June 30, 2015

NDP majority government ~ who would have thought it possible?

On the eve before Canada Day, on the CBC and elsewhere, Éric Grenier of ThreeHundredEight.com, is showing the possibility of a New Democratic majority government after our October election.

The Liberals and Conservatives are slipping in virtually every region and Mulcair's NDP has surged in Ontario.
Here in British Columbia the New Democrats have an impressive lead, though that makes it ever more important to produce those vote if we are to defeat the Harper Conservatives.

It's going to be a very hot summer indeed as the Liberals and Conservatives shift their attention to the New Democrats; the lies, distortions and fear mongering will soon begin. Be not led astray.

Change is in the air. We're all in this together.

Full polling information and projections at ThreeHundredEight.com

Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

Continental Coffee on Main

Continental Coffee has been around a long time. In fact it was one of the first coffee shop on Vancouver's famous Commercial Drive. Today, there's a second outlet at 26th and Main.

The business actually began in 1960 when Theo Grippo, an immigrant from Italy, opened an espresso bar on The Drive. Business was good but he closed it to concentrate on selling beans wholesale out of the garage from his home. His daughter brought back the retail operation in 1979 again on Commercial. Her sons have joined her in the business as has a grandson.

Continental's second shop along trendy Main opened at the end of 2012. It offers much the same blends as the Commercial Drive location, with the added offerings of small lot estate coffees. There's a small roaster in the Main Street location, and syphon coffees are available too.

Espresso drinks are served with sparkling water, and a spoon, as they should be of course. My espresso was strong with a nice burnt-nut flavouring.

Sherry's espresso macchiato was made properly with appropriate measures of milk and foam. It seems a simple enough drink to make and yet it's amazing how many places get it wrong.

All in all, there's great coffee at Continental, nicely presented and served with a smile.

Click to add a blog post for Continental Coffee on Zomato

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

June 29, 2015

Caffè Cittadella ~ fine coffee off Broadway

Located in a newly renovated heritage house a few blocks south of Broadway at Ash and 7th, is a delightful coffee shop called Caffè Cittadella.

Two floors, with a ramp to the main level, outdoor seating and different places to sit inside, this is a pleasant and relaxing place off the major street scape that is Broadway. 

Staff are friendly, pastries look good and lunch items can be provided too. 

The coffee is wonderful, which is not surprising since it comes from 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters. The espresso was smooth, creamy and rich. Not served with the same panache that one finds at 49th Parallel's store on Main, but... it will do just fine here at Caffè Cittadella.

The house itself is a treat to wander around; there's ample seating and different views of the city to be seen throughout the house.

And the coffee is excellent.

Click to add a blog post for Caffè Cittadella on Zomato 

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

June 28, 2015

Rasmalai at Himalaya Sweets in Richmond

Earlier in the evening we had our Persian kebabs at Daddy's Delight, and a walk around King George Park. Now it was time for dessert.

We remained on the corner of No. 5 Road and Cambie in east Richmond, across the street though again in a strip mall anchored by a larger Shoppers Drug Mart.

Himalaya Sweets is a throw back to a simpler time in restaurant decor. It actually reminds me of the Chinese-Canadian restaurants that dotted the prairie provinces in the latter part of the last century, with their basic appearance, friendly service, and the all-you-can-eat buffet.

The daughters have chosen Himalaya Sweets for dessert. and there is large assortment of traditional Indian sweets and more, including gulab jamun, rasgulah, kulfi and mango ice cream. Our choice was the rasmalai.

The name comes from two words in Hindi, ras, meaning juice, and malai, meaning cream. Rasmalai has been described as cheesecake without a crust. I'm not sure about that description as this was better than most cheese cakes.

The cream is sweet. The pressed paneer balls are soaked in the clotted cream concoction and it's all flavoured with cardamom. Delicious.

Click to add a blog post for Himalaya Restaurant on Zomato

Himalaya Sweets is a strange little place. I'm not a fan of buffet style restaurants, though the dishes looked appealing enough. Reviews of this restaurant suggest a fantastic butter chicken, though for me, I'd come back for the rasmalai and a chai.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

Happy Canada Day! The end is near ~ and that's a good thing

Another stop sign. This one at Main and 26th in Vancouver.

A sign for our times.

Help is on its way.

Happy Canada Day!

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

A Vancouver beach sunset

The heat has been almost oppressive on the left coast of Canada. Temperatures have approached thirty degrees, unusual for Vancouver.

People flock to the beaches around the region as did we on one hot night recently. It's cooler than a west facing apartment and the skies are brilliant.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

Daddy's Delight ~ a kebab palace in Richmond

Last week, for Father's Day, the daughters took us into east-Richmond for dinner. It's an area not really known for its restaurants and it's a part of the city that has retained much of what used to be a very multi-cultural Richmond; today the city boasts an ethnic-Chinese majority population and great Chinese dining abounds.

Here, on Richmond's eastern flank, at Cambie and 5 Road, we are very near the delightful multi-purpose King George Park.

And it is here we have come to our mealtime destination and something called Daddy's Delight. It's in a strip mall next door to a phone store, and a Halal store called Superior Halal Meat &Deli, which has a certain appeal as this is the beginning of Ramadan.

Daddy's Delight sign actually suggests pizza, but I'm not sure they even serve pizza. And it's certainly not much to look at from the outside. In fact without coming inside you would never know what a gem you have discovered.

Click to add a blog post for Daddy's Delight Pizza on Zomato

It's rather minimalist inside, bare basics. Slightly spartan, and spotlessly clean. A large poster of a 2006 national squad from Italy adorns one wall.

As it turns out, Daddy's Delight is a Persian kebab palace. House-made and grilled, coated with sumac and served with a wonderful yogurt sauce. The meat, either chicken or beef, is tangy and lemony. I expected to see lamb on the menu, but chicken and beef are the order of the day. Salads are crisp, fresh and appealing, though lacked the flavour punch I was expecting from an Iranian bistro.

Much of  Daddy's Delight business appears to be take-away, and with the large park nearby, it makes sense. Dining-in is a treat because you can see the care and attention they devote to the grilling of the meat and vegetables. The naan, is made fresh, as you wait for the mains.

Alas, no wine or beer will be served here (another reason for take-away to the park I'm wondering), though one must try the fermented yogurt drink called Doogh. This one is a salty concoction, made locally and sold throughout Canada by Almas. Not for everyone, Doogh is is an excellent accompaniment to the kebabs offered here.

Daddy's Delight is a gem for kebabs. It's one of those rare finds: clean, friendly, and filled with good tastes.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.

June 23, 2015

Cedrick's Coffee & Tea House in Crofton

The plan was to have an early lunch at the lovely Seaside Restaurant before getting on the ferry to Crofton. We had spent a weekend on Salt Spring and were taking a different route home, via Nanaimo. As it turned out, we arrived just as the ferry was loading and we joined the parade and became the very last car to board. Twenty minutes later we were driving off the ferry and looking for a coffee shop. In Crofton. We found Cedrick's.

Cedrick's is an interesting place. The place has a look and feel that will be appealing to seniors and to moms with kids. There is ample seating, inside and out. a play area, WiFi, and a fireplace for colder days. This is not an urban coffee shop and the customers aren't all wearing cycling gear and yoga pants, though I'm sure Cedrick's would welcome them too.

The coffees are good and available in all the usual espresso machinations. There is a standard drip available as are a bunch of teas. Pastries and sandwiches are made in-house or by local bakers.

Cedrick's is unique in that it is charitable enterprise; it donates its profits to the work of KIDS International, a Vancouver Island charity. In 2000, a twenty-one year old named Danielle was killed by a drunk driver. Devastated with their loss, her parents, Adrianne Dartnall and Rick Lennart, went travelling each year thereafter to communities in the two-thirds world. They volunteered their time working to improve the lives of children living in poverty. In 2004, in response to others who wanted to be a part of the work they were doing, Dartnall and Lennart formed the non-profit Kids International Development Society. Last year KIDS International raised over $400,000 and much of that was spent on development projects in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Part of that effort came from the support of a coffee shop named Cedrick's.

So, next time you're in Crofton, or passing by, stop and find Cedrick's. Have a coffee and a homemade muffin. It might not seem like much, but it makes a world of difference.

Photos by Jeem. Copyright 2015 by Jim Murray.