A foodie at Feenie's

Yesterday was Rocco' one year anniversary of moving to Vancouver. We celebrated in style with a reservation at Feenie's. Iron Chef Rob Feenie opened Lumière on Broadway, quickly followed by Feenie's next door. The two restaurants share the same kitchen but Lumière is considered haute cuisine while Feenie's is supposed to be Rob getting back to his roots, cooking for the people. Uh huh.

I promised a couple people the full report, so I hereby dedicate this blog entry to a description of our sumptuous meal.
Rocco began with the daily ravioli: butternut squash ravioli with roasted pine nuts in a light citrus cream sauce. This dish was truly amazing and I could have eaten just that and been satisfied. Reluctantly I limited myself to half a ravioli and a few dips of the sauce with bread. I chose the daily soup for my starter, a gin tomato soup garnished with basil oil. Yummy, but pretty much a basic tomato soup. We ordered a bottle of Yalumba grenache for the meal that turned out to be quite full and fruity but not overpowering.

On to the main course. I opted for the single vegetarian option in the entree section of the menu, rigatoni with butter-braised tomatoes, cultivated mushrooms, arugula and goat's cheese, finished with shaved parmesan. The dish was quite good, but the tomatoes were out of this world! I'll have to experiment a little to determine exactly what "butter-braised" actually means in practice because they definitely made the dish. Rocco had a number of items to choose from and he went with the shepherd's pie. Duck confit and corn topped with truffle scented mashed spud, accompanied by an au jus. I didn't taste this but he ate every last morsel on the plate and claimed it was delicious.

To finish, we split the daily brulee which turned out to be an amaretto, vanilla bean brulee. There's no way one person could have finished it, the portion was so large. Mmm, mm good! Perfectly torched, lovely and creamy, and still light enough that we didn't waddle away from the table

This meal was very good. Did it live up to his reputation as an Iron Chef? Maybe. Apart from the ravioli, the food wasn't shockingly good. The service was excellent (our waiter's name was something like Giuseffe (Gee-you-sef-fay)) and, wonderfully, we ended up being the sole table in a little private room so we felt very special. I will absolutely go back for other seasonal dishes but there are more restaurants in this town that are begging to be explored. Have no fear, I will report on our various foodie adventures in the city!


All purpose resource

I've got a joke for you.
What do Vancouverites use when faced with light, dry, fluffy snow?

This town is funny. We get this kind of snow so rarely that no one owns the right tools to deal with it, including all-purpose radials. My bus driver today went on the PA system to make fun of the impotent road grader we passed - the blade of the grader was maybe 1.5 meters long.

At least the city looks terrific! It hasn't melted much yet so the trees are still graced with icing. Turns out that Vancouver trees aren't built for this weather either and there are many, many trees down and even more broken. Cherry blossom trees are the weakest, apparently. It's very sad to see.

Flickr Pickr

Check this out: http://color.slightlyblue.com/
The tool selects photos on flickr.com that feature the colour you have chosen. Very cool. Makes you want to redecorate - or at least that's the effect on me.


A family affair

Can anyone guess who these lovely folks are? Here's a clue, now I definitely know who I get my hair from.


Another one down

Completed my third half-marathon in driving wind and lashing rain yesterday. The Fall Classic race wanders around UBC campus on a route that would be really pretty, and fast, in nicer weather. I was hoping to break 2 hours but now I can blame my 2:07 time on the weather. There was a point in the race when I realized that, with 5km to go, I could potentially turn on my inner ninja and fly to the finish line to achieve a time right around, if not slightly under, 2 hours. Of course, this was after running 16km already and now wearing sopping wet clothes (so they were heavy!). I decided it wasn't something I needed to kill myself for so instead I finished with an almost identical time to the half-marathon in Victoria at Thanksgiving. I guess I'm just not a very fast runner, but I think I'm ok with that.

The best part of yesterday was...wait, there were two things worth noting. First, by the time I finished the race, checked out the race expo a bit and had some grub, changed every article of soaked clothing for its dry equivalent, ran for the bus but didn't make it, took another bus, and walked all the way home from the bus stop, I still got to wake Rocco up from his sleepy cocoon since it was only 10:40AM on a Sunday morning. The second enjoyable part of yesterday afternoon was publicly yelling and shaking my fist at the sky; the sun shone brightly yesterday afternoon so we roamed the city doing xmas errands with our jackets tied around our waists. I ran 21.1km in a total squall, then walked around casually, fully clothed, in gorgeous sunshine. Oh the irony.

Edit: I'm not unhappy with my 2:07 time, sorry if I gave that impression. It does get frustrating when you go out and do something big like run a half-marathon and the most you can say about it is, "my time was exactly the same as my last race." I'd like to be getting better, or even to have something bizarre happen like all I could do was run 4:20 or my knees would fall off. The final story is that this race was pretty fun because of the ridonkulous weather, and I wish I was getting better at long distance racing. I guess I'm getting better at one thing: last year I was registered in the Fall Classic 10km that happens the same morning - and I didn't even leave my apartment to go to the race! So I'm getting better at getting out of bed for a race.


Mac Spoof: Performance

Helsinki Complaints Choir

Quite funny! The last minute and a half are blank so feel free to shut it off then.

What complaints would you add to their repertoire?


Boil water advisory

For anyone living in Vancouver, there is now a water advisory for the lower mainland. Water authorities are recommending boiling water for 5 minutes before any use, including for washing vegetables and brushing teeth. Water sediment levels (turbidity) are higher than the Vancouver Health Authority have ever seen!


This is all due to the tremendous storms we've been experiencing (no, not thunderstorms, just absurd amounts of rain). The wind and lashing rain have been disturbingly strong. Here's a link to the story as reported by CBC.

UPDATE on Friday: This morning it took me five stops at various (alleged) coffee shops to find one still making and selling coffee. I was seriously concerned that I would have to go caffeine-free on this rainy, sleepy Friday. The one cafe on campus that is still wisely selling the java juice will probably make their annual sales estimate today. Ha! Screw you Starbucks! Too afraid of liability, are ya? HA!


Lip smackin' good!

O'Rumba tofu salad:
  1. Marinate thin tofu slices in O'Rumba sauce for a while.
  2. Saute tofu pieces over medium heat; add leftover marinade to the pan when you turn the tofu.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare salad with mixed greens, thin slices of red pepper, sliced mushrooms, avocado, and thinly sliced green onion. Reserve some onion for garnish.
  4. Toss salad with a light dressing like maple syrup, lemon juice, Bragg's, and olive oil.
  5. Top tossed salad with cooked tofu. Garnish with remaining green onion and sesame seeds.
  6. Take a picture because it looks so damn savoury tasty good.
  7. Devour.
  8. Blog about it.
No, you can't have any because it's all gone!

Reading goal

My reading ambition for Spring 2007 is to read all the books shortlisted for the 2006 Giller Prize. I do make an effort to read Canadian fiction, partially to support Canadian authors, but also to learn more about what people in this country are thinking and talking about. I figure the Giller shortlist is a good place to start. Here are the five authors and novels:
  • Rawi Hage - DE NIRO'S GAME
  • Pascale Quiviger - THE PERFECT CIRCLE
  • Carol Windley - HOME SCHOOLING
Interestingly, the winning book is not a complete novel but a series of twelve short stories. The stories are connected and eventually a narrative arc emerges (so they say) but still I find it surprising that a collection of short stories won in a fictional novel competition. Windley's Home Schooling is also a collection of short stories. I'll keep the blog updated as I progress through the list (in random order).

Currently I'm reading
This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson. It's a really fantastic tale about the HMS Beagle, the surveying ship that carried Darwin to South America. The story is utterly readable and already I've spent many late nights reading well past my bedtime because the boat sails into a terrible storm and I can't put the book down before knowing the outcome. I highly recommend it to anyone even vaguely interested in that time or in that adventure.


Warning** Foodie entry **

My folks were visiting Vancouver this weekend so much time was spent walking, eating, planning where to eat, planning how to drive various people various places, planning what to do, eating, planning the next rendezvous for eating, walking, etc. Most people who have dropped by Vancouver will understand that my idea of showing someone around town is really touring them through restaurants, tapas bars, purveyors of fake meats, and sometimes even cooking for the mob in our own kitchen. This visit with my hilarious and fun parents was no exception.

Friday, five of us met at Sitar, an Indian restaurant in Gastown. The meal was very good, but I wouldn't say it's the best Indian food ever. The naan are a generous size and their palak paneer is very tasty, but Tandoori King in Little India is still my favourite in Vancouver. My sister did point out a major omission: the true test of a fine Indian restaurant is Malai Kofta (vegetable balls in a creamy curry sauce). Malai Kofta at Tandoori King absolutely rocks the house - damn! - but we neglected to try the same dish at Sitar so we have no true comparison. Our meal was fine, and everyone was talkative and relaxed. The next day mom and dad came over for knish at our apartment, then we drove all the way to Dunbar and 41st to gorge at the Celtic Treasure Chest on whiskey marmalade and flake bars only to find that the shop was closed for the long weekend (Remembrance Day). Bah! Dad was sorely disappointed that he couldn't get his hands on a jar of gooseberry jam. I'll see what I can do for you before my trip home, dad.

Saturday night found all six of us at Savory Coast Cucina Mediterranea, an Italian-style restaurant right in the heart of downtown, above shoe stores on Robson Street. The place was packed and loud. The food was amazing. I was a little worried because none of the Vancouverites among us had tried this restaurant before, and my sister and I aim high when we're choosing where to take my parents. Our first choice was an Italian restaurant in Gastown called Incendio. We went to check it out a week before my parents arrived and found the food mediocre, and their pet cockroach dead in the ladies' bathroom. No way, Jose! So, we were a little anxious that Savory Coast would cut the mustard. I think it's safe to say that everyone at the table was satisfied. I can vouch for the warm goat cheese salad with beets and greens, and the mixed mushroom pizza - both dishes were wonderful. Other people at the table tried the slow food lamb, the salmon (the server announced the arrival of Rocco's meal with "Sir, your slamon!" and no, that is not MY typo), and pastas. Desserts were awesome, the service was good, and we could almost hear each other speak for nearly 10 minutes when the huge birthday party beside us had their meals delivered. One note of warning to people who may be tempted to try this place, the wine list is absurdly priced! They demand $45 for a bottle of Chilean carmenere that goes for $15 at any wine store. Ridiculous, and not even proportionate to the price of their meals.

Sunday morning we all gathered at Caffe Artigiano on Hornby Street, across from the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), for a morning coffee. This place has what I consider to be the best coffee in Vancouver. The barristas also dabble in coffee art, making delicate designs in the crema of lattes and cappuccinos. Rocco and I breakfasted on their fabulous paninis while everyone else admired their coffees. Later on, after a visit to the VAG and a tour around Rocco's office, mom and dad came to our place for brie and bread, wine and olives. We were careful not to spoil our appetites since A&M invited everyone over for dinner at their place.

More amazing food! A&M went all out, offering both seered, breaded chicken and tofu, super tasty couscous with onion, olives and corn, baked potatoes and beets (frickin' amazing), mushy peas, and a delicious mushroom sauce for the chicken or tofu. Mushy peas? They are boiled peas mashed with mint and parsley and they are to die for! Anne, I want that recipe! The meal almost put me over the edge of my capacity to keep eating, and that's saying a lot!

Finally, mom and dad caught the plane home today, only in the nick of time since I really couldn't handle another day of indulgence and gastronomical excess! Of course, before they left they managed to feed us again, as we all met at Sunrise Pizza on Commercial drive for some great, basic pizza. I'm not naming names but some of us opted for one more glass of wine with our pizza lunch, to properly tie off a really nice holiday weekend.

That's it, I'm stuffed!


Oh the huge vanity!

On the spur of the moment I got my hair cut on Friday. I dropped in to Suki's (South Granville) and asked for a walk in appointment with one of the, *ahem*, less expensive stylists. Oh yes, Amy was available to see me right away. Yeehaw, thought I.

I've been growing my hair out for a couple years now. It seems to grow at the rate of an inch a decade, even with very few haircuts in the interim. August 2005 was a bad scene as a stylist at the Beehive gave me horrible layers and essentially lopped off all my efforts at growing my hair long. To rectify the situation, I went to a different hair stylist and had the rest of the travesty cut off, leaving me back at stage one. Do not pass go, do not collect your complimentary hair ties. Finally, more than a year later, it seemed that my hair was actually reaching a length that someone describing me to another person might call 'medium length'. I was really starting to like the weight of all that hair and enjoyed putting it in different arrangements like braids. Well, as I said, I dropped in for a trim on Friday to a new stylist.

I feel shorn! On Friday, the stylist gave me horrible layers and I went back to her today (Sunday) to get her to cut the rest of the travesty off. Do I repeat myself? The Friday through Sunday cut has been dubbed Le Champignon for its uncanny resemblance to a mushroom. I'm no longer mushroom-head but damn my neck is cold!

Yes, it will grow back. Yes, it is merely hair. But I'm still upset. I haven't had long hair in over a decade, if ever, and I was excited to know that my folicles have the ability to grow past my shoulders. A number of trips coming up would have meant that my good peeps in far away places would have seen me with long hair - a first for many of them. Do they care? Confucius thinks no. Do I? Sniff, yes. As it stands I'll have to dig around for any pictures that might exist of my long locks.

The moral of this story is Friends Don't Let Friends Get Layers. Or maybe, since I was alone at the time, the moral is Just Say No To Layers. Or maybe, just maybe, the moral is Stop Giving a Damn About Your Hair, You Vain So and So, Suck It Up And Get Over The Layers.


Nutty stirfry

Oh yum oh yum! I made the following recipe last night and had leftovers today. It's almost better the second day which is amazing since the first night of the dish tasted spectacular!


  • 1 tablespoon wok oil or peanut oil
  • 1 pound tofu - cut into bite-size pieces (you omnivores could use chicken as the original recipe calls for)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups broccoli cut into stems
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 (1 inch) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp peanut butter (crunchy OR smooth)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts


  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Place tofu (or chicken) in the wok, and cook until browned. Mix in red bell pepper, and continue cooking until just tender. Add broccoli.
  2. In a bowl, mix the broth, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, cayenne pepper, ginger, peanut butter and cornstarch. Pour into the wok. Toss green onions and cilantro into wok (reserving some of each for garnish). Continue to cook and stir 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Mix in peanuts, and garnish with reserved green onions and cilantro to serve.
We had this concoction over brown rice. A white rice like jasmine would also be tasty, or some egg noodles to soak up the yummy sauce. The original recipe does not call for PB added to the mix but it certainly makes the dish smell and taste fantastic. It is also very colourful and plates extremely well. I should have taken a picture!

Random wiki

Something to keep us entertained on a Friday afternoon. We all know about Wikipedia, but did you know there is a random wiki button? Click on either http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/special:random or go to Wikipedia.org, select your language of choice and the random wiki button will show up on the left side bar.

My random wiki of the day:

Porkbusters is an effort led by mostly conservative and libertarian bloggers to cut pork barrel spending by the U.S. Congress in order to help pay for Hurricane Katrina recovery projects.

The effort was launched on 2005-09-18[1], when the massive scale of the needed reconstruction effort became apparent. It quickly picked up steam as blogger Glenn Reynolds (aka "Instapundit") began promoting the idea and the influential-though-anonymous blogger N.Z. Bear set up a website showing which members of the U.S. Congress had committed to cutting projects in their own districts to help offset the disaster recovery effort.

Reynolds encourages his readers to send him copies of pork-cutting letters they send to their representatives and Senators, along with the responses from the elected officials. He then posts these on his website under the heading "Porkbusters Update".

In operation for less than six weeks, as of October 13, 2005 the project has already managed to garner $84,000,000 in specific budget cut commitments out of various Representatives and non-specific agreements out of many more. In addition, those Representatives who have been contacted and have negative responses are highlighted and their contact information is made available for their constituents.

Feel free to post a random wiki in the comments section. I will warn you that it sometimes takes a few clicks to turn up something odd or interesting - everyone has a wiki page these days!
The things you never knew you needed to know...