Article
6 comments

Vancouver: Eat Your Cart Out (Street Food)

Vancouver Street Food

Greetings from Vancouver folks! I am here to explore the food, the wine, and all of the other bits in between. I started with the street food.

Street food in Vancouver? If you visited before 2010 you might think I am referring to a different city, but following the success of the food trucks at the Olympics a limited number of licences were granted. At first by lottery, which unsurprisingly didn’t prove completely successful, the second and third rounds of licences were granted via a jury including some of Vancouver’s best chefs. Pitches were granted based on unique ideas, sourcing and sustainability.

So far, so good. How did they taste?

I went on an Eat Your Cart Out tour with Tour Guys. Led by Jess, a Vancouver local passionate about food (she is a member of the Vancouver Yelp Elite). We visited 5 of Vancouver’s best trucks and carts.

Vancouver Street Food – Feastro

Starting with a refreshing Israeli lemonade from Mangal Kiss, we had our first bite at Feastro. Feastro had a whole show on the Food Network dedicated to it and as a result is very well known and popular. Attached to the front is a smoker with a skull on it. Feastro smoke their own food and they smoke it here.

Vancouver Street Food – Feastro

Vancouver Street Food – Feastro

We had a daily special: a beef taco with saskatoon berry, jalapeno jelly, sour cream salsa and corn tortilla crunchies. Gorgeous beef and lovely contrasts in texture and in flavour. A brilliant start.

Vancouver Street Food – Mom’s Grilled Cheese

Truck 3 was Mom’s Grilled Cheese. “Mom” used to do film catering, but when she had her daughter she started her food truck so that she could work more sensible hours. A grilled cheese is of course the humble toastie, and wonderful it was too. We had a havarti, cheddar and tomato toastie with local crisps. Swoon.

Vancouver Street Food – Mom’s Grilled Cheese

Vancouver Street Food – Mom’s Grilled Cheese

There is still room but just about, and we are off to The Kaboom Box. These guys specialize in salmon, proper salmon and not “pharm” salmon, as they call it. I opt for a hot smoked salmon in a sandwich with a gentle crunchy slaw. Delicious. Again, smoked in truck and sourced ethically.

Vancouver Street Food

Have I any more room? I really don’t think so. We make our way to Tacofino, a food truck specialising in Mexican food that started in surfer town Tofino on Vancouver Island. There is a little bit of a walk and with every step I feel full.

IMG_0218

I arrive at the Tacofino truck, which I have seen earlier that morning and am curious about. We get a ling cod taco with tempura battered ling cod, chipotle mayo, shredded cabbage and salsa fresca on a fire toasted flour tortilla. It is so fresh and vibrant that I can’t resist eating it. Even though, in actual fact, I really can’t. But I do.

Vancouver Street Food, is exciting, fresh, vibrant and very, very good. Loved it, and the next day I had to explore further. More on that soon.

Vancouver Street Food

I traveled to Vancouver with the Canadian Tourism Commission

Article
6 comments

Review: Seafood and Sherry Festival at Morito

Morito

I feel I need to open this with an apology. I really should have posted about the Morito Seafood & Sherry Festival before it finished last weekend so you could all rush there. It was all the craptops fault again – it ate my memory card, and it took until the end of this past week to recover the photos. So, apologies. I really need to upgrade.

Back to nicer things, seafood and sherry loveliness aside, Morito is one of my favourite restaurants in London. Cosied up next to big brother Moro next door, Morito is a glam little Spanish bar, serving authentic and delicious tapas, often with a Moorish twist, and great wines and sherry too. I am often found there nursing a glass of my favourite Basque white wine Txacoli.

Morito

The seafood and sherry matching was irresistible – you know how I love sherry – and in terms of the seafood on offer we got to try menu rarities like monkfish liver and cuttlefish roe served with great sherries like Tio Pepe En Rama. The price was excellent at £35 per head.

I went with a friend so we ordered one of everything and got to taste the whole menu.

Sea bass seviche

We started with a sea bass seviche, beautifully tender and with notes of orange and spices, and lovely bacala croquetas served with a lovely La Gitana manzanilla.

Morito  – bacalao croquetas

Moving on to Pastrana Pasada Manzanilla we had palamos prawns with a lovely almost grassy mojo verde and a razor clam with salpicón & chorizo. Neither of us wanted to share the razor clam, it was so good. The prawns were succulent and sweet and plentiful.

Morito – prawns

Morito - razor clam

Then on to Tio Pepe fino, a dry and less complex sherry but perfect for the rich monkfish liver with girolles and cuttlefish roe with red pepper & preserved lemon, which really needed something like this to cut through.

Morito – cuttlefish roe

Tio Pepe En Rama was next one of my favourites, an unfiltered sherry that is released in May every year fresh from the barrel. With a rich and complex flavour, almost mushroomy at times, this was great with red mullet with garum sauce and a fabulous moroccan stuffed sardine with cumin & coriander.

Morito – sardine

Reaching the end but still hungry for more, the portions were perfect taster sizes and not too filling, we had an Alfonso Oloroso with scallop with oloroso and crab with chilli & oloroso. Both were delicious, and we were reduced to fighting over the scallop. The crab was cloud light and fragrant. Fabulous.

Morito – we liked the scallop

Morito – crab

We decided against dessert as we were just nicely satiated, deciding instead on another glass of sherry. It was a wonderful menu and evening.

Morito, can you please run it again?

Morito



Morito, 32 Exmouth Market Islington, Greater London EC1R 4QE
020 7278 7007

Article
4 comments

The Paralympics and the Victory Parade (then we are back to the food :)

Paralympics

I am blaming my craptop for all delays. It has eaten memory cards which took days to recover – more than a week in fact. I need to upgrade.

On to the Paralympics, which arrived after a little dip when we all wondered, what do we do now that the Olympics were over?

I tried and tried and tried for tickets again. Endlessly hitting the ticketing website, and refusing to lose hope. I was eventually successful and got tickets for the Athletics, Aquatic Center and the Marathon, where we were right by the finish line. Amazing.

I am not sure that I have ever witnessed such a series of moments of joy as people succeeded. The Iraqi paralympian who cartwheeled his way from his javelin throw after beating his personal best, the blind runner who was twirled on the podium by her guide as she accepted her medal, watching Shelly Woods get silver next to her nervous anxious mother who was so relieved and delighted to see her get it, seeing David Weir get gold in his marathon race from just a few feet away, and it was so very close. Truly wonderful.

I watched the Paralympics closing ceremony in Trafalgar Square on the big screens, a little too much Coldplay – ok A LOT – and why all the big US stars? A great spectacle none the less. Endlessly creative and inspiring.

Then to London the next day for the victory parade, where over a million people lined the streets cheering the athletes. It was at least 25 deep where I was but all were cheery. What a wonderful time to be in London.

Some photo highlights and a huge round of applause to all involved in delivering these amazing games, and also to the wonderful athletes.

Clearly loving it

Lots of live entertainment at the park and people clapping and dancing to it

Paralympics Athletics

Aquatic Center where the roof was almost raised with the sound of cheering when the GB silver relay team got that silver. I could really see that the crowd powered that last swimmer, she was amazing.

A line of police and gamesmakers high fiving everyone as they left

Dancing and merriment at the Olympic Park as the crowd spilled out

Waiting for the Victory Ceremony

So many people and lots of gamesmakers watching at Trafalgar Square – amazing atmosphere

Every elevated spot was taken – bus shelters, phone boxes, walls

… and then the athletes came and everyone went crazy

Article
15 comments

THIS POST HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD and a little to do the the Olympics

THIS POST HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD*
Not one little bit.

But it is about London. And the Olympics.

Woohoo for the Olympics!

You see, I haven’t been cooking as much as normal recently, I was overtaken with a fever. I became obsessed with the Olympics and Paralympics.

Now, I am not a sports fan. At least I wasn’t until recently. Sport for me was always something that I found isolating. I was always picked last for the team, I would run away from a football kicked in my direction, and generally I was much happier daydreaming or reading a book. But I tried.

The morph suit was a popular look at the games

When the Olympics and Paralympics were announced for London, my first thoughts weren’t joyous. I worried about all of those extra folks in London standing on the wrong side of the escalator or walking too slowly. We Londoners can’t deal with that you see.

Then as they approached and everyone talked about leaving, I decided to stop travelling and to stay. I thought that maybe the games would be a great time in London, and I should stay to find out. If it was awful I could just hide out at home.

I never expected to become a sports fan though.

The opening ceremony, watched crowded in front of a friends TV at his birthday party made me cry. I loved it. It was barking in the most appropriate way, it was sensitive and it was lovely.

Oasis of gentle quiet at the Olympic Park

I had been trying, and failing, to get tickets. They seemed so expensive, and I didn’t think that I would get to go. Then one day a follower said that their friend couldn’t go, and the tickets were reasonably priced. So I hopped on the train to Brighton to meet them. The next day I was at the Volleyball.

The Polish fans – amazing!

It was so exciting. Cheery gamesmakers all the way from the tube station signalling the way with giant foam hands. Bongo cam, cheerleaders (in London!) and SPORT.

I was surprised that I liked it. In fact, I loved it very much.

Dedicated Polish volleyball fans

Olympics Volleyball

The penny dropped as I watched. All these years I had thought that sport was really complicated and inaccessible. I found that I could follow it quite easily after all. And get excited about it.

I became obsessed.

The next day I went to the ladies handball and cheered while surrounded by Norwegians roaring their team on and waving cowbells. I saw the poor Brazilian team shed a tear when they lost.

Olympic Handball

The Norwegians won. And went crazy!

I went to watch the triathlon on the big screen in the British Airways Park Live at Olympic Park, sitting in the only available patch of what seemed like shredded bark. I didn’t care. I needed to see one of the Brownlee brothers (hopefully) win that race. They did. I was delighted.

Watching the triathlon at Park Live

Katie Taylor won the gold for Ireland! We were all so excited and tried to go to Irish Olympic House to cheer her on. We couldn’t get in but queued to go in later. I managed to snaffle some returns for the Modern Pentathlon while I waited.

Back a few days later for the Athletics. I saw the American female relay team win that race. I saw that Jamaican relay team smash the world record. Just amazing. To see Usain Bolt run, and subsequently argue with the official because he wanted to keep the baton. I saw Mandeville stalk him across the track. I could see it all from my seat in the gods. It was an amazing experience.

The Jamaican team celebrate

I saw Mo Farah win the 5000m. I know. The crowd was roaring, as Mo ran around there was a deafening wave of intense MO MO MO MO MO that followed him. I worried for him. I wanted him to do it. And he did! We joined the crowds after outside the BBC studio cheering him. People were singing any kind of a song that they could shoehorn Mo into. Mo, Mo, Mo your boat! Heads, shoulders, knees and Mo!

My compulsory mobot after Mo won the 5000m

The crowd spilling out after the athletics

The next day I went to the Modern Pentathlon. In style, we travelled by boat down the Thames to Greenwich on the most gorgeous day.

Lovely London – our view from the boat

The Modern Pentathlon in Greenwich

And then the closing ceremony which I watched on the big screen in Victoria Park. My only disappointing experience of the games. Terrible food and lots of queues (and I am comparing them McDonalds at the park). A real shame and a missed opportunity.

And that was it, it was over. But the Paralympics was about to start. I even knew a Paralympian!

More tomorrow.

* Irish folks of a *cough* certain vintage may recall the Zig and Zag nothing to do with toast video. I laughed many happy hours watching them roas over and over, everytime a slice of toast appeared on the screen THIS VIDEO HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TOAST.