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A Taste of Chinatown

Chinatown, Vancouver

Chinatown, Vancouver

One of the great advantages to living in Vancouver’s Chinatown is that it’s almost as cheap to eat out, if you know where you’re going, than to cook for yourself, and if you cook like I do this is a DISTINCT advantage. None the less, there are so many restaurants in the neighborhood that nobody can get to all of them, and if you do happen to blunder into a bad one, you feel quite moronic for having wasted the opportunity to go somewhere you already know is good.

So when Richard Wolack announced that his latest Tasting Plates tour was headed to my neighborhood, I signed up right away. This is a cooperative event with one ticket price, entitling the attendees to a small serving of some set item at each participating restaurant or food shop. A piece of the ticket price goes to support a local charity. For this Tasting Plates round, the charity was Project Limelight, which provides Downtown Eastside youth with support for artistic endeavours and community.

We started with salted caramels, eggnog rounds, and hot chocolate you made yourself by dipping a hunk of solid white, milk, or dark chocolate on a stick into hot milk. Crazy fattening, but rich and a lot more fun than that ordinary stuff. Definitely first-class skating party material. That was all done by Beta 5, an ultra-modern dessert shop in the industrial flats between Terminal and Great Northern Way.

When that’s your first course, the second is naturally pizza. Ours came from Pazzarella pizza truck, which has the city’s only truck-mounted wood-fired pizza oven. I don’t think they were quite ready to be so slammed so quickly, as the line was long and everyone, EVERYONE wanted to try the maple bacon pizza. It smelled good, but they were out of it when I got up to the front, so I had a more mundane, but still tasty, mushroom pizza.

Then it was a trundle northward to Electric Owl, which as anyone who’s gone past it knows is a very hopping night spot, though it is yet very new. The food there was seemingly endless, and all of it was very, very good. Like, foodie quality, which is surprising, because from the crowd I’d always assumed the kitchen would not be a priority. Sliders, pulled pork with coleslaw, skewers of all kinds of tasty things, delicious egg rolls, and pudding in Chinese porcelain spoons. One may have indulged a bit too much, because we practically waddled en route to the rest of the stops.

In Chinatown proper we went first to Harvest, a very hipster/new urban gourmet deli where we had a paper cup double handful-sized of handmade ramen noodles with pork, preserved vegetables, and half an egg. Honestly, it was as much as I eat for dinner some nights all by itself, and the quality of the noodles was simply the best I’ve ever had. Noodles with flavour: what a concept!

In need of respite, we rolled our overstuffed selves to Treasure Green Tea, where staff was pouring their Seasons tea, a blend of black and green teas with a medium body, smoky aroma, and, surprisingly for a tea with that much flavour, no tannic bite whatsoever. It was good enough that I went back later and bought a half-pound for myself. The only thing that can compensate for my lack of fire place in the long, rainy winters is a big pot of steaming, smoky tea. Well, Viggo could try. I dare him.

From there, and feeling mightily stuffed, I huffed and puffed my way up the hill to Oyster Express, where I explained that to me, a perfect payday dinner is savory, salty, fresh oysters and gin Martinis and nothing else. At that point, I bailed on the tour for the sake of my figure (yes, I know, about two years too late). Cheers!

Here’s video coverage from the intrepid Alyssa Dawson for CityLights tv. She actually toughed it out and hit all the venues, believe it or not. I should call her trainer.

OccupyVeggies!

carrots are the 99 %

carrots are the 99 %

For those of you who, like me, find the entire Occupy Movement to be really well-intentioned, justified, and (indeed) not a moment too soon, but also somewhat dry (The General Assembly is the Filboid Studge of participatory democracy) we have some good news! Occupy Wall Street’s Liberty Plaza General Assembly has taken a lesson from the mainstream media and spiced up its hard news Committee Reports section (is that Spokes? Or Tranches? Who can keepWall Street terminology straight anyway?) with some food-and-spirituality-related entertainment.

Behold:


Christine: let’s start. The name of your WG. Winter w Safer Spaces & spirit vegetable is edamame. #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Roll call continued! Next, Pablo from OWS en Español! Their spirit vegetable is plantains. #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Julian w Outreach, spirit vegetable is cauliflower. #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Evelyn, w/ Human Rights working group – hasn’t decided on her spirit vegetable yet! #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Sean w Fire Safety, he’s sad b/c he has no spirit vegetable, someone recommends chili pepper. #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Info WG: Spirit vegetable is okra. #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Devin is spoking for Tech Ops working group tonight, and their spirit veggie is the artichoke! #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Ravi, w/ Organization – her spirit vegetable is carrots. #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA


Ben from Direct Action, their spirit vegetable is squash b/c they are going to squash capitalism #nycsc #ows
@LibertySqGA
LibertySq GA

(more…)

Mystery Meat!

Burger, She Wrote

Burger, She Wrote

Alas, this brilliant food truck concept is naught but a concept and a passable photoshop job. Is your heart breaking to learn that it isn’t real? Perhaps you can console yourself with the knowledge that the Grillenium Talcon does exist, and apparently serves up delicious grilled cheese sandwiches to the inhabitants of Fayetteville, Arkansas. With a side of awesome.

Han was a ham

Han was a ham

I Scream. No, really, I do.

Ice cream at the Office

Ice cream at the Office

NEVAH! Faithful Manolophiles know that the Master has long preached the gospel of Wear White Shoes Whenever You Damn Well Feel Like It, You’re A Grownup Now, and we here at the ol’ foodie/bevvie blog feel quite the same about tasty, frozen delights such as ice cream, gelato, sherbet, sorbetto, and even Vienetta, that magical, mass-produced filigree of creamy perfection. It’s so perfect and so factory-made that it can’t possibly be good for you, can it?

But ice cream is magical, so it actually is!

The ice cream coolers have moved closer to the front doors of the convenience stores here in Canuckistan, yea unto the very Arctic Circle (yes, Yellowknife has an ice cream truck: I saw it with my own eyes) and soon neighborhoods all over the northern hemisphere will echo with the tinny, obnoxious notes of Turkey in the Straw and the cries of “BUT MOMMY IT IS TOO GLUTEN FREE!” So here to celebrate the seasonal return of ice cream to the top of snack marketing priority lists is a photo roundup of vintage ice cream trucks from Flavorwire (and seriously it kills me there’s no “u” in there, but I’ll have a Creamsicle and it’ll be all better soon).

awwww, who's a cute widdle ice cweam twuck?

awwww, who's a cute widdle ice cweam twuck?

Wine A-Z

The Wine Rack: Now THAT is what I call a Go Cup

That’s what I call a Go Cup. Heck, it might even make jogging tolerable.

Well, maybe it won’t boost your cup size all the way through the alphabet. Still, this handy-dandy little portable wine container will definitely bump you from an A to something farther down towards the Mittel-European consonantry. And yes, it’s called the Wine Rack. And no, I have no use for it myself, as I can already hide a 40-ouncer and a couple of highball glasses in my bra with room left over for garnishes.

King of the Road

Suck on this, Skyscrapers!

Suck on this, Skyscrapers! Gyeongbok Palace by Laszlo Ilyes

Prepare to be gobsmacked by this gentleman of the road, a mere street food vendor in the humble Namdaemun Market in Seoul, Korea. In only a couple of minutes he spins a hunk of chilled honey into 16,000 delicious candy threads, then rolls and stuffs them to form individual desserts. While he calls this an ancient Korean delicacy, it’s really nothing more or less than a dressed up version of that staple known as Dragon’s Beard in any Chinatown, or Cotton Candy in any county fair.

I’d tip big for a snack served with a side of this fresh charm.

Semi-celebrity chefs in trucks!

Last week’s Next Food Network Star saw the cheftestants competing for the affections of Miss Paula Deen by doing their best versions of gourmet food truck cuisine.

So it felt fitting that while attending the inaugural outing of the LA Flea Market, I stumbled upon last year’s also ran, Chef Debbie Lee, serving up her “mobile take on Korean pub grub” from way up high in her new lunch truck, Ahn-Joo.

She was among most excellent company at the event’s truck food court, which also included the mobile kitchens of other TV-made famous chefs, Susan Fenniger (Border Grill truck) and Ludo Lefebvre (LudoBites Fried Chicken Truck.)

While under normal circumstances, I probably would have opted for the food of Fenniger or Lefebvre (whose culinary renown came before TV fame as opposed to the path taken by Lee), it was about 10,000 degrees at Los Angeles’ Dodgers Stadium where the event was held, and the thought of eating anything warm made me want to cry.

After quick survey of the cold offerings on hand, I realized that my choices were sushi from the truck Fishlips (but a hot truck plus sushi does not equal love in my book), ice cream from Coolhaus (line too long) or the spicy soba salad from Ahn-Joo.

As there was no line to speak of Ahn-Joo, and I thought a little spice might be just what I needed to cool off, I went that way, not remembering that Ahn-Joo was the not quite Next Food Network Star’s new project. So imagine my surprise when who should take my order but no other than the somewhat cranky seeming (but it was hot so we forgive) Chef Debbie, herself.

Chef Debbie gets trucked


The menu is divided into “Small Grub”- a smattering of pickles, skewers, and kimchi; “Medium Grub”- salads, dumplings, and kimbap; and “Large Grub” – fried chicken, meatloaf, and nachos.

I went for the spicy chilled buckwheat noodles with fugi apples and Korean veggies and an order of spicy chicken and Korean peppers skewers.

I can’t say I was overly impressed with either dish.

The salad was basically an enormous wad of soba noodles, which though well cooked, majorly overwhelmed the crispy fuji apples and the Korean veggies (which ended up consisting merely of some julienned carrots, cucumbers, and red onions.) The dressing was cloying and not particularly spicy. But at least there was a hard boiled egg, as everything’s better with egg.

The skewers were better. The chicken was nicely fried and chewy and the peppers had a good crunchy char.

Overall, a general eh meal. But it came with a semi-celebrity sighting, which is always good for digestion.

Street Eats from Coast to Coast – NY today, Oakland in August

Announcements for two street food events made it into my mailbox today –

New Yorkers, get thee to Lower Manhattan this afternoon for the Street Vendor Project‘s Pushcart Market, which started this morning at 10 and will go until 6 (with a very happy Happy Hour at 5 PM). Among the yummy offerings — handcrafted ice cream, jerk chicken, and vegan desserts — plus a chance to win much coveted tickets to the Vendy Awards.

For more details check out their Facebook page.

Those on the Left Coast have a little more time to prepare for Oakland’s 2nd Annual Eat Real Festival, which will be held August 27-29. In addition to 80 vendors selling everything from traditional street tacos to creme brulee to clam chowda, there will be loads of DIY mini-classes teaching you to make your own cheese or how to vertically garden, as well as various forms of entertainment including food related poetry slams and noodle pulling demonstrations.

I went last year

and ate quite well…