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Sciue in Yaletown, Vancouver

Polly suggested to go to Sciue in Yaletown for our cake meet. She past by this Italian bakery when she and her son came downtown for her son’s provincial exam. We took the Canada Line to downtown. Sciue is just a short walk from the Yaletown Roundhouse station. There is another Sciue located at West Pender, Vancouver.

It was a beautiful summer day. The patio of Sciue is full. Sciue opens early on weekday, from 6:30AM and closes at 7:30PM.

Sciue is pronounced as “shoe-eh”. Sciue in Italian means good and fast. This particular location is warmly decorated. Booth seats lined the wall. Sciue’s breakfast includes daily baked goods, donuts (Ciambella), and their famous ‘”Pane Romano” creations.

For drinks, I had the Caffe au Lait (picture on the left). A medium cup costs $2.50. I was hoping that it’s going to be like the Cafe Con Leche that I had in Spain. Unfortunately, it’s not. It’s just not thick and strong enough. Polly had a medium Chai Latte for $3.80.

We started our breakfast with Pezzetta which is Sciue Flat Pane Romano Filled with Prosciutto Cotto and Fontina Cheese. The above is … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Campagnolo on Main Street, Vancouver

It must have been like 3 weeks ago when this happened. For some reason this is a hard to write post. Not sure why though. Maybe this is in the presence of food bloggers and I must be feeling like this had to be perfect. LOL!

So I had been sitting here for the past 30 minutes, playing Spider Solitaire on the PC and trying to get an opening line.

Suanne and I attended a food blogger photography workshop earlier this month. This workshop was organized by Jackie Connelly. This is actually the second workshop organized following the success of an earlier one. Jackie is a professional photographer specializing on food and beverage.

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Suanne and I were late getting to the workshop. We were punctual people but that Saturday was a nightmare. We ended up getting caught in two traffic snarls in Richmond and Vancouver because of road constructions. So we got in late and missed the first part where Jackie showed the various tricks used to touch up the food and “food”. Hah! Now I know that some of the delicious food pictures in magazines are not real food.

The 2-hour workshop covers basic food photography. Although I never had formal training in photography, most of the things discussed were not new to me. Suanne benefited a lot from it though. What I enjoyed in the course most was about the lighting techniques. That is the single most important thing in photography.

The other thing that I picked up is Jackie’s insistence of using the tripod, even when the light is good. My problem is that a lot of my photography is taken seated at the dining table. Even though I had a couple of table top tripod, it is too cumbersome to use and limited in the angles it can support. Since this workshop, I had been carrying my favourite table top tripod in my camera bag.

Three things I would like to learn outside of this workshop is composition, food styling and Photoshop techniques. Am hoping that Jackie will organize one for these topics in future. Anyway, Jackie is organizing another workshop similar to the one we attended on January 9th. The details are here.

The workshop were attended by the following bloggers:

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The workshop was held in the wine bar at the back of the Campagnolo restaurant. I had been reading a lot about Campagnolo but did not check out until now.

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After the workshop, some of us stayed behind for a late lunch. Campagnolo closes for lunch at 2:30PM but they stayed open for us … which was kind of cool because we had the entire restaurant for ourselves. The dining area is spacious.

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Campagnolo is an Italian restaurant. Not formal but a casual sort of a restaurant. My eyes glazed on the Italian menu because I find it so hard to understand them. I am just not familiar with Italian and the menu are divided into so many sections. It’s easier if it is broken down by appetizers, main and dessert.

This is what I just found out from Wikipedia. With Italian cuisine there is a distinction between courses. These courses are called aperitivo, antipasto, primo, secondo, contorno, formaggio e frutta, caffe and digestivo. Fancy isn’t it?

Italian cuisine connoisseurs can correct me as I attempt to recap my understanding.

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Aperitivo and antipasto are basically appetizer but am not able to tell the difference between them.

For the mains, there is the primo, secondo and contorno. Italians start with the primo which is pasta or soup followed by the secondo which is the heavier main where meat or fish is served. Accompanying them is the contorno — the side dish.

They then move on to Formaggio e Frutta (cheese and fruits), coffee and ending with this fancy thing called digestivo. Digestivo is the “coffee killer” … basically liquors like grappa.

Italians sure know how to eat huh?

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The Antipasti — “before the meal”.

Everyone on the table was raving about Campagnolo’s … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Il Nido on Thurlow and Robson, Vancouver

Weekend is getting more precious to me these days. Work had been building up with just a few months away from delivery. Lots of loose end to tie up and the team is beginning to feel the pressure. So work had been rather intense and I really look towards the weekends more than ever.

To unwind, Suanne and I decided to go downtown for dinner on Friday. I enjoy those time outs with Suanne — just she and I — and put work behind in the right way. We decided to check out Il Nido because we just got an email saying that they had just launched a new spring menu.

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Il Nido is an Italian restaurant located in a quiet corner of Robson and Thurlow. The location is just perfect for Suanne and I as we wanted to have a quiet dinner away from the bustle of Robson and yet after dinner, we could go walk along Robson to soak in the excitement the street has to offer.

It seems like Il Nido is one of the oldest restaurants on Robson having been around for more than 20 years. It has the charm to this place compared to the many newer establishments around the Robson area.

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Not knowing how busy Il Nido is, we had reservations made. When we arrived, they did not seem to have our reservation but I guess it was really not required at all. We were the only people there when they opened for dinner at 5:30PM.

Il Nido has a cozy atmosphere with simple decors. I do noticed that on every table is a bottle of wine. How does that work … does anyone know? Suanne and I had not had an entire bottle of wine for dinner before. Does a table of two normally finish off an entire bottle? What happens if it is half-finished?

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We ordered Bellini for drinks instead since Bellini is a very Italian cocktail. Most of their cocktails is about $6 but the Bellini is $12. When I ordered this, they told me they serve the “real” Bellini, not like those popular frozen Bellinis you normally get at places like Cactus Club (I always had Bellinis at Cactus Club!). We were quite surprised that it came in just half a glass. It was crisp and comparatively light in alcohol which is just how we like our drinks.

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What we like a lot about western dining is the bread. Suanne and I always look forward to the bread they serve and uses that as a yardstick of sorts of the restaurant. We appreciate it a lot if they make the bread themselves.

Il Nido’s serves homemade Italian bread and told us that they made them fresh. It is dense and on the dry’ish side. Like the ones we had at the Brix, they also serve this with multiple dips — olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.

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We asked a dumb question to the waitress … how does one normally take the dip? Dip one at a time, a sequence (olive first then balsamic vinegar) or what? Dumb question begats dumb answers … she told us she does it all three at a time.

We like it a lot and asked for more bread. Suanne ALWAYS dunk a lot of these sort of things and soaks everything up — and she wants ME to ask for more.

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Il Nido’s menu is simple and limited to a couple of pages. We thought it might be a good idea to opt for the “Let the chef make your 3 course meal tonight”. We asked if the meal will just be an item on the menu or if they will make sometime outside of the menu. The waiter told us it will be something outside of the menu.

So we settled for an order of the $45 “Let the chef make your 3 course meal tonight” and a separate order of mains … to share.

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Expecting to be surprised, I was not very impressed with “secondi” salmon to tell the truth. I mean, how Italian is salmon anyway? It is more west coast fare than Italian. LOL! More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Olive Garden in Bellingham, WA

Off late, I had been suffering from what I call the “fat wallet syndrome”.

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You see, in the span of a week I found out that I have this wear in three of my pants at the same time. I have no idea how long I had been walking around like this. I soon found out that it’s because I carry my fat wallet in my back pocket. I stick all kinds of plastic cards in my wallet that it just got fatter and fatter over time that I did not really notice how fat it was.

I have a habit about my clothing. I had been buying them from the Washington State for the past few years. I just find that it is easier to find one that fit and looks good from the US than those in Vancouver. So Suanne and I took the opportunity over the weekend to drive down to Bellingham to buy new clothings while the boys were engaged in their activities.

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After a round of shopping, we decided to stop by the Olive Garden for lunch. We had always seen their commercials on US TV channels and thought we should check it out. We went to the one on Meridian St.

Olive Garden is an American chain restaurant specializing in Italian food, particularly styled after the region of Tuscany.

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Olive Garden does quite a good job styling their restaurant like old rustic Italian setting. Behind it all it’s really another American chain restaurant. Even the dining rooms were arranged in such a way that it’s separate dining rooms with different themes in each room.

I really like their chairs … with rollers. That to me is good old American efficiency at its best. It’s actually a great idea because I find it very easy to reposition my chair when I want to.

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Service was great and prompt. With the menu being new to us, they were very helpful in getting our drink orders. We ended with a Strawberry Bellini and Frozen Tiramisu. Both drinks were about $6+ each. Suanne liked the Frozen Tiramisu especially which was really rich and creamy.

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The breadstick were quite good. It was served warm, is soft and lightly salted. What I like best is that they were very quick to ask if we wanted more the moment the last piece was taken from the basket. The service is top notch — it was awesome.

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We noticed that one common item on every table is the large bowl of fresh salad. They do make good salad with really fresh vegetables and a “say when” amount of grated cheese. He he he … when the wait staff came by and asked Suanne “say when”, Suanne did not quite hear what he said and replied “yes” … and he went on and on grating cheese into the salad until I realized there was a breakdown of communication and quickly said “stop!”. More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Washington DC: Sbarro Lunch in Union Station

By the time we got to the hotel, checked in and dropped off our bags it was already past 2PM. We were not too hungry but decided that we should just get something to eat since we only had cereals for breakfast. I guess it must have been the excitement that we’re not feeling that hungry. We asked the hotel’s front desk where we could find food and they pointed us to the Union Station.

The Union Station is an old station built at the turn of the 20th century. At that time, train travel is the main form of long distance travel. The city designed and built this station as a ceremonial station and as a grand entrance to the city of Washington DC. Today it is the main train hub in Washington DC. We started our day from this station everyday.

Considering this a building of over a hundred years old, it is amazing that it looked so new. I felt that this station is brighter and better maintained than the more famous Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Like many other buildings in Washington DC, the ceiling is designed with sunken panels.

Washington DC was unbelievably hot and humid in summer. We were more thirsty than anything. We walked around the level where there were a few places to eat and decided to stop by Sbarro. I saw a lot of Sbarro when I was in New York City and decided to try it. Sbarro is a fast food joint that serves Italian food.

It was not cheap, I recall. We just had this slice of pizza and …

… and a side pasta. This came to almost $10. We had a quick bite and then headed out to the US Capitol.

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Cascade Pizza in Bellingham, WA

Ever since we had started blogging two years ago, we had never met up with any fellow bloggers. That is not until around the (US) Thanksgiving last year. We had been in contact with Jennifer from Pie Is The New Toast for some time and had agreed to meet up if we are in the Bellingham area. Actually, Jennifer had already blogged on our meet-up here.

Suanne and I went spent a day in the US during Black Friday for shopping. We had been there shopping almost every Black Friday but do find it is somewhat subdued this year. After 10 hours of walking around malls, our feet were killing us.

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The Cascade Pizza is an Italian restaurant located on Meridian Street. If you know where Bellis Fair Mall is, you’ll easily find this place. Bellis Fair is on the intersection of I-5 and Meridian. So, you just drive south bound along Meridian for 1.5 miles after the I-5 intersection.

The Cascade Pizza is one of Jennifer’s favourite restaurant. What we like about this place is that the quality of the food is good and the price really reasonable. It was a great choice of restaurant, Jennifer.

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The Garlic Bread looked absolutely delicious. We like it with lots of garlic spread and we can see how much the spread had soaked into the bread. And most important of all, it is toasted to a crunch.

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The Lasagna and Ribs were some of the richest, creamiest lasagna we had tried. It was just excellent and the portions were generous. What I enjoyed most about this is the ribs … they were simply beyond great. For $8.95 and the portion we had, I really find this value for money.

One thing that Suanne and I find about the ribs in the US … they are much bigger than what we normally find in Canada. Every since, MammaViv raved about how she will make trips to the US to buy ribs, we had been comparing the ribs we find in Vancouver’s Safeway, Safe-On-Foods, Costco, Superstore, etc against what we find in the US. The ones we buy from the US is like twice the size of the puny ribs we have here. So, nowadays, we almost end up buying ribs back from our shopping trips to the US.

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The Garlic Chicken Pizza with white sauce was great stuff. We ordered that pizza because it had uncommon ingredients for a pizza. The small pizza costs $10.95 and still it was way too much for us.

It was great being able to meet up with fellow bloggers and to be able to put a face to a name. Jennifer, it was a great choice of restaurant. Suanne and I really enjoyed this place — we would not have found this on our own. So, where will you show us the next time meet up again?

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New York: Lombardi’s Pizzeria Nepoletana

New York is considered the birth place of the American Pizza. It is so much so that many of existing Neapolitan pizzas are also known as New York-style pizza. I made it one of my quest to seek out the grand daddy of pizzeria when I was in New York … and that is the Lombardi’s Pizzeria Nepoletana.

There had always been a dispute whether if Lombardi’s is really the first pizzeria in America but at least they have the proof that no one ever had. Lombardi was licensed by the City of New York in 1905 and no one else had ever had proof that they are opened earlier.

I am not sure what Zagat Survey is but I guess it must have been a big deal to be voted as “Best on the Planet” for pizzas. They claimed to have started the pizza culture in the US and is still at the top even after 100 years.

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I guess they know that I am a tourist. It’s because they brought me on a little tour through their kitchen. I can see that their coal fired oven is emblazoned with the words “1906 Lombardi’s”. It looked really old … I do wonder if this is the same oven that they had used for the past 102 years.

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I was shown a quiet corner of the restaurant. As a matter of fact, I was the only one there.

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I ordered their house made Sangria, which is a Spanish wine punch of sorts. It was sweet and fruity.

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I tried to be a bit adventurous and ordered from their specialty pizza section of the menu. I ordered the Clam Pie. I reckon that for $26 for a 6-slice, 14″ pizza, it had to be somewhat special. It is described as follows … “more than 2 dozen hand shicked clams, oregano, garlic infused oil, Pecorino Romano cheese, virgin olive oil and black pepper, topped with fresh parsley, served with fresh lemon on the side … and does NOT come with tomato sauce”.

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On hindsight, I should have just stayed with their “Gennaros original Margarita Pizza”. This one, well, is too dry for my liking. It is not bad and I like the thin crusted bread but I guess I had already tuned myself for a New York-style pizza … and this is not NY-style pizza. Shoot! I came all the way here and wanted to try NY-style Pizza and I ended up with a specialty pizza.

The 6 slices were too much for me. They don’t have anything smaller. I had only three slices and then asked them to pack the remaining to go.

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The entire bill came up to $41 including tips and taxes. Kind of expensive for pizzas, huh? Well, the Sangria is $7 and the Clam Pie is $26. One thing … they only accept CASH. For an establishment like this, I find it strange that they only accept cash.

Sigh … I guess I cannot scratch off “New York-Style Pizza” from my list of “Food to Eat Before I Die”. Note to self: Stick to the basics … don’t try to be fancy.

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Atlanta Trip: Locanda D’Amico at Minneapolis Airport

I flew for the first time on Northwest Airlines. Since NWA is headquartered out of Minneapolis, I had a stopover at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. You know what’s the greatest attraction at this airport? For American, they’ll know that it’s the washrooms!!

For those who do not know, Senator Larry Craig was arrested at this airport for “disorderly conduct”. Apparently what he did was he tapped his feet in the washroom. This is so new to me … tapping of the feet is a signal for people who wants to engage in well, “disorderly conduct”.

Well, I made very sure I did NOT tap my feet when I used the washroom. I have half a mind of taking pictures but there are so many people going in and out that I am sure I would get arrested for taking pictures in the washroom. :-) … Enough of that.

Anyway, we had lunch at a casual-Italian restaurant called the Locanda D’Amico.

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They served sliced bread … nothing to shout about.

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I had the Chicken Scallopini with Prosciutto, served with Linguine with Fontina Sauce. The scallopini was exceptionally good with the cheese sauce.

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