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Thursday, 31 May 2012

A Party of Hands

In the spirit of the popular Wacky Thursdays, this Thursday I was invited to a party of hands.

A dozen pair of hands contributed to this beautiful, colourful spread of food...

... supported by a pair of the cutest tiny feet.

A most fascinating Anita Cake in the blog's history was handed over - somerville jardin of carrots, lettuces, tomatoes, cabbage, radishes. And what's a jardin, even if a cake, without cats.

Gourmet hands were busy all day making rolls of an excellent pork loin roast. 

Other beautifully manicured hands busied themselves with a range of fancy munchies...

... while more exotically manicured hands served the couscous salad.


Parties I go to always have cats. And this sweetly cooperative Jazzy cat took the Party of Hands theme very seriously as he patted hands with one cat lover or another (mainly yours truly).
While others opted to pat the safer option of my fondant somerville jardin cats.

Thank you all, old and young, infants and cats, for making this such a memorable, sweet fun party. I miss you all very much every day. Here's to planning our next party.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Vitamins in a Small Leaf

A beautiful bouquet of watercress from my neighbour's jardin. Lovely looking, but food is not to be wasted. My neighbour suggested using it in stir fry. Why not, I thought.

As I was washing the leaves, Wikipedia was telling its amazing nutritional values - lots of iron, iodine, calcium and vitamins A & C. 

It has so much vitamin C that it was used to treat scurvy.

The base for the stir fry included more goodness with hot chili, gingers, green onions and garlic.

Fried with sesame oil filled the kitchen with beautiful aromas. 

Pork slices, vegetables, noodles and a colourful looking stir fry was ready.

Topped with the beautiful healthy watercress leaves made for a yummy cold-killing dinner in front of the fireplace.

Thank you neighbour.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Lebanese Stews Series - Yakhneh Sélék (Chard)

10 stews in Lebanese Stews Series for now - click here for the full series and make some on those cool (rather cold) spring nights.

And the power of Alleyeh, a key ingredient in Lebanese stews, can cure any ailment you may have.

Mom reminded me of this recipe when she saw those beautiful chard growing in le jardin from last September stock. 

I kept them growing and invaded the jardin tonight - you need a lot of chard for this stew.

Ideally, you should not feel you are eating leaves in this stew - all should melt to close to paste.

As such, the chard needs to be chopped fine (less an inch wide chopping).

You start by frying some pine nuts and putting those aside.

The meat of choice for this stew is ground beef. I used some pre-made patties and separated them into small chunks.

You then add the meat to the pot, followed by the chard.

Add juice of two lemons, a bit of salt and all spice (or pepper), a couple Tbsp of water, a heaping Tbsp of Alleyeh and the pine nuts.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and enjoy over rice.

Monday, 28 May 2012

1965 a Wonderful Year

A birthday for a 1965 born, a year when wonderful people, events and inventions came to the world.

One is the Canadian flag, incorporated into the birthday party theme by cats.

Others include Spaghetti-O, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and Cool Whip; but we won't call those wonderful.

A special dinner was in order; and mostly a catered one by a special and dear to my heart Restaurant - Transylvania Flavour Restaurant (2120 W. Broadway) 

Read more on it at Knights and Maidens.

Transylvania Flavour on Urbanspoon 

So what did the wonderful feast include?

Those are the beautiful roasted beets, garlic and walnut spread - a specialty of the place - and Zakuska, the roasted vegetables spread.

Both not to miss as starters when you visit the restaurant.

The other four appetizers (which would have easily been a full dinner) were served on wonderful plates.

The traditional Romanian cabbage rolls (Sarmale) and chicken Paprikash...

... and the othe rnot-to-miss Transylvania Flavour's Mamaliga polenta and cheese croquettes (which I forgot to drizzle with the roasted pepper sauce) along with some gnocchi.

My competitive nature kicked in and I wanted to add something to the mix and thus the home made (from an Internet recipe) Patychyk - served over a potato, onion, sour cream bake.

And what's a birthday without a wonderful cake inspired by cat's flag where Anita outdid herself with this raspberry mousse cake with butter cream (cat likeable). 

So glad...

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Back in Kerrisdale - Continuation of the Tour

Yesterday you read about the Beginning of The Tour. Here's the rest.

A trip to Kerrisdale is never complete without a stop at sweet e's (2032 West 41st Avenue).

I was first exposed to sweet e's in January 2011 (read about it at More Sweets). Since then, I have grown very fond of the bakery, its goodies and the lovely baker - manager sisters that run the place.

What to choose from? Truffle-pops (picture at end of article)? Mini cupcakes? Or those delicious cakes below? Now which one should I take home - the Flourless Chocolate Silk Cake, The one with the Butterscotch Pecan or the Lemon Meringue cake? Help me sweet e's.

Sweet E's Pastries and Sweets on Urbanspoon

In yesterday's article, the closing deal for a Kerrisdale visit was London Drugs (2091 West 41nd Avenue). And there it was nestled in a beautiful courtyard off 41st avenue.

In addition to my weekly London Drugs shopping list, I needed to get some prints.

London Drugs Photolab is simply amazing. You sit on a comfortable chair in a quiet part of the store, you insert your disk or stick with your pictures, you choose what you want to print, on what, how many and when to pick them up, you press continue, get a receipt and come back to pick the prints after roaming Kerrisdale (or any other London Drugs neighbourhood).

I highly recommend subscribing to London Drugs' electronic photolab newsletter (click here to join); photography hints and prints specials are all yours in this newsletter - I read and learn from it continuously.

And finally, a bookstore discovery - Hager Books (2176 West 41st Avenue).

A charming little bookstore that has been around since 1974. You may not find everything you are looking for, but there are a lot of surprises waiting for you - travel, cooking, cycling, art and lots of fiction.

And there, waiting for me, the latest of No. 1 Ladies Detective novels - The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection.

Now I have my favourite reading and my Raspberry Pecan muffin, I can go home, make a cup of Rooibos tea like Mma Ramotswe and enjoy my Kerrisdale discoveries.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Back in Kerrisdale - Beginning of the Tour

I discovered Kerrisdale last summer (read Discovering Kerrisdale). This weekend, I had a long shopping list. I called a dear friend who lives in Kerrisdale and asked if I can do all my shopping there.

I asked for a book store; I asked for a bakery; I asked for a dollar store; I asked for a brunch restaurant; I asked for a credit union; I asked for a travel agency; and the answer was yes to all.

I thought I will challenge my friend with one last question "Do you have London Drugs in Kerrisdale?" The answer was again yes. I'm in!

The newest kid on the block is Gem Chocolates (2029 West 41st Avenue).

Yes, the beautiful blue of the store transcends to the beautiful artisan chocolates. Creative chocolatier experiments with all. I tried the new Macha creations which were delicious. I was challenged to choose five chocolates from the varied options available. Check it out readers, a pleasurable visit to both the eyes and the palettes. 

Gem Chocolates on Urbanspoon 

Kerrisdale is a neighbourhood to spend money and cash was in demand. So off to a credit union ATM. I think readers know I am a raving credit union fan. But did you know that if you are a credit union member, you can draw cash and deposit checks at over 2400 credit union ATMs across the province with no surcharge? That is the ding-free advantage of being a credit union member.

Wallet is full, stomach needs to fill up.

Avenue Grill (2114 41st Avenue), a Kerrisdale landmark since 1927. I remember going there for brunch over 10 years ago and the quality of food today was as good as it was then.

I had egg-whites omelette with leeks, mushrooms, and tomatoes. My guest had a very well done poached eggs with very yellow Hollandaise sauce.

Avenue Grill on Urbanspoon 

Now that stomach and wallet are full, serious shopping took place behind this door below at Thomas Hobbs (2127 West 41st). All I'd say is check it out once you are in Kerrisdale, you'd never know what fancy surprises you'd find.

  Tune back tomorrow for the continuation of the Kerrisdale tour.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Kishimoto, Go to Hello May I Help You at Tatsu

Two cute hungry cats missing their travelling human lead to Commercial Drive.

Afterwards, two cute hungry guys craving Sushi lead to Kishimoto, a favourite (till now) on the Drive (Read my now non-applicable raving about it here). Five minutes hanging around, being ignored by servers, then told it is 30 minute wait in a tone of go away, we did go away.

Urbanspoon Mobile indicated seven Sushi restaurants on the Drive. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, each was checked; but each was rejected until we reached Tatsu Japanese Bistro with 93% "Like it Rating" on Urbanspoon and the beautiful wooden dolls poster. 

Amazing friendly welcome, clean space with art and white walls, hip energy from servers and background Japanese pop music and food with freshness in every dish, every taste. The above pictured Tuna Tsuke Don can be served over not only white and brown rice, but also black rice.

California Rolls delicious and beautifully presented nestled against strawberries; Salmon Tataki roll had a blackberry spicy drizzle that couldn't get more uniquely tasty with every piece.

Chicken Teriyaki fresh fresh fresh. And the Salmon Nigiri piece had twice as much salmon to rice with the server apologizing that "we only have wild salmon, is that okay?".

It is more that okay and it is a very high quality farmed salmon. As if this was not enough food (who knew those portions were so large), the Tempura Platter was piled high with over 12 large pieces of a variety of Tempura including green beans.

If all of this are not reasons to go back, a bill of $50 including tax for this quality Japanese food will sure bring me back (bypassing Kishimoto on the way). Commercial Street Cats agree; no wonder they had Tatsu menu on their fridge.

Tatsu Japanese Bistro
1441 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC
Tatsu Japanese Bistro on Urbanspoon