Posts Tagged ‘Canada’
I had neglected the final post from our Christmas trip to Whistler. Teppan Village had been floundering at the bottom of my draft folder until I noticed it this week. I clicked on it with a wry smile, the lapse in time a contrast to the speed of the meal. Our teppanyaki (鉄板焼き) was cooked and served within half an hour, a frantic eating pace.
Whistler enchanted us with twinkling lights and snow flurries, a winter wonderland for Antipodeans who celebrated previous festive seasons in air-conditioning.
Conveniently located in Whistler Village, Teppan Village was spacious with several squares of tables and griddles.
We shared a plate of tempura prawns and vegetables, and a bowl of steamed edamame as appetisers.
An ingredients cart was laden with oils, sauces and aromatics.
A shallow tray of condiments was dispensed with flair.
Our group of four ordered the teppan tasting menu. The first course was a crunchy salad of iceberg lettuce, shredded cabbage and matchstick carrots, and a soothing bowl of miso soup.
Chef Taka introduced himself and demonstrated his dexterity. He holstered his tools in his apron pocket and he expertly manoeuvred the spatula and knives. A pyramid of onion rings were flambéed into a fiery volcano.
Shelled prawns were fanned out and curled as they sizzled.
Batons of vegetables were sautéed until tender.
Plump scallops were seared to perfection. I’m a slow eater and my warmed cast iron plate was already nearly full!
The teriyaki salmon was deftly portioned and well seasoned.
Juicy cubes of filet mignon were a highlight and we chewed these slowly to savour the intense beefy flavour.
The aromas of the teppanyaki lingered.
Christmas in Whistler was bookended by a night and a day in Vancouver. In search for pub fare, we strolled to Gastown for burgers and beers at Steamworks. A historic neighbourhood of heritage listed Victorian buildings and cobblestone streets, at the heart of Gastown is the steam powered clock. Puffs of steam veiled the twinkling festive lights on a clear night.
On a previous visit to Vancouver we had sought respite from the persistent rain in the cosy armchairs soothed by afternoon beers. We returned to a near full restaurant with a boisterous crowd for a Canucks game.
The Gastown Brewing Company brews Steamworks beers on site using the local steam to boil its kettles.
On tap were:
* Lions Gate lager – ‘Vancouver’s gateway to flavour’
* Empress India pale ale – ‘a strong pale ale with scrumptious hop character’
* Signature pale ale – ‘eminently quaffable’
* Nirvana nut brown ale – ‘a blissfully malty brown ale’
* Heroica oatmeal stout – ‘oatmeal is not just for breakfast anymore’
* Coal porter – ‘like a song that’s smooth as silk’
* Seasonal specialties
Empty tables next to us were soon occupied. Televisions screening the ice hockey live were diverting attention from dinner conversations.
The graphic style Steamworks logo was printed on each serviette.
A beer stein!
Mr S ordered the Steamworks deluxe burger. A beef patty was topped with a square of aged cheddar, a strip of crispy double smoked bacon, and garnished with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and relish mayonnaise.
I selected the mushroom burger. A charred beef patty cushioned molten Swiss cheese and sautéed mushrooms, and were adorned with the same vegetables and condiments.
After nourishing burgers and beers we walked downstairs to peek at the polished brewing equipment.
Next door was the Wine Thief where we purchased a couple of bottles for Whistler.
We strolled back to the hotel happy that the Canucks won.
A brightly lit room was full of diners. In the back corner was a window into the kitchen where a chef kneaded dough, and stretched, cut and shaved noodles with much concentration and solemnity.
We ordered two dishes to share. First was pork pan fried dumplings (猪肉水煎包). Huddled together with golden crisp bottoms, these dense morsels were juicy, meaty and well seasoned. A dozen of these were too much for the four of us at the end of a day of eating and we were happy to pack the remainder in a container to savour the next day.
The second plate was hand shaved noodles with lamb flavoured with cumin (孜然口味炒羊肉手拉面). This was symphony on a plate. It was stir-fried with wok breath (鑊氣), the handmade noodles tangled with a mass of bean sprouts, studded with broccoli florets and strips of tender lamb were pungent with cumin. It was hearty comfort food.
The only Malaysian eatery I know of in Seattle is Malay Satay Hut. It’s been on the list for a while but I’m yet to make the drive to Redmond (and Portland too!) or walk to Chinatown for their traditional Malaysian fare. I was delighted that Banana Leaf was the penultimate restaurant on the Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) schedule.
Emerald wall, tangerine window frames and daffodil sign, the colourful street frontage was a contrast to the wooden interior.
The specials chalkboard piqued our interest as we waited for a table.
I always imagine a chef wielding a machete in the kitchen to slice a lid on the fresh coconut when I order one!
We sipped cocktails and coconut juice as we perused the extensive menu of curries, rice, noodles, stir-fries, seafood, salads and soups. We selected three classic dishes to share.
Roti canai, warm flaky flatbread, was served with a side of light dhal.
Glistening pieces of Hainanese chicken (海南雞飯) was surrounded by a moat of sliced cucumber and garnished with sprigs of coriander. Toasted peanuts, grated ginger, chilli garlic sauce and soy sauce were condiments. The tender meat was fragrant, the essence of the stock the chicken was poached in. The delicious comfort food was dipped in the sauces and paired with Hainanese rice.
A popular fast food at hawker stalls, char kway teow could be considered the national dish of Malaysia. Flat rice noodles were tossed with sweet soy sauce, chilli, egg, bean sprouts, prawns, fish cakes and squid. We happily nibbled on the starchy stir-fry.
I must get to Malay Satay Hut this year!
Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) continued onto Peaceful (和平飯店) in Yaletown. The smiling chef attached to the sign was a contrast to Peace Hotel, a violent Spaghetti Western film starring Chow Yun Fat (周潤發) of the same Chinese name as Peaceful Restaurant.
On a thoroughfare Peaceful was busy mid-afternoon. We were seated at the front window booth and pleased to connect to the free Wi-Fi as we sipped tea.
We ordered three items to share. Our enthusiastic waitress delivered each dish with flair. The first was xiao long bao (小籠包) or ‘soup dumplings’. A generous serving of eight, these had a thinner wrapping and lighter broth than the ones at No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine.
Sticky with hoisin sauce, four large portions of beef rolls were slices of five spice (五香粉) beef and green onions rolled in crispy flat bread.
The highlight at Peaceful was a bowl of blade sheared noodles (刀削麵). A thick tangle of handmade noodles was garnished with diced garlic, green onions and sizzling chilli oil. Steamed Chinese cabbage (白菜) tempered the heat. Each slippery noodle was swirled in the pungent sauce and slurped with glee.
As we waxed poetic about the blade sheared noodles, we noticed a Guy Fieri graffiti on the wall at the entrance.
I would drive to Vancouver just for another bowl of blade sheared noodles at Peaceful!
We travelled from Vancouver to Whistler on a beautiful day. We revelled in blue sky, marshmallow clouds and brilliant sunshine as we ascended. It was a blissful moment when I spotted the first snow-capped mountain.
We were famished so we dropped our baggage at the hotel and walked quickly to La Bocca for a late lunch.
Painted poppy throughout, La Bocca shared a kitchen with the Amsterdam pub next door. We removed our layers and settled into a cosy corner. The brunch menu had breakfast items, share plates, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and stir-fries.
Mr L ordered the Benedict trio. Anticlockwise from top: spicy Benedict with hot coppa and crispy onion ring, traditional Benedict with ham and BC Benedict with smoked sockeye salmon. All three were served on an English muffin topped with a soft poached egg and citrus Hollandaise sauce.
Mr S also selected a breakfast dish. The skillet of Montreal smoked meat hash had smoked meat, hash brown, sautéed onions and capsicum, signature sauce, and topped with poached eggs.
I craved a hearty meal in the cold weather and compromised on the chilli prawn wok. A generous amount of tiger prawns were sautéed in garlic butter and tossed with crisp vegetables and steamed noodles in a Thai sweet chilli sauce. I switched from chopsticks to a fork as the noodles were slippery! It was a little sweet and lacked ‘wok breath’ (鑊氣) but the ingredients were fresh and plentiful.
Warmed by a full stomach, we exited to explore Whistler Village.
A delicious yum cha (飲茶) lunch at Vivacity (名都) whetted our Dim-sum-couver (點心哥華) appetite. On the next block was Kam Do Bakery (金都餐廳餅店). A delectable selection of pastries and buns were displayed in glass cabinets. There were golden pastries filled with red bean, green bean, lotus seed, taro and date pastes. We each bought a paper tray to take home. Mine had their speciality, wife cake (老婆餅), and my favourite, pineapple bun with custard cream (菠蘿奶黃包).
Flat and round, wife cake is a traditional Chinese pastry filled with winter melon and almond paste. The disc was flaky and the glutinous winter melon and almond blend was mellow. Pineapple in appearance and not in flavour, the crumbly crust was the highlight of the pineapple bun with custard cream.
Sadly the third place on our schedule was closed on Wednesdays. The photo menu at HK BBQ Master (明家燒臘專家) enticed us to return at the next Dim-sum-couver for their Chinese barbecued meats.
We were at No. 1 Shanghai Cuisine for their bao (包). We shared a serving each of xiao long bao (小籠包) and sheng jian bao (生煎包).
Steamed in a bamboo basket were six pleated xiao long bao or ’soup dumplings’. Dipped in black rice vinegar, I nibbled the top off the delicate parcel to release steam and carefully slurped the broth. The wrapping was a little thick but the pork mince was well seasoned in a pool of intense liquid. We ate these in silent appreciation.
Five large sheng jian bao or pan fried buns were sprinkled with black sesame and shallots. The seared bottom was crispy and these were doughy versions of the xiao long bao. The juicy bun squirted with each bite!
The Shanghai (上海) dumplings were warming and soothing on a wintry day.
I dislike mornings. With enough sleep, I still wake up in a fog. I perfected a silent routine in Sydney with the singular goal of hugging a cup of coffee at my work desk. I breathed in the caffeine aroma and slowly sipped the warm bittersweet liquid. A skim mocha was prerequisite to my human interactions.
I have weened myself off caffeine since moving to Seattle. My two, three cups a week are less functional and more enjoyment. And I indulged in one nearly every day we were in Whistler. Resting indoors with a hot beverage while snow flurries fluttered by the window were idyllic, a romanticised white Christmas for a Southern Hemisphere native.
The Starbucks near our hotel was crowded one afternoon and we crossed into a laneway to the provocatively named Hot Buns Bakery.
A cosy café with optimistic al fresco tables and chairs under an awning, Hot Buns Bakery is open for breakfast and lunch.
Above the entrance was a risqué surfboard adorned with the eponymous ’hot buns’.
Vintage skis and boots dangled from the ceiling.
Framed sepia portraits lined the walls and the dining room was marked with a manual parking meter.
Sweet and savoury crêpes, panini, soups and pastries were on the menu.
A frothy cup of Lavazza was welcomed.
We shared a cinnamon bun, a Hot Buns Bakery specialty. A sticky scroll of dense dough swirled with a gritty cinnamon paste and glazed, it was a delightful sweet treat.
I spotted a banana Nutella crêpe at the next table and it was a decadent snack. Conveniently located in Whistler Village, Hot Buns Bakery was a pleasant retreat after several hours on the slopes.
It snowed in Whistler on Christmas Day and I loved it. Snowflakes zigzagged gently from the sky and dusted every surface. I was delighted with my first white Christmas. The powdered slopes were serene and the magic carpet was quiet. We skied in the morning and relaxed in the afternoon.
Survivor like torches guarded the entrance of the restaurant.
A cascade of glass globes were strung together as a sparkling chandelier.
The interior was warm and welcoming. On the far left was a champagne bar and Belvedere Ice Room. The main dining room was buzzing with families and friends celebrating Christmas. We were seated at a table with a view of the busy kitchen. Service was traditional fine dining style with a cocktail cart, sommelier and a plethora of staff.
Enticed by the cocktail cart, we ordered apéritifs as we composed our three courses. The bartender was a little absent minded. Ms S asked for recommendations for a refreshing cocktail and he referred her to the menu. Intrigued by dehydrated beer as an ingredient, Mr L ordered a Caesar. Unbeknown to our group of Australians, Caesar is a Canadian cocktail with Clamato juice which was not listed. We had the same expression after one sip each and it was abandoned.
An amuse bouche of salmon tartare whetted our appetite.
My first course was arctic char. From left to right: gravlax and celeriac, tartare and blini, and smoked and sorrel. Similar texture and milder flavour to salmon and trout, the morsels were perfectly paired.
Photographing was a challenge in the dim lighting! Ms S selected the Pemberton beets and carrots with shaved ricotta salata, spicy greens and white balsamic. It was artistically presented and I sampled a lump of white beet which was sugary.
The gentlemen had the wild mushroom soup with truffles. Poured at the table, the soup was a thick liquid with an earthy aroma.
A tangy citrus granita was the palate cleanser between courses.
The sommelier recommended a local wine, Foxtrot 2008 Pinot Noir. It was a classic match for our game main courses.
Three rare slices of Yarrow Meadows duck breast rested on a plump duck confit ravioli, squash purée, cauliflower florets, beets and pumpkin seeds. The dish was well seasoned and the meat tender, and the components were a delectable combination.
Mr S chose the wild game tasting plate of wild boar wrapped in venison and braised bison short rib with wild mushroom and heirloom bean ragoût. The other couple picked the chef’s Christmas special of goose.
We spotted a cheese cart and the fromage expert was friendly and helpful. We shared a bleu, a local cheddar and a semi soft, with raisins, candied walnuts, fig jam and crisp fruit bread.
I was determined to photograph dessert and I persisted with the single flickering candle as my light source. Served on a slate plate, the geometrical coconut and pineapple had frozen coconut mousse, Meyer lemon and kafir lime sorbet, pineapple and espelette jelly, rum caramel macadamia and cilantro. It tasted like a sophisticated piña colada!
A deconstructed St Honoré was a log of vanilla crème chiboust, coffee Chantilly, crispy malt Irish cream and brown butter milk jam.
On a rectangle of bourbon cake, the apple and caramel had a wheel of salted caramel maple parfait, apple pavé sour cream ice cream and crumbled bacon.
Petit fours concluded our Christmas dinner. From left to right: nougat, peppermint bark, ginger snap and hazelnut ganache.
It was a fun festive season in Whistler!
Yum cha (飲茶) is a symbolic meal for me. In Cantonese the literal translation is ‘drink tea’. Families and friends gather at round tables for a casual lunch, sharing pots of tea, and selecting bamboo steamers and plates of dim sum (點心) from carts. An old couple read the newspaper in silence. Children eat barbecue pork buns (叉燒包) with their hands. Extended families spin the Lazy Susan laden with dishes. It is a tradition cherished in Chinese culture.
First on our Dim-sum-couver schedule was Vivacity (名都). Located in Richmond, a neighbourhood of Vancouver with the highest immigrant population in Canada and the majority is of Chinese heritage.
We were seated in a separate room where we were the only patrons. The menu doubled as a ordering form as Vivacity did not have carts. There were more than a hundred items on the menu! After some deliberation we marked our morning tea with a pencil.
First was deep fried pork dumplings (鹹水角). Golden and oval shaped, the slightly sweet and mochi like dumpling encased a savoury pork and vegetables filling.
Steamed rice rolls with Chinese doughnuts (炸兩) topped with pork floss (肉鬆) were a textural contrast. Light and crunchy Chinese doughnut (油炸鬼) were wrapped in slippery noodles and served with soy sauce, peanut sauce and hoisin sauce.
Pan fried radish cakes (蘿蔔糕) are one of my favourite dim sum comfort food. Squares of shredded radish were studded with Chinese sausage (臘腸), glutinous morsels with a seared edge.
Three globes of steamed beef balls (牛肉球) were on a curious mix of corn kernels and peas. The usual garnish of tofu skins was absent. Scissored in half, the tenderised meat was dipped in tangy Worcestershire sauce (喼汁) to accentuate the beef flavour.
Fried crispy milk custards (炸脆奶) were nuggets of delight. The batter crumbled with each bite and melded into the silky custard.
Last was steamed buns with egg custard (流沙包). Deceptively plain in appearance, the bland dough was the vessel for creamy saffron coloured custard.
I can count how many times I’ve been to yum cha this year and I’ve really missed it.