Burnaby Stepping

It has been particularily nice and sunny here in the Vancouver area, and recently we took advantage of this by going for a long walk one morning.

Along the trails in Burnaby Lake park grow a whole lot of skunk cabbage. Despite the name, these plants don't smell too badly from a distance. The plant's yellow flowers are very beautiful.

The weather was lovely - sunny and not too warm. Even though we are quite close to the city, these paths make you think you're in a different place.

The lake is immense and still.

We are quite close to the road here, but it feels very peaceful.

This is a small bridge leading to the Burnaby Sports complex.

We ran into a lot of public art during our walk, like these two metal eagles near the playing fields.

And these vibrant mushrooms someone painted on to a concrete barrier just before the pedestrian overpass that leads to Lake City Way skytrain station.

Here is the nifty new pedestrian overpass. The skytrain station is on the other side.

Finally, the stain-glass like effect at the skytrain station. It's very unexpected and beautiful.

Anton's Pasta Bar

Last week we decided to go to the Hastings area, because it was an area we haven't explored that much. Originally, we had wanted to have lunch at Bombay Bhel, but it happened to be closed for lunch that day. So we headed next door to Anton's. We'd never been to Anton's before, but have heard lots about it--namely their extremely large portions and longer line ups.

The place was full, but we didn't have to line up at all. The atmosphere is minimal, but friendly. There were lots of families and young couples. Even though the place was pretty full, the service was quick and warm.

I ordered the Linguine Alla Siciliana ($10.99), which was linguine and anchovies, red peppers, capers and olives in a tomato sauce (similar to a puttanesca sauce, I think). This was great--I love the saltiness and briny quality of the sauce, and the noodles were fresh and slightly chewy. I wasn't expecting to find homemade pasta here, so this was quite a surprise. There wasn't too much sauce, but there was enough to coat each noodle. I liked it a lot.

Shane had the Linguine alla Cabonara ($10.99), with pancetta, egg and cream sauce. It's actually one of my favorite dishes, but I couldn't stomach ordering a whole bowl of it myself. I did have an extensive tasting of Shane's dish though. Obviously, it's very rich, and good. My only criticism is that it could have used a tad more salt, but Shane was okay with it.

Even though we got only the lunch portion (the dinner portion is $14.99), both of us managed to eat only half of the bowl. It's very filling.

I was surprised at how much we liked Aton's. I was expecting some cheap, out of the box pasta, but the dishes were surprisingly well done. We would definitely come back here, especially to try out the dinner portions.

Anton's Pasta Bar on Urbanspoon

McGill Library - Burnaby

I am quite fond of libraries, but Shane even more so. It seems that everywhere we visit, we end up visiting a library. A while back, we were in the Hastings area and decided to visit the McGill branch of the Burnaby library system. It's relatively new, and is really nice inside.

Lots of high ceilings and windows make the space a lovely place to spend the afternoon.

Sitting on comfy armchairs...

...as you watch the park goers from its windows.


My co-workers and I decided to visit the new Fairmont Pacific Rim that just opened in February. The hotel is in a gorgeous location right near the new Vancouver convention centre; the building has a beautiful view of the water. I was pretty excited to try Oru, the new restaurant because I was told that the restaurant is a 'Pan-Asian' restaurant, not meaning fusion, but with actual dishes that were authentic to the dishes' respective cultures.

The restaurant itself is on the mezzanine level of the hotel, and is a huge room with crisp white tablecloths and shiny glasses and silverware (and bright orange chopsticks). The service was polite but a little slow, but always befitting a fine dining establishment.

We were asked if we wanted a 'bread basket' and we said yes. So two of them actually arrived, with maybe six quarters of naan bread and a pappadum, which were accompanied by a green mint chutney. The bread was warm and delicious, with charred parts that indicated that it had been cooked in a tandoor oven. However, at $8 for a basket, the price was a huge surprise at the end of the meal. Ouch.

I had checked out their menu online and was excited to try their ramen, which was raved about by the Georgia Straight magazine a few weeks prior. However, we were informed that the menu had recently changed, and that the ramen (along with a few other dishes) were off the menu.

A bunch of us tried the banh mi subs instead ($14-16).

meatball sub
tuna sub

I had the lemon grass chicken banh mi, which I forgot to take a picture of...! The bread was absolutely wonderful - warm and crispy crust, with a soft interior. However, the rest of the sandwich was just ok. The chicken itself consisted of dark meat, but did not have any lemongrass flavour or that nice charcoal taste at all. Plus, there was too much mayo in the sandwich (mayo...really?). It was all bland. The matchstick potatoes served as the side was ok--a little salty though. But what I found weird was the amounts of the potatoes each person got--some of our containers were half filled, some overflowing....

That being said, my co-workers liked the tuna and meatball sandwich quite a lot. The shrimp one looked a little disappointing, because there didn't seem to be a lot of filling there.

shrimp sub

Another co-worker ordered the murgh makhani ($16), a chicken curry with rice, naan, and chutney. This was merely okay. He would not get it again.

My other co-worker ordered the caramelized beach scallops and spot prawns ($22). She was really disappointed in this dish. It arrived cold, and she didn't enjoy it at all.

All in all, the visit was a disappointment. It did not live up to the hype, I would say. It is very overpriced for what you get, considering you can get a good bahn mi in Chinatown for less than a third of the price being charged here. For this price, we all were expecting really good ingredients, but this did not happen.

Oru at Fairmont Pacific Rim on Urbanspoon

Hyacinth in Springtime

Lovely Lynn gave me this hyacinth plant in this long and simple vase. Slowly over the Easter Weekend, I watched the plant grow and gradually blossom. It was the perfect companion to spring.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Some People Like to Fuel Obsession...

So last week was my last week at work. It was sad to say goodbye to everyone, but the goodbyes were pretty sweet, warm and fuzzy.

Mary, Allison and Brenda (who drove all the way to the States!) got me a couple of Fiestaware dishes as a going away present. The bowl is in 'Cobalt', and is a very deep blue. We used it this weekend to hold some glass noodle salad.

The long platter is in the delightful 'Buttercup'. It is perfectly in character with the Easter haul I got from work.

Thanks, dear lovelies! I miss you guys!

A Bit of Sewing

Our cat Pique has always been an indoor cat (though she likes to go out on the balcony if, and only if, it's not too cold out), so she has never had to wear a collar. However, yesterday I was altering the collar of a button-down shirt by cutting a more open, rounder collar and hemming it by hand with blue bias tape.

Shane had the genius idea of making the cat wear the leftover collar. After we finished laughing, I realized that she looked quite distinguished. She doesn't seem to mind wearing it for a while, but of course we removed it after a bit.

Handsome, no?

Me-N-Ed's Pizza Parlor

One Friday, equipped with our Entertainment Book, we decided to try Me-N-Ed's Pizza. We've had take-out from there, but for some reason we'd never visited the restaurant before, even though I grew up in the area. The Coquitlam location is located in the main drag of Austin Avenue, near the Safeway a bunch of little neighborhood stores.

We arrived on a Friday evening, and the place was really busy. There were lots of families and teenagers. Even though the restaurant has been there for as long as I could remember, the place looked pretty decent and felt new. There were wooden booths, and a large, open fireplace right in the middle of the restaurant. All in all, the atmosphere is extremely cozy and comfortable.

For an appetizer, we ordered the hot wings ($9.45 per dozen). Unlike a lot of places, the wings from Me-N-Ed's were baked, not deep-fried. This made the wings have a very soft texture which was different from the usual wing experience. However, the sauce wasn't very hot--the wings could have used a ton more hot sauce, but then again, that's my personal preference.

For the pizza, we ordered a half/half large ($26.55). Shane chose the Soprano (Bocconcini, fresh tomatoes, capicollo, onions), and I chose the Roasted Garlic and Smoked salmon (roasted garlic, smoked salmon, goat cheese, capers, dill). The pizza came piping hot and looked really good. I loved the Smoked Salmon half--the smoky saltiness of the salmon, the briny saltiness of the capers, the creaminess of the goat cheese, the sweetness of the roasted garlic. It was so, so good. I was less impressed by the Soprano (though it was Shane's favorite)--the whole thing tasted a little bland to me, but then again, I prefer stronger flavours.

What's unique about Me-N- Ed's pizzas is their crust. It's quite thin and crunchy, but there were crisp layers to the crust, almost like phyllo dough. It gives the pizza a really crispy texture. It's not at all 'doughy'.

We would come back to Me-N-Ed's for sure for their pizza (not the wings though). Our experience was only marred by really slow service--we must have waited about 25 minutes for the wings to arrive. The pizzas themselves are on the pricey side, but then again, the product is different from the usual pizza joints.

The restaurant does quite a feat for distinguishing itself from its competitors.

Me-n-Ed's Pizza Parlor (Coquitlam) on Urbanspoon

Sha Lin Noodle House

I remember Sha Lin Noodle house being one of the first restaurants to offer Chinese handmade noodles. Of course, this was quite a few years ago, and since then, there have been numerous handmade noodle joints that have popped up in the city.

The restaurant is located on Broadway, in the block between Cambie and Ash. It's a very unpretentious, utilitarian sort of place. Like a lot of smaller Chinese restaurants, you don't come here for the atmosphere.

Shane ordered Ja Jeun Mein (around $7), a dry noodle dish with a pork sauce and topped with julienned cucumbers. Shane choose the 'pushing noodles'-- you have a choice between 'dragging' (long, thin strands), 'pushing' (slightly thicker and irregular), and 'cutting' (larger noodles, which are sliced off a piece of dough). The noodles were perfect--chewy and with a great texture; the sauce was also really good--the meat was tender and the thick sauce coated each strand of noodle in savoury brown deliciousness, and the cucumbers gave a delightful fresh crunch to the dish. The only thing that is a bit of a flaw was that the sauce was a little too salty. Shane liked this a lot.

I had the chicken soup with dragging noodles. Again, the noodles were wonderful and well-cooked, but what I wasn't expecting was how utterly flavorful the soup was. Most of the time at Chinese restaurants, the stock isn't much of a highlight, but this soup had a clear and delicate chicken flavour. I'm a soup person, and I loved this dish. It is the perfect bowl of noodle soup for me.

We also ordered a side of pork dumplings with chives ($6). Instead of the meat being boiled along with the dough, the pork was actually cooked (stewed?) beforehand, and had the shredded texture of a really good pork bun filling. The chives gave the dumplings a really nice, herb-like, 'green' taste, which was really great.

Our meal at Sha Lin is definitely one of the best meals we've had in a long time. And to top it off, it is incredibly cheap and a great value.

Highly recommended and we'll definitely come back.

Sha Lin Noodle House on Urbanspoon