authors note: please excuse the quality of some of the pictures below… I really am slowly but surly figuring out my camera… especially in candle-lit restaurants… anyone want to give me a lesson? We can trade – I’ll bake for you and you show me how to take an excellent picture in semi-darkness ;0)
My Friday morning was spent in a mecca of fruit and vegetable stalls – and my afternoon was spent wandering between Yaletown, Gastown (oh how I heart Water street), China town and then back to Yaletown. Adorable! The thing that has hit me the most about Vancouver is how green it is… I mean, Ottawa is full of parks, and we have the river… but Vancouver is lush and green… you wander the streets under canopies of tress… how incredible is that? Canopy of trees in a major metropolitan? A-maz-ing.
I got back to Beach Crescent just as Katie and Michaud got home from work – they decided to take me on another run through Stanley Park – only this time to third beach. A quick 8 km loop – third beach is simply spectacular (especially for a girl who lives next to a canal)! We ran along the seawall – pacific to our left, huge trees to our right: you can’t help but be impressed with what you see. I wish I’d had my camera… but running with a canon proves to be slightly… complicated (to say the least!). Oh well… you’ll just have to make your way there and check it out for yourselves. It is truly worth it.
After our run it was time to get ready for dinner! I’d been thinking about this for almost a week. Yep. An entire week of going online and checking out the menu. Katie had emailed me earlier in the week and recommended the restaurant she thought I would enjoy. Chambar. I did a little google search and discovered their menu. OMG!
I’ve said it before, and I will say it again… nothing gives me more pleasure than actually looking at a menu and being tempted by several things. And boy was I being tempted.
Would I try the salade de baies: local mixed berries, whipped sheep feta, lettuce and herb salad. Almond tuiles, honey vinaigrette. Or would I get the carpaccio de thon et concombre: charred grilled yellowfin tuna carpaccio, cucumber & fine herb gazpacho, smoked herring caviar, sumac chili salt? Or just as tempting…le mini mechoui: moroccan rubbed, slow roasted lamb loin, israeli cous cous tabouleh, tahini yogurt, grilled flat bread. And those were just the appetizers!
I’m sure you can imagine how I was feeling… and that was on Tuesday! I hadn’t even left Ottawa yet!
Even prior to arriving at the restaurant, Katie and Michaud were singing Chambar‘s praises; a Moroccan / Belgium fusion restaurant; known for interesting flavour combinations that were anything but subtle (Moroccan food is anything but subtle wouldn’t you agree), but perfectly balanced. I was excited!
We arrived at 562 Beatty Street (Crosstown) and were seated in the back – brick walls surrounding us on one side, contemporary art everywhere (and I don’t mean odd or crude art, just modern, especially in contrast to the old building and brick walls), burgundy red walls… nothing gaudy. I promise. Think super stylish and hip.
As I made my way to our table, my brain starting running a hundred miles a minute: what was that? was that the foie gras plate? oh… that looks interesting… what could it be? People already enjoying their meals, digging into pieces of culinary art. I could not wait for my turn.
We sat down and were offered menus. Michaud ordered the largest beer I’ve ever seen served at a restaurant (Saison Dupoint), and Katie and I decided that we preferred a little bubbly – so Kir Royales for us. Perfect. Now to focus on the task at hand. What to order!!
I opened the menu and decided to go with my gut (har, har)… les asperges verts: grilled green asparagus, sautéed morrells, black peppercorn & truffled mayonnaise. Crispy parmesan tuiles.
I followed that with… la brocheete d’autruche: grilled ostrich, sweet balsamic onion, marinated prunes, five herb pesto, crisp potato chips, vin cotto.
I was not disappointed.
Katie and Michaud went with their cravings as well, splitting: les moules frites congolaise: mussels cooked with a tomato coconut cream, smoked chili & lime, fresh cilantro.
They followed their mussels with Tajine d’aziz a l’agneau: braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous, zalouk, harissa & raita.
I wasn’t disappointed with those selections either… since obviously I sampled from their plates as well (if you want to dine with me… you have to understand I will likely refuse to order the same thing as you, and that I will sample from your plate… a rule to live by I think).
With our plates wiped clean, I opened the dessert menu. I couldn’t help myself… I had raspberries on the brain and decided to sample the tartlette aux framboise: raspberry almond frangipante tart, lemongrass coconut ice cream, caramel sauce & raspberry tuile.
The ice cream was unlike anything I’ve ever had before – uber rich thanks to the coconut milk – but the lemongrass… it just… brightened it. You’d think that they had thrown in some ginger for good measure also; all these flavours playing games with your taste-buds… it was delish! I will admit… the tart was the one portion of my meal that I found a little lacking… I think that the frangipane was a little too (dare I say it…) stale… it would have been better balanced as a pate brisee – perhaps still adding the almond frangipane between the layer of almonds and pastry? But that’s just my own personal opinion. I hear that their chocolate mousse is to die for… delicately flavoured with lavender. Hum… maybe I should have tried that one instead?
This simply means that there has to be a next time!