Traveling and Eating Through the Fraser Canyon

I am back into my driving the Fraser Canyon routine and wow, the food choices in the Canyon have never been so good.

First up, breakfast from Chef Todd at Fat Jack’s Diner just north of Boston Bar. A Swiss cheese, kale, and sausage omelette. Delicious. The hashbrown potatoes  are too under-cooked for my liking, but the overall breakfast experience is very positive.

Fraser Canyon

And of course a drive through the Fraser Canyon does not happen without a stop at 293 Wallace Street.

Although chef Hiro Takeda is now working in Copenhagen Denmark with the people from the world renowned Noma Restaurant, he has left his restaurant in the hands of Brent (who’s last name I regretfully have forgotten). Chef Hiro trained Brent so I trust the restaurant is in good hands.


Fraser Canyon

My travel companion and I started with what I would call a very unusual appetizer – fresh pork rinds. Yep. Pork rinds.

They arrived at the table hot and snapping as they continued to pop and expand. I would definitely order these again.

Fraser Canyon

For my main course I went with the Crispy Pork Belly. The little pool of green stuff on the plate is a green tomato and jalapeno jam. There could have been more jalapeno in the jam.

To balance the fattiness of the pork belly there is a a good selection of of house pickled vegetables – yellow beets, carrots, and yes, mushrooms. Very cool.

The roasted Brussels sprouts were awesome. I will now only eat Brussels sprouts if they are roasted.

My travel companion being a much less adventurous diner than me, he opted for the 293 Wallace Street signature burger. He reported that it was a “very good” burger. He did admit that he prefers less meat in his burger than this one had.

Fraser Canyon

For dessert I asked the server to get the kitchen to make something for me. Lemon cheesecake with a graham crumb and a berry sauce. With ants.

As I have said before, if you get beyond thinking about eating the ants, they add a very strong citrus flavour to the cheesecake. I seriously encourage you to try the ants on their dessert. It is a flavour sensation.

Fraser Canyon

And finally, after drinking I can’t count how many crappy cups of coffee from that place started by a hockey player, I have discovered The Blue Moose coffee shop in Hope.

Awesome coffee. Pricey pastries and sandwiches but they certainly looked good!

Traveling the Fraser Canyon has never before been such a good time for foodies.

Hakkaku Ramen; Comfort Food

Sometimes when the load we are carrying becomes unusually heavy we need to hit the pause button in life and have a bowl of soup. Vietnamese pho has been my go-to for comfort in a bowl.

However, yesterday I found a new source of comfort – a massive bowl of ramen.

Curry Ramen

I was in Burnaby Heights and I needed a bowl of comfort. I recalled reading on Beyond the Rhetoric about a ramen joint in that neighborhood so I headed for Hakkaku Ramen on Hastings St just east of Willingdon.

Wow. What a positive experience! I opted for the “rich” broth and the more tender pork belly in a curry ramen. Seriously. Wow.

The broth was extraordinary. Rich doesn’t begin to describe it. I almost felt like it was 3-dimensional…if that makes any sense.

The soft boiled egg was beautifully cooked with a squishy soft yolk. Little heaps of green onions and a soft potato all added to the goodness of the bowl.

The noodles were cooked just beyond al dente with a lovely resistance to the teeth. And that pork belly – chashu pork. Tender. Pull apart tenderness.

Now admittedly I have not had ramen at any of the well known downtown ramen joints in Vancouver so I have nothing to compare the Hakkaku Ramen soups to, however, I will definitely be returning to Hakkaku Ramen and searching out more ramen joints to try more of this super comfort food.

  • My massive bowl of curry ramen was $9.00
  • Hakkaku Ramen is located at 4530 E Hastings Street, Burnaby

Lunch; Steak and Potatoes

Good old lunch of steak and potatoes with a little sautéed broccolini to make it even more healthy.

Steak and potatoes

The potatoes are fingerlings. Steamed. Best eaten dipped in a creamy dip. The broccolini is cooked by adding it to a large pan that is already hot. Let it cook until it gets dark green and then remove from heat. It is best served right out of the sauté pan – spooned up on to the plate.

To prepare the bacon wrapped steak we put it in a pan under the broiler for five minutes. Pull it out, flip it over, another five minutes and then remove from the oven. Let it rest for a few minutes. Then eat. That’s it.

Steak and potatoes.


Meatless Monday With Thug Kitchen 101

Meatless Monday today in the Test Kitchen and I kicked up the flavour meter on my Skillet Beer Chili Mac by adding some STR8 Flexin Imperial Stout from my local craft brewery, Twin Sails. The ultra deep flavour profile of the Imperial Stout really adds to the complexity of the mac (and the kids get a kick out of thinking they are getting some beer).

Seeing as this is a recipe from the Thug Kitchen cookbook, I figure they won’t care if I mod-out their recipes. So I added in a 1/4 cup of broken up cashews to add a bit more meaty texture to the dish. I also had a yam in the pantry that needed to be put into play … asap … so I diced it up and added it to the pot when I added in the chopped carrot. I didn’t have a bell pepper, so I skipped that. Meatless Monday with the Thug Kitchen. 

The best part – one pot to wash and the kids both ate it. 

New Westminster’s Old Crow Coffee Co

Do you know why the hipster burned his lip while drinking coffee? Because he drank it before it was cool. 

Speaking of hipsters, the Old Crow Coffee Company looks like an atypical hipster enterprise. 

After all, who, other than some hipsters would open a coffee shop on a one-way back street in New Westminster and expect to have success? 

But you know, the folks behind Old Crow Coffee Co are doing good stuff. Of course I only tried an Americano coffee but I have to say, it was a very tasty cup of coffee. 

I will definitely be returning to Old Crow Coffee to try more of their menu. 

The Old Crow Coffee Company is located at 655 Front Street in New Westminster. 

Burquitlam Safeway; Price Check On Aisle One

Seeing as I needed a loaf of bread, I decided to make another visit to the Burquitlam Safeway. While I was there I also checked out the layout of the store and the prices in the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

After leaving the fresh produce section of the store you enter the main part of the store. I was pleased to see that they have a relatively large “Wellness Market” where they have a wide selection of vitamins and other health-related products.

Burquitlam Safeway

I stopped shopping at Safeway a long time ago because they stopped being price-competitive with stores like Superstore or No-Frills. However, I did notice that many of the prices in the store have yellow tags on them indicating temporary discounted pricing.

A savvy shopper will be able to save money by purchasing items with the yellow discount tags.

Burquitlam Safeway

Seeing as I was looking for bread, I grabbed a photo of one of the many shelves of bread. You can buy baked in store bread, artisan bread, “grocery store” bread, and some of what I call, good quality grocery store breads.

If you buy two loaves of the Silver Hills bread you get a discounted price of $3.50 a loaf. That to me is a pretty fair price for a decent quality bread.

Burquitlam Safeway

Just like the bread, the frozen veggies seem to be competitively priced.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course butter. A staple in my cooking (if you’ve ever seen me in the kitchen you’ll know what I mean). The house brand of butter is $3.99. I usually buy butter at my local No-Frills for $3.89 so again, competitive pricing.

Burquitlam Safeway

And of course the thing that seems to have many people excited; the liquor store. Well, bad news folks; there is no liquor store in the new Safeway. However, there is a liquor store downstairs and outside the new Burquitlam Safeway.

The “Safeway Liquor Store” is actually a separate store from the new Safeway. The word on the street is that Safeway bought up the license or something like that to the Rhino Pub Liquor Store which is across the street in a building that is being demolished to make way for another high-rise tower.

So in effect, the Rhino Pub liquor store is simply moving across the street into a newer, fancier building with the Safeway name added to it.

Bottom line, the people who looked forward to “one stop shopping” for groceries and booze in the Burquitlam Safeway are not really going to get their wish.

All in all, I am still impressed enough with the new store to keep returning.


Dinner With Dad

One of the best ways to get kids who are reluctant eaters (how is it that I end up with a reluctant ester?) to eat is to make bizarre things out of the food. 

Last night I decided to make a low level Jenga game of the potatoes I had chopped into French fry shape. 

While we were eating the object of the game was to extract the baked fries one at a time without making the entire pan collapse. 

They ate the entire pan of potatoes. Mission accomplished. 

Burquitlam Safeway Grand Opening

Friday was the grand opening of the Burquitlam location of the newest Safeway in Metro Vancouver and I have to admit, I was quite impressed with the design and layout of the new store.

Burquitlam Safeway

You enter the new store at ground level where there is a sort of market section; there are bulk boxes of fruits and veggies and a floral department.

I suppose they needed to do something with the ground floor because it is the level where people enter from but it is not the main part of the store. Perhaps this area will be sub-leased once the Burquitlam area becomes more fully developed.

Burquitlam Safeway

Then when you come upstairs into the main floor of the store there is a real “market like” feel. It is almost like many small market stalls inside one store. There is a Starbucks, a Bento Box/Sushi place, a thin crust, made fresh on site pizza place, a sandwich store, a fresh juice stall, and more.

Burquitlam Safeway

The feeling that I got from this new location of Safeway is a combination of Whole Foods and Thrifty’s Food. It has a warm and welcoming feel to the store with lower light levels than the typical surgical room brightness that so many stores still use.

Yes, the “main” part of the store, where the shelves of canned and preserved foods are on display is still brightly lit, but they got the lighting right in the market place.

I have to admit, I spent most of my time wandering around what I call the “market place” where all the ready to take and eat foods and the fresh fruits and veggies are on display.

Burquitlam Safeway

The soup stand.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

The juice bar. Fresh juices made on site. Including with wheat grass – an idea my Bears were completely perplexed by, “People eat grass?”

Burquitlam Safeway

As I said, there is a clear focus on convenience foods in the Burquitlam Safeway. Food s you can take away and quickly re-heat or take away already hot. I assume the designers of the store are counting on the residents of the surrounding residential towers being frequent shoppers.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

There is also an impressive selection of baked goods and seafood in the market place.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

Seafood display including an aquarium of doom. My Bears wanted me to buy all the lobsters and crabs on display and free them. However, they also wanted me to buy some of the scallops that were on display and take them home to cook and eat.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

There is pretty impressive selection of cheeses on display.

Burquitlam Safeway

The deli meats.

Burquitlam Safeway

The specialty deli meats.

Burquitlam Safeway

And the veggies. Very beautifully displayed. Time will tell if these pretty displays last or if they are too “pretty” and not actually practical.

Burquitlam Safeway

The prices, at first glance they seem competitive…although I was not really paying attention to the prices. I was focused on the design and layout of the store.

Burquitlam Safeway

More produce on display.
Burquitlam Safeway

There is also a large of selection of bulk foods in the Burquitlam Safeway. I have to admit that this is basically as far into the main part of the store that I ventured. I will explore more of the store on my next visit – including finding how Safeway has managed to build a liquor store into this location.

Burquitlam Safeway

Burquitlam Safeway

One more thing I did notice; the check-out counters are thoughtfully designed. While there are some “self checkout” counters, there are also checkout counters that are staffed.

The checkouts are far enough apart that people with strollers, wheelchairs, or buggies full of goods are not being squeezed through a chute like cattle. Thoughtful.

My first impressions of the store are quite positive. On my next visit I will be sure to more closely check prices, find the liquor in the store, and get into the main part of the store.


French Fries Without the Fryer

My kids love French fries. But I don’t want to give them deep fried food, plus I don’t like using a deep fryer at home!

French Fries

So rather than deep frying potatoes, I have been experimenting with oven baking potatoes. Today I decided to go for a Jenga-inspired oven baked French fries.

And it worked really well! The heat was able to get around the potato slices quite nicely so they cooked quickly. And of course the best part? All the kids loved the oven-baked French fries.