VanFoodster Brunch Crawl – Commercial Drive

As part of VanFoodster’s collaboration with Tourism Vancouver, Richard presents his neighbourhood Brunch Crawl series for Dine Out Vancouver. This past weekend, we were invited to experience some of the finest restaurants on Commercial Drive.

Our check-in location was Federico’s Supper Club, a long time restaurant on the Drive, offering up authentic Italian cuisine complete with live dancing and entertainment almost nightly.


Federico’s offered a selection of small bites for their Brunch Crawl menu, along with an optional wine pairing. Admittedly, drinking 4 glasses of wine at 10:00am in the morning is a bit early for me.. but what the heck, it’s the weekend!


From left to right:

  • Crostino con Uova di Quaglia e Proscuitto (quail egg & prosciutto crostino)
    Wine pairing: Prosecco Mionetto
  • Arancini con Percorino saffron risotto ball, Pecorino Romano
    Wine pairing: Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris VQA
  • Crostino al Pesto di Noci, Gorgonzola e Pera (walnut pesto crostino with gorgonzola and pear)
    Wine pairing: Tormaresca Aglianico Trentangeli
  • Crostino di Polenta, Speck e Gruyere (grilled polenta with speck and gruyere)
    Wine pairing: Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon VQA

Just across the street was Fratelli’s Bakery – if this place isn’t pastry heaven, I don’t know what is.


Fratelli has actually been on Commercial Drive for 20 years, baking Vancouver’s best Italian pastries. Say hello to glass display cases packed with scrumptious bars and squares and pies and tarts of every flavour imaginable.

They also have a second location in Sapperton, New Westminster.


We were treated a cute package of four items:

  • Espresso almond biscotti dipped in chocolate
  • Mini chocolate salted caramel cupcake
  • Silician cannoli
  • Nutella macaron

The Nutella macaron was my favourite, though the Silician cannoli is a popular favourite as well.


Next, we visited The Drive Coffee Bar, a European style coffee bar with beautiful wood finishing, artwork lining its walls, and a delicious selection of pastries.


Here, we opted for a Lavender London Fog (on the left) and a Salted Caramel Cappuccino (on the right). This was a welcome treat in the midst of the cold rainy/snowy weather we’ve been experiencing in Vancouver.


Vegan cafe Eternal Abundance is a bit of a hidden gem on Commercial Drive, and is both a full-service store and a community gathering space. It operates almost as a one-stop shop, where you could grab a healthy, organic lunch, pick up all your groceries, and perhaps a few delicious vegan treats along the way.


From Eternal Abundance, we sampled some flax crackers with sunflower cheeze, a kale caesar salad, and a vegan pad thai.


Our last stop was a tucked away, nondescript nook called Cabrito Tapas, serving Spanish tapas on Commercial Drive. I love the unique painting and artwork on the walls, with intimate seating. For those of you looking to make special Valentine’s Day plans, this would be a lovely option!


Here, we opted for a Mushroom Benny, with a poached egg, marinated mushrooms, roasted potatoes, and hollandaise sauce, served with bread and salad.


And with Dine Out Vancouver all wrapped up with their festival, the Commercial Drive Brunch Crawl is a lovely finale to Vancouver Foodster’s Brunch Crawl series.

For his next event, stay tuned for Pizza Palooza, to taste all the best pizzas in Vancouver. Get your tickets here: Vancouver Foodster!


Maruyama: Omakase with Chef

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Thanks to Raymond of ChineseBites, we were invited to a private omakase nigiri tasting at the new, cozy Maruyama Japanese Restaurant, opened June just earlier this year.

Previously the raw bar chef at Blue Water Cafe, Chef Yoshiya Maruyama has ventured into opening his own restaurant in East Vancouver on Rupert St, replacing the old Kimura.

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“Omakase” is a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it up to you”; an omakase tasting means the dishes are selected by the chef himself. This way, the chef can choose from the freshest seasonal ingredients available to create a unique and special meal for each customer, that showcases Japan’s delicate cuisine.

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The first course of the evening, our appetizer was Hamno with ume sauce, pike eel served cold, with tamago on the side.

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On this beautiful nigiri platter was :Aji (horse mackerel), Tako (octopus), Red Tuna (bigeye), and Renkodai (yellow sea bream).

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On this plate: Madai (Red Seabream), Engawa (flounder), Alaskan sockeye, and Hamachi (yellowtail).

Favourites from these two nigiri platters? Everything. It’s impossible to just pick one or two. Each bite was so luscious and exquisite, prepared delicately as an art form.

Maruyama’s fish and seafood come from over 7,000km away directly from Tokyo (Tsukiji Fish Market), and Osaka in Japan. Their seafood is shipped to Vancouver daily, so you can definitely taste the freshness in each bite of nigiri.

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On the left, Bluefin Tuna Otoro. Otoro is the most expensive cut of tuna, and high in fat. It’s important to mention that this bluefin tuna from Maruyama is farmed, not wild, especially since bluefin tuna are currently listed as endangered.

On the right, Salmon Toro (Norwegian Steelhead). Both the tuna and salmon tuna simply melt into your tastebuds. I couldn’t get enough of these!

Maruyama’s supplier of seafood is actually the same one as Miku and Minami downtown, which already speaks volumes as to their quality.

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Housemade cold udon: This udon is meant to be mixed with the cold soup (top right corner), and customized with different toppings as you please. Love the udon – as it’s handmade, each bite is chewy with just the right amount of bounce.

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On the left, Ankimo (monkfish liver). The liver is first rubbed with salt, and then rinsed with sake, but still maintains its distinctive taste. On the right, Hotate (Japanese scallop). The scallop was soft, succulent, with a rich, sweet taste that lingers on your tongue.

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Soft shell crab tempura – One of my favourite Japanese dishes, Maruyama did not disappoint. A wonderful crispy crunch on the outside, and buttery soft crab inside.

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On the left, Ikura (salmon roe) with cucumber. On the right, Takowasa (raw octopus with wasabi). Beware the wasabi in this one, it’s a real kicker, especially when you’re not expecting it!

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All in all, an exquisite omakase nigiri tasting of Japan’s finest seafood. If you visit Maruyama, I would highly recommend reserving seats at the bar to be able to watch up close and hear about the chef’s sushi masterpieces.

Thank you, Chef Yoshiyama, for a truly wonderful evening!

Go Further with Ford Canada: Introducing the Ford Escape 2017

About a month ago, I was invited by Ford Canada to Harambe’s Ethiopian Restaurant on Commercial Drive, to hear about Robin Esrock’s bucket list experiences from his book “The Great Canadian Bucket List”. From hearing about his adventures, we were all inspired to take on our own bucket list item, in a brand new Ford Escape 2017.

I picked up the new Ford Escape 2017 with the Titanium trim last weekend, and planned out my adventures.


The SUV is quite roomy in the back, with space for 5 people and luggage in the trunk. I wanted to explore how comfortable it would be… hence we set off for Aldergrove to Metro Vancouver’s only remaining drive-in theatre: Twilight Drive in Theatre.

Once we folded the rear leather seats down and piled in our pillows and blankets, we definitely had plenty of room to stretch our legs to watch Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Say hi to our cuddly movie companion, Sam!


As someone who never tires of exploring beautiful Vancouver and the GVRD, I believe one destination that should be on everyone’s bucket list is the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver.


The Capilano Suspension Bridge was originally built in 1889, stretching 450 feet across and 230 feet above the Capilano River. And there’s so much more! From Treetops Adventure, Kids’ Rainforest, Totem Park, and the adrenaline-pumping Cliffwalk, there is much to see and do at this top destination experience in BC.


A few of my favourite features of the brand new Ford Escape 2017:

  • Auto lights, including Bi-Xenon HID headlands with LED signature lighting – this was a big help while driving to Aldergrove in the night-time, so I could focus on the road & navigation system.
  • Panoramic Vista Roof – so perfect for stargazing at night!

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  • Adaptive Cruise Control and Collision Warning with Brake Support – this is a fantastic safety feature for drivers, especially for longer drives and road-trips.
  • SYNC 3 system, a handsfree in-vehicle communications system that allows for phone calls, music controls, and other functions via voice commands. Yay for keeping both hands on the wheel!
    If you are an iPhone user, they also have Apple CarPlay so you can still chat with Siri in your Ford.


I’m a big fan of the aggressive look of the grill and headlights at the front of the vehicle, without appearing too bulky. It has more than enough power in its 2.0L Twin-Scroll EcoBoost engine with Intelligent 4WD, and a turbocharged induction system. The electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) makes it a breeze to drive on the road despite hard acceleration, sharp corners, or uneven road surfaces.


Starting at a $21,599 pricetag, the Ford Escape 2017 is a great compact crossover option for those looking for go further with Ford, with space, power on demand, and comfort, all in one.

Top Five Amazing Places to Visit in Ireland

As summer in Vancouver draws to a close, I chose to spend 10 days backpacking around Ireland (including Northern Ireland) on my own, hopping on buses and trains, and staying in hostels all over the island. Throughout my trip, I had the opportunity to visit so many incredible places – here are my top 5 amazing places to visit in Ireland!

5. Titanic Belfast, Belfast, UK


Did you know? RMS Titanic was actually built in Belfast Ireland, as the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners. The tragic sinking of the ship in April 1912 was met with grief, shock, and outrage, but eventually led to many improvements in maritime regulations, some of which still exist today.


The Titanic Belfast museum is a monument to Belfast’s maritime heritage, guiding visitors on a journey in learning more about the ship’s story, including the laborious building process, detailed interior decor, maiden voyage, underwater footage of the rediscovery, and Titanic’s final legacy. The museum is located on the site of the former Harland and Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast, with a display of the SS Nomadic just outside.

4. Blarney Castle, County Cork, Ireland

As I was sitting on the Irish Rail watching Ireland’s lush countryside pass by, occasionally, a castle would pop into view. In fact, there are dozens of castles sprinkled all across Ireland – Blarney Castle is one of them.


Aside from the famous Blarney Stone, the castle grounds is full of little wonders tucked away in pockets. If you take a walk through the meandering paths, you will find beautiful gardens, waterfalls, secret caves, even an ice house and a poison garden.


Pretty sure I already had the gift of gab before I planted my lips on that rock though…….

3. Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge was originally constructed for fisherman to reach the island and cast/check on their fish nets. Now, tourists challenge themselves to cross the the rope bridge simply just because of the exhilaration or satisfaction.


To get to the rope bridge, however, there is a long footpath through the lush green countryside that follows along the coastline, giving you an absolutely stunning view of the cliffs.


2. Giant’s Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland 

The Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site, made up of over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, formed from an ancient volcanic eruption.


Legend says that two giants, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) from Ireland and Benandonner from Scotland, built the bridge between the two countries so they could battle each other. This story is likely inspired by the existence of identical basalt columns on the other side of the ocean at Fingal’s Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa.


1. Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland

Number one of my list is the incredible Cliffs of Moher, a natural wonder with history that stretches back thousands of years. You might recognize this spot from a film you’ve seen before, notably the 1973 classic film The Princess Bride, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, or the romantic comedy Leap Year.


Sure, it’s a giant tourist attraction complete with an overpriced visitor centre, but with good reason! Standing atop O’Brien’s Tower, seeing the rough, jagged cliffs, and the white waves crashing against them – I was absolutely floored.


Introducing ESQIDO Mink False Lashes

This weekend, Esqido False Lashes celebrated their official launch at Holt Renfrew, introducing the world’s most natural false mink eyelash ever to Vancouver.

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We had the opportunity to speak with Brenda, Co-Founder and Director of Public Relations, about Esqido. Launched in 2013, Esqido now offers a collection of 19 different styles of false lashes, all handcrafted with ethically-sourced mink hair, available online. Each pair is softer, lighter, and more flexible than synthetic strip lashes, making them way more comfortable for daily wear.

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If you pop by Holt Renfrew, Esqido has 11 single lash monocles for you to “try on” the lashes to see what fits you. With proper care, these beautiful false lashes can last up to 25 wears!


Not sure what to pick? Check out their top three bestsellers:

The Classic Collection: Unforgettable

The Classic Collection: Unforgettable

For a soft, natural look, try Unfogettable – this pair features a gradient of increasing length of lashes that creates a beautiful winged out effect.

The Classic Collection: Unforgettable 

The Classic Collection: BFF

The Classic Collection: BFF 

IF you’d like to add just a extra oomph to your look, the BFF mink lashes will make you want to use this best friend forever.. everyday!

The Classic Collection: Voila Lash

The Classic Collection: Voila Lash

For a fuller, more voluminous look, opt for this Voila Lash. Not only are the eyeslashes long and luscious, the criss-crossed look adds a sexy, sultry touch to your make-up.

Still lost? Don’t worry – one of Esqido’s lash experts can recommend a pair of lashes to you, based on your eye type, size and length of preference, and your level of experience. Each purchase of Esqido lashes also includes complimentary fitting and application.

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We pause this program for a short interruption… Shout-out to Brenda of Esqido for the most adorable names for mink lashes ever. Seriously.. how could you not want to take”Oh So Sweet”, “Little Black Lash” or “Lashlorette” home?

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And to complete the package.. Esqido now offers their in-house glue too! The Esqido Eyelash Glue is the perfect companion to your beautiful mink lashes. The glue is latex-free, meaning no more teary or irritated eyes. Many of Esqido’s prefer this eyelash glue over DUO Lash Adhesive.

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Like Cher explains to Christina Aguilera in the movie Burlesque, putting on your make-up is like being an artist.. but instead of painting a canvas, you’re painting your face.

Esqido takes this one step further – just as an artist signs off a completed art piece, Esqido’s mink lashes are the perfect signature finish to your make-up masterpiece.

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To see Esqido’s full collection of mink false lashes, take a look at their website here: Esqido.

Into the sky! With Whistler Superfly Ziplines

When it comes to staycations in BC, I can imagine Whistler Blackcomb easily one of the top destinations, and not just in the winter! In the summer months, Whistler has a great variety of outdoor activities, including trail biking, sightseeing tours, jet boating, bungee jumping, horseback riding, ATV tours, white water rafting, and more.

My friend and I decided on Whistler as our destination of choice for a quick getaway trip from Vancouver. One of the activities we picked was ziplining with Superfly Ziplines. Sound like fun? Here’s our experience!

The zipline experience was estimated to be about 3 hours round trip. We opted to meet Superfly at their Whistler Village location, where their staff walked us over to their brightly coloured Superfly bus. Lucky for us – it was a gorgeous day, with plenty of sunshine and a hint of a breeze.

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Up, up, we went on the mountain, until we arrived at the Cougar Mountain Base, the hubbub of their activities, including the ziplines and Treetop Adventures.

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We met our guides William and Astrid, who welcomed us with a quick introduction, suited us up, and did a quick demonstration of what we were to expect on the zipline. We also learned William and Astrid’s funky monkey dance, which later become a common theme throughout our experience – their little dance indicated to us while flying through the air to prepare for the end of the zipline in the proper landing position.

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There was a group of 8 of us – my friend and I, a couple, and a family of four, including two kids. We hopped into a few ATV’s and continued our adventure higher up on the mountain.

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At the very top of the mountain, I have to admit, I was a little nervous. Looking down, it really was quite high up – our first zipline was the highest zipline in Canada! It was an incredible view point though, overlooking the forests below, with the mountains and blue skies in the background. My picture, unfortunately, does not do it proper justice. You’ll have to see it for yourself!

DSC09788 editAstrid was the first to fly down to the next base. Throughout the next few hours, William and Astrid were fantastic in coordinating with each other – one would strap us in, and double check our equipment was good to go, and the other would be at the other side to receive us with the funky monkey dance. Since the ziplines were tandem, the two kids from the family would often volunteer to be the first to zip down and race each other to the other side!

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There were 4 different ziplines, each with their own unique characteristics. For example, the first one was the highest, where as the third one was nicknamed Godzilla for the fastest. All four ziplines were tandem, with two lines right next to each other, but the fourth zipline was special – the two ziplines are actually close enough for a couple to hold hands on their way down.  Isn’t that sweet?

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Ziplining with Superfly was such an incredible experience, a mix of feeling intense adrenaline rushes while flying in the air, and a sense of peace and serenity trekking through the forest to our next location. Thanks to our guides William and Astrid, we felt safe, comfortable and taken care of throughout the whole journey.

And afterwards, we topped off our experience with delicious ice cream with none other than Cows in Whistler Village. Yum!

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For your next trip to Whistler, I would highly recommend including Superfly Ziplines as part of your itinerary for an unforgettable adventure!

Say hello to Aritaum, #KBeauty Emporium

With Korean dramas and make-up taking the world by storm, it was only a matter of time for skincare and beauty giant Aritaum to open their first flagship location in Vancouver.

Aritaum is a division of AmorePacific, South Korea’s #1 skincare and cosmetics company. With over 70 locations across Canada and the United States, their first Vancouver flagship store just celebrated their grand opening at Aberdeen Centre in Richmond. Featuring complimentary makeovers and manicures, the store introduces the largest curated collection of premium Korean beauty products outside of Asia.

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Aritaum carries a number of AmorePacific’s in-house cosmetics and beauty brands, including Laneige, IOPE, Sulwhasoo, Hanyul and Mamonde. Products include skincare (toners, moisturizers, masks, emulsions), beauty (concealers, primers, BB creams, blushers and bronzers, mascaras, eye-shadows, lipsticks), body (scrubs, oils, mists), hair (shampoo, conditioner, serums, oils, treatments), and many more within those categories.

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I spoke to one of their associates to learn more about their products.

One of their best sellers is the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, an overnight gel fase mask that hydrates your skin while you sleep. Once applied, it dries quickly and doesn’t leave your face feeling sticky, and its light, soothing aroma will help lull you to a deep, relaxing sleep.

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Another bestseller are these Aritaum Salon Esthe Bio Cellulose Masks, that come in (from left to right) Moisturizing, Lifting, and Brightening for your complexion. Right behind the masks, there is also a wide variety of sheet masks in all sorts of scents and purposes. Love the colours!

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The Laneige Two Tone Collection are also popular, featuring a two-tone (duh) lipstick (Lip Bar) or eyeshadow (Shadow Bar) that creates a professional quality gradient make up look on your face with a single touch.

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Photo from Aritaum’s website

The Hanyul brand focuses on natural and whole ingredients that are nourishing to the body. Their Rice Essential Skin Softener is easily absorbed without a sticky after-feel, and will leave your skin feeling distinctly more moisturized and softer. The scents from these products reminds me of being surrounded by nature – like stepping into a pine forest and taking a deep breath. This brand is recommended for those with sensitive skin.

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The BB Air Cushion is a Korean multi-functional BB Cream, including wide spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen, mineral water, colour correction, and BB cream.  IOPE, Mamonde, Sulwhasoo and Laneige all have a version of the cushion, meant to allow the ingredients of the BB Cushion to be gently absorbed into the skin, leaving a thin and protective tissue on the outer skin. When applied, the coverage will even out any blemishes and imperfections, and give you a soft, dewy look on your skin.


Mamonde, whose brand name comes from “Ma Monde” meaning “my world” in French, caters towards, though not exclusively for, a younger target market. Their products are all about the florals – flowers such as camellia, lotus, and jasmine are frequently used as ingredients. In addition to these 7 Day Project Sheet Masks, Mamonde also has an extensive line of skincare products, including Rose Water Soothing Gel, First Energy Serum, and Lotus Micro Cleansing Form. 

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And skincare isn’t just for the ladies! Aritaum also offers plenty of skincare products for men, from all the in-house brands. Whether a toner, cleanser, emulsion, or something else, there will be something for the gents as well.

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With such an extensive array of brands and products, every woman (and man!) will be able to find something for their skincare or make up routine.

BONUS!  Aritaum is currently running a promotion: Buy any Laneige (including their Two Tone Lip Bars!) or IOPE lipstick, and receive a free Aritaum lip tint for yourself! Mother’s Day gift, perhaps? Get on it while it’s still valid – this promotion runs until the end of May.


Aritaum is located at Aberdeen Centre (on the second floor) in Richmond, easily accessible by skytrain (Canada Line – Aberdeen Centre), and open all mall hours. Take a look and treat yo’self!