Brunch, Contemporary Western, Food, Travel, Vancouver

Weekend brunch is one of my favourite things to do to start the weekend. After my trip to Toronto (which was quite a while ago), Jacky and I caught up with our huge foodie friend, Raissa, for a brunch date at The Oakwood Bistro. I’m not sure what it is, but something about The Oakwood Bistro reminded me of Happy Bones in New York City, but a darker and more metropolitan vibe to it. Moreover, Oakwood Bistro is a restaurant and Happy Bones is a coffee shop. Happy Bones excelled in pastel, white and wooden tones with large windows whereas The Oakwood Bistro was dim lit, closed in and surrounded with darker and heavier colours in their restaurant.

When we got there, the place was already packed with people. We would have to wait for an hour if we wanted a table so we decided to skip the long table line ups and went for a seat at the bar. I know bar seats are not the most intimate ways to dine with friends, but at least service was very attentive since the bartender helped us out with all of our orders.

Oakwood Bistro prides itself in locally produced products from all over British Columbia and with their fresh ingredients from our BC neighbours, a wonderful brunch was prepared for us.

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Short Rib Hash Brown Croquettes with Sous Vide Eggs, and Caramelized Onion Purée.

The presentation didn’t seem too impressive since everything looked like it was scattered on the plate. When I took the photo from above, my thoughts changed. It was quite pretty with the caramelized onion purée drops that created a windmill image with the short rib, hash brown croquettes and sour vide eggs in the centre.

I don’t think I’ve ever had sous vide eggs, but since this was Raissa’s order, I didn’t get a chance to try it. I observed  the texture of the egg and how it looked like a poached egg but instead the yolk and egg whites was still in a consistent runny texture. Breaking the egg yolk and allowing it to spread across the dish will be most welcomed.

In French, “sous vide” means that the food is vacuum sealed then cooked in a controlled temperature water point. Egg could easily be overcooked so the method is quite tricky.

The hash brown croquettes were vibrant in taste and texture giving the dish an extra crunch.

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Confit Tuna Benedict with Dill Hollandaise, a Fennel Salad and Home Fries

I have never heard of fennel before so I did some research on it before writing this post. Fennel is a flowering plant in the celery family and most people use the bulb of the fennel in cooking. The fronds are often left aside and tossed into salads. Since it is part of the celery family, the texture was refreshing, crunchy and firm similar to its other family members.

Out of all of the egg benedicts I have eaten, this was by far the most sour  hollandaise I’ve ever had. This wasn’t bad though, because I know hollandaise already has lemon juice and vinegar in its mixture. However with dill, it gave an extra sour kick that became a bit too overwhelming at the end.

Other than the dill hollandaise, the benedict was delicious with a perfect golden runny yolk that leaked onto the meaty tuna and English muffin.

The home fries were very different than other places I’ve had brunch with home fries. The Oakwood Bistro adds a final dash of BBQ sauce on their home fries and my God, that was the perfect touch!

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Maple Confit Pork Belly with Scrambled Eggs, Home Fries and Toast

The maple confit pork belly was thick but soft to chew with a slightly crispy rim. Compared to the other two orders, this might look very plain and simple but all taste buds are focused on the maple confit pork belly slices here.

The brush of maple sweetness on top of each pork belly accentuated the savoury flavours in the pork with a hint of sweetness and lightness.

The scrambled eggs were fluffy and buttery making this menu option a very fulfilling Canadian and quite masculine brunch.

The Oakwood Canadian Bistro on Urbanspoon

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Cafes and Bakeries, Food, Toronto, Travel

During our little tour around Kensington in Toronto, not only did we stop for mini tacos at Seven Lives, but we also had a delicious icy treat for the summer at Fika Cafe. I was drawn to the cafe by its minimalistic and modern decor so we went straight in. My cousin told me that their ice cream sandwiches were pretty good and since the weather was hot, it was hard to say no.

In Sweden, “fika” means coffee break. The cafe was designed like it and it felt very homey and suitable for a comfortable study session.

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I could spend an entire day studying at Fika if I went to university in Toronto. If you want a more nature atmosphere, there is a small garden area behind Fika where you can enjoy a comfortable green surrounding while you sit back and enjoy a coffee.

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Or you can sit indoors with the comfort of their somewhat antique yet modern décor and red brick walls.

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Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwich

I wouldn’t say that this was a distinct ice cream sandwich because it was a merely a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream in between. There wasn’t any extra creaminess to the ice cream or specific texture in the cake, so there wasn’t much worth praising about.

One thing I did like about their ice cream sandwich was how thin the cake was. I was never a fan of the spongy and thick ice cream sandwiches that seemed to be too much cake and too little ice cream.

Fika is a great place to study and have a nice afternoon drink, but I wouldn’t go specifically for their ice cream sandwiches.

FIKA Café on Urbanspoon

Food, Italian, Travel, Vancouver

First of all, I want to apologize for the horrible quality of these photos. The lighting was extremely dim at the restaurant and I was still using my iPhone4 to take these photos. I tried to adjust the photos on Photoshop, but it didn’t turn out too well. I’ll be getting a camera in the summer so please forgive me.

I was never a fan of pizza since I saw it as a starving university student’s food. I’ve also had a scarring time back in high school having to eat pizza every Friday for lunch for about half a year. On the other hand, Neapolitan pizza is something I won’t usually say “no” to. From it’s slightly charred flavours and its thin 3mm crust to it’s sweet tomatoes and rich cheese, I’m always up for a good pizza.

Via Tevere is snuggled away from the busy and main street where all the other Italian restaurants are located on Commercial Drive. We thought that since it was away from the street, there wouldn’t be a lot of people. Turns out, we were so wrong. Via Tevere does not take reservations so we ended up waiting for an hour and 15 minutes for a table for 3.

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To begin our Italian fare, the three of us shared a lovely bottle of Tommasi “le rosse” pinot grigio 2012 from Veneto, Italy. None of us are wine experts but since I wanted something sweet, pinot grigio was a good way to go. We also wanted to drink to a good night and a last dinner with Cho before she leaves Vancouver.

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Salsiccia e Rapini (Red) and Prosciutto e Funghi

The whole reason why we came here was because of the Neapolitan pizzas, but pizza wasn’t enough to fill us up so we also ordered a pasta dish. Pizza and pasta, it can’t be more Italian than this. Two pizzas shared between three people was already enough, so make sure you don’t over order just because these might not look like “large” pizzas.

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Rigatoni with Wild Fungi and Ham (Daily Pasta)

The texture of the rigatoni was similar to the average store bought pre-made rigatoni in a bag. The texture was slightly hard and it just lacked the right chewiness in pasta. Luckily the white pasta sauce was creamy and rich in mushroom flavours so I wouldn’t give it an all thumbs down.

The wild fungi and the hint of saltiness from the ham accentuated the cream sauce making the rigatoni acceptable despite its hard texture.

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Salsiccia e Rapini (Red)

What’s in it: Fior di latte, Italian sausage, and broccoli rabe.

Little did I know that broccoli rabe was supposed to be slightly bitter so we were all surprised by it. The charred sides didn’t help because some parts were incredibly burnt making some slices more bitter than others. However, I did enjoy the texture of the broccoli rabe which was quite similar to kale.

The tomato sauce and mozzarella tasted fantastic and it was so fresh. More points to the tomato sauce because it wasn’t too sour and it even had a bit of sweetness to it.

Lastly, my God, the Italian sausage was so savoury but I think if they replaced the broccoli rabe with another vegetable topping that isn’t bitter would make this pizza even more delightful.

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Prosciutto e Funghi

What’s in it: Tomato, fior di latte, prosciutto, and mushrooms

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed which pizza more just because they both had their good points. The Prosciutto e Funghi had the best taste, but the texture was lacking. While the Italian sausage in the Salsiccia e Rapini was delicious, the Prosciutto e Funghi had the fragrant mushrooms.

They only topped three pieces of prosciutto on the pizza and I wish they gave us more because we only had an impish speck of prosciutto on each slice.

Via Tevere Pizzeria Napoletana on Urbanspoon

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