RSSArchive for April, 2008

Seattle: Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits in Burlington

Oh shoot!

I felt so pressured to keep up blogging on this Seattle series. My memory on this trip is somewhat fading. I had been looking at the screen for the past 5 minutes just thinking of what to share. Sigh … and some of you just gotta say you look forward to this series. Pressure, pressure, pressure! LOL!

We left Richmond kind of late … in the late morning. By the time we got over the border, it was already noon. We drove on and decided to make a stop at Burlington for a quick lunch in a fast food joint. We did not care about what it is except that it should be something we do not have in Canada.

As we drove along the shopping row on S Burlington Blvd looking for a fast food joint we chanced upon the distinctive yellow and red Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits restaurant. Popeyes was one of the places we had on our shortlist of restaurants.

One would have thought that in a place called Popeyes, you would have expected that there will be Popeye (the Sailorman) images all over the restaurant. Nope, there was none at all. Strange.

Anyway, Popeyes is one of the biggest chicken fast food outlets in the US. There is none in Vancouver.

We ordered the 8 pieces Spicy Chicken. It seems like their flagship product just like the Big Mac is to McD’s. It came with some “biscuits”. I still thinks that biscuits means cookies. At least where I grew up, biscuits IS cookies. These US-style “biscuits” should just be simply called bread, or scones.

Anyway, the biscuits were flaky but too dry for my liking. If only I have hot chocolate, I’ll dunk it in. I took a bite and decided I had enough.

Despite being called Spicy Chicken, it is quite mild. We like the crispy skin a lot and the fact that it was not all too greasy. The pieces were quite big too, especially the breasts. I would say they were huge, not only big.

We read the brochure in the store that the chicken are made fresh and hand battered. It is marinated in Louisiana seasonings.

The Cajun Sparkle was really nice with the chicken. It is a mix of salt, garlic, onion and spices. It was so nice, we took a few extra packets with us.

We also got ourselves the Chicken Po’Boy. Po’Boy is a Louisiana subs made of baguette and fried meat. I remembered the first Po’Boy I had in New York’s Oyster Bar last year. That Oyster Po’Boy was great … this one, it tastes just like Mc Chicken if you ask me. Popeyes Po’Boy has the edge over McChicken because of the Cajun Sparkle.

The bill came up to $25.47. The expensive one is the Fried Chicken which works out to be about $2 per piece. For what we had, we felt it was quite expensive.

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Seattle: A Short Spring Break

Alrighty … here I go again with another travel series.

This is the long promised series on Seattle. During the school spring break last month, we decided that we make a short 5-day trip with the primary purpose of checking out a little bit of the food scene in Seattle.

Seattle is sometimes known as the emerald city in reference to the lush green evergreen trees around the area. In many ways, Seattle reminds me of Vancouver. The healthy people and especially the rainy climate are so similar. The big difference is that it the city is much bigger economically than Vancouver. It is after all the home to Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon.com, and Costco to name a few.

There were almost no pre-planning done for this trip. I had been so busy at work these days, I had no real time for myself, let alone plan for vacation. So, this time, I depended almost entirely on the recommendations of the readers of chowtimes.

About a month before the trip, we left a posting on the blog asking for recommendations. The response were astounding to say the least. As a matter of fact, that posting was the SECOND most commented blog entry we had with 44 comments. So, I took some of the most interesting recommendations and updated it on a Google Spreadsheet above. So, in many respect, this trip would not had been so much fun if not for all your recommendations.

Direction-wise, we relied entirely on the GPS — no more paper maps to struggle with. Let me tell you this … the GPS is God-sent. I kid you not when I swear that the GPS is the single most important device for lowering divorce rates in the world.

He he he … you know how it is right? For some unknown reason, all females in the world are utterly hopeless in reading maps and telling direction. Guys, don’t you agree? [Ladies need not answer ...]

Oh, also being a guy … well … I NEVER stop to ask for direction. It’s a guy thing … REAL guys never ask for directions. They just know the way to everywhere. it’s just that sometimes it takes longer than usual.

Oh yeah … one other cool thing. Being an occasional travel blogger, we asked for complimentary CityPasses. It’s amazing we got them and we are considered MEDIA. Cool, huh? It was cool until one place actually asked us for a Media ID and I had a hard time explaining that Suanne and I are travel bloggers.

With the CityPasses, we get entrances to 5 attractions in Seattle. That includes the following:

  • Museum of Flight
  • Seattle Harbor Cruise
  • Seattle Aquarium
  • Pacific Science Center
  • Woodland Park Zoo

We had been to many of those places before but it was many many years ago. It was great to check them out again.

I really hope you will enjoy the next 2-3 weeks of our series to Seattle.

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Pineapple Bun (Polo Bun)

Arkensen and Nanzaro love Pineapple Bun, particularly from Lido Restaurant. I got this Pineapple Bun recipe from Helen. Helen has not attempt to make it because the recipe is in grams and cc which is a bit tedious to measure. Morever, Helen said it involves quite a bit of steps which seem quite complicated to her. Anyway, this is my first attempt making it and it turned out quite ok.

The Pineapple Bun (or Polo Bun) turned out quite soft and I think the dough recipe is good for any other bun. The bun remains soft even after two days.

Now, I know why it’s called Pineapple Bun. The name came from the look of the topping which resembles the pineapple skin.

It took me quite long to make it as I was trying to convert the measuring into cups and spoons as far as possible so that it’s easier for me to make it again.

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 240g bread flour (2 cups less 3 tablespoons), I used all-purpose flour
  • 60g cake flour (8 tablespoons)
  • 45g sugar (3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon)
  • 5g yeast (1 1/2 teaspoons)
  • 30cc or 30ml egg (1 medium egg)
  • 135g water (125ml)
  • 3g salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • 9g milk powder (2 tablespoons)
  • 30cc or 30ml warm water
  • 45g butter (3 tablespoons)

Topping:

  • 80g butter (6 tablespoons)
  • 50cc or 50ml egg
  • 1 g salt (a pinch)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 50g icing sugar (1/2 cup)
  • 5g milk powder (1 tablespoon)
  • 150g cake flour (1 1/4 cups)
  • another egg for egg wash

Click on the link below for the instructions.

More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Light Carrot Cake

This version of Light Carrot Cake is taken from Cook’s Illustrated, November 2006. Carrot cake is often thought of as a healthy alternative to other cakes but names can be deceiving. The problem is although carrot cake sounds healthy for its use of vegetable oil in place of butter and use of carrots as a natural sweetener, most versions of carrot cake tip the scales at 500 calories and 31 grams of fat per slice.

This Light Carrot Cake has the natural sweetness of the carrots and has reduced amount of oil and egg. In order to keep the cake light, the eggs, sugar and oil mixtures is whipped to incorporate air in it. This keeps the cake from being too dense.

This Light Carrot Cake is moist and rich without being soggy and greasy from an overabundance of fat.

Ingredients

  • vegetable cooking spray
  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound carrots (about 6 medium), peeled and grated (about 3 cups)

Click on the link below for the instructions.

More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Classic Carrot Cake

Karen demonstrated two carrot cake recipes upon Rowena’s request If I remembered correctly. The first cake is a Classisc Carrot Cake which was popularized in the 70s. It is an era where people started to reduce the intake of meat and encourage intake of vegetables, grains and fruits. A book called “Diet for a small planet” from the 70s introduced combinations of plant proteins to make a complete protein diet.

The Classic Carrot Cake is a very rich carrot cake with lots of ingredients like crushed pineapple, flaked coconut and walnuts.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil (can be reduced to 1 cup)
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raisins

Click on the link below for the instructions.

More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Yakko Sushi in Burnaby

After the Sun Run, we decided to go for sushi. I knew the boys would have loved it and planned to go to the Sushi Garden located along Kingsway across the street from Metrotown. However, the very popular Sushi Garden was closed. Dashed!

So we walked a few doors away and went instead to a smaller Sushi restaurant. It is called Yakko Sushi (located on 4689 Kingsway). There a quite a few sushi restaurants in this stretch of Kingsway … at least four that I can think of.

I have learned to like Kikkoman soya sauce which is sweet. At Yakko they serve Yamasa soya sauce. I don’t quite like this Yamasa brand. It had a stronger intense taste and a bit too salty for me. Not sure about you but I use the soya sauce to flavor the rice.

Oh, what do you think of the practice of mixing wasabi with soya sauce? I see a lot of people do that but I find that taste strange.

We opted to get one of their Party Trays. Their Party Tray H costs $27.00 which was just enough for the four of us. I felt that it was a bit expensive because I think we can get more for $27 just a few door down at Akasuka Sushi. Anyway we have about 49 pieces in all in this plate.

Oh, I had seen some places where they serve such things on wooden boats. That would have been fun for the boys but this place did not have that. It was kind of boring the way they presented it on the large plate.

The simple Salmon and Tuna Rolls were the first everyone dug into. I think this is because it is the easiest and least messiest to eat. I believe this type of maki is called Hosumaki … simple, small maki with a single filling.

Then there are the Pressed Smoked Salmon. We did not like these nigiri sushi in that they had smoked salmon … would have preferred fresh salmon on it. We noticed that there is a thin nori in between the rice … not sure what the purpose of that though.

Then there are the uramaki, which is basically made of three layers … rice in the outside with fillings in the outside and a nori in between them. I gather that this is not Japanese but rather types of sushi to suit the North American taste (i.e. more meat, bigger pieces and and more importantly COOKED!).

So. those you see above are the California Roll & Smoked Salmon Roll. The California Roll is quite popular in Vancouver. You can get it everywhere. Key ingredient of the California Roll are crab meat and avocado.

Above is the BC Roll & Yakko Roll. The BC Roll is the pride of British Columbia. It is the one on the left. We love BC Rolls. It has salmon which is grilled in a sweet sauce and a bit of cucumber. My boys pull out the cucumber every time — they hate cucumbers.

Futomaki is simply giant maki. They are much bigger but thinner. Reminds a lot of the Korean whatchamacallit sushi which is more coined shaped. This one is a vegetarian style Futomaki. The boys did not touch it, I am a meat person and so guess who ended having to finish this off.

Nice! I think we’ll go for more such type of sushis in future.

Yakko Sushi Express on Urbanspoon

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Vancouver Sun Run 2008

We did the Sun Run last Sunday. We being Arkensen, Nanzaro and myself. Suanne opted out from running because it was too much work for her. LOL! I think she is chicken … she thinks that if she can’t keep up with the Kenyans, she won’t even try. So Suanne became the official Sun Run photographer for the family.

Never having ever ran the Sun Run before, we had no idea how bad the transportation could be. Obviously, driving downtown is out of the question. The other choice for us was to take the B-line from Richmond.

We decided to Skip the B-Line and chose instead to drive to Metrotown and take the Skytrain from there. At least there are lots of parking and there are lots of choices for lunch after the run. Oh yeah … I was thinking of food even before the run started.

I was not too confident that the smallish Skytrain system could even handle the throngs of people converging into the downtown core. So, we started off early … very early … like 2 hours before the official start time of 9AM.

The cars were already quite filled with runners. We could spot them quite easily. Getting downtown by Skytrain was quick.

We could see the BC Place on the way there. The BC Place was the finishing line of the 10K Sun Run.

We wore the timing chip from home. It felt kind of flimsy, the plastic ties they provided. Moreover, it was almost impossible for me to tighten it. It was jiggling all the way and I was so nervous of losing it that I had to take a peak at it every now and then.

Lose that timing chip, you don’t get a time but what is worse is that it will cost you $40 bucks if it is not returned. Yeah, I know … I put it on upside down. Nanzaro told me already. Who cares as long as it captures my time.

Even at slightly past 7AM, there was already a festivity mood. Locating my starting line was easy … there are colored balloons that shows your starting line. Faster runners are placed forward while walkers are located way at the back.

The morning was extremely chilly. As a matter of fact it was the coldest Sun Run in history … 2 Celsius! Brrrrrr …. good thing we remembered to bring our gloves.

Our starting line is just in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. This is where the 2010 Winter Olympics countdown clock is located. Frankly, to me this thingy is a vandalism and protest magnet. 691 more days to go to the 2010 Olympics … wohoo!

To me the Sun Run must have been one of the most beautiful runs in the world … not that I had been to any runs before! The route is amazing with great views.

By 15 minutes before the start time of 9AM, the entire area is already jam packed with people. Anyone coming after this can’t even get on and had to wait until the road cleared before they can get on.

This year, the Vancouver Sun had managed to get almost 60,000 runners. That was a record and pushed the Sun Run to be the second largest 10K runs in North America (after Atlanta’s Peachtree something, I think) … and like top 5 such runs in the world.

Getting to the starting line from our staging area took an awfully long time. It took us 24 minutes just to move ahead by 150 meters. Once at the starting line, things got a lot more exciting, I must say.

The organizers couldn’t have picked a better place to start the Sun Run. Georgia St is wide and most importantly downhill for quite a distance. So, almost everyone SPRINTED from the get go and many ran out of steam just 1 KM down the street! He he he …. me included! Don’t laugh at me … I am a running newbie OK?

Things went OK until we started going up that brutal slope leading to the Burrard Bridge. I was totally spent by the time I got up the bridge … and … our heart sank (Arkensen and I was keeping at the same pace) when we saw that big sign that says … “5KM”. Are you kidding me? Gosh, there is no giving up now … it will take just as long finishing it as giving up.

I took the time off to take a picture … about the only one I took along the route. It was around here that Arkensen took off ahead of me.

After almost eternity, I finally completed the run … at 74 minutes. Lousy time, I know but hey I made my first 10K run. Arkensen was ahead of me by about 6 minutes or so. I was glad I did the run.

When I started training for the Sun Run, I wanted to complete it in 60 minutes which later revised it to 70 minutes and again later to 75 minutes when it was apparent that I am in no form or shape to do 60 minutes. Maybe the next time. Am I going to stop running? Hmmm … not just yet!

It was amazing being a part of all the humanity in the BC Place Stadium. Oh man … I can just imagine how much more fitter the entire city had become as a whole just because of this one event.

Let’s do some math here. Say, there are 60,000 runners. Each runner on the average burned 800 calories each week training for the run. Say, each runner on the average trained for 3 weeks. That makes it … let me get my calculator … 144,000,000 calories! That must have amounted to a loss of at least a few tons of fat in the entire city.

At the end of run, we get free food. It’s always the same fare … bananas, bagels and oranges. I gobbled down quite a lot of bananas.

So … there you go … my first Sun Run!

“Sun Run … Been There, Done That”

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Angel Cake House in Vancouver

Last Saturday morning, we had to go downtown to pickup the Vancouver Sun Run package. So, we decided that we should just go out for breakfast for a change … and to Vancouver, for a change too. I know, we had been eating out a lot within Richmond.

So, we ended up at Fraser and E 44th. Suanne and I had stumbled upon the the Angel Cake House once before and so this is our second visit.

You can’t really find many other places that can beat the Angel Cake House for value. Here, you can get a hearty Chinese breakfast for under $5 with drinks included. Parking is quite plentiful along the street but it was early morning when we were there when traffic is light … especially for a Saturday morning.

Suanne opted for the so-called “Western Breakfast” selection. For $4.95, you could select 2 items from the section. For the first item, Suanne had the French Toast and Shrimp and Mushroom Omelette. The French Toast were two thick sandwiches with Kaya (coconut jam) in between.

The omelette had a generous helping of shrimps. The mushrooms complimented the shrimps well … absolutely great with soya sauce. The only problem with soya sauce is that it is horrendous for the French Toast — we have to be extra careful not to “contaminate” the toast.

That above is considered ONE item …

For the SECOND item, Suanne chose the vermicelli in soup with shredded pork and some pickled thingy. I liked these kind of simple plain noodle soup. Unlike egg noodles, these does not make you feel like it’s too much food. Not bad, right? $4.95 for all these food.

Arkensen (Nanzaro did not join us because he had training) ordered the Beef and Fishball Noodles. This is also $4.95 and comes in such a large bowl that Arkensen did not managed to finish it. Anyway, Arkensen is not a big eater in breakfast, so this is too much food for him.

I made my selection from the “Chinese Breakfast” menu. Again for $4.95, I get to choose two items. The first was fried noodle. It was quite wirely … no, not like wires but I hope you know what I meant.

The second item was congee with mushrooms and fish. Put lots of soya sauce. Nice.

I did mentioned earlier that the food came with a free drink. We had the usual stuff, milk tea.

Look at that … only $15.38 for all the food. You should check this place out if you are seeking for a place for some good hearty and cheap Chinese breakfast.

After the breakfast, we headed to the BC Place stadium to pickup the Sun Run package. Since it was a nice morning (although on the chilly side), we parked on the street near the Science World and walked over. Parking near the stadium is ridiculously expensive too.

There was a small fair where you could get some freebies. The organization is amazingly smooth despite them having to deal with almost 60,000 participants. I bought a few pairs of really nice running socks which were going for just $1.50.

BTW, this is the first time I was in the BC Place since the air inflated roof collapsed. Now I can see how old and dirty the inflated roof is. It’s no wonder they are trying to replace it with a lower-maintenance roof before the 2010 Olympics. But it’ll be sad to see the famous roof go.

Here are some of the freebies we got. He he he … I actually expected more than these. I was quite disappointed. Oh … the Sun Run T-shirt they gave? It was COTTON! I was expecting a Technical. Oh well …

I’ll tell you about the Sun Run in my update tomorrow. This will be my second race (after the Harry’s Spring 8K Run Off). I know some of you had earlier been following my other blog (on http://26miler.com). Just wanted to let you know, I got lazy and had stopped updating that blog but had kept running … not a lot but at least I had kept it up to a minimum of 1-2 runs a week and up to 4 times a week. I’ll keep the blog up and if I find more time, I’ll update that.

Angel Cake House on Urbanspoon

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