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Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year somerville kitchen style @ the kitchen

Preparation was simple - a trip to Meinhardt (3002 Granville Street, Vancouver, BC) provided all that is needed for the celebration.

A random selection of unique cheeses, ready-made foods, breads, vegetables, cold cuts were thrown in the shopping basket with no real plan; just fun food to celebrate with.

The fire got going and the night began with cracking different nuts; portraying breaking all the nasty types and events that crossed our lives in 2011.

Then, five different platters showed up over the next five hours - each representing a reflection of the year to come.

Platter 1 - a mini picnic as an offer of all the little and not-so-little meals we will eat everyday that we should be thankful for.

Triple cream Brie (to die for) and Camembert, settled on top of raisin bread spread with a sweet light fig "salsa" and topped with hazel nuts.

Platter 2 - a moveable feast reflecting continued prosperity and adventurous food from one year to another.

Cold roast beef cuts with German mustard and Iranian fruit chutney, along with Italian artichoke hearts, French cheese and local baguette.

The moveable feast concept was adapted to cooking hot dogs in the fireplace...

... and offering Cats some gnocchi vegetarian salad as he joined in the celebration in his new fancy box.

Platter 3 - Fish to help us with closer connection to spirituality in the new year.

Those were the most delicious cod potato cakes (highly recommended if you are at Meinhardt); served with a light dip that came with it.

Fish cakes were accompanied by a wonderful quinoa salad.
Platter 4 - the meat and potato to make sure we stick to basics and practicalities in the year(s) ahead.

Meatballs with basil and parmesan cheese, oregano chicken wings and a traditional potato salad; all with that special Meinhardt touch.

Food from every platter was eaten on different paper plates. After each course, each person around the fire had to throw their plate in the fire; but only after transposing to it (and articulating) the parts of 2011 one wanted to burn away. After 4 such offerings, all felt liberated and extremely optimistic about the year to come.

Platter 5 - a sweets platter reflecting all the sweetness of life to be grateful for and aspiration for more to come in the new year.

Christmas cakes, stollen, ginger cookies and butter squares accompanied the St. Regis Reserve, but alcohol-free, Champagne (yes, those exist and are very authentic tasting).

Wishing all humans and animals happy new year, the party moved to the street with fire crackers, champagne and neighbourly cheers.

Happy New Year everyone!


Friday, 30 December 2011

Quince Jam

Those are a fruit called Quince. It is very popular in Lebanon and is made into a delicious jam. And that seemed like a perfect experiment for a week with not much planned.

I jump on a long distance call to mom and ask how to make it. Pleasantly surprised how easy the recipe is, I go at it.

First slice and dice, without peeling (supposedly makes it thicker and chewy, the way this jam is supposed to be). I am not sure I cut them as thin or as small as I should have had, but that part was getting boring.

You then weigh an equal weight of sugar to the quince and put in a pot on medium heat.

The quince starts giving its own liquid and the jam starts to boil. Keep it boiling on low heat until it is done. See how the colour turns into this beautiful red/orange colour.

According to mom, the best way to know that the jam is cooked is to put a bit on a piece of regular writing paper.

If liquid seeps through to the back of the paper, then you need to keep cooking. If nothing seeps through, the jam is ready.

But hang on, this is not done yet. As mentioned above, it has to be chewy.

The way to do so is to add a tsp of crushed mastic (a resin from a shrub native to the Mediterranean). Mastic can also be used as chewing gum by taking a little candle wax off a white candle and a bit of mastic and chewing them together... but I digress. 

The mastic melted throughout and now the heat is off and all ready to go into jars when cool.

A dozen quince will yield enough jam to fill up four to five small jars. 

Taste was delicious, but I think I needed to slice the quince smaller and thinner to get the right texture I remember from home. For now, think of this batch as candied quince.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Going Japanese on Broadway

Broadway street in Vancouver may be thought of by many as a necessary corridor to cross by car or bus with lots of traffic lights.

But on a vacation day, a stroll on Broadway can yield many discoveries and interesting types. And surprisingly, a Japanese theme popped up as I strolled on Broadway from Main Street to Granville Street. 

1. Murata 15 East Broadway, Vancouver BC (

2. Marulilu Cafe 451 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC

3. Go Fish Restaurant, 1521 West Broadway, Vancouver, BC

Murata is one of the most interesting gift stores in the city. Everything is made in Japan and they have gifts that range from small items to unique one-of-a-kind Japanese art pieces.

Friendly staff, relaxing ambiance and lots of discoveries - objects, kitchenware, books, cards, mouse pads, teas and many cats!

Marulilu is a small Japanese cafe hidden on Broadway right next to the Coast Capital Savings Branch on Broadway and Cambie.

Japanese style breakfast caught my eye. The polite friendly Japanese server asked me if I wanted it with Tofu or Natto. Feeling adventurous, I asked for Natto.

In a polite Japanese fashion, she told me that I may not find Natto very appealing (smelly and sticky were her words) and offered to give me the breakfast with Tofu but include a small taster of Natto.

Delicious Tofu, nice grilled salmon, microwaved tasteless omelette. As for the Natto, the server was very wise indeed.

Exhausted with shopping, I was hungry as I reached Broadway and Granville where a wooden mermaid statue in a restaurant window arrested me (I love mermaids).

How could I resist this trendy seafood boutique called Go Fish, so in I went.

Now what is so Japanese you ask about having a grilled wild Pacific salmon sandwich with salad and fries? Well, the sandwich was served with Japanese style pickles that were quiet different - more crunchy and less sour than typical pickles. The bun was laced with Japanese wasabi style mayonnaise and served with a Japanese style salad.

Salmon excellent, fries too salty, salad delicious and the Japanese pickles the best.

Now who would have thought this stretch of Broadway street could be so interesting, so tasty and so Japanese...

 Go Fish on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Dinner Among Beautiful Orchids - Part 2

A continuation of yesterday's story (click on Dinner Among Beautiful Orchids - Part 1), the feasting continues on.

But before we get to dessert, I will regress a bit and talk about the festive tasty drink that was served.

A freshly made apple and cranberry juice (made with real fruit) with added crushed ginger. Five or six glasses later, it continued to taste fresh, yummy, not too sweet and the ginger kicking in the background. 

So good...

Then came time for dessert. "Do you like ice cream", I was asked. I usually don't and I said so, but was promised a different kind of ice cream.

And it sure was different. First, an industrial fancy looking juicer appears on the kitchen counter.

Apparently, a homogenizer is attached to the juicer that turns frozen fruits into ice cream.

And there; frozen bananas go in, no added water, cream or anything, and out they come in the form of smooth cold ice cream.

Frozen blueberries were then thrown in and out comes the blueberry ice-cream flavour.

A rich creamy ice-cream texture; nothing like a sherbet but still 100% fruit ice-cream!

And as if not enough fanciness was around, home made ginger snaps made by a friend of the hosts, along with her own made drizzle.

The drizzle was a sweet stilton cheese and lemon creation that smelled divine and tasted as unique as all the other pallet teasers tonight.

No words of thanks can truly reflect how fine, interesting and tasty this dinner was.

 Thank you again somerville orchids!

For artistically designed orchids, check out somerville orchids @

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Dinner Among Beautiful Orchids - Part 1

somerville kitchen feasted tonight at the amazing somerville orchids (see 

We feasted on so many delicacies that there is no way I can fit all in one blog entry. As such, tonight you are reading only part 1 of this amazing dining experience.

The feast you are about to virtually experience is 99.9% vegan, a testament to how easy it is to eat fat & animal free meals in the most fancy way.

Let the vegan gourmet adventure begin with the appetizer.

The platter in the top left hand corner is a home made spinach-mushroom-tofu pate. 

Flavoured with onions and spices and served along home-made Asian spiced pecans - platter disappeared fast!
A home-made Borscht followed. Made with green and small white beans, strong yummy dill taste; very nicely done.

This is where 100% vegan designation dropped to 99.9%, with the dollop of dill yoghurt.

Guests were then invited to a buffet of delicacies.

The Tasty Nuts Balls - made with pecans, hazel nuts, almonds, barley flakes, carrots, zucchini, onions; held together with creamed soft tofu and baked.

The Spiced Tofu Triangles - flavoured with cumin, masala mix and hot Kashmir paprika; rolled in chickpea flour and cooked.

The above were served with a dip of horseradish, eggless mayonnaise and grain mustard.

The most amazing part of the dip is that it is made with home-made horseradish - the best smelling and strongest tasting one I have ever encountered. I am so making this when I find fresh horseradish roots next.

And the feasting continued...

The Uncooked Kale Salad - a novel delicious experience - manually mashed kale mixed with red cabbage and turned into a salad. One would never think kale could be so delicate uncooked. 

The Everything Grainy Hot Plate - brown rice and split urad dal cooked with mushrooms, carrots and pureed tofu; drizzled with soy cheese. 

Plates refilled and refilled, all was tasty, unique, freshly made. 

Food so good for you never tasted better - a delicacy example for all of us animal eaters to learn from.

Tune in tomorrow night for Part 2 featuring drinks and desserts.

Thank you somerville orchids!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Ukrainian Boxing Day

What's a better way to spend Boxing Day than lounging at home, then spontaneously get invited for a home cooked meal. I avoided the crowds, did not miss out on any deals I think and did not even worry about cooking.

First came the appetizers; home-made deviled eggs, ham, veggies.

This was followed by a spontaneously made festive cucumber and radish salad.

Then the authentic Ukrainian food started appearing. First a Kobasa surrounding the most delicious sauerkraut mixed with fried onions, some apple cider and drizzled with roasted garlic.

This was followed with handmade cheddar-potato perogies. The texture of these perogies is a class on its own compared to the store bought ones (even those claimed to be hand-made you find in specialty stores). A taste to remember fondly for a long time.

A fine delicious home made meal indeed. Calorie and cholesterol counts on hold for now.

Thank you Alice!