Mint Chocolate Chip!

It’s the height of the summer in Vancouver, and its been pretty hot these past few weeks. The wildfires in the interior of BC have cast a cloak of smoke over a large part of the coast, so its been hot, but oddly hazy.  The mountains haven’ t been visible for over 10 days now.  Its weird.  But today is the first day that we can see the mountains again. Looks like the smoke is being blown away by the change in winds.

Aside from the weather report, I’d like to post about a new non-dairy frozen dessert I found recently.  It’s not a new product, but its new to me.  I’ve been looking for a mint flavoured non-dairy treat for a long time.  I’ve tried quite a few, and then after a while I gave up.

The last one I tried was the mint chocolate chip from Earnest Ice Cream.  I was excited to find out that they made some non-dairy flavours.  I tried this one last year…and it was pretty good, but I found it was almost TOO minty.  I thought I would give it a go again this summer, but when I went to see if they still made it, I found out that they changed their non-dairy ice cream ingredients.  For some of the non-dairy flavours, they use a new combination of coconut milk and cashew milk.  This is a show stopper for me.  Nut allergy.  So my quest continued…

Coconut Bliss

Coconut Bliss – mint chocolate

This week while grocery shopping, figured I would try the Coconut Bliss brand of dairy-free ice cream.  I’d seen it in the store before, but never tried it.  Their mint chocolate chip flavour is called Mint Galactica. To my surprise its is great.  The perfect combination of mint and dark chocolate.  The chocolate is nice because the chips are small flakes rather than giant chips.

I’ve already finished the entire container…so that should tell you that it’s a winner.

Tofino.

Last summer I finally got chance to explore Tofino.  I spent a couple of days enjoying the peace and quiet…and the food.   There aren’t enough words to describe how beautiful it is. Here are a few photos.  Aside from the spectacular scenery, there was also allergy safe food…

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Schooner Cove: Star fish and anemones.  Exploring the tidal pools.

 

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Middle Beach: Catching the last bit of sun for the day.

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Hiking in the rainforest with the banana slugs.

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Wild Pacific Trail: Endless blue.  View out to sea.

Now on to the food….

Sobo

Miso soup and udon at Soba

Sobo – Dropped in for a late afternoon bite after exploring.  I’ll keep it short.  I had THE best miso soup.  Ever.  It was just delicious. I ordered udon noodles with my soup and it was perfect.  There were no allergy issues at all with the miso soup.  If you don’t have the opportunity to go all the way to Tofino to try it, the recipe is in the Sobo cookbook.   Its actually pretty simple to make, and I was successful.

The rest of the Sobo lunch menu included sandwiches, salads, soups, wraps and a lot of other options. Since I wasn’t very hungry, I didn’t ask if any of the other items might have been allergy safe.

 

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Mussels & Clams

Wolf in the Fog – A very famous place that people have been raving about.  We managed to get a reservation for an early dinner, and it was already packed.  The menu isn’t huge, but its very interesting.  There were a lot of seafood of course.  I found that inquiring about allergy issues was difficult.  I felt that our Server didn’t seem to be paying attention.  The place was SO busy, that they couldn’t or wouldn’t take the time to really listen.

Of the entire menu, only two options could be adjusted for dairy-egg-nut.  So I chose those two options.  The Bamfield seaweed salad (with daikon cubes, wild rice and shitake mushrooms), didn’t have any dairy-egg or nut.  The other option was the mussels and clams in tomato broth.   I don’t know if the mussels and clams are still on the menu.   I would not dine here. if you have any issues with food allergies.  It would probably be safer to go to Kuma Tofino or Sobo.

Kuma Tofino – Another winner.  This was probably my favourite place we dined in Tofino. The food was just amazing.  We had the chicken karaage, tuna tataki, veggie udon, and seaweed salad.  The chicken karaage was unbelievably good.  Perfect crispy skin, juicy meat.  I’m craving it again, just thinking about it. I usually prefer my udon with some sort of meat, but this veggie udon was so tasty I didn’t miss the meat.  It had tofu, green onions, shitake mushrooms, some ginger and a yummy broth. The tuna tataki was also a nice treat.

Kuma Tofino

Delicious meal at Kuma Tofino

It was so good, that we went there twice on this trip.  We ordered their take out rice bowls for dinner after a long day hiking in Ucluelet.  And as expected it was delicious. Kuma Tofino offers a couple of take out rice bowl options.  I tried the chicken karaage bowl.  The only allergy adjustment they had to make was to exclude the spicy mayo.

Although I didn’t ask about all the items on their menu, most of them are likely adjustable for dairy-egg-nut allergies.  There were some sesame seeds in the salad.  If you’re in Tofino and want some Japanese food.   This is the place! Kuma Tofino is not a sushi restaurant.

Tough City Sushi – Sushi in Tofino.  Not completely unexpected to find a sushi restaurant in Tofino, but I honestly wasn’t expecting much, but was craving sushi.   I ordered what I would usually order.  Negitoro maki, salmon nigiri, toro nigiri, hotate (scallop), and ikura (salmon roe). Super fresh seafood without question.  All of the sushi was very good. And I didn’t have to worry about allergies.

The Point at The Wickaninnish Inn – We decided that we wanted to checkout the famous hotel.  Its probably the most well known hotel in the area for tourists.  The breakfast menu here was the standard breakfast offerings.  I had to have hashbrowns and bacon of course!  I asked them about their breakfast potato options and the Server was awesome in making sure that they could accommodate my allergies.  They included some fruit an grilled veggies to go with my bacon and hashbrowns.  The hashbrowns were perfectly crispy an seasoned with shallots and a bit of spicy salt.

Black Rock Oceanside Resort – After exploring the Wild Pacific Trail, we were hungry.  We couldn’t decide were to eat so ended up at the Black Rock Resort.  Its a beautiful location, right on the seaside.  The restaurant was pretty empty when we dined, because it was mid-afternoon.  I had the steak frites.  The only allergy adjustment that they had to make was the butter sauce that accompanied the steak.  Other than that, the steak was done to a medium rare and the fries were crispy and hot.

At the end of the trip, I was a bit sad to leave Tofino.  We didn’t have time to visit Mearse Island.  I would have loved to hike the Big Tree Trail.  Tofino is an amazing place.  If you love nature and exploring amazing and spectacular places, you need to visit.  On the food front.  I loved just about all of the places we dined in Tofino.  My allergy trifecta was not an issue (for the most part).  I would love to go back to Tofino again.  Its worth the ferry ride and the really LONG drive.

 

Steak Your Claim @ Rise Eatery

The Rise Eatery

Steak Your Claim at Rise Eatery

So this is the most recent place I dined out.  In fact it was just a few days ago.  I heard about Rise Eatery from an article in the Georgia Straight.  Rise is located within walking distance, so I decided to check it out.  Of course checked their Instagram feed first. Who doesn’t do that these days?

Rise opened at the end of June so its a really new addition to the local restaurant scene.   Their “concept” is  Asian Fusion.  I generally cringe at that combo because it can go so horribly wrong.  I am no food critic, so for me it comes down to whether or not the food was tasty and allergy safe, of course.

The menu that Rise had when I visited was called their Opening Menu, so depending on when you visit, they may have a different menu offered.  The names for their dishes were pretty good too. Here’s what the table ordered:

Pickle them Wings – pickle brined chicken wings, dill salt. The wings came with a dill dip that contained dairy.  I just ate the wings and the dill salt.  Have to say, these wings were delicious.  Perfectly crispy.  The batter was almost like the batter on very good chicken karaage.

The Routine – This is Rise’s version of poutine.  Instead of french fries, they use ramen noodles.  The toppings had a bit of a twist with the miso gravy, but there were cheese curds too.  Yes its weird to see ramen noodles as french fries, but according to the folks I dined with, the “fries” were really tasty, and crispy.  I didn’t try them due to the cheese content and the ramen noodles (made with egg).

Steak Your Claim – 5oz NY sirloin steak, with chimichurri sauce with a mini cast iron pan of french fries, in balsamic soy glaze and shishito peppers..and Chinese doughnuts.  I asked about the dairy-egg-nut trifecta and the server took down the info and checked with the kitchen.  He came back to make sure I was OK to have the fries, which were cooked in a communal fryer with other food items. Alway great when they check and come back to ask you if its OK.

The steak was delicious with just the right amount of marble.  I’m not a fan of spicy food, so I found the chimichurri sauce to hot for me.  The fries were tasty, the soy glaze was an interesting flavour.  I really liked the Chinese doughnut slices mixed in with the fries.

Heart Attack Fried Rice – This dish looked amazing.  The rice was “Schmaltz stir fried rice pilaf, with chicken confit, soft boiled egg and…chicken crackling! OMG chicken fat and crackling, irresistible (to me).  I was tempted to try it.  I was only able to try the chicken crackling, since it wasn’t near the egg. However, I didn’t venture any further because of the egg on top.  I did not ask whether there was any dairy in the dish, but I might find out next time I visit.   The non-allergic dining folks approved of this dish!  Apparently the egg was perfectly runny.

Of the 4 dishes we ordered, I was able to have 2 of them.  Not a bad ratio.  It was such a hot day that I wasn’t super hungry, therefore I didn’t ask about other dishes that might have been allergy adjustable.

The service and attention to the allergy issues was great.  Our server was diligent in writing down the allergies and checking back with the kitchen.

Overall, I probably would go back to see if I can try the Heart Attack Fried Rice.

 

 

Back at it.

It has been a very long time since I’ve posted anything to this blog.  The only reason for being super silent has been that I just haven’t had the patience to write about the places that I’ve dined. This weekend I’m sitting down to finally add a few more places that might be of interest.

There are many places that I’ve dined in the last year, so it might take some time to catch up.  I also need to remember what I ate at each of these places.  I guess I’ll start off with the most recent dine out.

 

Bacon Jerky?

IMG_5564Last summer, I was at the store looking for some snacks to pack on a day hike. It’s not easy to find snacks suitable for hiking that do not have dairy, eggs or nuts. The energy bars, granola bars are usually packed with some sort of nut product, because nuts are the perfect protein snack for hiking. This poses a big problem for me.

If I am able to find a vegan snack bar, without dairy, it almost always has nuts in it. If I find a bar without nuts, it has some sort of dairy product in it. It’s difficult to find anything suitable. I literally stood in the granola bar and energy bar aisle reading the ingredients on all the boxes…

It won’t be much of a surprise then that I gave up and decided that beef jerky was the next choice for a high protein snack. I’m not allergic to beef jerky.  It usually doesn’t contain any of my allergens.

Browsing the jerky section, I found a few options. I tend to stick with the traditional plain or original versions because I don’t like added flavours. Most of the time beef jerky is too sweet for my liking.  I prefer very basic, savoury flavour.

Scanning the selection I came across Bacon Jerky, made by Jack Link’s. Of course I was intrigued. Bacon, as a jerky…was it possible?

No hesitation, into my cart it went!

Overall impressions – the high protein/fat combination that is good for re-fueling for hiking.  I was expecting a more crispy/crunchy texture, since that is what I associate with bacon.  The bacon jerky wasn’t either of these.  It was almost like cold bacon…yes, I know this sounds rather horrible, but it wasn’t.  It tasted like bacon, without the congealed fat that you might expect with bacon that is not freshly cooked.

This is the perfect go-to hiking snack for me.

Salt Spring Island weekend (of food).

IMG_5555A few weekends ago, I spent some time on Salt Spring Island, one of the Southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.  It goes without saying that it was a spectacular location…like almost all of BC and Canada in general..but I might be just a tiny bit biased for the West Coast.

Since I was there overnight I thought I would jot down a few places that were safe to dine while I was touring the island.

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