Pie Cloud

Continuing on my tour of new places in Kensington, I stumbled upon Pie Cloud. I love pie. All my dreams have come true; I can now take out fresh pie whenever I want! I decided to try their luscious lime pie. It’s sub-lime, if you know what I mean? Everything is made fresh daily, right down to the freshly squeezed lime juice. The velvety filling is layered on a crispy gingersnap crust. Topped with pillowy whipped cream and freshly grated lime zest. Heaven in a pie tin – they even customize their tins!

Better get there quick, the luscious lime is their most popular and I got the last one of the day.

They also serve breakfast and savoury pies as well. On my to try list is their apple pie milkshake.

Luscious Lime Pie

Luscious Lime Pie

Luscious Lime Pie

Luscious Lime Pie

Custom pie tin

Custom pie tin

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Ikemen Ramen Bar

It feels like it has been ages since I’ve been down to Kensington. Oh, it’s probably been just over a month now, but since then several new places have opened. One that I have been eager to try is Ikemen Ramen Bar. It has been open for about three weeks now. They were still putting the stickers on the windows.

I love ramen. Traditional, fusion, and even my homemade attempts. All good. Ikemen has sprung up where the old Tandoori Hut used to be. They have a small selection of traditional and fusion ramen. We started with the age dashi tofu and gyoza. I had the green curry seafood ramen and my sister-in-law the dynamite roll. The tofu was simmered in a delicious broth. Our server asked us to to describe the dish as she had not yet tried it. I said the broth was rich with overtones of dashi and bonito. With the bonito flakes blowing in the breeze.

I really enjoyed my ramen. The green curry was a tad on the medium spicy side, but full of flavour. They could have been more generous with the seafood, as it came with a whole shrimp, mussel and a couple of scallops. SIL had the dynamite roll which was beautifully presented. For dessert, we shared the organic corn ice cream which was on their daily special board. It tasted of sweet corn and vanilla. An interesting combination. Worth a return trip!

Daily specials

Daily specials

Age dashi tofu

Age dashi tofu

Green curry seafood ramen

Green curry seafood ramen

Dynamite roll

Dynamite roll

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The Block Kitchen and Lounge

Looking for dinner one night, hubby, MIL and I went to The Block Kitchen and Lounge. It’s located on a section of 4th St. NW somewhat known for its turnover in restaurants. I would say it has the potential to become a nice neighborhood restaurant. We went early on a Sunday night, as expected the place was just about empty.

We ordered appetizers to share. The charcuterie was tasty. There were homemade bread and butter pickles and lap cheung. It also came with date jam,  honeycomb,  grainy mustard, cured meat and bread. We also had the sweet potato perogies. They tasted hearty and delicious.

I had the lobster pot pie which stayed steaming hot throughout my meal. Hubby enjoyed his steak and hubby’s mum, her burger.

Dessert was lovely. I had a rich butterscotch pie and Hubby the s’ mores crème brulee.

The service was a bit slow to start, but we mentioned we were in a hurry as we had a sitter at home. Our serv was appropriately quickened. Our server was nice and friendly.

Menu

Menu

THE “BLOCK” CHARCUTERIE cured meats, artisanal cheeses, pickled vegetables (for two)

THE “BLOCK” CHARCUTERIE
cured meats, artisanal cheeses, pickled vegetables (for two)

SWEET POTATO PEROGIES double smoked bacon, crème fraiche, fried sage, brown butter, gruyère

SWEET POTATO PEROGIES
double smoked bacon, crème fraiche, fried sage, brown butter, gruyère

LOBSTER POT PIE poached lobster, atlantic cod, peas, shellfish gravy, house salad

LOBSTER POT PIE
poached lobster, atlantic cod, peas, shellfish gravy, house salad

BUTTERSCOTCH PIE toffee crumble

BUTTERSCOTCH PIE
toffee crumble

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Chinese Stuffed Eggplant (Yeung Nhi Gwa)

I’ve always wondered how to make this delicious recipe that is served at dim sum. Here is my take on my Mom’s recipe.

2                              Japanese eggplants

1¼ lbs                    fish paste

1/4 C                     Cornstarch

1                              green onion

Oil for frying

Slice the eggplant diagonally, about an inch thick. Then again in the middle, but not all the way to the edge. Smear inside of eggplant with cornstarch. Stuff with 1 tbs of fish paste. Finely chop green onion and set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan to cover ½ inch on the bottom. Brush eggplant with oil and fry until golden.

Gravy

200 ml                   water

2 tbs                      cornstarch

1 tsp                      soy sauce

1 tsp                      oyster sauce

¼ tsp                     sugar

¼ tsp                     salt

Combine all ingredients, mix well. Cook over medium low heat until mixture thickens. Pour over eggplant. Garnish with green onion.

The ingredients

The ingredients

Stuffed and ready to go

Stuffed and ready to go

Pan frying works pretty well

Pan frying works pretty well

Making the gravy

Making the gravy

Ready for the sauce

Ready for the sauce

All finished!

All finished!

303 Fusion Kitchen

I had a chance to go out with my family for lunch. Five of us went to 303 Fusion Kitchen. I’ve always been interested in trying the few Taiwanese restaurants in town. This one caught my attention as a friend seems to visit frequently. Chinese food isn’t just one thing; there are many different areas in China with a subculture. Taiwan is one of them. My parents had visited Taiwan long ago, and still hold fast to memories of being there.

First up was the yam fries. For the sauce, a plum sauce from Taiwan was used. Crsip and sweet, the sauce went with the fries quite well. Next came the calamari, equally crisp and with a nice change up: tentacles instead of rings.

I wondered what the crystal dumplings were. They were pork and ginger potstickers pan fried in a flour paste to make the bottoms look extra crisp.

The oyster pancake was soft and fluffy with a rich gravy over top. Mom recalled that the oyster pancakes in Taiwan weren’t sauced, so this must be the fusion aspect.

The fried tofu with salted pork was really nice. I love how tofu can be accented with the taste of anything. The pork belly rice was full of flavour too.

All of the above were their specials. Next time I come back, I’ll have to try the beef noodle soup.

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Sweet Yam Fries with Plum Spice

 

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Calamari

 

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Crystal Dumplings

 

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Oyster Pancake

 

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Pork Belly Rice

 

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Mongolian Style Beef

Tofu with Salted Pork

Tofu with Salted Pork

 

303 Fusion Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner

Chinese New Year was last month. It’s been a long time since I sat down to dinner cooked by my Mom. We always have had a special meal such as this on new year’s eve. The dishes often have a connection with Chinese traditions.

We started with a cream style corn egg drop soup. Not traditional, but it was easy.  Then we had stir fry BBQ pork with assorted vegetables. In Cantonese, it’s called yew gor yuk ding.  Roughly translated as cashews with diced meat cubes and vegetables.

The next dish is similar to shiitake mushroom with dried oyster and seaweed dish. This version has king mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms and bok choy. Traditionally it contains dried oysters and seaweed. In Cantonese, it’s called ho see fat choy. Ho see sounds like prosperous and fat choy sounds like hair and means healthy.

The last dish is a chicken, ham, and broccoli dish. It is called kum wah yuk shi kai.  Kum sounds like gold in CantoneseKum wah (jinhua) is also a famous ham in China. Yuk shi means jade. Kai is chicken. It’s a homestyle Cantonese dish.

Oh and white rice, which we had, but not in the photos. In Cantonese, everything is about how it sounds and what it resembles.

Thanks Mom, for the food and the memories!

Cream style corn soup

Cream style corn soup

Chicken and cashews with assorted vegetables

Chicken and cashews with assorted vegetables

Mushroom and bok choy

Mushroom and bok choy

Chicken and ham with broccoli

Chicken and ham with broccoli

Chinese New Year's Eve Dinner

Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner

Saffron Mantra

I’ve been ordering a lot of delivery of late; the latest foray was to Saffron Mantra last month. The concept sounded intriguing; a fusion of Indian and French cuisine. We started with the tandoori chicken tikka. It had layers of complex flavours which blended together well. The taste was sweet, smokey and spicy. For my entree, I had the Himalayan lamb burger which was spicy, yet creamy with the citrus mint aioli. The dressing for the house salad tasted of Indian spices and citrus. Hubby had the chicken fritter burger. I thought about ordering the wicked ghost pepper burger for him, but thought better of it. Someday, I will visit to dine in.

Himalayan Lamb Burger with starter house salad and Sizzling Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Himalayan Lamb Burger with starter house salad and Sizzling Tandoori Chicken Tikka

Saffron Mantra on Urbanspoon

The Himalayan

We went to The Himalayan a couple of months ago, on the recommendation of a friend.  It’s hidden away in a strip mall by the Westbrook LRT station. Easy to miss. It looks like a family run operation, and a busy one at that. Seating is limited, so best to go in the off peak hours. Hubby and I went early on a Saturday for their lunch buffet.

They have a good selection of vegetarian dishes, along with some meat. Everything was extremely tasty. Some of the things I tried included: pappadam, saffron rice, dal, butter chicken, Everest lamb and chili tofu. They also had a salad bar and a few desserts. The mango pudding, fruit salad and halwa were good. They also serve naan on the side.

The service was prompt and friendly. Well worth a return visit.

 

Lunch buffet

Lunch buffet

The Himalayan on Urbanspoon

Chicken Roast-off: Oven vs BBQ

I think I started this post in June. Now I am finally finishing it.  I’ve always roasted chicken in the oven. Time to try it on the BBQ. Bird to bird cook off. For ease of cooking, and less mess, BBQ wins hands down. When it is too hot in the summer to use the oven. Another win for BBQ.  Taste wise? Quite similar, actually. Both go quite well with sides of grilled red kale and mashed potato with cheese, green onion and bacon. I do like the brown skin on the BBQ chicken.

BBQ vs Oven Roast

BBQ vs Oven Roast

For the oven roasted bird, I used a version of Thomas Keller’s roast chicken recipe. For the BBQ, I used the following recipe, which is a meld of several approaches I found on the web.

Roasting Chicken on the BBQ

3-4 lb     roaster chicken

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Potatoes, carrots and oil if desired

This recipe uses a cast iron pan.

Take the chicken out 30 min before BBQing to allow to come to room temperature. Rinse if needed. Season with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Tie the legs together. Get a large cast iron pan. Arrange the chicken, breast up and tuck wings under. If there is room you can add a couple of potatoes brushed with oil. If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, you can insert an oven proof one at this time in the thickest part of the thigh.

Preheat the grill on indirect heat on high. If it is 3 burner grill, leave the middle off. When it reaches temperature, put the skillet over the middle burner. Close the lid, turn down the heat so the temperature is about 350-375F. Roast for 1 hour, 30 minutes. Use an instant meat thermometer if you have one in the thickest part of the thigh. Temp should be 170F.

Remove from heat when done, tent with foil and rest 15 minutes before serving.

Grilled kale, grilled raddichio and mashed potatoes

Grilled kale, grilled raddichio and mashed potatoes

Nourish Bistro

Continuing my search for unique food in Banff, I stumbled upon Nourish, which serves vegetarian food. I ordered the nourishment bowl, which was packed with textures and flavours. It was surprisingly substantial.

I tried their vegan cheesecake for dessert. It was pretty good, made with coconut milk. A warning though, the dessert is a bit on the expensive side.  If you like good quality vegetarian food, Nourish is for you.

Nourishment Bowl A quinoa, rice blend, hemp, flax and chia infused rice blend, sauteed with onion, red pepper, garden greens, seeds and nuts

Nourishment Bowl
A quinoa, rice blend, hemp, flax and chia infused rice blend, sauteed with onion, red pepper, garden greens, seeds and nuts

Vegan cheesecake with nuts and cinnamon

Vegan cheesecake with nuts and cinnamon

Nourish Bistro Banff on Urbanspoon