Reviews

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Popbar: A taste of New York at Metropolis at Metrotown

Say hello to delicious handcrafted gelato on a stick! Popbar, founded in New York, just opened their first location in BC at Metropolis at Metrotown. This follows their first location in Canada at West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, as well as a soon-to-be third store at HighStreet Shopping Centre, Abbotsford.

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Popbar was founded by Reuben BenJehuda from Italy and Daniel Yaghoubi from Germany, who collaborated their love for authentic, all-natural, gluten-free, low in sugar & fat frozen treats. Today, they offer over 40 rotational flavours of popbars – popGelato, popSorbetto, and YogurtPops, and a customizable experience where you choose where your popbar is dipped and topped!

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Each popbar can be dipped in your choice of premium chocolate dippings, including dark, milk, and white chocolate. With toppings, you can add pistachios, almonds, coconut, chocolate sprinkles, caramel and/or crushed waffle cone. Feel free to let your “Popaholic” know if you’d like to do a full dip, half dip, or even drizzles of the chocolate, or if you’d like half pistachio, half almond toppings. Have fun and be creative with your popbar!

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If you’d like to enjoy the Popbar experience, their beautiful new store with larger than life popbar displays is at Metropolis at Metrotown, near Superstore on Ground Level. For website and hours, click here.

 

Village Bistro now serves brunch!

Formerly known as Lips Resto, Village Bistro on Davie has rebranded for a refreshed new look and feel to the restaurant and menu.

Their new menu features familiar Canadian comfort food, offering well-priced entrees, carefully curated cocktails, and both BC & international wines. Chef/owner Curtis Demyon has made a commitment to serving dishes with fresh, local, and housemade ingredients. With dinner service already up and running since their rebranding last fall, Village Bistro has recently launched their brunch menu again.

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Inside Village Bistro,  the open space welcomes you in, with the warm geometric pendant lighting and warm dark wood tables making for a visually charming space.

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For brunch, I chose the “Smoked Turkey Benedict”, with tomato, spinach, and hollandaise on an English muffin. The eggs were poached beautifully, with a side of crispy hashed potatoes, and fruit. I also liked that the eggs benedict weren’t drowned in the hollandaise, which really helps bring out the flavour of the smoked turkey with the egg and veggies. Yum!

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My partner opted for the “Fried Chicken & Biscuits”, with scallion, coriander, chili gravy, fries, and slaw, with a side of eggs. The chicken was super crispy, with that very satisfying crunch when you take a bite into it. The fries were fresh, crispy and nicely salted, the kind that makes you want eat one after another. The chili gravy has a serious kick to it – if you’re not a big fan of spicy sauce, I would recommend opting to have it served on the side.

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Overall, a great experience – we left very full and satisfied, both in our bellies and wallets. Village Bistro’s brunch menu is definitely at a very reasonable pricepoint, while offering hearty entrees with fresh, local ingredients.

For location and hours, check out their website here: Village Bistro.

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

Now open in Burnaby: Dinesty Dumpling House

With three locations in Richmond and one in Vancouver, Dinesty Dumpling House has opened its 5th location in Burnaby, on Kingsway across from Metropolis at Metrotown.

Dinesty’s feature dish is their legendary “Xiao Long Bao”, or steamed pork soup dumpling. Their soup dumplings are skillfully handmade and feature natural broth, delicate and juicy pork filling, and an ultra-thin hand-kneaded wrapper.

This new location is a beautiful 3,800 square feet space, with its traditional architectural concept of a “flat-screen open kitchen” and a modulated mirrored ceiling.

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The first dish to arrive was the “Cashew Nut Chicken”, a stirfry of golden brown juicy chicken bites with celery and fragrant cashew nuts.

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Next was the “Deep Fried Tofu Pudding in Garlic Sauce”. The combination of the crispy crunchy exterior with the soft tender tofu inside, dipped in the garlic sauce was delicious. If you like the agedashi tofu at Japanese restaurants, you’d like this!

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This noodle soup may look super spicy, but don’t let its looks deceive you. The “Noodles with Sesame & Crushed Peanuts in Spicy Sauce” is a rich bowl of soft noodles with a distinct nutty flavour. The noodles were a little mushier than I prefer, but the sauce was bang-on slurp-worthy.

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And of course, their signature “Xiao Long Bao”, or steamed pork soup dumplings. There’s a very particular method to eat these, to help prevent you from burning your tongue or mouth. First, with the soup dumpling in your spoon or bowl, gently break open the thin casing to let the fragrant soup escape. Then after a few moments to let the soup cool, you can pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy the heavenly juicy pork filling combined with the thin yet chew casing. Delightful!

You can also opt for different dumpling fillers, such as chicken, shrimp, crab, fish, or a combination of these flavours.

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We also orded a pan-fried version of the Xiao Long Bao – “Shanghai Pan Fried Pork Buns”. It’s a little different, as the skin is not as thin and more thick and chewy, but it still has the juicy pork filling, with an bonus crispy bottom.

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This “Stir Fried Rice Cake with Salted Vegetables & Pork” is so addictive. The soft rice cake is chewy and glutinous, flavoured by the tidbits of veggies and pork. I was glad to see that it wasn’t too salty or oily (as it can often be).

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All in all, a great meal at Dinesty Dumpling House. It’s great to see another fantastic lunch/dinner option in the Burnaby/Kingsway area, and I will definitely be coming back for more dumplings. If you haven’t had Xiao Long Bao’s (XLB) yet, you gotta try it!

Dinesty Dumpling House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

Why Not? – Quidni Estate Winery, Okanagan Valley

Tucked in the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan Valley, you’ll find a beautiful new winery by name of Quidni Estate Winery.

Founder Marty Gunderson, who actually didn’t know much about wine-making, decided to partake in an adventure to open a winery to bring good people together through outstanding wine because… why not? The word “quidni” means “why not” in Latin – this was the inspiration behind their humble beginning.  Today, each bottle of Quidni wine reflects their philosophy of taking risks, leaving excuses at the door, and living life to the fullest.

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Quidni Estate Winery has a rustic wine tasting room, an outdoor patio, and three beautiful private luxury suites available for guests. I stayed in Room 1, complete with a king-sized bed, an incredible panoramic view of the vineyards below and mountainside, and of course, a mini-fridge for all of my wine purchases (… sorry wallet!).

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They offers a fantastic selection of reds and whites, including a few Barrel Selects, and their signature WhyNots. In their few short months of operation since opening in April earlier this year, Quidni has already won four awards for their wines (Viognier, Merlot, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris Viognier) – surely a testament of winemakers Todd Moore and Robert Thielicke’s expertise. Quidni Estate WineryMy personal favourites are the 2013 Merlot, 2013 Pinot Gris Viognier and the 2014 WhyNot Red & 2013 WhyNot White.

2013 Merlot: This red wine was full of sweet berry fruit aromas, and its full-bodiedness fills your mouth with such richness and opulence. There is also an added depth and complexity, having been aged in French oak.

2013 Pinot Gris Viognier: I was forewarned before my winetasting that this wine had actually sold out only just earlier that day. After I had my first sip, I was sorely disappointed – I would not be able to buy a bottle (or two) to take home! This wine was a wonderful balance of the intense, flavourful Voignier (30%), with the more gentle Pinot Gris (70%), giving it a clean finish that makes it so easy to drink and enjoy.

2014 WhyNot White and 2013 WhyNot Red: The WhyNot White is a blend of the Gewurtztraminer and Riesling – for light, sweet wine-lovers, this is the perfect wine. It has a fruitness that is light on the palate, and as Quidni’s “summer sipper”, would be a fantastic wine to enjoy on a patio on a hot summer day. The WhyNot Red is also a blend, balancing out the full-bodied Merlot, with the light to medium bodied Cabernet Franc, to create a smooth red wine.

An honourable mention goes to Quidni’s 2013 Gewurtztraminer – a wine that is a difficult mouthful only when pronouncing its name. This fruity white wine has notes of sweet grapefruit and lychee, that is crisp and refreshing with its lovely citrus-y finish.

You can browse through and order from their full wine collection online on their website: quidniwine.com.

Quidni Estate Winery

What makes this winery so special were the people that I encountered during the trip. Leanne, a Wine Tasting Associate, kindly guided us through a (non-intimidating) wine tasting, peppered with Quidni tidbits, allowing us to learn more about both the wine and the winery.

Dustin, the self-proclaimed “cellar-monkey”, has such a friendly and vibrant personality, whose passion for wine and the wine-making journey emanates brilliantly through his character. We were lucky to catch him in action, and he was very kind in showing us the downstairs area and cellar where all the action happens, despite it being past closing time. If you have a chance to meet either Leanne or Dustin, I promise you, they will make your journey to the Okanagan Valley worth it!

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I’m looking forward to seeing Quidni Estate Winery’s guaranteed growth in the upcoming months and years. With the team aiming to double their wine production, a lounge license and a fragrant rosé already in the works, this winery is bound to be the talk of the town. Next time you are in the Okanagan Valley, I would definitely encourage you to drop by and taste their wine. As Quidni’s motto goes … ask yourself why not, and see where it takes you!

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Review: Milestones Grill and Bar (Cambie)

When I was in high school, Milestones was where all the cool people hosted their birthday parties. At the time, I only knew of the location on No. 3 Road in Richmond.

This year, Milestones celebrates their 25th year, a story of great food that begin right here in Vancouver on Denman Street. Now, they boast over 40 locations all across Canada. What an accomplishment!

As a starter, we picked a Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips. This was a HUGE portion, even shared between two. At some point I had to tell my hand to stop reaching for the chips or I wouldn’t have any stomach to eat my entrée!

Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips

Spinach & Artichoke Dip with Tortilla Chips

My choice of entrée was the Cajun Seafood Fettucini, minus the spicy Cajun part. Although it didn’t look like a big portion, pasta is always filling (all them carbs.. yum). I definitely appreciated the healthy serving of seafood (some places skimp out), and I’m not sure if it was the spinach & artichoke dip, but I had to pack some of this home to enjoy another day.

Cajun Seafood Fettucini

Cajun Seafood Fettucini

The mojito is always my go-to drink, and I’m happy to report this Raspberry Mojito was perfectly minty and refreshing. Next time, I’m going to try their Watermelon Mojito!

Raspberry Mojito

Raspberry Mojito

K’s choice of entree was the Portobello Mushroom Chicken, with basil, roasted garlic cream sauce, vermicelli noodles, and seasonal vegetables. Colourful dishes always make me happy.

Portobello Mushroom Chicken

Portobello Mushroom Chicken

His choice of drink was the Milestones Original Bellini, complete with a little giraffe perched on top. I love this little detail – it adds just a bit of whimsy to put a smile on your face as you sip away.

Original Bellini

Original Bellini

As much as I enjoy Vancouver’s unique dining spots and hole-in-the-walls, Milestones will always be a great option for a night out.