Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bon(jour)/ Appetit!

Welcome to the never-ending story of my adventures with food -- and the chance to talk about them and your own food adventures.

Friends, acquaintances, and even people I've just met have always been telling me to give food writing a shot -- I'm always talking about good/interesting foods (take note that those terms are not always interchangeable) and places to find/try/buy them -- so I've finally decided to get on my ass and try it!

Here's where I'll get all my thoughts and experiences down (in possibly the most random fashion possible), to help you discover new dishes, recognize vendors who wouldn't catch your eye otherwise, and maybe even be persuaded to choose something entirely different the next time you eat out/go grocery shopping/stop for a snack.

I mean it in the broadest possible sense when I say that I am interested in any and all kinds of food. I'm by no means a gourmand, or even someone who eats out regularly. When I say food, I mean anything from restaurant meals and fast food snacks to interesting flavours and brands of everyday items like chips, chocolates, cookies, jams, milk, bread, juice, etc.

I like hearing others' food suggestions and favourite dining spots as much as I like sharing my own, so I would love to get your input on any topic I happen to hit upon - whether your knowledge be first- or second-hand.

I usually do A LOT of research about foods and food places before I try them, so I often end up talking about places I haven't yet tried but plan to visit. However, I'll always indicate whether the information's directly from me or from other sources.

Ultimately, I would like this to become a conversation about food - one that we can continue the next time we meet for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, snacks, or brunch; so, without further ado, let's get the ball rolling.

Let's talk carbs, or specifically, pasta. For someone who wrote an article on the harmfulness of lowered carb intake (aka the low-carb diet), I rarely go for the high-carb options when I go out to eat. I'm just not into rice, bread, and pasta. Generally, I haven't been too impressed with any of my pasta experiences, and it's just occurred to me that I've never specifically sought out a fantastic place for Italian-style pasta (to me, it's weird to think of Asian noodle dishes as pasta, even though they usually rightfully belong to this category).

I think it's time to ameliorate my "poor pasta" situation.

Part of the reason for my lack of a "wow" experience is high standards. For the longest time, I used to think that lasagna was my favourite food, and tried it at a bunch of places before I realized that it wasn't; it was my aunt's lasagna that I loved, and what I loved most about it was *shh* her secret ingredient -- sugar, and lots of it! It's apparently "a Filipino thing" (maybe a Chinese-Filipino one?), and it's just the thing to turn a mediocre pasta into what my friend Isabelle calls a "party for your mouth". It doesn't hurt that my aunt's lasagna also has about a full centrimetre's worth of gooey mozzerella cheese on top. Other lasagnas and pastas just don't match up once you've tried sugared pasta. Don't knock it till you try it - it's amazing! But I digress.

I've had spaghetti and lasagna at the Old Spaghetti Factory, lasagna at Red Robin's, chicken pesto/wine sauce pasta and turkey tortellini at Anton's Pasta, some kind of pasta at Da Pasta Bar (I honestly can't remember anymore what kind), fettuccini alfredo at Earl's, four-cheese gnocci at Marcello's, and some kind of chicken pasta dish at the fancy La Terreza in Yaletown, and none have really wowed me.

I haven't been to any of the really high-end places (with the exception of La Terreza), but also hope that there are some reasonably-priced pasta places out there that will fulfill my need for some good pasta. I'm planning to hit up The First Ravioli store on Commercial Drive sometime to try a bit of each of their different (uncooked) pastas. They're supposed to be really tasty.

If you have a favourite Italian pasta place/experience, please share it with me so that I and any other readers can make my/their stomach happy with a yummy pasta dish!

Cheers to the dreaded first-date food! :)


  1. hey Cathy!
    your blog sounds promising. make sure to include lotsa photos whenever you can. hmmm pasta experience... I used to consider it my favourite food when I was younger (like 13ish), with Ricky's Restaurant's baked spaghetti being the top choice. Unfortunately they changed their menu so it's no longer there. Old spaghetti factory has always been average for me.

  2. are you a fan of Michelle Fung's art? "lettuce talk about food" was in one of her art series. =)
    I'd like to try Anton's Pasta sometime. never been. Have you been to Avenue Grill? their pasta is pretty good. They've also got an awesome Tiramisu.


  3. Thanks for the tip about the photos, Tiff. I know I need more visuals, and will try to add a bunch to my next post. Too bad about the baked spaghetti being off the menu. Is there a huge difference between baked spaghetti vs. stove-top spaghetti, which is what I eat at home?

    I'm going to google that art exhibit. Anyone who makes an exhibit centred on food and wordplay is awesome.

    Anton's is good for huge portions of pasta, and a pretty big selection. Quality-wise it's just alright. I know a lot of people who get their leftovers wrapped up and have it for next day's breakfast AND lunch. But if you finish it there, you can get an Anton's pen and bragging rights. :P My friend Jen and my cousin and his whole basketball team have done that. =) I almost did, and then decided to save the rest for dinner. When I got home, there wasn't even a cup left. :( I should have just gone for the pen.

    I will keep the Avenue Grill in mind. What pasta dish do you recommend?

  4. It's just spaghetti with a thick layer of cheese on top, like baked lasagna.

  5. Thanks for telling me about your new blog, Cathy!

    Lots of sugar in your aunt's pasta? It sounds like it could actually be quite delicious!