Afternoon Tea Series: The Secret Garden Tea Company by Jenn Chan

The Secret Garden Tea Company

 

 

"Take a bite and then write" were Jenn's words of welcome as I sauntered into the lovely Secret Garden nearly an hour late. A cold bead of sweat trickled down my forehead as I took in the ambience and started to acclimate to the tony surroundings. Elegant white, wood paneling adorn the walls and Persian rugs bigger than I've ever seen half cover light hardwood floors. Half tea shoppe and half tea room the Secret Garden Tea Company puts off a distinct Alice in Wonderland vibe and everyone is grinning ear to ear!

 

The Secret Garden Tea Company
The Secret Garden Tea Company

 

I elected to go with a pot of apricot/ peach tea, to satisfy my sweet tooth, and was very glad I did! Delicious, aromatic and not too sweet. One of the best teas I've ever tried! As I sipped a 3-tiered tower of deliciousness was placed in front of me. Now I have developed a pretty bad habit over the last few years: croissant addiction. A severe, sometimes crippling addiction to France's second best export which only trails the French invention of democracy by a hair. I don't know what it is. I can't explain it, but when I see croissants I eat them. Without shame. The Tarragon Scented Asparagus Sandwiches on Petit Croissants were a revelation and I don't generally like asparagus. Or tarragon for that matter. But put them on a croissant and I could have eaten 20!

Table Setting
High Tea Menu

High Tea Menu

3-tiered High Tea

3-tiered High Tea

 

The Secret Garden Egg Pinwheels were a close runner up, akin to democracy trailing only croissants, and were incredibly fresh. If you've gathered that I have no aversion to carbohydrates and their prime delivery agents, pastries, you couldn't be more right. Enter the

Muffaletta with Genoa Salami, Ham, and Olive Relish on Housemade Cornmeal Biscuits. I have only been to Italy for a few hours, a quick jaunt into Trieste during a road trip of the Balkans, but if I get into Genoa I'm putting them on notice right now that they're going to need to make extra salami! This sandwich is a peppery adventure sweetened just enough by the cornmeal; excellent!

 

 

Secret Garden Egg Pinwheels, Tarragon Scented Asparagus Sandwiches on Petit Croissants, & Muffaletta with Genoa Salami, Ham, and Olive Relish on Housemade Cornmeal Biscuits

Secret Garden Egg Pinwheels, Tarragon Scented Asparagus Sandwiches on Petit Croissants, & Muffaletta with Genoa Salami, Ham, and Olive Relish on Housemade Cornmeal Biscuits

 

Scones are good. You might have guessed already that it'd be likely I'd enjoy them. Add some Raspberry Jam and Devonshire Cream and I enjoyed them more than I should have. A perfect 10/10 pastry! The Tea Cake Slices were a nice blend of sweet and tart, but the Tangy Mini Lemon Curd Tart was all sweet in a very good way. Bittersweet Chocolate Silk Mousse Cake speaks for itself. I remember sneaking my mom's baking chocolate out of the cupboard thinking I've stumbled upon a mother load only to find them half edible, but when you add the sweetness of the mousse to the mix thus dessert is a home run! When tourists come to Canada they almost inevitable leave with maple syrup. Why? We'll fit one its awesome. For two we have the leaf from that particular tree displayed prominently on our flag and, we'll, everywhere else! The Quebec Maple Fudge with Vanilla Chantilly scream Canada, whiskers the Anglican/ Francophone brotherhood and is just plain delicious.

 

Scone with Raspberry Jam and Devonshire Cream & Tea Cake Slices

Scone with Raspberry Jam and Devonshire Cream & Tea Cake Slices

Tangy Mini Lemon Curd Tart, Bittersweet Chocolate Silk Mousse Cake, & Quebec Maple Fudge with Vanilla Chantilly

Tangy Mini Lemon Curd Tart, Bittersweet Chocolate Silk Mousse Cake, & Quebec Maple Fudge with Vanilla Chantilly

 

When you combine the bright, airy surroundings, incredibly congenial service, amazing tea and excellent food it isn't hard to see why the Secret Garden requires a reservation! Call today and tell them the folks at Jenn Chan Media sent you and take our word for it you'll be glad you did!

 

Afternoon Tea with Mom

Afternoon Tea with Mom

Cutest Bow on the Maple Fudge

Cutest Bow on the Maple Fudge

Individual Tea Set

Individual Tea Set

High Tea for 1

High Tea for 1

 
 

Fusion Restaurants in Vancouver: Ebisu by Jenn Chan

Ebisu Exterior

 

When you walk into an Indian restaurant it's a good sign when there are tables upon tables of Indian families hunkering down over plates of simmering tika masala and ripping into fresh naan bread. It's no different in pho joints where Nguyen's and Ngo's slurp happily on big, steamy bowls or taquerias where most customers are obscured by large sombreros. Okay that last one not so much because Mexicans wouldn't be caught dead in gaudy tourist souvenirs, but you get what I mean. At Ebisu on Robson the Japanese have found their spot and staked their claim. It's a good sign, trust me!

 

Ebisu Interior

 

Our night started off, as good nights do, with a couple of cocktails: the DragonBall and Summer Dream. The former being a sake, mango passion Alize, peach Schnapps, Calpis and soda creation that takes the subtle bubble from the soda and melds it with the sweetness of the Schnapps and tartness of the sake perfectly. The latter a mixture of watermelon liqueur, peach Schnapps, Citron Vodka and tropical fruit punch mix... Yes, as good as it sounds! Not out of place in an upscale Japanese fusion hot spot or a Hawaiian beach.

 

Dragonball Cocktail & Summer Dream

Dragonball Cocktail & Summer Dream

 

All of a sudden out pops Yohei, our gracious host and Ebisu's manager, with the Supreme Sashimi Salad. Salmon, tuna, Ebi, hamachi and clam on a small mountain of organic greens with a rich, creamy dressing. Absolutely lovely. It was followed quickly by the Salmon Carpaccio which was a nice Atlantic salmon marinated in sou olive oil and topped with citrus white wine mayo and garlic chips. Top ten mayos of my life!  The salmon was tender, like pudding tender, and it had a nice lemon kick from the mayo. All in all a very, very good Carpaccio!

 

Supreme Sashimi Salad

Supreme Sashimi Salad

Supreme Sashimi Salad
Salmon Carpaccio

Salmon Carpaccio

 

A second course means a second cocktail and I went with the Angel: Blueberry Stoli, Cointreau, lemon lime mix and blueberry juice. The martini kick one would expect with very balanced flavours, very good! Just as I took a second sip out came the Hamachi Inferno and Cherry Blossom. The inferno, named for the at-table torching it receives I'd wager, is a Japanese Amberjack served aburi style on a brick of rice. The torching melts the mayo that covers it into a sticky, flavourful shellac. The Cherry Blossom is Red Ahi Bigeye Tuna layered with Japanese caviar, and has mango, avocado, sesame and poached prawns. The dish of the night! Topped off with wakame salad and ikura it is a a different taste per chew. The sweetness of the mango and avacado are tempered each time an ikura pops and the caviar compliments the elegant fish in a perfect way! Add to the mix Ebisu's famous Beef Short Ribs marinated in a "Korean influenced" BBQ with its cute, mini BBQ grill and the meal was a home run, a touchdown, a gooooaaaallll!

 

The Angel

The Angel

Hamachi Inferno

Hamachi Inferno

Cherry Blossom Roll

Cherry Blossom Roll

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

Beef Short Ribs

 

But we're not done! Out comes a Japanese crèpe that could have been a meal itself, football sized. A freshly made, near paper thing, light pastry enveloping a cache of fresh strawberries and delicious strawberry ice cream. Come on! Top it off with home made whipped cream on top and a drizzle of strawberry sauce and I will come back just for this dessert. I promise you that! Not knowing my choice could have fed a table of six Jenn ordered the Monkey Magic. Deep fried bananas, sweet red bean, a scoop of mango ice cream and a scoop of green tea ice cream drizzled with chocolate. Jenn was so enamoured with it that she went full Mary Poppins when describing the dish: "deep friend ban-o-na". She spat out a little bit of it in a fit of laughter, I laughed, other tables gawked. We win! In all the dining experience at Ebisu on Robson is near perfect. Excellent ambience, colourful, calm yet vibrant, and exceptional food. There will be something on the menu for everyone and you'll be glad you listened to us!

 

Japanese Style Crepe - Strawberry

Japanese Style Crepe - Strawberry

Monkey Magic with Matcha & Mango Ice cream

Monkey Magic with Matcha & Mango Ice cream

IMG_7939.jpg
 

Fusion Restaurants in Vancouver: Sai Woo by Jenn Chan

Sai Woo

 

Sai Woo's dining room blends the old and new together seamlessly. The exposed brick walls and original floor mingle with the modern bar, elegant 'button' light fixtures and LED adorned trees. The energy in the room is amazing, music rumbles and tables of 20 something's chat enthusiastically while tables of retirees cheers each other with glasses of red wine. 

 

Sai Woo

Sai Woo Food Menu

Sai Woo Drink Menu

Sai Woo Drink Menu

 

We start our adventure with their Jade Dragon: muddled strawberries, vodka, lime juice, guava and prosecco. Designed for two and served in a large Chinese vase it is delightfully sweet with the delicious strawberries overpowering the lime juice and guava. 

 

Jade Dragon: Muddled Strawberries, Vodka, Lime Juice, Guava & Prosecco

Jade Dragon: Muddled Strawberries, Vodka, Lime Juice, Guava & Prosecco

 

And then the fun really started! Our affable server Julie came bounding over with the first dish she recommended; the fried cauliflower and tofu. I don't usually like cauliflower, but the subtle spice on this dish really makes it pop! I ate more cauliflower at Sai Woo than I've ever eaten before! The tofu, another food on my 'naw list', shared the cauliflower's spice and was similarly delicious. 

 

Halfway through devouring our cauliflower Julie came back with Sai Woo's wok fried famous chicken wings and Vietnamese lemongrass chicken bao. The wings come crisp and layered in fried kale, scallions, challots, ginger and Asian sauce vierge. They are delicious! I am a bao fan and I don't care who knows it. If they made mattresses out of bao I would throw my newly purchased Posturepedic California king in the garbage and buy one. Without hesitation. If you haven't tried it think of bread and then multiply the deliciousness by roughly one billion. The chicken was nicely prepared and the Sriracha mayo was a perfect compliment to the pickled vegetables. Fantastic!

 

Deep Fried Cauliflower & Tofu  

Deep Fried Cauliflower & Tofu

 

Wok Fried Chicken Wings

Wok Fried Chicken Wings

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Bao

Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken Bao

 

In between courses Julie suggested we try The Anna May and I decided on the Sai Woo Sour. Bombay Sapphire East, Benedictine, ginger syrup, lemon juice and egg white make us the Sai Woo Sour and it strikes the perfect blend between tart and tangy. A strong 9/10 on the cocktail meter! The Anna May, named for an early Chinese pioneer in English cinema, consists of Finlandia vodka, muddled mint and blueberries, lime juice, crème violette and sparkling cava. Blueberries are a super good for a reason and it's not their incredible antioxidant properties, that's a common misconception, it's actually because they overpower and defeat every flavour they're out up against! This drink is blueberry forward and very tasty! Hats off to the bartender for hiding 2 oz of liquor in such a small, flavourful package! 

 

Sai Woo Sour

Sai Woo Sour

The Anna May

The Anna May

 

Out came our main courses and did not disappoint: Korean Scallion Pancakes with Korean barbecue pork shoulder, ponzu and kimchi, Szechuan Ginger Beef cooked sous vide with crispy shallots and Chinese vegetables and Cantonese salted fish fried rice. Where to start, where to start... As with parents favouring one child over the other I'm hesitant to state which dish I like the best, but I liked the pancakes, like a lot! Tender and fresh, thin pancakes covered, absolutely covered, in incredible pork shoulder. Get it! Following closely was the Ginger beef. Very closely. It is cooked sous vide for 12 hours and bathed in black vinegar, garlic, Chinese wine and fermented peppers.  So nice you'll wish you ordered it twice! The rice dish was the perfect compliment to the other protein dishes and everything disappeared quickly!

 

Korean Scallion Pancakes

Korean Scallion Pancakes

Cantonese Salted Fish Fried Rice

Cantonese Salted Fish Fried Rice

Szechuan Ginger Beef

Szechuan Ginger Beef

 

Julie suggested we try both of Sai Woo's desserts offerings and who are we to turn down our new best friend? In between time I tested the Woo Cantina because of the name wWoo. El Jimador Tequila, ginger peppercorn sauce, lime juice, egg white and peppercorns. The sting of the tequila is subdued by the tang of the ginger and lime and it all works really well together. 8/10 on the cocktail meter, definitely a must drink! Enjoying my first sip of tequila goodness our nama chocolate and matcha coconut panna cotta arrived. Japanese truffle terrine, Yuzu curd and maldon make up the nama chocolate. Think of fudge crossed with mousse crossed with heaven. Matcha is an acquired taste. One I have yet to acquire, but Jenn wolfed it down like, well, a wolf. 

 

Desserts: Nama Chocolate & Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

Desserts: Nama Chocolate & Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

Matcha Coconut Panna Cotta

Nama Chocolate

Nama Chocolate

 

Sai Woo is a feather in Chinatown's cap! Delicious flavours, hip vibe and incredible cocktails. If and when you go ask for Julie and just eat whatever she suggest, you'll thank me!

 

 

Sai Woo
 
 

Gozen Lunch at Fairmont Pacific Rim RawBar by Jenn Chan

Fairmont PacRim

Fairmont PacRim

 

Each Gozen plate takes 8 hours to prepare. That's a full work day per platter! Only 10 are on offer per day and I was lucky enough to get one! Hiromitsu Nozaki is the head chef of two Michelin star restaurant Waketokuyama and mentored and collaborated with Fairmont Pacific Rim’s Chef Takayuki, Chef 'Taka', on their creation.


 

Gozen Lunch Menu

Gozen Lunch Menu

 

At Raw Bar even the coffee is special. Served with a hard rock sugar stir stick and made with lusciously rich coffee beans it knocked the cobwebs out for my 11:30 reservation. Swaying slowly to the incendiary PacRim guitar player the soup arrives as I'm halfway into my coffee and my eyes get as wide as the 49th parallel. Salmon Kasujiru: sake lees soup with Burdock Root, carrot, Lotus Root, Sockeye salmon and Yuzu. I will, without hesitation, name it into my top five soups of all time. I generally don't like salmon when it's cooked, but I could have eaten a pound if it!

 

Sake Miso Soup

Sake Miso Soup

Sake Miso Soup
Coffee

 

The platter arrived, all 8 hours worth, and I shivered noticeably. The first dish, I was eating as per the order of the menu for the most part, was sashimi, red tuna and Sockeye salmon. It was topped with grated potato and tossed with sardine/ tofu powder and Kazunoko kelp. The salmon was fresh, not farmed salmon. If you've seen a fish farming operation, be it a large, netted area of the ocean or a tank in a dank warehouse, you have been a witness to cruelty. The fish are often riddled with sea lice and splash about haphazardly, aimlessly, miserably in their tight confines. Their meat sadly often needs to be coloured pink, what manner of chemicals are involved in that process is anyone's guess and likely varies by supplier to varying degrees of toxicity, to resemble its wild brothers. Raw Bar's sashimi is wild salmon, caught humanely and so, so incredibly fresh. Like they tossed a rod in the waters of the Burrard Inlet some 100 meters from where I sat.

 

The second plate was the Taro and Sesame Tofu or “Rikyu Yose”. The dish had a smooth texture and subtle taste with a sesame kick, delicious!  It also came with a Sable Saikyou Miso Grill. Sablefish or butterfish, depending on where you're from, is a buttery, hence the name, delicious aquatic beast! Shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi. Think prawn tempura with a tasty, crispy mochi, almost Rice Crispie like, covering. It was the best tempura I can ever remember tasting! Rounding out the dish, the four platters boast 32 unique flavour combinations, was rice with baby anchovy and soy beans, carrots and string beans. Hands down my favourite dish!

 

The third dish didn't disappoint either; Roasted Wagyu beef. Beautifully rare and so tender you could cut it with a cross look. Roasting really preserves the juices and it was wetter than a, well, any Spring or Fall day in Vancouver. It came with a simmered piece of  sweet pumpkin. My experience with pumpkin has varied widely. I've had objectionable pumpkin pie from a frozen graveyard and sweet, fresh pie from a 5 star chef, but my experience has been limited, sadly, to pie. I will be sad to discard my rotted, drooping jack-o-lantern next November 31st. You could have been someone Jack. Could have been a contender. Pumpkin done the right way is delicious, sweet and pungent. Rounding out the dish, but taking no backseat, was a sampling of celery, Tamago, salmon rice, and asparagus.

 

By the fourth dish, when the first three are as amazing as these were, your expectations are pretty high. The rolled Cuttlefish with nori is a tangy, flavourful item and way less rubbery a Cuttlefish than I've ever had before. Served with

deep fried Lotus Root, shrimp and Sansho pepper it was incredible! The pepper really adds a kick and the crispness of the lotus root provides a crunch and they all blend seamlessly with the shrimp. While the sablefish dish was my favourite dish the minced chicken with Miso “Matsukaze” Style was my favourite flavour combination. To say it was incredibly delicious would be an understatement! It all came alongside block rice with fried kale and snow peas and was the perfect ending to an incredible brunch!

 

Gozen Lunch: 1) Sashimi: red tuna & salmon sockeye sashimi topped with grated mountain potato, tossed with sardine and tofu powder and kazunoko kelp ; 2) Taro and sesame tofu "rikyu yose", sablefish saikyou miso grill, shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi, rice with baby anchovy and soy beans, carrots and string beans; 3) Roasted wagyu beef, simmered sweet pumpkin, celery "kimpira", tamago, salmon rice, and asparagus; 4) Rolled cuttlefish with nori, deep-fried lotus root with shrimp and sansho pepper, minched chicken with miso "matsukaze" style, rice with fried kale and snow peas

Gozen Lunch: 1) Sashimi: red tuna & salmon sockeye sashimi topped with grated mountain potato, tossed with sardine and tofu powder and kazunoko kelp ; 2) Taro and sesame tofu "rikyu yose", sablefish saikyou miso grill, shrimp tempura coated with crispy mochi, rice with baby anchovy and soy beans, carrots and string beans; 3) Roasted wagyu beef, simmered sweet pumpkin, celery "kimpira", tamago, salmon rice, and asparagus; 4) Rolled cuttlefish with nori, deep-fried lotus root with shrimp and sansho pepper, minched chicken with miso "matsukaze" style, rice with fried kale and snow peas

Gozen Lunch
Assorted Nigiri & Sable Motoyaki Roll

Assorted Nigiri & Sable Motoyaki Roll

Kanmi - Fresh Seasonal Fruits & Red Bean Dessert

Kanmi - Fresh Seasonal Fruits & Red Bean Dessert

Red Bean Dessert

Red Bean Dessert

 

 

Fairmont Pacific Rim is one of the best, if not the best, hotels in Vancouver. It's conveniently located right beside the Vancouver Convention Centre in tony Coal Harbour. Mere steps to the Olympic torches, the world famous Seawall and the Vancouver skytrain. The Lobby Lounge is a perfect place to people watch. Regular Vancouverites and wide-eyed tourists stopping in for a drink mingle with CEOs in them for a conference and trust fund babies who can barely see over the steering wheel of thei Ferraris. The ambience isn't something you can ignore and the grandeur isn't something you'd want to. It is a beautiful place for a meal, a quick drink or to peruse the frequent free art installations in the lobby. A must see!

 

Muji Pop-up Store

Muji Pop-up Store

Muji Pop-up Store
Popular Pens at Muji Pop-up Shop

Popular Pens at Muji Pop-up Shop

 

Words & Photos: Jenn Chan 

 

Valentine's Day Menu: Notch8 at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver by Jenn Chan

Notch8 Valentine's Day Menu

Notch8 Valentine's Day Menu

 

Our server Kristina was a gem! Colloquial, but with a sophisticated edge and endless kindness. She suggested a couple of cocktails for us. JC had the Bubbles and Berries: Finlandia Vodka, fresh raspberries, fresh lemon, Sumac Ridge Sparkling White Wine. Champagne based cocktails are a crap shoot. Generally they'll mask the offensiveness of the $5 bottle of champagne with fruits and syrups and what-have-you, but Notch8 does things right and the result was a delicious, well balanced concoction. I had the Lilloet Daisy Zubrówka: fresh lemon, blueberry syrup and elderflower liqueur served in a tiki mug. It was sweet and absolutely delicious, elderflower is my bae!

 

Bubbles & Berries Cocktail

Bubbles & Berries Cocktail

The Lillooet Daisy Cocktail

The Lillooet Daisy Cocktail

 

The long weekend is owing to BC's newest statutory holiday, Family Day which, to my mind, will be Premier Christy Clark's only positive legacy. You'd be hard pressed to find anything else nice to say about her tenure. From being the only BC Premier to lose her own riding to her trying to sell the rights to mine our natural gas resources to foreign interests... you get the idea, I'm not a fan, but for letting us turn up on a Sunday we salute you. I guess.

 

The first course was called Roses by the Sea and for good reason. Rose poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal creme fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist. I had to stop Jenn a few times to alert her to the deliciousness of the bite I'd just had. Crab meat with caviar, shrimp with green apple or scallop with rose petal crème fraîche... that wasn't even all the incredible combinations in this one dish!? Amuse bouche... This was only the amuse bouche!? Right then I knew we were in for a good night! It was paired, quite elegantly, with a Kanazawa Sakura rosé. Strawberry notes dominate, but in a good way, not in a 14 year-old's first $5 strawberry wine kind of way.

 

Roses by the Sea + Kanazawa Sakura Rosé

Roses by the Sea + Kanazawa Sakura Rosé

Roses by the Sea - rosé poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal crème fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist

Roses by the Sea - rosé poached shellfish, caviar, rose petal crème fraîche, green apples, rosewater mist

 

 

Stop it Chef Will! Just stop. We came to Notch8 a few weeks ago to highlight their Dine Out Vancouver 2017 menu and Chef Will wowed us with his presentation; a frozen pond inspired oyster dish. Today he came out again, thanked us profusely for our previous post, and presented us with a 62 degree egg, beef tartare, uni and sea buck thorn gelee all served in a glass, smoked-filled globe. Stop it Will! It came with nori chips, they themselves would have been absolutely incredible in their own, and the tartare was hands down, no question, the best I've ever had! The egg, once pierced, oozed into the raw beef and formed a cacophony of savoury flavours. I mouthgasmed.


Chef Will Special

Chef Will Special

Chef Will Special
Chef Will Special
Chef Will Special

 

 

Reeling from first two dishes Chef Will brought out Notch's Savory Tart: foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut and brandy apricot compote. This is not the slimy, bitter liver I was forced to sit at the table, as a young boy, until I ate it all. This is foie gras, fat liver. I know that translation isn't going to inspire a ton of food lust, but paired with a Meyer Family Pinot the two combined perfectly not unlike the Sedin twins or peanut butter and jelly or oxygen and human life. I would gladly choose to eat nothing else for the rest of my life regardless of the nutritional value. That's all I have to say, go get some!

 

Savoury Tart + Meyer Family Pinot

Savoury Tart + Meyer Family Pinot

Savoury Tart - foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut, brandy apricot compote

Savoury Tart - foie gras, duck confit, sous vide quail egg, candied hazelnut, brandy apricot compote

 

To Share and to Savor: dry aged beef strip loin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf butter and marrow roasted potatoes. Jenn called it the "best steak I've ever had". An inch thick, aged striploin bloody as can be and as delicious as any striploin I've ever had! I'll acquiesce to the fact that the mashed potatoes were definitely top five of my life. Bone marrow anything is delicious and this was the first time that flavour had been infused into mashed potatoes and it was triumphant!! This platter itself would have been enough for 3-4 people. The fact that it's just one of many dishes on this Valentine's Day menu at Notch8 shows the caliber of cuisine they're determined to push out. As previously mentioned we attended Notch for Dine Out. Unequivocally it was our favourite of the Dine Out festival and it will be a go-to for the rest of our lives. It's simply that good!

 

To Share and to Savour - dry aged beef striploin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf, butter, marrow roasted roots

To Share and to Savour - dry aged beef striploin, cognac jus, black truffle, gold leaf, butter, marrow roasted roots

To Share and to Savour

 

And now to discuss the Chocolate Cave. About halfway into the grand ballroom that is Notch8 you smell it... it's not what the Rock is cooking it's chocolate. Maybe someone ordered something at a table nearby I thought. NO. It's an entire room at the back of the restaurant where the walls and every offering is chocolate. CHOCOLATE! I had to waddle down the steps due to over consumption, but there was still room for a chocolate chip cookie, red velvet cake, banana flambé, chocolate peanut brittle and truffles... omg you get it, they rolled us home! Luckily we live a 2 minute walk and no dogs had desecrated  the sidewalk so we arrived at our condo clean and satisfied. When I lay in my bed I'm blessed to enjoy a beautiful view of Hotel Vancouver's stunning architecture and knowing Notch is contained within those walls makes me smile. And hungry, it also makes me hungry! Do yourself a favour and pay them a visit!

 

The Chocolate Cave

The Chocolate Cave

The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
The Chocolate Cave
 
 

Valentine's Day Menu: TWG by Jenn Chan

TWG Valentine's Menu

 

The TWG Tea Salon and Boutique is a gorgeous space and their chef Cliff Hohl is a very nice man. He was gracious enough to hang out with us table side and explain the various dishes that make up their Valentine's Day menu. He was so happy and proud to tell us that TWG was "officially Oceanwise as of yesterday". Oceanwise, if you're not familiar with it, is a sustainability program championed by the Vancouver Aquarium. Take a few minutes and give it a google, a very worthy cause!


 

The tea pairing, Mon Amour Tea, is one of the best I've tasted. Inhaling deeply from a tin of it left at our table, presumably for photography purposes, I harkened back to the days when Bubble Tape was first introduced. Remember that?  Grape bubble tape, the kind bootlegged in my school yard, seriously, was the first thing that came to mind. Absolutely delicious!

Bain de Roses Tea infused sparkling wine cocktail

Bain de Roses Tea infused sparkling wine cocktail

 

 

Have you ever had really, really good iced tea? Like the stuff plantation owners must have enjoyed on the wraparound decks of their palatial mansions? Love me Tea must be one of those! I wasn't raised extravagantly. I had everything I needed, but some years were tough with my mom going back to school for a time and my dad being unemployed for a time when Safeway closed the bread plant, where he plied his trade as a mechanical engineer, to bust his union and move the plant a little ways up the road. As such I have humble tastes: Nestle's Quik trumps any and all hot Chocolates at your froofy cafés and peanut butter is good on anything. This iced tea is not the sickeningly sweet, powdered offering of my youth, but a subtle, semi-sweet and refreshing upgrade. This is progress we can all get behind! Make iced tea great again!


 

Mon Amour Tea & Love Me Tea

Mon Amour Tea & Love Me Tea

 

 

TWG's scallops are the polar opposite of rubbery. Fresh, tender and flavourful. They really soak up the dashi broth and blend marvellously with the dragon fruit and "white desire" tea infusion. Korean brown rice is just better than regular rice, it just is. Again the dashi, the root of everything miso, soaks in and competes with the garlic for flavour supremacy. The time and effort spent to curl the carrots and cucumbers into tight spirals speaks volumes about TWG's commitment to presentation and elegance. Chef Hohl intimated as much, "the team is excited about this menu", he exclaimed between self deprecatingly deflecting praise and promising to bring us the meal's "Cliff notes" that he was having trouble finding thinking he'd left it on his "Cliffboard". Oh Cliff! I was proud to hear he had tried to model his summation after my writing. High praise from an artist to a financier dabbling in the written word and hardly an artist by any stretch of the imagination. Words are words, people use words everyday, but the culinary arts nourish people, inspire people and have the ability, with minimal exaggeration, to bridge cultural divides.

 

 

Pan-seared scallops complemented by a dashi broth infused with White Desire Tea

Pan-seared scallops complemented by a dashi broth infused with White Desire Tea

Pan-seared scallops complemented by a dashi broth infused with White Desire Tea

 

 

The dessert came out looking as glossy and beautiful as a $10,000 paint job on a $1,000,000 car. The vanilla bourbon ice cream is amongst the best, top five, ice creams of my life! Decadent, but with that natural vanilla flavour that reminded me of my first independent car ride with a peer as a 16 year old. That vanilla air freshener dangling off the rear view mirror signalled a freedom, an independence that vanilla always brings back for me!


 

Bain de Roses Tea infused mosse and raspberry confit, served with scoop of Vanilla Bourbon Tea infused ice cream and fresh berries

Bain de Roses Tea infused mosse and raspberry confit, served with scoop of Vanilla Bourbon Tea infused ice cream and fresh berries

 

 

The TWG Tea Salon recently underwent an extensive renovation and the room is incredible! Brightly coloured containers of the world's best teas line the walls. Ornate tea pots encased in glass for the dining area and smiles everywhere. What makes you smile? For me it's kindness. For me it's joy. For me it's socializing. I promise you, from the bottom of my heart, that going to TWG will make you smile! Go hungry and leave happy!