Crepe heaven is found at La Bretagne Creperie

This is Blogathon post #34 of 48 in support of the David Suzuki Foundation

La Bretagne Creperie is place I go to satisfy my frequent cravings for crepes and galettes.

La Bretagne Creperie: peche melba?

It’s leagues better than the other franchises that are spattered across downtown Vancouver. Enjoy your meal while sipping on apple cider and listening to Isabelle sing French ditties while she cooks.

La Bretagne Creperie
795 Jervis Street | Downtown Vancouver
(604) 688-5989

La Bretagne Creperie on Urbanspoon


Blueberries in season: celebrate with this blueberry-banana bread

This is Blogathon post #21 of 48 in support of the David Suzuki Foundation

Tis the season for blueberries! Your grocer should be brimming with bulk packages of bluey goodness by now. Ours was, so we used half of our container to make our favourite summer baked good: blueberry-banana bread, care of our trusty Betty Crocker cookbook.

Blueberry-banana bread

The one thing I’ve changed is the timing of the preheat. Most modern day appliances get to the set temperature in under 10 minutes. If that describes your appliance, follow the directions below. If you have an older oven that takes longer to heat up, preheat the oven as you grease the pans.


  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed *very* ripe banana (3 medium ones should do it)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh (or frozen) blueberries


  1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in the centre of the oven. Grease bottoms only of 2 8″ loaf pans or 1 9″ loaf pan.
  2. Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl. [You can use your stand mixer from this point on, which is what we do.]
  3. Stir in eggs until well blended.
  4. Stir in banana, buttermilk, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
  5. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt until just moistened.
  6. Stir in blueberries.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F. Divide batter evenly between pans.
  8. Bake 8″ loaves for 1 hour or a 9″ loaf for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack.
  9. Loosen sides of loaves; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. [We usually can’t wait that long and start eating it as soon as it stops burning our tongues!]
  10. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Filipino Restaurant Series: Josephine’s

Filipino food mosaic

Filipino cuisine is the ultimate in comfort food. I may be a little biased, having been born in Manila and then raised by a mother who is an amazing cook…but I have many non-Filipino friends that can attest to the yumminess of Filipino home cooking (my husband included). You just have to be very open to pork in all its glorious forms.

The problem with my love of Filipino food is that I don’t know how to cook all the dishes that I enjoy. Living downtown and preferring not to drive also compounds the sourcing of unusual ingredients like kangkong and sampalok. Cue Josephine’s Restaurant, which for years and years has been my #1 place to patronize when my Pinoy cravings needed to be assuaged.

filipino champagne lunch

Photo by Curtis Carlson Photography. Lunch before my wedding “catered” by Josephine’s.

Lately, I’ve been harbouring traitorous feelings about Josephine’s. It is owned by family friends and former chef Mang Rene, of the original Broadway restaurant gem that was Mang Rene’s, was well loved by our family. With these ties, it is with extreme disappointment that I report the dreadful decline in the quality of the dishes that Josephine’s has been putting out.

The saddest change is in their menudo. Their menudo used to be so tantalizing that my husband and I never felt the need to make it at home. We’d simply order it to go from Josephine’s and enjoy the aroma of stewed tomatoes and pork throughout the car ride home. One could even venture to say that it was better than my mother’s (shhh). These days, the menudo is bland, watery, not as vibrant in colour. Key ingredients have changed. There used to be lots of raisin, tomato, potato, and sausage (okay, hot dog…). Now it’s more or less a monotonous sea of pork.

Bad menudo: the catalyst for change. I’m leaving the warm, once-delicious embrace of Josephine’s to flirt shamelessly with the other Filipino restaurants in the city. I’ll be sure to keep you all informed of my quest to find an authentic Filipino eatery to commit to. If I find one that’s really a keeper, we may go ring shopping and begin choosing baby names.

What do you think of Josephine’s?

If you have been to Josephine’s lately and care to disagree, please please comment! I want to know what is still good. Is the palabok still worthy? Has anything else suffered the same fate as my dear menudo? Give me the scoop!

Josephine’s Filipino Restaurant
2650 Main St | Vancouver
(604) 876-8785

Josephine's on Urbanspoon

Filipino Restaurant Series to date:

    Making artisan sausages with Slow Food Lions Gate

    Update: Read what Slow Food Lions Gate co-founder Brenda Farrell had to say about this workshop on the Slow Food Lions Gate blog.

    Group shot 1

    My first encounter with the local Slow Food scene came in the form of a fun sausage-making workshop care of Slow Food Lions Gate, of course this is all made with healthy food, for the people who like to watch their health, and they can also take supplements as kratom for this purpose. Sebastian and Jessica of West Vancouver’s Sebastian & Co took us through a demo of how to make their Sicilian beef sausage before we broke up into groups to make our own.

    Sebastian's sicilian beef sausage

    We were given 6 recipes to choose from but were encouraged to branch out from that. A couple of groups did experiment, making bratwurst as well as a pork/beef blend with fennel seed and cumin. My group attempted Sebastian’s chorizo recipe which calls for four different hits of heat.


    • 5 lbs pork, 40% hand-chopped
    • 1/2 cup white vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
    • 3/4 cup chipotle in adobe sauce, pureed
    • 2.5 tablespoons minced garlic
    • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne

    Directions (with visuals)

    1. Choose a casing for your sausage. Sheep casings are the smallest and most delicate at 2/3" – 1" in diameter, and are usually used for breakfast sausage. Hog casings are the more commonly seen size at 1.25" – 1.75". Beef casings can be as large as 4.25" in diameter. They are typically used for salamis or garlic sausage. Another option is synthetic casing, made from reconstituted collagen. These come in uniform packs and are made in a range of sizes.
    2. Sausage casings packed in salt

    3. Untangle your chosen casing from the bundle it came from (it is usually hard-packed in salt). Rinse the salt thoroughly from the outer shell. Fill the inside of the casing with water like a hose and squeeze it through to rid the salt from its interior. Let soak in a bowl of cold water while you prepare the sausage filling.
    4. Washing the casing

    5. Grind the meat as specified. Chorizos are generally hand-chopped and/or coarsely ground. Breakfast sausages are made with finely ground pork.
    6. Inside the meat grinder

    7. Assemble the wet and dry ingredients that make up your marinade. Massage this into the ground meat until thoroughly blended.
    8. Chorizo marinade

    9. Cook a sample patty of your sausage filling for a taste test. Correct the seasoning as needed; it’ll be much more difficult to change the flavour profile after the sausages have been stuffed!
    10. Sample sicilian beef patty

    11. Stuff the filling into the casing using whatever equipment you have available. At home, that could be a pastry bag, a sausage attachment on your stand mixer, or even with your hands. Key points: tie a knot at the tail end of the casing; keep natural (animal) casings wet throughout the entire stuffing process; leave a bit of slack (do not overstuff) or the casing may rupture. Twist off and/or tie a knot at the other end of the casing when you are done.
    12. Sausage in the making

    13. Twirl the first segment of sausage 4-5 times away from you to create the first link. For the next segment, twirl a similar length of sausage 4-5 times towards you to create the second link. Repeat, alternating the direction that you twirl each link.
    14. Our finished chorizo

    15. You generally want to hang your linked sausage for at least a day before separating into individual links. Separating them too soon may cause the casing to break apart.

    After all of that, you should get beautiful chorizo much like this:

    Our hand-made chorizo

    Since each group tried a different recipe, we all took home samples of each other’s creations. I arrived chez nous with a package containing our chorizo, Sebastian’s demoed Sicilian beef, lamb sausage with rosemary, bratwurst, the pork and beef blend with cumin and fennel seed, and a mild Italian chicken sausage.

    At home with our new artisan sausage collection

    That night we ate simply: a trio of fried sausage on a creamy bed of polenta.

    Artisan sausage trio with polenta

    For the next sausage dish, I took the Sicilian beef out of its casing and rolled it into mini-meatballs, tossing it with stellene, julienned asparagus, smoked hot paprika, olive oil, and roasted garlic. Fan-freaking-tastic.

    Stelline aglio e olio with sicilian beef sausage and asparagus

    This workshop was educational and fun, costing only $16 for a week’s worth of dinner. What more can you ask for? It also re-ignited my love affair with chorizo. However, I will no longer be satisfied with the bland mass-produced chorizo at our downstairs grocer. I’ll have to make a trip out to Sebastian’s shop in Dundarave soon and get us another fix!


    Tinolang Manok: ginger chicken stew with spinach and papaya

    I’m back home from my trip to Atlanta, trying to eliminate the massive sleep debt I’d accumulated over the past two weeks! There are also hundreds of photos to sift through and quite a few pages of restaurant observations to decipher from my little notebook. While I get that sorted out, here’s a recipe handed down from my mother’s side that should assuage Bruce’s craving for something soupy.

    Chicken tinola

    Tinolang Manok (Chicken Tinola)

    The Filipino idea of soup is a little different from Western notions. Nearly everything, including our soups and stews, are eaten on a bed of steamed rice. We throw ingredients into a giant pot, let it simmer for a good long while in its liquid, and then attempt to eat the stewy or brothy mess on a flat plate using only a fork and spoon. Don’t bother asking for a knife—the meat should already be falling off the bone, as intended.

    This recipe is one of the quicker ones: under an hour from prep to finish, serving 4 comfortably or a couple with baon (leftovers) for the next day. If green / unripe papaya is difficult to find, a couple of chayotes works fine. We have also tried it with ripe papaya in the summer months. Doing so does change the flavour profile quite a bit, but you may enjoy the colour contrast and additional sweetness that ripe fruit will lend to the broth.

    Chicken tinola: ingredients


    • 8 – 12 chicken drumsticks
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 2-inch-long piece of ginger, sliced wide and thin
    • 1 bunch or bag of spinach
    • 1 green papaya, chopped into 1-inch pieces
    • 1 litre chicken broth
    • 1 tablespoon patis (fish sauce)


    1. Sweat the ginger and onion over medium-low heat until the onion goes translucent. Raise heat to high. Add chicken and saute until the meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
    2. Add patis and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Turn heat down; cover and simmer until chicken is fork-tender, about 20 – 30 minutes.
    3. Add papaya and simmer another 10 minutes or until soft.
    4. Taste the broth. Is it seasoned enough? If not, add more patis to taste.
    5. Turn off heat. Stir in spinach, covering until ready to serve over steamed white rice.

    To be extra Filipino, make individual dips of patis and Tabasco for each place setting, spooning a little bit of the dip on your spoonful before it enters your mouth.