egg yolk. In the end, I didn’t love it – although Akemi did.


Cardamom & goat’s milk cheesecake, quince sorbet, crumble.

This one was the hands down winner.  The cheesecake is almost a foam – light, airy, very tasty.  I was not a fan of the quince sorbet, its fizzy tartness reminiscent for me of slightly turned apple juice, but Akemi loved it.


Single origin Malumi chocolate cake, tonka bean ice cream, candied beets.

I was dubious about the candied beets when I saw them on the menu and, quite honestly, in the end, they failed to convince me.  Still, they fell somewhere in between the tonka ice cream (great) and the cake itself (disappointingly dry).


Composed cheese – baked farmhouse brie, seasonal fruit jam, buttermilk ice cream.

Well, I’ll give them points for trying.  Brie with buttermilk ice cream? At first blush it sounds a little off-putting but, after giving it some thought, it sounds like it may work.  It didn’t for me.


The kitchen at work

A few minor quibbles with our savory courses but there were at least three or four standout dishes I would recommend to a friend or look forward to on my return visit.  The desserts, on the other hand, while interesting failed to impress.

The atmosphere is laid back; comfortably casual.  The service was terrific, friendly and informative.  And the price point was a surprise, roughly half what you’d expect to pay elsewhere for a similar meal in the city!

Overall, an excellent dinner.  I look forward to coming back to try that roasted bone marrow luge with almond butter and tomato jam.


This was a farewell feast for Simon who heads of to greener – and no doubt tastier – international culinary pastures.

Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit!

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The other night, Akemi and I went out for burgers with a couple of our very favorite Vancouver friends: Steve, Jodi, and their daughter, Gemma.  Per Akemi’s request, we ended up going to Romer’s Burger Bar for their varied menu offerings and those silly iceberg lettuce buns the ladies seem to enjoy.

Steve and Jodi.  Future Vegas travel companions?

Gemma says: “I’m eating! And watching Madagascar 3.”

The Chorizodor.  A pork and chorizo sausage patty topped with cheddar, pepper jack, creamy boursin, avocado, and Diablo sauce.  Tasty – but very messy.

Steve and Jodi ended up surprising both Akemi and I with belated birthday gifts.  A travel kit for me (which saves me the trouble of having to go out and buy one for my Tokyo trip!  How’s that for timing?) and a pug-themed accessory for Akemi:

So cute!

As the dishes were being cleared away, our waitress asked who was the birthday boy because, apparently, they were preparing some sort of dessert in my honor.  I assumed that she had spotted the gift and informed the kitchen who had decided to whip up something for the occasion.  I would have honestly preferred to simply order my own dessert.  BUT it turned out the dessert wasn’t coming from the kitchen. Not exactly.  It was coming from the kitchen via a sneaky Steve and Jodi via Ganache Patisserie: an assortment of delectable pastries including:

My birthday mini-cake

And my favorite: the hazelnut cocoa meringue.

The desserts were totally unexpected but greatly appreciated.  And delicious.  If we do end up doing Vegas with Steve and Jodi in, I’ll have to find a way to surprise them as well.  I’m thinking garden snake in their luggage.

Then, last night, Akemi and I headed over to Fat Dragon for their famed Hog Times dinner.  We were joined by Emma and Robert (who we met at the last family-style dinner at Campagnolo Roma) and our buddy Simon…

Emma and Robert = expert eaters.

Simon = diner, chef, photographer.

I’m usually not a fan of family-style dining which requires you to share a table with complete strangers.  Sometimes, dishes introduced at one end of the table take forever to get to you – and, when they do, it can be slim pickings.  Conversely, if you’re starting with a dish, you may limit your initial serving to ensure everyone at the other end of the table receives a share and, as a result, end up leaving the table feeling hungry.  On the other hand, the family-style setting allows you to make new friends (like Emma and Robert) – which wasn’t the case on this night as the group seated beside us was immersed in their own private conversation throughout.

Still, it was a great meal.  The following photos were snapped by Simon and his far superior camera:

Barbecued Sloping Hill Farm Pig.  They trotted the pork out and posed for the requisite pics.  

Papaya and cabbage salad with lime, green chilies, and crispy shallots.  Akemi loved it.

Jalan Alor chicken wings.  Simon went to town on these!

Stri-fried noodles with smokey drippings.  Smokey drippings? Aka pork fat.  And, yes, they were delicious.

The cheek!  The tastiest, most tender part of the pig.  

Other menu items included bean sprout kimchi, stir-fried Japanese eggplant, BBQ pit beans, butter lettuce and bean sprout salad, Korean BBQ sauce, scallion sauce, and steamed jasmine rice.  The eggplant was a favorite of the table.

For dessert, I ordered a round of Fat Dragon’s famed soft serve ice cream.  That night’s flavor: pandan.

The happy couple

Akemi says: “Oishiiii!”.

In addition, Simon gifted me a box of belated birthday chocolate and macarons.  They were incredible, especially the pumpkin macarons!

Like my birthday dinner at Campagnolo, Chef Ted Anderson was the man behind the meal.  A big thanks to him and the rest of the gang at Fat Dragon/Campagnolo/Campagnolo Roma.

Well, after two big meals, Akemi has decided to eat soup for the foreseeable future.

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So much for being on the program.

My Birthday Week festivities continue!  How are YOU celebrating?

Today, I received a little something from Sis (and by “I”, I mean “we” since the contents of the package were for both Akemi and me, and by “a little” I mean a lot).  Mexican chocolate, chocolate-covered licorice, multi-flavored chocolate bars (including peanut butter and banana, and BBQ potato chips), chocolate truffles…Do you sense a theme?  Akemi, meanwhile, went absolutely crazy over the three adorable aprons she received (which she intends to model on her blog tomorrow). Coincidentally, she was up last night, internet-perusing adorable aprons.  No kidding!

She was up late because she couldn’t sleep after the incredible meal we had at Campagnolo earlier that night…

I texted owner Tom Doughty last week and told him I wanted to swing by for a special birthday dinner.  Not only did he make the arrangements, but he even showed up on the night with a handsome new haircut!

Our first course was a lentil and chorizo soup.  It was intensely flavorful, the lentils pureed to a silky smoothness and studded with tiny bites of smokey chorizo.

Alas, forgot to snap a picture of the second course but you’ll have to trust me when I say it looked gorgeous.  And tasted wonderful.  Savoy cabbage, beet roots, courtons and two year cured ham.  Yes, cured for two year and melt-in-your-mouth wonderful.

Bruschetta of andouille sausage, fontina cheese, and walla walla onions.

Our third course, the bruschetta, was an incredibly rich mix of sweet, smokey, salty, and sharp.

Foie Gras with coronation grapes.

Speaking of “rich”, our decadent fourth course almost did me in.  One incredibly lucious pan-seared duck liver.

Veal-stuffed agnolotti with thyme butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.

I was a little worried that the Parmigiano Reggiano would overwhelm here but it married wonderfully, sliced paper thin, with the delicate flavor of the agnolotti.  And that thyme butter simply put it over the top.

Seabass en papillote.

The flavors of our sixth course were clean and altogether fantastic.  One of the best fish preparations I’ve had in recent memory.  Akemi bemoaned the fact that she didn’t have chopsticks on hand to thoroughly pick the very last bits of tasty meat from the bones.

Accompanying the seabass was a nice little kale and sundried sungold tomato salad.

And then, we were presented with our seventh course.  I was expected pork and was surprised by…

Horse filet with glazed onions and chanterelle mushrooms.

I was admittedly leery.  My first (and only) foray into horseflesh was…well, memorable for all the wrong reasons (February 7, 2012: Tokyo Day #11! The gang back home! Okonomiyaki! And my weirdest meal yet! Well, actually not so much a meal as a bite.).  Happily, this preparation fared much better.  Perfectly cooked, surprisingly tender and, to be perfectly honest, very tasty.

Dining with us on this night: Hillary and fellow birthday boy Rob.

Akemi so full she can’t eat another bite.  Unless it’s dessert of course.

Dessert #1: Mascarpone Cheesecake

Most wouldn’t consider it light but I certainly did, especially in comparison to our second dessert.  And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  It was, without a doubt, the best piece of cheesecake I’ve had in ages.

Dessert #2: Chocolate pudding with French toast and vanilla cherries.

As much as I enjoyed the cheesecake, chocolate pudding is more my speed.  And this particular pudding packed a helluva chocolate punch!

Chef Ted and the birthday boy.

A HUGE thanks to Tom, Chef Ted (who designed the menu), and the rest of the gang at Campagnolo for yet another fabulous culinary extravaganza!

And, just in case those nine courses weren’t enough, Rob and Hillary gifted me a little something from their recent trip to Vegas:

A Vosges dark chocolate assortment. 

Damn, that takes me back to the chocolate parties I used to host in the Stargate days.



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What’s cookin’?

Last night, I had THE perfect meal.  And, by “perfect”, I mean perfect for me.  And no wonder given that my dinner was planned and prepared by Chef Rob Belcham.  No one knows my culinary likes and dislikes, leanings and particulars better than Rob and the gang from Campagnolo/Campagnolo Roma/Fat Dragon.

Fellow owner Tom Doughty texted me earlier this week to let me know they had some very special pork in and would I be interested in having dinner at Campagnolo?  Would I!

Chef Rob Belcham, the master of ceremonies on this night.

So, last night, Akemi and I showed up at Campagnolo where we were greeted by Chef Belcham who had that glint in his eye, the look of someone who was about to spring a surprise.  As it turned out, several them over the course of our meal.  No menus for us on this night.  But I wasn’t worried.  We were in infinitely capable hands.

First up, the corn soup.  Not just any corn soup.  This is THE corn soup, the corn soup they used to serve at Refuel, available only during peak season.  The corn is pressed through a cheesecloth, several times to achieve its thick, rich consistency.  My favorite soup of all time.

It was served chilled with melon and a touch of chili.  I told Akemi that, back in the day, when it was on the menu at the old location, I used to have two bowls – one to start the meal and one to end it.  It’s that good.

The salad included sungolds from Stoney Paradise, the sweetest tomatoes you’ll ever eat (contrasted with the slightly tarter heirloom), along with some fresh basil, mozzarella, and a little something from the charcuterie. 

We were presented with the piece de resistance, the star of the evening: The Pork Belly Rack

Bar Director Giovanni Giardino heard I was a fan of the Moscow Mule and asked me if I wanted to try his take on the classic.

Instead of ginger beer, he uses a ginger syrup that packs quite the wicked throat punch.  

It is accompanied by the same concentrated syrup with overproof.  One single drop will blow away your tastebuds.

The rack was served with polenta, peas, radish…it was unbelievable.  The meat was tasty and melt-in-your-mouth tender, the skin crisp and delicious.  Unforgettable.  

Then, it was time for dessert and I was presented with…

Another serving of corn soup, this one topped with peaches and dill.  Just like old times!

For Akemi, a fabulous butterscotch trifle.

What a great dinner.  Thoroughly satisfied, we – WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  Onto our second round of desserts –

Akemi loves cheesecake and this mascarpone cheesecake with fresh cherries didn’t disappoint.  Even I was a fan!

“Didn’t think we would let you go without some chocolate, did you?”asked Chef Belcham.  Corn soup, sungold tomatoes, crispy pork, more corn soup, AND a chocolate dessert!  Valhrona Chocolate Pudding with Nutella cream and crushed hazelnuts.  Best Dessert Ever!

I don’t eat out as much as I used to but the dinner made me wistful for the good old days at Fuel/Refuel – and, quite frankly, eager to come back to Campagnolo to sample the incredible-looking pastas and pizzas that passed our table over the course of the evening.

The meal was nothing short of perfection.  A huge thanks to Rob, Tom, and the rest of the gang!




Hey, Cos & Effect (Cos & Effect) kicked off on Friday and continues through the weekend.  Akemi and I dropped by this afternoon and I snapped a few pics – which I’ll be posting as part of tomorrow’s blog entry.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Captain Jack says: “A con? I love cons. Drinks all around!”

Carl’s faves: The ladies of Final Fantasy

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