Pizza in Gastown with Yoginis

Tonight I am grateful for the women in my life, particularly the yoginis with whom I’ve been spending all my days. Five of us decided that, despite having quite a bit of work to do for our Yoga Teacher Training, we all needed to eat dinner and so we may as well do so together! Our school is in Gastown in downtown Vancouver, which is a food mecca; we are absolutely spoiled for options. After passing on a few establishments, we chose Nicli Antica Pizzeria, and what an excellent choice this was!

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Nicli Antica Pizzeria
62 E. Cordova Street, Gastown

We each ordered a glass of wine (the house red and white are both $5 and quite delicious), shared the Insalata Verdi, split three pizzas among us, and finished by sharing tiramisu and a decadent slice of flourless chocolate cake with frangelico, figs, and chantilly cream.

Nicli’s makes their pizza in the authentic Neapolitan style (i.e., at a blazing 900 degrees Fahrenheit in a wood-fired oven), their staff are genuine and friendly, and the atmosphere is sophisticated but unpretentious. We were very impressed by the quality of the food served to us tonight, from the freshness of the seasonal vegetables on our salad to the impossible thinness of the pies (with puffy, crispy, flavourful crusts), and the richness of the desserts. They frequently receive brilliant accolades, and now we’re among their most satisfied critics.

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My day started out with the dream of a truly good pizza, probably because my parents called from Naples this morning to brag about the cuisine they’ve been enjoying there! Nicli’s helped me feel as close to Naples as I’ve ever been; I’d like to think I’m sharing a bit of my parents’ authentic experience!

Cheers to my girlfriends, good wine, excellent pizza, chocolate, and the yoga that unites us!

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What A Week!

My first week of yoga teacher training was fantastic!

*twenty-six new friends
*lots of asana (physical yoga postures)
*lots of kriya (cleansing practices, like kapalbahti breath)
*lots of breathing and conscious breathing
*anatomy lessons
*philosophy & history
*Sanskrit
*opportunities to teach
*a loving and peaceful space where it is expected of us all to develop our own personal yoga practices

I am SO excited to be able to teach my own yoga students; it’s a little overwhelming, however, that I’ll be able to do that in just five weeks! Want to be my first student?!

This wonderful week ended with… 
*a birthday celebration for my cousin-in-law

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Happy Birthday, Tori!

*a lovely day running and eating and bicycle-shopping with my husband (no bike for me yet, but I’m in the market!)

*a romantic date night on the False Creek Ferries and dinner at a fabulous restaurant…all thanks to my new aunt, uncle, & cousin-in-law! (Taste Test below)
*a very successful 36-kilometre/22-mile run through Shaughnessy, Kerrisdale, and UBC (marathon in four weeks!)

photo*an educational hour at Williams Sonoma with my mother-in-law and a friend from yoga teacher training; we learned about using a VitaMix. The free classes over the next few weeks will be all about Thanksgiving foods!

*spending Sunday afternoon lounging around (OK, homework and laundry too), eating a lot, and drinking coconut water for the electrolytes!

*watching The Princess Bride and eating sushi with Sean

*remembering that I can/should/want to do yoga at home now…especially after such a long run!

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Provence Marinaside
1177 Marinaside Crescent

What a lovely place! The staff, the food, the wine, the bread (and free tapenade!) were all fantastic. I had halibut, Sean had seafood linguini; our appetizers were roasted eggplant with tomato and goat cheese and caprese salad. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date night, especially on a nice night like we had last night. It’s very easily accessible from the marina at Yaletown. Sean and I took a False Creek Ferry (tiny boat would be a better descriptor…which made it much more fun and quaint!) from Granville Island, and we cruised around False Creek after dinner, just for fun. Thanks so much to the Miles family for our gift certificate and ferry passes! 

Foodie Day

Today was a fabulous day, full of culinary adventures.

First, Sean and I went to Bean Around the World. I, of course, had a delightful almond milk latte.

Then, Sean went to help his cousin and his cousin’s wife lay cement for their porch.

Nice job, eh?

Nice job, eh?

I, meanwhile, met up with our friends, Winnie and Arthur, to check out Unfi in Richmond, an unassuming warehouse in a business centre with a Saturday market for crazily reduced priced packaged goods! For $30, I got:

– 2 bottles of Synergy kombucha
– 8 packs of Enjoy LIfe trail mix
– 1 loaf of healthy nutty bread
– 2 bottles of liquid stevia
– 1 box of almond coconut milk
– 2 packs of rice crackers
– 1 box of Udi’s allergy-free snickerdoodles
– 2 packages of onion bullion
– 1 package of Barbara’s fig cookies

How much would that all cost at Whole Foods?! I’m estimating at least $60. Score! Some products at the market are dangerously close to their expiration date (which is why they’re so cheap), so, for instance, I did not buy the 12 containers of hummus…even though the whole case of 12 was going for $2. A great place to hit up before a party!

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Graze
3980 Fraser Street, Vancouver

After, Winnie and I went to Graze on Fraser while Arthur went to dim sum with his family. Graze is a vegetarian restaurant that sources as much local produce as possible. I had a nice vegetable hash with some incredibly spicy house-made hot sauce; Winnie had a vegan BLTA (the bacon was made out of beets!). Both of our meals were delicious.

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Earnest Ice Cream
3992 Fraser Street, Vancouver

Next door to Graze is Earnest Ice Cream. This was my second trip, and both times I’ve had a great experience. Last time I tried their vegan raspberry coconut, and this time I went for the vegan chocolate. Both were rich, creamy, and actually worth the five bucks!

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Matchstick Coffee
639 East 15th Avenue

To round out the afternoon, Arthur and I went to Matchstick Coffee. Arthur is a serious coffee connoisseur, and Matchstick is one of his favourites (up there with Revolver). One quality that makes Matchstick so special is that they roast their beans on site. I tried the Worka Sakero from Ethiopia, and Arthur went for El Esfuerzo from Colombia. This makes two places I’ve tried off the Huffington Post’s list (not that theirs is definitive, but it’s somewhere to start!).

Overall, it was a fabulous foodie kind of day!

 

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Best Coffee in Vancouver?

My sister and her boyfriend arrive tonight from Asheville, NC. They’re in town for the wedding, but want to check out Vancouver too! As coffee lovers, I’m glad I have a couple reviews for them…

There are multiple coffee shops on every block in this city, dozens of “best of” lists on the web, and I plan to try them all…or at least the ones that consistently get rated as the best of the best.

Until last weekend, I had only tried one place (besides Starbucks, which in my books, doesn’t count), and that was Bean Around the World (the one on South Granville Street). I had their almond milk latte, and I thought it was fantastic. It’s close to our apartment, so it will probably be my local favourite.

One café that had been on my radar — and by radar I mean Pinterest board — for a long time was Revolver. I finally tried it, and I adored my almond milk latte. It was so beautiful and creamy…and better than Bean Around the World’s (sorry, local favourite; you’ll still get more of my money). Sean, on the other hand, got a meticulously crafted drip coffee and absolutely hated it! It was sour and gross, and he was terribly disappointed, but also unwilling to return it due to the incredible amount of time and effort that went into preparing it! I’ll probably go back, but Sean likely will not go out of his way to do so.

Check out this list of best coffee in Vancouver from the Huffington Post. If you live in Vancouver or have visited, what other coffee shops do you recommend? Any objections to ones on the Huff Post list?

Bandidas Taqueria

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Bandidas Taqueria
2781 Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Last weekend, Sean and I met up with our friend, Sam, who lives in downtown Vancouver. He suggested that we have brunch at Bandidas, which is in the über-cool neighbourhood of Commercial Drive: women with dreads and gear marks on their calves, people smoking pot while trying to park (neither legal nor recommended otherwise), bike parking proudly advertised, and a general mix of diverse and interesting people.

Bandidas is a Mexican food restaurant with a killer brunch menu full of amazing Tex-Mex-West Coast fusion dishes. I had the eggs benedict (which Canadians adorably refer to as a “benny”) with goat cheese, served on a cornbread muffin and topped with salsa verde. I also had their drip coffee, which was quite good, with almond milk (I’m always excited when that’s an option!).

So this is another establishment to which I will gladly return one day!

The Wooden Spoon

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The Wooden Spoon
15171 Russell Avenue, White Rock, BC

Sean’s dad and stepmom live in South Surrey, just on the border of the town of White Rock. White Rock is a hilly seaside community that has some great restaurants with great views. We took Sean’s stepmom out for a birthday brunch at a new restaurant in town called The Wooden Spoon. While The Wooden Spoon lacks an ocean view, its trendy industrial-chic decor makes up for it!

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Chalkboards, mason jars, exposed ceilings, wooden tables, and utilitarian lighting scream “2014!”, and I love it. They serve their French-pressed coffee on a newspaper napkin and have almond milk available. Their brunch was really tasty (I had the Veg Frittata), and on a later trip, Sean and I shared the super flavourful Halibut Po’ Boy. (It was scrumptious, but I only hope that they’ll one day put some dressing on the bare chopped cabbage they serve alongside it!)

The staff have all been very friendly, and this is a place we shall surely return! If you live in Vancouver, it’s worth the drive out to White Rock. Oh and be sure to mention if it’s your birthday; we got to share their amazing Tiramisu Pancakes on the house! [No photo — eaten too quickly!]

They get 5 out of 5 too. (Is there any point in doing this rating system? I think I’ll just write about restaurants I like…so expect all future Taste Tests to be positive!)

Tacofino Commissary

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Tacofino
2327 E. Hasting Street, Vancouver

Sean and I decided we’d want a taco truck to cater our wedding, and after consulting many a website about food truck reviews in Vancouver, we chose Tacofino. It’s been a pleasure working with their catering manager; she has been helpful and very friendly.

Tacofino is named for its original home, Tofino, a surf town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Now they’ve got food trucks and a commissary in Vancouver too.

Since neither Sean nor I had actually tried the tacos (Sean’s mom did, though, and she gave her initial approval!), we decided to make an evening of it. We went with Sean’s family a couple weeks ago; Sean and I both had one ling cod taco and one yam tempura taco. They were both delicious! The fish was fried to perfection, as were the sweet yams.

For dessert, we all shared the spicy chilli-laced chocolate cookies and an iced cold glass of horchata, a sweet Mexican rice milk beverage.

It was a lovely meal shared with my lovely future in-laws, and it made us all stoked to have Tacofino tacos at the wedding reception next month!

Tacofino gets 5 out of 5 too!