We thought we will take a break on blogging about recipes and such — and will instead blog for the next two weeks of my business trips to Atlanta and London. There’s going to be a total of 34 hours of flying time in all! However, so not to turn off our blog readers, I will continue to blog about food.
So, for the next four days, I will be in Atlanta, Georgia. You know what I hate most about going to the States? It’s getting thru US customs and immigration. Those guys have a perpetual scowl on their face. Treats everyone as either potential illegal immigrants or terrorists, if you ask me. Why, while queuing up to clear immigration, there was this young woman with her cute 5-year girl ahead of me. The little was bubbly and tried chatting with the immigration officer. You know what happened? The immigration officer upgraded his scowl to a growl — poor girl.
I have always been proud to live in best city in the world (OK, the 3rd best city in the world this year but for a long time we were No 1). It’s so beautiful. We have everything within minutes from downtown — the sea, the mountains. The setting is just beautiful. Vancouver is about the only place in the world where you could sail, golf and ski on the same day.
In the foreground is the University of British Columbia. In many other cities, this piece of land would have been prime real estate but no, the forefathers of Vancouver had the foresight to reserve this for an university. Unless you are a Vancouverite, I bet you don’t know that there is a nudist beach right smack in the university. Never been there because they insists on fair-play.
This is what I get on the trip. Three small pieces of biscuits and a soft drink. For $5, you can get some sandwiches or snacks. I’m not particularly hungry and made do with the drink and snack.
We flew over the Grand Canyon in Arizona, just before I landed in Pheonix for a 1 hr lay-over. It was an awesome sight from the air.
Instead of the normal neighborhood squarish blocks in most North American cities, the blocks in Pheonix was pretty interesting.
The plane flew around this huge cloud formation looming just over Atlanta.
That’s the Atlanta airport below. It is the busiest airport in the world. I am amazed at the size of the airport and all the plane movements all around the airport. It is so big that there is a seven station subway in the airport just to get from one concourse to another. It was really huge but damn ugly, if you ask me. I guess it’s built for efficiency not beauty.
Here I am, in Atlanta, home of Coca-Cola, CNN and Home Depot. I didn’t get much of a chance to see the city.
By the time I got to the hotel, it was pretty late. I took a walk to the Cumberland Mall and grabbed some food from the food court. Got the noodles plus two selection for $7.19 — including the drinks.
There you go, told ya I’ll blog about food, didn’t I?
Suanne and I had the chance to go for a short walk in the Deer Lake park in Burnaby last weekend. It has been a while since we visited this park in the middle of Burnaby. I somehow clearly remember it was about four years ago — don’t really know why it stuck to my mind so much, odd.
Since we blogged about Hans Freitag’s Desiree Wafers and researched about Hans Freitag’s products, we bought a different type of their product to try. We like wafers a lot. The one below is a bag of mixture of biscuits (or in Canadian, cookies) and wafers.
I like times like these — when we have really nothing to do at the park and just sit by the picnic tables and just nibbled and chatted meaningless stuff. The weather was perfect on that Saturday.
There are seven different types of biscuits and wafers. I personally don’t care much about biscuits and so picked on the wafers only. Suanne like the biscuits, especially the one with jam in the middle. Arkensen and Nanzaro loves the other biscuits. I still prefer the Desiree product over thos Noblesse.
We walked along the trail on the southern part of the Deer Lake. Saw some ducks (what do you call these ducks anyway?) and took some pictures. They are so used to people and allow me to move very close them without getting them startled.
We expected a lot more people here on a weekend but it was very quiet. Don’t you sometimes hate it when there so many people that you gotta say “hi” every ten steps! :-)
If you want to see more pictures we took in the Deer Lake Park, click on the link below. Enjoy!
Pocari Sweat is a very popular Japanese sports drink.
The first time I heard about Pocari Sweat was through a comment someone made on our entry on Ice Cool Sports Drink. We checked the net for Pocari Sweat and what we found was pretty amusing. Just just gotta try it and see for ourselves what it actually is.
We found Pocari Sweat in the Big Crazy Chinese grocery store in Richmond quite by accident. I must say it was pretty pricey. A small bottle costs $2.50. We bought just one to try.
Contrary to the name and the translucent color of the water, it is NOT made of sweat and NEITHER does it taste like sweat too. It has a relatively sweet and mild taste — quite like Seven-Ups with no gas and milder.
Well, if this has been cheaper, we would have bought this on a regular basis but certainly not $2.50 for this small bottle. Gatorade is much, much cheaper.
I heard about DinnerWorks.com over the radio last week on the way back home. So after dinner, I checked out DinnerWorks.com and found that they are the first meal assembly center in Vancouver. I have never heard of meal assembly centers before now — this is all new to me and I was very curious to find out more. Today, there are more than 700 of such centers in the United States — this is a new concept to Vancouver.
DinnerWorks is in the meal preparation business. They basically does everything for you except cook. The idea is simple — eliminate the stress and save some of the cost and time of meal preparation. And all it does is somewhat of an assembly line for food prep.
Suanne signed up through the DinnerWorks.com website. DinnerWorks publish their schedule from which you choose a time you are expected to show up. They also publish the details of the menus — there are 12 delicious sounding menu items to select from.
On the website, you select your time and menu item you wanted. This will allow the folks in DinnerWorks to make sure that they have all the ingredients and food delivered FRESH just in time when you turn up.
We had no problems finding the place and were very surprised how nice the setup was. For some reason, I thought that “food assembly” means some cold warehouse setting with concrete floors and all. The place was spanking clean — makes Suanne feel like an iron chef preparing a gourmet meal! :-) We like it. Why, we were even given a nice DinnerWorks apron to don — what is missing is a chef hat.
We were greeted by Chris Roscoe who jointly owns and operates DinnerWorks with his wife. Being new to meal assemblies, Chris were very patient in showing us everything we need to know.
They emphasize a lot on cleanliness and food hygiene. We were initially shown where the wash stations and gloves (should we need it) were. The place were very well equipped with all kinds of kitchen utensils. Most of what we need it is already placed for us in the station but should we need more, there are lots. Suanne wish that her kitchen is like that — I think she will spend more time in the kitchen cooking.
The above is the picture of one of the eight meal preparation stations in DinnerWorks. Each station is setup for two menu items. It just happen that the two items that we selected were on the same station. We selected the:
- Pork Tenderloin with Wild Mushroom Cream Sauce
- Blue Fjord Salmon
The stations were well laid out. On the station there is a simple-to-read assembly instructions (see below). Also, there are measuring cups, measuring ladles, spatulas, whisks, etc. The utensils were not cheap dollar-store stuff — DinnerWorks uses quality utensils. It was really classy, I must say.
Even the ladles were marked with measurement indicator on the handle. This really makes it easy for us to make sure we have the right amount required.
The below is the sauce for the Blue Fjord Salmon. Even though, we don’t know how it will look like, by just seeing the ingredients that goes into it, we know that it will be great. Chris’ wife pop over and told us that this is her dad’s recipe and that the secret ingredient is the whiskey.
The ingredients for the Pork Tenderloin is equally enticing … white wine with wild mushroom and cream sauce. Yummy! Can’t wait to get home and try it out.
Preparing the two dishes were very fast even though we took our time to make sure we get it 100% correct. At the end, what we get is a zip-lock bag of all the ingredients, packed in individual bags, required for the meal. They also provided us the thawing and cooking instructions.
That’s it. We take it home, pop it into the freezer and when we want to cook it, we thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and we’re set. We will blog on the two dishes the next two days.
OK, I am sure you want to know how much it is. Now, remember that this is close to gourmet meal you are looking at here. Each menu item costs $30 and is sufficient to prepare a meal from 4 to 6 people — you do the math.
For a small family like ours, we split each of the menu items into two meals. DinnerWorks understands that the food is sometimes too much for small family and will help in breaking up the ingredients into correct proportions.
You know, it was really fun doing this. Chris and his wife is very friendly. The customers who were there were also friendly and chatting with them does make it a very enjoyable experience. There was this two young ladies preparing food next to us and they told us that they have never cooked before but now with DinnerWorks can whipped up a mean meal.
They even have parties of 6 and above booking the entire session. That sounds kind of fun to have friends going together to prepare the meals.
DinnerWorks is located in Vancouver. Their address is 102-1669 West 3rd Ave, between Burrard St and Granville, on the corner of Pine and 3rd.
We’ll be back again to try their other menu items (which, by the way, are changed every month). You should try it — you will like it.
3-in-1′s are popular in Malaysia where I grew up in. You can find 3-in-1′s in many grocery stores in Vancouver but you will find that most of them are made in Malaysia. I always suspect that 3-in-1′s are only popular in Singapore and Malaysia. So, do you find that in your country too?
Anyway, White Coffee (or better know as Ipoh White Coffee) is a popular brew in Malaysia. White coffee is produced by roasting the beans with only margarine and without any sugar, resulting in a roast that is less dark, hence the term “white” coffee.
We bought the “Ipoh White Coffee” 3-in-1′s from the Smart ‘N’ Save store in Lansdowne. Each pack (see below) costs $5.48 and contains 15 sachets in all.
3-in-1′s are called that because it contains all three popular ingredients in a typical Malaysian coffee brew — the coffee, the sugar and the milk (or creamer). They are processed in a powder form and each sachet makes one cup. It’s convenient and quick to make a cuppa.
Preparing it is simple … you just pour hot water into the cup, do a quick stir and you’re done.
The manufacturers had done a pretty good job despite this being instant coffee. Even the distinct aroma of white coffee is there. The coffee has a certain richness. If you have never tried 3-in-1′s before, I hope you give that a try and let me know what you think of it. If you can get hold of white coffee 3-in-1′s, better still …
Hello all … the PC at home stopped working yesterday. It has been getting increasingly eratic the past two weeks. The system got too slow and of late IE requires a few starts before it launches. Yesterday, it just refuses to launch at all!! Ditto with FireFox.
We decided to reformat the whole machine. So, we’re not posting today having spent the good part of today backing up the hard disk and will shortly reinstall the programs. Gosh! The photos itself took four whole DVDs — I shudder to think how long it’ll take to restore them all.
Come back tomorrow?
Suanne and Ben
Let me tell you … we were not that adventurous when it comes to groceries before we started blogging. We just always go to the same aisle and buys only stuff we are familiar with. Since we wanted to blog on something new these days, we began to pay more attention to stuff we normally ignore. This is one new food to us and have never heard of.
Focaccia (pronounced as foh-KAH-cha) is a flat bread topped with stuff, very much like what you see in pizzas. Except that we see that they don’t use pizza sauce, at least not the one we bought. The one below, caramelized oinion and pesto chicken, costs $4.99 only.
Focaccia is a popular Italian and Greek dish. It is often baked with herbs and cheese added to the dough. Focaccia can be looked upon as a predecessor of the modern pizza.
We like a crispy texture — to do that we have to bake it with direct heat (i.e. without a tray). Baking takes 25 minutes in a 400F pre-heated oven.
Compared to pizzas, this is a thad too dry. But the bread was really crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. At least we know what a Focaccia is now.
We normally don’t care too much for cookies off the store shelves. We felt that they are simply loaded with too much sugar and trans fat. So we normally skip the cookies aisle during grocery shopping.
A friend at work introduced the Desiree Wafers from Hans Freitag last week to me. It was surprisingly very different from other wafers that I’ve tried. They were lights, crunchy and not too sweet. Both Arkensen and Nanzaro loves it.
We found the Desiree at the Big Crazy grocery store along No 3 in Richmond. Each bag of 400g costs $2.99.
Hans Freitag opened a small wafer factory in Germany just one year after the end of WWII, They specialize only in making cookies and wafers. Today the company is still family owned and their product range has now grown up to 50 types of cookies and wafers.
In the Desiree bag, there are about six different types of wafers. Some of them were chocolate coated while some were filled with chocolates. Others were simply vanilla creams.