The End.

As some of you have noticed, I've stopped blogging. It's been a much needed break, I must confess. In the end, I realized after these many months that I actually miss blogging, and I particularly miss sharing cool stuff with the world out there (regardless of who reads my blog, you know?).

What I did not miss was blogging food reviews. After a year or so of writing about restaurants, it just became a chore, and I became increasingly irritated about the bad food I was eating and paying for. Bad food was making me angry! But I learned that I don't particularly like writing bad things about other people and places - sure, it feels good at the time of writing, but it didn't sit quite well with me. Plus, I felt myself getting competitive about my stats, and it just brought out the worst in me. And people were emailing me demanding things. So, the step back.

Anyhow, there are a lot of food blogs out there, some of them great, some okay, and some not so good. But there is a lot out there, especially in Vancouver.

I will continue blogging at The Forgotten Thing. It will feel like reverting into my own bubble, but that's rather comforting to me at the moment.I'm not sure if I will continue posting at Oh My Calico about non review food stuff, but we'll see.

Hell, at least this move has been good for my wallet.

Wishing you all the best, friends.

Eating Brooklyn

So I know I've been really slow at updating the blog with travel pictures, but bear with me, okay? We're outta Philly! After 5 days in the city, we took a train to NYC. The train ride was just around an hour and a half, and quite enjoyable. I just love trains.

When we arrived in Penn Station (thoughts of Mad Men came to mind), we got really confused. There were so many connections, people, exits - we didn't know how to get to Brooklyn, and it was my idea to stay a night in Brooklyn, so I had to get us there -  by subway, of course.

Anyhow, we made it on the A Train, though not without a lot of frustration. The hotel we stayed at was one of the best ones we've ever been to. How much can I say about Brooklyn? We loved it! To me, this was the best part of NYC. There was such a feeling of community, lots of old neighbourhood stores, interesting streets to explore, and not too many people.

When we arrived we decided to go for a late lunch, and I had been craving Asian food for a while, so we decided to go to Joya, a Thai restaurant near the hotel. There were a lot of good reviews on the Internet, so I was pretty excited.

I was surprised at how modern and hip the place looked - when you go to Thai restaurants in Vancouver, you nearly always get that functional space filled with Thai knick-knacks, but this place was pretty cool looking, with exposed brick, lots of wood, and an open, stainless-steel kitchen.

We started off with Thai Iced Tea, one of my favorite sweet drinks. This version was wonderful - just the right proportion of evaporated milk to tea, and just enough sweetness to not be cloying.

I had been thinking about having a sour soup for days, so we ordered the Tom Yum soup ($3.50). This was tasty, though it had a little sweetness that I don't generally like (just a personal preference). However, there was a nice balance of lime, fish sauce, and chillies in the bowl.

We also ordered shrimp Pad Thai ($6.95), as a benchmark of authenticity, as it were. While it didn't come with the traditional accompaniment of chives and lime (lemon was given instead), I was pretty impressed at this version. While it was a more wet and sweet than what you would get in Thailand, the flavours were great, with one of that annoyingly sweet red ketchupy stuff that a lot of restaurants use for Pad Thai.

One of my favorite dishes is Gai Yang ($8.95, I think), which is grilled (usually whole) chicken. A lot of restaurants don't do a good version of this, but I was so wonderfully surprised by this half grilled chicken we got, which came with a side of sticky rice (yes!), and mango salad.

The chicken was moist and delicious. It exceeded my expectations! The sticky rice, a traditional accompaniment, was good as well. The only disappointment was the mango salad; the problem was that they used a semi-ripe sweet mango along with a sweet dressing, so the whole effect was disappointing. Sour green mango really should have been used, but they are pretty hard to find.

We were bowled over at the food and the cheap prices of Joya, and we really wished that we lived in Brooklyn so we could eat there all the time.

We were pretty stuffed at this point, but when we were walking along Court street, we noticed a whole lotta people lining up for Italian ices at the Court Pastry Shop. Italian Ice (known as Water Ice in Philly), is ice that's ground to a velvety smooth consistency with fruit or other flavours. I got pineapple, Shane got pistachio.  It was refreshing on a warm summer day. Hmmm, why doesn't someone open up an Italian Ice joint in Vancouver?

For dinner we went to the New St. Claire Restaurant, a cool-looking diner near the hotel. We were trying to find a specific restaurant, but got lost instead. So we settled upon the place around the corner.

Shane got an omelette (around $9). The food was pretty mediocre.

Since they had a bunch of Greek stuff on the menu and because I wasn't that hungry, I got a plate of dolmates. This was just okay, similar to what you would get any where else.

Shane got a couple of beers to take back to the hotel.

Eating Philly - Part 3 - Morimoto!

We splurged on a meal in Philly at Morimoto, of Iron Chef fame. Both of us dressed up, and talked ourselves into the $80 tasting menu.

The restaurant was one of the most beautiful restaurants we'd been in; the walls were covered with an pearl-like iridescence, with modern white tables and lit from within with coloured lights.

Morimoto has their own beer, brewed by Rogue. The is the flight, which included, soba ale, and hazelnut ale.

A very delicious guava cocktail.

First course: tuna tartare, in a moat of soy-based sauce/broth. The sauce was pretty salty, but went well with the fish. I didn't particularly love the ultra smooth texture of the fish though; it reminded me too much of baby food.

Fish carpaccio. Delicious.

Sashimi salad. Wonderful

'Sangria' cleanser. To be honest, this didn't taste like sangria.

Morimoto hazelnut ale.

Seared salmon with an anchovy broth. Not my favorite, because the sauce smelled a little too strong. It was crying for a little bit of acid to balance out the plate.

Amazing Peking duck inspired dish: duck, green onion crepe, kimchi sauce. The highlight of the meal.


Cheesecake with blueberries. The cheesecake was very light, with a slight gelatinous texture.

We were really full when the meal ended. The whole meal lasted for about 2 and a half hours, and service was very professional. A great experience.

Eating Philly - Part 2

A croissant from Metropolitan Bakery . This looked really good, but it wasn't heavenly, as I had expected. it was less flaky than it looked, and was a bit chewy.

Another roast pork sandwich from Dinic's, this time without cheese and with roasted peppers. Delicious - perhaps even a better combination.

Being in Philly, we had to try a true cheesesteak sandwich. Of course, the top contenders people mention are Pat's or Geno's, but Jim's Steaks is always mentioned among the best as well, so we decided to pay Jim's a visit. To be honest, I had a bit of anxiety about ordering these sandwiches, because I hear that you had to do this a specific way, like 'whiz wit' if you want one with cheese whiz and onions, but when we were in the line, that worry eased somewhat, because people were not following that rule.  Even though we arrived at around 3pm, we still had to wait for about 15 minutes or so in line. We both got one with provolone and onion, with a side of hot peppers.

The verdict? Those cheesesteaks were damn good - the meat was tender, onions gave it nice flavour, and the cheese gave it a creamy saltiness. The bun was soft and soaked up the meat juices. The only imperfection was that the meat could have used a bit more seasoning, but it was a great experience overall, and worth the wait.

For a couple of days we could not figure out the beer situation in Philly. They had liquor stores which sold wine and spirits, but no beer. But we found this beer/specialty food store called The Foodery which had an AMAZING selection of beer, along with a store cat. We got blueberry beer, peach beer, and a cider, among others.

We return to the Reading Market again with take out from the Down Home Diner. I kind of love eating in hotel rooms. I got the fried chicken dinner, with 3 generous pieces of fried chicken, collard greens, and mash potatoes. This was okay - the chicken was moist, but lacked seasoning, and even though I was most exited about trying southern style collard greens for the first time, I didn't actually like it. The greens had a strange, sweet taste. I'm not a big fan of sweet and savory, so I couldn't eat it.

Shane got the meatloaf with mash and boiled vegetables. The meat loaf was a lot better seasoned, and tasted really good with the potatoes. I had a bit of food envy.

Eating Philly - Part 1

Shane and I recently visited Philly and New York for a little over a week. We had some great eats! Here is day one:

 One of the best places to eat is Reading Terminal Market, an indoor market full of food stalls. There is quite a popular Pennsylvania Dutch (Amish) food section, which is only open for business from Wednesday to Saturday. I tried a pretzel roll stuffed with sausage and a real Philly pretzel from Miller's Twist.  These are handmade soft pretzels, which were buttery, salty, and pretty delicious.

One of the more popular eateries at the market is Dinic's Roast Pork. On the days that we went, there were huge lineups of about 50 people.

This is the roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe.

 The pork, while a little mild in flavour, was tender and dripping with juices. The components all worked with each other and made for a big yummy mouthful.

We bought a few cookies from the 4th Street Cookie Company to try.

The cookies were quite large. They were rich, slightly chewy on the inside, and quite sweet. Very good cookies, though not as good as the Cookies of Course cookies in Vancouver (am I biased?).

We went for dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy, an Italian American place near our hotel. The place was full of families and had a nice, though slightly formal, feel.

Shane ordered the lasagna, which was quite gooey and delicious.

I ordered Linguine di Mare, a seafood pasta. This was just okay - though there were lots of prawns, mussels, and clams, and a few pulverized bits of lobster, the sauce/broth was a bit bland. It was a disappointment.

Quite a day of eating, no?

Stay tuned for part two...

Big Lou's Butcher Shop

Big Lou's Butcher Shop is one of new restaurants that opened up in the new year; the restaurant is located in a couple of blocks from Chinatown, and is from the owners of the nearby Two Chefs and a Table. While the food is similar to Meat & Bread, in terms of being a sandwich joint, the place is unique because it is primarily a butcher shop first and foremost.

The space and design of the restaurant and shop has a charmingly old-fashioned, yet graphically modern feel. The meat display is wonderfully attractive, with meat laid out in a most pleasing way. The meat itself is locally sourced.

There is also a selection of pickles (asparagus, bean), and various spice rubs.

While the store is quite spacious, the eat-in dining area is quite minimal, consisting of just a bar facing the wall and some (quite uncomfortable) stools. The butcher art is quite a nice touch.

Here's the porchetta sandwich ($9), with a Boylan Black Cherry soda, which Brigid ordered. The sandwiches came attractively wrapped in custom printed paper and white string. The pork itself was very flavourful - juicy and well-seasoned. While the sandwiches had bits of crackling, the pieces that were included where quite hard, nearly teeth-breakingly so. In comparison with the porchetta sandwich at Meat & Bread, Big Lou's version is not as good, due to many tiny reasons; however, it is still a pretty good sandwich.

Amanda got the Bulgogi chicken ($9), which didn't look like what you would find in a Korean restaurant. However, Amanda reported that this was pretty tasty, although she wasn't fond of the grilled long stalks of green onion that was in the sandwich, which were stringy and hard to bite off. To be honest, I'm not sure about the 'Bulgogi' and the 'Bahn Mi' on the menu - it seems a little out of place, especially considering there are a few really amazing & cheap bahn mi places just a few blocks away.

I had Big Lou's Chicago Style sausage sandwich ($7.50), with house made sausage, pickles, mayo, pickled peppers and mustard. This had some problems. While the sausage itself was tasty, with hints of fennel, the outside didn't have that crunch and pop that a well seared sausage has - it was instead really chewy. There was also way too much mayo and pickled peppers. These elements, along with the mustard and pickles, made the sandwich taste really unbalanced.

While the location is a little out of the way, Big Lou's is certainly worth a visit. The store's commitment to local food and product is certainly admirable, and hopefully there will be a few tweaks here and there to make the space more inviting and the food a little more refined.

Big Lou's Butcher Shop on Urbanspoon


I love teas. It's one of my favourite drinks, and I love especially the sheer variety of teas - you can try tons of teas and still be astounded at a new flavour that you didn't even know existed. Somehow, there doesn't seem to be many tea places on the East Side of Vancouver, so when Shaktea opened up a few years ago, it was pretty unique. Now, we've visited here a few times - most of the time to get some loose tea; but we hadn't gone there for tea service in a long while.

The interior of Shaktea is filled with warm colours and had a cozy feeling. Aside from a few choice seats near the window, there is not much seating at all. However, the display of jars of tea is pretty neat.

They also always have three pots of tea to sample: usually an herbal one, a rooibus  or honeybush one, and a black tea, all sitting in three glass teapots.

It was moderately busy when we arrived, and we managed to snag one of the last couple of free tables. We were given the menu right away, but it took almost 15 minutes to actually place our order. Even though other people all around us were placing orders, the servers seemed to forget about us. In the end, we actually had to flag someone and ask her if we could order.

From the time we were there, service seemed to be a problem; people would sit there without menus, without having orders taken, and given 'reserved' tables with a warning that they couldn't stay very long. The service wasn't too joyful.

I got the matcha latte, which arrived in a unique ceramic bowl (around $4). This was delicious - creamy and with a nice green tea flavour. One of the nice things about this place is that they always give you a few mini gingersnaps with your tea. It's a really great touch.

Shane had the Earl Grey latte ($4.25), which arrived in a small tea pot. The tea was unsweetened and had a very aromatic and wonderful Earl Gray flavour. The amount of creaminess was perfect. The teas did take a very long time to arrive though.

We also ordered a chocolate pistachio cookie ($1.95). Unfortunately this was very dry and lacked a distinct pistachio flavour.

The teas at Shaktea are great. And if you can find a time when they're not busy, so much the better. However, they do need to improve on the customer service aspect if they want to garner customer support.

Shaktea on Urbanspoon