A Vancouver Food Trip

20130819-192148.jpgNature and the outdoors are part of the active Canadian lifestyle. Stroll around Stanley park, conquer Grouse Grind, and explore the mountain bike or ski trails of Whistler mountain.

Vancouver has this great multicultural community and so there is an exciting and overwhelming array of food choices. It is easy to get around with their transport system.  Here is a foodie list for people with limited time in this beautiful city:

1. Granville Island – for beer tasting and explore the public market for interesting food stalls

beer tastingbeer tasting22. Gastown – take a picture by the steam clock, then do a pub crawl in this historic area

3. Street food – MUST not miss JapaDog. Yummy Kurobuta sausages with Japanese relish. Sooo good!!! Here is the link to the food trucks downtown. Download http://streetfoodapp.com/vancouver

4. Tim Hortons – the coffee and donuts chain of Canada. Oh try their chili too!

5. Eat all you can sushi – pay only between $13 to $20 and tick-off endlessly on the Japanese menu.

6. Canadian Salmon – can’t leave Canada without eating salmon. The Capilano Salmon Hatchery gives a free tour of their salmon production.wpid-20130705_201816.jpg Lobsters and seafood are also affordable in British Columbia.

wpid-20130705_201659.jpg7. Maple – the maple leaf is the national symbol of Canada. Try all things maple from syrup, taffy, sugar, maple bacon, cookies, etc.

8. Chinese food – lots of Chinese immigrants, wonderful dim sum in Chinatown and almost everywhere!

9. Moose droppings – don’t worry they are just little chocolate balls

10. Cactus Club Café – fine and casual dining for the hip and stylish prepared by Canada’s iron chefs

Some photos from Terence/Marc 🙂

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A torch for Cactus Club Cafe Vancouver

wpid-20130705_180337.jpgI met up with a long lost childhood friend by the Olympic torch at the Vancouver Convention Centre. She takes me to Cactus Club Cafe just beside the monument and insist I try this very popular homegrown Canadian restaurant.  There is a long queue as reservations are not allowed. We wait outside while catching up on old stories. After fifteen minutes the pager buzzes to signal that our table is ready. The restaurant’s interior is hip and stylish, and the servers are so good looking! The signature dishes were developed by Iron Chef Rob Feenie; also on the creative team is Chef Mathew Stowe winner of Top Chef Canada. I just love how there are so many healthy and Asian inspired choices on the menu. wpid-20130705_181543.jpgwpid-20130705_175347.jpg

Cactus Club Cafe Menu

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Finding inspiration at Seattle’s Pike Place Market

pike2A foodie MUST visit the historic Pike Place Market in Seattle. It’s probably one of the oldest markets in the United States. It has lots of food stalls, produce, crafts and a very interesting fish market. Pike Place is significant to me for two reasons: the “FISH Philosophy” phenomenon and the birthplace of Starbucks.pike

Honestly, who likes to clean stinky and slimy fish?? At the Pike Place Fish Company you can enjoy a show as fishmongers sing, dance and have fun with their seafood orders. The stall has become a tourist attraction drawing a small crowd each time the employees perform. This attitude became the inspiration for a best selling training video on teamwork and positive organizational culture called “FISH! Philosophy”.

20130813-144018.jpg The very first Starbucks was established in Pike Place Market.  When you enter the store you will find the marker dated 1971.  Under the leadership of Howard Schultz,  this tiny coffee shop has grown into a global brand and has revolutionized the coffee industry. Even helping coffee growers from third world nations like the Philippines!

I grin as I have a cup of Starbucks coffee in Seattle. I know it is just coffee, but here is where it all started!  I can now scratch this off my foodie bucket list 🙂

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LA’s Pink Hotdogs

In SoCal we did the classic tours, then my brother got a tattoo in the real LA Ink shop. The Philippine patriotic “three stars and a sun” design was inked by Brazilian guest artist Melissa Khouri. It was in his bucket list and I thought that was really cool!

One of my Los Angeles “must do” was to eat in a hotdog stand called Pink. The place has been operating for over 73 years and is a famous LA landmark. There is always a long line because the chili dogs are amazing! On the wall are photographs of artists, politicians and celebrity chefs who frequent the place. It is the All-American comfort food for stars. And perhaps the only hotdog stand I know that has valet parking and clientele with very flashy cars. Welcome to Hollywood !!!

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Gluttony in Sin City

I may have gained a few extra pounds but not from the Blackjack table. No I don’t like to gamble. The culprit is the Las Vegas ultimate crossover buffet promotion. One price to eat in 6 six different hotels in a span of 24 hours!!! Isn’t that crazy??? All that for $50 weekdays, but we were there on a weekend so the cost was $70. For breakfast the best is Paris, Planet Hollywood for stations, and Caesar’s is well worth paying a little extra more.


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We found this very enchanting town at the Santa Ynez wine trail called Solvang. It is a quaint Danish village close to Santa Barbara in California. Downtown has a number of restaurants, shops, bakeries and wine tasting rooms. Solvang was one of the locations in the movie “Sideways”. This very enchanting place is famous for its architecture and freshly baked Danish pastries. Oh what a joy to be here !!!





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The Appellation Lodi California Wineries


After Napa we continued our wine trail to Lodi in Northern California. The Lodi tasting rooms for me are underrated because this appellation really has a lot to offer. Most wineries are family run and are very personal compared to touristy Napa. It is not just about business as people seem to be more genuine. A regular tasting menu fee at Napa would cost an average of $20 for 5 bottles, and at least $30 to sample four different reserve wines.20130722-204753.jpg

In Lodi a tasting menu costs only $5 for five selections and $10 for the reserve collection. It is also customary to waive the tasting fee if you purchase a bottle. This area takes pride in their Zinfandel and produces great Petite Sirah. There are over 40 wineries and my top three are: Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge, Michael David, and the Van Ruiten Family Winery.

Robert Mondavi recognized Lodi’s potential and made it home to world renowned Woodbridge.They have a very informative complementary tour of their massive wine making facilities.This I believe should not be missed. Michael David boasts of the 7 Deadly Sins and Inkblot wine reserves; a cafe with great homemade pies and a very beautiful flower garden.

I had the best time at the Van Ruiten Family Winery. From the tasting room, we moved to the garden to enjoy a bottle of Zin and music from the live Sunday jazz band. We were also picking grapes off the vines and eating them. Everyone was so friendly and fun! I didn’t realize I was seated next to one of the owners, to curb my enthusiasm our next bottle was on the house!

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