Archive | June, 2011

Pho Dau Bo

25 Jun

Pho Dau Bo, 301 King Street East, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Recently,  I visited Pho Dau Bo, a Vietnamese restaurant, at the Kitchener, Ontario location. I had read generally positive reviews for this restaurant and wanted to try it for myself.  My general impression of Pho Dau Bo is it is a very causal and simple establishment. Every table receives a complimentary pot of hot tea and to order, you simply write down the item number on the receipt.

To order, write down the item number you wish to eat and any other preferred options such as type of meat and/or size.

I ordered a large well done beef noodle soup (item number: 334)  which many reviews recommended, an appetizer described as steamed rice flour rolls with ground pork and Vietnamese sausage (item number: 110) and vermicelli with chicken or pork and a spring roll (item number: 448 ).  All three items arrived very quickly to the table.

A large well done beef rice noodle soup with bean sprouts, mint and lime served on the side, $7.00.

The first to arrive was the well done beef noodle soup which comes with mint leaves, bean sprouts and a wedge of lime served on the side. There was a generous amount of beef and noodles, and the accompanying broth was well flavoured. I like to add the bean sprouts to the soup immediately to warm them up and the sprouts add a nice crunch to each bite. I also enjoyed the sprinkling of cilantro and sliced onions on top of the beef noodle soup.

A small order of steamed rice flour rolls filled with ground pork and Vietnamese sausage. $5.50.

Fish sauce with strains of carrot and chinese radish (I think).

In a nutshell, the appetizer is two steamed rice rolls stuffed with meat and served with pickled carrots, cucumbers, bean sprouts and slices of a Vietnamese style deli meat.  I quite enjoyed the soft and warm meat rice rolls and I especially liked the pickle carrots.  A fish sauce also accompanied the appetizers but everything was flavourful enough on its own that I didn’t dip into it.

Vermicelli with grilled chicken and spring roll, $7.75.

The last item I tried was the vermicelli with chicken which comes with fish sauce, one spring roll and fresh julienned veggies garnished with peanuts.   The noodles were thicker than I expected and very soft.  I usually like to pour a bit of the sauce into my noodles.  The spring roll was stuffed with filling and the chicken was slightly crispy and had a great taste.

I prefer Vietnamese cuisine when I’m looking for something light and healthy but satisfying and unique at the same time.  The food at Pho Dau Bo definitely fits the bill and I shall visit it again.

Germany

17 Jun

Blaubeuren, Germany taken from high up at the ruins of a castle (Rusenschloß).

I recently travelled to Germany; in particular, I spent one week in a small picturesque town called Blaubeuren and then one day in Frankfurt.  Below are some highlights of my Germany food adventures.

Beverages:

Bottled water in German is called mineralwasser and when I purchased my first one, it was carbonated which surprised me.  But I soon realized that carbonated water is the norm and non-carbonated is less typical.  It took a bit of time before I found some “still” mineralwasser.

Bottled water with bubbles.

Bottled water with a bit of bubbles.

Noncarbonated bottled water.

I also had a fizzy apple juice pop called apfelschorle which I was told is quite popular in Germany.  It tasted like a diluted apple juice with a hint of fizz.

A carbonated apple juice drink called Apfelschorle.

Lastly, I tried some German beer.  I was told that Augustiner-Bräu München is one of the best and that there are many local beers. The local beer in the region of Germany I visited was Autenrieder pilsner (I think).

Augustiner-Bräu München beer.

A fridge full of Autenrieder pilsner.

Dishes

One of the most unique dishes I tried was currywurst which is a roasted sausage cut into bite size pieces topped with a ketchup-like sauce and a generous sprinkling of curry.  My currywurst came with a crusty bun and it really reminded me of a hotdog. I purchased my first and only currywurst outside the Hauptwache station in Frankfurt at a snack shop named “Imbiss an der Hauptwache” which loosely translates to “snacks at Hauptwache”.

Currywurst which is sausage cut into small pieces topped with a ketchup sauce and curry powder served with a crusty bun.

A snack shop outside Hauptwache station where I purchased my currywurst.

I also learned that spätzle is commonly mixed with a cheese sauce and then baked and topped with fried onions, rather than served with a meat sauce which is what I always thought.

Spätzle mixed with cheese sauce and then baked.

Desserts

I ate a number of sweet treats such as a strawberry cream cheese made with mascarpone and Schillerlocken, which is a flaky pastry in the shape of a horn filled with cream.  It’s named after a German poet and made to resemble his curly locks of hair.  More familiarly, I also had a few samplings of ice cream.

A strawberry cream cheese made with mascarpone.

Schillerlocken is a horn shaped puff pastry filled with cream named after a German poet who had curly hair.

Chocolate ice cream with walnuts and topped with cream.

Vanilla ice cream with sliced strawberries.

Stores

I visited a couple of grocery stores and also happened upon a small outdoor farmer’s market at the end of Zeil Street in Frankfurt.

In the parking lot of one of these grocery stores, I  saw a truck selling rotisserie chicken. These trucks are apparently common throughout Germany.

A rotisserie chicken truck.

The grocery store, REWE, was quite similar to stores in Canada and I simply enjoyed walking around seeing products I recognized and didn’t recognize.

The produce section of REWE (a grocery chain) on Zeil Street in Frankfurt.

At the outdoor market, I happened upon two items which I had never seen before.  I think they were vegetables.

An item at the farmer's market which I couldn't identify.

Another item at the market I didn't recognize.

I had a great time in Germany and especially enjoyed all the unique and familiar foods I ate.  The most memorable was definitely the currywurst!

Apple Crisp

10 Jun

Homemade warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.

Preparing the apples:

  • 5 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices (I used Granny Smith apples.)
  • 3.5 tbsps of white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of real vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt

In a mixing bowl, combine well the apples, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pour evenly into a buttered 8 by 6 inch (and 3 inches deep) baking dish.

Peeled and sliced granny smith apples with cinnamon, vanilla extract, sugar and a pinch of salt.

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup of dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup of rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup of cold butter, cut into small cubes

In a shallow mixing bowl, combine well the flour, brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and rolled oats. Add in the butter and with your fingers breakup the butter cubes until the mixture has a coarse crumble consistency. Work quickly so that the butter remains cold. Pour mixture evenly over the apples and bake in a preheated 350ºC oven for 40 minutes.

Crumble topping consisting of flour, sugar, cinnamon, rolled oats and butter.

After the 40 minutes, increase the oven temperature to 375ºC and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes. When the apple crisp is ready, the juices from the apple will be bubbling and the top will have a dark golden colour.

Apple crisp after approximately 45 minutes in the oven.

Let cool and serve warm with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream. The above apple crisp recipe was modified from the one on Cooking Nook.

Banana Pancakes

2 Jun

Three banana pancakes with syrup.

The following banana pancakes recipe produces approximately 12 medium sized pancakes.
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup of skim milk
  • 2 tbsps of melted unsalted butter (TIP: melt the butter in the same pan you plan to cook the banana pancakes in.  This way you don’t need to butter your pan once you start cooking your pancakes.)
  • 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of baking soda (or baking powder)
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon

In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed bananas, honey, egg, milk, butter and vanilla.  Mix well.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda (or powder) and cinnamon. Mix well.  Gradually add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient bowl.  Combine well.

Two ripe bananas in the process of being mashed.

All the wet ingredients (milk, egg, melted butter, honey, vanilla extract and mashed bananas) combined together.

Dry ingredients (flour, salt, cinnamon and baking soda) in a small mixing bowl.

Pancake batter (after combining the dry and wet ingredients).

Pancake batter portioned into a 1/4 cup.

Heat a buttered pan on high.  Once it’s hot, scoop about 1/4 cup of pancake batter and place it into the pan.  Repeat until the pan is full but do not overcrowd.  Turn down the heat to medium.

Three pancakes each portioned into 1/4 cups of batter. They turned out more oval than circular but I promise they taste just the same.

Once the batter begins to bubble (about one to two minutes), it’s time to flip them over.  After flipping, I like to spread a little butter on top of each pancake.

Pancakes flipped after cooking for about one minute.

After another minute or so, flip the pancake again and place a little more butter on each pancake.  The pancake should be done, if not leave on the heat for about another minute but be watchful as they burn easily.  Serve warm and if desired, add syrup.