Sunday, 20 November 2016

Catching up.

A perfect pear from Fort Langley, back in those golden late-summer days. Sigh. 

I'm back! And of course I've been eating non-stop for months and I haven't been telling you about it, which is mean of me.

But so much has been happening. I came back from the prairies and enjoyed the rest of my summer; lived in Fort Langley for a while and cycled and ran like crazy; then I started teaching music again at one school, and also at another school for the first time. Teaching preschool music, which is hard. But very fun, when it works. I got hugged a lot today, for instance. And a mom told me that her daughter has been making images of me out of play dough all week. ("Does she stick pins in them?" I asked her.) I am taking a psychology class at university, so that one day I can pursue my dream of becoming a music therapist. I am playing in bands and writing music and learning to play the bass and the ukulele, and and andandand...

[Oh yeah, and an orange-faced racist, sexist reality-show clown got elected president in the states. It's enough to make anyone eat the pain away.]

"You are the busiest lazy person I know," exclaimed my boyfriend the other day. "Lazy" is really my term for it, since I would usually rather be curled up on the couch drinking red wine and writing or reading than anything else. But somehow this has ended up being a lie, as I race around being an early childhood music teacher and a student and a musician, and so many things. And I realize again that although I claim to be lazy, in fact I am anything but.

One thing I am still not though, is much of a cook. Oh I try. But although I love food, I don't always love making it. Partly because it's mostly for one, except when my boyfriend's around. And partly because my work schedule is weird and so I find myself having cooking binges once every couple of weeks and then having a million frozen breakfast burritos or soups or spaghetti-sauce-frozen-in-a-bag at my fingertips, which is amazing. But a lot of the time I'll still be going out for lunch or dinner (or breakfast, let's be honest).

So, with that in mind, I figured I should just pluck a few names out of the air for you, since it's been so long. After all, if they've stuck in my head with all this other stuff going on then they're probably worth writing about, one way or another. You'll find that this list has a very east van bias, since that's my place of residence and work. No apologies. Here goes...


Fable Diner
Some of us mourn the loss of Reno's (at the corner of Broadway and Main); not because their breakfasts were outstanding (they really weren't), but because they were dirt cheap and still served cafeteria-style, meaning you grabbed a tray, placed your order and paid at the till, and then got served pretty damn fast with an edible meal that wouldn't bust your budget. Old people on tiny fixed incomes loved it. Well, I don't imagine they're still flocking since Fable opened up, but the quality of the food has vastly improved. On one hand it's the epitome of hipster gentrification; on the other hand: thick, delicious bacon! Avocado toast with smoked salmon, arugula, and poached eggs! Huevos Rancheros! It's not perfect, (the coffee is boring, for example), but the brekkie selection is on point. Bonus points for being 2 blocks from where I work, for those mornings where my sweetie and I want to grab a bite before I have to run to the ol' day job.

More bonus points for being a mere 6 blocks from my sweetie's house. Also, great big kudos for the breakfast salad I almost always order: ALAN’S BREAKFAST $12 Romaine, purple cabbage, cilantro, cheese, pinto beans, balsamic vinaigrette, guacamole, and apple salsa, topped with two fried free-range eggs. Served with two fresh, hand-made corn tortillas.
Add a side of roasted yams and potatoes $2.50
[Don't order the yams/potatoes though. They're not worth it.] 
When I'm not down with the health program, I order the Lemmy, which is basically an orgy of cheese, poblano pepper, and- who the fuck cares? There's cheese. That's all you need to know. 


Blacksmith Bakery, Fort Langley
It seems so long ago that I was wearing next to nothing in the summer heat, cycling furiously from the converted barn I was house-sitting to the centre of tiny Fort Langley to swim in the muddy waters of the Fraser River off Braw Island Regional Park and work up an appetite for the incredible food at Blacksmith. But by my calculations it was only 3 months ago. Such innocent, happy times! 
Seriously, you should run (drive, fly), not walk, to this bakery; not only because Fort Langley will make you feel happy, but because Blacksmith's is the bomb. Sandwiches made with lemon-y guacamole and fresh, chewy bread. Tasty cappuccinos. And the desserts... Suffice it to say that I broke all my healthy summer vows on my birthday so I could eat their chocolate Guinness cake. And I regret nothing!  Their baked goods taste homemade in the best way, which is to say they taste buttery and rich and unpretentious and real. I'd walk back there from east van for their food. It's that good. 

Bao Down
And now for something completely different. Healthy, it's not. Delicious? Yup. Steamed bao (buns) stuffed to the gills with meats, veggies and sauces. Eat with fries, of course. They have Poke Bowls, for those who do want to be healthier. 

Honestly, it's going to be either sushi or pizza most of the time. The pizza's gonna be thin-slice Neapolitan style, because that's what I love. If I happen to be downtown, alway Nicli Antica. In my 'hood? Barbarella's. The service is well-meaning but vague; the cocktails are tasty and the pizza's yummy. 'nuff said. 
Sushi? Damn, there's a lot of mediocre stuff around here. Kishimoto is doing it better. Damn them for not being open for lunch, but I had takeout with my roomies a while ago and it rocked. Tiny Naruto Sushi on Commercial at 12th has a kickass Spicy Tuna Roll. 
Sometimes I'll leave the music puppy-mill (kidding) at 8:30, and want to be instantly stuffed full of carbs. What can I say? Teaching kids can be bloody hard. When I want comfort food I head right to Peaceful Noodle at 5th and Main for some Peaceful Beef Roll or Spicy Noodle. (The spicy noodles do NOT leave your insides feeling peaceful, FYI, TMI. But it's a small price to pay.) 

Besides my go-to, Matchstick, I have to give mad props to East Van Roasters for combining good coffee with incredible chocolate in a tiny, gorgeous space right down on Carrall Street. I walk in there  and instantly I wish that more places in Vancouver looked and felt like this. I've been cutting back on the coffee recently, partly because I've had some very disappointing ones so I felt that I should just avoid it in general unless I knew it was going to be exceptional, but I had the best mocha EVER at EVR. In fact, it was so good I could't finish it, because it was thick and rich like drinking chocolate, and I'd foolishly ordered one of their salted chocolate chip cookies as well. In the chocolate department, I also have to sheepishly admit  that I love Waves (yup, it's a chain- shoot me now) for using real chocolate chips in their hot chocolates and mochas, and giving you a choice between white, milk, and dark.  (As if there's a choice. Choose dark, ya wusses.) I've already had 2 of their seasonal candy cane-topped mochas and I see no reason to stop until a) Christmas comes or b) I get sick of candy canes and chocolate (never happen). 

There's a lot to be scared of. Winter is coming. It's getting dark so early. Did I mention that Donald WTF Trump is taking over the White House? We light candles against the dark; we bundle up, even on the balmy west coast; we eat warm and comforting foods to swell our bellies against the dangers and the scarcities. It's not enough, it's never enough, but we try. You'll find me here from time to time as the days get shorter, eating and blogging faithfully about it. See you around.