May 5th, 2013. Happy Cinco de Mayo~~~

Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
Holidays are a wonderful reason to enjoy food, and Mexican holidays are even better because we can get piggy with tacos!!  I actually discovered this super authentic Mexican hole-in-the-wall in New West and was chomping at the bit to try it out.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Taqueria Playa Tropical is on 6th Street with a few other local gems. When I walked in there was a Mexican band playing, the small restaurant was packed full and decorations had been put up here and there to give it a festive feel.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The super friendly server sat me at a fairly spacious table with a menu and I proceeded to inspect the menu for my options.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Obviously I had to order some Guava Juice. I love sweet tropical fruit!!  Guava and Watermelon. My favourite 2 fruit flavours 😉
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The tortilla chips came in this adorable stone mortar which was cool.  Salsa verde and rojo were both pretty legit, too!  I just love condiments ;D
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I ended up ordering a trio of tacos: Camaron, Carne Asada and Carnitas. The Carne Asada and Carnitas are my usual barometers for any given taqueria. I figure any self-respecting taqueria has to be able to deliver on these 2 staples.
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
 
 
First, the Carne Asada. The brightness of the fresh cilantro, tomato and onion were a refreshing foil to the straightforward beef. I appreciated that the beef wasn’t over done, it had enough moisture so that it didn’t get stringy and tough. Good start!
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
Next, the Carnitas! The carnitas was slightly drier than I expected but it had the right amount of heat with the perfect amount of sweet undertone.  And of course the guac was just on point! Just like the toppings on the carne you could tell my just looking at the guacamole that it was fresh. Vibrant color and flavour with the sharp tang of onion and cilantro cooling the heat of the pork. I still enjoyed it 🙂
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
I went out on a limb with the Camaron. I usually don’t order shrimp because it’s so easy to over-cook it, get shrimp that’s not fresh, or too small. I have to say, my choice paid off big time! I think I actually almost liked this taco the most! The shrimp was cooked just right having the right amount of spring, crunch and tenderness. Sweet grilled onion with some garlic, celery and cilantro topped with melted cheese.  This? You should eat this. It’s not aggressive, but it’s this wonderful harmony in your mouth! And of course you can always add a little salsa on it to amp it up 😉  This one was so good!
Taqueria Playa Tropical

Taqueria Playa Tropical

 
 
 
 
I give Taqueria Playa Tropical my seal of approval and would come again. It definitely has moved to the top of my list for Mexican food in Vancouver!

January 1st, 2013. Best Birthday Brunch @ Red Wagon Cafe!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

Happy Birthday, Eunice!!  A great sister deserves to start off the year right.  Who doesn’t love brunch and who doesn’t want brunch from a little cafe made famous on the food network?  But even before Red Wagon Cafe was featured on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Thrus and Dives” this tiny, ghetto-looking East Hastings cafe was seeing line-ups down the block and acquiring die hard fans!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

 

Since they don’t take reservations we were in the huddle of awaiting diners gathered around the front just anticipating for the waitress to come out and call our names!  Oh, and the hunger was setting in…. Setting in reeeeeeeeeeeeeal good….!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

 

 

When they finally come out and call your name you almost feel as if you’re “the chosen one” as you are suddenly possessed by this feeling of elation and are looked upon enviously by the others that remain outside!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the establishment there’s very much a retro feel and it’s quite tiny!!  Literally within earshot of the other blissful diners!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Mimosa for the birthday girl!  Eunice loves orange juice, so why not start off the day with a bright, special drink!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

 

 

 

 

Eunice went for the Crispy Pork Belly Brunch which consisted of confit pork belly, 2 eggs, griddled tomatoes, homefries, salsa verde, hollandaise and toast.  A plate FULL of just delicious, hearty, flavorful goodness!  Eunice had no problem just digging right in and getting down and dirty 😉

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

She got her eggs scrambled and they looked soft and fluffy!  The pork belly had me drooling and after a taste of it myself I had to say… daaaaaaaaaamn, that’s some good pork!  Crispy exterior, juicy interior and the salsa verde was great in cutting the richness without masking it!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

 

I love a good eggs benny.  To my disappointment by the time we were seated their special of the morning, the Pork Belly Benedict 😦  So default to the next choice?  The Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict 😉  Served with the signature homefries and hollandaise.

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

 

Moist, savory sweet and tender pulled pork over english muffins and topped with medium poached eggs and gorgeously smooth, rich hollandaise sauce poured over.  Perfect poach on the eggs added just the right amount of sauce and moisture needed for the muffin and the crispy, deliciously seasoned homefries!  Oh really, I was so extremely happy with this slice of brunch heaven!

red wagon cafe

red wagon cafe

And just because no breakfast/brunch is complete without bacon…we ordered a whole plate of it And since the Jack Daniels spiked Maple Syrup seemed too awesome to pass up we had to order some of that as well! Uhm….HELLO!!!  Most Amazing Combo…EVER! I was slathering it all over my homefries and also dunking that bacon in it with every bite! I guess they don’t cook off the alcohol cuz there’s a serious smokey-boozy kick to the maple syrup that is JUST ADDICTING! I could not stop!

 

So how was this birthday brunch?  Judging from the state of food coma we were in and the drool and JD maple syrup down the front of our shirts and our sticky fingers I’d say we were pretty darn happy!

First Latte of the Year!

November 1, 2013

January 1st, 2013. Happy Birthday to the Best Sister Ever! 

 

starbucks latte

starbucks latte

  After enquiring into several places I was finally able to find a place that was open for brunch on New Year’s Day!  Special day, special birthday; what better way than to celebrate it with a special meal!

  Since Red Wagon doesn’t take reservations we put our names down and then went across the street to Starbucks for our morning coffee fix and to wait out the super long line 🙂

October 10th, 2012. Homemade Turkey Soup~

homemade turkey soup

homemade turkey soup

 

 

So we still had some leftovers from that epic Thanksgiving dinner, so what does Eunice do?  She repurposes the leftovers into a magnificent Turkey Leftover Soup!

homemade turkey soup

homemade turkey soup

 

 

 

 

She actually took a lot of time and care into making a very clear and clean broth.  OMG, BEST turkey soup EVER!!  Comforting, tasty, satisfying.  I have the best sister ever 😀

Let’s Give Thanks!

September 26, 2013

October 7th, 2012.  Thanksgiving Sunday 

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

It’s already Thanksgiving again?  It kinda snuck up on us this year and without any real plans it would have been easy to just pass it by…but at the very last minute Eunice decided that we should celebrate with our own homemade dinner.  Despite all the hard stuff that has been going on we DO have a lot of things to be thankful for and it just felt right that we take the time to do celebrate that!

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

Since the decision was so last minute Eunice and I literally hit up 3 different supermarkets the night before desperately trying to find any sort of turkey!  What we discovered as a stroke of genius were packages of turkey legs and thighs!  Genius!!  Only the best parts of the turkey all in one package?  HELLO! Jackpot 😉  Along with chicken we also picked up the one pack of turkey dark meat that we found.

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

 

Eunice not only lovingly massaged the poultry with butter, herbs and garlic, she also went the extra mile of adding the concoction under the skin to make it even more rich and flavorful!  This sister of mine spares no detail when it comes to our favorite meal in the world 😀

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

She then popped the poultry in the oven in a pan with some basic veggies (baby red potatoes, carrots, onion and celery) and chicken stock.  We watched with a gleam in our eyes as the skin on the chicken and turkey began to crisp and turn a beautiful golden brown 😉

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

 

Ohhhhh, baby!  Look at this gorgeousness!  It is pretty obvious we have an obsession for Thanksgiving meals and for Turkey…!

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

 

Eunice did a very basic but wonderfully flavored Vegetable Mix of potatoes, celery, carrots and onion in a bit of broth.  Light but well seasoned and cooked absolutely perfectly so that it wasn’t soggy or mushy.  Veg magic 😀

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

We love mashed potatoes, but this year Eunice wanted to add a little twist, so we went for Sweet Potato Mash with Toasted Marshmallow and Pecan Topping with a sprinkle of cinnamon!  Eunice knows I am not a big fan of nuts, so she even did me the favor of only putting the pecans on half of the mash 😉

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

There was also a packaged Three Peppercorn Gravy that Eunice incorporated the turkey drippings into. Mmmmm~!!!  She could have made gravy from scratch, but keep in mind that this was all very last minute.

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

Same goes for the Stuffing.  But really, I don’t have a ton of complaints about stuffing from a box.  You get all the flavors and when done just right you have it being fluffy with a bit of crispiness.  I don’t care what frou frou foodies say, I like this!

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

I have a thing for Cranberry Sauce. It’s no secret.  I even taken my own container of cranberry sauce to church holiday dinners knowing that there would be a big chance they wouldn’t be serving it at the buffet line.  That sweet, cool, berry jelly just cuts through the richness and brings a brightness and sparkle to a perfect holiday meal!

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

 

Mmmmmmm~~ The spreeaaaad~!!!  There’s really nothing like a sumptuous home-cooked holiday meal 😀

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

You know, what I’m really thankful for is the extremely loving support system I’ve had in my sister and her friends through this very trying past month.  With all the heartache and trauma I’d been going through with work, quitting my career, and losing my grandmother, it had been a very tumultuous couple months.  Without my sister’s strength and wisdom and fiery love and defence for me I don’t know how I would have started making a breakthrough.

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

 

Holidays are a time to be with the ones you love and those who love you and it’s especially wonderful when you all have the common love of food and eating!

thanksgiving 2012

thanksgiving 2012

 

 

 

Of course no holiday meal is complete without a pants busting dessert!  Bring on the oven warmed Pumpkin and Apple Pie!  Vanilla ice cream courtesy of Howard and I even hand whipped some whipped cream with real Mexican vanilla! Mmmmmmmmm…. soooooooooo yuuuuuuuuuuuuum!

 

Another fantastic meal for the books and a HUGE standing ovation for my sister, Eunice, who put together such an epic holiday meal in 24 hours!  You are my hero in so many ways ♥

 

 

January 1st, 2012.New Year’s Day With Family

 

new year's day 2012

new year’s day 2012

  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a proper Korean New Year’s Day. Another great perk of having relatives here now!  

Everyone dressed up in their beautiful traditional cl
othes, paying respects to each other, speaking blessings into each others lives and gathering around the table to share a meal of traditional Korean New Year’s food.

 

 

new year's day 2012

new year’s day 2012

 

 



  One traditional holiday dish in Korean culture are these assorted Egg Wash Patties.  Fish is the most common one, but we did meat and zucchini patties.

 

new year's day 2012

new year’s day 2012

 





I still remember being at my maternal grandmother’s house in Korea with all the relatives and the women gathered in the kitchen flipping these on a flat top.  The secret?  Be patient and don’t flip them too often!

Yoon Keun Oppa volunteered to be on pattie duty this day 😉

new year's day 2012

new year’s day 2012




Of course another staple of New Years for Koreans is the Rice Cake Soup.  It’s supposed to signify “eating anoher year” or adding another year to your life.

We’re a family that loves dumplings.  Hece we threw some in to add more substance.  Deep, meaty broth, chewy-soft rice cakes and delicious ribbons of egg.  So yum!

new year's day 2012

new year’s day 2012

 

 


We are Choi’s.  That means it can’t be a proper meal without meat.  This amazing fall-off-the-bone tender Galbi-Jjim (Beef Short-rib) was an absolute star with chestnuts added in for that holiday flavor.  Sweet, savory and incredibly delicious!







There’s nothing like starting the New Year with loving family 🙂

January 1st, 2012. Breaking New Year’s Dawn Ritual at Denny’s

 

denny's

denny’s

 

 

Despite a brief Denny’s boycott we’d had due to being kicked out for no good reason years ago we’ve inched back in. Because really, in a place like Langley, which is literally a suburb of a suburb, there’s nowhere else to go late at night except Denny’s!

 

denny's

denny’s

 

And of course, we MUST have our traditional New Year’s breakfast at Denny’s after New Years Eve midnight service. Yes, we complain that the food is not healthy and the service is hit and miss…not to mention we are such a large party, which can be hard to seat….but I know deep down inside we love it

denny's

denny’s

 

 

 

 

Sure it’s 3am in the morning, but eat we must!  And when you’re with such great friends how can you feel guilty about what’s going into my tummy 😉

December 25th, 2011. Christmas 2011

david's tea - sleigh ride

davidstea – sleigh ride

  

 

   

 

 

Monica, I love you!

david's tea - sleigh ride

davidstea – sleigh ride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monica got me a seasonal tea from DAVIDsTEA, which I totally love!!  This one is called Sleigh Ride and is an interesting mix of exotic ingredients like papaya and coconut, but is also infused with holiday ingredients like cinnamon and popped rice!  Love it, love it, love it~

December 23rd, 2011.  Family Christmas Dinner

family christmas dinner 2011

family christmas dinner 2011

 

 

 

I love that my relatives live in BC and are so close now.  Nothing warms my heart more than getting together with mi familia and sharing a meal, spending time together, laughing together, holding hands, and just loving each other.

family christmas dinner 2011

family christmas dinner 2011

 

 

 

Christmas dinner was shared early this year since we all go to different churches and have commitments all over the place.  Yoon Jai Opp opened up his home for us and we were able to all gather together.  Just wish Eunice could have made it, too…

family christmas dinner 2011

family christmas dinner 2011

 

 

 

 

 

It was an unconventional Christmas spread…but a very typical Choi meal 😉  Galbi grilled by Jai Oppa and Wine from Yoon Keun Oppa’s family with some random cake action going on, too 😉

family christmas dinner 2011

family christmas dinner 2011

 

 

 

Of course it’s no surprise that Grandma’s Naeng Myung made an appearance at the dinner.  Grandma’s North Korean roots are represented in her cooking and food preferences, and this Korean cold noodle dish is always a staple at her home.  At any given time you can find a container of Naeng Myun stock and allthe fixin’s in her fridge 😀

 

Everyone chowed down to all this delicious goodness, our tummies were filled and we were very happy 😀