Funfeasts is about enjoying and exploring life - through food. It's an attempt to chronicle my feasts of fun and the many tasty bites experienced along the way.

How to easily roast the perfect chicken

Think you need fancy equipment to roast the perfect chicken?  I did too, and then a friend gave me a small contraption that has come to be my favorite item in the kitchen. 

How it works
  • Clean your chicken and season with salt/pepper and herbs of choice.
  • Set over the vertical roaster (see photo below).
  • Add to a 400 degree oven or grill.
  • Roast for approx. 1 hour (depends on the size of chicken).  Otherwise, check the internal temp with a thermometer. 
  • Basting:  use the juices that collect at the bottom during cooking...yum!
Cooks' note:  I use my Weber Grill which results in less mess and keeps the kitchen cool.  If you set the dials to "low" you will get an even 400 degrees which is about what you need.  Otherwise you can use the oven but it will be a bit messy - and still tasty of course.

When you pull the chicken out of the oven/off the grill,  have a tray handy for the roaster.  Let the chicken rest for approx. 20 minutes and you're ready to cut up.

A few obvious added benefits of the vertical roaster
  • Fast clean up.  Simply remove the fat collected in the tray and wash the rest as usual.
  • Less space for storage.  I fold up the roaster, throw into a plastic bag and into a drawer.
  • Inexpensive.  You can buy a vertical roaster for about $5 on eBay.
  • Amazing chicken!


The best part:  everything is compact and lays flat.

Ready for roasting.

Could this be a little more beautiful?  I think not!
Enjoy!

Connections over coffee; Philz, Radius and Coffee Bar in SF

What's percolating?



The recent disappearance of my job caused a jolt of concern and then a burst of excitement as I realized I'd be "on the beach" during the summer.  Note:  on-the-beach is my reference to a virtual vacation a la 'workforce reduction'.   Shopping?  Lunch?  How ever would I fill my time?

Well, nothing as exciting as a trip to an actual beach.  After all, bills must be paid so I decided to dust off my resume and start networking.  

Coffee, tea, and more connections than I can count


In the new world of job seeking in San Francisco it seems a lot of coffee connections - or tea - are now the norm.  Don't get me wrong, I do love coffee.  But for quick, casual meetings in San Francisco it's no longer Peets or Starbucks although I always remain a fan of both.

While out and about talking about my skills (so many, so varied) my expectations and the weather (yes, it can be a topic) I ventured into more cafes, coffee houses and bars than I can count. As my parking bills stacked up, here's how the various places I visited stack up...

The coffee list

  • Philz (San Francisco, Palo Alto and Cupertino) is not just about coffee, the size cup or the temperature of the milk, it's about your taste preferences and mood of the day.  The person behind the counter actually seems to care about what you want and attempts to align that with the offering(s) of the day.  A casually cool place with a process that can feel a bit intimidating at first glance.
  • Craftsman and Wolves.  Wins the prize for most interesting items behind the counter including the "Rebel Within" which is a gooey egg inside a bacon-y muffin.  Oh, and the coffee is good too.
  • Radius Cafe.  Great outdoor seating which allows for comfort and sipping in the summer sun (if available).  Love the deviled eggs!
  • Coffee Bar.  Clearly a top choice for the tech set with an abundance of laptops and buzzy conversations about the next best idea or company.  Chocolate chip cookies worth noting (e.g., delicious) and hip vibe.  
  • Mavelous - small, intimate and reminiscent of a wine bar which is perhaps because they also sell wine along with a bevvy of coffee beverages.  Located on Market Street.
  • Sextant Coffee (SOMA).  Quality coffee in a beautiful brick/wood setting.
  • Samovar Tea Lounge.  Samovar is a welcome break from all the coffee, plus they have outdoor seating and a decent lunch menu.  For some odd reason I felt like I was on vacation while here.  Fun!
For what it's worth, my next gig is scheduled and I have two more weeks of daydreaming and quiet mornings.  However, I might skip the coffee for now and head to the hills for a hike.  

Happy summer!

Cheddar cheese takes cake to a new level

The Cheese Cake Challenge

I love a challenge and I love cheese so when friends suggested a cheese "cake" for their wedding, it seemed only natural to step up to the plate.

Although I am confident in my ability to crank out a wheel of cheese that's edible, this project caused me to re-think some of the basics and plan carefully.  For example, I wasn't sure where the cheese would be consumed and the temperature of the room.  A small, warm room might cause the "cake" to permeate everything and everyone with the aroma of cheese.  I'm used to the smell of cheese - it hits me every time I open the refrigerator - but maybe not what others want to remember from a summer wedding.  

The Cheese Cake Challenge - Some Serious Considerations

Once cheese warms up sometimes there is a change in texture as it softens up.  Because of this I knew the bottom layer would have to be sturdy or I'd risk a cave-in.  For this reason I settled on a basic cheddar which would be sturdy enough despite any potential change in temperature and hardy enough to withstand an evening of...standing.    

The project started with multiple trips to the store - over a period of weeks - for supplies at which point the checker started to ask if I drank a lot of milk!  Once home with my precious 1% (and a lot of cream) the layers were crafted over a period of weeks.  The final product, below, is the outcome and pretty close to my original vision.  The fruit and ribbon - courtesy of friends - added the final, festive touch.

The bottom layer will be aged until the end of the year.  A perfect treat for the holidays!

The original inspiration from the California Cheese Festival in Petaluma.  

The Cheesecake Challenge - and Conclusion

Although not the vision for every bride and groom, this cake was the perfect gift for two friends who embrace and embody the idea of fun and unusual.  Perhaps there is a subtle metaphor here; something about the cake being something sturdy that will become better over time.  In any case, congrats to Tilla and Chris. I wish you the best life has to offer!

SF Favorites - Ananda Fuara, Craftsman and Wolves

Two favorite "eats" but with strikingly different, interesting offerings. 

Ananda Fuara 

Amazing food that's all vegetarian and totally delicious!  My favorites include the veggie burger - a mixture of seeds, nuts and other goodness topped with a wheat bun - and the neatloaf, a riff on traditional meatloaf.  Oh, and they add a really yummy, tangy bbq sauce to the neatloaf for added flavor and punch.

Ananda is a place where vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike can find their own favorite dish and some calm amid the storm that is Market Street in SF.

The neatloaf and broccoli soup at Ananda Fuara.

The veggie wrap from Ananda.

Craftsman and Wolves

The other notable here is Craftsman and Wolves located in the Mission. Don't let the eye-catching, almost artistic display of sweets and treats fool you.  They serve a mean coffee AND the Rebel Within (pictured below).  Try as I might, the guy behind the counter wouldn't give up the method for pulling off a perfectly cooked - but runny yolk - egg inside a muffin. 

I suppose this will require multiple trips and muffins to figure out!  Ahh...the research required for this blog :)

The Rebel Within:  a soft cooked egg surrounded by an asiago, onion studded muffin.
Additional information
Craftsman and Wolves
746 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 913-7713

Ananda Fuara
1298 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 621-1994

Fast food my way - cooking salmon to perfection

My easy, go to method for cooking salmon relies on a hot oven and smaller slices of fish for more even cooking.

Here are the steps:

1) Pre-heat your oven or grill to 400 degrees.
2) Cut salmon fillets into 2-3 in pieces
3) Drizzle olive oil on top, then a light dusting of salt, pepper and dill (if using)
4) Add a sliced lemon on top (extra flavor, moisture and beauty)

Once the oven / grill is ready, put the salmon fillets in for 10 minutes.  The fish should be perfectly cooked and delicious!

Copper River Salmon - grilled


BSide BBQ - Oakland

While surfing through the April issue of Sunset magazine I came across an article about BSide BBQ in Oakland and the owner, Tanya Holland.  Always on the lookout for my faves:  brisket, mac and cheese and a side of cornbread I just knew this was on my list of "eating to-do's".

As we were making our way to a concert in Concord (ok...Barry Gibb who was fantastic) we stopped and I found myself in my element.  Great sides, amazing sauce and a casual, clean vibe all made the experience such a nice treat.

The owner really knows her stuff when it comes to marinades and the meat itself (go look up point cut and deckle).  It's always impressive to see passion fused with knowledge because you can almost taste it in the end result.  Deeply flavored from end-to-end with solid execution.   A winner!

There's nothing better than cornbread and slowly melting butter!

Not sure this photo does justice to the mac and cheese, but trust me, it's good!
 
Additional information

BSide BBQ
3303 San Pablo Ave, Oakland, CA 94608
(510) 595-0227

How to: 
http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/techniques/brisket-recipe

Cambria crushes it with a laid-back vibe and tasty cuisine

When asked about the past weekend and a trip to Cambria I was surprised how many people had heard about Hearst Castle (it's nearby) but never ventured for a visit to this charming, coastal town.  I expected the usual:  beautiful scenery and ocean breezes (so romantic!) but the cuisine and coffee were the things that really surprised this traveler (ok, really more of a day-tripper.) 

Hearst Castle:  it's a must.  We took the 45 minute tour and then walked around to check out the views, art sculptures and pool.  Yes, it's a bit tourist-y but fun to take in a bit of history amid the grandeur.                     

Fried green olives stuffed with cheese.  The best of all worlds!

All that walking worked up appetites so we headed to dinner at The Black Cat.  It's hard for me to convey how much I really loved this restaurant except to say we ate here both nights during our stay.  The Black Cat serves "innovative fresh farm fare" which translates to almost everything on the menu is superb (the opinion of Funfeasts, of course!)  Here's our menu for two nights:

Starters 
  • Fried olives - enough said!
  • Pork belly with gigante beans.
  • Black bean soup (who knew black bean soup could be THAT good?)
  • Cauliflower gratin.  This was definitely overkill but I couldn't resist.
Entrees
  • Rib eye with black quinoia (drizzled with a ginger-scented sauce.)
  • Duck, risotto and bok choy (overall my favorite dish.)
  • Pesto pasta and prawns (this one disappeared really fast so no comment.)
Dessert
  • Dessert the first night was a salted chocolate pot de creme, good but...
  • The sticky toffee pudding and caramel sauce really took the cake (no pun intended)  the second night. SO rich and flavorful it was hard to keep spoons from colliding in the bowl.  
Pork belly and gigante beans - giant flavor

The rib eye with quinoa. 

For breakfast and coffee here are a few options: 
  • Allocco's Bakery, next to The Black Cat, for housemade cookies and pastries with friendly service.
  • Redwood Cafe for breakfast outside on a sunny day.
  • Cambria Coffee - Main Street - serves house-roasted blends and items from the French Bakery up the street                                                                                                                                 
Should you venture out to a few wineries in Paso Robles, check out Penman Springs Vineyard (loved their Syrah), Sculpterra with amazing gardens and the Red Soles Winery.  Red Soles was my favorite and most laid-back in atmosphere but there are many places to stop and taste from Cambria to Paso Robles.

Finally, for places to stay, check out the Chamber of Commerce website.  We ended up at San Simeon Pines which is a bit retro but easy on the budget and very clean.  Plus, the location is perfect for a stroll on the boardwalk and a view of the ocean.

This was a long post but there is a lot to love about Cambria and the surrounding area.  Thanks for reading!

Don Pistos Mexican in North Beach

Located in North Beach, Don Pistos is an under-the-radar place that serves really good Mexican food.   Signage from the street is very subtle and only the people standing outside give away the fact that something great is going on inside.

That "great" is a delicious take on Mexican street food from tacos to tamales and a whole host of other items we didn't get to.    What we tasted - the fish tacos, tacos al pastor and tamales with charred green chile and cheese - all divine.  Oh, and we also downed a boatload of those super crispy, salty chips.   Try as I might, I just could not stop eating them (and they kept magically appearing too!)

I absolutely cannot wait to go back.  Hint:  if you don't have reservations the cozy bar is a nice option.

Good food, bad photo, but I'm posting anyway so you'll have to try Don Pistos on your own! 
Don Pistos
510 Union Street
San Francisco CA
http://www.donpistos.com/

Oakland dining at Lungomare

Jack London Square in Oakland boasts an impressive lineup of places to dine with brunch being one of my favorites.  It's the perfect time of day to take in a view of the water and relax with glass - and fork - in hand. 
 
A recent visit found us at Lungomare where the tantalizing descriptions made food selections difficult.  We settled on ricotta pancakes (robust in flavor but light in texture) and scrambled egg panini. Both were delicious.   
 
The menu at Lungomare

Although I stuck with my usual beverage, coffee - I prefer to take my calories in hearty food! - I couldn't resist this photo of my friend's mimosa.  It's like a wonderful work of art - in a glass. 

Great start to the day;  a beautiful, inspiring mimosa

Fluffy ricotta, blueberry pancakes.

Saltbox in San Carlos CA

The transformation from hardware store to shiny new neighborhood restaurant didn't happen overnight.  But now the wrapper is off and the food is making a presence at Salt Box in San Carlos.
And the food - plus overall ambiance - is stellar. 
 
My favorite:  castelvetrano olives.  
 
While the space itself isn't cavernous, it's got an open, airy vibe that buzzes once the place - and bar - fills up.  Salt Box is one of those places that doesn't appear to take reservations so be prepared to wait with a glass of wine in hand.  We arrived on a Friday around 6pm and just barely nabbed a seat.
 
The menu?  A good sampling of California style fare; pork chops, salad, burgers and the like.  For me it was a toss-up between the pork chop and burger and the burger won.  In the end, I feel like I won because I had the perfect meal - an expertly cooked burger with melty cheese and fries on the side.  

Anything but classic, the burger was sooo tasty with carmelized onions, melted cheese and fries.
 
A word of caution:  don't be tempted to skip dessert.  We ordered the profiteroles which arrived with a small pot of salted caramel sauce for dipping which we were tempted to lick clean (but didn't of course.)   If you are tempted, I wouldn't blame you and promise not to tell!

Johnston's Salt Box
1696 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 592-7258

Geraldine's - Breakfast in Seattle

For some reason I obsessed about breakfast this time around while visiting Seattle.  I chose to indulge in a new restaurant - for me - Glo's diner, and one I'd been to before - Geraldine's.

While a tad out of the way (Beacon Hill/Columbia City)  it's still a nice stop for a hot, hearty breakfast*.  I ordered the avocado, salsa and sour cream omelette and my mom ordered the eggs + oatmeal pancakes.  Both were the right bite for each of us. 



I will say after the 4-egg version at Glo's, this one - I assume it's a mere 3-egg version - seemed to fit my appetite better.

Doesn't matter, I still have to give it to Seattle:  amazing breakfast scene, hands down.

*Geraldine's also serves lunch and dinner!

Glo's Diner in Seattle Capitol Hill

I love a good breakfast and Glo's Diner really delivered this morning.  The 4-egg omelet covered in avocado, salsa and sour cream was made even more perfect with the addition of crisp hash browns nestled alongside.   My mom ordered the biscuits & gravy (vegetarian gravy, I believe) which looked equally delicious and filling.


I read through a few sites which mentioned the long wait for a table.  Ours was about 40 minutes made much more pleasant due to the warm sunny weather (yes, a bit of a rarity in these parts this time of year) and the Starbucks across the street.

Don't miss Glo's - and be sure to arrive very, very hungry!

Glo's Diner
1621 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98102
(206) 324-2577
http://gloscafe.com/

Carrot ginger soup

After finishing my kitchen remodel I craved home food, and especially this carrot-ginger soup.  I think part of the allure was that lack of a stove didn't allow for recipes where "simmering" was an option but also because the vibrant flavor is just so addictive. 


There are a number of ways to tailor this soup to make it your own but here's the base.  The rest is up to you!

Carrot ginger soup

2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6-8 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 red pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T freshly grated ginger
4 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 small potato, chopped
1 scallion, chopped
salt/pepper to taste

1 cup cream (or half and half)

Optional:  dash of honey, tabasco, lemon juice

Directions

Heat olive oil and add the onion, carrots and celery. When soft, add the red pepper, garlic and ginger. Pour in the broth.  Add the potato and scallion.  Simmer 20 minutes or until all vegetables are tender.

How to tell if a potato is cooked?  According to a good friend from Moscow who claims she KNOWS potatoes, if you stick a knife into one, pull it up out of the broth and it easily slips off the knife, you know it's done.    I've tried it, it works. 

To finish your soup

Run a stick blender through the veggies and broth until smooth.  Add cream, salt / pepper to taste and honey if you want your soup a bit sweeter. 

For me, I like soup with a bit of a bite so I add a few shakes of tabasco and lemon juice to taste.  The lemon cuts the sweetness of the carrots and gives the soup a slight hint of tang.  Yummy.

Finally, if your soup is too thick add a bit more broth or water.  Enjoy!

Dicky's BBQ - Dallas Airport

Layover in Dallas?  No problem.  Make a stop at Dicky's BBQ in Dallas (Terminal C/Terminal E) and fill up on brisket, ribs and a slice of homemade pecan pie. 

I loved the food so much I actually stopped on my way home despite a much shorter layover and a connecting flight in another terminal.  This time they had the mac and cheese (they were out the first time.)

Brisket po' boy.  Oh boy!
I ordered the brisket po' boy with extra sauce which seemed the way to go.  Although I'm not sure I needed the bread it did keep everything neat and tidy for quicker eating between stops.

 

Dicky's BBQ Pit

Locations
Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport
Terminal C, Gate C6, 3200 E Airfield Dr, Irving, TX
(972) 973-4820

DFW
Terminal E 12
Dallas, TX
(972) 574-3798

Kitchen Chronicles-before and after

My kitchen remodel is complete!   The finished product – new floor plan, range and materials – is usable and I feel complete.  Although it feels a bit overly dramatic I must say this has been one long journey where the final destination has often felt like a mirage; visible but a tad out of reach.

The stops and starts to this project were due to things which are probably not that uncommon:  an issue involving the house structure we couldn’t see until layers – in this case the tile – was pulled back.  That led to fixing the damage, ordering new cabinets which weren’t planned for and then revising the electrical (also not originally planned.) 

For someone so used to having a game plan and sticking to it this turned me on my head.  There were days when I questioned why I’d started this project in the first place.  Oh yeah…I bought a stove on eBay four years ago and it was time to get it out of my garage.
The stove came from a seller in Florida who shipped it to my garage in California.  I didn’t unpack or check it until right before the remodel (I know, that is nuts.)  There was a moment where I panicked and thought “what if I said ‘Thermador’ and the guy heard ‘make sure it has a door’ and my stove was super cheap version brand x.    Fortunately what I ordered was what I got:  a 36 inch dual fuel Thermador with griddle in the middle –at a killer price.
The minute I fired up that grill I just knew things were going to be okay.  Better than okay.  It’s two months later and I still can’t help but marvel at the novelty of making blueberry pancakes on a Saturday while standing at the island in the center of the kitchen.  
Although my Kitchen Chronicles have seemingly come to an end, my culinary journey – and the many meals to follow – has just begun.   
Thermador 36 inch dual fuel range with griddle.  Professional quality made for the home.  LOVE.



All Spice - San Mateo CA

Tucked away from the very busy El Camino, All Spice looks like a nice - but misplaced - house that's actually a restaurant serving Indian fusion.  And very good fusion indeed.
 
Below are a few good examples of our fine fare; sea bass and the beef short ribs.  Both were beautifully plated, cooked and spiced to perfection.   
 
Beef short ribs in a very delectable, slightly curried sauce.

Silky, rich sea bass.  As tasty as it looks!
If there is a negative at all here it's that reservations are hard to come by and a Saturday night requires patience and planning.   Other than that, a true gem!

All Spice
1602 S El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA 94402
(650) 627-4303 
http://www.allspicerestaurant.com/
      

Cotogna San Francisco

This was my second time dining at Cotogna in San Francisco and made me wonder why I'd waited so long to return.  One reason:  reservations are tough to secure!  Still, the resulting meal was well worth the effort to snag a table in this establishment. 

One dish I had vowed to order again upon return was the raviolo di ricotta.   What's not to like about cheese and a soft-cooked egg wrapped in pasta and floating in browned butter?  For one thing, it's a tad small for the price - $16.   You can, however, take comfort in the richness of the sauce which makes for great dipping of the bread at the table. 

 
A big plate for one very rich ravioli - that's an egg in the center - nestled in a delicious brown butter sauce. 
Up next for me, the porchetta della casa which is essentially pork nestled in pork belly.  Extremely decadent and...let's just say very caloric...but sooooooo delicious if you like this type of thing.  I didn't eat the entire dish because it's possible my food coma might have lasted into the new year.  However I did take the remaining pork belly home and it became part of a seafood dish for the grill (see Kitchen Chronicles)
 

Pork loin wrapped in pork belly.  Decadent and delicious!

Kitchen Chronicles - the island is in sight!

I'm into week 6 of a kitchen remodel and the end is barely in sight.  A few speed bumps have slowed progress along the way; electrical which had to be replaced, a cabinet with a crack (discovered once it was installed) and the list goes on!

I'm learning a kitchen remodel is a journey which requires patience before you reach your destination.  It also requires some creativity if you don't want to eat out every meal.  Here are a few of my recent experiments:
  • Spaghetti squash on the grill - and yes, it worked but took some work!  I poked the outer "shell" with a knife - be careful - and placed on the hot grates.  I kept turning the squash as it browned and at some point was able to cut it in half, scoop the seeds and wrap in foil.  Another 40 minutes back on the grill - check it periodically - and I was left with a mountain of golden roasted squash.  A little parmesan, salt and pepper for the perfect finish.
  • Restaurant leftovers - pork belly from Cotogna in SF - combined with sea bass in a foil pouch on the grill makes for good, fast food.  The pork belly pieces added richness and depth to the otherwise mild white fish.  
  • Ramen noodles - the packaged version from the produce aisle.  Boiled water in the microwave, added noodles then the spice packet and some extras (onions, grilled chicken) for the perfect cold-weather meal.
  • Japanese sweet potatoes grilled then mashed.   Odd, but good.
Finally, here's a picture of the island - check out the color! - amidst the center of the kitchen.  It's progress people!

The blues..Stilton, that is!

A mild Stilton - perfect for snacking
I love cheese of all shapes and sizes.  And since taking up cheese-making I've been chasing the blues...Stilton, creamy blue, chunky blue...you get the picture. 

My first attempt was rather dismal.  A small wheel that dried up and then eventually went into the compost bucket.  The second was not really fit for human consumption with a mushy exterior that went hand-in-hand with the overly aggressive flavor inside.  You know it's bad when someone asks "why is the color brown and not white with flecks?"  (Gee, I don't know....)

So when our cheese group (the SF Cheese League) agreed to make - and taste - Stilton in a group setting I was nervous about the results.  And while the Stilton I churned out wasn't entirely marbled with veins on the inside the blue flavor came through in a subtle but still distinct manner.  Finally, semi-success!

Although not entirely blue on the inside, the exterior is a beautiful color

One recipe:  many variations.  But what a fun way to taste Stilton!

Kitchen Chronicles - week 1

It's officially Friday and my house is finally quiet.  The workers have closed up shop and left the building. 

No major issues (yet) but the additional order for cabinets extends the completion date about 4 weeks.  At least I had no plans to cook a turkey this year!

The one concern now is whether the floor can support the large heavy range which will sit on top.  If the floor beams are not wide enough then we'll need to remove, replace and shore things up.

This whole thing is crazy!  But thank goodness for microwave technology and frozen food.

Kitchen Chronicles - Day 2

When describing my planned kitchen remodel a friend said "you will break down at least once during construction."  I nonchalantly said "no way, I've got this under control." That statement now makes me laugh.

While working from home today I strolled in to the dining area to grab some juice from the still-plugged-in refrigerator.  The contractor mumbled something about the floor being damaged by water so I threw out something like "does that mean we'll need to pull up the cabinets we didn't plan to replace or is there another option?"

The contractor explained that what's visible is a "piecemeal floor".  As in, not really planned and pieced together (hence the map now visible ON the floor itself.)  Oh and damaged by water which means probably unstable long term.


It took me about 2 hours to reach acceptance phase:  this project WILL cost more than I expected and I can't take shortcuts without risking problems down the road.   I drafted and then sent an email to Olga (Cabinets & Beyond, San Mateo) with this message:

Heads up: we might need to put a rush order on more cabinets!

And then I went for a walk around the block (after work of course.)  Breakdown averted for today.

Cabinets & Beyond
San Mateo
Ask for Olga - she's amazing!

Range hood
Vent-a-hood

Pricey but quiet.  "It won't sound like a jet engine in your kitchen when it's running".  We'll see.
Manufactured in Texas, took 6 weeks to deliver and it arrived today.

Kitchen Chronicles - construction, day 1

After six years of plotting I've taken the plunge and the kitchen remodel has begun.

Here's the "before" shot (it's a beauty.)  Originally this entire space (including the area I'm standing) included the cooking area, breakfast nook, a small TV room (across from the cooking area) and a dining room (across from the breakfast nook).  All these rooms added up to many sliding doors and separated spaces - too many in my opinion. 

So we knocked out the wall between the TV room and dining room to create one large dining area filled with one very large table.  The last step in this journey is to remove the wall (below) and create an open, airy space which allows for easy flow of guests and occupants alike.


As a commentary on dinner parties, it's true that everyone ends up in the kitchen and in this case the smallest space (the "cooking area".)  Once this remodel is complete, they will probably still stand there but at least there will be room for everyone (including me, the cook) to move around.
 
The photo below shows the demolished kitchen with older - but well-made cabinets - remaining.  The range (out in the garage for..yes...almost 4 years) and hood (arrives tomorrow) will fill that old center area.

Then, we (as if I'm actually doing the work) cover all surfaces with beautiful granite and resurface the floors with new tile.  Stay tuned and I'll be sure to post a few recipes for Top Ramen and other items cooked by microwave.  I know, I know, cue the violinists so everyone can feel sorry for me!


 All kidding aside, I am excited to see the results and I'm sure I'll wonder why it took me six years to get this project off the ground (oh yeah...money.)

Vancouver vacation 2013 - summer fun now past


Oh Vancouver...how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways... 

1) Your scenery is always breath-taking but even more so during our August visit as the sun made the water sparkle...yes, like diamonds!  Made our kayaking and biking around Stanley Park just THAT much better. 

2) Eating options were numerous and within a stone's throw of our boutique hotel. Crazy-good ramen, down home Italian and fresh sushi made choosing a chore (but not really.) 

3) Friendly people, easy navigation and that cute little "jaunty man" signal which tells you it's time to cross the street. 

The burrata at La Buca
A mouth-watering menu at La Buca
 
 
Finally, how can I forget the really great boutique hotel on Robson Street?  The Listel features comfortable rooms, helpful staff and great location for walking to most of what we wanted to see/do.  Less driving and parking meant more time to chill and enjoy the city. 

 
We did take the car to North Vancouver with the intent of participating in the Grouse Grind before we left on Thursday.  My friend tells me it's a straight up hike on the normally-wintery ski trail with a convenient tram to bring you down when finished.  An un-named person forgot their hiking shoes so we found solace in The Bakehouse and the many pastries on display.
 
I'm back to my usual routine - work and some play - and my summer fling with Vancouver seems so far away.  But I will be back, with hiking shoes in hand!
 
Places to eat
 
La Buca
4025 MacDonald Street
Vancouver BC  V6L 2N8
604.730.6988
labuca.ca
 
Ramen Santouka (amazing)
1690 Robson St
Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7
Neighborhood: West End
(604) 681-8121

 The Boathouse
1305 Arbutus Street
Vancouver BC  V6J 5N2
604.738.5487
www.boathouserestaurants.ca

Eatery Takeout
3431 W Broadway  
Vancouver, BC V6R 2B4, Canada
604-738-5298

The Bakehouse
1050 W Queens Ave
North Vancouver BC  V7R 1H7
604.980.5554
 
Hotel

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver BC V6E 1C5
604-684-8461
 
The lamb agnolotti - beautiful and delish at La Buca