Trans-Herbe’s Four O’Clock Tea

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Full Disclosure:
This post is written based on the free samples provided by Trans-Herbe.

Commercial break of sorts, guy. And no, we are not paid for this post.

I was trying to understand the finer points of tea a few months ago. I was really focusing on Chinese tea and went out to buy some fancy thingy to brew Chinese tea. When Trans-Herbe wrote us an email asking if we wanted to try some samples, I said yes. I was rather intrigued with their unique tea.

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The tea came in a few very nice sounding names … particularly the Earl Grey Chocolate Berry and Apricot Passion Fruit Rooibos. You see, Trans-Herbes specializes in formulating and conditioning herbal and flavoured tea. They are based in Quebec and so they are local.

From their website (here), they do carry a LOT of products that they make. I wish they had sent us the full range of 50 different types of tea. Some of them have very intriguing names … to name just a few:

  • Tropical Mango Green Tea
  • Cucumber and Lemongrass Green Tea
  • Apple Caramel Spice Black Tea
  • Energie Acai Super Berry
  • Chamomille Citrus
  • Lime Ginger Mint Herbal Tea
  • Licorice Spice Herbal Tea
  • Ginko Ginger Herbal Tea
  • Lychee Ginger White tea

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Each box carries … (more…)

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Ramen Instant Noodles — Closest to Kintaro’s

This was a few weeks ago when we had dinner with Christina, ET, TS and JS at Mis Trucos.

During the dinner, Christina told us that there is a Ramen Instant Noodle that tastes just exactly like what you would get at Kintaro’s. I find that hard to believe to tell the truth. Would you?

But I think Christina is a super sales woman in her past life or something like that. She is like the salesman who can sell a comb to a monk. After the dinner, the next thing she did was to send us an email with a picture of that packaging!

She was so convincing and persuasive that I felt like that monk. I just got to check that out!

The problem is the packaging is all in Japanese and we don’t even know what it is called. So, I printed the picture of the packaging (above) and went to look for it in T&T. Christina said that this could only be bought from T&T or Osaka supermarket. She even said that it is “located near the end of the aisle that is closest to the cashier and that it is on the 2nd rack from the bottom”. Aren’t you just amazed with that? LOL!

So, with the picture in hand, I went to look for it in the T&T in Metrotown after work. It was not easy looking for this because every other instant noodles bowl looked the same.

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After like eternity, I finally located one that looked like it. But the box is different from the picture that Christina sent me. You know how I confirmed this is the right one? I cross checked the bar code.

I can’t read Japanese … can anyone tell how this is pronounced?

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This ramen is expensive. It is $3.80 a bowl. And there was only one bowl remaining on the shelf. Despite the price, I think this particular brand must be popular.

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On the way home, I deliberately stopped by the roast pork shop in Parker Place to buy a pound of roast pork. I wanted to make that ramen a bit more like Kintaro’s ramen which has char su too!

I like the roast pork from Parker Place the best. They are consistently good. Often there is a line of people waiting to buy from their roast pork. Last Chinese New Year, we waited in line for one hour (!).

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Peeling back the lid, it looked just like any instant noodle bowl except that there are some dehydrated vegetables pieces (wood ear) and some kind of dehydrated meat like stuff (perhaps vegetarian meat) in it.

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For flavoring, there are three sachets … one for the soup base, one with more dehydrated garnishings (green onion and sesame seed) and another with oil.

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Since we could not read the Japanese instructions, we figured we just pour boiling water and then cover for 2-3 minutes.

And this is what it looked like … (more…)

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Cobram Estate’s Premium Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

ChowtimesNoWord32x32Complete Disclosure
This post is written based on an invite to an Olive Oil promotion event from Cobram Estate Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil. We were given 8 sample bottle of extra virgin olive oil at the end of the event. We were also provided with $1 Off Coupons as give away to chowtimes readers.

Suanne and I were invited by Cobram Estate Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil to attend a learning and tasting session about olive oil.

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The event was held in The Dirty Apron. We had heard a lot about the Dirty Apron but never had the opportunity to go there. As I understand it, The Dirty Apron is a cooking school operated by the same people behind Chambar and Medina Cafe. It is located just a few doors away from the two very popular restaurants.

Gosh, have you ever parked during Canucks game night? I haven’t and was quite shocked that the parking rate was $26 at the parkade across the street!! Not wanting to waste that kind of money, I drove a block away and got a street parking spot.

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The demonstration kitchen was very impressive with a lot of expensive looking appliances. It makes me want to cook, really. But this is just a cooking demonstration.

There was not a lot of people who were invited. Among the food blogger community, Matt of VancouverSlop and Jonathon of Food and Tell were present.

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The night’s event was organized by Cobram Estate who wanted to promote the use of Australian Olive Oil. We hardly use olive oil at home. Our perception was that olive oil is mostly used for salad and we don’t normally make salad at home. Suanne has a bottle all the time but it just takes forever to finish a bottle.

So we wanted to attend this to learn a bit more about Olive Oil.

Our first question is … why Australian Olive Oil? We had always thought that olive oil is almost entirely produced in Mediterranean region. The answer was “why not?” LOL! After all, Australia also produces some of the best wines even though it is not native to the country. The best reason we learn was that being in the southern hemisphere, it works to their advantage. This is because when it is off harvesting season in the Mediterranean, Australia will be in full production swing and this ensuring continuous world wide supply.

Along with this fact, unlike wine, olive oil does not get better with age. The fresher it is the better it is.

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Cobram Estate ensures freshness by pressing the olive at the spot and not more than 2 hours after picking. We learned about the advanced production processes that Cobram Estate traces quality in every step right to the consumer.

We were introduced to four types of Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

  • Light and Delicate
  • Fresh and Fruity
  • Rich and Robust, and
  • Lemon Twist

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It got a bit more interesting when we get to taste the olive oil. We were instructed to warm up the olive oil with our hands and swirl it around. It was fine except that my cup were leaking and made a mess. LOL!

We were supposed to swallow and then breathe out through the nose. We were not used to consuming olive oil like this. It was supposed to be peppery and spicy at the throat. Instead, I just choked at it, especially with the Rich and Robust.

I was told that this is what is sometimes called a three-cough oil. So, the more intense it is the more cough rating it has. LOL!

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Cobram Estates wanted to let chowtimes readers also have a try at their Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They gave Suanne and I a total of 8 bottles. Because it was logistically impossible to distribute it, we gave it away to the readers who attended the 12B dinner and also to the leadership team of the Richmond Community Kitchen.

They had also kindly given us a LOT of $1 coupons to give away. The Cobram Estates Extra Virgin Olive Oil retails for $9.49 to $10.49 for a 375ml bottle. If you like to try the olive oil, please send an email to suanne@chowtimes.com with an address and we will snail mail a few to you.

I want to let you know that your mailing address will NOT be shared with Cobram Estates or anyone else. Neither will we keep your mailing address other than to use it to mail them to you.

The award winning olive oil is available in Safeway, H.Y. Louie, Thrifty Foods, Save-On-Foods, Price Smart, Cooper’s Foods and Overwaitea Foods stores throughout Western Canada.

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The best part of the night is the cooking demonstration. Well, not so much of the cooking but the tasting that comes after!

The demonstration was conducted by Sally James who is an award winning Australian chef, author, television presenter and an ambassador for Australian food and wine. She has also published 18 books that have won international acclaim for food and wine pairing, health and creativity.

During that night, Sally demonstrated the preparation of four delicious dishes using the olive oil. That was the best part of the night … the tasting. If you are interested, below are the dishes that were prepared by Sally and its recipes.

Olive Oil Poached Kingfish with Pumpkin Puree, Lemon-Dressed Fennel and Rocket Chiffonade

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  • 1 bottle Cobram Estate Light and Delicate Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 sprig each thyme and rosemary
  • 4 (about 6-8 ounce/180g) Kingfish Filet, skinless boneless (you can also use
  • Ocean Trout, Grouper or other firm fleshed white fish)
  • 1/3 cup toasted almonds or pine nuts, finely chopped
  • Pumpkin Puree
  • 14 ounces peeled butternut or Kaboocha pumpkin (squash), chopped
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons Cobram Estate Fresh and Fruity olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Chiffonade
  • 1 handful rocket (arugula), finely sliced
  • 1 cup shaved fennel bulb
  • 2 tablespoon finely sliced basil
  • 3 tablespoons Cobram Fresh and Fruity or Lemon Twist Australian Extra Virgin
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (more…)

Continue Reading Cobram Estate’s Premium Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil

McDonalds Mac Snack Wrap — Have One On Us!

Freebie time again!

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McDonalds USA sent us another stack of “Be Our Guest” cards for give away to chowtimes’ readers.

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This time it is for McDonalds latest addition to the new Snack Wrap Line — the Mac Snack Wrap.

Look at the picture above. What a beauty isn’t it? That is the official media picture of the product. They always look better than the real thing they sell in the restaurant.

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I picked up the Mac Snack Wrap on the way home from work today. I just got to taste for myself how it is. Each one costs about $1.90 … or is it $1.60?

You know, I just can’t remember how much I paid for this. Suanne always says that I don’t check each time I use the credit card.

I must admit, I don’t. It’s a guy thing. Most guys never check these sort of things, don’t you think so?

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Peeling open the warm flour tortilla, there is half of a normal beef patty. I think it is made with a normal quarter pound patty cut into half.

In it too are the same Big Mac sauce, shredded lettuce, some traces of cheese, a little bit of pickles, and chopped onions. It does not quite look like the official media picture.

I don’t know if you know this. The difference in the Big Mac from the other burgers is … (more…)

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Guide to Winter Root Vegetables

Charlene introduced some winter root vegetables to the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors for this meet. We often leave out vegetables that we are unfamiliar with when we do our groceries shopping. A session like this will help us to learn more about some of this winter root vegetables and hopefully we’ll try them in our next groceries shopping trip.

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For this session, Charlene picked four winter root vegetables, i.e. Rutabaga or Swede, Turnip, Celery Root or Celeriac and Parsnips. Can you tell which is which from the above picture?

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June, Christina and Chris Morris prepared and roasted the above winter root vegetables for everyone to try.

Ingredients

Here is what Charlene shared with us.

The first winter root vegetable introduced here is Rutabaga. It is also known as Swede or Yellow Turnip. Rutabagas are nutty, sweet and slightly peppery. They are delicious mashed with potatoes, cubed and roasted or boiled. When buying rutabagas, choose the smaller ones and they are less woody. The skin of rutabaga is quite tough to peel.

The second winter root vegetable is Turnip. The larger the turnip, the tougher and more strongly flavoured they become. Always choose the smallest turnips you can find at the grocer’s. Turnips can be creamed or made into an au gratin dish. It can be cubed in stews, glazed with carrots, or roasted but do no overcook them. Some cooks like to grate a turnip into their soups as a secret ingredient to give extra dept of flavour to the soup.

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The third winter root vegetable is celery root or Celeriac. This seemed to be the best favoured winter root vegetable among all the fours. It has a mild celery flavour to it. Celery root is the ugly stepdaughter of the vegetable world as it is rough and knobbly. It’s mild and aromatic flavour is delicious cooked or eaten raw. It is often cut into shoestrings and made into a salad with mayonnaise and mustard, remoulade. To prepare celery root, cut off the top and bottom of the root. Place a flat side on a cutting board and remove the tough peel in lengthwise strips.

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The last winter root vegetable introduced here is parsnips. This is my favourite. Parsnips resemble creamy-coloured carrots. They are sweet and complex. Their delightful flavour can be showcased on its own, whether roasted, in a creamy soup, or boiled and pureed to serve as a lush accompaniment to meats. Avoid gargantuan parsnips, as they tend to be woody in the middle.
(more…)

Continue Reading Guide to Winter Root Vegetables

Himalayan Salt

Minoo gave me a piece of Himalayan Salt from her trip to Germany last October. The crystal salt is too beautiful to use it for cooking. I kept it for souvenir.

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Minoo told me that a kilogram of this salt will cost about US40 if we buy it from the internet from Canada.  But, when she bought it from Germany, it only cost her about 4 Euro. What a difference in price.

Here is what Minoo shared with me about Himalayan Salt:
Pure Crystal Salt is becoming increasingly popular in the natural foods movement. The mines where “Himalayan” salt is harvested is approximately 1000 miles from the Himalayas !  It comes from the original primordial oceans that were covered up by mountains many millions of years ago. Located in remote regions of Pakistan , these mines have developed over many millions of years.

This Crystal Salt is considered by many to be the most pure and beneficial form on the planet. First, the mines were formed from waters that had NEVER been exposed to any impurities. It has had millions of years to mature under great tectonic pressure, far from exposure to any form of environmental pollution.

Unfortunately, even the highest quality sea salts can have picked harmful pollutants and heavy metals from the ocean in which they are harvested and dried. Moreover, the salts can contain trace amounts of sharp pieces of sand, which can be irritating to both the villi in the intestinal tract and the delicate cells of our body.

Secondly, all of Himalayan salt’s eighty-four minerals and trace elements are available in colloidal form . Having continually been pressurized and reduced in size for millions of years, the minerals have become colloidal in size, one of the smallest bioavailable forms minerals can take. This means that such necessary minerals as sodium, calcium and magnesium as well as trace minerals are readily absorbed and utilized by the body.

One might wonder if this form salt poses health risks for those with high blood pressure or kidney problems. (more…)

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Happy Planet Natural Sauces

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ChowtimesNoWord32x32Disclosure
This post is written with sample sauces provided by Happy Planet. Happy Planet sent us 12 packets of sample sauces. We are not paid for this post.

As you well know, Suanne and I get quite a number of companies asking if we wanted to try their products. We are picky about what we want to write about because it is simply impossible to review everything that comes our way.

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Mostly companies will just send us coupons but once in a while they will go the extra mile to ship us samples. Happy Planet shipped us samples of the their range Happy Planet Natural Sauces. There are altogether six types of gourmet sauces with tastes around the world which includes:

  • Thai – Yellow Curry Sauce
  • Spanish – Red Pepper Sauce
  • Indian – Butter Chicken Sauce
  • Bengali – Coconut Curry Sauce
  • French – Mushroom Wine Sauce
  • Japanese – Ginger Miso Sauce

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We were quite surprised that Happy Planet took all the trouble to ship the sauces to us. We did not expect it coming in a large Styrofoam container but soon realize the reason why. It is because unlike a lot of other sauces, Happy Planet’s sauces are made with fresh, natural and organic ingredients. There are no preservatives in the sauces and so it needs to be constantly refrigerated.

Happy Planet sent us a total of 12 packets of sauces and each of them is meant to serve 2-3 people. So that was a LOT we had. We decided to share this with Whitney and Ken’s family by cooking dinner together so that we can try a few of the sauces at one time.

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Happy Planet’s Natural Sauces are easy to make and versatile. They sent us three recipes to go along with each of the sauces.

The beauty is that each of the recipes have just three easy steps. While the guys make guy talk and the boys execute head-shots on the PS3, the ladies whipped up the meal quite quickly in the kitchen. It seems to me like the most time consuming steps is the preparations.

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The first one Suanne and Whitney used was the Japanese Miso Sauce. They could cook the Miso Sauce with Salmon Fillet, or Stir-Fried Tofu or Sauteed Chicken. They decided on Salmon.

Like I said it is just three easy steps. Step 1: Saute salmon fillets until cooked.

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Step 2: Add sauce and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.

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Step 3: Serve with steamed rice and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

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Simple! Even Ken and I could have done that ourselves but then we had bigger things to do … you know, things like figuring out why the HDMI cable does not send sound to the receiver, dishing the local politicians, moaning the lack of snow, where to buy pirated movies in Richmond … you know what I mean,right? Basically big stuff. LOL!

The Japanese Ginger Miso Sauce with Salmon Fillet is pretty good. We just love the texture of the crispy skin along with the savoury and … (more…)

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Red Espresso – Rooibos Tea Espresso

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ChowtimesNoWord32x32This 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…)

Continue Reading Red Espresso – Rooibos Tea Espresso

New Jules+Kent and Undercurrents Products from Mad About Food

We have more samples delivered to our home.

This time it came from Mad About Food. We heard of them before. They are the gourmet food gift basket company.

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Over the long weekend, Suanne and I had a little project to put into practice a couple of practical tips of taking food pictures. We learned this from Sea Salt With Food whose site traffic stands head and shoulders above every Vancouver blogs we know from the strength of her pictures.  [So, Angie, how are these shots?]

The above is Vegetarian Antipasto on Savory Crackers. We topped it with Goat Cheese. Yummy.

This is always a Canadian entertaining appetizer staple. It had a savoury blend of vegetables and spices prepared in small batches. You can also add to pasta sauce or even use it as a sandwich spread, if you want.

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We also had Tomato Chutney, similarly topped with Goat Cheese. The chutney has a pleasant, bright flavour.

It is versatile and is really intended to enhance pork, chicken and fish. You can also use this to cover the top of a wheel of brie and bake. That I got to try someday. How about blending this with cream cheese for an appealing appetizer?

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Jules+Kent is the latest product line launched by Mad About Food. It is a range of specialty sauces that are locally-made.

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Mad About Food also launched another range of “honey” products at the same time.

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The Nutty Hazel Honey is great.  I had never tried nuts with honey before. It is organic BC hazelnuts combined with pure, unpasteurized Canadian honey. It is part of the new line of products called Undercurrents.

All these and more came in a nice practical gift basket like this. (more…)

Continue Reading New Jules+Kent and Undercurrents Products from Mad About Food

Frito Lay’s Flavoured Potato Chips

ChowtimesNoWord32x32This post is written upon free samples provided to us by Frito-Lay Canada. We are not paid for this post.

We did not think that they were serious.

Frito Lay wrote to us some time ago alerting us that they had recently reduced the level of sodium in its entire lineup of Lay’s flavoured potato chips by at least 25% and up to 50% in some flavours.  They asked chowtimes if we would be agreeable to feature this in our blog.  We replied saying that we do not mind doing so as long as it benefits our readers.  We asked them for coupons that we can give away.

Well, they said did not have coupons but said they can ship us samples instead.

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Even though they said shipped us some but I did not think that they would ship an entire box.

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We always have a bag (or two) at home … but we never had so much before.  Oh yeah … Nanzaro was estatic over all the chips.

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Frito Lay shipped us six different types of flavours.  What’s your favourite?  I like the Bar-B-Q the best but hate the Ketchup.  The Sour Cream and Onions are not bad.

Oh … about the sodium level of Lay’s potato chips … (more…)

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