A Fiesta of Riches....

If you'd read my earlier post about Victoria, you'd know about my sudden interest in Fiestaware. For those of you unfamiliar with the brand of dishes, Fiestaware (made by Homer Laughlin China Company) are these vibrant and brightly coloured art-deco style dishes that was first made in the States in 1936 and discontinued in 1973. Fiestaware was then reissued in 1986 and is one of the most popular everyday dishware in the States.

After some research, I found out that it's really hard to find Fiestaware retailers in Canada. It's really popular in the US, but some how it didn't really cross the border.

But look! The lovely Brenda offered to pick up some Fiestaware when she went down to the States this weekend. Plus, the dishes were on sale! I was the happiest gal in the world.

They are more vibrant and colourful than I'd imagined. These colours make me so giggly and giddy. They are solid, with great weight and thickness. I'm sipping tea from a 'scarlet' cup right now.

Please allow the following indulgent pictures.....

dishes drying on the dish rack

my cupboard

Honestly, I can stare at them all day.

Thank you Brenda!


Chambar is one of our favorite restaurants in Vancouver, and it's where we often go for a special dinner before an event. This time we were going to Hal Willner's Neil Young Project, and I was forward-thinking enough to have made reservations a month or so beforehand because downtown was absolutely crazy and crowded that night. There was an Olympic hockey game featuring the Canadian men's team, and the city and the restaurant were hopping.

We were led into the back room of the restaurant, which is a lot more spacious and which has a great deal more natural light than the restaurant's main room. The room is lovely, with large windows, solid wood tables, and leather-like banquettes along either exposed brick wall. On this particular night, they had a giant screen set up with the hockey game.

We began the meal with some mixed olives ($6). The black, green and red olives arrived on a elegant long serving plate, mixed with caper berries, and topped with a tangy sauce of sundried tomato. Strongly tangy and briny, the olives really whetted our appetites.

Shane ordered Le canard aux epices ( Spiced Duck -- $29), and this arrived on a large square plate, the elements arranged beautifully. There were 3 thick pieces of pink duck breast, a couple of pieces of sauteed , caramelized apple, pureed butternut squash, and a glistening tamarind sauce. Everything was impeccable and delicious. The duck was incredibly tender with spicy cinnamon flavours, and the puree was buttery and utterly smooth on the tongue. The tamarind sauce was unexpected and surprisingly tangy and savory.

I ordered what I usually order at Chambar, the mussels Congolaise ($22). This arrived in a large covered black pot, and the mussels were cooked in a tomato, coconut milk, lime and smoked chilli, and topped with cilantro. The mussels were well cooked and tender, though they weren't as large as I've had there in the past. The star was the broth--this was delicious, and I just sipped it up like soup.

Of course, accompanying the mussels was a side of fries, which arrived in a small bowl. They were crispy and golden brown.

By the end of our entrees, we were full, but we decided to try the dessert tasting platter ($20). These were: basil sorbet, vanilla pot de creme, raspberry tart with lime sorbet, and chocolate mousse. These were indulgent and outstanding. The highlights were definitely the basil sorbet, which was refreshing and unusual, and the rich and light chocolate mousse.

In addition to the platter of desserts, the dish also came with a selection of truffles: raspberry truffles, and a dark chocolate one. These were the perfect ending to a delightful meal. Oh, that and the shootout goal, that is....!

(a very special thanks to Allison and Mary, the best people to be around!)

Chambar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

House of Tofu Soup

House of Tofu Soup is a restaurant that I'd heard about here and there from various friends. It's right in our neighborhood on North Road, and we often pass by it when we go out for walks.

The restaurant is surprisingly very large, with rows and rows of high booths and wooden tables, which lent a privacy to the dining space. The atmosphere is definitely one of a family restaurant, and while we were there, there were groups of young people, and families with young kids.

The service was a little bit weird. We were led to a booth and must have waited 15 minutes for tea and a menu, even though at the time, we were one of only a few parties dining. It was strange, because we'd thought they'd forgotten about us or something.

As is the custom of most Korean restaurants, first came the banchan-- kimchi, picked turnip, seaweed, and mashed potato. These weren't bad, though we weren't really fond of the mashed potato, which was too sweet.

For appetizer, we had fried dumplings. These were crispy, and filled with pork. They were quite tasty, though I didn't care for the dipping sauce, which I felt was too sweet.

Shane ordered the stone bimimbob ($10.99), with is rice served in a sizzling hot stone bowl and topped with egg, beef, carrot, radish, and raw egg (which cooked in the hot bowl). All this was served a giant stone bowl in a wooden pedestal, and it also came with a side of tofu soup. Stirred up with the red pepper sauce, this dish was really good and filling.

I decided to order the famous tofu soup (in mild, medium, or hot), and opted for the hot seafood version ($9.99). This arrived in sizzling stone bowl, and came with a side of rice (and peas) that was also served in a stone bowl (the 'burnt', crispy rice that's stuck on the bowl's side is quite tasty). The soup itself was rich, tasty, and spicy, and the tofu was deliciously silky and soft. I enjoyed adding the raw egg and observe it cook in the soup. However, the dish was a disappointment. When I think about a 'seafood' soup, I expect squid, shrimp, octopus, clams maybe, but the 'seafood' in this case consisted of tiny shrimp (inch-size and smaller), with their heads and shells on, long antennae, and feet. I had no idea what to do. Was I supposed to eat the creatures whole? Or was I supposed to peel these tiny things? I really didn't enjoy this dish. There were a whole lot of these creatures, and I was reminded at how bug-like shrimp are.

The experience was a disappointment to me, especially compared to what Shane got--his side of soup was the same size as my main dish (not that I would want a huge bowl of that soup, mind you), but it's the principle, you know?

In the end, I'm happy to have tried this restaurant. We might come back again, but heck, I would never order the same dish again...

House of Tofu Soup on Urbanspoon

Olympic Black Hole....

So I haven't been blogging too much this month, but this is something I blame on the Olympics here in Vancouver. I found myself riveted in front of the TV, watching anything and everything from snowboard cross (awesome) to curling (a fascinating and strategic game), and was unable to do anything else.

I didn't check out any of the activities, aside from walking around downtown, where crowds made me a little claustrophobic, but we did manage to go to Hal Willner's Neil Young Project, a 'Cultural Olympiad' event. Over the past couple weeks, I have noticed people being so cheerful and patriotic. It's pretty neat to see.

Thank goodness today is the last day with the final culminating event: the hockey gold medal game between Canada and USA.

Go Canada!

p.s. more blogging to come later today.

My First Sweater - Finished

About a month ago I first started this sweater, the Seamless Hybrid by Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Without Tears. Today, it is finished! To be honest, it was a bit of a struggle, because at times I had no idea what I was doing and what Ms. Zimmermann was talking about in her vague knitting 'recipe'! But the trick was to just plunge in, I think. As most people have noted, the tricky bit is when you start the shoulder saddle and move on to the back; but I found out that you more or less figure it out as you go along.

The sweater turned out a little too short, eventhough I was determined not to make this mistake as a lot of others seemed to have made (sigh...). But I'm hoping to change this by washing and blocking it (it is blocking & drying right now --- these pictures are pre-blocking, which is pretty good, no?). It fits Shane really well, and he seems to like it.

I learned alot while making this sweater (like provisional cast on, knitting from cast on edge, kitchener stitch...heck, everything!), and I know that my next version will be so much better than this one. There are a lot of little mistakes I made while knitting this sweater, but I think only someone with a good knitting eye would notice (um...like my mom). In the end, knitting a sweater was a lot easier than I thought.


I'm pretty damn proud of myself.

Workplace Gluttony

Last week it was Mary's birthday at work, and one of our co-workers brought in some cupcakes from Cupcakes, this local cupcake bakery that's been around for years. The cupcakes themselves are a little pricey at $2.95 each, but they are quite heavenly. I'm not a huge fan of cupcakes, but I'm a sucker for ones with cream cheese icing like those coconut ones (the others in the picture are a chocolate cupcake called 'Diva', and a lemon one).

I'm afraid we've started a birthday tradition in our department.

I fear for our waistlines....

Salade de Fruits Cafe

Living in Vancouver, I'd heard that Salade de Fruits was a really great French bistro, but because of its location in Kitsilano, I'd never gotten a chance to visit. One Saturday morning we were in the area, so decided go there for brunch. Salade de Fruits is located at Vancouver's French Cultural Centre, right next to the centre's French library. With golden coloured walls and eccentric French decor, the place gave off a comfortable vibe.

When we arrived, it was really busy, with only one table left, right next to the entrance. It was not the best table, especially with the long, long, line ups that came after. Shane was constantly being jostled by people coming in and out, and people kept staring at both of us (and our food).

The restaurant has a great breakfast menu, with a variety of eggs bennys, omelettes, and more savoury breakfast dishes. Shane chose the classic benny with ham ($8.99). This came with merguez sausage, potatoes, and a bit of fruit. This was delicious. The eggs with poached to a near medium, with bright orange yolks; the hollandaise was creamy and rich, and the merguez sausage was really good, and an unexpected addition. Being a benny conniseur, I asked Sh how this ranked; he replied that it is one of the top benedicts in the city. Oh la la.

I had been craving seafood for a few weeks, so I got the moules et frites ($13.99). To be honest, I didn't expect much, but when it arrived, I was extremely impressed. It arrived in a huge black pot, with a generous quantity of mussels bathed in a creamy broth. I'd never thought I'd have a mussel experience that would rival that of Chambar, but here it was. The mussels were huge and plump, and exceedingly delicious. It was so delightful.

That was merely the first half of my meal! The second part to it was the frites. These were heaped on a large plate, and were crispy and well seasoned. I wish I could have eaten more of these, but the mussels really filled me up.

Being jostled and stared at aside, this was a truly memorable brunch. Everything we had was really good, and the prices were amazing (especially for the mussels!). I definitely look forward to coming back--at a way quieter time, of course!

Salade de Fruits Cafe on Urbanspoon

Crochet Taxidermy!

You know when sometimes you are met with something so unexpected and astonishing that it blows your world? Well, few days ago I ran across this article on Dazed Digital about this amazing crochet artist named Shauna Richardson. She crochets these amazing life-sized animals, and mounts them like taxidermy animals. These creatures are unbelievably life like and so beautiful. In closeups, you can see each stitch that went into the work.

I'd never think of this idea, but it is so dang brilliant! For more of her work visit her site here.