Trattoria Italian Kitchen – Dine Out 2014

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For my final Dine Out, it was last minute and we decided to visit Trattoria Italian Kitchen. They don’t take reservations, so we had to wait. There were plenty of people waiting, and we waited almost an hour. Super busy, but their $18 menu for 3 courses was definitely a good deal and probably attracted the crowds. Trattoria is part of the Glowbal group, and having been to the other restaurants, I’m confident that the food can’t be too bad. There’s an open kitchen and it’s quite noisy in here with families gathering for some Italian food.

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Raspberry Italian Soda

We essentially celebrated Chinese New Years at an Italian restaurant ironically, so we started ourselves with some Italian Soda. My family aren’t drinkers, so we got these as virgins. They were surprisingly really good! A bit of fizz and there were a variety of flavours to choose from. I chose the raspberry flavour and it was a bit sweet and sour and definitely very refreshing.

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Raspberry, Cucumber, Passionfruit Italian Soda

We pretty much ordered every flavour on the menu, including peach as well. Pictured here is raspberry, cucumber, and passionfruit. My favourite was actually the cucumber flavour. It was so refreshing! The passionfruit sort of tasted more like peach, so it wasn’t a huge hit.

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Zuppa di Zucca

My mom ordered the Zuppa di Zucca. This was a roasted butternut squash soup with sage oil. It was a medium consistency and my mom enjoyed it. It also came with a prosciutto wrapped grissini, which is like a breadstick. That was a nice touch to the soup.

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Tuna Salad

The rest of us got the Tuna Salad. We were actually slightly disappointed with the salad, since the menu had said seared albacore tuna. We were expecting something like tuna tataki. Turned out, it was more like poached can tuna. I’m not a huge fan of canned tuna since it’s really flaky, so I wasn’t a huge fan. It came with arugula, cannellini beans, radish and finished off with a citrus vinaigrette.

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Pollo Marsala – pan roasted chicken breast, Marsala and mushroom sugo with fennel salad

Mom and dad got the Pollo Marsala as their main. It was a pan roasted chicken breast topped with a Marsala wine and mushroom sugo sauce. A sugo sauce is an Italian tomato based sauce. We weren’t expecting much from this dish, but it turned out to be probably the best! The chicken was so moist and juicy that my parents were raving about it the whole night. The sauce was also absolutely delicious. It wasn’t too creamy or rich, but a perfect consistency to lightly bring some flavour to the chicken. It came with a side of fennel salad that was similar to the tuna salad.

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Braised Lamb Cheek Pappardelle – bean ragout, smoked pancetta

The rest of us got the Braised Lamb Cheek Pappardelle. I found this average. I like to eat lamb, but I found that they didn’t season it enough, so you could still taste the gamey flavour of lamb. However, the lamb cheeks were absolutely soft and tender, which was a plus. I think I just didn’t really enjoy the flavour of this dish overall. Something was a little off for me.

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Tiramisu with Biscotti

Lastly, for dessert, the only choice was the Tiramisu. When the cake came, we were all underwhlemed. This was probably the nicest slice that was plated, as the rest were all lopsided and messy looking. However, when we took a bite into it, we all agreed it was delicious! It felt like a homemade traditional Italian recipe. The cake was moist and soaked in espresso and the Mascarpone cheese mixed with whip cream was just the right amount. The biscotti was also a nice addition on the side. We were all full by the end of our meal, but we still managed to stuff ourselves with the Tiramisu.

Overall, we were all very happy with Trattoria’s Dine Out menu. I wouldn’t say the choices were dishes I would normally order, but for $18, we were literally filled up and the service was great. Their regular menu also looks like a pretty affordable menu and I’m looking forward to coming back to try some of their other dishes. The only downside would be the no reservations policy.

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Sports Bar Italian Food – Barcelona

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Exchange was wrapping up and many of my newly made friends from all over the world had made traveling plans. We soon realized that although we would still be somewhere in Europe, it would be our last time seeing each other. Well until we meet again somewhere in the world! We quickly organized a dinner with some of our closest friends, and T suggested we go to Sports Bar Italian Food. I was skeptical at first when I saw the outside, but it’s actually rated very well on Tripadvisor and didn’t fail to impress us! The atmosphere is friendly and not exactly like a sports bar, although they have TVs to watch sports on. It’s Italian owned, and the owner was super friendly and funny.

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They have a pizza oven just like how they do it Naples, except this one is shaped as a soccer ball! How cute!

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We had taken a look at the menu and knew we wanted some pizzas and pastas to share, but were indecisive about which ones to get. The owner came by and basically asked if it would be okay for him to just pick and choose customized items for us and it would be enough to get us filled. He came back with these pizzas that basically had 4 different sections of toppings. This was pretty good since we were able to try a bunch of different flavours! Since there were only around two slices for each flavour, we weren’t able to try them all. Some of the toppings were eggplant, zucchini, prosciutto, and mushrooms. The pizza was fluffy and I liked how it was pretty thin. Not exactly thin crust, but I liked this thickness.

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He also made one that was all the same toppings. This one had a red cabbage, some pork and filled with tons of cheese. I’ve never had red cabbage on my pizza before, but it actually tasted really good! Love how it was really cheesy.

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Then for pastas, we had the Seafood Spaghetti. The spaghetti was very thick, but it was cooked to al dente, so had a great chew to it. I know that true Italian pastas normally don’t have loads of sauce on it, but I wished this one had a little more sauce. I found it a little bland. There was an abundant of seafood though, including clams, squid and shrimp.

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My favourite was the Mushroom Ravioli. It was very saucy and creamy with loads of mushroom. The flavour of the sauce really made the dish good. The pasta was also very fresh and each ravioli was stuffed with a good amount of cheese.

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Some of our friends wanted to try the Rigatoni, since the pasta are shaped with large hollow holes so it’s sort of like a tube. I find that this type of pasta needs a lot of sauce or else it tastes like you’re just eating dough. This dish did have more sauce than the spaghetti, but could still use a bit more. It was a tomato base with Parmesan at the top.

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For dessert, we shared two desserts. First we got the Homemade Tiramisu. It didn’t look any good, but it tasted amazing! Tons of mascarpone cheese and a hint of alcohol. Cream and topped with chocolate powder. Everyone enjoyed it!

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He also suggested that we try this Italian Donut dessert. It was filled with cream and topped with chocolate sauce. It was quite sweet, so sharing this was a good idea. Not bad!

All in all, Sports Bar Italian Food had some pretty good Italian dishes. I thought the pastas were just average, but the pizzas were definitely really good! People even say it compares to the ones in Naples! I really liked how they were able to customize our pizzas and really helped with our orders. Service was really good and prices are quite reasonable. There weren’t too many people in the restaurant, so we were able to just stay and chat for a long time.

Tapasbar – Valencia

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Finally posting some of my Europe food adventures! First stop was in Barcelona, but shortly after getting settled down, I met up with S and M to bus to Valencia. The next day, we would head to Bunol for the famous Tomatina Festival, where it is a food fight of throwing tomatoes at each other. In the meantime, we were in beautiful Valencia and were taken to the beach area. We wandered looking for food and settled at the Tapasbar.

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The place was quite packed, and they offered a set menu, that I would quickly learn is extremely popular in Spain. The menu here wasn’t too cheap, and cost $13 euros. It included an appetizer, main course, dessert, bread, and a drink.

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Prosciutto and Melon

For my appetizer, I chose the Prosciutto and Melon. Thinking of any type of ham now actually sort of makes me sick. It is so popular in Spain, that I kept eating it the first month and I’m at the point now where I don’t usually choose it anymore. The ham jamon wasn’t as smooth as I would’ve liked it to be, with the edges being very fatty and tough. It worked well with the melon though, and the plate was extremely large for an appetizer. As for my drink, we got a jug of sangria between the three of us, which gave us around 2 glasses each. Sangria is so popular in Spain, that I end up ordering it most of the time.

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Grilled Lamb Chop with Fries and Grilled Vegetables

For my main course, I chose the Grilled Lamb Chops. Probably shouldn’t have chosen this as it was extremely tough. Shouldn’t have expected any good lamb for the price I was paying. It was full of tendons that were not edible and the meat was overcooked. The grilled vegetables were also a bit burnt, so I didn’t really enjoy them. We all agreed that the fries tasted sort of different from our North American fries. We came to the conclusion that the potatoes in Spain must be of different origin. They had a distinct taste that we weren’t quite used to. The other odd thing is they don’t supply you with ketchup unless you ask. I guess ketchup and fries are an American thing..

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Tiramisu

For dessert, I chose the Tiramisu although I know it doesn’t originate from Spain. I just craved it and thought it would be a safe choice. Indeed it was. It was soft and creamy with just the right amount of liquor in it. It wasn’t too sweet which I liked. Not bad!

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Flan

S chose the Flan for her dessert and I decided to get a picture of it too. I’ll soon realize that flan is extremely popular in Spain and also one of my favourite desserts. It was smooth and creamy and of course sweet! Yum.

Overall, Tapas bar was just mediocre for the price I paid. Definitely not worth it because there are actually much better deals around town. We were hungry and most restaurants had large lines, so we settled for this. Also to remember is to give yourself lots of time for meals, because service in Spain is ridiculously slow.

Thierry Patisserie

Passion Fruit Mousse – biscuit roulade + passion fruit mousse

Tiramisu – mascarpone sabayon + coffee/kahlua soak

It’s no surprise that I love desserts, and I was really excited when I knew I was going to Thierry! Thierry is located on Alberni, where many of the Glowball restaurants like Coast and Italian Kitchen are. The entrance to Thierry was really nice! They had large wooden doors and something about the layout of the shop was extremely comforting. So many desserts to choose from! I kind of wanted to try the macarons, but I was more attracted to the cakes. The passion fruit mousse was my favourite. I loved the mini macarons around it, and the mousse was very smooth. It was a little sour, but it’s passion fruit, so it was acceptable. It actually had a very strong passion fruit flavour and even had little seeds at the top, although I would’ve rather it not. The tiramisu was also extremely delicious. It was presented very nicely, and the alcohol was not too strong. Delicious! And i like how Thierry is open til midnight, so you can always go there for some late night desserts!

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Water St. Cafe

Beautiful Gastown at night!

Complementary Bread

Caesar Salad – romaine lettuce, fresh grated parmesan, anchovies and garlic

Sunshine Coast Seafood and Corn Chowder

Fanny Bay Oysters – sautéed with smoked chipotle peppers, cream, sundried tomatoes and parmesan gratinée

Baked Portobello Mushroom – topped with grilled vegetables, cream cheese and parmesan gratinée

West Coast Crab Cakes – Dungeness and blue crab, Pacific shrimp with a roasted corn salsa and garlic aioli

Potato Gnocchi – hand rolled potato dumplings, prosciutto, fresh Pacific shrimp and a butternut squash with sage sauce

Duck Confit – with a balsamic and pineapple chutney glaze on garlic mashed potatoes

Tiramisu – classic Italian trifle

Flourless Double Chocolate Espresso Cake – Served with a black cherry compote

Gastown is so gorgeous at night! I love the historic brick buildings and flooring! Makes me feel as if I’m walking in Europe or something! During the weekend, I went to Water St. Cafe for Dine Out with my girlfriends for a girls night out dinner. We each chose a different appetizer and I  had the fanny bay oysters. I have to say they didn’t look too appetizing but it tasted really good! The sundried tomatoes were a great complement to it. I also took a  bite from my friend’s stuffed portabello mushroom and it was delicious too! Next, I had the duck confit for my entree. I kind of wanted to try the crab cakes too but I wanted to see what everything else looked like! The duck confit was quite tender, and the pineapple chuntney glaze gave it a nice flavour. I took some of my friend’s crab cake and it was delicious! I really liked the bread crumb coating and you could taste a lot of the crab and shrimp in it. The gnocchi was also quite good, with a very nice sauce and was the right chewiness. Last but not least, the desserts! The tiramisu was very good! One of my favourites. It was quite strong in alcohol, but something about the right amount of cream and all was perfect. The chocolate cake was also pretty good, but I found it a little too fudge-like. But I guess that’s why it’s flourless! Overall, this dine out was quite delicious! It was only $28 and it was actually very filling! Service was okay, but not superb or anything. The ambiance is quite nice though. It’s a very cozy place; a very nice place to talk and to enjoy some food. It’s also directly in front of the steam clock which is beautiful to look at at night while enjoying dinner.

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Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar

Pomegranate Martini

Beef Carpaccio – Italian starter prepared with premuim beef filet, extra virgin olive oil, capers & Chef’s inspiration

Chicken & Ricotta Cannelloni – Stuffed pasta with sliced chicken, Ricotta cheese tomato with Rosé sauce and Asiago ch     eese

Beef Tenderloin – 7 oz. grilled triple A tenderloin with red wine reduction

Tiramisu

Frankie’s Italian Kitchen & Bar offers authentic Italian cuisine and has a relaxing environment whether it is at the bar or in the dining room. It is located at the Georgian Court Hotel in Downtown Vancouver. Portions of food are great and service was wonderful. Great place for a family or friends get together with some great food!

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La Cuisson

Tiramisu

La Cuisson is a coffee shop located in Richmond. It offers a variety of cold and hot drinks and is famous for their freshly roasted coffee. As you step in the restaurant, the aroma of coffee will surround you and the small coffee shop has an antique feeling to it. Wooden tables and decor gives the shop a unique feeling. They also offer a variety of snacks, like sandwiches and waffles, as well as desserts, including an assortment of daily homemade cakes.

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