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The Hungry Nomad: 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012

December 27, 2011

Cafe Zen on Yew (Vancouver, Canada)

Many of my friends have been telling me that I 'MUST' try Cafe Zen in Kitsilano. Well I finally did and can confidently say that I did not like it. They are known best for their Eggs Benedict- which to my horror I saw were all pre-made sitting in the kitchen. Therefore, it doesn't matter how you order them since they all come out the same. The hash browns were pre-made (assuming from Costco) and the hollandaise sauce was off and tasted too strong and salty. I for one will not go back. The food was average and the service less than average. We were double charged and when we brought it to the servers attention, she angrily tried to explain the amount on the bill to us twice. The second time she realized she was wrong and went away to re-calculate the bill with no apologies.

However, I'm sure there is a reason there are long line ups on the weekends. I guess if you are looking for an average breakfast for reasonable prices in this area then its a reasonable spot...other than that it beats me.

Cafe Zen on Yew on Urbanspoon

December 25, 2011

Christmas Sunday (Athens, Greece)

Merry christmas to our friends who are celebrating today!

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December 23, 2011

Lunch at Black+Blue Restaurant (Vancouver, Canada)

Quick work lunch at the new Black+Blue restaurant located on Alberni street. It seems like the Global group is taking open every open spot on Alberni from Coast to Italian Kitchen and now Black+Blue. The venue is beautiful with a nice bar in the centre and a large glass meat rack stand. It is definitely the largest addition to the Global Group's series of restaurants. It sort of looks like a butcher shop right in the middle of the restaurant. Some people are not really fond of this detail since many love steak but don't love to see where it comes from. It's a great way to become a vegetarian since you are forced to stare at the large pieces of meat hanging from hooks in this glass framed 'work of art'. I personally thought it was really cool and creative however my companion was a bit grossed out. You be the judge. 

As for the food and service- its en par with other Global restaurants. It's vibrant and the staff friendly and helpful. I didn't have steak and opted for the 'bifteke' type dish which is pretty much a bare hamburger served on mash potatoes. My companion had the steak sandwich and was happy. I'll have to go back again to be able to review it properly as I feel that since I didn't have their main dish: steak, I can't really give an accurate opinion; however, based on what I did have I did not love the food. 

Black + Blue on Urbanspoon

December 22, 2011

Havana Cafe on Commercial Drive (Vancouver, Canada)

I had the absolute best brunch at Havana Cafe a few weeks back. Chorizo hash was its name: A  bowl of hashbrows, covered with chorizo, eggs and tomato salsa sauce...served with a side of bread. It was heaven in a bowl and I ate every last bite. There are so many great dishes on the menu and I wanted to try so many including my favorite Cuban dish from my days living in Miami...Ropa Veja (see menu). Make sure to try it for yourself and let me know what you think. 

Havana houses a cafe, theatre and art gallery all under one roof. Having recently returned from a trip to Playa del Carmen where I fell in love with the restaurant 'La Bodeguita del Medio'- I was surprised to find out that Havana Cafe is inspired by this very same restaurant in Havana, Cuba. From the Ropa Veja to the Cuban sandwich you can have a little taste of Cuba here in our very own Vancouver. 

Plus its great to sometimes get out of downtown to discover the diversity and eclectic neighborhoods that Vancouver has to offer. 

Chicken wrap served with salad and yam fries
Chorizo Hash

Havana Cafe on Urbanspoon

December 21, 2011

Pizzeria Farina (Vancouver, Canada)

Pizzeria Farina is a cozy little spot on Main street serving one of the best Neapolitan style pizzas in Vancouver. So good, simple and delicious. The spot is small, minimalist and modern with a general hipster vibe. Many get the pizzas to go since it is very small and so far does not carry a liquor license. However, it does have flat and mineral water on tap which I thought was really creative and a nice touch.  On the night we went their special was mortadella pizza with pistachios! I know, I know you must be surprised at the combination, but I have to say that it was a delicious. Above my head was a bike hanging from the ceiling. It's a really great little spot and I highly recommend those who love pizza as much as I do to pay it a visit you won't be disappointed. 

Pizzeria Farina on Urbanspoon

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December 20, 2011

House Guest (Vancouver, Canada)

House Guest opened its door to the public in October. It's located on Water street in Gastown. I've been there on several occasions since it seems everyone I know is having their birthdays and special occasions here. The food is hit or miss but on this last trip I went for brunch on Sunday and it was really amazing! There are only a very select few dishes on the menu but all of them were delicious. I tried a bit of each of my friends. The Croque Madame was different in the Best way! There was even a hash brown patty in the middle of the sandwich. My little friend on the right had the waffles which were delicious as well. I even contemplated getting an order as 'dessert' but felt too ashamed so I will have to go back again for the waffles. 

The service is not so great and each friend who has gone so far has had a negative experience. Given the name you would expect some friendly 'guest' service; but don't expect too much or else you will be disappointed. This is the newest hip, trendy joint in Gastown which is packed most weekends. Don't forget to go downstairs to their small lounge/bar area. It's definitely worth a visit. 

Gypsy Benedict

Croque Madame

House Guest on Urbanspoon

December 18, 2011

Sunday Rakomelo (Athens, Greece)

Enjoying some hot rakomelo on this grey Sunday Afternoon
This grey rainy afternoon we decided to head to our favorite hidden cafe in the neighborhood of Thisseo. This down-to-earth place doesn't have a name or anything else to give away it's here, you just push open the blue door on Amfiktionos 33 to find a rustic cafe in a beautiful neoclassical house. If you're in Athens in winter, do check out their home-made furniture and warm up with a cup of coffee or a glass of warm rakomelo. 

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December 16, 2011

Chicken Adabo from the Philippines


  • 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

  • 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger root

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1/2 onion (optional) 

  • Directions

The classic recipe is to use a whole chicken cut into parts, with the breasts split three or for ways for even cooking. However, you can use a bag of drumettes, a bunch of chicken legs, I personally use boneless/skinless thighs however, skin and bones do give it a better flavour

  1. Put your chicken parts in one layer in an oversized sauce pan. The big 16 inch cast-iron skillet will do nicely, or a wok for those of you who have a full kitchen. 
  2. Splash in some salty soy sauce, enough to dress the chicken pieces.  
  3. Pour in the vinegar.
  4. Drop in two bay leaves, and a tablespoon of tomato paste (optional). 
  5. Put some whole peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, and crack each one. 
  6. Break your garlic bulb into cloves; Slice off the end where it is attached to the base and then lightly crush each clove under the side of your knife. Remove the papery peel, but  leave the whole garlic cloves in tact. Toss them into your pan.
  7. Add three inches of fresh ginger to the mix. (I have made this dish both with and without ginger and personally prefer less ginger so the garlicy taste comes through). Grate more than three inches if you want, the more the better. 
  8. Let it simmer on medium for 40 minutes.
  9. I also use a lot of onions in this dish. If you like onions you can add it in the beginning process. Fry until a golden hew then add the chicken mix. 

If you want to make fancy adobo, simmer the chicken in the sauce until it’s fully cooked. Then take the chicken out of the pan, turn up the flame and reduce the liquids ALL THE WAY DOWN. If you used the skin, there should be plenty of chicken fat… the vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic will have reduced to a thick paste. When you’re down to mostly oil, return the chicken to the pan to toast it. Make sure the chicken browns on all sides and gets coated with the paste. 

Serve with rice. 

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December 13, 2011

Khoresht Aloo va Haveej (Persian Chicken, dried plum and Carrot Stew)

Aloo va Haveej or chicken with prunes or poulet aux prunes is one of my childhood favourites- best made by my grandmother. It also later became the title of one of my favourite comic books by Marjan Satrapi  most recently adapted into a French movie. 

Definitely a must read along with her other books Persepolis
Back to the recipe- you will need chicken, carrots, potatoes, prunes or aloo and a touch of saffron. And if you really want it to be delicious in taste you can always use butter as your cooking oil! 

Ingredients: (4 servings)

Chicken, 1 kg
Pitted prunes or dried plum (aloo), 400 grams
Onions, 2 large
Saffron, 1/2 teaspoon
Potatoes, 2 large
Carrots, 2-3 
Cooking oil/butter
Salt and pepper

This is the rice I made that goes along with the dish


  1. Wash prunes and soak in two glasses of cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. Peel and thinly slice onions. Fry in oil until slightly golden. 
  3. Wash chicken pieces and fry in onions until colour changes.
  4. Add salt and prunes to chicken and cook over medium heat for about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Wash and peel potatoes and cut into 1-2 cm pieces. Fry potatoes and saffron until crispy.
  6. Wash and peel carrots. Cut into 1-2 cm pieces. Fry slightly but not too long because you don't want them to get soft. 
  7. Add carrots to the chicken and prunes, cook for about 15 minutes. 
  8. Next, add potatoes to chicken and prunes and cook over medium heat for another 10 minutes.
Enjoy with a side of rice. 

December 11, 2011

Sunday Brunch (Athens, Greece)

Tasty American-style brunch at Athens' newest addition Mama Roux

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December 10, 2011

Banana Leaf Kitsilano (Vancouver, Canada)

I had never tried Malaysian food and have always wanted to try Banana Leaf- the one Malaysian restaurant in Vancouver that has been voted the best year after year. And now that I have finally been I can't believe I've never been there before. Its been around forever and now has four separate locations including the newest addition on Davie St. On this occasion we went to the Kitsilano location. 

Malaysian food is a mixture of culinary tastes from India, China, Thailand and Indonesia. It combines the best of South East Asia, from India's roti canai (seen below), Singapore's laksa, to China's Hainanese chicken rice. 

There is so much selection to choose from so don't hesitate to ask your server for their favorites. The roti canai- a serving of flaky layered break with curry dip, was a must- so delicious and definitely set the tone for the rest of the meal. In fact I think I filled up quickly on just the roti itself.

Our meal was served very quickly and all of us cleaned our plates in less than minutes!!
Everything was so fresh- all the vegetables in the curry were fresh and crunchy including the okras (one of my favorite vegetables). I would really love to learn to make some of their dishes. In fact it would be great if they would offer some cooking classes. 

For our main dish we ordered the boneless chicken curry, the lamb curry and sole curry. Every single dish was more than amazing. Not that we had any room for dessert but given that our main dishes were so good we had to order dessert which was even better. You MUST try the coconut filled crepes and the deep fried banana. Both are really delicious. I haven't been to the other locations yet but I will keep my readers posted if and when I do. 

Chicken coconut red curry served with okras, eggplants and yellow/red bell peppers

Coconut crepe crepes....amazing!
Deep Fried Banana served with ice-cream 

Banana Leaf (Kitsilano) on Urbanspoon

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December 6, 2011

Bel Cafe (Vancouver, Canada)

David Hawksworth's Bel Cafe opened up last month offering a variety of pastries, sandwiches, macaroons and drinks.  A bit dangerous for me given that I pass by every morning before work and have been tempted   an embarrassing number of times in the mornings to treat myself to Mr. Hawksworth's fabulous flaky and buttery pain au chocolate creation. Folks- there is nothing more amazing than this pain au chocolate in town!  If anyone disagrees I'd like to hear where they are getting their croissant fix! It is definitely made with butter and although its not so friendly on the calorie side it definitely tastes friendly! 

I've also been there for lunch where I had their vegetable soup and ham and cheese sandwich served with a side of cornichon. Again...delicious! We were also treated to their pate au fruis which was sooo good and something I would not have necessarily  selected before but have since purchased a few times.

Bel Cafe brings a touch of a modern Parisian bistro to the heart of downtown Vancouver.   

Ham and Cheese: French ham, emmenthal and dijon 

Photo courtesy of Bel Cafe.com

Bel Cafe on Urbanspoon

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