Friday, February 23, 2007

Ouisi Bistro

Every Thursday, I browse through the new edition of the Georgia Straight and scout out the dining section. It is almost embarassing the kind of excitement I get from finding out that Meinhardt, the gourmet goody store, is having their first sale, ever. Now, there are two things in life that make this girl very happy: food and sales.

Since I was in the South Granville neighborhood, I thought I would check out Ouisi Bistro. I heard mixed reviews about this place, mostly bad, but some good. Now there are those of us in life who take others' advice to heart, and there are those, like yours truly, who have to fall into the hole to see how deep it really is. So I made a dinner date with my friend Tracy for our night of Southern comfort.

It was a Thursday night, and the restaurant only had a few tables occupied. We ordered the crabcakes ($10) for appies and shared the Catfish Etoufee ($20)from the Cajun menu, and the Creole Beef Tenderlin Tips ($19)from the Creole menu.

The food:

The crabcakes were cheap, but they also looked and tasted cheap. It was two tiny morsels that settled on top of a bed of lettuce. At least the lettuce looked fresh, but the cakes were lukewarm
and you can taste the filler with a touch of crab. I would have to say that I enjoyed the cornbread basket more, not that it was anything special.

The Catfish Etouffee was niether good nor bad. It was exactly as described in the menu: catfish simmered in a holy trinity roasted tomato broth, served with a rice pilaf. But it was fairly bland for a Cajun dish. The fish is flaky as catfish always is, but tasted "fishy".

The Creole Tenderloin Tips were simmered in a dark roux that tasted mostly like a sweet dark barbeque sauce. The meat was tender, and I kept eating it only because it tasted better than the catfish. Seriously though, if they were going to serve beef braised in barbeque sauce, then they should just say it as it is and don't try to pull one over and call it a roux.

Presentation: 1 out of 5 = everything was just slopped on in true Southern style
Taste: 2 out of 5 = a little worse than mediocre
Creativity: 2 out of 5 = only because they thought of substituting bbq sauce for a roux

The Verdict:

Let's just say that it was a good thing that the main purpose of our meal was to catch up on love and life rather than indulge in culinary delight. For that, Ouisi Bistro served its purpose because it had a good atmosphere. The waitstaff was good in the sense that they did not interrupt us much, but bad because even though we were deep in conversation and hardly noticed, we still have to wave them over for water and wine refills. Let's just say that we were glad we had an Entertainment Book coupon so at least it was a discounted meal.

Ouisi Bistro 3014 Granville Street T: 604-732-7550

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


After a particularly trying year in life, I decided to go back to my second home, Toronto, to hang out with old friends for some much needed TLC. So why not drop by Montreal, my favorite city in Canada, and hang out with my buddy Deryk? I emailed my dear friend, and he replies by saying that no can do, he is going to learn Spanish in Peru for the Xmas holidays, and that he will be leaving in 10 days. Oh, and why don''t I come along too? It'll be fun.

Peru? What the hell do they eat there? That was the first thought that came to this self respecting foodie's mind. Ah, What the hell, I was desperate to get away. I mean, come on, I was going to fly to Ontario in the freezing winter for goodness sakes.

Two things I found particularly remarkable in Peru: Ceviche and Macchu Picchu- in that order.

Deryk and I stayed with a host family, and our generous host mother, Nellie, fed us traditional Peruvian fare that consisted of many tasty dishes that involved potatoes. She would also bring home interesting fruits for us to try. It is true, no matter where you are in the world, when people detect that irrepressable gluttony within you, they become your friends and feed you all sorts of strange and yummy things.

We also ate the very popular Peruvian dish: Guinea Pig (a.k.a. cuy). We had it whole roasted, and one that is chunked up and smothered in peanut sauce. You guessed it, it tasted like chicken, but with a tinge oil.

After two and a half weeks in Cuzco, we said goodbye to Nellie and her wonderful family and headed to Lima for a couple of days before flying back home. Now, you must bear in mind my intention for Lima. I've had high hopes for ceviche ever since I had an in depth conversation with a Peruvian man and a German missionary at the Miami airport en route to Peru. We chatted for three hours while waiting for our plane, and they told me all sorts of interesting things about Peru, but most importantly, we discussed various aspects of Peruvian cuisine.

They told me that I must eat three things in Peru: Rotisserie Chicken, Chicharrone (deep fried chunks of pork), and of course, Ceviche.

Ceviche is basically fish marinated in lime juice and whatever other condiments you want to throw in. The acid in the lime juice "cooks" the fish, but the texture of the fish remains in its raw state. Deryk and I went to a couple different "Cevicherias", restaurants that specializes in Ceviche. The best one in Lima, I have to say, is Cevicheria La Choza Nautica (Brena 204). They are so popular that there are actually two of them on opposite sides of the same street, facing each other. The options are endless. There are platters with sea urchin, sea snails etc..

Deryk and I opted for the deluxe assortment which consisted of clams, scallops and different kinds of fish. The dish was served with yams and some kind of roasted corn which was not a tasty treat. It was like chewing styrofoam. The yams though, were quite a nice accompaniment. Deryk and I washed the seafood down with some classic Peruvian beverages. Cuzquena Negro is my beer of choice, but Deryk is partial to Inca Cola which reminds me of cream soda. Ahhhh....Ceviche and beer under the hot Peruvian sun....bliss.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Wonderful World of Blogging

Dear Friends,

I have found my new obsession in life: Food Blogging. I swear to God, now I understand. This is how people get weird sociopathic issues like not knowing how to act in public because they never leave the house. Hey, why should they when you can just sit around all day in your PJs and read about people eating macaroons in France right there in your living room. The best thing: finally, I find other lunatics out there who are just like me. We think about food all day long. What we should have, where to get it, and how to make it.

Since I am leaving from Vancouver soon to go work in Hong Kong, I think I will start a series of reviews on my absolute favorite restaurants in the city. Oh, how I will miss them! As well, I will explore eateries that I have been meaning to visit but got sidetracked by other more pressing ones at the time. So no more visits to a restaurant just because its name sounded cool. Focus, J. Focus. So here is to all you people who call me for restaurant recommendations.