Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Duck with Potato Pancetta Truffle Hash

After a recent landmark event (which I should really make a post about), Louise and I visited a restaurant that we’ve always wanted to go to – Bin 941 on Davie Street. It’s a “small plates” restaurant serving a variety of excellent West Coast food – lamb, seafood, short ribs, steak etc. The duck that we ordered especially impressed me; I honestly think it’s one of the best things I’ve eaten in a restaurant, and when we got home and I checked out their website, I was excited to find that they’d actually posted the recipe!

Now, I’m not going to link to their recipe because after experimenting last night, it’s massively inaccurate. I’m not sure what planet the recipe writer inhabits where frying raw potatoes for two minutes gives you delicious hash browns, but it’s not the one that my kitchen sits on. So you get the benefit of my learning here!

One thing I’ll say about this recipe… when cooking at home I like to eat cheaply, and this ain’t that. I paid $20 for the duck breast, and truffle oil might as well be liquid gold for what they charge for it (and yes I’m aware of the whole argument raging for/against truffle oil in the first place. I love the flavour and know a lot of good chefs who use it so that’s the side I come down on). I think it’s almost cheaper to eat this at the restaurant, though of course they’ll get you on drinks! There’s also a cranberry-port sauce as part of this recipe but it’s time-intensive and involves yet more expensive ingredients so I just omitted it for reasons of time, finances and sanity. It’s just not possible to do it at a reasonable cost without the economy of scale provided by a restaurant. So if you’re looking for cheap eats… move along please :)

Duck with Potato Pancetta Hash

Yes, my arrangement skills failed me here. I just wanted to eat!

Crispy Duck

Ingredients: 1 large Mulard or Muscovy duck breast, skin on

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the duck breast in half across the middle, and cut a diamond pattern into the skin and fat without cutting into the meat itself.

Heat up a seasoned cast iron or oven-safe frying pan (with the tiniest amount of cooking spray in it) over a medium-hot burner. When it’s up to temperature, put the duck breast pieces in skin side down, and let it sear for 5 minutes or so (I actually would have liked my skin crispier so I’ll probably go for 6 or 7 minutes next time). Remove the duck, pour off the rendered fat into a pyrex or otherwise heatproof container, and add the duck back to the pan flesh side down. Sear for a minute, then flip it back to the skin side and put the whole pan in the oven. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until a thermometer says 125 degrees for medium rare, 135 for medium. Let it sit for 5 minutes before slicing once you’ve removed it from the oven.

Potato Pancetta Hash


Approx. 8 fingerling potatoes (nugget potatoes can be a substitute)
30g pancetta, diced
1.5 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into approx 4cm pieces
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
3-4 tbls white truffle oil
Half a head of frisee greens

Scrub the potatoes and add to a pan with cold water. Heat the pan until it boils, drop in some salt, turn the heat down to a good simmer and continue to boil for 10 minutes. Drain and dry when done, let them cool for 10-20 minutes then dice the potatoes into about 2cm wedges, about 12 per potato.

Add the reserved duck fat to another frying pan and heat until hot. Drop in the potatoes and diced pancetta and cook for around 5-6 minutes, until the potatoes are almost golden and crispy. Add the green beans, stir, and pour in 2-3 tablespoons of truffle oil, continuing to mix everything up as you do. After a minute or so of this turn off the heat; drop in the crumbled feta cheese and remove everything to a large bowl or plate lined with paper towels. Add the frisee greens, mix once more, finish with a little more truffle oil and serve.

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Back from vacation
Waikiki from Diamond Head

Waikiki from Diamond Head

Not just a vacation from blogging, a real vacation! Louise and I went to Hawaii (14 days in Oahu and Kauai) and had a wonderful time. I’ve put some photos online at Flickr.

I found a new delicious type of food while we were over there – poke (pronounced “poke-eh” or “pokey”). It’s marinated raw or rare seafood, usually mixed with spices, soy, vegetables or other seafood. My first and favourite version was the ahi poke rolls we had at Duke’s in Waikiki. I found a picture of them on Flickr here, but that’s from Duke’s Malibu and I remember ours looking better (less drenched in sauce). Whatever, they’re raw ahi (yellowfin tuna) and Maui onion, wrapped in rice paper and fried, served in some kind of vinaigrette with wasabi rice. Damn good. We also tried some more traditional poke, with soy-marinated ahi served over lettuce, and tako (octopus) poke mixed with cabbage.

Can you believe I didn’t eat seafood at all as recently as a couple of years ago? Now I love sushi and most white fish (halibut, cod, basa, mahi-mahi, snapper…). Still not into salmon or tuna so much though. And no sign of poke in Vancouver; sadly, apart from the Duke’s chain of restaurants it doesn’t seem to have made its way outside of Hawaii yet.

I’ll be back soon, there’s tons of stuff I want to blog about, from continuing the airshow series, to a new recipe, new PC stuff, and maybe more Hawaii.

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Vij puns

Can you even make a pun out of “Vij’s”? I’m having trouble. I mean, if it’d been bad or really expensive I could say I’d been “sa-vij’d”, but it wasn’t either of those things.

Anyway yes! Louise and I went to Vij’s finally on Saturday, after meaning to get around to it for years. What made it happen was that we were going down to 11th and Granville anyway to see Les Miz, so we’d have to deal with the parking anyway.

Not the best ever picture of Vij's but you get the idea.

Not the best ever picture of Vij's but you get the idea.

If you’re not aware, Vij’s is an immensely hyped sort-of-Indian restaurant near downtown Vancouver. You have to either get there really early or wait forever or both. We tried the getting-there-early plan and it actually worked pretty well. They open at 5.30pm for dinner, and we were the second couple there when we showed up around 4.50pm. By about 5.10pm I think everyone who got in for the first service was there, but people kept showing up and sort of wedging themselves in the patio out front in no apparent order. I was a bit worried we’d get screwed when the doors finally opened, but happily everyone was extremely civil and people were seated in the order they arrived.

So being the second party in we scored a very nice table for two and proceeded to disgrace ourselves by ordering immediately and stuffing ourselves on the free samples. Yes, free! Pretty generous of them to do that, given they could probably rest on their reputation at this point. Vikram, the owner, came over a couple of times during the evening too, not too much chit-chat, just seeing if we were happy. I thought this was pretty cool too, most of the time you don’t see celeb owners in their own place. He also took orders and welcomed people at the door. I really like that personally, I think it shows a nice commitment to the place.

So how was the important stuff, ie. the food? Well, pretty good! Not the best Indian food I’ve ever had but definitely tasty, well-made and plentiful. Samosas to start, then we shared the beef spare ribs in a red curry sauce and the lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream sauce. The lamb was the standout, with an unusual but excellent flavour. Nothing was too spicy and all the naans were plain (I love spicy food and garlic naans) so that could’ve been better but it’s all good. And it wasn’t too pricy either – the bill came to about $120 with tax and tip, and we both had a drink.

I won’t be rushing back or anything, it’s too far and I don’t like waiting 45 minutes on a regular basis, but it was definitely worth trying out. The service was great, the food good and the price reasonable. People apparently drive up from Seattle just to eat here, so you should probably try it out if you’re nearby, just to say you’ve been!

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