Would you order pizza at Nightingale?

Nightingale Restaurant Lamb Sausage Pizza

My personal philosophy on dealing with food cravings is that it’s better to indulge a little. Scratch that itch as it arrises, rather than endure the misery of abstinence. Years of experience have thought me that if I try to ignore my desire for pizza for instance, I will loose.

Eventually there comes a point where I cave. My love affair with pizza is that strong, and I blame it on my Mediterranean roots. But sometimes I try to fight the good fight and resist all the same, and last Saturday night was one of those instances.

After we made a deliberate choice to not go to Nicli Pizzeria, (one of the best in the city, but I like to space out my Nicli visits, and Thomas isn’t as pizza crazy as I am), we settled on Thomas’ terrific suggestion; Nightingale.

A spot we always seem to enjoy, but have only been to a couple of times in the past 2 years.

 

Nightingale Restaurant Bar
Beautiful bar – love the bird cages and alcohol cabinetry

 

Oh crap… there is pizza on the menu:

So imagine what my face looked like when my eyes landed on the sizeable pizza section in Nightingale’s dinner menu. Dismay mixed with delight. All my focus pulled into that one section and everything else sort off went fuzzy. Pizza 1 – Nicole 0.

This might be weird but there are certain foods I prefer to not order from fancier restaurants. Pizza. Pasta. Bruschetta. Especially in the days when I would cook pasta all the time… I would never order pasta in a restaurant.

So I really didn’t want to order a pizza from Nightingale. What a culinary waste I bemoaned in my head. And yet that’s exactly what I had to do, and you know what? It was surprisingly fantastic!!

 

The drinks: 

To start we ordered 2 cocktails – Jungle bird (dark rum, campari, pineapple, lime) for me and Hesperides’ garden (vodka, elderflower, apple, ginger, lemon) for him.

We later moved on to an outstanding half bottle of Italian wine, Campania Aglianico – Le Masciare Irpinia Campi Taurasini. You better believe I took a photo of the label to include on my Vivino wine app! I also found it for sale in a North Vancouver liquor store.

 

Nightingale Restaurant Decanted Red Wine
Wine paired nicely with our mains.

 

The food: 

To kick things off food wise we ordered 2 starters – the Kanpachi aburi, avocado, serrano pepper, with ponzu and the Roasted apricots, burrata, red currant, with aged balsamic. Stunning dishes! 

For our mains we both ordered lamb dishes – the Lamb sausage, broccolini, macedonian feta, mint pizza for me and the Charred lamb chops, red harissa, mint charmoula, wild rice dukkah for him.

I’ll be honest – I was not expecting that pizza! I was expecting a smaller flatbread style pizza that would be served on a wooden board. This version was soooo much better than what I was expecting!

 

Nightingale Restaurant Kanpachi
Kanpachi Aburi
Nightingale Restaurant Roasted Apricots
Roasted Apricots
Nightingale Restaurant Lamb Chops
Super delicious lamb chops.
Nightingale Restaurant Lamb Sausage Pizza
Amazing Lamb Sausage Pizza – look at that charred crust!

Notable Additions:

My Jungle bird cocktail was garnished with a charred piece of pineapple that was delicious.

Another location that serves great Lamb sausage pizza, albeit in a much more casual setting, is Corduroy Restaurant in Kitsilano. This was the spot that introduced me to the lamb sausage + pizza culinary combo actually!

Nightingale Restaurant Interior
Dining area
Nightingale Restaurant Cocktails
The cocktails

West End Memories & Hidden Patios: A Visit to Adesso Bistro

Adesso Bistro Front Entrance

Sentimental. That’s what I was feeling last weekend.

Astrologically speaking, it was bound to happen. I am a Cancer Ascendant, celebrating a ten year anniversary, during a uniquely intense retrograde period.

For the Astrologically un-savvy, Pluto, Neptune, Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are all in retrograde mode right now.

Retrograde periods are all about looking back, before moving forward. Even if you are someone who thinks Astrology is BS… there is something truly beautiful in this practise of evaluating past actions and beliefs, possibly making adjustments and corrections, and then moving on.

I dig that whole heartedly! Additionally Cancerians are supposedly prone to nostalgia. So there is simply no escaping the sentimentality.

2008 > A New Chapter on the West Coast:

I moved to Vancouver exactly ten years ago. This fact about my life is so surreal to me. So soooooo much has happened during this time, and yet I cannot believe it’s already been ten years!

Many different ideas on how to ‘celebrate’ the big 10 year marker had crossed my mind over the past few months. In the end I settled on what I needed most; a week long break and lots of me-time!

West End Vancouver Map

West End Neighbourhood Borders according to Google Maps. I’d argue that the blocks East of Denman and North of Robson Street are no longer part of the West End anymore. 

My beloved Harwood on Burrard:

From all the apartments I have occupied during these past ten years, nothing compares to the one that I shared with my friend James for a good four years. What a gem of a place!

It was a large SE facing corner unit with plenty of light, and stunning water views. And I had a fabulous walk in closet.

Trading my current Yaletown pad for that former apartment would entail downgrading to only one bathroom and giving up in-suite laundry. Big no-nos right? And yet I still totally would be tempted to move back in! I really did love it that much.

But that is nostalgia for you!

At some point in this past year I discovered some very sad news. Almost all the buildings along my former street are scheduled to be torn down for condo development.

Ever since then I have been meaning to go and take photos of the street before this happens. It’s been months in the making… but I finally went and took the ‘memory-capsule’ photos I desired. And I am so glad I did!

There are ten buildings along that portion of Harwood street, sandwiched between Thurlow and Burrard. One building was torn down and redeveloped a few years ago. From the nine remaining buildings, five are slated to be demolished in the next 1.5 years. The area will be truly unrecognizable.

As though by fate, while I was adjusting my angle for one of the photos, I realized the man walking his dog along the sidewalk was someone I knew! A former neighbour who I hadn’t spoken to in a good five years. It was so nice to catch up and exchange contact info before he too has to leave the neighbourhood.

Patio Entrance to Adesso Bistro

Adesso Bistro – A hidden patio: 

Snapping away at the various interesting buildings along Harwood street I remembered something else I had been meaning to do for a super long time. Visit Adesso Bistro – one of Vancouver’s top hidden patios.

This place is so obscure that Thomas and I had to do a Google search to remember the name of it, and its exact location. All I could remember was that it was somewhere west of Denman street.

Nestled among the trees in a residential neighbourhood on Haro Street, about a block and a half past Denman, Adesso Bistro offers patrons a secluded al fresco dining experience. Tucked out of the way, it’s no wonder that people are surprised when they stumble upon this little beauty. Flaunting beautiful hanging flowers, the bistro’s 50-seat patio is the perfect place to perch oneself on a summer evening, whilst tucking into an antipasti platter. Reservations for the patio are required.

– Daily Hive Vancouver

As though prompted by the name (Adesso means ‘now’ in Italian), we decided we both needed a mid-afternoon pick-me-up sooner than later. So we headed over.

What a beautiful Euro-style patio!! Tucked away on a quiet street, surrounded by lush greenery, this patio is perfect for a solo afternoon of drinking wine, nibbling on snacks and catching up on some reading or writing.

Adesso Bistro Happy Hour Menu Adesso Bistro Happy Hour Drink Menu

Thomas and I ordered the following from their Happy Hour menus:

  • Haro Bellini
  • Fiorente Spritz
  • Cheese & Charcuterie
  • Tuna Crudo
  • Beef Tataki
  • Roasted Root Veg

On sight I thought the drinks looked very elegant and Instagram-worthy.

I do wonder what happened to the rosemary for my Bellini though. An odd addition that wasn’t added in the end.

Also I do think a gentle stir is required to blend up that Aperol/ Peach mix at least 1/2 way up the flute glass. For Thomas’ Spritz, mint was used instead of thyme, so we think the bar might have been lacking is some key herbs that day.

Cocktails at Adesso Bistro

Roasted Root Veg & Cheese Charcuterie Board

As for the nibbles:

So many delights! My definite ‘order again’ choices would be the Tuna Crudo and Roasted Root Veg.

The Tuna Crudo had a finely chopped topping of radish, celery and pink grapefruit. That flavour combo is deletable and so refreshing! The main menu version has some additional ingredients like campari caviar and black olive crisp – I’d definitely want to try this fuller version.

The Roasted Root Veg was so surprisingly delicious, I kept trying to reverse engineer each new bite. The slivered sweet yellow carrots, the orange carrot ribbons, the cashew curd. Yum, yum, YUM!!!

I don’t think I have ever tried popped sorghum before. When you want to recreate a dish at home, exactly as it is plated… that’s when you know you’ve found a winner!

Worthy mentions:

  • The generous helping of thinly sliced, olive oil drizzled, toasted bread slices… which were probably not made in house but I enjoyed them a lot anyway.
  • The smoky castelvetrano olives.

Beef Tataki

Tuna Crudo

Roasted Root Veg

West End Girls:  

I may live in Yaletown now… but I’m still a West End Girl at heart!

Beautiful tree-lined, LGBTQ proud, immigrant friendly, oasis of a neighbourhood… hopefully you don’t change too much.

Team Lunch Hawaii Style: Poké

Poké Bowls

If you have to take care of ordering a team lunch, best to keep things interesting and try something new I say!

I could have ordered some sandwiches. It would have been easier really. Sandwiches are safe, and we’ve ordered them before.

But that’s just not me.

I have a serious aversion to doing the same thing over and over again. I wanted something new and tasty, that could also accommodate everyones’ unique tastes.  So what did I come up with?

Poké!

All thanks to the food delivery app Foodora actually.

A quick scroll through the available options was all it took to come up with a perfect solution; Poké from The Poké Shop in Gastown.

This place is literally a 10 to 15 mins walk from my house. Yet I had no clue it existed. Then again… it’s not easy to spot since it’s a sub-level establishment on Water Street.

There were a few hiccups… 

  1. I couldn’t get my 5 person order delivered because the time kept changing from 12pm to 3pm during the checkout process on the app. I assumed this might be a timezone bug on the app since no where did it say they couldn’t do deliveries. So I had to pick up the food.
  2. The restaurant forgot one of the drinks, and I only noticed when I had already arrived at the office. So I made everyone share.

But other than that… everyone was super happy with their customized Poké bowl.

Photo by khanghl20000 on Pixabay

Traditional Hawaiian Tuna Poké. Photo by khanghl20000 on Pixabay.

My order (Bowl bottom left near chop sticks) was:

  • 1/2 Japonica White Rice 1/2 Organic Purple Rice
  • Ahi Tuna + Wild Sockeye Salmon
  • Red Radish, Guacamole, Pineapple, Cilantro, Cucumber, Edamame, Nori, Sesame Seeds
  • Spicy Sauce

I thought mine was very delicious, and the drink I sampled (Pineapple Plantation Ice Tea) was super yum too. The portion size (regular) was just right.

Based on this initial experience I think I will omit the guacamole and add pickled ginger for next time though. How could I have omitted the ginger?!?

 

Hawaii Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash

                          The birthplace of Poké – Hawaii. Photo by Colton Jones on Unsplash

 

Poké Newbie to Poké Master

Truth be told it was my first time ordering Poké. (What?!)

A handful of Poké specific restaurants have opened in Vancouver over the past three years, and I definitely noticed them….but I hadn’t actually bridged that culinary gap until this team lunch gave me the opportunity.

So my Poké experience turned out to be the culinary highlight of an otherwise stressful day!

Thank God for food… and the Hawaiian fishermen who came up with this super tasty dish!

 

The Poké Shop in Gastown

A Po’ Boy in Yaletown – A trip to Wild Tale post New Orleans

BC Oyster Po' Boy Side View

Talk about serendipity…

Wandering into a busy Yaletown restaurant for lunch on a sunny Saturday, less than 24 hours after returning home from a glorious foodie inspired week in New Orleans…. and seeing (to my utter surprise) BC Oyster Po’ Boy on the menu!

Cue brain explosion: What?! Is this actually a thing I can find & enjoy in Vancouver?!

The New Orleans culinary adventure wasn’t over yet! So of course I stopped looking at anything else on the menu, because I knew exactly what I wanted to eat; a delicious Po’ Boy.

 

Wild Tale Lunch Menu

Wild Tale Lunch Menu

Wild Tale Drinks Menu

Wild Tale Drinks Menu

 

I ordered a Rosé from France without even realizing it was Rosé day. I’m all about the Rosé in Summer! 

Castaway Cocktail & French Rose Wine

 

My Po’ Boy – served open face.

BC Oyster Po' Boy

 

The Po’ Boy – A New Orleans Classic:

According to local legend, the term comes from the phrase ‘Poor Boys’.

Pronounced ‘Po’, in Louisiana’s southern dialect, and spelled alternately with an apostrophe or hyphen or without (Po’ Boy/ Po-Boy/ Po Boy), the sandwich was originally served to streetcar strikers, and later to the general working class of New Orleans, aka the ‘Poor Boys’ of the area.

Here’s a The Mind of a Chef YouTube video about the history of the sandwich.

These sandwiches are ubiquitous in New Orleans and NOLA residents are very passionate and opinionated on where you can find the best Po’ Boy in town.

 

Ask any local, and they will tell you, with fervor, where to find the best po-boy in town, from take-out corner stores to dive bars to sit-down eateries. Know that New Orleanians are prepared to passionately defend this position. Expect supporting details from the quantity of the meats, to the crispiness of the bread, to the value vs. price debate, to the atmosphere of the venue. Indeed, feelings can run so high that it’s almost dangerous to publish any list purporting to be the city’s best.

– Eater New Orleans

 

Me in three layers of clothing … after a week of 33* Celsius weather. Bit of an adjustment being back in Vancouver! 

 

Frequency Illusion at Wild Tale? 

Thomas and I don’t normally land at a restaurant haphazardly.

We tend to know exactly where we are going, after compromising on a mutually agreed upon location. I’m fussy and hate going to the same place too often. He has dietary restrictions and is all about the reviews.

Yet on this particular day I just wanted to find any sunny patio that looked nice, and get something (anything!) to eat from there. Basically, survival mode thinking when you are travel fatigued and need to eat.

I guided us towards Yaletown as it’s the closest and easiest for us, with row after row of patio options, and we ended up at a seafood restaurant called Wild Tale.

Now I’ve been to this restaurant before, but only for dinner, and we’d just missed the brunch menu at the time we arrived (after 2:30pm). So lunch menu it was, and coincidentally, the Po’ Boy is only available on the lunch menu.

Prior to this New Orleans trip I had no clue what a Po’ Boy was. So I wonder what I would have imagined it to be?? Perhaps an Asian inspired dish?

Would I have asked the server for details or glossed over the option entirely seeing as I’m not usually a fan of fried oysters? I’ll never know…

What I do know is that my eyes probably looked like saucers when they landed on the Po’ Boy option and I was all in! 🙂

 

My Po’ Boy – Top View (the coleslaw and cajun fries were pretty good too!)

BC Oyster Po' Boy Top View

 

Thomas’ Ahi Tuna – Top View (a classic healthy Vancouver dish)

Ahi Tuna Top View

 

Change the Bread! 

All in all, very satisfying. I practically devoured it.

The only way the meal could be improved, in my humble ‘just-returned-from-the-birthplace-of-the-sandwich’ opinion, is if the Po’ Boy came in a bun a little more similar to New Orleans French Bread.

Obviously it can be a little hard to replicate a dish with the exact bread of the area, but here is the solution:

This article suggests Vietnamese Banh Mi style buns, since Vietnam also has that French influence in its cuisine. I’m sure there are plenty of Vietnamese bakeries that could supply this bread in Vancouver, and it would really elevate the dish.

Thomas’ Ahi Tuna (he enjoyed it!)

Ahi Tuna

 

New Orleans Cuisine – Where to next?

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to visit The Big Easy this year.

Such a memorable experience!

Although I already knew I liked the cuisine from the area (I’ve made this dish for guests before and I’ve used Cajun seasoning since forever), actually visiting the place opened my eyes to lots of new foodie experiences, including some I just didn’t get around to, like Turtle Soup.

I’ll most definitely be returning to the city sometime in the future, hopefully sooner than later. Meanwhile, I’ll attempt to relive my NOLA experience by following a few recipes from my newest souvenir cookbook, visiting Vancouver’s original New Orleans inspired restaurant Ouisi Bistro, and last but not least, sharing some more posts about my trip on this blog.

More to come!