Saturday, August 7, 2010

Rose Factory (aka, my house, this whole last while)

Just making up some pretty ivory / white sugar roses for the M&Ms (aka The Ms) this weekend. Will post tutorials after the wedding?

...I should really say fondant roses - they take about three days to make because of the drying process. (You do NOT want to make it all at once. ;)

Roll, shape, dry. Roll, cut, cut again, soften, adhere (x5), prim, dry. Repeat the last part until you have a flower to your liking.

Edit: S'more....

Calla Lily (some call it Arum Lily??) is my favourite flower. Not sure about keeping the blue ones.
Baby blue roses. Toothpick came out of the first one fine. These ones? not a chance. Will have to warn others about the picks.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Minoas Taverna (Burnaby BC) do I blog again?

What format do I use again?

It's been a while! (to quote a certain blogger.)

It has been a while. Between personal losses to great personal gains, this year has been somewhat of a misfit rollercoaster, and I believe that I've come out a stronger person. I thank you for continuing to read and checking in (if you have - I am not going to be so vain to believe you checked in at all!). I also thank the fellow bloggers (You know who you are.) for encouraging us to blog again (or at sometimes, to eat again, by dropping off random baked and/or fried goods). How long will I stick around this time? Who knows?

I haven't written in so long, in fact, that I honestly can't remember how to dissect the meal. Perhaps the real reason for posting this entry is... Well, a week ago Elaine invited a couple of us out to Minoas Taverna, a Greek restaurant located at the very tip of Smith Avenue (read: right at Kingsway). We were joined by Sherman, Kim, and two SOs (or rather, as Sherman would probably put it, I was fortunate enough to be allowed to dine with them. *inside joke!*)

Minoas has been in operation for as long as I can remember. I used to live in the area and *always* asked my mother about that "weird house on the hill that always had Christmas lights on". It wasn't until I was older that, armed with an entertainment book coupon, I would visit with my brother or even M a good decade ago. From what I remember, the family that ran the restaurant used to live in the basement of the restaurant. They've since moved out, but still run the back and front of the house. Their son also does real estate and you'll find a posting (or five) of his in the lower landing of the restaurant.

We all shared an appetizer platter that came with pita, spanakopita, mushrooms, meat dolmathes, hummus, calamari, and tzatziki. While there was a lot of variety on the platter (and Minoas offered mushrooms, something other Greek restaurants do not), M and I felt that the platter was a little small. To put things in perspective, we shared the appetizer platter (same price) with another couple at Cristos a couple weeks ago, and could barely touch our entrees. I think me and M could polish off the appetizer platter pictured above, plus our entrees (well, M at least. I'm not a porker... ;p) Meanwhile, our fellow dining companions thought it was acceptable.

The dips (tzatziki and hummus) were garlicky, just the way we liked it, and the spanakopita was crisp but warm and flavourful. My favourites would have had to be the dolmathes and surprisingly, the mushrooms. They were served warm and were lightly seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon.

It is always tricky dining with food bloggers. You hesitate to tell everyone what you're ordering, for fear of ordering the same thing. Then you play the game of ordering *last*, so that any last minute changes can be made, for the reason above.

That was exactly the case with M and Sherman (but you know. gotta keep the bromance, I just always get in the way.) They both ordered the roast lamb. It was a Tuesday, and the lamb was on special for $13.95. However, since we were using Entertainment book coupons, we weren't eligible for the "Tuesday special" price. Each entree came with a greek salad, carrots, half a potato, tzatziki and rice.

I ordered my usual lamb chops. Unfortunately, I wasn't asked how I'd like them done. I would have requested medium rare. The chops were done medium. To the restaurants credit, the lamb chops were mostly moist, but it erred on dry in some places. As I had some left over, I packed it home as usual, but knowing that it would be ultimately dry when reheated, piled on some tzatziki.

The (surprise) winner of the night would have had to be the moussaka that Kim ordered (although, please refer to his entry for his "but" to equalize the votes). The moussaka had bouts of potato, zucchini and eggplant but was still meaty. Actually, as we were reviewing our orders, I confessed that I'd wanted the moussaka, or even the vegetarian moussaka...but opted for the lamb chops to write about something different. :)

Elaine ordered the bifteka. This was another surprise as I'd rarely seen it as a stand-alone entree, only as an appetizer or as part of a platter. A trio of bifteka / meat patties comprised the entree and mostly everyone remarked how tender they were - usually the meatballs that I'd come across in Greek restaurants were dense and charred; these were moist, looser, and not as heavy.

Dinner came to about $23 per person, after discounts. For what we paid, it was fairly decent food. Service was prompt and the food arrived quickly. While value could be arguable, we also received another coupon with our meal (where did I put it now?). I'm just not as sure that I would go out of my way to visit, or that I would visit without a coupon.

After dinner, Mijune dropped by with a special sweet something for us - a jumbo donut from Texas! Apparently these donuts are in high demand and known they are for their slightly flakey, slightly sweet and original texture. Mijune was such a great spokesperson she even convinced a self-professed "old guy with gout" (just some random Minoas patron) to try a bite.

Many thanks to Elaine for remembering us and organizing this weekday dinner! Thank you to Mijune for the goodies. Thanks to Kim for the encouragement, and Thank you to Sherman and M for allowing me to sit in the corner and pretend that I was eating with them. ;)

Until next time!

Minoas Taverna
3823 Kingsway
Burnaby BC
P: 604-430-2545
Minoas Greek Taverna on Urbanspoon

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oy Vay...Lets try that again, shall we?

Welcome to my "official" *i'm back!* post.

If you were paying attention (like Phyllis, or readers on facebook, or twitter followers), you may have noticed that I scheduled something to be posted this morning. It did, indeed, get posted. Alas, I was a day early...for a date that I had suggested (Thursday, August 5th). As I've posted on twitter - when you stop doing, you forget how. ;p

What have I been up to? Getting a kick ass job yo!

I work for a vegan analogue company in R&D (research and development / R to the D, mangz) and am very happy to do so. On the off day, I even get to play around with the product for recipe development (photos shown) and take photos for the website! It's like I'm getting paid to do what I do on this very blog!!!

Granted, I am not vegan, nor am I a supreme chef or even a good photographer. But I am getting paid to improve these skills! :) And that makes me very very happy.

Anyways, I hope to keep up the blogging. I was surprising family and friends alike when I showed up to dinners and meals without my camera. I guess they missed my blogging / food "paparazzi-ing" as well. (as in..."Jess...wheres your camera? Don't you have to take photos?"

Aside from work, I've also been busy with a series of cake decorating classes at the local Michael's craft store...they were having 50% off classes in the summer and so, along with HK, I took advantage of the discount (and subsequent weekly 40% off and 50% off coupons) to stock up on cake decorating supplies and other goodies.

So…I've covered work, and I've covered extracurricular. On top of that, I am also helping friends organize their small wedding. How small? ~30 person. “But Jess,” you must think, “its only 30 people, how much trouble can it be?” Well, since it is more intimate, the couple has chosen to put a lot of personal touches on the shindig. As in making their own food. As in making a lot of decorations. Oh, and we had a month notice. :D

Dude, I love them, but it had me really freaked out there for a while. Thankfully, they have taken the reins (like 95% taken the reins) but I’m sure in the next two weeks things will pop up. I am also making a series of “bouquet cupcakes” for the reception (putting my new-found cake deco skills to the test!) so I’ll be busy with that.

So that’s been my life in a nutshell. See you in two weeks?
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