The Sandbar

Last night I went to the Sandbar to attend a friend’s birthday party. It has been forever since I went to Granville Island, and whenever I do go, it was only for the public market. So eating there was an entirely new experience for me.

The Sandbar is located at 1535 Johnston St. Granville Island Vancouver. It is actually a bit tricky to find if you have never been there.. It’s located behind a souvenir shop; past a silk store, all the way by the water. When I got there, it was just a bit past 7pm. The first floor had a sushi bar and it did not appear to be too busy.. That was, until I got up to the second floor. It was really lively up there! The restaurant looks like a large wooden cabin. The scenery was amazing as well.

The interior of the Sandbar Restaurant

Our hostess for the night was really friendly and helpful. The complementary bread was the first to be served. It was a crusty white bread with butter on the side to spread. The bread was still warm when it arrived and it went perfectly with the bread. Next, my 7oz. sirloin steak arrived.

7oz. CAB sirloin $19CAD

My medium rare steak arrived after a 2o minute wait. The garlic mashed potatoes were a bit cold for my taste, but other than that, this steak was great! It was tender and juicy. The asparagus and tomatoes were not too salty (unlike the ones I had at Mosaic). The bourbon peppercorn demi-glaze also went very well with the meat. The 7oz was a perfect size for me. I was satisfied but not too full in the end.

Ratings:

Service 5/5
Food 4/5
Value 3/5
Overall: 4/5

This restaurant is located on Granville Island so naturally the price would be a bit pricier than usual. I did not feel like seafood last night so I did not try any of the fish or mussels. However, I was happy with my steak. It wasn’t spectacular, but it satisfied my craving for meat.

The Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Creme Caramel

Creme caramel.. A combination of sweet caramel and soft, egg-y pudding. The flavors are smooth and rich; you cannot have one without the other! What more can you ask for from a pudding?

I forgot where I found this recipe.. Possibly on allrecipes? It is a very good recipe and not too difficult to make. The most challenging part is the caramel. It only takes a few seconds for caramel to go from great to burnt so you have to watch it carefully.

Creme caramel baked in ramekins

The caramel on the bottom

Creme Caramel (Serves 6)

For the custard:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
2 eggs
Pinch of salt

For the caramel:
1/2 cup sugar

*****

Instructions

For the custard:

1. Heat the oven to 325F.
2. Heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scaled (small bubbles will form on the sides of the pan).
3. Split the vanilla bean in half (if using) and scrape the seeds into the cream.
4. In a medium bowl, slowly whisk the sugar into the egg yolks and eggs.
5. Slowly whisk the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture.
6. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.
7. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract (if using).

For the caramel:

1. Arrange six 6-oz. ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides and set aside.
2. Put the sugar into a saucepan and add enough water to dissolve the sugar. Set the pot over high heat.
3. The mixture will come to a furious boil after a few minutes. It will start to colour. Swirl the pan to even out the caramelization. When the caramel is an even dark brown, pour it into the ramekins.

Be careful!! The caramel at this stage is over 300F. If the caramel cools in the pot at this stage, it will become a sticky mess..

To bake:

Pour the custard into the caramel-lined ramekins. Fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the dish with foil (to prevent the tops from drying out). Bake for 25-50 minutes until just set. Remove. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. To eat, invert the custard onto a dessert plate by running a thin knife around the edge.

My own personal notes:

– I don’t brown the caramel until a dark brown because I find that it ends up burning since the pot is still very hot after being removed from the heat. I stop heating when a lighter brown colour has been achieved.

– 25 minutes to 50 minutes is a very broad time range.. I bake mine for 35 minutes.

That’s all I have to say for now. Happy baking~

Chocolate Cupcakes

Last night I made some more cupcakes~ This time it’s a modified version of the red velvet cupcakes from my last post. (Please see the full recipe in the link provided)

This time I didn’t add any red food coloring and I doubled the cocoa for a more chocolate-y cake. I added some red food coloring to the frosting to make it light pink but apparently I did not add enough as the frosting was still really white.

Yummy~ : )

Chocolate cupcake with pink cream cheese frosting topped with sprinkles

Red Velvet Cupcakes

On Saturday night I needed a little break from final exam studying, so I decided to bake some cupcake with my sister. My favorite cupcakes are red velvet cupcakes. I love the cream cheese frosting and the red of the cupcakes is very pretty. I usually buy red velvet cupcakes from the Original cupcakes store by Heather and Lori, but there are a couple of problems with that: 1. They are a bit expensive. 2. They always run out of red velvet cupcakes.. It’s one of their most popular flavors.

I found the recipe from Joy of Baking, a wonderful website that offers a lot of great recipes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

The texture is soft and moist!

Red Velvet Cupcakes (Recipe courtesy of Joyofbaking.com)

(Yield: 12 cupcakes)

1 1/4 cups (125 grams) sifted cake flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons (10 grams) regular or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cups (150 grams) granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) buttermilk
1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cream Cheese Frosting:

4 ounces (113 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup (30 grams) confectioners’ (icing or powdered) sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (80 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (double cream) (35-40% butterfat)

**********

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175C) and line 12 muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and cocoa powder.

3. Using an electric mixer (or by hand, which is a lot more tedious), beat the butter until soft (1-2 mins). Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy (2-3 mins). Beat in the egg. Finally, beat in the vanilla extract.

4. In a separate cup, whisk the buttermilk with the red food colouring. Then add half the flour mixture into the butter mixture, mix. Add in the buttermilk mixture, mix. Finally, add in the rest of the flour mixture and mix.

5. In a small cup, combine vinegar and baking soda. The mixture should start fizzing immediately. Add that to the batter and quickly fold it in.

6. Quickly pour the batter into the muffin cups, smooth the tops with the back of  a spoon and bake in the oven for around 18-23 minutes.

Cool completely before frosting.

For the Frosting:

Beat the cream cheese until smooth, then add in the vanilla and confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) and beat until smooth. Gradually add in the heavy cream and mix until the frosting is thick enough to pipe. Add more cream and/or sugar as needed until the right consistency is achieved.

I didn’t follow this recipe exactly to the dot. I used artificial vanilla extract instead of the real thing and I didn’t have butter so I opted margarine instead. Also, sis and I made our own buttermilk from whole milk. To do this, just add white vinegar to milk. The ratio is 1 cup milk to 1 tbsp white vinegar. Set it aside for 5 minutes before using.

In the end, the final product turned out pretty well! The frosting was a bit runny for my liking but it hardened after it had cooled for some time in the fridge. The frosting was the tastiest part, but the cupcakes themselves aren’t too bad either! I don’t think it’s worse than the store. Next time I’ll make my own red velvet cupcakes at home instead of buying out. When I can find the time, of course. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem since summer term will not be as stressful as winter.. At least I hope not.

It kind of scared me though while making the cupcakes just how much red food colouring goes into these delicious cupcakes. Next time I might opt to skip the food colouring if I’m baking them for myself at home..

Red velvet cupcake batter

Chicco

On Thursday I went to Chicco with A, M and J after eating some very yummy Korean food at Chungdam Ahn! (I will write about that in my next post)

Chicco is a Japanese coffee and dessert bar located at 1504 Robson St. Vancouver.

Chicco Cafe

There aren’t many tables and chairs in the small cafe. The maximum capacity is around 15 people so there is a minimum order of 1 order per person if you want to eat-in. There are many cute wall decorations and art displays made from clay plates and cups which makes the interior decoration quite unique. They also sell handmade clay cups and plates created by Japanese artists.

Interesting art work on the wall

I shared a green tea parfait with A. I didn’t want to order anything else since a parfait is more than enough for the two of us after a very big dinner.. However, due to the minimum order requirement, I had to order an iced coffee. It was too cold to be eating a parfait outside.. M got a royal milk tea and J got a medium latte. I think aside from the price, I will like this place a lot! $7.50 for a parfait is a bit expensive in my opinion.. It did taste very good though.

Green Tea Parfait $7.50

The green tea parfait came with green tea cheese cake, green tea ice cream, a couple of rice cakes, sweet red bean, whipped cream, green tea jelly, corn flakes, vanilla ice cream and sponge cake. (In the order that they are presented in the parfait)

My favorite was the vanilla ice cream and corn flakes layer. The salty flakes go really well with the sweet ice cream! However, the sponge cake layer was very dry.. The moisture in the parfait did not blend together really well. It was hard to get everything mixed together.

There are things about Chicco that I like and things I do not. All in all, I would say that Chicco parfaits are delicious but for the price that you are paying for, it can only be a once-in-awhile indulgence. It would be even better if they can lower their price just a bit and expand the store. I prefer places where the minimum order is a certain $ per person instead of one entire order per person.

Chicco on Urbanspoon

Mister Donut

Someone should seriously bring Mister Donut to Vancouver.. If I had the money and potential to do so, I would have done it a long time ago. This brand of donuts from Japan is seriously the best donuts I have ever had!

我最喜歡的口味是黑五穀糖波提~ (Pon de kokuto). 它們的波提不會太甜、太膩;味道剛剛好! :) The best part about their pon de ring donuts is that it’s chewy. In my opinion it’s much better than the soft, cake-like kind.

Everytime I go back to Taiwan I always pay them a visit!

So many donuts!

But apparently a large majority of people living in Canada prefer Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ donuts? They think Mister Donut isn’t sweet enough.. I beg to differ. I cannot stand the sweetness of many American desserts. When I first tried a Krispy Kreme, I was very disappointed. After hearing so many people rave about it, I thought it was just another average and overly-sweet donut. It did not meet up to my expectations. 我覺得亞洲的點心還是最好吃的。