Flavor Your Life: Zucchi Olive Oil Tasting

NOTE: All food and beverages were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Earlier this month, we were invited by Flavor Your Life to an olive oil tasting event sponsored by the Italian government. The goal was to educate consumers about olive oil and Zucchi was the olive oil company that we learned about.

The event was hosted at La Terrazza and they were also the ones preparing the canapés. Did I mention how beautiufl the venue is here? Perfect date night.

Zucchi is now onto their 7th generation as a family business and is currently run by Giovanni Zucchi, the Blendmaster of Olive Oils. The company is known for their “art of blending” which means that olives from different cultivators and regions are mixed together to make one oil.

At the event, I learned that extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) must contain less than 0.8% acidity. Usually virgin oil would be 2%. As well, colour does not mean anything in terms of quality and EVOO is usually only fresh for a year after opening the bottle.

At the event, we got to sample a few of their EVOO as well as infused oils. I had no idea that there were proper ways of tasting olive oil, but think of it like you’re tasting wine. It took me a while to taste the flavours (and I still couldn’t taste many that the experts could), but it was amazing to really appreciate what good EVOO tastes like. You would be surprised!

My favourites were their infused oils, which included pesto, white truffle, and lemon. These are perfect for beginners or if you just want some added flavours which would go great with dishes like salads or pastas. My favourite had to be the white truffle, which you could smell from a mile away!

We then got to enjoy some beautiful canapés from La Terrazza.

The company, Zucchi, will be introducing three everyday EVOO to the Canadian market which ranges from a sweeter oil to a full-flavoured oil which will be perfect for different occasions (raw or cooked dishes). A 1L bottle retails for around $20-$30 in Canada.

Wild Sweets

NOTE: All food and beverages  were complimentary, but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

Thanks to Jacqueline, I was invited to Wild Sweets for a tasting of their new summer products. I live in Richmond and am always on the lookout for new restaurants, but looks like I’ve missed this one. Tucked away in the commercial offices behind Ironwood mall, Wild Sweets offers a small retail section but focuses on selling to retailers. However, they have recently launched their new summer collection: Prêt-á-Manger, which is only available at this retail location.

Mousse Chocolat Milk

We got to try their whole collection, with each container sold for $4.99. If you purchase 5, you can get 1 free. The first set were mousse based, so they were all very creamy. Each were topped with chocolate pearls. Flavours for the mousse included:

  • Mousse Chocolat Milk: milk chocolate mousse & passion fruit creme brulee cream
  • Mousse Chocolat Dark: dark chocolate creme brulee cream
  • Mousse Chocolat White: white chocolate lemon zest mousse & raspberry fruit creme brulee cream

Mousse Chocolat Dark

Mousse Chocolat White

My favourite was the white chocolate as I love the pairing of white chocolate and raspberry. I liked how it wasn’t too tart or sweet.

Tarte Banane

Next up, we sampled the tartes which containes housemade cookie, cream, and fruit. These are great if you want more texture as you’ll get some crunchy parts as well. The tartes come in four flavours:

  • Tarte Banane: banana custard cream & white chocolate
  • Tarte Citron: lemon custard cream & white chocolate chantilly
  • Tarte Chocolat: chocolate creme brulee cream & dark chocolate chantilly
  • Tarte Framboise: raspberry custard cream & white chocolate chantilly

Tarte Citron

This was my favourite out of the tarte collection as I loved the fresh lemon flavour without it being overly sour. It was just the right balance.

Tarte Chocolat

Tarte Framboise

Pistachio Strawberry Ice Cream

Lastly, we got to sample my favourite items, which were the ice creams! The ice creams come in 3 flavours:

  • Pistachio Strawberry Ice Cream: strawberry sorbet, vanilla ice cream & pistachio butter parfait
  • Peanut Butter & Banana Ice Cream: banana ice cream, chocolate ice cream & peanut butter parfait
  • Hazelnut Passion Fruit Ice Cream: passion apricot sorbet, chocolate ice cream & hazelnut butter parfait

These were all delicious but my favourite had to be the Pistachio Strawberry. The sorbet was so refreshing and I loved the nutty flavour of the pistachio.

Peanut Butter & Banana Ice Cream

Hazelnut Passion Fruit Ice Cream

I think what’s worthy to note is that the goodies at Wild Sweet go through intense research to get to where they are. The owners, Dominique and Cindy Duby, are world-acclaimed chefs, chocolate makers, and designer chocolatiers. They really know what they are doing and have even written cookbooks and won many awards.

They also use a bean to bar approach so all the chocolate is actually made in house from the start of the bean. I find that very amazing as their production facility is quite small and taking this approach can be very costly. Everything is produced in house, except for the chocolate pearls. They really pride themselves in the quality of their products.

Other than the new Prêt-á-Manger collection, you can find chocolates and fruit confits. Their fruit jams are to die for! The intensity of the fruit flavours are so strong and only contain 20% added sugar.

Their selection of chocolates and confections make great gifts for family and friends.

At the end of our tasting, we got to take home some delicious snacks, including some of their chocolate bars, the buttered caramel popcorn, and the dark chocolate bark. Everyone at home really enjoyed these and devoured them in no time!

Overall, I am extremely happy to have discovered Wild Sweets and learned a ton about chocolate from the owners. They are truly passionate about what they do and it is amazing to see how much time into perfecting each product. Currently, the retail store hours are only Saturday 10AM-4PM, but if you order online, you can arrange for pickup by appointment.

Wild Sweets Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spaghetei

Source: Canadoo

NOTE: All food was complimentary but all opinions are based on my own personal experience.

A few weeks ago, we were invited by Spaghetei for a menu tasting. Read along to find out how you can get 10% off on your dinner during weekdays! Spaghetei originates from Aomori, Japan where the original store is located. Around 3 years ago, they decided to open a store here in Vancouver on Robson Street near Denman Street. They specialize in Japanese style spaghetti and has an open air concept during the summer months.

Garlic Pesto Toast

We started off with their famous Garlic Pesto Toast. The secret ingredient to this delicious toast is honey which brings a subtle sweet flavour to the usually savoury bread. So addicting!

Pork Chili Oil Bread

Next, we tried the Pork Chili Oil Bread. The pork and eggplant was cooked to tender and served in a piping hot bowl so be sure to cool it off before you eat it! S and I loved how it was slightly spicy. I highly recommend this as an appie.

Clam Spaghetti

Onto their spaghettis, we started off with the Clam Spaghetti. I’m a huge fan of clams so this was perfect for me. The spaghettis come in two sizes: medium or large. All the ones we sampled were medium and I found it to be a good size if you have a smaller appetite. The Clam Spaghetti came with clams, mushrooms, tobiko, dried seaweed, shiso leaves, and a home-made ginger soy sauce. It was light and perfect for seafood lovers.

Mentaiko Spaghetti

The Mentaiko Spaghetti is one of their most popular items and comes with mentaiko, shrimp, mushrooms, shiso leaves, and dried seaweed. Mentaiko is not for everyone but if you like seafood or fish roe, then this is for you. I loved how this was not too creamy or heavy.

Barayaki Spaghetti

If you’re not into seafood, then the Barayaki Spaghetti is a great option. It comes with pan fried beef and onions with their barayaki sauce which tastes similar to a teriyaki sauce but I would say it’s sweeter. My mom and boyfriend don’t like Italian pasta, but I know they would love this dish as it’s full of Asian flavours.

Salad Spaghetti

And for those who are vegetarians or just love their veggies, then the Salad Spaghetti is perfect as it’s filled with fresh vegetables, slices of hard boiled eggs, and a home-made dressing. We found this to be refreshing and a great option for the summer when you want something very light.

Crème Brûlée

To end our lunch, we tried the Crème Brûlée, which was smooth in the centre with the sugar on top torched perfectly to create a hard brittle tap. We appreciated how they used real vanilla beans instead of just vanilla flavouring.

Powder Snow Milk Syrup

Lastly, the Powder Snow Milk Syrup surprised us for sure. We didn’t expect much for shaved ice at a restaurant that specializes in spaghetti, but this was some real good shaved ice! If you don’t want to wait in line at Snowy Village, then I highly suggest just coming to Spaghetei. The shaved ice is so soft and powdery like snow and the ratio of matcha, milk, and condensed milk is right on. Definitely coming back for this!

Overall, we were extremely pleased with the food at Spaghetei. We really enjoyed how the dishes are light and not overly creamy. In fact, I feel like all the dishes taste very healthy as they are not too salty or oily. Ambiance is casual and service was also very friendly. Prices are very reasonable and there is also happy hour on weekdays from 11:30am to 2:30pm!

Spaghetei is offering my readers 10% off weekday dinners just by showing this coupon on your smartphone. Feel free to bookmark this page and share with your family and friends!

Spaghetei Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice (Richmond)

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice opened up their first location in Vancouver a few months ago in downtown and have since opened another in Richmond in Broadmoor Shopping Centre. Since there was a grand opening promo going on, there was a huge line up.

We ended up waiting over 30 minutes because of the long line ups. We found service to be quite unfriendly at CoCo. I know there’s a huge line and they want to get things moving, but a smile or just thanking the customers for waiting would have been appreciated.

There is some seating in this location, but most people grab take out here.

The promo during their grand opening was buy any one of their top 10 drinks and you get a free regular sized milk tea with pearls for free.

You can choose large or regular size with a difference of 50 cents.

Three Guys

I decided to try the Three Guys which is one of their most popular drinks, consisting of grass jelly, pudding, and pearls. This is quite good as you get a bit of everything but some may find that it’s too much. I actually didn’t mind the variety especially since I love all three toppings.

Milk Tea

The free Milk Tea that came with the promo is pretty good but I still prefer the Chatime roasted milk tea. However, it definitely beats the Shiny Tea one. I would say it’s pretty good compared to the other options out there, but Chatime’s roasted milk tea is still my favourite. In terms of the pearls, they were quite chewy, a little too chewy for me personally.

Taro Milk Tea with Pearls

On another occasion, I went back to take advantage of the deal, and also because I wanted to try the Taro Sago. By the time we got to the cashier, we were told there was no sago and only pearls. I was quite annoyed as I wish they had announced that earlier since I came mostly for the sago. Well, since we had waited forever in line, we got the Taro Milk Tea with Pearls instead. This was quite disappointing with the taro tasting like powder.

Overall, CoCo falls below Chatime but above Shiny Tea for me personally. Price is around the same as Chatime at $4-5. Apparently you can also customize ice and sugar level just like Chatime but the cashiers never let the customers know. Perhaps it was because they were too busy during the promo period.

Pros:
– Solid milk tea
– Customizable sugar and ice levels

Cons:
– Service is unfriendly
– Pearls are too chewy

Price Range: $5

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 1.5 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 4 Overall: 3

CoCo Fresh Tea & Juice Richmond Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Ramenman

The Ramenman opened last year but recently I’ve been seeing tons of posts on this restaurant. Since I’m always on the lookout for good ramen, I suggested to S we give it a try. It’s literally on the other side of Robson from Marutama.

You can watch the chefs in action by sitting right at the bar table. The other tables are communal tables with a few tables for four. It wasn’t very busy on a Friday night.

Water is self serve and comes in these glass bottles.

Chicken Ramen

Ramenman focusses mainly on chicken ramen with variations to it such as the clam, stew, and of course the original. S decided to go with the regular Chicken Broth which comes with your choice of pork or chicken or a mix, bamboo shoots, green onion oil, green onions, corn, garlic , ramen egg and black pepper. S chose pork and their pork char shiu is quite different as it is cooked with a sous-vide method. That’s why you’ll notice it is pink in colour, but it’s actually cooked thoroughly. I loved their meat as it is so soft! The chicken broth also had a lot of depth and was velvety smooth.

Vegetarian Ramen

For myself, I heard that the Vegetarian Ramen was really good so gave it a try and made it non-vegetarian by adding pork char-siu. I usually choose meat options if available, but this vegetarian broth blew my mind. Yes, it lacked the richness of what a pork broth would have, but the vegetarian broth was still very flavourful of shiitake mushrooms and kombu and was not too salty. It came with spinach, corn, bamboo shoots, green onion, cabbage, chili pepper, black pepper and some crispy lotus chips.

As for the noodles, they are the straight kind and were cooked to an al dente.

The vegetarian broth also comes with a 63 degree egg and upon cutting into the egg, the yolk just spilled out. So good!

Overall, I was very impressed with The Ramenman even though they don’t offer my favourite pork based broth. I highly suggest trying the vegetarian broth and adding the pork char-siu. It may not be your traditional ramen with the sous-vide technique, but is definitely worth trying.

Pros:
– Flavourful broths without being too salty
– Sous-vide pork is tender and moist

Cons:
– Not for you if you’re looking for traditional ramen

Price Range: $10-15/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food:4 Service: 3 Ambiance: 3 Parking: 3 Overall: 4

The Ramenman Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peaceful Restaurant (Seymour)

S and I enjoy dining at the Broadway and Cambie location of Peaceful Restaurant so when we heard they opened a new one close to where S works, I suggested to go for dinner after work. Peaceful has expanded so quickly, they have just opened their 5th location on Robson.

Peaceful Beef Rolls

We ended up getting similar items to compare. Our favourite at the Broadway location is the Peaceful Beef Rolls.

We found these to be less crispy and the dough to be slightly thicker. However, these were still not too oily which I liked. Still, the Broadway ones are much better.

Xiao Long Bao

The Xiao Long Bao comes with 8 dumplings.

As you can see, the skin is rather thick and upon biting in, there is not enough broth. Not the best XLBs so I would skip these next time.

Mu-Shu Stir-fried Noodles 

We tried the Mu-Shu Stir-fried Noodles again but this time chose them hand pulled instead of knife cut. Again, these are not overly oily and the noodles are chewy with a nice bite. However, I think I do prefer the knife cut noodles since they are more chewy and a bit more special.

Overall, it seems like the Seymour location’s execution of the dishes can’t compare to the original location. Not sure if they are still relatively new, but I feel like there are other restaurants in the area I would rather eat at. I do like that this location has very spacious seating and it isn’t very busy.

Pros:
– Spacious seating
– Noodles are pretty good

Cons:
– Execution is not as good as Broadway location

Price Range: $15-25

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food: 3 Service: 2.5 Ambiance: 2 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3

Peaceful Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ouisi Bistro

For our squad lunch, we decided to head down Granville and try a new restaurant. We ended up checking out Ouisi Bistro, which is one of the few Louisiana and Creole style restaurants in Vancouver.

The interior is dim with colourful walls and I think they have jazz nights sometimes. Seems like a cool place to grab a drink in the evening.

Corn Bread

We started off with Corn Bread which was soft and fluffy.

Gator Bites

We shared a dish of the Gator Bites which according to their menu is genuine Louisiana alligator. It’s served with a spicy and hot Cajun tartar sauce and a side of croutons. The gator was more tough and chewy as expected but honestly, it can be easily thought of overcooked chicken. I really enjoyed the sauce though and I used the cornbread to soak it up.

Jambalaya

For myself, I got the Jambalya which was simmered with tomatoes, smoked ham, andouille and chorizo sausage and sautéed Gulf prawns. I haven’t had many jambalayas before, but the most recent one I’ve had was at Cactus and this is definitely way better. It tastes a lot more authentic for sure! I loved the smoky flavour and spices used but I found it to be too saucy based on the amount of rice given. Therefore, the dish ended up quite salty in my opinion.

Ale Marinated Chicken Thighs and Hot Smoked Duck Sausage Gumbo

The rest of my table got the Ale Marinated Chicken and Hot Smoked Duck Sausage Gumbo, another traditional Creole dish. It came in a tradiational dark roux and again they said there was too little rice to go with the thick sauce and therefore salty. They need to work on their ratio of rice to sauce otherwise the dish can be too salty.

Overall, Ouisi is a great spot and one of the few places in Vancouver you can try Creole and Cajun food. I don’t think I can have these dishes too often though as they are very heavy. Service was okay and prices were decent for the portions.

Pros:
– Lots of ingredients in the gumbo and jambalaya
– Reasonable prices for portions

Cons:
– Can be quite heavy and salty
– Too much sauce for the amount of rice

Price Range: $20/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food:3 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 3 Overall: 3

Ouisi Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe

Daily Special

It’s literally been over 4 years, since I last visited Tony’s Fish & Oyster Cafe. You can read my post back in the day here. Anyways, when my aunt came to visit, my parents took her to Granville Island and I decided to head over during lunch to join them. They decided to eat here since it is right at the entrance and we shared a variety of dishes including the Daily Special which comes with Fish and Chips and a cup of clam chowder. The fish was cod and the deal came to around $10.

Calamari Platter

Next was the Calamari Platter which comes with deep fried calamari served with coleslaw, a side of pilaf rice and homemade cocktail sauce. These were well seasoned and I loved the cocktail sauce which was strong in horseradish.

Seafood Platter for Two

The Seafood Platter for Two is great for seafood lovers and comes with crab claws, scallops, prawns, deep fried oysters, mussels, Tony’s Famous Cod and kennebec fries or rice pilaf. We went for the fries this time. All the seafood was very fresh. The fish is also a great size and the batter is thin and light while the fish is moist inside.

The Seafood Platter for Two also comes with a side of coleslaw.

Overall, Tony’s is a great spot for seafood in a more casual home style setting. This place gets super busy at lunch time as its a major tourist spot. Looks like the tour buses bring them here so be sure to arrive earlier than 12pm. Although it is a tourist spot, we did find that the food is overall quite good. Service was also quite friendly.

Pros:
– Great seafood
– Reasonable price for the size

Cons:
– Can be quite crowded inside
– Long waits when tourist buses are present

Price Range: $15-25/person

1: Terrible 2: Poor 3: Average 4: Good 5: Excellent

Food:3 Service: 3 Ambiance: 2.5 Parking: 2.5 Overall: 3

Tony's Fish & Oyster Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato