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13 April 2009

Vancouver Hot Spot: Granville Island


A week has past since first arriving in Sydney. I've experienced a whole range of emotions and spent a lot of time reflecting on our lives in Vancouver.

There is much that I miss but also much I look forward to in rediscovering in Oz. Although, my first grocery outing in Sydney was a slap in the face after discovering  the cost of organic and bio-dynamic food -- a small punnet of strawberries costs $10; a head of lettuce, $5, and green beans, $39 a kilogram! Mind you, I was browsing next to a Baby Dior boutique so perhaps I was in the wrong neighbourhood. That being said, Australia seems as long way behind Canada in terms of organic produce. I need to start growing my own.

Our lives revolve largely around food and the purchasing of it is just as much as much fun as the preparation of it. This is why one of the things I miss most is Vancouver's Granville Island Public Market -- a cornucopia of culinary offerings. Over 50 merchants selling anything from fresh-of-the-boat wild salmon to hundreds of pungent cheeses. There are endless displays of bursting berries, plump vegetables, freshly baked breads and pastas.


Continue reading "Vancouver Hot Spot: Granville Island" »

11 December 2007

Menu For Hope

Menu for Hope 2007The fourth annual Menu For Hope fundraiser has begun!

Menu For Hope, which is hosted by Pim of Chez Pim, is in support of the UN's World Food Programme and this year funds raised will go towards a school lunch program in Lesotho.

The program aims to encourage children to go to school and also strengthens their ability to learn.

Menu For Hope runs from December 10-21 and food bloggers from around the world have offered an incredible selection of prizes for the Menu For Hope Raffle. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of your choice.

The prizes are really special. Here are a few samples...


  1. Item AP15: Dinner with Stephen Downes, one of Australia's most experienced restaurant critics (Melbourne).
  2. Item AP02: A $300 dining voucher to Perama, Sydney

United States

  1. Item UW19: Dinner for two at Camaje restaurant in New York City.
  2. Item UE21: 'Veganomicon' Cookbook + 6-Pack of Raw, Organic Agave Nectar.
  3. Item UW18: Bento lunch starter kit and tour of San Francisco's Japantown.


  1. Item EU02: San Lorenzo Hamper, with specialties from San Lorenzo, Italy.
  2. Item EU09: Win a box of delicious "coquettines" the speciality of La Cocotte, the tastiest bookshop in Paris.
  3. Item EU16: Homemade banana-chocolate confiture [jam] and a lovely hot chocolate with Marion at Jean Paul Hévin.


  1. Item CA04: A one year subscription to Canadian Living Magazine.
  2. Item CA05: Martha Stewart Cookbook Set.
  3. Item CA08: Gourmet Flavoured Olive oil and teak tray

United Kingdom

  1. Item UK05: Private wine tasting in London (worth £80).
  2. Item UK09: Tasting menu for 2 at Les Trois Garcons (£210).
  3. Item UK27: Dinner for Two at Patterson's restaurant in London

For a complete list of fabulous prizes please check out the prize list.

Let the bidding begin! 

28 November 2007

The Tastes & Textures of Thailand


I've been meaning to post this piece for a while so I could share some insights into the tastes and textures of Thailand. On my recent trip there, which wasn't for pleasure mind you, I was lucky enough to eat some really fabulous food.

It is hard not to eat well in Thailand especially when buying from the street vendors where there is always something new and exciting to be discovered. Mind you, I did have one particularly ghastly food experience which I will share at the end. Maybe. But for now, here are some of the delightful things I got to eat.

Thai Khanom, otherwise known as Thai sweets, are very special. Coconut and Bai Toey, or pandanus leaf, are often key ingredients in the little jellies featured below. Pandanus leaves are long and slender and have a wonderful aroma that is used for anything from flavouring sweets, wrapping and barbecuing chicken in, flavouring drinking water and even deodorizing taxi cabs! It's true. I took of photo in the back of a cab that had a whole bunch of leaves just sitting on the dash board. The cab smelled wonderful.


Kao Niew Mamuang, or sticky rice and mango is my favourite Thai dessert. I crave it often. I can actually make it now that I have a sticky rice steamer but it is not the same as it is in Thailand. I am not sure what it is, maybe just the extra Thai touch. Towards the end of my trip, I made a point of eating it every day just to get my fix. The Kao Niew is steamed and then mixed with coconut cream that has been boiled with sugar and little bit of salt and then served with ripe mango.


Continue reading "The Tastes & Textures of Thailand" »

09 November 2007

Bovetti Bars: turning chocolate upside down


I discovered Bovetti chocolates on a recent trip to Montréal. The artisan chocolate originates from the Périgord region in France and is made from high quality pure cocoa butter. What makes the chocolate so tempting is that it comes with a wide range of exciting and innovative 'flavours'.

The chocolate bars come in dark, milk and white chocolate that have one side coated with anything from fennel seeds, banana chips, chili flakes, peppercorns, to my favourite... the ubiquitous caramel and Fleur de Sel. There's just something extra special about the Bovetti version that trumps other caramel salt chocolates. I think it may be the texture of little chewy pearls of caramel interspersed with crunchy salt crystals melting on you tongue. Whatever it was, it made me demolish three bars in four days. Ssshhh.

I was on holiday after all.         


14 July 2007

South China Seas Trading Company


Vancouver has a diverse Asian palate and a testament to this is the South China Seas Trading Company store at Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver.

The store however does not limit itself to just Asian foodstuffs. It also stocks hard to find items from the Caribbean, Mexico, India, South Africa and Japan and a variety of fresh seasonal produce like morels, sea asparagus and tamarind, just to name a few.

I shop here at least once a week and am always enthralled by all the interesting items they have in stock.

The most unusual ingredient I have seen there is Krachai Root, a Rhizhome also known as Fingerroot or Chinese Ginger. Krachai Root is used in a Thai Dish called 'Kanom Jin Naam Ya', which I can only describe as a type of minced fish curry with rice noodles and various condiments. The Krachai Root gives the dish a slightly medicinal sort of flavour. It is really hard to explain what it tastes like but it is very distinctive and delicious.

South China Seas also has a great collection of international cookbooks.


26 June 2007

Pantry Essentials - The List

A few months ago I helped a girlfriend back in Sydney 'build' a pantry. Having just moved out of home, and thus, away from mum's cooking, she had to start with an empty cupboard. So, I put together list of the basic essentials and fired it off in an email to her. I believe she is half way there. It can be an expensive business to start from scratch but if you just add to your collection bit by bit then your purse strings won't notice it.

The list that you are about to read is a lot more detailed than what I sent my friend. The list details MY Pantry Essentials but there are some good basics in there to start with. I have marked the beginner esstentials with an asterisk.



  • Bay Leaves*
  • Black Peppercorns*
  • Cardamon seeds and ground
  • Cayenne*
  • Chilli Flakes*
  • Cinnamon sticks and ground
  • Cloves
  • Corinader seeds
  • Cumin seeds and ground
  • Curry powder (I have madras)*
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Garam Masala
  • Paprika*
  • Saffron
  • Salt (Natural Sea Salt)*
  • Tumeric
  • Yellow Mustard Seeds

Dried Herbs

  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary*
  • Savoury
  • Thyme*

We have recently started growing fresh herbs on the windowsill...not as good as a garden but it does the job, very well in fact, and I won't deny that I was quite excited by the new born Tiny Tim Tomatoes. Some of the herbs we are growing include:

Fresh Herbs

  • Chives
  • Coriander
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Thai Basil
  • Thyme
  • Sweet Basil


Pantry Essentials Continued...

  • Anchovies
  • Baking Powder*
  • Baking Soda*
  • Canned Tomatoes* (try getting a good quality brand like San Marzano)
  • Chinese Red Wine Vinegar
  • Coconut Milk*
  • Corn Starch*
  • Curry Pastes (Green, Red and Yellow)
  • Fish Sauce (Squid Brand)
  • Flour (I use unbleached)
  • Good quality olive oil for salads and things
  • Maggi Sauce (Great on a fried egg 'Thai' Style)
  • Mirin
  • Mustard (English, Dijon, Seed)*
  • Japanese Chilli Pepper flakes
  • Oil (Vegetable, Canola and Sesame)*
  • Organic Chicken Stock & Bouillon*
  • Organic Beef Stock & Bouillon
  • Organic Vegetable Stock & Bouillon*
  • Pasta*
  • Pure Vanilla Extract*
  • Rice (Basmati*, Jasmine, Japanese, Wild)
  • Sugar (white*, brown, raw cane*, Palm)
  • Soy Sauce*
  • Tabasco*
  • Tinned tuna and salmon*
  • Vegemite*
  • Wasabi
  • Worcestershire
  • White truffle oil
  • White Vinegar*

Ok, enough for now. These ingredients allow us to cook all types of cuisines from Thai, Japanese, Italian to Morrocan, so that's a good start. Plus, I don't have any more room in the pantry for anything else! 

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