La Taqueria

La Taqueria

La Taqueria on Cambie in Vancouver, Canada was a welcome discovery on a recent Saturday while we were out doing errands. This small taco shop happened to be in the neighborhood, and we wandered in just a few minutes after opening time for an early lunch.

The bright interior is decorated like a hipster Mexican cafeteria, with subdued mint green paint and a wall of beer. You can order soft tacos or quesadillas, made traditional Mexican style. I recommend getting a De Lengua quesadilla, filled with braised beef tongue. The meat is tender, juicy and delicious (tastes like brisket) when combined with cheese and a topping of sour cream. You won’t be disappointed.

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Lamb Kebabs

Lamb kebabs

We like to visit our local butcher from time to time. Robson Gourmet Butcher in the Robson Public Market is a great little place to pick up hormone-free meats from local farms. Manzar, a young man we often chat with at the counter, has given us good advice on prep techniques and even spent time sharpening out sadly dull knife.

We picked up lamb cubes recently and gave them a simple treatment, marinating them for several hours in cumin and a few other spices (try a mix of olive oil, salt, spritzes of lime for a hit of tang, and crushed red pepper flakes). When we were ready to cook, we put them on skewers and grilled them until done (tip: soak skewers in water before putting on meat to avoid the wood catching fire). The tender morsels go well with a dipping sauce of Greek yogurt.

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Offroading in Mission, BC, Canada

Jeep Rally Mission

We did our first offroad rally in Canada this past weekend in the mountains of Mission, BC. We hadn’t been offroading since Jamaica, when we did a very fun adventure race/obstacle course earlier this year.

We made a full weekend out of it, driving east to Mission on Saturday. There’s not much to the town, though we enjoyed lunch at Mission Springs Brewing Company, where we had a surprisingly delicious burger layered with lobster mac n cheese and a crispy onion ring. We also filled the growler with one of the house brews to bring back home.

For dinner, we drove out to the historic Dewdney Pub, housed in a former church. The place was packed, and we listened to a three-man band playing classic rock covers. The food was, again, surprisingly good. We ordered perfectly breaded fried zucchini sticks and classic pierogies with bacon and caramelized onion. For bonus entertainment, we watched the town drunk dancing like a wild man in front of us and pretending to surf.

On Sunday, after a filling breakfast sandwich of egg, ham, and cheese in an English muffin, courtesy of the Best Western, we set off to what the 4WD Association of BC called the Kenyon Run, about half an hour drive from downtown Mission. A substantial amount of cars showed up, and we were excited to try offroading again. Being newbies, we asked one of the more experienced members of the club for advice, and he suggested we take our tire pressure down between 15 and 20 to enable better grip. We heeded his advice, and it served us well on the tough spots of the trail.

I must admit I was expecting an easy trail, but the run took us through very rough, steep, and at times dangerous terrain. It reminded me of the treacherous drive through Jamaica’s Blue Mountains, where there are no guardrails and practically nothing between you and a long tumble to the valley below. I was definitely nervous in certain spots when the trail was very narrow and the elevation was high. I had to wipe the sweat off the front handle bar I was gripping. Fortunately, my husband did well at the wheel and pretty much aced it, even when he was uncomfortable. We’re still learning how to use the 4WD on the Jeep, and this was definitely a learning experience. With each challenge notched, we grew more comfortable. The group made stops throughout the rally, and we were able to enjoy the views and chat with club members. Ours was the only stock truck in the bunch, and they were impressed at how the basic Jeep handled the challenging terrain. My husband was able to turn the vehicle around in a tight spot and was able to drive through rocky water without getting stuck. We felt the satisfaction of accomplishment sink in as we drove back home to Vancouver.

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Smoked Salmon Pizza

smoked salmon pizzaWe made pizza Friday evening to chow on while watching the Mets play the Dodgers. We used fluffy, thin, pre-made crust, and mixed it up with one pie based on red sauce and the other on pesto. I’ve posted a recipe on sausage pizza before, so I’ll just post the recipe for the smoked salmon pizza here. The verdict: Absolutely delicious. So good, the slices will go quickly.


1 pre-made thin pizza pie crust
1 jar of pesto, desired amount
1-2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
goat cheese, desired amount
1 pack of smoked salmon
baby spinach and/or arugula for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Slather the pesto onto the pie crust (you’ll likely use most, if not all, of the jar). Distribute the mozzarella, tomato, goat cheese crumbles, and smoked salmon on top, and garnish with baby spinach and/or arugula. Cook in oven for about 15 min.; longer if you want a crunchier crust.


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Chicken Ramen

Chicken RamenWe made ramen from scratch for the first time, and it turned out great. We had a large piece of leftover chicken in the freezer and decided to make broth from scratch. I highly recommend it. It’s easy, and the results are delicious.


1/4 chicken
1/2 bag baby carrots
1-2 green onion stalk, chopped
2 packs of precooked udon
salt to taste

Fill a large pot with desired amount of water, add 3 pinches of salt and the chicken, and bring to a boil. Keep on heat for 1-1.5 hrs.

About 45 min. into the boil, remove the chicken, shred off the meat, and place back into the pot. Add the carrots and a few splashes of olive oil and bring back to a boil. Taste every once in a while and add salt and/or oil if needed. When the broth tastes ready, drop in the noodles, cook for another 5 min., then turn off the heat and garnish with green onion.


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Fried Dumplings

fried dumplingsI love dumplings, and they’re easy to make at home, if you’re willing to put in the time. This recipe is for fried dumplings, which you’ll see on the blue plate in the photo above. (The plate on the left has steamed dumplings on top of a bed of cabbage and mixed veggies sautéed with the leftover dumpling filling. More on that another day.)

The fried dumplings are so good, you’ll keep wanting more.


1 package ground pork
1/3 head of cabbage
1/4 bag of baby carrots
1 green onion stalk
3 garlic cloves
patisse to taste
1 package of circular won ton wrappers

Place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl, and ground the cabbage, carrots, green onion and garlic in the food processor until they’re thoroughly minced. Then, place the contents of the food processor into the mixing bowl with the pork. Add the patisse–and be generous if you want the play up the umami so that the salty element isn’t lost in the other ingredients.

Mix all the ingredients in the bowl thoroughly by hand, then place a dollop of the mix in the middle of each wrapper, dab water on the edge of the wrapper, and close the wrapper over the filling so that the end product is a semicircle shape.

Heat up canola oil in a large skillet and fry the dumplings on each side until golden brown.

Serve with soy sauce and other desired dipping sauces on the side.


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Big Rock Urban Brewery & Eatery, Vancouver, Canada

Big Rock UrbanContinuing our growler-fill search, hubby and I went to Big Rock Urban Brewery, situated on a side street lined with industrial buildings on the edge of a well-developed neighborhood. Big Rock is in a large space that houses an eatery, bar room, storefront and distillery.

The décor is a touch modern hunting lodge, and there’s an entertaining projector screen on the far wall that shows sports events. It’s a casual, classy, open space, with a very good menu. I ordered the steak frites, with the steak seared perfectly on the outside and lovely pink meat inside. Hubby ordered the duck sandwich, which was tasty but made for a small meal.

We also ordered two flights, which each hold four different drinks. It’s a great way to sample the various offerings of the brewery. The mosaic tasted the best, so after dinner we got our growler filled with that brew, getting a head start on the weekend.

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