Archive for What I Ate

Commercial Drive Bakeries

I am a girl who likes her sweets. I love a good bakery. And a cluster of them together??!? Pure gold. 

You can walk from one to the next, and that, my friends, burns calories so you can have an extra cookie or a slice of cake when you get to the next one. 

Yeah, there’s a method to my madness. 

Here in Vancouver, there are a couple parts of the city where you can find bakeries blooming. Yaletown is obviously the first, but Commercial Drive, with its Italian/Portugese roots, is also very rich in the baked goods. 

You’ll find everything here–I mean obviously a lot of old-school and new-school Italian baked goods, but also French patisserie, and some modern takes, as well. 

My list starts in one of two places: at La Tana, which is almost all the way to Hastings at the north, or at Flourist, which is as far south as this map will take you. In between? A treasure-trove of tasty baked goods. 

round loaves of sourdough bread

Flourist, 3433 Commercial St

I’ve been watching and waiting on this one for a while. The newest of the Commercial Drive Bakery gang, Fourist just opened up this bricks-and-mortar location a couple months ago, after running a successful online business for the last few years. They were selling dried goods: flours, beans, pulses, grains, but have now created a cafe/coffee shop, selling baked goods made from their raw ingredients. You can buy authentic sourdough bread here, or learn to make it and buy all you need to make it at home. There’s something for everyone, including lots of vegan treats. My fave? The Chocolate Chip cookies, or beans on toast. 

Fratelli Bakery Commercial Dr

Fratelli–the mind boggles.

Bakery Sate, 2879 Commercial Dr

It’s a bit obscure, as it’s tucked around behind a big storefront on 12th, but it’s well worth seeking out. Sate has some of the most interesting and creative croissant flavours in the city. If you are matcha-obsessed, they have matcha croissants, as well as other out-of-the-box flavours like Banana-Chocolate-Hazelnut or Pomegranate Cheesecake. 

Fratelli Espresso Shortbread

Fratelli, 1795 Commercial Dr

Fratelli is the oldest of all the Commercial Drive Bakeries. Open since 1997, Fratelli is part of a triumverate of Italian perfection: there’s the bakery, La Grotta Del Formaggio beside it, and Cafe Calabria beside that. It’s the most Italian you can be in the city. Fratelli is also the bakery on this list that has the biggest selection. There are literally 100s of items baked every day for sale, and they are all pretty spectacular. They go from cakes to cookies to bread to savoury items… yeah, it’s a tough decision to make. One of my favourite things here is the espresso shortbread, but really, you can’t go wrong with pretty much anything. 

Oatmeal Sandwich Cookie Oh Sweet Day

Oh Sweet Day, 1706 E 1st Ave

Another fairly new addition to the Drive, Oh Sweet Day started as a blog. Fanny Lam started a blog, and then, in an attempt to monetize, began to sell Christmas Cookie Boxes. They were so popular, she wrote a cookbook, and eventually, opened up her own shop. She’s known for two things: cookies and mini cheesecakes. 

Kougin Amann

The Bench Bakehouse, 1641 Commercial Dr (in Il Mercado)

Open less than a year, The Bench is run by a husband-wife team who trained both out of Paris and San Francisco. So they have great breads, as well as great pastries. They do some fun, creative croissant flavours here, too, but my favourite thing to order is the Kougin-Amann. 

Livia Sweets

Livia, 1399 Commercial Dr

Hands down, this is my favourite place on the drive. Part bakery, part cafe, it has such a charming European vibe, I just want to move in. The coffee is really great, too. There are baked goods, but also things made from their house-made bread… well I just can’t say enough nice things. Really, go. 

Caffe La Tana

Caffe La Tana, 635 Commercial Dr

It’s attached to Pepinos, and they share a kitchen. This charming little spot beside the York Theatre is owned by the same folks that brought you Savio Volpe, so as you can well imagine, the pasta is great. This is the day-time version of Pepinos, with coffees and pasta, lighter fare. They also have some pretty dope baked goods, fresh bread, and a whole little Italian market with specialty imported items. It just has the most European vibe… 

What’s your favourite Commercial Drive bakery? Did I forget any? Comment below! 

 

Best Vegan Dishes in Vancouver

Welcome to Vancouver. We are one of the best cities to live in and visit if you are a vegan or a vegetarian. In fact, nearly 40% of BC residents under the age of 35 say they eat no meat, and 6.4 Million Canadians say they limit they amount of meat they eat. That’s nearly 20% of our population! 

There’s been so much talk lately about climate change. It’s really been in the forefront these last few weeks more than ever. And, along with pushing our governments to make serious change, one of the suggestions being made is also that we eat less meat for environmental reasons. 

Truthfully, there’s never been a better time to cut back on the amount of meat you’re eating. Whether you’re flexitarian, vegetarian or fully vegan, Vancouver is a city that you will love. We have options! So many delicious options! 

So I wanted to put together a list of all my favourite vegan foods in the city. If you’re visiting, they are worth checking out. If you live here, please feel free to add your favourites (what I’ve missed) in the comments below. Please note that these foods are my favourite treats. You can get healthy bowls and salads everywhere, this post is about my favourite vegan indulgences, which is what I like to do when I visit a new city, or when I’m going out with my friends. 

Donuts. It will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me even slightly that Cartem’s Donuts has my heart. Ever since just before they opened their doors on the Pender street location, I have loved them. Sure, there are other places in the city to get a vegan donut. But none of them offer the convenience and creativity of Cartems. My recommendation: whatever their monthly special is. 

Pizza: many pizza places in the city (even the big chains like Panago and Dominos) are embracing the veg trend and offering dairy-free cheeses and meat-sub toppings. But there will never, as far as I’m concerned, be a pizza that quite satisfies my cravings like Virtuous Pie. Look, let’s be real here. The toppings are important, yes. But the basis of any really good pie is the crust, and Virtuous Pie does it right. My recommendation: Stranger Wings. Yes. You need this in your life. 

Ice cream: just around the corner from Virtuous Pie is Umaluma. We’ve had a few vegan ice cream places come and go here in Vancity, and there are certainly other places in the city that do it well, but for selection and interesting, creative flavours, Umaluma is the scoop. See what I did there? 

Poutine: There are lots of places in the city that surprisingly have vegan or at least vegetarian gravy. But my fave vegan poutine in the city has been for a very long time, SpudShack in the New Westminster skytrain station. It’s a big obscure, but trust me, it’s worth seeking out. The fries are perfection, the gravy is rich and the perfect level of saltiness. 

Burger: oh boy. Now for the controversy. Vegan burgers are basically available on every street corner in this city now, thanks to pretty much all the fast-food chains now carrying Beyond or Lightlife. A&W serves them. Timmies serves them. Harveys serves them. But I’m not really interested in promoting a huge chain, I want to shout out a local business with a house-made patty. So, my controversial choice for best veggie burger in the city is… St Augustines. Yeah. This great little pub/brewhouse just beside the Commercial Drive Skytrain is actually pretty vegan friendly. This is a hearty house-made vegan burger patty with quinoa, yams and chickpeas. To make it vegan, ask for it without cheese and aioli. 

Ramen:  I love that we live in a city with so many different types of food and cultures to explore. Ramen has exploded in this city over the last few years, and I live in the heart of the so-called Ramen District. In my neighbourhood, there are at least half-a-dozen ramen joints in just a few blocks, and they are all pretty great. Ramen Danbo has the longest lines, Jinya is pretty great, but I love the cozy shop beside the London Drugs on Broadway and Cambie called Benkei.

Cauliflower: once thought of as the world’s most boring vegetable, Cauliflower is having the hottest of moments thanks to the paleo/keto movement. But it’s also having a hot moment due to its shape and size, and therefore its ability to pass for a chicken wing. “Vegan wings” are super popular in this city. What’s Up Hot Dog has Vegan Wing Night on Mondays (go early, there’s a line), and even the big chain restaurants like Earls are adding them to their menus (click here for a comprehensive list). For me, there are two real stand-out cauliflower dishes in the city; one more traditional, and one which is my favourite of the vegan wings. The classic cauliflower dish is Nuba’s Najib’s Special. This was the first time I’d ever tried deep-fried cauliflower (years ago, before the trend started), and I was immediately hooked. I don’t know what magical fairy dust they sprinkle on the cauliflower at Nuba, but it is the most delicious thing you will ever put in your mouth that is a vegetable. If you’re planning a trip to our fair city, I must insist you try it.

My fave of the vegan wings in the city belongs to Meet. They are beer-battered, deep fried, and then served with a sweet-spicy Thai sauce that simply cannot be beat.

 Honourable mention: the chickpea fries from Chickpea. I don’t have a category for this, because honestly, this dish is a category in and unto itself. Chickpea fries are made in a very similar way to polenta fries; you whisk the chickpea flour into boiling water until it gets thick, then let it set up in the fridge. Then you slice into “fries” and deep fry them. The Chickpea version is served with two drizzles; one creamy and one spicy. I could eat these all day every day; be sure to seek them out. 

Over to you, friends. What have I missed? Comment below! 

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