Thursday, October 29, 2009

All India Sweets & Restaurant

In Vancouver, my friend Gill took me to the All India Sweets & Restaurant, a place where she used to eat with a big group at least once a week way back in 2002, when our mutual friend Kimme Gibbler was also living there. That's over 52 times a year. (Wow!) Afterwards, they would go back to someone's place and watch a couple of people who had eaten too much roll around on the floor in mock pain.

I could see the attraction right away. The place is totally unpretentious, friendly and all about the mountains of Indian desserts and good food for very little money. For $10.95, you can eat unlimited Indian food daily from their vegetarian buffet. Gill gave me the inside scoop: the sag paneer is to die for. I tried it. It is. We both died and went to heaven that lunch hour! And I got to catch up with one of my nearest and dearest friends. Thanks Gill!

(49th & Main)
Vancouver, B.C.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ebisu on Robson

I was in Vancouver this week, where there are delicious Japanese restaurants galore! A friend introduced me to a trendy Japanese place on Robson called Ebisu that is now on my "To Visit" list the next time I return to this fair city.

I loved it! Ebisu is among a growing number of restaurants that is infusing a new vibrancy into Japanese food. It's taking traditional dishes and marketing them as tapas plates with a twist. Hapa Izakaya, where S and I ate two years ago, is another good example of this new kind of Japanese restaurant that draws a younger crowd because of its unique interpretations.

Some of the dishes were a fusion of cuisines — we ordered salmon carpaccio (an Italian term for thin shavings of raw meat), which came drizzled in a citrus white-wine mayo. It was a fresh take on the traditional tataki (which longtime readers of beFOODled will know I also adore) that consists of thinly sliced raw or lightly cooked beef in a citrus vinaigrette.

We ordered five dishes — saba (mackerel) flame, saba inferno, salmon carpaccio and the B.C. and mega dynamite rolls — and a pitcher of delicious sangria to wash it all down. Five dishes might not seem like a lot for two people, but we were full!

My favourite was the saba flame. This dish is also a great example of what I mean by how these restaurants are funkifying the traditional. Saba flame is mackerel sashimi but the server lights it on fire with a hand-held blow torch at your table. She did the same thing with the saba inferno, searing the mackerel skin. It gave it a truly mouthwatering, coal-fired flavour.

The food is fresh and has so much flavour. I would recommend Ebisu if you happen to be on Robson Street looking for great Japanese food.

Ebisu on Robson
827 Bute Street
Vancouver, B.C.
604.689.8266 (reservations are recommended)

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Inn in Prince Edward County

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My mom and S and I spent the day in Prince Edward County recently and had lunch at The Inn restaurant. It's located on the shore of the Lake on the Mountain and right beside another beautiful watery vista, the Bay of Quinte some 200 feet below, where you can watch the ferries go back and forth.

The Lake on the Mountain is exactly what it claims to be. It's something of a regional mystery that defies all geologic explanation because it's always full of fresh, clean water, but without an apparent source. The most accepted explanation is that it's a collapsed doline, a closed depression that's a rare feature associated with limestone rock.

The restaurant is an old stone farmhouse and has a small brewery onsite. We ate in the sunroom, a later addition with lots of extra tables. It's a beautiful space with a fireplace and lots of light.

I had a soup of the day with all kinds of rich and delicious things. One of the ingredients was andouille sausage, which I had never heard of before but is so good. I also ordered the charcuterie plate that came with cured meats, pâté, a stack of prettily balanced toasted baguette slices and all the trimmings (cornichons, pickled onions and homemade mustard).

S had the special, which was a Margherita pizza with fresh tomatoes, bocconcini cheese and basil and balsamic vinegar.

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My Mom had the smoked salmon and potato rosti appetizer with chive crème fraiche and capers. Rosti is so tasty!

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All of this plus a few glasses of wine came to $90, including tax and tip.

The restaurant recommends you make reservations. If you ever go, you will know why! It's a delicious experience, the food is beautifully presented and made from locally sourced ingredients, and you are treated very well.

The Inn restaurant
Lake on the Mountain Resort
268 County Road 7
Prince Edward County, ON

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Farewell Gourmet

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Gourmet, the oldest food magazine in the U.S., is ceasing publication after nearly 70 years because of declining ad sales. The November issue will be its last.

I have never been a subscriber, but have bought the occasional issue off the newsstand. I'm a sucker for beautiful production values and in Gourmet there is no shortage of luscious photo essays and beautifully laid-out features.

The publisher Condé Nast said the brand will live on in a TV series and in cookbooks, but to me those are not acceptable substitutes for a glossy magazine. I already have lots of cookbooks and can't tuck a TV series in my purse!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Beau's Oktoberfest

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Beau’s brewery of Lugtread and NightMarzen fame hosted an Oktoberfest celebration near Ottawa this weekend. S and I caught the bus out with Squeaky and Calimocho and we all met up with Peanut Butter and Jelly later. It was a little reunion of our old food club, the Gastronati.

We all got a free green alpine hat (made in China and which didn’t fit any of our heads) and immediately bought litre steins for $8 that became our drinking vessels for the day. I really liked the branding for the whole event. Their graphic designer, who also did Beau’s’ little tractor logo, was recruited to hand out armbands at the shuttle bus pickup. It seems every Beau’s employee was given a job to do.

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The food was very gourmet considering that we were in the middle of a farmer’s field eating off of hay bales. Some of Ottawa’s best restaurants that have Beau’s on tap came out to feed the people with lots of hearty stew-type dishes, perfect for the cold, damp weather.

Against a backdrop of happy oompah music, we ate fancy spaetzle poutine (which was so popular it ran out at 11:30 a.m.) and elk goulash from Murray Street, and a free raw oyster on the half shell from the Whalesbone.

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We also had two very nice dishes from the Urban Pear, a potato pancake with sausage slices and apple sauce, and a yummy hot cassoulet with chicken sausage, duck confit, smoked bacon and white beans and cabbage, real stick-to-your-ribs goodness!

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The only dish that really resembled traditional German fare was the Piggy Market’s Beau’s wurst on a bun with homemade condiments — very juicy and tasty. Squeaky took a big bite and I’m told a plume of sausage juice squirted onto my jacket. (I must have been too busy eating my delicious smoked fish chowder from Domus to notice.)

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Unfortunately, all the food ran out at around dinnertime because they had only really planned for about 1,000 and some 5,000 people came. They wisely ordered a large quantity of pizzas to keep people fed until 9 p.m. so that the next three hours weren’t pure alcohol!

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