Category Archives: Vancouver

Heading East…Road Trip Anyone?

A road trip is all about the unexpected. All surprises along the way are welcomed (except for the surprise of the car breaking down, which thankfully didn’t happen!) I had one goal, see Mount Rushmore, everything else was take it as it came…

As you may have read, I began in Vancouver and then stopped in Calgary for a few days to visit some friends. I was just about to set off towards the U.S border, when I was lucky enough to get a co-pilot for the drive. How’s this for adventure? A friend from Vancouver flew one-way to Calgary and than would simply buy a ticket home wherever we happened to be in five days. She’s also to thank for some of the pictures. She’s 1/4 navigator, 1/2 official roadie photographer and 1/4 saint for having to put up with my singing.

The first of the eight states on the journey was Big Sky Country, better known as Montana. Montana is a lot of open road and open sky and definitely comes by its nickname honestly.

Somewhere in Montana aka Big Sky Country

And I know you can only look at so many pictures of the sky, but how cool is this one?

Rays of light in shining on Big Sky Country

When you know the drive will be over 3500 km’s (2100 miles) and you see a candy store, you stop, even if it’s only one hour into the drive.

Candy Store - Enough Said

Like i’m sure you are, I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of “stuff” there was.

A lot of stuff

I couldn’t bring myself to buy a straw full of sugar, I didn’t want to be too hyped up on sugar while driving, but I thought about it. For the record, I bought some “chews” gum (sour candy that turns into gum), chocolate taffy (that melted before I had a chance to eat it) and a butterscotch stick, which I shared.

Pixy Stix

So after one day of driving, we had covered one state, Montana is frickin’ huge! We were curious how huge, so a quick search to Wikipedia told us it ranks fourth in area, but 44th in population. And even though we made it to Billings, the “Star of the Big Sky Country” and also the largest city in Montana with a population of almost 90,000, there are not many options for food after 10pm. But you know the old saying, in life, you can count on three things, death, taxes and Denny’s.

We were pretty hungry and we had no discipline to say no to Denny’s evil/delicious offer of cheese fries, which were on their value menu for $2! If i remember correctly, it was cheese sauce and cheedar cheese!

Cheese fries

Don’t judge me, it was 10:30pm, I had driven all day and I wanted some gravy with sausage in it to smother my omelette!

Southwest Omelette with hashbrowns and the amazing country gravy

With Mount Rushmore on the agenda for the day, we still had to cover a part of Montana, a smidge of Wyoming and a chuck of South Dakota, but we were delayed with the possibility of checking out the Battle of Little Bighorn, or more commonly knows as the site of Custer’s Last Stand on June 25-26, 1876. Knowing very little about the Battle, I got the impression that the notoriety of the area is more the fact that the Americans lost to the Lakota and Northern Cheyenne tribes and the Americans gained a martyr in the process.

I always find it eerie to stand somewhere where wars were fought and where bloodshed occured and all you can see are rolling hills of greenery. The black tombstone on the bottom right belongs to General George A. Custer.

Battle of Little Bighorn

I’d never seen this before.

Honoring the horses in battle

Remember this…

Words to live by

We were slightly delayed towards Rushmore, but how often are you in Montana and right beside an American National Monument? Off we went east towards South Dakota, but we needed a little energy boost and Hoofers seemed like a solid choice. I’m always on the lookout for good food, coffee and gossip and a positive message!

Good food and a good message!

The decor was exactly how I thought it was going to be, I love not being disappointed! It had all the warmth and charm you’d expect from a small town restaurant.

Welcome to Hoofers

The special of the day was their Pulled Pork Sandwich, which seemed like a pretty good special to me. Unfortunately, it was just a bit on the dry side. I was surprised they didn’t throw any BBQ sauce on the bun because that would have made all the difference. As for their coleslaw, it was homemade creamy coleslaw and it was good! And on a positive note, I got some of my vegetables for the day (or so I tried to convince myself).

Pulled Pork sandwich with creamy coleslaw

As much as I dislike it when sitcoms end a show with “To be continued…”, I’ll be posting the second half tomorrow. I’m giving your poor fingers a break from too much scrolling. See you tomorrow from South Dakota!

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Filed under Calgary, Custer, Denny's, Gravy, Little Bighorn, Montana, Pulled Pork, Vancouver

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. Does It Right

Apparently there was a Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. in Vancouver the entire time I lived there. Instead, I had to drive 900 km’s to find out there was one in Canmore, Alberta.

You know that feeling when you walk into a restaurant and you just know it will be good, well, that feeling exists at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. As you walk in, you can’t help but direct your eyes to the impressive clay wood-fired oven.

Clay wood-fired oven - Need to get me one!

Not only was the oven a sight to behold, so were the types of pizza. My eyes wandered down the menu until I saw sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, artichokes and goat’s cheese. Combined with the 100% organic ingredients for the dough itself, I knew it was going to be a treat and I was right! The goat cheese was baked into the pizza perfectly, it even had that mozzarella-type stretchiness to it.

Sundried Tomato with Goat Cheese

As for the other pizza’s that were ordered, two more great choices. I mean, who wouldn’t want the Apple Chicken Harvest which obviously had chicken, Granny Smith apples (which held up to the baking and was the perfect choice), as well as red onions, cherry tomatoes, pesto and cheddar cheese. You can tell it was good since I couldn’t get the picture taken in time before a piece was taken! Next time I make pizza, i’m putting apple on it!

Apple Chicken Harvest

The last pizza on the table was the Calabrese, which consisted of spicy salami, black olives, sliced bocconcini, cherry tomatoes, onions and fresh basil. Anything with bocconcini and basil is a win for me.

Calabrese

My three suggestions when going to the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co.

1 – Go with a big group of friends so you can tackle as many types of pizza’s as possible.

2 – If it’s winter, try and sit beside the oven, that thing packs some major heat!

3 – The other reason to go with a big group of friends is because it always Tastes Better With Friends.

The Canmore location is open 7 days a week beginning at 11:30am

#1 838 10th Street, Canmore Alberta

Tel – 403 609 5508

Rockymountainflatbread.ca

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Filed under Alberta, Canmore, goat cheese, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co., Sundried tomatoes, Vancouver

365 Days (roughly) in Photos

I just left Vancouver after having lived there for a year. While I was driving back east, I had a few kilometres worth of time to think about the last little while.

This was me just about a year ago. Moving to Vancouver, knowing  a grand total of 4 people. As you can see, I have my Magic Bullet, so I was confident about making friends:)

Everything...check!

I drove for five days to get to Vancouver and still wasn’t quite sure if I had made the right decision until I saw the sunset two blocks from my place. Warm, sand, water, doesn’t get much better than that.

Sun setting over Vancouver

I enjoyed the summer in Vancouver, but since I had never been to the West Coast before, rooooaaaaad trip!

Stepping out to check out the Pacific Ocean in Oregon on Highway 101.

Checking out the Pacific Ocean

You cannot go through California without checking out Napa County. Come to think of it, I still have one bottle left from one of the vineyards.

Napa County

Haven’t watched Karate Kid in a while, but I was inspired to work on my crane position during an early morning run along the ocean.

"Crane-ing" it with the Pacific Ocean

I did work when I was in Vancouver. I managed the arena that was used for training by all the men’s Olympic hockey teams. Welcome to Britannia, a great local community rink in Vancouver. It was not in the job description, but how often can you paint the red line of Olympic ice?

Check out my red line...

So going by the pictures, it may not look like it, but I did work . During the Olympics, it was easily 100+ a week, so once the Olympics were over, had to try something new, surf’s up anyone?

Surfin' in Maui

So that’s it in a nutshell, twelve months via photos. Vancouver gave me great weather, amazing friends, fun times and the opportunity to begin Tastes Better With Friends.  Thanks to all and i’ll be coming back for sure!

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Filed under Highway 101, Maui, Napa County, Olympics, Vancouver

Calamari at the Cactus Club Cafe is a winner!

When it comes to calamari (Italian for squid), some restaurants miss badly, sometimes it’s soggy and other times it’s over-battered. I’m happy to report that the calamari served at the Cactus Club Cafe are neither of those!

Calamari at Cactus Club

Cactus Club offers calamari that is lightly battered and perfectly cripsy, but that doesn’t apply to just the calamari. The twist Chef Rob Feenie (yes, that Chef Feenie) and his Test Kitchen chefs have mastered are accompanying deep fried red peppers and jalapenos that just explode with flavor as you eat them (I could eat a plate of the jalapenos alone!) The dish is served with a nice chipotle aioli and tzatziki (but not an overpowering garlic type). Enjoy it!

When I ate there for lunch, the appetizer calamari was large enough that an entree was not needed, but there is definitely a wide ranging selection of options, even though i’m reporting on one particular dish.

Enjoy the vibe of the place, as it’s a nice mix of “loungy” bar with a full menu. There are plenty of locations and plenty to choose from on the menu, bon appetit!

Calamari - check out the red peppers and jalapenos

588 Burrard Street (Flagship location)

Vancouver, BC

604.682.0933

http://www.cactusclubcafe.com/

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Filed under Cactus Club Cafe, calamari, jalapenos, Rob Feenie, Vancouver

The Arms Reach Bistro in Deep Cove is a must

I had always heard of Deep Cove, but hadn’t yet made the drive out there and i’ve definitely been missing out!  A friend from Montreal was visiting Vancouver and staying in Deep Cove so I took the 25 minute drive out to visit and have some dinner.

She suggested the Arms Reach Bistro, which is situated right beside the water and the Yacht Club. I couldn’t fully appreciate the view as it was dark, but from what I could see, it’s definitely worth going back on a sunny day. Now, when I eat beside the water, I expect the menu to offer fresh seafood and I was not disappointed. As I was perusing the menu, I started with a spicey Bloody Ceasar accompanied with a peppadew, which looks like a mix of a pepper and cherry tomato that is sweet, but with a kick.

Ceasar with peppadew

So to begin, I went with the Fresh Malaspina Mussels steamed in coconut milk, green curry, lime juice and cilantro served with fresh hand cut fries. The serving was enormous and the mussels were indeed fresh and perfectly done. The fries were indeed crips and nicely salted. As a bonus, the fresh bread was perfect for soaking up all the broth-goodness and I admit to using up most of the bread in the basket as my sponge for the broth.

Mussels steamed in coconut milk

I could have stopped at the mussels and have been happy, but I spotted an entree that was calling out to me, so I really had no choice. After the mussels being so delicious, how could I say no to the Seafood Linguine with mussels, Dungeness crab and prawn tossed in a fresh tomato and vermouth rose sauce!? I’m happy to report I made the right call.  The linguine was cooked right to al dente and they certainly did not skimp on the seafood. The dish had tons of mussels, prawns galore and huge chunks of melt in your mouth Dungeness crab.

Linguine with seafood glaore

Needless to say it was a great meal. Take a weekend drive out to Deep Cove with some friends and enjoy the food and the scenery.

http://www.armsreachbistro.com/frame.htm

107C – 4390 Gallant Avenue

North Vancouver, BC, V7G 1L2

Phone – 604-929-7442

Hours – 11am-11pm – 7 days a week

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Filed under Arms Reach Bistro, Bloody Ceasar, Deep Cover, Dungeness Crab, Friends, Mussels, North Vancouver, Peppadew, Vancouver

Discovering Ravioli on the Drive

When you’re walking down Commercial Drive and see a place called The First Ravioli Store, you pretty much have to go in and check it out, right? So that’s what I did and guess what I found?

First Ravioli Store

Well, if you guessed “Ravioli”, you are right! At the counter, there is a cornucopia of ravioli ranging from sweet potato & yam to a whole bunch with all types of cheese stuffed inside, including gouda and asiago. The timing of my discover was perfect, since I had offered to cook dinner for some friends that evening.  I decided to go with something that everyone could enjoy…wild mushroom ravioli. I picked up enough for 4 people for about $8.00, which seemed like a great deal for some fresh homemade ravioli!

First Ravioli Store

As for dinner itself, the ravioli (or is it raviolis?) were a big hit! When I bought them, I asked their recommendation for cooking them and I was told 5 minutes in salted boiling water. As for the sauce, why use store bought when you can make a quick chunky homemade tomato sauce which consists of roma tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, pepper and some tomato paste to bring it all together. For something that was put together quickly, it turned out pretty good, next time I make it, i’ll actually pay attention to what I threw in so I can write it down!

Since it was a wild mushroom ravioli, I thought it would be fun to pair it with some additional mushrooms around the plate as garnish. I chose to go the raw route, but in retrospect, I should have sauteed them, I think it would have gone better together and wouldn’t have stood out so much when I served it. But that just gives me a reason to go back and buy more ravioli, right?

Wild Mushroom ravioli with homemade chunky tomato sauce

The First Ravioli Store
1900 Commercial Dr.
Vancouver
604-255-8844

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Filed under Commercial Drive, First Ravioli Store, Friends, Ravioli, The Drive, tomatoes, Vancouver

Walking The Drive and catching some sun (my attempt at a clever title)

When you have a day off between the Olympics and Paralympics, you enjoy the free time by going out for brunch, right? Well, I took a walk with a friend down the Drive (Commercial Drive) and stumbled upon a cute little place called Cafe du Soleil. Now, just a couple of warnings before continuing…if you like sitting while ordering your meal, this isn’t the place for you. If you like meat at a restaurant, this isn’t the place for you either.

Whoops, better get up and order our meals!

Now, with that out of the way, we walked in and grabbed a table by the window only to realize we had to order at the counter since the menu was up on the chalkboard near the kitchen. When we checked out the menu, there was definitely a non-meat theme. Meat isn’t needed in every meal, right?

When we asked what type of veggies were in the breakfast burrito, the answer from the chef was “whatever looked good at the market when I went shopping this morning.” Ummm, perfect answer!

It was paired well with a chunky homemade salsa and judging by its consistency, sour cream (none of that fat free stuff). The tortilla was perfectly grilled and the market veggies had been mixed together to give it a nice filling. My only comment would have been to see a couple pieces of fresh fruit as a garnish. We usually take the fruit garnish for granted, but when it wasn’t there, I felt something was missing.

Breakfast Burrito

Inside the breakfast burrito and some hot sauce on the top

My friend had the pancakes (1 banana and 1 blueberry) which she said were delicious and the chef was kind enough to bring over a complimentary order of the breakfast potatoes since we had asked about them as well and yes, he was right, they are pretty good with a nice crunch! (We dove into them so quickly, I forgot to take a picture of them)

All in all, solid resto for some breakfast/brunch and you get the flavor of the Drive at the same time.

Cafe du Soleil

1393 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

(604) 254-1145

Welcome to Cafe du Soleil

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Filed under Breakfast Burrito, Cafe du Soleil, Commercial Drive, Olympics, Paralympics, The Drive, Vancouver, Vegetarian