Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vancouver: Meat & Bread and Revolver Brew Bar in Gastown

Didn't think I would be going to back to Vancouver that soon after going 2 years ago, but Calvin was able to book hotels using their award stays so we decided to make a snowboarding trip out of it, with two days in Vancouver and two days in Whistler!

Of course, first stop this time around, was the popular Meat & Bread, made even more famous by being featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Drives on Food Network!  Luckily our hotel was only a 10 minute walk to this part of Vancouver, which is on the border of downtown and Gastown, a super hipster neighborhood.

Meat & Bread
370 Cambie St 
Vancouver, BC V6B 2N4 

meat & bread
Meat & Bread!  Of course, from the name, you can tell that it is a sandwich shop haha.  In fact, people say that they are responsible for the sudden sandwich renaissance in Vancouver, and now there are many more of these artisanal sandwich shops.

They are known for their Porchetta, as well as their Meatball.  I was deciding between the two when one of the girls that worked there told us that Porchetta was gonna be off the menu for the rest of 2012 and it was the last day to get it!  Made my decision much easier.

carving the pork
Meat & Bread is about freshly preparing your sandwich.  For the Porchetta, it is a roasted pork with pork skin still on so that it crisps up!  They carve up the pork, chop up the pork skin, and make the sandwich right in front of you.

Mixing the carved pork and the pork skin together.

porchetta sandwich
The Porchetta sandwich!  See?  Very hipster, serving on a wooden board.

Close up of the pork and the ciabatta bread.

Very simple sandwich: roasted pork, crispy pork skin, and salsa verde.  I really dig the whole pork skin thing since there are bites where you get that crunch with that tender pork and it's just music.  Seriously.

Delicious crispy & crunchy pork skin!  I think I can eat a whole sandwich with just the skin.  I wish they sold that.

Parts of my pork were a little dry so it would've been nice to have more of that salsa verde, but this mustard was what really made the sandwich great.  Definitely a must for every bite.

Definitely a very unique sandwich and I can see why so many people rave about it.  They also have Fentiman's Curiosity Cola here!  It is brewed botanically, so it actually has 0.5% of alcohol :P  Had it a few times at Wurstkuche in LA.  I call it hipster coke.


Afterwards, we wanted to walk around Gastown but none of us wanted to get raped by the AT&T international charges, so we stopped by a cafe to use their free wi-fi, and it turns out to be Revolver Brew Bar, a popular coffee shop in Gastown.  Also very hipster.

Revolver Brew Bar
325 Cambie Street 
Vancouver, BC V6B 1H7 

The "brew bar" where the magic happens.

Booths and the wall decor, a map of the world with nails.

revolver coffee
Single pour coffee.  Very popular nowadays.

espresso macchiato
I still like my Espresso Macchiato!  A lot creamier than others, but very good.

latte whole
Alice's cafe latte.  Also very good.  Somewhat of a small cup though haha.

oolong tea
 Calvin pouring his Oolong Tea.

Very light in color.  Much more floral than other oolong I've tried.

View from the counter seats.  Good place to people watch.  Good day for coffee too.

from outside
View from the outside and their logo.

Since it was cold and raining, we decided to find another spot where we can sit down and maybe grab a few more bites before we head back to the hotel and prep for dinner.  Yup, day 1, always eat as much as you can.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Saint Louis: Half & Half and Budweiser Brewery Tour

No, Saint Louis' Half & Half is not the same as Los Angeles' infamous milk tea spot, but it is an extremely popular place for breakfast & brunch.  Located in the Clayton neighborhood, we drove for a little over 15 minutes from Central West End and ended up waiting over 40 minutes for 2 spots to open.

While waiting, many people will stop by the cafe bar and order a cup of joe first.  You can tell they take coffee seriously as they do serve single pour here, and they even use Intelligentsia's beans!  It's a hipster-esque spot, mixing the newer trendy coffee culture with a menu featuring some Southern influence!

Half & Half
8135 Maryland Ave 
Saint Louis, MO 63105 

Outside of the restaurant.

People waiting around inside the restaurant.

cafe bar
The cafe.  Of course a guy with a mustache would be doing the single pour hahah.

cafe latte
Went for a cafe latte.  I've tried espresso drinks made with Intelligentsia's bean a few times now, whether at restaurants or at the their own cafe, I always get this sour flavor.  Don't know if that is a characteristics of their bean, but I do know I don't really prefer it :P

Menu.  Pretty simple, with the usual pancakes, French toast, and savory breakfast dishes, but of course with their own spin on it.

Opened last year, but already very popular!

sausage biscuit
My Sausage Biscuit, with house-made sausage, country biscuit, cheddar, scrambled eggs, and potatoes.

sausage, egg, cheese, biscuit
That home-made sausage is right on, and the scrambled eggs is held together by the gooey cheddar.  What really makes good is that super biscuit of theirs.  I don't know how they do it, but it's crunchy, fluffy, and buttery.

sausage gravy
When the waitress asked if I wanted a side of their sausage gravy, I was like "Hell yes!"  I dip the sandwich and the potatoes in it.  Damn sausage gravy is awesome.

Diana's Chorizo & Avocado Eggs Benedict with chorizo, lots of avocado, and chorizo on an English muffin, then topped with hollandaise.

avocado and hollandaise
To be honest, this is very Californian with the avocado haha.  Nice thick hollandaise.

one half
Hiding underneath the hollandaise and avocado is the super flavorful chorizo.  I like how they toasted the English muffins too!

Doughnuts dusted with citrus cinnamon sugar.  They actually placed this under "starters" but they forgot our order so we had it after.  It is essentially a mini churro.  Nice touch with the citrus.


I also got to check out the Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour.  Budweiser calls Saint Louis its home and I couldn't pass up the chance to try to fresh Budweiser from the draft to see if it is better than usual.

Few things: tour is free and there is a free tasting right after!  Free beer!

Budweiser Brewery Tour
12th St & Lynch St 
Saint Louis, MO 63118

tour center
Tour center in the Soulard neighborhood!

Famous Anheuser Busch logo.

They had a crazy Christmas tree set up in the lobby.

family memorabilia 25 cents where beers are brewed
Variety of displays about where they are located and the history of Anheuser Busch.

One of the restored delivery trucks.

of course Budweiser is known for the Clydesdales in the commercials and they are kept on site!

The two that were allowed out.

inside stable
Few others inside the stable.  It must be the cleanest stable I've ever set foot in.  Amazing how well they take care of the horses.

All over the complex you can see an intricate system of pipes connecting buildings.  That is how they transfer all the liquids from one to another.

beechwood aging cellar area
Beechwood aging cellar.  They have a bunch of these gigantic tanks for the aging process of the beer.  It is also very very cold in there haha.

The guides describing the brewing process to us.

mash tanks
Mash tanks.  This area is VERY warm.  They heat the mixture to breakdown the sugars so the mixture turns into wort.

Historic Brewhouse.  

old school house
Another historic site.  It was an old school house, then converted into an office.

offices & bottling
Bottling facility.

Bottling.  Nothing was going on when we went though.

sampling menu
Sample time!!!

The beers on draft.

stella & lemon shandy
I went for a Stella Artois just because I am a fan.  They actually don't brew Stella on-site since Stella is brewed in Belgium.  Still, Stella on draft is very good.  Diana went for the Shocktop Lemon Shandy.  Very refreshing.  We still can't find it anywhere though.

wild black
Wild Black.  We wanted to try Wild Blue but they ran out so we went for the blackberry verison.  Tastes good and ABV is surprisingly high so you can easily get drunk before you realize haha.

Of course I had to try a Budweiser, brewed fresh.  Generally not a huge Bud fan and... still not a fan of Bud haha.  People always so it's always better at the source and it is better than the Bud from the can, but it might also be all mental.

Cool spot just to check out how one of the most iconic beers in the world is made.  Even better that it is free and that there's free beer!  We did buy stuff from the merchandise & gift store so the tour did its job haha.


I heard from some people that I had to try the Gooey Butter Cake that Saint Louis is known for.  Thought it was gonna be an easy find, but we actually had to search around for it and finally found some at the Straub's Market, which is sorta like Bistro Farms.

gooey butter cake
There were a few options at Straub's but I went for Ann & Allen German Chocolate Gooey Butter Cake.

gooey butter cake
Thoughts on the gooey butter cake?  It is sweet and freaking buttery and it is gooey in a way, probably from all the fat.  Funny thing is, one of Ann & Allen's gooey butter cake's main ingredient is actually vegetable shortening rather than butter.  I actually like the edges a lot more where it is crunchy and the chocolate & coconut flakes to add more flavor to it, cause I doubt I can eat over 4 bites of the original version.

With the gooey butter cake, that was the end of my trips to Saint Louis.  The best part about the two trips was definitely the BBQ.  Visiting Anheuser Busch is a distant second!  I am still thinking about the BBQ I've had even though it's already been over a month.  Not joking, I seriously crave it and I always get sad when I know it will be a loooong while before I get to have BBQ that good again.

Till the next time, Saint Louis.