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Bialetti Mukka Express Homemade Cappuccino and Latte

A great start to a day is to have a cup of coffee in the morning for us. More so a cup of Cappuccino or Latte.

Ben bought the Bialetti Mukka Express for homemade Cappuccino and Latte. It is $82.61 including of tax.

All you need is ground coffee, milk and water to make a cup of Cappuccino and Latte on the stove top. More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Wine Tasting and Tour at Lulu Island Winery, Richmond

I have always wanted to try icewine.  So, I organized a wine tasting with the group of friends who had dim sum at Neptune Seafood Restaurant recently. I cannot tolerate alcohol at all as my face will flare up just with a few tasting. That’s why I cannot drive if I want to go for any wine tasting. Fortunately, Emily S is a regular drinker and she has no problem with just a few tasting. So, we met up at South Arm Community Center and car pooled to Lulu Island Winery with Emily S as the designated driver.


The above is the Riesling Chardonnay white icewine which comes in 2 sizes. The 200ml bottle is $37.00 while the 375ml bottle is $69.00. The icewine is really sweet and is considered as dessert wine. It is meant to be enjoyed a little at a time. I really like it.

Do you know that icewine is trademarked as a single word in Canada?

The icewines from Lulu Island winery has the VQA stamp which is a guarantee that you’re purchasing 100% BC Wine. BC VQA is an Äppellation of Origin” system that guarantees authenticity of origin and stipulates minimum quality standards for Canadian wines.

Lulu Island Winery is the gold award winner of Öther Icewines” category of the All Canadian Wine Championships 2011. We were told that only BC and Ontario produce icewine due to the some specific requirements. White icewine needs at least 24 hours of temperature of 8 degrees Celsius below zero before the grapes can be harvested for making icewine. For red icewine, it needs to be -14C for at least 24 hours. German and Austria are the only other European countries that produce white icewine. Canada is the only country in the world that produce red icewine. There are only 5 wineries in BC and 6 in Ontario that produce icewines.

Lulu Island Winery is located at 16880 Westminster Hwy, Richmond, east of No. 7 Road.

Lulu Island Winery was the China House during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver which hosted the Chinese Olympic committee during the game.

Lulu Island Winery has a 13 acres vineyard on the premises. The type of grapes planted here is Orange Muscat, a dessert variety. The vineyard is only in its 3rd year and not ready for harvest yet. It takes usually 4.5 to 5 years for the grape vines to mature.


The growth rate is slow here in Richmond. Grape vines need at least 8 hours of sunshine daily for a good growth. Grape vines also need very good drainage which is why we usually see vineyard in a valley. The vineyard here is made possible by embedding a layer of hay below the soil to create better drainage. We were told that the grapes in this vineyard will not be able to be used for making icewine as it’s not cold enough here. The wine produced at Lulu Island Winery are made from grapes from the Okanagan Valley. Lulu Island Winery is the newest and largest winery in Richmond.

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Lou Han Guo Herbal Tea

When we were in Malaysia, there is a favourite stall that we like to visit in Petaling Street that sells Lou Han Guo Herbal Tea. There is always a line up at this stall.

Out of the blue, Ben asked me to make him some Lou Han Guo Herbal Tea. Coincidentally, I have all the ingredients (I think) to make this drink. I had bought the ingredients but just did not get down to make it.  Perhaps, I can sense his wants.

The Lou Han Guo Herbal Tea has a natural sweetness and fragrance to it. This makes a good summer drink when it’s chilled.

This is an excerpt from Wikipedia regarding Lou Han Guo.

The fruit extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and has been used as a natural sweetener in China for nearly a millennium due to its flavor and lack of food energy, only 230kcal/g (960 kJ /100g) compared to granulated sugar which has 387kcal/g (1,619 kJ/100g). It has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Ingredients

  • 1 Lou Han Guo
  • 1/2 package of Sweetened winter melon
  • a handful of dried longan meat

Source:  Suanne

for 4 litres of herbal tea

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Fruit Punch

For drinks, Jorge prepared a Fruit Punch for the BBQ at the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors. The Fruit Punch is a good summer treat to cool off the heat.


I like the addition of chunky fruits and the blended pineapples in this fruit punch.

Ingredients

  • 355 ml frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 can of 355 ml frozen lemonade concentrate (add more if you like it more tart)
  • 540 ml can of pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice
  • 2 litres dry ginger ale
  • 4 cups of mixed fruit

Source: Jorge Viduenez

Prep time: 10 minutes;  Serves 6

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Sidral Mundet – iPods Giveaways … and Tres Leches Cake

There is so much to learn about South American food. Just three weeksto ago, Suanne and I were at the Panaderia Latina Bakery to check out the pastries and desserts. Panaderia also had a section where they carry foodstuff from South America.

That was the first time I came across the soft drink called Sidral Mundet displayed next to bottles of Jarritos. I am quite familiar with Jarritos but it is the first I had seen Sidral Mundet.

Coincidentally, a few days later Sindral Mundet wrote to us asking if chowtimes.com want to host a giveaway and help create some buzz for the product. That is definitely something we are interested in doing for our readers, especially when the prizes included the following:

  • 1 winner: Apple iPod Touch 8GB
  • 1 winner: Apple iPod Nano 8GB
  • 5 winners: Sidral Mundet Gift Pack
  • 5 winners: Sidral Mundet Backpack

Read down to the bottom of this post and find out how to have a chance to win them. It’s easy.

So last week, I went to the Panaderia Latina Bakery to pick up some bottles of Sidral Mundet. I couldn’t write about it if I had never tasted it, right?

When I posted about the Panaderia, El Lobo Solo was mentioning about their Tres Leches cake. Since that comment, Suanne had been pestering me to go buy it on the way home.

Suanne is impossibly crazy over sweet desserts like this … especially when Tres Leches cake means three milk cake! The Tres Leches cake is a sponge cake make with evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.

The lady at the countered said that we need to let it thaw in room temperature for … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Indian Cuisine: Spiced Chai Tea

This is the last community kitchen at the Caring Place for 2009.  The reason is the Caring Place kitchen is fully booked for Christmas parties until end of the year.  Minoo has chosen an Indian theme for this meeting.  I love to learn cuisines from other culture.

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Minoo made a popular Indian drink which is the Spiced Chai Tea.  The black tea is flavoured with various spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and clove.  You can serve it with milk or as it is.

In India and Pakistan, Chai Tea is called Masala Chai.  Masala means spices.

Chai Tea is served in many restaurants/cafes.  Here are some of them:

Ingredients

  • 7 cups water
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 piece of ginger, sliced
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons black tea (strong, loose leaves black tea such as Assam)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar or any sweetener as preferred like honey or palm sugar
  • optional spice: star anise and peppercorns (for a stronger taste)

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Red Espresso – Rooibos Tea Espresso

This post is written upon a package of free sample from Red Espresso. We are not paid for this post.

This came in the mail and oh yeah, its a sample for us courtesy of Red Espresso. Please note we are not paid for this blog post if that matters to any of you.

Actually there is a specific way to write the name of this unique product. It is not Red Espresso …

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… it is red espresso. That is what I noticed … they made the word “red” red all the time and spelt them all in lowercases. Weird. But smart. That’s branding at its finest if you ask me.

red espresso is the world’s first espresso made of tea. It is made with Rooibos tea which is gaining popularity around the world and we had read about them before. So when red espresso asked if we would like a sample, we said sure. We were curious and wanted to see for ourselves what the fuss is all about.

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What we found out was that Rooibos has all the versatility of espresso coffee. With this you could make latte, cappucino, americano, white mocha and even iced tea with apple juice. They even trademarked the red espresso names so that when you ask for these items below, it means Rooibos tea from red espresso:

  • red latte
  • red cappucino
  • red canadiano (he he he … not Americano!)
  • red symphony (is actually white mocha)
  • fresh red (iced tea with apple juice)
  • iced red (iced tea)

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Before I continue, I want to point out that these pictures here are all mine. How did you like it? It is not exactly pro level but I am pretty pleased how they all came out.

Anyway, you can prepare a red espresso in a few ways. You could use an espresso machine, a stovetop espresso maker, a french press or even a drip coffee maker.

I don’t have an espresso machine at home. I had always wanted to buy one but Suanne kiboshed that idea because she said does not have anymore space in her kitchen. So we opted for the next best way to make this. We bought ourselves a stovetop espresso maker (above).

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So I did a bit of research. Apparently the Rolls Royce of stovetop espresso makers are made by Bialetti. But Bialetti are so expensive with some fancy models costing over $100.

I found the basic one above in HomeSense. It is less than $10. Cheap but it works the same. He he he … I hope this is safe! OK we admit. We are noobs when it comes to this thingy. So, please don’t roll your eyes as I attempt to explain the basics OK?

With the stovetop espresso maker, you basically prepare your brew on top of your stove burner. The pressure from the boiling water will apply sufficient pressure to express a thick concentrated coffee from the beans. There are three sections: on the left is the boiler where the water goes. The middle part is the metal filter for the coffee (or in this case the red espresso). And on the right is the chamber where the espresso is collected.

It is a simple device. It is also the way the Italians make their espresso as I was told.

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The Rooibos tea looks kind of like … More on following page. Click here to continue reading

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Dulcinea Chocolate Cafe on Denman, Vancouver

Updated 30th Oct 2010: this restaurant is closed.

You guys remember Rey? Well … if you remember, he’s the one who promised to bring us on a culinary adventure of Filipino cuisine. Rey is a Filipino community advocate and he wanted to create awareness of the third largest visible minority community in Vancouver by encouraging the creation of local Filipino content on the internet.

Last month, Rey introduced to us the Chinese Filipino food by bringing us to Little Ongpin in Richmond. In the second leg of the adventure, Rey next introduced us to Spanish Filipino food.

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The Dulcinea Chocolate Cafe is located on Denman in Vancouver Westside. We were met by Mari and David, who opened this delightful outlet with their daughter since October 2008. So this place is just 6 months new. Mari and David are both of Spanish descent from the Philippines. Mari told us she is a chocolate lover … and the place was started out of her love of chocolates! She’s so friendly and approachable that I can see that she connects to her customers very well.

I was told by Rey that pure Spanish Filipino makes up only 2% of the population in the Phillipines. Despite the low number, the Spanish has a lasting influence in the Filipino culture having colonized the country for 333 years. That is why most of the Filipino names are Spanish names.

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When Rey suggested Dulcinea and raved about their Hot Chocolate, we initially thought “what’s the big deal”? We soon changed our perception of hot chocolates after this experience.

The name Dulcinea came from the name of Don Quixote’s true love in the novel of the same name. We had always thought that Dulcinea was pronounced as Doo-See-Nea. A big sign on the wall says “Doo-see-nay-ah”. You learn something new everyday. The name Dulcinea means overly elegant sweetness — a perfect name for a chocolate cafe.

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Dulcinea started off as a Spanish Chocolate Bar in the Vancouver Westside neighborhood. Mari told us that the place evolved quickly since they started six month ago … from starting to serve tapas, then soup, sandwiches … and Dulcinea took life on its own when customers requested for certain food and Dulcinea responded.

We went to Dulcinea at 4PM. It’s an odd hour, I know but Rey wanted us to treat this like a Merienda. I had always heard that the Spanish culture has a really odd day … like taking a nap after lunch, having dinner at 9:30PM and Meriendas in between meal times.

We half expected the place to be empty at 4PM and thought that Rey suggested that time because Mari and David would be the least busiest. We were amazed that even at 4PM, Dulcinea was packed … with people … having … Merienda! The crowd actually taper off at about 5′ish.

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This is it … the above is what Dulcinea is famous for. Their signature Hot Chocolate which is called the 1528. It is a shot of thick chocolate. It is like the espresso of chocolates … but much more thicker. Any thicker it would not be drinkable! Even the spoon provided is designed to scrap off the thick chocolates from the sides of the cup.

The 1528 costs $2 per shot. If you have never tried it before, go to the counter and ask for a small sample. They pass out samples and once you take a sip, you’ll probably want one for your own.

Now … if you want a solo cup of the 1528 … listen here … FOR FREE … just go and tell Mari, David or whoever at the counter that “Chowtimes Loves Xocolatl” and you will receive a solo cup of the 1528. Serious! I suggested to Mari and David that they put in a little fun promotion to benefit readers of chowtimes and was surprised to hear a yes from them. I suggest you know what a Xocolatl is (see below) and how it is pronounced (pronounced as choco-latl).

Consider this is like Suanne and I buying you a cup of hot chocolate. :-)

Update 05-Apr-2009: The offer for the free 1528 had now expired. Mari and David expressed their thanks to everyone who had taken time to visit their store and tried the 1528. However, Dulcinea will continue to offer samples of the 1528 (just not a solo cup of it). There could be more offers coming. Just stay tuned. I hope those who had the 1528 enjoyed it!

Oh … 1528 … that is the year that the Spanish took cocoa from Mexico and shipped it back to Spain. That year was the start of Europe’s love of chocolates. Nice name, I thought.

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If you’re not into thick hot chocolates, there is the Classico … a more watered down version but still really rich and creamy.

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I had the Hot Chocolate with Chai. These are not very large cups like I am used to (i.e. we drink Milo at home and we make really big cups and gulp them down real fast). Here I find that I took my time to savour every sip.

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The Xocolatl (how do one pronounce that again?) is quite exciting. I’ve never seen a dried chili served with hot beverage before. This one is a hot chocolate with chili nutmeg and cinnamon. The chili wasn’t that hot. Be brave and go try that one. You’ll probably love the contrasting flavours here.

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What’s chocolate without fondue? It’s something about fondue that makes it the favourite of just about everyone. I think it’s because it’s a fun food to have with friends. We noticed that the grapes were frozen … not sure why only the grapes were frozen while the banana and strawberry wasn’t.

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Besides the delightful hot chocolates, Dulcinea has absolutely the best cakes and pastries one could find in Vancouver. This is coming from our resident cakes fan, Suanne. Our fav has got to be the Lava Blanco above which is chocolate mousse with white choc inside of it.

Instead of ordering each item by itself, we actually ordered the sampler which gives us a little of everything we wanted.

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