Neighourhood Food: Finch's Tea and Coffee House

I discovered Finch's, located at the corner of West Pender and Richards, in 2007 and it's been a favourite ever since.  I used to be able to spend a leisurely Saturday morning/afternoon reading my book, sipping on a steamed soy milk with maple syrup, and picking away at a delicious sandwich, but now it's so busy you can't get in the door a lot of the time - which is really my only complaint.

  NO, I do not mind that it takes a long time for my food to be made.  It is fresh, carefully crafted, and always delicious.  If you're in a rush, this isn't the place for you and the food isn't meant to be enjoyed quickly anyway!

I highly recommend the Pear Baguette (prosciutto, pears and blue brie, with walnuts and olive oil), but also really enjoy the Applewood Smoked Cheddar baguette (filled with fresh lettuces, cucumber and tomato and liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper).  The oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is my favourite (beware: it has raisins), but somehow the cookies are always magically warm and gooey.  

The decor here is also charming, cozy and non-pretentious.  Great for breakfast too.  While it may not look like much from the outside, Finch's is a great place to have a meal or spend time with friends.

The Smoked Applewood Cheddar Baguette.

The Oatmeal Raisin Chocolate Chip cookies.  Somehow always magically warm.

* This review appears on my Yelp page, which you can visit at

for more reviews.  Thanks to Yelp for making me Yelp Elite '14!

New Favourite Semi-Guilt Free Treat: Cakes in Mugs!

It's the New Year, so we'll all be on diets for the next - week?  10 days?  I thought I'd share my favourite sinful "diet" snack of the moment:  cakes in mugs!  They take 1 minute and 40 seconds to cook, have very few regretful ingredients, and satisfy the need for something decadent to snack on. Trust me guys, these are good.  You'll feel like you've had a treat.  Plus they're portion controlled so you can't really overdo it (well, you could, you'd just have to go to the effort of making another one, and if you do that - well, that's just dedication and you go with your bad overeating self).


3 tbsp of any cake mix you like

1 tbsp of fat free sour cream

1 tbsp of egg beaters or some other egg substitute (I use Egg Creations)

a smidge (around 1/8 of a tsp) of baking soda

Spray a coffee mug with Pam.  Mix all of the above ingredients in the mug.  Throw it in the microwave for 1 minute and 40 seconds.  When the microwave dings (or beeps, or microwave-sound-of-your-choice), flip your mug over into a plate or a bowl, and garnish as you like, or as your Weight Watchers points allow.  I like using a tablespoon of fat free, NSA pudding (I use Hunts Snack Packs, 60 calories per pack).

I'm serious, you just made a cake in less than 5 minutes.  You're amazing.  You should probably go brag about this on Facebook.

Here's tonight's cake mug:

Rainbow Chip cake mix, vanilla NSA pudding, some leftover Christmas sprinks.

And last night's cake mug:

Devil's Food cake mix, chocolate NSA pudding, grated 70% chocolate.

Neighbourhood Food: Cadeaux Bakery

A beautiful little spot tucked away at the edges of "respectable" Gastown, at 172 Powell Street, 


is mostly a working kitchen and a counter featuring the daily spread, but there are a few places to sit down, and if you can manage to snag one it's a great place to sit and have a leisurely coffee or tea and chat with a friend.

The London Fog cake is hands down my favourite item here.  A vanilla layered cake, the hint of bergamot is truly evocative of a warm tea latte, and the whipped frosting is not too heavy - it's like the foam on top of that latte.  It's still a super-rich, decadent treat, but you won't feel heavy and weighed down after eating it - just totally, completely satisfied.

On our visit today my fella had the Bacon Swirl - a cinnamon twist featuring bacon.  Now THAT was rich - and S. remarked that he couldn't actually taste the bacon, as opposed to say, the Maple Bacon Fritter at 49th Parallel/Lucky's Donuts.  It was definitely there, but the buttery pastry and the cinnamon really overpowered any accent the bacon could have provided.

The only reason this place doesn't get a 5 stars from me is the lack of sit-down seating, the limited range of take-home treats, and the fact that the coffee is not as great as it could/should be to accompany such sweet treats.  But the baking itself is divine, and the staff is lovely.

The Bacon Swirl.  Yep.

Try one of the truffles if you're looking for a small sweet.  This is Salted Caramel Pecan.

Neighbourhood Food: Nicli Antica Pizzeria

Having spent a fair amount of time in Italy, I like to think I know pizza.  So I am gratified that local neighbourhood joint Nicli Antica Pizzeria, at 62 East Cordova (just before Columbia), also knows pizza.

S. and I went for brunch today and found the place nearly empty at 1 p.m.  S. ordered the Funghi - a pizza with a tomato base featuring basil, mozzarella and mushrooms - and I had the Basil Pesto BBT, which has bacon, basil and baby cherry tomatoes.

The pizza dough, this time, was perfect: chewy but crispy where it had been roasted on the outside edges, and the ingredients were fresh, as always.  My only complaints would be that sometimes the crust is hit or miss - I've had some pizzas delivered to the table on previous visits that were too charred or my liking - and that the BBT was swimming in oil from the pesto - I would have preferred at tomato base for this pizza at the end of the day.

Aside from the food, the atmosphere is great (minimalist white decor, white crisp linens, shining silver flatware and fresh flowers), the service is attentive without being annoying, and the price point is good for a date night or work lunch.  And $5 mimosas for Sunday brunch?  Yes please!

These oils added some colour and warmth to the otherwise white and minimalist table.  Unfortunately my BBT pizza was too oily to warrant giving these a try...

Behold, the Mighty Zoku!

So, for my birthday my brother and sister-in-law got me the weirdest, coolest toy ever:

the Zoku

.  It makes popsicles on your counter.  In like, 5 minutes.  

Wacky, right?  But so totally cool.  They also got me the official Zoku popsicle cookbook.  I opened it and immediately shouted "I sense a new blog project coming on!"

That's right people.  It's popsicle blog time.

I started on Saturday night.  The first I made were the easiest, I think: peach pops.  Some of my own home-canned peaches, a little yogurt, agave and lime juice.  I mixed the ingredients together, and then poured them into the Zoku mould, which had been chilling in the freezer for 24 hours.  I filled it up to the "fill line," placed a stick in carefully, and waited, staring dubiously at the little thing as it sat on my counter.  6 minutes later - voila.  I pulled out a perfect pop!  I gave Andrew the first one and he said, "Mmm.  Peachy."  "Good peachy or bad peachy?" "Good."  And they were.

The Zoku's trial run.  I must admit, I was dubious.  I should never have doubted you Zoku.

Peachy pop!

Next up was the "Summer Morning" pop - honeydew melon (we used chinese honeydew, which are slightly different in colour and texture), fresh basil, and lime juice - and then sanded with sugar.  They were very tart, very basil-y, and I couldn't really taste the honeydew.  But they were certainly refreshing.  

Summer Morning pop.  Very strong, tart flavour.

I could tell after just a few tries that Zoku and I were going to become good friends.  So much so, in fact, that I made a trip to Williams-Sonoma today to buy some Zoko accessories: the "fruit wand" (which allows you to artfully place pieces of fruit in the mould), and the fruit stencils (starts and hearts), and the special "pour cups."  I opted not to get the Zoku storage case (my freezer is too tiny), but did not with interest that you can get a BIGGER Zoku, with 3 moulds - think how many more popsicles I could make!

I already have little jars of leftover peach mix and Summer morning mix in the fridge, and I've just made a mix for Chai Pops that I am dying to try.   I'll make do with my lil' red Zoku for now - but I'm envisioning an entire gourmet popsicle empire...

On Donuts.

So you may recall my

earlier post

on local donut celebrity

Cartems Donuterie

.  My adorable friend Louisa has a food vlog where she talks about all things yummy - here's her latest, on Cartems:

Speaking of Cartems, yesterday amazing corporate food delivery service

delivered my a half-dozen of these babies at work, free!  Thanks for the free donuts,!

Free Cartems!  Thanks,! is a free service that takes care of everything from staff birthday cakes, to team lunches to casual beers.  Their staff (who hand delivered my donuts yesterday) were oh-so-friendly and full of suggestions of great places to eat...give them a try if you're ordering for your workplace or a large crowd.

The Shop Around the Corner: La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop

It's probably old news that

La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop

has the best tacos in Vancouver.   Its two locations, Cambie & Broadway, and Hastings Street (near Victory Square), are always packed, and I'm always happy to wait for their delicious little tacos.  "Pinche tacos" are Mexican street tacos - smaller than the giant tacos we normally see here in Canada, served on corn tortillas.  La Taqueria uses local, organic and sustainable products where possible, and I have yet to be disappointed by any experience there.

I have a few standbys when it comes to choosing a taco.  I love the De Picadillo - which is ground tofu in a "secret sauce," and the traditional Frijoles Charros con Queso - refried beans with cheese.  I also enjoy the Pollo con Mole, when I'm in a meat-y mood (which is not very often, but sometimes) - that's chicken in chocolate mole sauce.

My tacos: two Pollo con Mole, one De Picadillo, and one Frijoles Charro con Queso.

Unbelievably, Andrew had never been to La Taqueria, so we stopped by last night for a late dinner.  Ignacio, who co-owns the Cambie location, was working at Hastings last night and Andrew asked him to pick the four "best" tacos for him to try - he got a nice selection of various cow parts, which anyone who knows Andrew (this man constantly complains that there aren't enough "meat flavoured drinks" in the world) can tell you was a very good choice on Ignacio's part.

As for me, I got my "usual", as listed above, and Ignacio asked me if I wanted him to make them up "his way" - in terms of the various hot sauces and pickles that La Taqueria has on offer.  I said sure, and it was amazing how the different sauces Ignacio chose changed the flavours so much!  They were delicious - although Ignacio was worried that he had made them too spicy and kept asking me if they were OK and to let him know if they weren't OK and he'd make new ones for me.  He also very helpfully wrote down the name of a friend's hotel in Tulum when I mentioned that my friends and I are off on our now-annual Mexican adventure in August.  The staff is friendly, and so are the customers - whenever I've been at La Taqueria, I've always had a good conversation with someone, either waiting in line, or fighting for space at one of the counters.

Andrew is much happier with his tacos than he looks in this photo.

La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop is open Monday to Saturday, 11:00 - 9:30, at both locations.  Stand in line, it's worth it.

Strawberry Mango Oat Bars

Feeling a bit under the weather tonight and as such I'm choosing to have a quiet night in.  "Quiet nights in" always involve baking.  Tonight, I had some strawberries and mangos that were getting dangerously ripe, so, voila - Strawberry Mango Oat Bars!  I promised my friend Louise I would post this recipe if they turned out.


1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup margarine (I used Earth Balance, suppose you could use butter if you were so inclined)

2 ripe mangos, mushed

3 cups ripe strawberries, casually chopped

2 packets Splenda (OK, go ahead and use real sugar if you must - that'll be about 1 tbsp)

1 tbsp cornstarch

Squirt of lemon juice


1.  Throw the flour, rolled oats, sugar and margarine in a bowl and mix (with your fingers preferably) well until the ingredients are fine and crumbly.

2.  Reserve 1 cup of crumbly stuff and then press the rest into a greased 8 x 8 baking pan so it forms a hard crust.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 F.

3.  Mix the mango, strawberries, cornstarch, Splenda and lemon juice.

Mixing the fruit.

4.  Pour on top of the baked crumbly crust and then sprinkle the reserved cup of crumbly stuff on top.

Ready to go in the oven!

5.  Bake for 45 minutes at 350 F.

My sous-chef wasn't willing to wait.

6.  Wait until cool to slice.  Makes 8 bars.

Et voila!  Think these might be good with a little coconut "ice cream."

Dinner with Friends.

Just got back from dinner with friends at Feenie's on West Broadway. When we left the restaurant it was pouring rain and I realized sadly that it has reached that time of year where I have to start carrying an umbrella everywhere I go. I was happy to be able to go and hop in my little co-op car (a Volkswagen Bug, bright yellow) to come much as I love walking and being a city girl that was a bit too far of a hop skip and a puddle-jump for me.

We had a tough time deciding what to eat tonight and four of us decided to go for the porkchop with baked apples and spinach gnocchi. We were all a little disappointed-we thought it was salty-but for some reason when the waitress asked how everything was, we all smiled and said it was great, thank you very much. Then we all looked at each other and said, "Why did we say that?" So the next time she came back, I said to her, "Well, we lied. We actually thought they were really salty, but we didn't want to say anything." She was immediately concerned and said, "You need to tell us these things! I'll tell the kitchen immediately, thank you for your comments!" Later, she came to me and said in an undertone, "It's good to be honest. I've taken care of all the porkchops for you. " She also comped us a bottle of wine, which was extremely good of's not like Feenie's is hurting for business, but she really was concerned that we wouldn't come back.

We made up for the lacklustre dinner in a big way by ordering...EVERY dessert on the menu. "We'll have them all," I said grandly, handing the menu back to the somewhat shocked but amused waitress. There were 8 of us, so 6 desserts between 8 wouldn't be that bad, we reasoned. It's not even a whole dessert each, right?

The waitress staggered the arrival of the desserts so that we wouldn't be intimidated but it was still quite a sight to see one table laden with pumpkin mousse, gingerbread creme brulee, chocolate fondant cake, apple galette, sticky toffee pudding, and chocolate brownies. We couldn't finish it all, that's how much dessert there was. My teeth hurt. I have a sugar-high headache. If my dad had been there, he'd be in a coma by now. It was ridiculous. But fun. Not something I think I'll be doing again any time soon. Is it too late to go for a run tonight and work off this sugar?