Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Guest Post: Fleur de Sel Brownie

My first guest post ever. And what an honor that it's for my good friend Kenny from Chic Eats, on his birthday :)

I'll keep it short and sweet...having recently determined that Kenny likes a good brownie, I thought I'd share my favorite treat from the past year, 'Le brownie Fleur de Sel' from Montreal's juliette & chocolat.

Mmmmm...moist chocolatey decadence dripping with creamy buttery caramel sauce.

Kenny, I hope your birthday is every bit as sweet and indulgent as this brownie!



Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chinese New Year in NYC's Chinatown...

Kris and I stopped by NYC's Chinatown for some dim sum yesterday and on our way to the restaurant we encountered over a dozen colorful lion dances performed by local kung fu clubs.

Shop owners hang lettuce and red envelopes above their storefront so the good luck lions will visit and perform the traditional 'eating of the greens' ceremony.

This lion got a mouthful (handful?) of lettuce and oranges before spitting them out:

Watch out for flying fruit! I almost got nailed by a wayward orange, but apparently that's good luck.

We also saw a few dragons wind their way down the streets of Chinatown:

A short clip of the lion and dragon dances we saw yesterday:

And although we missed the firecracker ceremony last weekend, we easily made our own mischief with a couple of boxes of party snap noisemakers (yes we have the maturity of 5 year olds):

I cracked up over the warning label on the box (who would actually put these in their mouth?!):

We eventually made it to Dim Sum Go Go for lunch and both ordered the dim sum platter, 10 pieces of assorted steamed dumplings:

The duck dumplings were our favorite, with the crabmeat dumplings coming in a close second.

Kris always gets an order of the turnip cakes (crispy crust, creamy interior):

We also tried the pumpkin cakes (sweet and custard-like, with a unique flavor and fragrance that reminded us of pandan essence):

Later on we stopped at
Joe's Ginger for some crabmeat and pork steamed buns (a.k.a xiao long bao/ soup dumplings):

I also had a sudden craving for jellyfish (What? L
ike you've never had a jellyfish craving

Served cold, tossed in a delicate sesame marinade...not much to look at but delicious and very refreshing.

For dessert, we followed our noses down the street to the egg ball waffle cart and got a bag of 15 little cakes for a $1.

GUNG HEI FAT CHOY! Happy Year of the Tiger :)


Sunday, February 14, 2010


The 2010 Olympic Winter Games are now underway in Vancouver, so I thought I'd pay tribute to my beautiful hometown by sharing some of my favorite places, activities and things to eat...

FOODIE HEAVEN. Pick up a warm honey dip donut from
Lee's Donuts. Indulge in some chocolate walnut rugolach from Siegel's Bagels. Build-your-own picnic with charcuterie from artisanal sausage-maker Oyama Sausage. Grab a piece of blueberry white chocolate foccacia at Terra Breads. And lastly, stop in at Edible BC's retail store for locally made gourmet souvenirs to take home (super friendly staff too).

During our last trip to Whistler, I somehow managed to convince Kris to go ziplining with me on
Ziptrek's Bear Tour ("It's totally safe, honey!")

But I may have neglected to mention that the longest zipline we'd be doing was 1100 feet long. Or that the last zipline was done hanging upside down! And I might have forgotten to tell him that there was a tiny possibility that you could get stuck while ziplining. Sure enough, poor Kris actually got stuck on the zipline and had to hang suspended 100 feet in the air for several minutes while waiting for rescue! And yes, we got it all on video (Kris getting stuck at 1:10, Phyllis zipping upside down at 3:21):

Mixed in with the adventure is also a educational component - during the 3 hour tour, guides discuss sustainability and minimizing our environmental impact. We also got a exciting sneak peak of the Whistler Sliding Centre (bobsled/skeleton/luge) during the ride up to the old growth forest. If you haven't tried ziplining before, the Ziptrek Bear tour is a great beginner experience. And despite getting stuck, Kris has agreed to do the more exciting (and steeper) Eagle tour with me the next time around!

For a limited time (during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games)
zipline for FREE in Robson Square!

This popular Canadian no-bake dessert hails from Nanaimo, BC (approx 2 hr ferry ride from Vancouver). Basically layers of butter upon butter, what's not to like? I made these for Thanksgiving last year, recipe

Why is this flavor only available in Canada? Tangy, savory blend of spices, with a hint of sweetness, my favorite potato chip flavor of all time. I pack as many bags as I can fit in my carry-on whenever I visit Canada!

They're not kidding when they say these vanilla fudge graham wafer clusters are 'highly addictive'. Before I found out they carry them at
Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC, I actually thought about ordering a giant case from Canada.

How much do I love
poutine? Enough to eat 12 poutines in 12 days last year. And although the cheese curds aren't as squeaky and fresh as what you'd find in Quebec, you can still find some decent versions of poutine in Vancouver. My favorite last year was from Brado Pizza:

Amazing views, gorgeous 'sunken' Quarry Gardens, the
Bloedel Floral Conservatory, and years of family picnics and wonderful memories at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Can you believe it took me over 25 years to finally go inside the Bloedel Conservatory? But it's become one of my favorite places to visit when I'm in town. The conservatory is home to exotic plants and tropical flowers...

and a hundred species of colorful birds...

Worth the $5 admission just to see long-time resident Charlie the cockatoo ham it up for the camera:

Sadly, the Bloedel Conservatory is currently facing closure due to budget cuts. Visit while you still can. You can also help save the conservatory at

A weekly farmer's market located at pretty Trout Lake, where you'll find local organic produce (gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, chive flowers, stinging nettle, exotic mushrooms, fresh herbs etc), freshly baked goods, specialty foods, local honey and cheese, fresh seafood, seedlings/bulbs from herb farms and nurseries, local artisans, and a psychadelic purple crepe truck.

We loved the honey almond nougat from local candymaker
Kalley Kandy:

Kurobuta pork terimayo dog!

Late night nibbles at this Asian night market, running from May thru Oct annually. Read more

A big thanks to our friend Ly for introducing us to
Cascade and these fabulous polenta fries - crispy perfection on the outside, creamy deliciousness inside, served with an addictive curry mayo dip.

Best chocolates EVER. Read more about truffles, almond croissants and chocolate sparkle cookies

Vancouver’s first and most famous park, bordering downtown Vancouver, a thousand acres of evergreen parkland surrounded by a 5.5 mile circular
seawall where you can walk, bike, or rollerblade to your heart’s content.

I was lucky enough to live a block away from this lush urban oasis and would jog the seawall every Saturday morning. In 2006, my heart ached when I heard about the
devastating windstorm that knocked down thousands of trees, some of them hundreds of years old. A massive restoration effort (funded by donations) resulted in the planting of 16,000 trees in the damaged areas over the next 2 years. We visit Stanley Park every time we're in town. Don't miss it.

Adorable otters and smiley beluga whales :)

Sustainably harvested from BC waters,
spot prawns are the sweetest prawns you'll ever eat. We timed our visit last year to coincide with Vancouver's 3rd Annual Spot Prawn Festival, allowing us to indulge in spot prawns over a dozen times!

Freshly caught beauties from fisherman Steve Johansen (
Organic Ocean at False Creek Fisherman's Wharf):

A fish shack located in False Creek Fisherman's Wharf, only steps from Granville Island.

Selection changes daily based on what's fresh. Best fish 'n' chips in town (fish tacones aren't bad either). Expect a huge line-up!


I came here for pupusas after seeing them featured in Vancouver Magazine's
Best Things to Eat & Drink 2008 but ended up falling in love with the yucca fries (served with crispy pork bits):


When I first moved to New York, I assumed that
sausage rolls would be as ubiquitous as they were in Vancouver. Well I was wrong. Now I almost get heart palpitations whenever I spot one.

I grew up eating sandwiches from
Ba Le, but found a new favorite at Tung Hing during last year's banh mi roundup.

My thoughtful friend Liz always gives me a box of Chocolate Arts whenever we see each other. My favorite is the carmelita, soft buttery caramel oozing from a dark chocolate shell:

Hungry for more? Checkout Vancouver Magazine's annual feature,
Best Things to Eat & Drink in Vancouver.