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Feast of Fields 2017

17 Sep

The second Sunday in September is the annual Feast of Fields celebration of local food and wine (and more!) held in the Metro Vancouver area. The location changes each year – last year it was at Laurica Farm in Aldergrove and this year it was held at Krause Berry Farms & Estate Winery in Langley. The event was previously held here in 2013 and 2011 as well. I live in the Fraser Valley, so I’ll admit that I was thrilled to have the event so close to my home for the second year in a row.

Krause is an enormous location, and at the back of their property they have a large field area, surrounded by trees, that is used for weddings and other special events like these. It’s the perfect location for a late summer foodie festival, as it has areas in full sun, but there’s also plenty of shade to be found if it turns out to be a hot day (spoiler alert: it did).

This photo was taken at the 2011 Feast of Fields, but this year looked quite similar.

We arrived just before 1pm, and the line to get in was long, but thankfully it moved swiftly. This year there was an ID check before you showed your tickets at the gate, and attendees over the age of 19 were given wristbands. I assume this was to identify them as being able to consume the alcoholic beverages. Smart idea!

My only gripe about this event (I think I mention this every year) is that the tents are numbered on the programs, but not on the tents themselves. Why bother numbering the tents if you aren’t going to actually put the numbers on them? Yes, there is a map in the program that shows where each tent is on the property, but it would help enormously if the tents had numbers on them somewhere too. There could be numbered flags flying from the top, or signs hung on each corner or hung from the middle inside – there are many possibilities! It wouldn’t take much effort to do, and would provide a lot of clarity. Just my two cents.

This year there were a lot more alcoholic drinks than food, which resulted in long lineups for the food, especially for two items in particular.

The first long lineup we encountered was for Lebanese food from a restaurant called Jamjar in Vancouver. Their dish was fantastic – it was a base of spinach dip and hummus, topped with deep fried cauliflower and a falafel. Definitely worth the wait!

The next big lineup was for TUC Craft Kitchen. Their dish was a Miso flat iron steak with soft shell crab on a bed of mashed potatoes. WOW!!! I’m a huge fan of soft shell crab, so this was a wonderful treat. I couldn’t believe how huge the portion was!

One of my other favourite dishes was albacore tuna from Spencer’s at the Delta Hotel in Vancouver. Tuna is one of my favourite forms of seafood (although I haven’t yet found anything from the sea that I do not enjoy), and this was fantastic. I confess I went back several times to get more!

An unfortunate byproduct of this event being held in the countryside was the incredible number of wasps everywhere. My mom got stung on her finger, but thankfully she was able to get ice on it right away and the First Aid attendants were able to help her relatively quickly as well. We heard lots of chatter about this and it seems like a lot of people got stung, which is too bad.

Overall it was an excellent event as always. I only took a few pictures of the food this year, but I think I enjoyed it more as a result. Sometimes it’s good to put away the phone/camera and just enjoy the experience.

The 2018 date or location hasn’t been officially announced yet, but wherever it happens, I plan to be there!

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Chef’s Plate

20 Jul

Lately there has been a rise in popularity of companies who deliver pre-packaged meals to you at your house. The ingredients are all measured out for you. All you have to do is combine them together and cook away. I’d heard about these before but had never looked into them until recently.

I have ad-blockers on my computer at home, so I’ll admit that I only saw this ad because I was looking at Facebook from my work computer (shhh!). It was an ad for Chef’s Plate, giving you your first two plates for free. That definitely intrigued me (I’m all about free stuff!), so I checked them out. They recently started delivering to cities in Western Canada, hence the discount by clicking that link.

In Canada they have two options right now: the two person plan or a family plan. For each plan, you can choose between 2, 3 or 4 recipes per week. The price adjusts accordingly, but most plans have free shipping. The price per serving is also extremely reasonable (around $10). Each week you have a choice between a number of meals – the 2 person plan has the larger number of options to choose from.

Getting started is extremely fast and simple, and you can customize the delivery (and the types of food you’re offered) based on your preferences. You’re also able to skip shipments if you’ll be away or just aren’t interested in the menu options that are available that week – there’s no penalty and no limit to the amount of times you can skip. I really like that flexibility – I have a vacation coming up soon, plus there was a week where none of the menu options were appealing, so it was great to be able to skip those particular weeks.

I’ve received 3 weeks’ worth of food now and have been impressed every single time. The food has been unique, delicious and as far as I can tell, quite healthy too. Because I’m a one-person household, I’ve found that each meal has provided me enough food for the dinner, plus the next day’s lunch and sometimes another dinner as well. Fantastic!

Here are some of the meals that I’ve enjoyed so far:

turkey sausage pasta

Turkey Sausage Pasta

I really liked the noodles – they were very tender and the chives in them added a nice burst of flavour. The sausage was fantastic – moist and not overly turkey-y. I also liked that it wasn’t overly heavy.

chicken potatoes

Chicken and Smashed Potatoes

The chicken was moist and juicy and some of the most flavourful chicken I’ve ever had. I liked that the potatoes had spinach in them – my mom always added extras to our mashed potatoes, so I’m well used to having slightly healthier potatoes.

chimichanga

Chicken Chimichangas

Despite slightly burning the tortillas, this was definitely a favourite! The mixture inside (chicken, tomatoes, onions, spices, mashed beans and guacamole) was very interesting. I wasn’t too fond of the guac, though – I make a much better version myself. This lasted for 4 meals, so I definitely got my money’s worth!

pizza

Primavera Pizza

I have a super temperamental oven and don’t bake very often as a result, so I was a bit nervous about pre-baking the crust before adding the toppings. I watched it carefully, and it ended up turning out great. The toppings were heirloom tomatoes, portobello mushrooms, red onions, eggplant, sweet peppers, spinach, oregano and red chilli flakes. Very interesting flavours!

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The shipments have all been sent via FedEx, which has been good given the tenuous situation at Canada Post right now, and the boxes are neatly packaged with bio-degradable packaging and a natural ice substitute at the bottom that keeps the food cool all day. Definitely a bonus for me, as I don’t get home until around 5pm most weekdays.

box

At the top of the box are your packing list, the menu cards (which are colourful and provide step by step directions along with pictures), and one or two other ad type cards.

Once you open the little lid, you see your meal kits, all packaged neatly in their own separate bags. The organizer in me was thrilled when I saw this for the first time!

inside

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inside the kit

The ingredients for one of the meals

Below your meal kit bags are the ice packages and then your fresh meat and fish.

meat fish

All in all I’ve been very impressed with Chef’s Plate so far, and I highly recommend them. As a bonus for you – if you click this link and sign up, you’ll get your first 3 plates for FREE! That’s a better deal than what I got through Facebook! In the interests of full disclosure, if you order through that link, I’ll get two free plates for myself. It’s a win-win situation!

If you decide to try it out, let me know what you think!

Brodeur’s Bistro

12 Apr

Earlier this week some friends and I met up for dinner at Brodeur’s Bistro in Abbotsford. I hadn’t been there before, so I was looking forward to checking this place out. They’re located on Mt Lehman Rd, very close to the freeway, but it’s in a little strip mall in a fairly residential area. I’ve driven by there often but had never given it any notice until now.

Brodeur’s menu is quite extensive and their food is done in Montreal/New Orleans style, which is right up my alley. We were there early enough in the evening to take advantage of their “Appy Hour” (3-6pm / 9pm-closing) where you can get any appetizer for $7. The portions are fairly substantial, so it’s an excellent deal! They also have a list of 20 sides that you can get at any time for $4.50.

Some of the items our group tried:

Caesar

Brodeur’s Style Caesar

A meal in and of itself! Served with celery, bacon, an olive, shrimp, a pickle, and a red item that looked like a small pepper, as well as a plate to put it all on.

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chowder

Shrimp and Catfish Chowder

There was no discernible shrimp taste, but it was delicious.

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fries

Garlic Parmesan fries

Fantastic! The fries were cooked perfectly and the flavour was excellent.

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sliders

Mississipi Sliders

Great flavour combinations, perfectly cooked

*

tacos

Southern Shrimp Tacos

Seasoned well, loved the hint of cilantro. One small complaint was that the guacamole was visibly brown on top, so it obviously wasn’t too fresh and had been sitting out for some time.

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Brodeur’s has two patio areas. One is covered and open to the elements, which probably only gets used in the summer/early fall months. We sat in the glassed patio area and that’s definitely the best spot in the restaurant. The inside area of the restaurant is dimly lit and has a quieter vibe. Although it wasn’t raucous out on the patio, it was obviously much brighter and the atmosphere seemed lighter and more fun. They even have a fireplace and big screen TV’s if you’re interested in watching a game. I definitely recommend sitting in the outdoor areas.

Overall, Brodeur’s gets a hearty two thumbs up from me. This restaurant is definitely worth checking out. I’ll be going back again soon.

Brodeurs Bistro on Urbanspoon

Hotties Mobile Pasta Bar

12 Aug

Food trucks have always fascinated me. Whenever I’m in downtown Vancouver, I always make it a point to check at least one out if I can, since they have such a fabulous (and wide) variety of them.

Not that long ago, I went to the Langley Community Farmers Market to pick up some produce, and I noticed Hotties Mobile Pasta Bar. The name immediately caught my interest. It was relatively close to dinner time and I hadn’t had time to eat lunch that day, so I was starving.  I love the look of their trailer – it’s not your standard boring food cart – they have wood paneling on the walls and several places to sit – both on the cart itself and on cute little tables and chairs beside it.

food truck

They also have a great selection of pastas (made fresh!) that you can order, all for a very reasonable price. I had a chance to talk with two of the staff members working there while I waited for my food to cook, and they were super friendly and willing to engage with their customers, which is always awesome.

Hotties has been in business for over a year, and they travel all over the Lower Mainland to participate in farmer’s markets, other events and they even do catering. I really should have asked about the inspiration for the name, because it made me laugh. Before I saw their website, I’ll admit to having a rather interesting time googling them, despite all my precautions. Maybe that’s on purpose?! 😉

I ordered the Fettuccine Pomodoro, and it was fabulous! The pasta was cooked to perfection and the tomatoes were delicious. I loved the pop of flavour that the basil provided. Plus, it just looked so pretty!

pomodoro

Hotties is definitely a food cart worthy of checking out. They post their schedule on their website (as well as on social media), and they’ll be back at the Langley Farmers Market this Wednesday.

Hilltop Diner Cafe

25 Oct

For many years I’d drive past the Hilltop Diner Cafe in Langley (on Fraser Hwy, near 240th St), and wonder about what was inside. I never had the courage to go in because I (wrongly) assumed it was a junky old place with super greasy food. Appearances can definitely be deceiving. I’ve been there several times now, and I think it’s fabulous!

The diner has been open for over 65 years, which is a pretty impressive feat. It’s small and there’s limited parking outside, but it’s very cozy inside. The staff are all very friendly and welcoming, and the diner has a great small-town vibe about it. The decor on the walls is fairly minimal, but it is your classic diner-style decorating. I don’t think much has changed in all 65 years of them being in business, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

When you walk in, you’re greeted by one of the ladies at the counter and can find yourself a seat wherever there’s space. They offer you coffee or another drink when they bring you your menu, and your cup is never left empty for long.

I’ve only been there for breakfast, so I can’t speak to the lunch items they offer, but their breakfasts are incredible. The portions are huge and almost everything’s made from scratch. Some dishes to highlight would be their pancakes which are fluffy and enormous, to their huge pieces of French Toast and their omelettes.

My favourite breakfast dish that I’ve had so far are their Benny’s.

There are several options you can have for the meat – homemade sausage, bacon, ham, or if you don’t want meat you can get a grilled tomato. They cook the eggs to your specifications, there’s plenty of fabulous Hollandaise sauce, and their hash browns are phenomenal – chunks of crispy fried potatoes with green onions. Yum!!

The Hilltop Diner is open daily from 8:30am to 2:30pm. If you go there for breakfast and don’t want to have to wait for a table, I highly suggest getting there earlier in the morning, as it really begins to get busy around 10am.

Hilltop Cafe Diner on Urbanspoon

Damiko Sushi

28 Aug

Recently I went for lunch at an excellent sushi place in Langley called Damiko Sushi. They’re located on 200th Street, just past 72 Ave in a little strip mall right next to the Esso gas station. The location is a bit difficult to get to, as you can only access it by going North on 200th, but don’t let that deter you from going! The restaurant is a bit on the small side, so if you are going with a group or during meal rush hours, it is definitely a good idea to make a reservation.

I decided to try their Fancy Roll, and it was indeed pretty fancy!

The colour and presentation of this roll was amazing. The Fancy Roll has “crab meat, avocado, cucumber inside. Topped with salmon, tamago and masago.” For those not familiar with Japanese words, tamago is grilled egg, and masago is a kind of fish eggs/caviar. There were three different colours of masago – black, green and orange/red-ish. I’m not sure what the sauces were that were on the plate, but they added some great flavour to the rolls.  I really liked this roll, and was surprised at how filling it was. Normally I would get a side order of Miso Soup or Sunomono, but this dish was plenty.

Others in my group had (and enjoyed) the Spicy Ichi Roll, Chicken Teriyaki Lunch Box, and the Salmon Teriyaki. One of my friends comes here regularly, and thinks their Miso Soup is some of the best she’s ever tasted.

The prices are very reasonable, and the service is quick and wonderful. Their entire menu is available for take-out, plus they also do catering as well. They’re open daily from 11:30am to 9:30pm. Quite impressive hours for a restaurant in the Langley area! I definitely recommend giving it a try sometime!

Damiko Sushi on Urbanspoon

The Vault in Cloverdale

26 Apr

Recently I went to a restaurant in Cloverdale called The Vault.  I’d been there once before about a year ago, but that was for dinner. This time a friend and I had lunch. I really love the look of the restaurant. It has high ceilings with wooden beams, and there’s a big mishmash of decor on the walls.  I’m pretty sure that the restaurant’s name comes from the fact that there is an actual vault at the back of the place that people can be seated in.  We were there at a reasonable hour for lunch, but the place was pretty empty.  The time I was here for dinner, there was a band playing on their small little stage, so the place was packed and LOUD.  It’s a great place for a meal or for drinks and snacks, but if you’re there on a night with live music, don’t expect to be able to hear conversation easily.

I ordered the soup of the day, which was supposedly a Scallop Chowder.  I’m not sure if I misheard the waitress, or it actually WAS what I heard, but it really didn’t taste like it.  That’s not to say that the chowder wasn’t tasty, because it was.  There were chunks of potato, vegetables, bacon, and I think I tasted one clam, but it was hard to say.  There weren’t any scallops as far as I could tell, though.  I wasn’t too disappointed since the flavour was great.

For my main course I had the BLT with truffle fries.  The bread was fresh and delicious, but I wasn’t too fond of the grainy mustard mayo. The flavour somewhat overpowered the sandwich.  The bacon was phenomenal, though.  It was crunchy and tasty, and was definitely high quality.  I was a bit disappointed by the truffle fries.  The flavour didn’t add much to the fries, and wasn’t really worth the additional cost.  Despite my few disappointments, it was a great lunch for a fairly reasonable price.

My friend had the Grilled 9 oz Sirlion with a salad and yam fries.  The steak was cooked perfectly and had a slight seasoning of salt and peppercorns.  She really enjoyed the salad, and liked the fact that the dressing was tasty yet didn’t overpower and drench the greens.

The Vault is open daily for lunch from 11 – 3, drinks and snacks from 3 -4:30pm and for dinner starting at 4:30pm.  Reservations are recommended.

Vault Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tawara Japanese in Surrey

27 Mar

I love sushi, and recently I had the opportunity to try a restaurant I’d never been to before.  Tawara Japanese is a small but excellent sushi restaurant in the Panorama Village complex on 152 St and Highway 10 (56 Ave) in Surrey.

On one side of the restaurant are 3 booths, while the other side is more open seating, as is the centre of the restaurant.  The ceiling is very high, which allows a lot of light to shine through, especially when it’s a sunny day (like one of the days I ate there was).  I loved the contrast between the dark wood of the chairs and tables and the bright white walls.  The staff is very welcoming and friendly, and the service is fast and efficient, even during the lunch hour rush.

For my first visit, I thought I’d try out a bento box, as that’s an excellent and affordable way of trying out a bunch of their menu items.  I had the Dynamite Roll box.  Each bento box comes with:

  • Miso soup – Had nice flavour and big pieces of seaweed, which I enjoyed.
  • Rice – I never got this for some reason, but that’s okay because I had MORE than enough food as it was.
  • Tempura – Very crisp, piping hot and not greasy at all.  The prawn was HUGE, which was a nice treat.
  • Daily special – I’m unsure what it was that day, but it was warm & delicious. Tuna, maybe?
  • Salad – I love Japanese salad dressings – they always have such unique flavours.  Theirs definitely had ginger and poppy seeds in it.
  • Fruits – Orange slices, which are kinda hard to mess up.

When taking my order, the waitress asked if I wanted fish eggs or not.  I didn’t know what she meant by that and was too embarrassed to ask her to elaborate, so I said no.  A woman sitting next to me had the same thing but WITH fish eggs. When her platter came I noticed there were fish eggs on her Dynamite Roll, which I would have enjoyed.  Oh well – now I know for the next time!

I took a picture of the meal on my cell phone, but when I went to go retrieve it, it had mysteriously disappeared! You’ll just have to take my word for it that it looked (and tasted) fabulous.

The second time I went I decided to try a different roll – one that I’d never had before.  I got the Red Dragon Roll, which is spicy tuna, deep fried prawn inside; smoked salmon, seared tuna on the top with peanut-mayo, wasabi-mayo & Japanese plum sauce.

The flavours in this roll were incredible.  The tuna was definitely spicy, which was nice.  I enjoy spicy things, but sometimes I find that restaurants call things spicy which turn out to be NOT spicy at all.  This one had PLENTY of bite!  The inside of the roll was pretty much like a Dynamite roll, but the additions on the outside and the sauces on the plate kicked it up a notch.  The heat of the spicy tuna and the wasabi mayo definitely made me grateful for the soothing cup of green tea to calm my burning mouth down.  The plum sauce on the side was so interesting – I’ve never tasted anything like that before.  It was sweet and tasted of plums, but definitely had a bit of a punch to it.

Tawara is open for lunch on weekdays from 11:30am – 3:00pm, and for dinner Monday to Saturday from 4:30 – 10:00pm.  I can definitely recommend this as a great place for sushi if you’re in that area.

Tawara Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Happycakes in Surrey

8 Feb

Happycakes is a cupcake shop in Surrey, on the corner of Fraser Hwy and 68th Ave.  It’s in the relatively new set of little strip malls in that area.  They’ve been there since October, and seem to be doing fairly well.  They recently had a Groupon, and since I was going to be driving in that direction a few times in the past week, I decided to treat myself to some cupcakes.

With my deal I got 6 of their regular cupcakes, so I chose 2 Peanut Butter Supreme (back), Red Velvet, Chocolate Delight, Vanilla Sprinkle (middle) and Pretty n Pink (front).  These cupcakes are fabulous!

The Peanut Butter Supreme is a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate sprinkles. Peanut butter and chocolate is probably the best combination on the face of this earth, so it’s hard to go wrong with that.  The Chocolate Delight is simply that – delightful and perfect for the chocoholic in your life.  I was so impressed with the Red Velvet.  I’ve had this flavour before from other bakeries, and didn’t like it so much.  This one was PHENOMENAL!  The cupcake was light and moist (and turned my teeth a lovely shade of reddish-pink), and the frosting complimented it perfectly.  The Pretty n Pink was fantastic as well.  Chocolate is my favourite, so I wasn’t anticipating loving the vanilla cupcakes as much as I did, but Happycakes makes a MEAN vanilla cupcake!

They also sell filled cupcakes, which sound (and look) AMAZING!  I’ll definitely have to try some of those in the future.  This is a great cupcake shop, and I highly recommend giving them a try if you’re looking for some excellent cupcakes.  You can find them on Facebook, as their website has never been accessible any time I’ve tried to look it up (using various browsers) in the last week or so.

HappyCakes on Urbanspoon

Rockford Wok Bar and Grill in Langley

29 Jan

Last week I went out for dinner at the Rockford Wok Bar and Grill.  It opened in Langley a few months ago on the corner of Willowbrook Dr and 197 St (in the building where Moxie’s used to be).  I’d heard about them at a wine and beer tasting event that I went to in the fall, and had meant to check them out eventually.  Finally I got the chance.

The restaurant is very open and spacious, and I think it’s bigger than what Moxie’s was.  The atmosphere is great – there are huge white lamps that hang from the ceiling, and the dark brown wood looks great in contrast.  They have a bar/lounge area as well as a dining room, so if you’re looking to watch a game while you eat, the bar is definitely good for that.

The menu is really interesting.  They have a wide variety of food to choose from, and everything sounded so delicious.  Our group started off with the Steamed Edamame.

I’ve had this dish many times before, but this was one of the better servings of it.  The edamame was steamed perfectly, so it was very easy to pop the soybeans out.  There was just enough salt to give it a bit of flavour.

For my entrée I had a hard time deciding.  I was thinking about getting the Ramen Noodle Bowl, but ended up with the Mushroom Chicken: pan seared double breast in a crimini mushroom cream, with broccoli, fresh basil, grape tomatoes and spinach on garlic mash.

The colours were so vibrant and beautiful in this dish!  The chicken was perfectly cooked and the garlic mashed potatoes were probably the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had in a restaurant.  However, there was something left to be desired by the mushroom cream.  The flavour was very light and subtle, but it could have used a bit more oomph.  My dad had this dish as well, and we both spent some time trying to figure out what would have made the flavour better – maybe wine, butter, more mushrooms?  We couldn’t decide.  This was a great dish, but the cream was a bit on the boring side.

My mom decided to have the Bacon & Blue Cheese Burger, which she really enjoyed.  She commented that there was a LOT of blue cheese (not a bad thing).  The flavours were good, and she loved the picked cucumbers.

Instead of fries she got the Rockford Greens, and she thought the grapefruit-ginger vinaigrette had a unique and delicious taste.  She mentioned that the burger was a bit dry, but overall it was excellent.

We were sitting right near this huge circular table that seats 10 and has a Lazy Susan in the middle, which makes it perfect for sharing.

The bathrooms are pretty cool too.  There’s a fireplace and even a TV, so that you won’t miss a minute of the game! 😉

I really liked the vibe in here, and our server was attentive and put up with our table’s weird quirks very nicely.  I’ll definitely be back again!

Rockford Wok|Bar|Grill (Langley) on Urbanspoon