High Tea Series: Bacchus

Another recap of a jaunt with Island Bites contributor Bruce. Where did we go? To the Wedgehood Hotel, home of the luxurious Bacchus Restaurant, whose lobby delivers an afternoon tea in the midst of purple plush.

Inside Bacchus

We were both impressed by the refinement of the Bacchus lobby. A fireplace exuded warmth at the far end of the room; the bar reached floor to high ceiling, slightly resembling the elegant yet creepy bar in The Shining.

Inside Bacchus

We were much less impressed by the people that served us. Our receiving hostess was pleasant enough, but our server! By God, I swear she could have been an Air Canada attendant, from her haughty demeanour to the figure skater’s bun to the scarf she tied to her neck. That is not a favourable comparison, dear readers.

Bacchus: afternoon tea

At any rate, we did our best to enjoy the food and drink despite the chilly reception. Our servicable Pear Tree Green and Thunderbolt Darjeeling teas were served in ultra-modern clear teapots that are basically French presses.

Bacchus: afternoon tea

Our sweetener was a nice touch: multi-coloured rock sugar in a little bowl at our table by the window.

Bacchus: afternoon tea

I particularly enjoyed the bottom-tier savouries that accompanied our tea. My favourites were the smoked salmon pinwheel and shrimp salad sandwich featured above (even though I had to spit out a piece of shrimp shell during one bite – oh well, at least I know they peeled it themselves!).

Bacchus: afternoon tea

Bacchus’ scones are on par with the others that I’ve had to date. While no one has yet to top those made by the Secret Garden Tea Company, Bacchus does stand apart in offering chocolate eclairs as an alternative (or addition, as is your fancy) to scone indulgence.

Bacchus: afternoon tea

The sweetstuffs were just that – too sweet. Even the lemon curd cakes were sickeningly overloaded with sugar. It competed too much with our rather delicate choices in tea, and caused Bruce, who already has an aversion to sugar, to barely touch the top tier.

[tbc_adsense adslot=”0456401525″]

The verdict

All in all, the quality of the tea and dainties plus the ambiance that we experienced at Bacchus merited the $29 a person price tag. The customer service was disappointingly lacking – both of us felt like our server didn’t think we were classy enough to be in her Lobby. It was more than enough to taint our afternoon and dissuade us from being regular patrons.

That is really a shame, because everything else is something both Bruce and I would have otherwise endorsed.

[flickrset id=”72157615696259399″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”original”]

High Tea Series: The Fish House at Stanley Park

On July 11th, I was joined by 7 lovely ladies and 2 distinguished gentlemen for another tea party for my High Tea Series. The venue: the Fish House in Stanley Park, tucked away between the tennis courts and Second Beach inside Vancouver’s largest urban greenspace.

The Afternoon teapartiers (by julesjulesjules m)

Photo used with permission from Julesjulesjules

We started off slow due to guests being delayed by the changes to the Burrard Bridge, but that just gave us more time to admire each other’s creative choices of hat.

Afternoon tea at the Fish House in Stanley Park

What wasn’t acceptable was the slowness of pace that continued even after our full contingent arrived. Tea took 15 minutes from the time of order; the food didn’t show until nearly 20 minutes of tea drinking had passed. By then, some of us who had deliberately fasted for this 2pm meal were getting frustrated and somewhat dizzy from hunger.

Afternoon tea at the Fish House in Stanley Park

Our table tried 5 of the 7 teas on offer. Those who took cream and sugar favoured the Flowery Earl Grey. A couple were seduced by the concept of the Mountain Berry, a rose-hued tea that contained Saskatoon berries, red and black currants, hibiscus, and Seneca root.

Afternoon tea at the Fish House in Stanley Park

I wish I could say a few good things about the tea that the Fish House served, but the general feel was that our drink was poorly set up, flat in taste and occasionally in aroma, and at best, forgettable.

Afternoon tea at the Fish House in Stanley Park

Sad to report that the food verdict is similar. The overall selection was plainly presented. Overall tastings felt bland and lacking in contrast. A few piped up to defend the scones and the brownies, which were the best of the bunch, but I’ve personally had better at all of the other places I’ve been to for afternoon tea.

Scones (by julesjulesjules m)

Photo used with permission from Julesjulesjules

The one true highlight for me was the Devon cream, whipped energetically to airy deliciousness. It would have been more appropriate to say that I took my Devon cream with scones – in fact, I might have eaten it on its own if I hadn’t been concerned about what my companions might think.

Despite this small bit of praise, don’t you think it’s a shame that something akin to butter is the best offering in the Fish House’s afternoon tea array? I do.

The verdict: don’t bother.

You can probably sum it up like this: while the Fish House does have afternoon tea on the menu, they only pay lip service to it. No one else was there to have tea. Not many people were present in the dining room, period. I guess they’re not known as a lunch or tea destination, as we learned the hard way.

Ah, well. Our $24 a person fees weren’t entirely for naught. It did give our party an excuse to don fancy clothes and frou-frou hats, and we did have a great time just being in each other’s company. But if I were you, plan your next afternoon tea excursion elsewhere – I’d rather you to enjoy both your friends and your food.

[flickrset id=”72157621822497508″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”original”]

My recipe for Lumpiang Prito (pork and vegetable spring rolls)

Lumpiang prito

Lumpia is one of my favourite Filipino foods to eat in the summertime. There are several types of lumpia, ranging from the fresh lumpiang sariwa to the meat lover’s lumpiang Shanghai. I myself am partial to lumpiang prito, which typically comes in the format of vegetables (and optionally pork) stir-fried, stuffed, and deep-fried in large egg roll wrappers.

You can get creative with the vegetables you choose. Sometimes we put in potato matchsticks, diced water chestnuts, chopped celery, green beans sliced on the diagonal…but the recipe below is our standard base and the one that our guest prefer.

Ingredients

That's a lot of knife work

  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ matchsticks
  • 1 head of chinese cabbage, shredded
  • 600g of bean sprouts
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 30 large egg roll (wonton) wrappers, thawed
  • Oil for frying (canola, grapeseed, sunflower)
  • 1 lb of ground pork

Directions

Lumpiang prito

  1. In a large wok, sweat garlic and onions over low heat until fragrant.
  2. Increase head to medium-high and sauté ground pork until meat is no longer pink.
  3. Add soy sauce to taste.
  4. Toss in carrots and stir-fry for at least  5 minutes or until slightly softened.
  5. Add shredded cabbage and stir-fry for at least 5 minutes or until colour perks up.
  6. Rinse and drain bean sprouts and add to wok, stirring until incorporated. Taste mixture and season with soy and/or fish sauce till you are satisfied with the flavour.
  7. Drain mixture of excess moisture and transfer to a storage container. Refrigerate until cool. This will be the filling for the lumpia.
  8. Wrap 1 tablespoon of cooled filling  in each egg roll wrapper. Place in a single layer on a large flat surface and let dry. If you are going to cook them right away, let them be; if you will keep them for later, store them in a single layer in the freezer until you’re ready to cook them up.
  9. In a deep fryer or pot, heat oil to 180C and maintain at this temperature.
  10. Drop a single layer of lumpia into the oil and cook 3 minutes on each side or until a very light golden brown (they will darken to golden brown as they dry).
  11. Drain on a plate of paper towel and serve promptly.

Makes 25 – 30 lumpia.

High Tea Series: The Empress Hotel (Victoria)

My recent trip to Victoria with Coast Hotels & Resorts gave me the perfect opportunity to take on the mother of all high teas in British Columbia: the historic Empress Hotel.

Around the Empress Hotel

At an eye-popping price tag of $55 (make that $67 for Royal Tea), I was a huge skeptic. Even if the tea really is fantastic and the dainties to die for, can a bunch of micro sandwiches, scones, and leaf-infused hot water really be worth all that money?

Read on and decide for yourself.

[tbc_adsense adslot = “0456401525”]

First impressions

Our group of six strolled around the ivy citadel that is the Fairmont Empress, already in awe of its Victorian glory. The room that housed us for tea was no less impressive:

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

The Tea Lobby was elegant, airy, luxurious, and filled with the tinkling from a baby grand piano. I clapped my hands with glee when it became clear that he was playing the theme song from the Harry Potter films. Fittingly majestic and magical for a space such as this.

Full service afternoon tea

Have you ever gone to a tea house in Vancouver and had the equivalent of a butler see to your every need? If you have, you must tell me where, because this has only ever happened to me at the Empress.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

Paul, our stately server, welcomed us with full pomp, pulling out the chairs for the ladies and placing our napkins on our seats as one would expect at a fine dining restaurant. His delivery of our strawberries and chantilly, presented elegantly in cut crystal goblets, was crisp and expedient. It was bettered only by his performance with our tea. Apparently, we were to have him wait on us completely, with our teapots set on its own table as he poured cup after cup for each of us. He even executed the cream and sugar himself on the first round.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

He was so prepared to continue pouring our tea for us, having remembered what each of us had ordered, that we had to stop him in the middle of service after we decided to sample each other’s teas. After one incident where he poured Angela’s tea into the teacup she had already half-filled with Anny’s tea, Paul realized that we were quite happy to help ourselves. He consequently pulled back a bit, returning only occasionally to top up our cups and plop more cream and sugar into those that warranted it, confirming the tea we wanted from then on.

Giggle! All the attention made me feel like a princess.

A closer look at the food and drink

It may be partially due to the service and our surroundings, but by God, did I ever love the tea here!

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

I naturally had to try the The Empress Blend, made exclusively for the hotel with the express intention of pairing with the dainties of afternoon tea. Here’s what the menu told me about it:

Exclusive to The Fairmont Empress, this delightful blend boasts a bright coppery colour and takes milk exceedingly well. The Assam component lends a rich malty character, while the Kenyan black tea provides subtle floral hints. Kenyan green tea infuses a bright and lively aroma, complemented by the fruity, sprightly, and airy piquant flavours of Dimbula from Sri Lanka. Small amounts of Kemum draw the elements together with a burgundy depth and light oaky notes.

Half the table had the Empress Blend along with me, while others selected from the menu of eight delicious sounding options. We all seemed to prefer the ones we ordered for ourselves, and my tastings of the rest, while personally paling in comparison to the Empress Blend, were fragrant, colourful, and beautiful with the food that we had in front of us.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

Anny evidently enjoyed her strawberries and chantilly, as did I.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

The presentation of our dainties was utterly refined. My eyes were immediately drawn to the marbled chocolate tulips on the top tier and the smoked salmon pinwheels and mushroom crostini on the bottom one.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

For me, the savouries were clearly a cut above your average afternoon tea fare. The plate popped with colour and contrast, and the flavours were bright and full without being overbearing. A lot of care seemed to be put in to ensure that these items would complement the teas (which still should be the star of the meal, no?). Best cucumber sandwich I’ve had; the horseradish in the spread was the magic ingredient, I think.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

The scones were good but not anything to write home about. They weren’t a match for the scones that I still fondly recall from Secret Garden, but they are better than those from T Room & Bakery and Bacchus. Although I downed every bite, I do wish they had served us the crumpets instead (their cookbook has a recipe dating back over 100 years).

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

By the time we reached dessert, our group was pleasantly stuffed. I was barely capable of trying even a mouthful of each of the sweets on the top tier. Besides, I find that the desserts are often made much too sweet to be served with tea, so this part of the service was not one that I was particularly looking forward to.

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

Again, as you can see, Anny enjoyed whatever had been put in front of her. Others reported the deliciousness of the sweets, ultimately favouring the the most delicate ones due to their pairings with the tea. From my nibbles, I leaned towards the lemon tarts and the shortbread with crumbles of Earl Grey tea leaves baked in.

Our verdict

High Tea at the Empress Hotel

Is high tea at the Empress expensive? Hell, yes! All told, the six of us spent nearly $400 for an afternoon that didn’t even qualify as a full meal.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Best afternoon tea experience I’ve had to date, in an atmosphere of opulence and a city of much Victorian charm.

Make your own Empress afternoon tea at home

Anyone that helps us give to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society for Blogathon 2009 has the opportunity to win a tin of The Empress’ Centennial Blend plus a copy of If Teapots Could Talk, which is filled with recipes for the food you see above and more. See full rules and eligibility below.

  1. By day’s end on July 24, 2009, every $10 that you donate towards Tiny Bites’ Blogathon drive for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society grants you 1 entry to the draw. If you donate $50, that equals 5 entries for you and $50 x 3 = $150 worth of food for the people that the Food Bank helps.
  2. Please contact us about your donation and/or bookings before July 25th so that we can make sure you get all the entries that you deserve.
  3. The winner will be announced at 4:30am on July 26, 2009, while I am on shift for Blogathon 2009.

Thank you for your donations and best of luck in winning this Early Bird prize!

Filipino Restaurant Series: Pinpin

A year after my quest has begun, I can now say with confidence that I have found a Filipino restaurant in Vancouver proper that has become my new standard: Pinpin.

Pinpin: storefront

Don’t be fooled by the “Filipino-Chinese” classification on Pinpin’s awning and menu. Most Filipinos eat dishes whose origins stem from China…but these so-called Filipino-Chinese dishes, like pancit canton and chicken mami, are unmistakeably Pinoy and would probably surprise your average Filipino by suggesting that it was even remotely Chinese. Moreover, the Chinese selections on Pinpin’s menu are clearly grouped on a single page of their colourful and informative menu. 

Let’s touch upon this menu a little more.

Pinpin: menu selections

Pinpin, being one of the rare Filipino eateries in the city that is not turo-turo (buffet) in style, has an enormous selection featuring a wide range of Tagalog and other regional dishes to satisfy most families in the know. For those who are new to the cuisine and unfamiliar with the language, be comforted that the menu also has full colour illustrations of some of the more popular items, plus English descriptions of every dish that would be hard to decipher otherwise.

Inside Pinpin

I’d liken the style of this restaurant to a casual, family-style Chinese restaurant: no-frills environs, descriptive and extensive menu, a mix of standalone and communal tables, and huge portions. We’ve managed to eat at Pinpin as a couple for under $20 and always wind up asking for take-out containers to spoon our leftovers into. For maximum value, come in a group of 4 or more. You’ll be able to try a bunch of dishes for a similar price per person and approximate what it’d feel like to be in the midst of a Filipino family potluck.

Word of warning to non-Filipinos: be prepared for the stares. This establishment, like most Filipino restaurants, are patronized almost exclusively by Filipinos and their families, and having travelled in the Philippines recently, I suspect that it’s a habit to pay rapt attention to newcomers. However, no malice is intended, and if you venture to chat with any of your dining neighbours, I’m sure you’ll find everyone to be hospitable and friendly, if only a little surprised to see you. As a secret, the ingredients are all fresh because we vacuum seal them and we use foodsaver vacuum sealer, you can find it from vacuum sealer research – reviews website. I highly recommend these vacuum sealers that they offer.

But I digress – on to the food.

Pinpin: sinigang na baboy

Pinpin comes the closest to my family’s style of cooking out of all the restaurants I have tried to date. Consequently, I feel right at home each time I drop in for a bite or grab a couple of dishes to take to go. Thus far, I’ve tried the sinigang, kare kare, pancit sotanghon, Bicol Express, lechon kawali, and pinakbet and can’t say anything but yum

Pinpin: pinakbet

This is not to say that there are no criticisms to make.

My favourite dish to order, menudo, is nowhere to be found on their menu, despite conversations with the owners about making it a seasonal or even a regular offering in the future.

Pinpin: Bicol Express It’s also unbelievably packed, so finding sustenance for a group is next to impossible during peak dining times unless you’re prepared to wait in line or willing to settle for take-out.

Win a $30 gift certificate to Pinpin

I am so truly impressed by the food at Pinpin that  I forked out $30 of my own cash for a gift certificate to Pinpin, so that one Tiny Bites reader can get a chance to sample what I feel to be one of the most representative Filipino restaurants in Vancouver proper, I mean it is really affordable and it makes me extremely happy because that means that at the end I will still be able to save money for that watch from plantwear I want. But you have to work for it.

Here are the contest rules.

  1. Drop me a comment here.
  2. In your comment, tell me about a Filipino dish that you either love or have always wanted to try. Share your reasons why that is so.
  3. On Friday, May 29th at 12pm, I’ll do a random draw from all the entries and announce the winner here and on Twitter.

If you can’t wait until then to try Pinpin, don’t let me stop you from heading there this week. I hope you’ll love it as much as we do.

Pinpin
6113 Fraser St | Vancouver
(604) 322-3086

Pinpin on Urbanspoon

Filipino Restaurant Series to date:

[flickrset id=”72157611489618235″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”original”]

High Tea Series: Secret Garden Tea Company

My field trip to Secret Garden Tea Company let me cross off a third establishment on my to-do list of afternoon tea.  The equipment used are professional Surrounds Landscaping. Apologies that  this is only the first that I am detailing in words for the High Tea Series.

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

The occasion was more special than most. The adventure fell on Easter Sunday, making it doubly wonderful to be able to spend it with 6 ladies of the Vancouver Twitterverse and our rep from the maler sex, Jon.

[tbc_adsense adslot = “0456401525”]

On the tea

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

With 8 people in attendance, we were able to sample a good portion of Secret Garden’s sizeable tea menu:

  • Secret Garden Secret: vanilla and “secret sweet ingredient” (Jon, Annika)
  • Grammy’s Darjeeling (Carol)
  • Lavender Earl Grey (Moj, who normally swears by Secret Garden’s Buckingham Palace)
  • Jasmine tea with flowers (Jules)
  • Creamy Earl Grey (Rachel)

I was drawn to the Dragon’s Tears tea: jasmine leaves with blossoms that were plucked within an hour of sunrise. This tea was the only one that carried a premium price tag on the normal menu ($5.95). For afternoon tea, the extra cost is waived. It therefore made sense to my sometime frugal self to try it that day.

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

After my first few sips of the Dragon’s Tears, I changed my tune.  It was a beautiful, floral, and delicate blend – one that should be enjoyed on its own – but it was overpowered by food that we ate. Besides, it’s more fun in an atmosphere of scones and tea cosies to be able to stir in cream and sugar as you chat with your companions.

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

Another nice touch was the mismatched china that Secret Garden employs to serve tea and lumps of sugar in. Someone in our group mentioned that the cups are often donated by regulars.

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

Thanks to Emme’s Easter salute in the form of bunny ears, bunny slippers, and pom-pom tail, our table was treated to a complimentary take-home pouch of Secret Garden’s Spring Blend. As it turns out, the owner also dresses up for Easter and the day’s staff felt like she would have wanted to reward a person with similar fashion sensibilities. Good call, Emme!

On the food

Secret Garden came out with several 3-tiered trays to the delight of all at the table. It was enough for 9, even though we were only charged for 8 spots. We were happy to take the rest home.

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

As with most tea services in the city, treats vary with the seasons and the whims of the kitchen.  Our favourites from the selection we received included the roast beef croissants, the blackberry and almond bread, and the raisin scones (which were the best I’ve ever had in a restaurant setting).

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

Compared with the other afternoon teas I’ve had this year, Secret Garden excelled in presentation and sweetstuffs, even though the chocolate pumpkin cheesecake was awkward to eat without forks.

They fell a little flat with their bottom tier options, as evidenced by a lack of consumption of the egg salad pinwheels. Bacchus had better savoury offerings; T Room is still the winner for me in terms of overall taste.

Secret Garden: tea party tweetup

Secret Garden’s signature lemon tarts were also a bit controversial — some guests questioned whether the lemon curd was store-bought. We never did confirm with the kitchen. Do any of you know?

The verdict

Secret Garden impressed everyone with its chintz charm, patient service, and tea selection. Of the three places I’ve been to, it was the most accommodating for large groups, even with frequent fluctuations in RSVPs (note the 17% gratuity that comes with parties of 8 or more).

Another good sign was that the regular tea enthusiasts in our midst only had good things to say about Secret Garden. One such enthusiast is Carol Sill of Cha-Cha-Cha, who sat across from me during our stay. Carol was nice enough to put together a video summary of our tea party on her site, which is embedded below for your convenience:

Secret Garden Tea Company
5559 West Boulevard | Kerrisdale
604-261-3070

The Secret Garden Tea Company

Secret Garden Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Comments and photos from our table

Enjoy the visuals and comments that others from our party have already published:

Tea party guests – I want to hear from you. What did you like? What could have been better? Where are your photos? Post a comment below.

Next up: The Fish House at Stanley Park

I had so much fun having tea with this many companions that I may just make future afternoon tea outings into official Tiny Bites events. Rather than organize it as a tweetup or online invite, the next ones will be done offline, in order to minimize fluctuations in attendance as much as possible.

So should you be interested in joining me at the next tea party at the Fish House at Stanley Park, pencilled for the month of June, contact me now so I can keep you in mind when we set things up.

[flickrset id=”72157616883562706″ thumbnail=”square” overlay=”true” size=”original”]

Tortang talong (eggplant omelette) in 5 easy steps

Tortang talong

My husband doesn’t care much for eggplant.  Unfortunately, this meant that one of my favourite vegetables became unwelcome in our home.  In the eight years that we’ve been together, the only times I could use it in the kitchen was during tax season (when my husband disappears into the void for 3 months) or on nights where I’m left to cook for myself.  What a terrible dietary restriction.

[tbc_adsense]

Since our trip to the Philippines, Kurt has happily relaxed his scorn.  His new interest in eggplant is thanks to a simple dish that most Filipinos know and love: tortang talong.   Below is a visual recipe of the dish that is no longer blacklisted from our household.

Tortang Talong (Eggplant Omelette)

Step 1: Torch eggplant

Step 1 – Torch Eggplant

My favourite step. Using a gas stove, roast eggplant on all sides until skin is puffy and charred.  If you don’t have access to open flame (like our kitchen, sob) you can use your oven’s broiler, set on high. It’ll take a little longer to do.

Step 1b: Blister eggplant

Optional Step 1b – Steam Eggplant

If you are finding it difficult to peel the blackened skin off the eggplant, you can wrap said eggplant in foil and let steam a few minutes. The skin will peel off like panties at a Tom Jones concert.

Step 2: Peel eggplant

Step 2 – Peel Eggplant

Remove the skin from your roasted eggplant. It should look like this.  Having trouble? Try Step 1b above.

Step 4: Egg eggplant

Step 3 – Egg eggplant

Scramble an egg in a bowl and submerge your eggplant into it. Fan out the eggplant fully with a fork. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Step 4: Fry eggplant

Step 4 – Fry Eggplant

Heat a frying pan with a smidgeon of olive oil (low-med heat).  When the oil is ready, use the stem of your eggplant to lay it onto the pan. Make sure to fan the body of the eggplant out and use extra egg to fill in any gaps. Fry for 1-2 mins on each side or until each side is a toasty golden brown.

If you have extra egg left over, you can fry that up separately. It’ll taste like the eggplant omelette but without the veggie bits.

Step 5: Eat eggplant

Step 5 – Eat Eggplant

Blot excess oil off the omelette with paper towel if desired and you are done!

In my family, these omelettes are served over steamed rice and accompanied with some sort of pork. I usually eat it with pork chops but have been known to eat it with (gasp) Spam as well. If you want to be truly Filipino about it, create a dipping sauce of equal parts bagoong and white vinegar and spoon a little over each bite.

[imgset:72157614270984895,square,true]

Football-friendly recipes for Super Bowl XLIII

UpdateBuzz Bishop and I discussed Super Bowl food options on Virgin Radio 95.3 this evening.  Below is a clip of our chat, where Buzz suggests selecting beer according to team colours.  Great idea!

Tiny Bites talks about Super Bowl XLIII eats on Virgin Radio (95.3 FM)

macro of mcaffrey bobblehead (by horcubee)

Do you go gaga over the NFL? If so, you’re either hosting a Super Bowl party this Sunday or going to one. This year, we’re finally doing the former (even though Kurt’s Broncos and my beloved Patriots are not in the running…boo hoo).

now 17-0 (by horcubee)

You shouldn’t be surprised that we won’t be ordering pizza. Instead, we’ve scrounged the interweb for munchies that will represent the cuisine of Pittsburgh and Arizona without getting too gourmet on our  football-crazy friends.

Below is our shortlist of dishes from which we’ll choose from.

Go Steelers! Pro-Pittsburgh eats

Go Cardinals! Pro- Arizona eats

[What can I say? We like us some Bobby Flay.]

Other football-friendly eats

Spicy oven-baked chicken wings

Partisan beer choices

If you’re a guest to our or others’ Super Bowl parties this year, consider bringing beer representative of the team you’re cheering for.  Iron City seems to be the popular choice for Pittsburgh brew while Arizona-founded Chili Beer looks mighty intriguing. See if you can find them in Vancouver – I’ve been having a tough time with this search myself.

Brew connoisseur Rick Green of BC Brews chimed in with a pseudo-Arizona pick from Victoria-based Phillips Brewing Company. Look for their Phoenix Gold Lager at a BC Liquor Store near you.

Enjoy the game around town

If the bar scene is more your style, check out what some of  Vancouver’s pubs and restaurants are offering for sustenance on February 1, 2009.  Know of others showing the game in the city? Drop me a comment here.

  • Library Square Public House – my husband’s fave after-work hangout. Stadium-style menu, $16.10 buckets of Budweiser, $3.90 sleeves of Granville Island brew, and a roast pig! Come in after 3pm.
  • Kingston Taphouse – 11am marks the start of Kingston’s Super Bowl specials .  Drop in to enjoy the game, door prizes, and even a comedy act, or buy a $20 ticket to assure you a seat, a Prime Rib Burger and some Granville Island Beer.
  • Memphis Blues’ Super Bowl All-You-Can-Eat Party – The fun gets going at noon. $10 pitchers. Another $20 gets you unlimited pulled pork, chicken, catfish, rib ends, coleslaw, potato salad, BBQ pit beans, and Memphis Blues’ signature BBQ sauce. (Commercial and North Van locations only)

Other Super Bowl XLIII resources

These additional sites may help you with the planning of this year’s Super Bowl shenanigans:

What will you eat and drink on Super Bowl Sunday? Send me your tips and/or your favourite Super Bowl recipes.

Bacon weave Bacon weave, frying Slider patties Roethlis-burger sliders Spicy oven-baked chicken wings

A list of places to do afternoon tea in Vancouver

Food cravings seize me with sudden and often inexplicable vigor. When I dream of tea, the mind spins in a vortex of earl grey, scones, and triangular cucumber sandwiches with the crusts sliced off. Need your tea fix? Here’s quick and dirty list of places in Vancouver that offer afternoon tea service. Comment below if I’ve left any out.

Adonia Kerrisdale Tea House
2057 West 41st Ave | Kerrisdale
604-261-0049

Adorabelle Tea Room & Gift Shop | $16-25
12051 Third Avenue | Steveston Village, Richmond
604-241-1947

Applewood Country Gifts | $10-22
6345 120 St | Delta
604-596-9007

Bacchus Restaurant at the Wedgewood Hotel
845 Hornby Street | Downtown
604-689-7777
Read about our afternoon tea experience here >

Butchart Gardens (Vancouver Island) | $30-45
800 Benvenuto Ave | Brentwood Bay, Vancouver Island
250-652-8222

Little Saigon – Vancouver | $11-17
15223 Pacific Ave | White Rock
604-541-9010

Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
900 W Georgia | Downtown
604-684-3131

Fairmont Empress (Victoria)
721 Government Street | Victoria
1 (866) 540-4429 | (250) 384-8111
Read about our afternoon tea experience here >

The Fish House at Stanley Park
8901 Stanley Park Drive | Downtown
604-681-7275
Read about our afternoon tea experience here >


Flueri Restaurant at Sutton Place
845 Burrard Street | Downtown
604-682-5511

Little White House | $14-18
9090 Glover Road | Fort Langley | 604-888-8386
2626 Montrose Ave | Abbotsford | 604-853-0909

Provence Marinaside
1177 Marinaside Crescent | Yaletown
604-681-4144

Provence Mediterranean Grill
4473 West 10th Avenue | Point Grey
604-222-1980

Salmon House on the Hill | $22-29
2229 Folkestone Way | West Vancouver
604-926-3212

Secret Garden Tea Company
5559 West Boulevard | Kerrisdale
604-261-3070
Read about our afternoon tea experience here >

T Room (no website)
4445 W 10th Ave | Point Grey
604-677-2579
Read about our afternoon tea experience here >

Tracycakes
101 – 2636 Montrose Avenue | Abbotsford | 604-852-1433
15015 Marine Drive | White Rock | 604-541-4668

The Urban Tea Merchant
G3 – 825 Main Street | West Vancouver | 604-926-3392
1070 W. Georgia Street | Downtown | (604) 692-0071
MY FAVE! Read about our afternoon tea experiences here >

White Heather Tea Room (Victoria) | $18-55
1885 Oak Bay Avenue | Victoria
250-595-8020

I’d like to turn this post into a compendium of Vancouver high tea, but I know that the list is nowhere near comprehensive. Please help me add to this selection so that I may evaluate these offerings for you, as the compulsion to sip tea and nibble dainties hits me again and again. Feel free to raise a hand to join me on these adventures, too.

Filipino Restaurant Series: Cucina Manila

Cucina Manila: storefront

The third establishment on my Filipino dining wishlist was Cucina Manila, a turo-turo restaurant by Joyce Station.  It was highly praised by a colleague and a salsa dancing acquaintance, both of whom make their respective commutes from New Westminster and the West End to partake in its culinary offerings.

Inside Cucina Manila

It was hyped to be much better than Sandy’s Cuisine, the restaurant that has recently trumped Josephine’s Restaurant as my Filipino restaurant of choice.  Last weekend, my husband and I made the trip over to Cucina Manila to see just what was so extraordinary about this place.

Let’s start with the menudo, the pork stew that was once my favourite at Josephine’s and whose degradation I have been lamenting ever since.

Cucina Manila: menudo

While the quality was indeed better than the recipe currently being dished out at Josephine’s, it still doesn’t compare to my mom’s recipe, nor the one that I’ve secretly loved more than my mother’s by former Josephine’s chef, Mang Rene.

Cucina Manila: monggo

The other dishes we ordered were decent at best.  Both of us were let down that we had travelled all this way for food that we could have made better at home.  We also weren’t thrilled that there was no posted menu to speak of.  It quite intimidated my husband, who felt very conscious of his lack of Filipino vocabulary and his unfamilarity with the dishes that were on display.

Cucina Manila: turon

Hoping that our dining experience was just an off day, I took home an order of daing and kutsina to try out over the next few days.

Cucina Manila: daing

Daing is butterflied milkfish that’s been marinated in vinegar and garlic and fried till crispy.  It’s one of my favourite Filipino breakfast dishes, but cooking something this pungent at home would induce the wrath of all of our neighbours (not to mention my husband).  The daing from Cucina Manila did a good job of satisfying my breakfast craving, and was probably the best tasting item out of the ones we had sampled.

Cucina Manila: kutsinta

The kutsinta was passable.  It was by no means as good as the stuff my aunts have served us at the monthly Filipino potlucks we attend, but it was better than anything I could have made myself.

Would we come back and see if we’d like other dishes at Cucina Manila?  Probably not.  Perhaps I’m so used to how my family makes certain dishes that the style of cooking at Cucina Manila is simply not to my taste.  Perhaps my husband’s discomfort at feeling out of place and unwelcome as a non-Filipino was an impression I’ll have a hard time overcoming.  At any rate, Josephine’s and Sandy’s are much closer to our downtown abode and will likely continue to be our go-to places until I complete my tour of the other Filipino restaurants in the Lower Mainland.

Want to convince me otherwise?  Leave me a comment and let’s see if I can be persuaded to try Cucina Manila once more.

Cucina Manila
5179 Joyce Street | Vancouver
(604) 435-4508

Cucina Manila on Urbanspoon

Other blog reviews of Cucina Manila:

Filipino Restaurant Series to date:

    [imgset:72157607020469536,square,true]