Events

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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

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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!

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.

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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.

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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!

Taste of Heaven: Snowy Village Dessert Cafe

This newly opened dessert cafe on Alexandra Road in Richmond is my new favourite dessert spot. And when I say favourite, I mean I’ve already visited five times since they first opened two weeks ago… (#shameless).

Snowy Village Dessert Cafe is a new Korean cafe specializing in “bingsoo”, or shaved ice milk dessert, often topped off with red bean, nuts or fruits. They already have over 80 locations around the world, including Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, and more.

Their store is beautifully arranged with a fun green and white colour scheme, complete with lighted signage, and glowing snowflakes on the ceiling. The order counter is made with an unfinished wood design, which gives the feeling of being in a warm toasty cabin amidst snowy weather outside.

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I’ve tried four flavours so far – my favourite is the “Green Tea Bingsoo”. This shaved ice milk is topped with matcha green tea powder, condensed milk, mochi pieces, and red bean. I love that each bingsoo is heaped into a mountain of “snow” or shaved ice, because I just can’t get enough!

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Another flavour I enjoyed is their “Oreo Bingsoo”, with chocolate powder and a perfect Oreo cookie on top. I believe their classic is the “Injeolmi Bingsoo”, topped with peanuts, mochi, red bean, and condensed milk.

When it comes to shaved ice, Snowy Village Dessert Cafe takes it to a whole new level. Instead of using ice, Korean shaved “ice” actually uses milk as the base ingredient. This unique tweak to the recipe means the texture of the shaved “ice” is super fluffy with a light milk flavour. Bonus: you don’t get the feeling of brain freeze that you do with regular shaved ice, because the Korean bingsoo doesn’t taste as cold!

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In additional to the shaved ice/milk, Snowy Village also serves a few desserts, including the popular “Taiyaki”, a fish-shaped pastry with a red bean filling (originally Japanese), but with a croissant batter. It’s served piping hot, and the contrast of the sweet crunchy outside and the soft red bean inside is absolutely delicious.

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I am very much looking forward to trying all the flavours, and I can see this dessert cafe becoming very popular when summer rolls around. Snowy Village – thank you for bringing this incredible bite of Korean heaven (that I am obsessed with) to Vancouver!

If you want to taste this unique dessert, check out their Facebook page for their menu items and hours here: Snowy Village Dessert Cafe. They’re super busy on weekend nights, so go early if you can!

Snowy Village Dessert Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tasting Plates – Kitsilano West

Following Vancouver Foodster’s adventure in Downtown South, September’s Tasting Plates explores Kitsilano West. The restaurants featured are Essentia Cafe, Bon Macaron, The Juicery Co, Tera V Burger, and Darby’s Public House and Liquor Store.

My first stop after picking up my Tasting Plates card, was Darby’s Public House, a local and independent establishment that has been part of the Kitsilano community for over 30 years. I had the pleasure of tasting a Mini Broadway Burger, Smoked Chicken Drumette and Quinoa Salad. The mini size of the burger was perfect for Tasting Plates, but I could see myself ordering the full size one when I return.

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Next was The Juicery Co, a family-run organic cold pressed juice and nut mylk shop. Owner and co-founder Christina was super friendly and more than happy to share her story and knowledge of juicing with us. Thanks Christina!

I sampled the Local Rose Juice, The Original, and Dads Juice, all with a combination of 4-7 different fruits and vegetables. Christina warned us that it may be overwhelming for those who don’t eat fruits and veggies regularly, but I thought the three juices were absolutely delicious. The Mini Acai Bowl would be great in the morning as breakfast – frozen Acai blended with raw cococa, maca, homemade nut mylk, frozen banana, topped with gluten free granola and fresh banana. Terrible photo below (sorry), but so tasty!

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Essentia Cafe is a bright, quaint spot offering European-style cafe. Their tasting cups included a Freddo Cappuccino, which is an iced version of cappuccino with a thick layer of cold whipped milk, and a Con pana, a popular Italian single-shot espresso served hot with whipped cream.

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As for tasting plates, I was treated to a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake, and a mango shortcake. I am always a sucker for anything mango, but this pumpkin cheesecake came a close second! I would definitely recommend trying it out if you have the chance to visit Essentia Cafe.

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Tera V Burger prides itself on being more than just a restaurant, but a movement to be beneficial to the planet, and mankind. Their menu is all vegetarian, but satisfies your cravings with burgers like the No Bull Burger, and the BBQ Tempeh Burger. Their potato fries are baked, but fried, for a healthy yet delicious indulgence. Not pictured (because I finished it too quickly… oops) is the Super Food Smoothie, with kale, spinach, carrots, banana, strawberry, blueberry, and touch of honey.

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A visit to Bon Macaron is a sweet visit indeed, especially as the last place of Tasting Plates. Co-owner David Boetti handpicked three flavours of macarons for me – (from left to right) Lemon Poppyseed, Oreo, and White Chocolate & Wasabi. The last one, White Chocolate & Wasabi, actually tastes like wasabi. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself!

Their macarons are beautifully crafted, with an inventive and constantly changing and expanding array of flavours. Some of the most creative ones I saw were White Truffle Sea Salt, Bacon, and Bubble Gum.

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And that wraps up Tasting Plates in Kitsilano! As always, thank you to Richard of Vancouver Foodster for inviting us on this tantalizing adventure for our tastebuds.

The next Vancouver Foodster event is Food Talks, Volume 13 on October 27, at Sage Restaurant at UBC. Get your tickets here: Eventbrite Food Talks Volume 13.

Glowbal Grand Opening at TELUS Garden

After the closure of the original Glowbal Grill Steaks & Satay, Glowbal has now been reborn at the new TELUS Garden building in downtown Vancouver. As Glowbal Restaurant Group’s namesake, the new 17,000 square foot flagship restaurant is without a doubt, bigger, bolder, and better than ever.

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The restaurant has a beautiful and vibrant open space with a dynamic open kitchen featuring Canada’s first custom built Robata grill. The decor emanates a warm atmosphere, especially with the giant reflective golden orb above.

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Private dining rooms inside each offer a distinct personality, and seats anywhere from 12 to 60 people. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow for a fantastic view of Vancouver’s streets while wining and dining away.

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Outside, the patio is truly something else – 150 seats with unique human-sized bird cages for group seating. The space, framed by a dramatic wood-and-glass awning, provides a perfect place for people watching while enjoying Glowbal’s Famous Truffled Spaghetti & Signature Meatballs, or Miso Marinated Sablefish.

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If you’re interested in enjoying their adventurous and delicious North American cuisine, from executive chef Pedro Gonzalez, Glowbal is now open for lunch and dinner daily. For myself personally, I’m looking forward to tasting their weekend brunch, to be launched in September. Glowbal, I’m coming back for more!

Central City’s Red Racer Restaurant

What time is it? It’s Friday and it’s beer o’clock at Central City.. now in Vancouver! The Surrey brewers behind Red Racer beer is moving into Dix BBQ & Brewery’s old location in Yaletown with Red Racer Restaurant.

The spacious restaurant is a great addition to the craft beer scene in Vancouver, offering an authentic, unpretentious brewpub feel, rather than a sportsbar atmosphere. Its fun character includes Victorian steampunk-inspired features, such as oversized long tables, leather chairs and industrial lighting. One of my favourite pieces is the Central City clock. 

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Central City tips its hat to Dix BBQ & Brewery by keeping some elements of its unique brick and beam character, the most prominent being the giant sign in the center of the restaurant.

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It makes a great location for after work drinks and snacks with the team, or pre/post game munchies. Red Racer Restaurant offers 40 local craft beers on tap, as well as rotating taps of some of BC and North America’s best beers. Of course, they also have 14 of Central City’s own Red Racer and limited release beers, including Hopping Mad Cider.

Food-wise, Central City’s Red Racer Restaurant will have a primarily southern BBQ-focused menu, featuring their signature build-your-own-BBQ-burgers, and dishes infused with beer.

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Looking for a great summertime beer? Try Mayor Kolsch, Central  City’s latest character-based beer. Brewed with Heidelberg and German wheat malts, Mayor Kolsh is an easy drinking, pale-coloured, traditional German style ale that’s full of flavour.

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Fun fact (I didn’t know this): Central City distills its own vodka AND gin! The gin goes down so smoothly without the terrible aftertaste. Pictured below is a dry gin martini, stirred with an olive and a twist of lemon peel.

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Central City’s new Red Racer Restaurant opens today, Friday July 24, across from BC Place at 871 Beatty Street in Yaletown. Have a beer, have a burger, and say hello to Red Betty!

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Glowbal Group: NOSH

Downtown Vancouver has a new eatery in town! Glowbal Restaurant Group has officially launched Nosh, at Vancouver’s newest landmark Telus Garden, Canada’s first building with LEED Platinum status.

Nosh features an all-day menu that indulges all cravings, from baked pastries in the morning, to a salad and panini for lunch, to delectable late night bites for the evening.

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The casual eatery is a beautiful large open space that spills gently into the building lobby. I love that there’s plenty of comfortable seating, windows, and a patio for sunny days.

Swing by and pick up a breakfast treat and an espresso in the morning, or have a seat to order a regular breakfast entree. Their menu includes omelettes, pizza, Liege waffles, strata, and more.

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Nosh transitions seamlessly into lunch at 11:00am, with a large array of panini, wraps, salads, sandwiches and other comfort food selections. Too busy to sit down? They will be launching a new service online soon, that allows for easy and quick meal pick-up from their self-serve shelves. In and out, done!

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Every weekday from 2:30pm – 5:30pm, Nosh offers a fun Cocktail Hour with complimentary tapas with each beverage ordered from their cocktail menu. Don’t these look bite-worthy? Totally worth getting off work a little earlier to enjoy a cocktail and a canapé.

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My craving? Desserts. Nosh has a stunning showcase of artisanal pastries, macarons, truffles, and other handcrafted creations by pastry chef Elie Hehme. It’s hard to choose just one… The incredible selection entices each person (meaning me) to want to come again and again to try them all.

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With its morning to night menu, Nosh is truly one-of-a-kind in downtown Vancouver. You can drop by at any hour of the day and know that they will always have something (scrumptious) to satisfy your belly.