Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vancouver: Life is Too Short for Bad Coffee - Day 3

For our last day in Vancouver, we decided to take it easy and do some shopping to bring back to family and friends, but of course, gotta visit at least one breakfast/brunch spot and just so happens there's a place in Vancouver that's known for their waffles and brunch.

Before that Amanda (who's still our driver and guide for the last day) brought us to Urban Fare, which is sorta like a... Dean & Deluca to me. It's essentially a market in the city but it is extremely pricey. I think I saw Breyer's ice cream going for $8!! It's like... 2 for $5 here haha. Nevertheless, we still went because you can buy some speciality items from Canada that you can't find it other markets.

Urban Fare! Modern looking place.

Of course every high end/specialty market has a crazy deli section and Urban Fare is no different. I wish they offered samples :P

So I ended up buying these Rogers' Chocolate Bar. The reason they are so special is that the the one in purple wrapper is actually Ice Wine Chocolate Truffle. Ice wine! I've actually had it once before (thanks Michael), and it's awesome. Nice semi sweet chocolate with hints of ice wine. You're not gonna get drunk off these but the taste is there.

There's also a cafe inside the market. Again, nice modern decor with wood accents.


After Urban Fare, we decided to go to our brunch spot only to find out that we had about an 1 hour wait. I guess it's a good thing since that's a sign of popularity but man I was crazy hungry since it was around noon by the time we got there. I was also surprised to find out that this place had 4.5 stars on Yelp with 180+ reviews!

Café Medina
556 Beatty St
Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3

The front with the line.

Hmmm I wonder what I should get from here... maybe some coffee and waffles? :P

So true, so true.

So the whole time I was thinking of those big fluffy pancakes, but nope, theirs is more like the size of... a slightly bigger cookie. They make it before hand then lets it sit on the rack and toast it when the orders come.

Finally seated and the menu! Price is reasonable!

Of course HAD to get coffee so I went for the dark chocolate mocha. I actually like it a lot, especially since mocha is usually too sweet. The dark chocolate is a nice touch! Barista is hella good too at pouring.

Diana's milk chocolate lavender mocha. It's creamy and you can really taste the lavender.

White chocolate pistachio mocha. Yes they do specialize in mochas and this is really rich as well.

Vanilla latte. I like how they serve it in a clear glass so you can see the layer of steamed milk.

Mimosa, always a good choice for brunch.

Finally! The waffles! For each order of the waffles, you get one sauce so we went for three to share: milk chocolate lavender, fig orange marmalade, and the raspberry caramel.

The waffles are a little small but I guess they found that magic formula to have that perfect crispy & fluffy texture.

The caramel was definitely my favorite since the raspberry adds a little bit of tartness to the caramel. The milk chocolate lavender is interesting and the chocolate is extremely rich. I'm still not that big of a fan of lavender though. As for the fig orange marmalade, imagine a perfect orange marmalade with just a slight hint of fig.

As for the main dish, I went for the Fricasse, which is braised short rib that comes with 2 fried eggs, roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, arugula, and smoked applewood cheddar. The short rib was full of flavor, making it a perfect choice if you're looking for a savory dish for your brunch. The eggs were over easy and I loved it when the yolk broke in half and runs all over the ribs, potatoes, and onions. It also comes with this huge grilled rosemary Foccacia bread that's perfect for soaking up all the remaining sauces!

My favorite was the Tagine though. It's rare to not see a benedict of some sort on a brunch menu but this is the closest thing that comes to it because of the 2 poached eggs it comes with. Besides a hollandaise sauce, there's an addicting spicy tomato stew with Mediterranean spices, and comes with merguez sausage, sundried black olives, and cilantro. It has just enough kick to make you keep eating. The sausage is not overly fatty and the olives and cilantro completes the Mediterranean flavor of the dish.

For the Foccaia bread with Tangine, it also comes with this great hummus with mint leaves that makes it refreshing.

The Paella is their take on the traditional Spanish dish. Comes with a baked egg, curried orzo, Hungarian chorizo, zucchini, red pepper, roasted corn, grano padano, watercress, tomatoes, and avocado. Yea, that's a party in your mouth for sure!

Canard Confit. We were totally expecting a duck leg confit, but it's actually sandwiches with shredded duck confit, sour cherry compote, brie, and anjou pears between pecan craisin sourdough. Watercress and caramelized pecans are on the side. It's a little disappointing since we were expecting a juicy fatty duck. The sandwich is still really tasty and I especially enjoyed the sour compote. Definitely makes you pucker a little.

I can definitely see why Cafe Medina is so popular in Vancouver. It's something that we don't even have in LA. The menu is just different enough to draw your interest but also familiar enough that you don't feel like you are adventuring too much out of your comfort zone. Great spot!


Now... I still haven't had a true milk tea yet in Vancouver even though Tea Spot in Crystal Mall was pretty good. Lots of people recommended Pearl Castle so right before we headed towards the airport, we made a quick stop!

Pearl Castle
3779 Sexsmith Rd Ste 1128
Richmond, BC V6X 3Z9

Pearl Castle. Best way to describe it is that it is similar to Tea Station. They serve drinks with a full menu.

Connie and Diana's drink. Totally forgot what they ordered haha.

Amanda's green tea and I went with oolong milk tea with boba, or "bubbles" as they call it in Canada (weirdos :P). Of course got it with half sugar.

Milk tea was really good actually but the boba needed work. A lot of work. It was too bland and not "Q" enough.

After Pearl Castle we went straight for the airport and after taking a bunch of pictures at the drop-off zone, Connie & I finally boarded and said our goodbyes to Canada, but not before Amanda secretly stuffing these into my backpack...

St. Germaine's pineapple bun and sweet evaporated milk bun! Totally saved me on the flight since I was STARVING. Thanks Amanda!

Next time though, definitely making a stop in Whistler for some fresh pow! I saw sooo many people with their snowboards at the airport and all over Vancouver. Time to save up!