2-for-1 Dinner at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts

Polly and Vincent invited Suanne and I out for dinner last month. Polly wanted to check out the 3-course dinner at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA). The PICA is located at the entrance to Granville Island and is an accredited, private culinary institute.

The settings at PICA is alright … it’s not exactly classy, this being a training institute after all. But they do have a great view of the marina for sure. Get a table by the windows, that is the best. For us, we only have a table next to the entrance to the kitchen.

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We chose Monday only because it’s a 2-for-1 night for their three course dinner. We had been meaning to try this but never gotten down to doing it. This dinner is actually organized by Polly and Suanne.

I was so glad that they had scheduled a weekday too. I just enjoy a good meal … and a drink … after work these days. Work had been demanding these days for me. Although I don’t really have to work long hours, the work day had been hectic — I did not even have the time these days to hang around the water cooler as much as I like.

After an order of drinks (I had the Granville Island Pale Ale which was pretty good) came the bread basket. It was a hit and miss … the sweet buns were better than the others. Hey … is there a right way to eat buns? Maybe it’s just me but I think to the Chinese, they will naturally use the knife and slice the bread, spread the butter in between, and then eat it like a sandwich.

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Our strategy is simple, Suanne and I will order different appetizers, main dish and dessert and share it between the two of us. That way we can try as many different dishes as possible. Polly and Vincent did that too but they did not say out loud. Yes, we have no problems with that because it is what I call, being practical.

The first appetizer we ordered was the White Navy Bean Soup. The plate was large but if you really look at it, it was really a small serving. Oh, at a glance the pepper sprinkles on the plate looked like someone dropped some cigarette ash on our plate!

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Vincent and Polly ordered the Butter Lettuce Mimosa. It contain crumpled hard-boiled eggs, chopped parsley and Dijon Vinaigrette dressing.

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Stuart’s Baked Goods in Granville Public Market

Polly and I went for our last cake meet before the summer holiday kicks off. We revisited Granville Island again as Polly loves this place a lot. She was a volunteer for the Vancouver Fringe Festival in Granville Island last year while she was not working at the time.

It was a good day to stay out and soaked up the sun. So, we decided to take out some goodies from the Public Market and enjoy the scenery outdoor and people watching. On our way from the public parking lot to Granville Island, we passed by Starbucks and decided to grab a drink from there. In the store, we saw a sign recommending a new drink called Raspberry Mocha and we decided to give it a try. Since its quite a warm day, we opted for the Iced Raspberry Mocha, a grande costs $4+. A perfect drink for a hot summer day, cold, fruity and the mocha gave me the much needed morning boost.

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We stopped by the Granville Public Market to look for something for takeout. We ended up at the Stuart’s Quality Baked Goods store which has a wide range of baked goods.

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You will be overwhelmed by the varieties of baked goods here. It is so hard to decide on what to get. Here are some of the baked goods.

Bread, cookies, biscotti…

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Liberty Bakery on Main Street, Vancouver

Updated: 12th Jan 2015; This restaurant is closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

LotusRapper recommended Liberty Bakery to us. Liberty Bakery is located at the corner of Main St and E. 21st Ave. You will not miss this bright orange building. There are street parkings and two parking spots at the rear of the bakery.

Liberty Bakery is an European style bakery with a Swedish chef. It is just perfect for Polly and me because it opens early, i.e. 8 am.

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The interior decoration is simple and rustic. The furnitures are made of wood and painted colourfully. The decoration theme seems to focus on crows as there were quite a few crows posters on the walls.

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There is even a wooden crow on the display window. Hmm, to the Asians, crow brings bad luck. I wonder what crows means to other ethnic society?

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Liberty Bakery serves pastries….

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Ganache Patisserie in Downtown Vancouver

Ganache Patisserie is a cake shop which specializes in chocolates, pastries and wedding cakes. It is located at 1262 Homer Street in downtown Vancouver.

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There are street parkings all around and this place is easy to find. Ganache specializes mainly on wedding cakes but there are three small tables for people to sit in to enjoy the single serving cakes with coffee and tea.

There are quite a number of displays of multi-tiers cakes in the shop. They are simply pleasing to the eyes. One will also noticed the French influence as there are a number of the cakes with the Eiffel tower garnishing. Here are a few of them:

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Blue Parrot Coffee in Graville Public Market

It’s cake meet time again. Polly and I ran out of idea of where to meet. It’s hard to find a dessert or cake place which opens in the morning. Do you know any? We would surely appreciate some recommendations.

So, we decided to revisit Granville Island again. We visited Granville Island in early March when Polly and I had our cake meet at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. This time we went to the Blue Parrot Coffee inside the Granville Public Market. This stall is located at the end of the Public Market which overlooked the Burrard Bridge and the Vancouver skyline.

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The Blue Parrot Coffee sells organic and specialty coffee and tea. They also serve gourmet sandwiches and pastry.

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Polly ordered a Tuna Sandwiches as she did not have her breakfast yet. She was too busy preparing her kids and husband’s lunches and getting them ready for school that she had no time for herself. That’s sounds like a typical mom’s morning.

The Tuna Sandwich was big and garnished with lettuce, pickled cucumber, sliced red onions and lots of tuna.

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Sweet Obsession on West 16th Ave, Vancouver

Polly and I missed our cake meet as both of us have a busy schedule. Finally, we get to have a break this Tuesday to go to Sweet Obsession at 2611 West 16th Avenue, Vancouver. Sweet Obsession is located in a small street mall in a residential area.

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There is hardly any signage except one small one in front of the shop.

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Sweet Obsession has a selection of exquisite cakes and pastries. You will be amazed at the selection available there; ranging from cheese cake, chocolate cake, mousse cake, tiramisu, torte, tart, flan, etc. They cater for all occasions from small dinner parties to weddings and formal affairs.

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Sweet Obsession also serves sandwiches, pastries, cookies and dessert bars.

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We decided to order our favourite cheesecake. We ordered two slices of cheesecake to share. The first one is a Chai Latte flavour cheesecake. The Chai flavour is very strong and overpowering somehow.

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We preferred the Lemon flavour cheesecake instead. The tanginess just goes well with the creaminess of the cheesecake.

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The cheesecake cost slightly over $5 per slice. We also ordered a Mocha and a Cappuccino to go with the cheesecakes. The drinks cost between $2.50 and $2.70.

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The total bill came up close to $20 including tips. This is the only cake place that we’ve seen with mothers coming in for a take out with their baby prams. Sweet Obsession has very good traffic with a lot of clients coming in for take-out. The traffic tells us that this is a great place for cake.

Click on the link below to see more cakes.

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Steeps Tea Lounge in Vancouver

Updated: 14th Jan 2011; This restaurant had closed according to Urbanspoon.com.

Polly and I met again for a girls day out. We went to Steeps Tea Lounge on West Broadway and Laurel in Vancouver. It was a lovely sunny spring day and as you can see, there are already people enjoying a cup of tea in the sun at the patio.

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Steeps Tea Lounge offers some two hundreds teas ranging from matcha (green tea), herbal teas, rooibos (black tea), chais and premium loose tea.

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There is a cabinet by the wall where stacks of china tea cups, old fashion tea cups and mugs for you to pick if you prefers.

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The decoration in Steeps creates an ambiance for relaxation. It is a great place for friends to meet and chat while enjoying a great cup of tea. (more…)

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Tomokazu Japanese Restaurant, West Broadway

Polly, me and the kids celebrated the arrival of spring at Tomokazu Japanese Restaurant on West Broadway, just next to Toy-r-us. Coincidentally, that day was Polly’s family landing anniversary. We also took this opportunity to celebrate the birthdays of our kids which fall in March. There are four March birthday kids in the group.

Tomokazu serves all you can eat; $9.95 for lunch, $21.95 for dinner and $11.95 for late-night. They also have regular menu which goes by the item you order. Check out their website for more details.

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We were there very early, just before 11:30 am; their opening time. We were sitted at a Japanese style table where we have to remove our shoes and sat on benches around a square table.

As usual we were served green tea and the condiments like wasabi.

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We ordered the Miso Soup, Goma-Ae (Sesame Spinach) and Ebi Sunomono Salad (Prawn Salad) as a starter.

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Come along are the Beef and Chicken Teriyaki.

There is a limit of two orders per person for Sashimi. The boys love Sashimi and we ordered all that we can. Apparently, the kids do not quite like the Tuna Sashimi. They preferred the Salmon Sashimi.

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Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts on West Second Ave, Vancouver

Polly and I resumed our cake meet after a long break due to her change of work schedule. I saw a review on the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in the Vancouver Sun some time ago and decided to give it a try.

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The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts is located at the entrance to Granville Island. This school has a restaurant which serves three course gourmet set menu prepar3ed by the students. The menu ranges from $24 for weekday lunch, $26 for Saturday brunch to $36 for dinner from Monday to Saturday. The restaurant has a great marina view overlooking the North Shore mountains.

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The institute also has a Bakeshop and Cafe which serves specialty breads, pastries, gourmet cakes, light lunches and dinners for dine in or take away. This is where Polly and I indulged our craving for cakes.

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We ordered three items to share. It is just too tempting looking at the array of items offered at the Bakeshop & Cafe. Those with chocolate cost $3.25 while the rest cost $2.95 a piece. (more…)

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