February 22, 2010: Out and about! Ganache Patisserie! Bistrot Bistro! Narrowing down our next book of the month club pick! And an Olympic update!

Yesterday, we headed to the city’s Yaletown district to do some strolling, some shopping, have a little lunch, and potentially run into fellow writer-producer Carl Binder who has been in town checking out the free events and, if my sources are correct, representing Djibouti in the skeleton and freestyle skiing.  Alas, no Carl sighting on this day.  Also, no lunch at Rodney’s Oyster House which, unlike many well-situated Vancouver restaurants, elected not to open for lunch and take advantage of the Olympic crowds.  So, instead, we went over to the Blue Water Cafe where we ordered up a half-dozen oyster varieties…

Akemi's favorite seafood: oysters on the half-shell.

We followed up with some small plates (smoked sockeye salmon terrine, Dungeness crab and shrimp cake, Albacore tuna tartare, and a Qualicum Bay scallop ceviche) and maki, then braved the crowds of silly hat-sporting strollers.  Now I haven’t been in the area for weeks, but I don’t remember seeing this – uh – interesting piece of artwork the last time I was here…

Feel free to name the statue.

We eventually made our way back to the car which, conveniently enough, happened to be parked right our front Ganache Patisserie – so we stopped in for some dessert.

Akemi had the Citron-Mandarine: lemon cream, lemon curd, mandarine oranges, and almond dacquoise.

While I went with my favorite, the Concorde-Praline: hazelnut cocoa meringue, chocolate guimauve, dark chocolate praline mousse, and chocolate chantilly. Killer!

We took in an anime matinee in the home theater room, watching How’s Moving Castle which she loved and I found enjoyably odd but narratively scattered.  We’ll probably check out Miyazai’s latest, Ponyo, today – although Akemi is eager for me to check out a series called Code Geass.

We’ve been eating a lot of late so it was no surprise that, by the time our dinner reservations at Bistrot Bistro rolled around, we weren’t exactly ravenous.  As a result, we ended up eating light.  Well, fairly light.

My delightful dining companion, Akemi.

We started with two terrific appetizers – escargots in butter sauce and warm caramelized onion smoked applewood bacon gruyere tart – and an okay butternut squash soup, then shared –

Decadent duck confit macaroni & cheese.

Brussel sprouts with bacon. It'll win over most die-hard brussel sprout-haters.

Akemi was wild about the house ratatouille.

Mmm. Oishi.

We decided to skip dessert and requested the bill.  A couple of minutes later, we were served a little surprise –

A sampling of the house chocolate mousse. Delicious.

Bistrot Bistro scores top marks for food, service, its casual ambience - and the complimentary lollipops that accompany the bill.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s entry, I’m considering suggestions for the April Book of the Month Club pick.  While I’d love to do a classic, the reason I started this book club was to give new writers the opportunity to introduce themselves while allowing established authors to re-introduce themselves and hopefully pick up a few more avid readers along the way.  The Q&A portion of the discussion is important as it offers insight into not only the works, but the individuals who give so much of themselves to create the stories we enjoy.  So classics, while tempting, are problematic – unless the author is available to drop by and field our questions.  Ideally, given that April fast approaches, it would be great to come up with a title that is readily available at most local bookstores – in affordable paperback version.  Since I’ll be reading along with you, I’d like to make a special request for no potentially cheesy candidates.  And finally, while I’m sure there are a lot of wonderful tie-in novels out there, they’re not my cup of tea.  Sorry.

So what’s going on with the Olympics?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  First up, Canadian fans are proving themselves jerks and poor sports: http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/olympics/vancouver/blog/fourth_place_medal/post/Candian-curling-fans-leave-Danish-player-in-tear?urn=oly,221320.  If your athletes can’t win on their own merits or you can’t depend on the whims of those judges, then I suppose that’s one way to go.

Still, for all the money spent and all the talking done, Canada hasn’t exactly been kicking ass.  Own the podium?  Maybe we’d have been better off looking to rent: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/sports/olympics/21podium.html and http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Weekend+fizzle+hurts+Canada+gold+medal+hopes/2596080/story.html

February 6, 2009: The Secret Vancouver Restaurant List…and The Mailbag

So you’re in Vancouver and wondering where the heck to go for dinner. Well, if you’re an actor guesting on our show, all you have to do is swing by my office and I’ll provide you with a rundown of my favorite local restaurants. From the Japanese hotdog stand serving up Oroshi hotdogs to the latest celebrity chef venture in the heart of downtown, I’ve got you covered. Don’t bother with that list you received from the production office and, for Godsake, don’t ask your hotel for suggestions. When I first came to Vancouver, I made the mistake of asking the concierge at The Sutton Place Hotel to recommend a really good sushi restaurant. He directed to me to one of those places where the sushi selections float by on little boats, endlessly circling the bar like weary Bangkok prostitutes working the floor.
What’s that? You say you’re NOT a visiting actor but nevertheless plan on eating while in Vancouver? And you’d rather not do conveyer belt sushi? Oooh, look at you, all hoity-toity! Well, okay. Here’s a peek at my list of favorites. Just do me a favor. If you check out any of them, report back. Oh, and while you’re in town, DO ask your concierge for a good recommendation and report back on that too. I’d love to hear what they come up with.
Check out the list, then check out the mini mailbag.  Today’s entry is dedicated to a hopefully-on-the-mend-soon Sessy.

 

 

 

AMERICAN

Japa Dog: A hot dog stand with a Japanese twist.  Located on the corner of Burrard and Haro, steps away from The Sutton Place Hotel, it offers – in addition to the more typical Bavarian smokies and bratwurst – turkey smokies with miso sauce, Kaiware, and Japanese mayo, and okonomiyaki-flavor kurobuta dogs.

Memphis Blues Barbecue House: 1465 West Broadway (604-738-6806)
For a taste of almost everything on the menu, try the Memphis Feast.  Finish with the pecan pie a la mode.

CHINESE

Long’s Noodle House: 4853 Main Street (604-879-7879)
Tiny, hole-in-the-wall, family-run restaurant.  Try the wine chicken (best in the city) steamed dumplings, pig pot (pork shank served on a bed of spinach), or the house meatballs (with egg-yolk centers).  *Cash only.  They don’t take credit cards.

Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant: 3711 No. 3 Road, Richmond, Vancouver (604-232-0816)
A little out of the way and pricey, but you won’t find a better top quality Chinese restaurant.  The house chicken is to die for. 

Sha-lin Noodle House: 548 West Broadway (604-873-1816)
Casual and inexpensive handmade noodles (you can actually watch them being made).  Try: the curried dragging noodles with barbecue pork, and the spicy cumin lamb.

Sun Sui Wah: 3888 Main  (604-872-8822)
Great dim sum.  Excellent: Lobster with Ginger and Green Onions, Peking Duck, Braised Abalone.

FILIPINO

Rekados Grill: 4063 Main Street, Tel: 604-873-3133
Filipino food at its rib-sticking best. Check out the crispy pata (pork hocks) or the sizzling sisig (crispy pig ear).  And, for dessert, the cheddar corn ice cream that tastes a lot better than it sounds.   

FRENCH

Bistrot Bistro: 1961 West 4th Avenue, Tel: 604-732-0004
Rustic French country fare.  If it’s on the menu, try the duck confit mac and cheese.

DB Bistro:  2551 West Broadway (604) 739-7115
The Bistro is Daniel Boulud’s recent entry into the Vancouver restaurant scene.  Nice, warm atmosphere.  Try the handmade orechiette pasta. http://www.dbbistro.ca/

La Regalade: West Van (604-921-2228)
Rustic French cuisine served in earthenware pots.  Huge portions.  Excellent.  Try the pear/goat cheese tart appetizer.

Le Crocodile: 100 – 909 Burrard (604) 669-4298
This restaurant has been serving upscale traditional French cuisine for over 20 years.  If you’re feeling adventurous, try the oven-roasted beef bone marrow or the pan-seared sweetbreads with porcini mushrooms. http://www.lecrocodilerestaurant.com/

Lumiere:  2551 West Broadway (604) 739-7115
Boulud’s team now runs the kitchen in Vancouver’s celebrated high-end Lumiere.  I haven’t been since the changeover but I’ve heard the food is excellent.  Choose from three set menus: prix fixe, chef’s, or vegetarian.   http://www.lumiere.ca/

INDIAN

Rangoli: 1488 W. 11th Ave. (604-736-5711)
Vij’s more casual sister restaurant.  Try the Savory Chaat and the mutton kebabs.

Vij’s: 1480 W. 11th Ave. (604-736-6664)
Inventive Indian cuisine and one of the city‘s best.  Try the lamb Popsicles, short ribs, and the mutton kebabs.  Get there early though as the restaurant doesn’t take reservations.  Last time Harrison Ford was in town, even he had to wait.

ITALIAN

Don Francesco Ristorante: 860 Burrard Street(604 685-7770)
Right across from the Sutton Hotel.  In addition to great standard Italian dishes, they have an excellent wild game selection that includes terrific grilled quail, venison, pheasant, and partridge.  THE dish to get, however, is the Squash Agnolotti with black truffle butter.  It’s listed as a main but you can ask them to serve it as an appetizer.  In fact, should you have any requests (ie. mixing and matching pasta and sauces) just ask them.  They’ll be happy to oblige. http://www.donfrancesco.ca/

Quattro: 2611 W. 4th  (604-734-4444)
Great beef carpaccio and an excellent antipasto platter.  Galetto (Cornish game hen), Spaghetti Quattro (black bean, garlic, and oil), and the House Tiramisu are excellent.

Villa del Lupo: 869 Hamilton St (604) 688-7436
Grand Italian.  If you want privacy, call ahead and book the wine cellar.  http://www.villadellupo.com/

JAPANESE

Aki: 745 Thurlow (604-682-4032)
Mix of modern and traditional.  Best Dynamite Rolls in town.  Also check out the Katsu Curry, Butter Beef, and Live Uni

Tojo’s Restaurant:   1133 W Broadway (604-872-8050)
Upscale sushi and Japanese dishes.  The place is expensive but offers the best sushi in town.  Excellent bluefin tuna and live uni in season.  Get: the dynamite hand cone, spider roll, tuna tataki nigiri, and Tojo’ tuna, and Canadian sablefish. http://www.tojos.com/

Yuji’s Japanese Tapas: 2059 W. Fourth Ave (604-734-4990)
More casual than Tojo’s and the emphasis here is less on the sushi and more on the creative small plates: meguro avocado crepes, isobe, spicy curry calamari, deep-fried spicy tuna rolls, and the green tea creme brulee.

Zakkushi: 1833 W. 4th (604-730-9844)
Don’t go expecting sushi.  This place serves some of the best robata in the city.  Tiny, but very authentic fare.  In addition to the great grill items, check out the homemade tofu. 

KOREAN

The Seoul House: 36 East Broadway (604-874-4131)
Barbecue your own meal on tabletop grills.  Try: the premium cut short ribs.

LATIN AMERICAN

Cobre: 52 Powell Street604-669-2396
Actually, Nuevo Latino Cuisine.  Among the offerings: Patagonia battered Baja rockfish with chipotle ajo aioli, and Indian candied salmon tamale with green apple jalapeno jelly and platan. 

MALAYSIAN

Banana Leaf: 820 W. Broadway (604-731-6333)
Great seafood.  Try the Black Pepper/Garlic Cracked Crab.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST

Boneta: 1 West Cordova (604) 684-1844
French-Italian fusion.  Located in the city’s Gastown area, it’s very popular.  http://www.boneta.ca/

Fuel Restaurant: 1944 West 4th Ave., 604-288 7905
Focuses on fresh seasonal ingredients.  Pacific Northwestern.  Rather than ordering from the menu, leave it up to the chef and go with a multi-course menu.  Request that they include the crispy duck (the restaurant’s specialty).  They’ll happily accommodate anyone with specific dietary restrictions.  They’ll take very good care of you.  http://fuelrestaurant.ca/

Market: 1115 Alberni Street Tel: (604) 689-1120 
Just opened in the brand new Shangri-la Hotel, this is international super chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s first Vancouver venture.  And it’s fantastic.  Be sure to check out the Rice Cracker Crusted Tuna appetizer and Soy-Glazed Short Ribs for your main course.  http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/vancouver/shangrila/dining/restaurant/market

West
2881 Granville (604-738-8939)
Very inventive, upscale regional cuisine.  Named one of the top ten restaurants in the world by the UK Sunday Independent.

VIETNAMESE

Au Petite Café: 4861 Main St. (604-873-3328)
Inexpensive Vietnamese.  Closed Wednesdays and evenings after 7:00 p.m.  Try: the pho, and the Vietnamese sandwiches.  *Cash only.  They don’t take credit cards.

Thai Son Vietnamese: 373 E. Broadway, Tel: 604-875-6436
It don’t get much more hole-the-wall than this place.  Serves up great pho, grilled lemongrass chicken, and, evenings, a seafood crepe that’s worth checking out.

Mailbag:
Ytimyona writes: “Haha I was gonna say I was surprised that Window of Opportunity and Ripple Effect aren’t your favorites, but I see I’ve already been beaten to the punch!”Answer: They’re certainly in my top 5, along with Morpheus (loved Vala’s psychiatric evaluation).

FatherCrow writes: “Why do all these writer guys seem to have an absence of hair? Is that a prerequisite of being a writer Joe?”

Answer: Untrue. Check out fantasy author extraordinaire Joe Abercrombie’s ( http://www.joeabercrombie.com/author.htm) full head of hair, the envy of every Nebula and Hugo nominee.  Also, while you’re there, weigh in with your thoughts on the cover art of his forthcoming book, Best Served Cold:  http://www.joeabercrombie.com/news.htm

AMZ writes: “In response to your response to Michelle about why you pick actors, I have to ask: by picking “the best actor” do you mean their abilities, presence etc? And do looks have a lot, or not-so-much to do with the decision?”

Answer: Again, it really comes down to the performance. You can have to equally skilled actors but one may offer a different take on the character that a producer may more readily respond to. Also, as writers, we tend to have an image of what the character looks like in our heads so, yes, appearance does enter into it as well.

Toomi writes: “When there’s various writers creating characters how difficult is it to get a balance between what everyone wants? How much fun is it to come up with each characters quirks and idiosyncrasies? Not asking for specifics but has there been a disagreement over a character in SGA, SG-1 or SGU where two opinions from both ends of the spectrum and no one would budge?”

Answer: My approach is to roll the dice. Take chances with the characters (which is what I’m doing in my first SGU script). But don’t fall in love with anything. At the end of the day, Brad and Rob, the show’s creators, will have the final say.

December 10, 2008: A Plethora of Projects, the Duck Confit Mac and Cheese Back, and The Weird Food Purchase of the Day

A bucket of mussels

A bucket of mussels

Duck confit mac and cheese

Duck confit mac and cheese

Filet mignon

Filet mignon

Buttery mash

Buttery mash

Fondy's dessert.  Note the fruit peeking out from beneath the chocolate and whipped cream.

Fondy's dessert. Note the fruit peeking out from beneath the chocolate and whipped cream.

No monkeys were harmed in the making of this monkey waffle.

No monkeys were harmed in the making of this monkey waffle.

Sometimes, when you’ve got multiple projects on the go, it’s easy to become distracted. You end up jumping from one to the next and, when all is said and done, not all that much gets accomplished. Rather than simply tackle whichever one happens to interest me whenever, I think I’m going to have to demonstrate a little more self-discipline and dedicate an entire day to one – and only one. Here’s what I have on tap:

The outline for the first part of the SGU mid-season two-parter: Well, despite the introduction, I did make headway by completing a first pass. It’s a pretty solid story, full of action, twists and turns. My only uncertainty stems from some of the locations and weapon systems given that the ship is still being designed as we speak. One more pass and I’ll be putting it out.

The outline for the SGA movie. Paul sent me the revised version this morning. He was working on it while I was in Japan and has come up with some great ideas. We’re two-thirds of the way through and now all we have to do is figure a way out of this fine mess. Lots of fun cameos and a major contribution from one recurring player in particular that is certain to have at least one fandom faction in a frenzy. Still in the process of working out that momentous shift in the status quo that will impact the lives of our characters. I’ll be shifting my focus to this (and only this) tomorrow.

The super, secret project. Which, with time, becomes less secretive but no less super. It’s a short story. I’ve found that writing blog entries is much, much easier.

My fourth and final (for now) pilot. No rush on this one but I simply want to get it done. Finally. After a long lay-off, I rewrote the opening and now consider the first half of the script very tight. The second half is a might looser in that it has yet to be written. I suppose the creative stagnation on this one stems from the fact that I have to be in a certain mood to write this type of script. The mood = seriously pissed off. I appreciate the efforts of a handful of you in this regard and request you continue to persevere in this noteworthy endeavor. Just the other day, I was imagining my obit would read something like: “The writer-producer, known for his work on Stargate, passed away after a long and courageous battle with fans….”

The other night, Fondy and I went to Bistrot Bistro where we enjoyed, among many other things, some terrific mussels marinieres, a tasty filet mignon, and the duck confit mac and cheese which has finally found its way back onto the winter menu. Fondy’s review of this particular dish: “Insanely good!” and “The best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had!”. As usual, we over-ordered (two appies, three mains, and various sides) – which prompted a curious Chef Lauren to come out of the kitchen to investigate. “I should have known,”he said as he approached our table, all smiles. “With that kind of order, I knew it was either someone who had never eaten here before, or Joseph Mallozzi.” We finished with desserts. Mine, pictured above, was the monkey waffle (served with banana, chocolate, whipped cream, but no actual monkey). Fondy was amazed that, in spite of the variety of dishes we’d ordered, there was not a disappointment in the bunch. She’d enjoyed everything.

Hey, check out today’s installment of The Weird Food Purchase of the Day…