Café du Livre, Marrakech

Café du Livre is a bookstore/restaurant that specializes in international food and is often visited by ex-pats and book lovers. Located outside of the medina in the French colonial area of Marrakech, it is hidden away around a corner and is a quiet place to get away from the hustle and bustle of the streets. Here you can eat a meal, peruse their bookshelves, and take advantage of their wifi.

Café du Livre

Café du Livre

water and bread

water and bread

I had a Brasserie Lipp salad – arugula (rocket), lettuce, beets, walnuts and hardboiled eggs, with an olive oil dressing and garlic bread.

Brasserie Lipp salad

Brasserie Lipp salad

I can’t remember precisely but I think this was a club sandwich.

sandwich and fries

sandwich and fries

Shared appetizers with crusty bread – hummus, baba ganoush, and I think the last was a tapenade.

appetizers

appetizers

Café du Livre
44, rue Tarik Ibn Ziad
Marrakech
www.cafedulivre.com

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S&M Café, London

It’s not everyday that you get to eat at a place called S&M. And then you have to explain to people that it’s not as kinky as it sounds, as it actually stands for sausage and mash. S&M Café is a local chain in London that specializes in “great British grub,” and we were there specifically for one of their breakfasts. More specifically, a Full English Breakfast.

S&M Café

S&M Café

I’m told that you can usually get the full English breakfast experience at most pubs, but this restaurant was recommended to us by a friend and their Spitalfields location was near where we were staying, so it made a great spot for us to grab some food before heading off for sightseeing for the day. Customer service was fast and extremely friendly – our waiter joked around with us every time he came around to our table.

We were there in the morning so we only saw the breakfast menu, but a quick glance at their regular menu posted on their website shows that they have a number of other traditional British fare available, as well as vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The menu

The menu

Of course, the first thing that we ordered was the Great British All Day Breakfast for those in the group who were new to the experience. Toast, bacon, sausage, bubble and squeak, egg, baked beans, mushrooms, and tomatoes filled the plate to bursting.

Great British All Day Breakfast

Great British All Day Breakfast

Now, I have eaten full English breakfasts before (although then it was called full Scottish breakfast because it was in Edinburgh, and those ones had the option of adding haggis, vegetarian haggis, and/or black pudding), and I knew how greasy those plates can get, so I was more than happy to try something different. I opted for the Vegetarian All Day Breakfast, which included all the same items except that it replaced the bacon and sausage with Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages. (I think it was the cheese that convinced me that it was the right way to go.)

Vegetarian All Day Breakfast

Vegetarian All Day Breakfast

I have to say that although the regular sausages and the bacon were good, my Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages were spectacular. Crunchy on the outside, they had the texture of cornbread on the inside and great mix of leek and quite mild cheese flavours.

Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages

Caerphilly cheese and leek sausages

The bubble and squeak was a mixture of mashed potatoes and vegetables, including squash blossoms.

bubble and squeak

bubble and squeak

We stuffed ourselves silly, and rolled out of the restaurant while complaining that we were too full to walk.

condiments - mustards, ketchup and HP sauce

condiments - mustards, ketchup and HP sauce

S&M Café
various locations in London, England
www.sandmcafe.co.uk

S & M Café on Urbanspoon

Double Greeting Won Ton House, Edmonton

If you are looking for cheap and greasy Chinese food, this is the place in Edmonton to get it.

Double Greeting has been around for longer than I can remember. I ate here as a kid, and I still eat here as an adult. It’s one of those places that look a little dingy but has a steady set of loyal customers – both Asian and non-Asian.

The key to ordering here is to stick to noodle and rice dishes. Won ton too, of course. The congee is okay too.

Beef chow fun is one of my standby dishes at noodle cafe such as Double Greeting. There are variations of it that you can order – seafood instead of beef, more vegetables, etc. This is one of the dishes that I use as a bellwether to test the quality of food at a restaurant.

Double Greeting’s beef chow fun has lots of tender beef, lots of bean sprouts (but not too many), the noodles are firm but soft and not at all gluey, and the dish has enough grease on it to make the noodles shine but not so much as to make it taste really oily in your mouth. Oh, and see the slight char on the noodles? Yum.

beef chow fun

beef chow fun

Another dish that I order a lot – mostly because I like it and not because I use it to judge the food at a restaurant – is salted fish and chicken fried rice. A good version of this dish will have a little bit of egg, small to medium sized chunks of tender chicken and plenty of shredded salted fish scattered throughout the rice. Too much fish means the rice is oversalted, and too little fish will mean the rice is bland.

salted fish and chicken fried rice

salted fish and chicken fried rice

I was let down by Double Greeting’s version of this dish. It wasn’t greasy, which was good, but they skimped on the salted fish and as a result the rice was bland and I was craving flavour. I would rather have Spicy Garden’s version.

If you are in the mood for rice at Double Greeting, I suggest trying the pineapple and chicken fried rice instead of the salted fish and chicken.

Double Greeting Won Ton House
10212-96 Street, Edmonton

Double Greeting Wonton House on Urbanspoon

Balut and a blogiversary

Today this blog is two years old. And to celebrate I tried something new to me. Something very, very new.

Balut. The sound of that word will either bring you great pleasure, true horror, or utter confusion.

First, a little education for you. What is balut, you may ask? Well, it is a fertilized duck or chicken egg with a nearly-developed embryo. You boil it, peel the shell, and gobble it down. This Filipino delicacy can also be found in Vietnam where it is called Hột vịt lộn. It is also considered to be an aphrodisiac and a high source of protein.

When I asked a friend of mine if she knew where I could track down some balut, she got very excited and said she’d find some for me. Ironically — or logically depending on your opinion of balut — each egg was stamped with the word “treat.”

Treat? Or trick!

Treat? Or trick!

They are already cooked, but need to be warmed prior to eating so the eggs were popped into some boiling water.

reheating the eggs

reheating the eggs

Once hot, the next step is to crack the bottom of the egg (the wide part), and carefully peel away part of the shell. Inside the egg is a lot of “soup” that you drink prior to peeling the remainder of the shell. The liquid, also known as embryonic fluid, made peeling the eggs a bit of a messy business as it was quite easy to spill some out of the shell. It tasted, surprisingly, like chicken broth. Slurp up that sucker (I downed it like a shot) and peel away the rest of the shell.

soup, a.k.a. the embryonic fluid

soup, a.k.a. the embryonic fluid

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Williams-Sonoma Marketplace, Tea Zone and Café Koraku, Primm

About a 40 minute drive south on the I-15 from the strip, over on Exit 1, is the Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas. This place is a shopping mecca of discounted clothes, purses and shoes. It’s large, air-conditioned and relatively crowd-free (unlike another good, but very crowded and outdoor Las Vegas outlet mall that I went to).

And bonus, it has a Williams-Sonoma outlet. Just look at this pretty, pretty photo!

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - Le Creuset sale

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - Le Creuset sale

Too bad I made a promise not to try to fit one of those in my luggage. They had quite a few deals in there, and in particular I was looking for a set of round cookie cutters with scalloped edges that I had seen in their Calgary store, but unfortunately they were sold out already.

And then I saw this.

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - vanilla

Williams-Sonoma Marketplace - vanilla

At half price, each box contained 3 different 2 fl oz bottles of vanilla extract, and the following description:

Like fine wine, premium vanilla springs from a combination of soil, climate and expert processing – an art practiced by Nielsen-Massey since 1907. Our special set combines three of the world’s finest single-origin vanillas: intense Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, a favorite for ice cream and chocolate; floral Tahitian vanilla, which brings out the best in fruit-based desserts; and earthy, sensual Mexican vanilla, the original vanilla sent home to Spain by the explorer Cortez and a perfect complement to cinnamon and spicy, savory dishes like chili.

Even better – the bottles were small enough to fall under the liquid amounts that you could carry on the plane, so they travelled in my purse with my lip balm. I have no idea what I’m going to do with them just yet, so please let me know if you have ideas. Continue reading

Curry mee – Langkawi and Penang, Malaysia

Curry mee is a curry and coconut milk noodle soup. In many parts of Malaysia and in Singapore, it is known as laksa or curry laksa. In Penang, it is known as curry mee as laksa in Penang refers to assam laksa, a very differently flavoured dish. (More about that to come in a different post.)

I had curry mee twice during my trip. The first was at a small place in Langkawi, an island in Malaysia that is popular for its beach resorts. I don’t remember the name of the place but it was like a mini-cafeteria in a strip-mall near Underwater World, and sold a variety of Malaysian and western foods. The burgers apparently sucked somewhat and the Hainanese chicken rice was so-so. I had curry mee and Ribena, a blackcurrent drink popular in parts of Asia and in the United Kingdom. The curry mee wasn’t bad. Decent spicing, vegetables weren’t too soggy… I just wish there had been more of them and a little less noodles. This photo is also the current image header for this blog, which I wrote about earlier. And yes, I was mocked by my father for buying Ribena (adults usually see this as a kid’s drink). And then I was laughed at for taking a photo of it. But hey, I like the taste and it has vitamin C.

Curry mee and Ribena - Langkawi

Curry mee and Ribena - Langkawi

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Kimchi scrambled eggs

What to do with kimchi (a.k.a. kimchee) when you don’t want to eat it straight?

There’s soups, and fried rice, and Korean pancakes… but I am lazy and instead I made kimchi scrambled eggs. If  you don’t like eating things that are too vinegary or too spicy, this might be an ideal way for you to be able to eat kimchi as the eggs mellow out the taste.

Kimchi scrambled eggs

Kimchi scrambled eggs


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