Pike Place Market – Beecher’s Handmade Cheese + Pike Place Chowder (Seattle)

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Before starting full time work, I decided to head down to the States for a road trip with my friends. Our destination was Portland, but we decided to stop in Seattle to grab lunch. Of course, we ended up at Pike Place Market. First, stop, we went to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, which is an artisan cheesemaker and retail shop. Normally, they have huge line ups because tours bring them here, but we arrived early in the morning, so there were no line ups!

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You can purchase cheese here, but also grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and other items. What’s unique about Beecher’s is that they mainly use pasteurized milk, but they also have their own farm and cattle to control their cheese products. You can actually see the cheese being prepared right next to the cafe.

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World’s Best Mac & Cheese – penne pasta combined with Beecher’s award-winning Flagship cheese

We decided to share the World’s Best Mac & Cheese, which was absolutely delicious! It used penne pasta and was drenched in Beecher’s award-winning Flagship cheese which is aged for one year! It was thick and creamy and full of cheesiness. I found it quite pricey though since it was around $9 for a large, which really wasn’t too large.

Beecher's Handmade Cheese on Urbanspoon

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After wandering around the market, we decided to head to Pike Place Chowder. They don’t open until 11:00 am, but by 11:30, there was already a huge line up!

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Pike Place Chowder is famous for their award winning chowders. They serve 8 varieties of chowders, but also sandwiches and salads.

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Sampler (four 5oz cups of any chowder)

I decided to go big and got the Sampler, which comes with four cups of chowders of your choice. Probably a bad choice, because 5 oz is actually a lot! I was basically drinking 20 oz of chowder…and they are quite thick! This would be great to share though. On the top left was the Seared Scallop Chowder, which came with sweet, tender scallops served in a creamy broth and flavoured with dill and lime juice. This was probably my least favourite. I found the broth to be too creamy and the dill was a little off-putting for me. On the top right was the Smoked Salmon Chowder, which came with nova smoked salmon, capers, and cream cheese. This was much lighter and had a strong smoked salmon flavour. Not bad! On the bottom left, was the Market Chowder. That day, it was a crab and oyster chowder, which was probably my favourite out of the four. If you love seafood, this one is perfect! I also loved the strong flavour of oysters. It wasn’t too heavy as well. Lastly, on the bottom right was the Seafood Bisque, which had Pacific cod, Northwest salmon, Oregon bay shrimp and crab. It was seasoned with fresh basil and simmered in a creamy, tomato-based broth. This was also one of my favourites as the bisque was light but full of flavour. I really enjoyed the tomato-based broth as well. Your chowders come with sourdough bread as well, but I was way too full drinking the soups to be dipping the bread in.

The Sampler is a good deal if you’re looking to share, since you will actually get really full from a 5 oz cup if you’re looking for a snack. However, their chowders are still quite pricey at around $6 for an 8 oz cup.

Pike Place Chowder on Urbanspoon

La Mezcaleria

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After many attempts, S, J and I finally found time to try La Mezcaleria. The Mexican joint is located in the Commercial Drive area and is the newly opened sister restaurant of La Tacqueria.

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The inside is dimly lit and has a casual vibe with a bar table and a small section of seats against the other side of the wall. They are famous for their Mezcal and Tequila flights as well. Mezcal is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from a plant similar to agave and is a typical Mexican drink. Unfortunately, we did not try their drinks this time, but I hear they are quite good.

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After ordering, we were given 4 types of sauces that we could add to our food. It ranged from mildly spicy to very spicy. Salsa Verde was the least spicy, then it moved on to Chipotle, Chile de Arbol and the spiciest Habanero. The Salsa Verde was good in the beginning, but once you tried the spicier ones, you got hooked onto the spicy ones! In the end, most of us were using the Chile de Arbol or the Habanero. You can definitely feel the heat with those two.

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It comes with around 6 soft tortillas. I found these tortillas to be just okay. To be honest, I didn’t find the cheese dish to be amazing. I didn’t like how the cheese cooled so quickly, and you were just biting into a chunk of cooling cheese. You really needed the sauces to add more flavour to this dish.

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I was told by the server to shake the bag up a bit, then open it and dump it on top of the rice. After shaking, you open the bag up, and this is what it looks like. Not too appetizing I know. We had chose the chicken, so it had been slow steam cooked along with a green tomatillo sauce, onions, cilantro and poblano peppers to add flavour. I thought this was just average. Not my favourite, and I found it quite pricey for the portions at $17.

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Meat Tacos – Asada, Pescado, Carnitas, Al Pastor (front left clockwise)

We also got the Meat Tacos which were priced at 4 for $11.50. I’ve had the tacos at La Tacqueria and the menu is essentially the same (although La Tacqueria has more choices). I got the Asada which came with grilled ‘AAA’ flank beef and onions. I loved the flavour and tenderness of the meat. Above the Asada was the Pesacdo, which included Zarandeado fish with a chipotle mayo, radish and pepitas. Next to it, was the Carnitas which consisted of pork confit and pickled red onions. At the bottom right corner was the Al Pastor which was pork marinated in achiote chili and pineapple. Everyone enjoyed their tacos, although it gets quite messy since they fill them up quite full.

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La Mezcaleria on Urbanspoon

Bits and Pieces of Amsterdam

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During my visit in Amsterdam, I also snacked on some food that I think are worth mentioning. After the Burger Bar, we walked a few steps and smelt some freshly baked goods! It was coming out of the Metropolitan, which offers a variety of pastries and sweets, including waffles, ice cream, and chocolate.

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For myself, I chose this Chocolate Crispy Ball. It wasn’t something I had seen before, so I decided to give it a try. It’s sort of like corn flakes but coated with chocolate and all stuck together. Not bad, but it got a little too sweet after a while!

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Then, another night we were wandering the streets and ended up in Chinatown. We were starving and M suddenly disappeared into Nam Kee. Nam Kee specializes in Chinese BBQ meats, and the ironic thing is that I usually hate it when my mom buys this back in Vancouver.

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However, a few of us girls decided to share a box of mixed meat and the weirdest thing was I thought it was so delicious! I guess when you don’t eat something for 3 months, it tastes really good to you. I used to eat this pretty much every week when my mom was lazy to cook and I just got sick of it… And never had I thought soy sauce on rice could be so delicious… The meats were lean and you got a lot for the price you paid for. Nam Kee also has 2 other restaurants in Amsterdam, one of which we visited on a different night. However, I didn’t’ think the other restaurant was as good as this one. Or perhaps I was just really hungry and standing on the street eating this take out box was so satisfying…

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Duvel beer is a Belgian beer owned by a Flemish family. It’s a strong golden pale ale, which M said was really good. Although it is supposed to be a little bitter, I found it quite easy to drink. I enjoy my beers to be light and easy to drink.

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Our hostel had a bunch of coupons for activities in Amsterdam, and one that caught our eyes was the XtraCold Ice Bar. Honestly, we were all quite disappointed in this. It cost around 16 euros and to make things worse, S and I had split up from the group. We also got a bit lost trying to find the bar, and by the time we got there, we were told that we only had 15 minutes left of the “experience”. When we bought our tickets, we had “reserved” a time for the experience… Apparently, the whole experience only lasts around 50 minutes. We asked if we should still go in, and the guy at the till said it was up to us, but that we wouldn’t be getting the full experience. Since we didn’t want to split up from the group, we quickly got put into these parka jackets and gloves that were supposed to keep us warm. They also gave us some 3D glasses. When we got in, all our friends were freezing. Apparently the experience was watching some penguin cartoon show… which I definitely did not understand for the last 15 minutes. The ice room was extremely small with “fake glass”. I’m pretty sure it’s not real but more like clear plastic since I took off my gloves and touched it. They also did not have enough seats, so many people ended up having to stand in the back for the entire show. They have a mini bar in there with one bartender and you receive 2 complimentary shots in these ice shot glasses. Honestly, I did not think it was worth our money and our friends were freezing for the whole hour and said we hadn’t missed out much and would’ve rather came in late so they didn’t have to suffer the cold. They also didn’t allow photography inside, but only with their camera which of course, you needed to pay for the photos after. Outside of the room, there is an actual bar with more normal temperatures, and I thought the setting seemed pretty nice. I’m pretty sure the drinks were really expensive though, and it seemed more like a tourist attraction since the bar was pretty much empty.

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On a different morning, we got up early and went to look for some breakfast. And…we ended up at a Donair shop and ordered some chicken nuggets and fries. The chicken nuggets actually reminded me of Mcnuggets and they were extremely crispy on the outside. The fries were also quite different from American and Spanish fries. They were very crisp, and my friends said they were Belgian fries. Belgian fries are fried twice, hence they are much crispier.

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During our sightseeing, we found the famous I am Amsterdam sign!

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Another cool attraction we discovered was the Amsterdam Cheese Museum. It’s not exactly a museum because it’s more like a cheese shop. Inside, they have literally all types of cheese. Cheese with flavours such as truffles, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, sausage and much more. My favourite was the pesto cheese and the hickory cheese which literally tasted like sausage! The shop is quite small, but it’s filled with such a large variety of cheese, and almost every type of cheese has samples for you to try. The staff are also really friendly and don’t really force you to buy anything. I wish I took some cheese back, but my backpack traveling really limited how much space I had… Downstairs, there is an extremely mini museum. They have a few boards with some cheese history, and then they have outfits and props like traditional Dutch wear and clogs for you to dress up in to take pictures. Other than that, it’s really more of a cheese shop than a museum. Worth checking out if you’re a cheese lover and won’t take up too much of your time!

Mom’s Grilled Cheese

  • Mom’s Classic: Marbled Rye with Havarti and Double Smoked Bacon
  • 2 Shots of Roasted Tomato Soup – topped with basil mascarpone
  • Pineapple Pop Shoppe Pop

Sunny day in Vancouver the other day! Okay actually, weather has been acting weird here, with hail and snow in end of February… but this was before that crazy weekend happened…So it was actually a nice sunny day, but windy and cold! Decided to head downtown to try out Mom’s Grilled Cheese! I have heard such great things about them, and who can resist grilled cheese sandwiches… I can just never get them cooked perfectly at home! Did a little google mapping, and realized that it was so close to Pacific Center! I guess I just never walk on that side of the street normally! We approached the truck with a lot of people surrounding it waiting for their food. Apparently, they are only open on weekdays during lunch hours. Steph and I shared a Mom’s Classic, where we got to choose our choice of bread and cheese. We chose the Marbled Rye with Havarti, and added $1.50 for some Double Smoked Bacon! Mmmm, mouths were already watering with the aroma coming from the truck! While we were waiting in the freezing cold, we saw other customers buying shots of Roasted Tomato Soup, and thought it would be a great idea to warm up! Good choice because it was so delicious!!! I’m not sure if it’s just because I was freezing cold, but the basil mascarpone topped on the soup made everything so much better! We waited for probably 5 minutes or more til our food came since there were a lot of people ahead of us, but when it got to ours, they had forgot to put bacon in ours. They however, quickly apologized and redid our sandwich. Something about their friendliness didn’t make me mad about the wait though. It seemed like they had regular customers as they knew each others names, and everything seemed so personalized when they presented your food with your name. They seemed like such fun and friendly people to talk to, and they even joked with customers that they are always illegally parked here, and to look out for the cops… I don’t know if they were joking or what, but they gave me a good laugh. We went back to Pacific Center to eat since it was freezing cold, and yum! It was so good! They also came with two pickles, and potato chips at the bottom that had the Ms. Vickie’s texture, but I think they are homemade. Also tried the Pineapple Pop Shoppe, which was actually pretty good! Reminded me of Jones Soda, with the colour and cool, vintage looking bottle. Really fizzy though, and probably not the healthiest thing. I will definitely be back for some Mom’s Grilled Cheese! I just wish they opened during the weekends!

Mom's Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

Rhino’s Kitchen

Deep Fried Stuffed Chicken Wing

Ham and Cheese French Bun


It came to my realization when I went past Lansdowne Mall that California Cafe had closed down and became Rhino’s Kitchen. Not that I liked California Cafe much, but I guess I was just a little surprised. Curious what Rhino’s Kitchen was like, I ended up going in for a small dinner. I have to say, I couldn’t stop laughing upon entering the restaurant. They literally had pictures of rhinos all over the wall, with trees depicting the wildlife, and even a rhino statue at the entrance. My friend and I agreed they had a creative theme but it was still pretty funny. They even had their washroom doors painted with rhinos! I decided to just get some snacks since I wasn’t too hungry. I saw the stuffed chicken wing on the menu and thought it sounded really cool so gave it a try! I have to say the outer coating was really oily and wasn’t really crispy. But it was really interesting how the sticky rice was filled inside the wing beneath the meat! Not bad I guess, and it was quite large and filling too. Next, I had their ham and cheese french bun. Turned out completely different from what I had imagined. They were more like bruschetta with ham and cheese on them. Tasted pretty good, with something like sun-dried tomatoes in between and topped with olives. Actually, come to think of it, it almost tasted like pizza. They were also having a holiday special which was a set menu with lobster and steak. Sounded tempting and everyone was eating it in the restaurant, but I really didn’t have a big enough appetite to devour all of it! Guess their food is just really similar to what California Cafe had to offer, and I don’t think it was that great. It’s like white food at a HK style cafe so you can’t expect much. I have to say that their service was quite good though, but I felt like they were overstaffed so that might be the reason why.

Rhino's Kitchen 新犀牛屋 on Urbanspoon

The Edge Social Grill and Lounge

Hot Chocolate

Sweet Potato Fries with Parmesan Aioli

Honey Garlic Wings

BBQ Wings

Mac & Cheese with Caesar Salad

Eating at The Edge was actually by random as we were planning to go to The Twisted Fork, just very close by, except they didn’t take reservations and was very full by the time we got there. Can’t say it was anything out of the extraordinary, but it’s not bad for the price and service. Food, did however take extremely long to be served. The yam fries were great, but maybe it was because I was hungry. The wings are just average – I didn’t really like the honey garlic ones as it almost tasted bland. Mac & Cheese is one of my favourite comfort foods, but this one was definitely not up to par. It didn’t have that cheddar taste to it, and tasted almost like alfredo. I really only enjoyed the crusted top, but it still wasn’t that great. I could get a better Mac & Cheese at Boston Pizza or somewhere else. Service and ambiance was great, although it was very empty, but maybe it was because it was a weekday. I just wish the food would’ve came out a little quicker. Okay food at a decent price, but probably wouldn’t go back again.

The Edge Social Grille & Lounge on Urbanspoon

California Pizza Kitchen

 Cranberry Cooler

Fried Mac N Cheese

 

California Club – Applewood smoked bacon, chicken and Mozzarella hearth-baked then topped with tomatoes, avocado and chilled lettuce tossed in mayonnaise

Trip to Seattle means having some good food again! Went to California Pizza Kitchen at Northgate Mall. It’s a place great for the family, similar to The Cheesecake Factory, with decent service. Big portions for the price as well! The California Club Pizza tasted basically like a Caesar Salad, so you don’t really need to order another salad on the side. I have to say, it’s quite a healthy choice for a pizza. The Fried Mac and Cheese was not the best though. I felt like it wasn’t very fresh, as it was kind of hard. It almost seemed as though it was made ahead of time and heated back up. Overall, the food is pretty good and worth a try!

California Pizza Kitchen (Northgate) on Urbanspoon

The Works Poutine

This is now the third poutine I have tried at New York Fries. This time I went for something more original, and got The Works, which is just bacon bits, sour cream, cheese and usually green onions but I asked to opt out for that. Really delicious, but everything fatty is delicious!

New York Fries (Richmond Centre) on Urbanspoon