It is Farmers Market time.  There are numerous reasons to go:
- Great deal on mushrooms and other items.  The plate of shitakes was only $3.
- Support local farmers and businesses.
- A place to go for a bike ride.
- To get a buckwheat crepe.
- To buy food that you know the origin of.
- Good music
- To get things like butter lettuce with roots, morels, mushroom logs, plants and herbs.

Trout Lake Farmers Market Saturdays, May 8 - October 23
9am - 2pm each week
North Parking Lot of John Hendry Park at Trout Lake
Between Templeton and Lakewood south of the 13th Avenue Alley
Please note: There is no parking in the North Lot and no parking on 13th Avenue. Please park away from the area & walk in. Or better yet: walk, cycle or take transit if you can!

West End Farmers Market  Saturdays, June 5 - October 23
9am - 2pm each week
1100 Block of Comox Street across from Nelson Park at Mole Hill

Main Street Station at Thornton Park
Wednesdays, June 2 - September 29
3pm - 7pm
1100 Block Station Street along Thornton Park across from the VIA Rail Station and near the Main St Skytrain Station

Kitsilano Farmers Market  Sundays, May 23 - October 24
10am - 2pm each week
2690 Larch Street at 10th Avenue, Parking Lot of Kitsilano Community Centre

Holiday Market  Saturday Only - December 11
10am - 6pm
Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive

For a heads up on whats in season -  http://www.getlocalbc.org/files/Seasonal%20Chart.pdf



So I told myself that I would cook more this year and eat out less. As I am a beginner in the kitchen, I have been trying simple things and I never knew salsa was this easy and this tasty.  Lots of praise was given to me for the creation of this simple dish and I now vow never to buy salsa again.

Here is a simple recipe that I took from a great local food blog The Hunger Struck.

Fresh Tomato Salsa – Makes a lot

40 cherry tomatoes, quartered (I kept some quartered and cut most to a smaller size)
2 jalapenos, seeds removed and finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced (I used a white onion)
2 garlic cloves, grated
bunch of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
juice and zest of 1 lime
salt to taste (needs a lot)

In a medium sized bowl combine the tomatoes, jalapenos, shallot, grated garlic, cilantro and lime zest. Toss to make sure everything is combined. Squeeze over the lime juice and season with salt to taste. This salsa improves with age so if you can make it at least an hour before you serve it so all of the flavors have a chance to mix.

If there  are lots of fluids in your bowl, I recommend draining some out so there is only a small amount of fluids pooling in the bottom.

Props to The Hunger Struck




Wang Xiaobo's '91 novel, The Golden Age 《黄金时代》, begins with a Beijing boy sent down to the countryside--thousand miles away, in Yunnan Province--during the Cultural Revolution. He's put to work in the fields, backbreaking labor. Times is hard, but there's a touch of irony to the title. Even while he's physically broken on the rack, ground down by the sadistic brigade leader, he never loses his swagger. In the chaotic space created by the political chaos, there's a certain freedom.

He's got his mind set on hooking up with any available girl, doing his thing. His half-Beijing hooligan/half-martial arts novel bad-ass attitude is never compromised. He doesn't learn to spout political slogans, but instead spits game to another city girl, from Beijing. Even in the collective madness of struggle sessions and self-criticism...--I won't spoil it for you, okay?

The novel sorta sums up the period. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution ('66-'76) was a goddarn mess and a lot of shit got messed up. But a lot of people ended up having an all right time. Nostalgia for that golden age runs as deep in Mainland China as '60s nostalgia does in the West.

The '60s, the trains were free, and a lot of working class people got to fly across the big, crazy country for the first time. Kids from all over had the time (closing down schools helped) and the means to see the place and spread a little revolution, tear down the Old Society, demolish feudalism, BOMBARD THE HEADQUARTERS.

Even when things settled down a bit after '76, when the Chairman was finally gone and Hua Guofeng and then Deng Xiaoping took over... there was still a certain spirit in the air, a hangover from the Ten Years of Turbulence.... The generation that was coming of age in China's cities, was still going through a certain uprootedness.... That youthful spirit that took over the country, when the people in charge said, "Hey, let the kids see what they can do," was still important. It was extinguished when tanks rolled on the Fourth of June. But the kids were changed forever, by seeing the country, by having a couple years of messy freedom.

My friend If--right, just If. If: another Beijing boy. He was born in Tianjin but raised in the big city.

A product of that particular freedom, he spent the 1980s wandering, hitchhiking the cold road across the Tibetan Plateau, exploring the south, and living for a while in Chongqing, Sichuan.

His restaurant, Nine Dishes is on the last boring block of Kingsway, before it gives way to a beautiful rows of bánh mì and phở joints splattered with posters of pretty-as-heck Vietnamese popstars and the occasional Korean stripmall restaurant. Nine Dishes is the result of his southern wandering and his up north roots.

The menu runs from classic, dirty south Sichuanese and far north comfort food. That north and south mix is one that's familiar to anyone who's been to, like a Dragon Palace/Jade Garden/Jade Palace/Dragon Garden PEKING SZECHWAN SPECIALTIES-style joint. But it's the furthest thing from it, something closer to a 24 hour Beijing streetside spot.

If runs the front-of-house (bright, modern, big ol' fish tank inherited from the Vietnamese restaurant that previously occupied the space) and the kitchen himself, sweeping in and out of the doors.

He's slouchy slim, shaved head, thick Beijing accent like how you imagine characters in Wang Shuo stories must talk (statement: if Wang Shuo lived in Vancouver, he'd hang out here). If is never shy to share his business philosophy: "I hate money."

"Most places, they make money off rice. But I give it away. Free rice. Or they make money off of selling beer. I don't make a cent off it."

The beer is cheap--Yanjing is two bucks a bottle--and it kinda fuels the place. Everything on the menu works with a bottle beside it but especially the lamb skewers, a buck each. They're juicytender, leaking lamb fat and ground cumin mashing up into a paste on the charred edges.

There's a long list of skewered things: pork with pickled chilies, chicken, ground chili-sprinkled eggplant, pork intestine. Buck each.

Meat and deepfried things are the thing. -- The menu features a homemade sausage (catch them hanging in the back hallway): something like a Sichuanese chorizo, dried to the right texture and popping with little squirts of pork fat, floral scent of Sichuan peppercorn. -- Braised pork ribs, fatty sticky sweet. -- Stirfried pork kidney: fresh as hell, big baseball glove-size lumps of it, floating in chili oil. -- And deepfried things--slow to come out of the kitchen, so you know you can trust them: vegetable fritters and deepfried lotus sandwiches stuffed with minced pork....

The Nine Dishes' take on fūqī fèipiàn 夫妻肺片... in a city with no truly great Sichuanese restaurants, this version stands up to any available. There's no Iraqi-engineer-driving-a-taxi situation in the kitchen, with some Chongqing hotel chef slumming it cooking pedestrian half-fancy/half-downscale Sichuanese dishes-- nope, just the dead simple ticking off of ingredients: a bunch of stuff ripped from the insides of a cow, with chili oil, cilantro, Sichuan peppercorn.

Another Sichuan classic on the menu, waterboiled fish 水煮鱼 is just as simple: a shiny steel pot of tender fish floating in chili oil, accompanied with dried chili and Sichuan peppercorn. It's cheap and the pot is full and, honestly, it stands up to any other version in town.

Even better, a sour fish soup 酸汤鱼, from just over the border from Chongqing, in Guizhou Province. It drops looking like two percent milk doused with chili oil. Soft, sleepy white fish bobs in a sourspicy broth. The flavors are simple and serious. It hits all the high notes of sour and spicy and numbing and salty.

The food is utilitarian. I mean that in the most positive way. There's not an ounce of screwing around. Everything is refined down to the barest basics, so there's no room to screw it up. Simple and plain and good.

As the night slips on, If slips back out into the room. When all the food has come out of the kitchen, he half-heartedly busses a couple tables, catches a conversation he likes at a table with some room and he pulls up a chair. He's a master of bullshit (but with the balls to actually make things happen--he's got a restaurant, right?), a master of dirty jokes, a master storyteller, political philosopher, reciter of poetry....

The lights get a bit lower, the tables pile up with dishes, and everyone gets closer together. A later crowd drifts in, a lot of Mainland kids, students, who know this is the only place in town that's exactly like this.

There's a closing time on the door but that's just the time when the bars get pulled down over the windows and the OPEN sign is flicked off. Tables condense down, people drift in to chat, talk politics. Bottles of Yanjing. Glasses of èrguōtóu 二锅头, hundred and twelve proof. Occasional breaks to kick around out front, watching some Kingsway girls slouch past, swapping darts, Zhongnanhais 中南海 and Septwolves 七匹狼.

The mysterious angelic lady that appears from time to time in the kitchen finally pops out and says goodnight. The last orders are made, sketched on pads of paper and handed to If, who ducks his head back into the kitchen to make a last order of zhájiàngmiàn 炸酱面, pale noodles with fried pork and soybean paste and a handful of sliced thin cucumber. When it's finally done, he's back, setting it down and catching up with the conversation.

End of the night:
Scent of lamb and cumin
and smokebreaks in clothes.

Busting out the door onto
empty Kingsway.


Nine Dishes
960 Kingsway
Vancouver, BC
Nine Dishes on Urbanspoon


Andre Pinces - After studying printmaking at the University of Alberta, André Pinces worked in New York City with Warhol photographer and Man Ray disciple Christopher Makos, Interview Magazine cover artist Richard Bernstein and aRude Magazine's Iké Udé. Having exhibited in London, New York, Montreal, Vancouver and Los Angeles, Pinces continues to shoot fashion, portrait and commercial work as well as produce fine art editions. Some recent advertising credits include Coca-Cola, Adidas, Stüssy, Aritzia, Clarins and Lululemon Athletica. He is based in Vancouver, Canada but can also be found at various truck stops between Venice, California and Venice, Italy.

1. Phnom Penh
244 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC
- Chicken wings, best in Canada
- Hot & Sour soup with prawns, totally refreshing and not at all slimy

2. Salt Tasting Room
45 Blood Alley, Vancouver, BC 
best date spot for cool atmosphere, tasting plates and wine

3. La Querica
3689 West 4th Ave Vancouver, BC
best Italian outside of Italy, period
100% hand-made, organic authentic seasonal dishes
- Crespelle ai funghi
- Agnolotti di Guido
- Brohm lake duck breast, beet raviolo


This past Saturday saw the second installment of Chowtimes’ Eight Great Traditions of Chinese Cuisine dinners, which – as full disclosure – yours truly helps out with. This dinner featured the cuisine of Jiangsu, a large region whose name basically refers to “south of the Yangtze,” home to cities such as Nanjing, Suzhou and Yangzhou.

It can get a bit confusing, then, that the dinner was held at a restaurant called “Shanghai Village,” which, despite the name, features a chef from Nanjing, and a Chinese name that translates to “Remembering Jiangnan,” an even larger region that encompasses portions of Jiangsu and Shanghai. This sort of confusion is commonplace: a large majority of Chinese restaurants in town feature some pan-regional jumble of Chinese fare, and the goal of these dinners is to help a brother (and sister) out in distinguishing your potstickers from your soup buns.

Jiangsu cuisine falls into the larger category of Huaiyang cuisine, which, according to Jen Len Liu in Serve the People, is “fading fast into irrelevancy,” ranking twenty-third in popularity among diners in Shanghai. The regional fare, however, is still revered as the basis of modern Shanghainese cooking, the options of which have grown exponentially in the GVRD over the last few years. Though many of those restaurants might not fit the bill, this regional subset of Chinese cuisine has traditionally emphasized seasonality and simple, fresh ingredients, prompting Liu to call it the “Chinese equivalent of California cuisine a la Alice Waters.” One has to assume that a traditional Jiangsu or Huaiyang restaurant would have to do well in these parts.

The evening started off with two double-boiled soups, a specialty at Shanghai Village: a pork sparerib and lotus root soup and a free range chicken with tea tree mushroom soup, only two of the multitude of choices. Neither were particularly reflective of Jiangsu by ingredient (and were probably more Cantonese in style), but the choice of free range chicken perhaps reflective of the same mindset.

The appetizer course featured the Nanjing salted duck, a hallmark dish from China’s former capital, salty and flavourful despite its neutral colour, a marked departure from the dark brown colour that most associate with Chinese duck dishes. A marbled egg, a hallmark dish of Shanghai Village, is the bastard lovechild of a thousand year-old egg and a salted egg, both being a treasure for the adventurous or a cause of concern for the trepidatious. The Qinhuai bean “jelly” is more glass noodle-like than amorphous, chilled but spicy, offering a pleasing contrast in flavours. The five-spice smoked fish was probably the least straight-forward in flavour, having been red-braised and flavoured with an assortment of anise, cloves and other spices.

Seasonality triumphed early into the main dishes, with spot prawns braised simply in soy sauce, ginger and scallion, letting the sweet buttery-ness of the meat ring through without meddling. A deluge of seafood continued, with fried crab and lobster resting atop nian gao, slices of sticky rice flour that absorbed the shellfish flavour from above, all in a swarm of deep fried garlic and other crunchy bits. The Suantang fish noodles, for which Shanghai Village won a 2010 Chinese Restaurant Award for “Most Innovative Dish,” is more than aptly named, and features noodles made entirely of fish meat, served in a hot and sour broth. A deep-fried grouper swam in sweet and sour sauce among egg-white foam, the chef’s visual play on a dragon flying through the clouds.

For other visuals, order the beggar’s chicken. As legend has it, the beggar’s chicken was traditionally made by – ahem – a beggar, who had assumedly stolen or caught a chicken, and lacking in your usual kitchenware. The chicken was thus be caked in mud and clay and roasted over a fire. The makeshift earthenware sealed in the juices of one of the tastiest chickens around, the aroma of which caught the attention of a Qing Dynasty emperor that happened to be strolling by. The beggar shared the chicken with said emperor, who added it to the Imperial Court menu soon afterward.

Mud is presumably frowned upon by our local health authorities, and thus Shanghai Village prepares its beggar chicken with flour, first wrapping the chicken in a lotus leaf. These flour chicken bombs were then carted out to the dining room, where Chef Ming took a cleaver to them to free the poultry inside. The first one smells is the lotus leaf, which imparts a bit of its flavour to the roast chicken inside. Juicier roast chickens could perhaps be found elsewhere, but the entertainment value involved is worth it alone.

While other dishes were standard fare that one can find elsewhere (pea shoots with prawns, Jinling spareribs with a sweet sauce not unlike Chinese bbq pork), try the Yangzhou Lion’s Head meatball, a healthy orb of pork braised for a long period of time which melts in the mouth. It’s generally a must-have on most menus featuring the region; Shanghai Village serves it simple and straight, often the best way to have it. Soup buns are thrown in for free for any order over $20, and though these aren’t the best in town, they’re certainly better than average.

There was only one disappointment. After a lifetime of eating Yangzhou fried rice in all of its bastardized forms offered at every Chinese restaurant known to man, I was looking forward to what could and should have been the authentic version. The Huaiyang Culinary Association, based in Yangzhou, have a museum immortalizing the dish by way of wax sculpture, and sought to trademark the recipe and reap licensing fees this world over. That didn’t quite play out, and the dish is now so ubiquitous that it could well be that no one can remember what the original version tasted like (the recipe given in Liu’s book features ingredients such as sea cucumber, dried scallops, and bamboo shoots, and not the Chinese bbq pork and peas one is usually served). The version at Shanghai Village is no different than any other, and though it was good, it certainly doesn’t go over well for someone expecting a life-changing revelation.

This was made up for in spades by dessert. Shanghai Village’s ‘quartz’ dumplings are exquisite, and riff visually on the marbled quartz stones that the Yangtze region is famous for. Unlike the diabetic nightmare that most Chinese desserts often impose, these were light, not too sweet, and served in soup – really heated sugar water – lightly steeped with flowers.


Shanghai Village

3250 Cambie Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 872-3618 (Reservations highly recommended)

Shanghai Village on Urbanspoon


As a kid when I would travel to the states with my folks and my mall food of choice would be Ivars, Skippers and cheese steaks.  I can't think of many cheese steak places in Vancouver but my friend heard about my craving directed me to a Bob's Submarine Sandwiches.

Bob's Submarine Sandwiches is a little mom and pop joint in Richmond off No 3 Road.  The sandwich to get is the steak and pepperoni.  For about 6 bucks you get a six inch sub with a layer a steak, a stack of fried pepperoni, cheese, shredded lettuce and tomato.  The hype part is that they grill the steak so the sandwich is hot and gooey.

If you are out in Richmond and you are not craving the asian food, take a stop at Bob's sandwiches and get yourself a pepperoni and steak sub.

Bob Submarine Sandwiches
6390 No 3 Road Richmond


We had a good discussion about thermodynamics at work and I wanted to share my process for freezing steaks and other flat things like fish.  I often go to Costco to buy a three pack of steaks.  I find that their steaks are a great deal, lots of marbling, a great cut and an amazing price.

The first thing I do when I get home is lay the steaks on a cookie sheet and stick them in the freezer.  I take them out 48 hours later (these were thick steaks so you may take them out sooner if yours are thinner) and individual wrap them up with saran wrap and stick them back in the freezer again until the day I plan to cook them them.

This process is similar to a technique called plate freezing which is employed often by the food industry.  The metal cookie sheet quickly takes the temperature of the freezer, and freezes the meat through heat transfer or conduction.  You do not want to wrap the steaks in saran wrap first because that will make a thin layer of air which creates a layer of insulation.   Using this method will freeze your steaks faster, preserve the quality of your meat and use less electricity.