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(Photo courtesy of Acme Cafe)
For those of you that can't handle gluten or have dined out with people that can't handle gluten, it's no understatement to say that it can be a real challenge trying to avoid the stuff while cooking at home, and even tougher while eating out.

Gluten is a protein that naturally occurs in found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and oats. That causes a whole host of problems for people that can't handle gluten: take a quick peruse of the ingredient lists for any processed foods you might eat, and you'd be surprised how often those items show up. The Mayo Clinic has this list of foods to avoid due to gluten content: beers, breads, candies, cakes and pies, cereals, cookies...I can't finish typing it out without weeping.

While there's a lot of gluten-free substitutes that one can have, they're not always, well, tasty. So we were delighted to no end when we came across Acme Cafe's gluten-free bread - a delicious alternative that's close to a cornbread in taste and just as great as regular bread - which they offer on a regular basis.

The original recipe is from owner Peggy Hoffman's grandma Gertie, who had celiac disease, and tweaked by their pastry chef. They've been kind enough to let us post it here, but if you're as lazy as I am, it's just as easy to pop in and eat it there.

Grandma Gertie’s Gluten-Free Bread from Acme Cafe

In a large bowl combine and blend well:

2 cups white rice flour
2 cups tapioca flour
¼ cup potato starch
¼ cup white sugar
2/3 cup dry milk powder
4 tsp xanthan gum
1 ½ tsp salt
4 tsp bread yeast (fast rising)

In mixing bowl combine and blend well:

2 cups warm water
4 tbsp melted butter
4 eggs
1 tsp vinegar

Add dry ingredients a small amount at a time, blending well. Increase speed and beat for 2 minutes. It will look like cake batter.

Grease 2 medium loaf pans and divide dough into the two pans, or one 9x13 casserole dish (to make foccacia).

Allow to rise to top of pans in a warm place (30-45 minutes).

Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 min to 1 hour till very golden brown.

Note: All ingredients are available at Famous Foods at 1595 Kingsway, Vancouver.

Acme Cafe
51 West Hastings St.
Vancouver BC V6B 1G4
604-569-1022

Acme Cafe on Urbanspoon

Joe.

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Here's a quick note on two new bakeries that have recently opened up in Vancouver:


East Village Bakery
East Village Bakery ($1.65)
2166 East Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC
(604) 568-5600

In the base of a new condo building just east of Victoria Drive lies East Village Bakery, a cozy new 'artisanal' bakery no larger than a Manhattan studio apartment.  Opened by a fellow that has done time with Terra Breads and other larger bakeries around town, East Village has a handful of the familiar baked goods (breads, pies, tarts, a mixed berry/white chocolate foccia) and a more exotic selection (cookies with orange and Szechuan peppercorn), all made onsite throughout the day - a miracle, given the postage stamp size of the place.  The same is true with their croissants, with two, three or more small batches made daily depending on demand.

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It's mid-November in Vancouver, and a steady stream of rain is falling off one umbrella onto another, the two positioned at varying heights to protect Eli, purveyor of Eli's Serious Sausage, and his grill from the downpour.  There's few, if any, people coming around to the new Georgia/Beatty location at the Stadium Skytrain station, the first seasonal challenge that the city's new found love for street food will endure.

Despite the rain, Eli is affable and willing to chat.  He's eager to get down to Portland for the weekend, his first foray to America's mecca of food carts.  He gets a lot of questions about Vancouver's own street food program, even though his own cart is licensed under the hot dog vendor program.  It makes sense: Eli has done his homework, and this sausage cart is like no other in the city.

It's one of few places in town to get a currywurst ($6), which, as Roman Kessler put it in the Wall Street Journal, is "as German as pizza is Italian, hot dogs are American, and fish and chips British."  It is as it sounds: a bratwurst served with curry powder, accompanied with tomato sauce, with endless variations on same arising since its birth.  While post-World War II Berlin found itself in shortage of near-everything, a housewife named Herta Heuwer began trading spirits for British curry powder, one of few spices available, and served the bratwurst, itself a cheap meal during tough times, with the curry powder and a stewed tomato sauce.  (As with any great cultural fare, a different origin story places the currywurst's birthplace in Hamburg).  From there, a national obsession was born, with the currywurst being immortalized in song and film.  In 2009, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum opened its doors in Berlin to commemorate the currywurst's sixtieth birthday.

The quality of Eli's version - and on all other offerings at the cart - depends heavily on the sausage, made by local, fifth-generation sausagemaker Drew Driessen of D-Original Sausage (2525 Main Street).  Each are earnest and meaty; each bite juicy and toothsome.  All are served in a wonderfully hearty caraway seed bun made by a local Polish bakery, carb and protein interdependent in the most heartwarming of symbiotic affairs.  (For this reason alone, skip the knish.)  

That said, Eli's currywurst is perhaps a bit light on the curry and a bit heavy on the ketchup, the latter apparently ruled as taboo by Germans, or, as Kessler puts it, "uncultured and inauthentic." I've got no beef against the ketchup per se, but a touch more curry would've done well.  The fussier amongst you may want to skip right to the spicy Italian sausage ($6), which, seasoned to perfection and with just the right amount of kick, could be eaten with the bun alone and without need for any further condiment.  It's this quality of ingredient that has elevated Eli's Serious Sausage into something much more than a simple hot dog purveyor, a destination to visit come rain or come shine.

Joe.  

W. Georgia Street at Beatty (at the Chinatown-Stadium Skytrain Station)
Vancouver, BC
(604) 366-0036

Eli's Serious Sausage on Urbanspoon

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Folks,

This love of all things food we share hasn't been easy to contain solely to the GVRD, and so we've set up a new sister site, Slop Press, which will focus on all things related, directly or tangentially, to food, gastronomy and gluttony.  

Slop Press will expand beyond our usual, though there will still be a few reviews of places elsewhere in the world. Other features will include topics such as home cookin', food-related art/design, food science, product reviews, and a million hip hop references as we see fit.  We're bringing it with a few fresh faces, and as always on an almost daily basis.

Check out Slop Press here.

 - the Slop. 

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Date:    Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Time:   7pm - 10 pm
Where:   Vancouver Aquarium, main entrance
Tickets:  $40 (non-members), $32 (members)


An event to celebrate and support sustainable seafood:

12 Ocean Wise chef finalists compete for the 2010 Ocean Wise Chowder Champion title. Enjoy the finalists' sustainable chowder offerings paired with local BC beers.

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Vancouver Slop teamed up with  Circlecraft.net to give away a pair tickets to the 37th Circle Craft Christmas Market happening from November 17 - 21 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (1055 Canada Place).  All you have to do is write in the comments section of this post your email address and your favourite Christmas present that you ever received (tell us why if you like).   The winner will be randomly selected on Friday Morning (November 19).  

For those of you who don't win, tickets can be purchased off their website (circlecraft.net) for 12 dollars for adults, 8 dollars for students and seniors and children 12 and under are free.

Here is more information about the 37th Christmas Market.

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When we first started out with these Croissant Slop posts, we were at odds with our obsessive-compulsive disorder painfully/blissfully unaware about the sheer number of pastries that would be consumed, the kilometres travelled, the pounds added... all seemingly without an end in sight.  But you, dear readers, have submitted your choices for the city's top croissant, and we wouldn't dare skip out on any of them.  We might be having Tetris-brick type nightmares about our crescent-shaped friend, but we're not calling it quits until we've visited them all.  Here's two cafe-themed choices that you've thrown at us: Coco et Olive and Elysian Coffee.

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We got a new person writing for Vancouver Slop.   I would like to introduce my friend Kimbo.  Here is her short bio 


Kimbo:

Edmontonian at heart and Vancouverite by choice. I love to travel. I love to eat. I love to photograph. I am blessed to have grown up in a family that shares the same love I have for food. Half my family resides in the US so my eating adventures may drift south from time to time! Happy reading and eating to you!

She lives in Vancouver but is on the road right now chasing down some good slop in the states hence the two posts from San Diego.

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Just 3 hours of our time can make a difference to a family or an individual this holiday season. The San Diego Food Bank distributes over 15 million pounds of food annually to individuals, families and a network of nonprofit organizations that work to alleviate hunger throughout the county and can always use any help they can get.









It was my first time volunteering at a food bank and it was definitely a great experience. We helped box food for seniors and sort food items for distributing. There was about 40 volunteers and within 3 hrs we had packed over 21,000 lbs of food and boxed enough food for 723 seniors! Contact your local Food Bank and see how you can help during the holidays this year!

Happy Helping!

www.foodbank.bc.ca
www.sandiegofoodbank.org


Kimbo.


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So when I got back from NY I had a 10 day vegetarian challenge to follow. I love veggies to death but I find that the biggest challenge so far is finding good vegetarian food that doesn't taste like eating leaves off trees. Being on the 3rd day now I was totally craving good eats. Sipz definitely filled that void. Tucked in a complex on Clairemont Mesa Blvd lies this inconspicuous looking cafe that is buzzing with vegans. Not only is their whole menu meat-less, it is also fusion! The dishes range from sushi to Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and even iItalian! I knew I found my default restaurant for the next 7 days.



We ordered the green papaya beef salad to start ($6.25). The papaya was really refreshing and was a change from the usual spring salads I was eating but let me tell you, the mock beef made the dish.



The chicken basil fry was extremely flavorful ($7.95). Something along the lines of a black bean-ish stir-fry. We substituted the white rice for brown to make things even healthier.




And of course my meal would not be complete without my "sushi" fix. I ordered the caterpillar roll with brown rice. It was stuffed full of veggies such as cucumber, yams, and carrots then topped off with layers of creamy avocado. As I dipped it into the soy sauce...I knew my meal was complete. Thanks to Sipz, I know the next 7 days will be a breeze!


Kimbo.


Sipz Fusion Cafe

5501 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA

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Christian Flores is one of the editors of Vancouver music blog Winnie Cooper (winniecooper.net). He’s also a founding partner and resident deejay at No More Strangers (nomorestrangers.ca), a weekly night at The Cobalt showcasing local and out of town music acts and deejays.

Guu Gastown – The easy and obvious choice, Guu has always been consistent. It’s my comfort food and hands down the first place you think of when you want to take out-of-towners somewhere for dinner. Ebi mayo, kimchi pork bibimbap, maguro tataki are some of my faves.  Also, giant beers for getting happy.

Finch’s Tea & Coffee House – The best sandwiches in Vancouver are at Finch’s.  They care about every part of the sandwich from the bread, the meat, the cheese, to the dressing.  Even the brown paper and twine packaging make it feel like the sandwich is a gift or some kind of special parcel you can eat. The décor is cozy too making it a great place to have some tea and lunch.  I recommend the pear, blue brie and prosciutto with walnuts.

La Taqueria – If you hate tacos then we probably can’t be friends.  I’ve had some of the most amazing tacos at a roadside mom & pop stand in Mexico, and the tacos at La Taqueria are the closest thing we have to being there.  I especially like the carnitas (pork) tacos and the pescado (fish) tacos with some horchata.

I like eating and I also like these:  Banana Leaf has some amazing laksa, Nuba’s Najib’s special is delicious, Sun Sui Wah’s dim sum, Diamond has good olives, cassoulet brunch at Café Medina rules, and the wings at Phnom Penh are rad.  kthxbai!

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(UPDATE: The cart we reviewed has since been renamed Kaboom Box, though the menu has stayed relatively the same. A new cart with the Fresh Local Wild name has been opened - read our review here.)

Two well-dressed businessmen are staring at Fresh Local Wild, the new food cart on Granville at Robson, and trying to make sense of the menu.  They seem bemused at the concept: is the food cooked on the spot?  How is it prepared?  Where does one sit?  How does one order? Both smile politely, and move themselves and their conversation onwards.

Not long ago, these same men would likely have eaten at Josh Wolfe's former digs, Coast, where he had made a name for himself by championing sustainable seafood and the Vancouver Aquarium's Oceanwise program.  Wolfe and partner Andy Fielding have done the same with the menu at Fresh Local Wild, which predominantly features Oceanwise seafood, and rounds out the general motif with locally foraged ingredients.  


For the week that we visited Fresh Local Wild, this meant an abundance of line-caught salmon.  A hot smoked coho salmon sandwich ($8) features a spicy filet smoked on site in a tiny metal box tucked away in the corner of the cart, and paired with a messy bit of slaw.  The fish is great, both smoky and spicy, though drowning in the sauce of the slaw: an occupational hazard for anyone wearing a suit to work.  A smidgen more sensible is the keta salmon fish and chips ($10), lightly battered with a bit of panko in the mix, a good match for the meatiness of the fish - moist despite its lower fat content - and the salty crispness of the fries.  The latter are also offered in the form of a chanterelle mushroom poutine ($3 as a side, $5 on its own), which will be a bigger hit if the cart ever decides to stay open later into the evening, when the squeak of curds and the number of chanterelles involved becomes increasingly less important. 


The surrounding regions are abundant with oyster farms, and so it makes perfect sense to offer an oyster po' boy sandwich ($10).  Served on a bun instead of the requisite French bread, the oysters, from the sea and boastful of it, are expertly breaded and fried, accompanied by a slightly drier slaw, and offers a crisp, rich bite that will satiate until dinner.

Altogether, this fare that Fresh Local Wild offers is a statement.  This is food beyond the world of Coast and expense accounts, a sustainable choice made during the lunch of the everyday.  It's a more conscionable option at a slightly more proletariat price.  Beyond that, there's also the larger politics of the city's pilot food cart project at play, and Fresh Local Wild - along with other new food carts - has shown that this experiment can be a success.  If those two business men can't understand this, that's their own loss.

Joe.

On Granville Street, at Robson
Vancouver, BC

Fresh Local Wild on Urbanspoon


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Steeve Raye Pastry
UPDATE: Now with a short Q&A with Steeve Raye! Read after the jump.

If there's any pressure in following a family legacy, Steeve Raye isn't showing it.  Raye's parents are local institutions, having run La Regalade, the West Vancouver bistro, for what seems like an eternity, where Raye has also served as pastry chef and for which he had also opened the short-lived offshoot, La Regalade Cote Mer.  Instead, Raye seems downright cheerful, despite the fact that I've shown up before 8:30 on the first Saturday morning since their opening.  The man is brimming, and - on our second visit the following afternoon - seemingly everywhere: making pastries with his colleagues in the back, running up to the till to take our order, bringing our croissants (and brioches... and apple tarts...) to our table.  Anxiety doesn't seem to fit into the equation anywhere.

When one enters La Regalade, attention is drawn immediately to the array of pastries and desserts that face the door.  This visual deathgrip also finds a home at Steeve Raye Pastry, with the entire display case filled with all manner of wonder, both savoury and sweet: breads, brioches, cakes, tartes, macarons... it takes a concerted effort to look away.  If pastries are indeed your thing - and if you've read this far, they surely must be - the impact is much like what I assume Charlie must have felt upon entering Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory, albeit one that is much more indebted to the French and a heavier dose of starch and carbohydrates.