Tuesday, 23 July 2013
APRICOT BITES (adapted from Tiny Happy, makes about 20 to 25)
250g dried apricots
60g golden caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
80g desiccated coconut, more for coating
Put apricots, sugar, lemon zest and juice into a food processor. Process until the mix starts to form a paste. You may have to pulse to achieve this and scrape any reluctant bits of the sides with a spatula during the process. Add the coconut and process until paste shapes into a loose ball.
Sprinkle some of the extra coconut into a shallow dish. Use your hands to roll the apricot paste into small , bite-sized balls, then roll them around in the coconut until covered. Place in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.
The apricot bites will keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container. Keep them in the fridge in very warm weather.
Thursday, 18 July 2013
After our spontaneous trip to the Sunshine Coast, we had a spontaneous dinner at Anton's Pasta Bar. It's a family-run Italian restaurant with good pasta served in GENEROUS portions. You hardly see somebody leaving the place without a doggy bag.
You can park at the rear of the restaurant and enter through back door, which feels kinda cool, like knowing a secret passage.
We were a bit early for dinner and were seated straight away. At peak times, you can usually be sure to wait in a line-up for a while before you can sit down and eat.
I was very hungry, so I had my bread roll with whipped butter, even though I knew that the linguine with meatballs that I ordered were going to be plentiful. I wasn't overly thirsty, but hey, Long Island Ice Tea was on special offer!
Here's my linguine when it was served. You can't really tell from the photo, but this was a heap of pasta the size of a pillow, with meatballs as big as my fist. And not only was this a lot of food, it was also one of the best meatball pastas I have had. And I do gauge the quality of Italian restaurants on their polpette! Marco ordered stuffed pasta in a meat sauce, which was very good as well.
I did my best to conquer pasta mountain, but this is where I called defeat. I couldn't even finish half of my dish.
When the plates are cleared, the waiting staff do not even asked if you want to take the rest of your meal with you. It's just a given that they come back with the leftovers in a container for you to have later.
I really do not know how the Tiramisu happened. It wasn't my idea, and it's saying something if I'm willing to forego dessert. Marco, however, wanted to try it and actually managed to finish the whole big piece. I had a taste and it was gorgeous. It's definitely home-made and was spongy, creamy, chocolatey goodness.
I really needed the coffee, though, to start of the digestive process. Our bill came to around $50.00, including our drinks, one dessert and a coffee. Now, at $16.50, you might think that the mains are a bit pricey, but bear in mind that you will probably get 3 meals out of one dish and have enough food for next day's lunch and a light dinner!
If you do manage to eat all your pasta then and there in the restaurant, you do get a commemorative pen. I would have very much loved one, but I do not think that without appropriate training and tummy-stretching exercises, I could ever achieve a clean plate. I would, however, recommend Anton's to anybody who likes solid, tasty Italian cooking.
Tuesday, 16 July 2013
We were planning to go to Powell River, which was about a 130km drive and another ferry ride away. We stopped a couple of times on the way, first for lunch in Sechelt, were we had an awesome, awesome (double awesome is the best!) beef dip sandwich at Pearl's Bakery. I've been wanting to dip a sandwich into hot beef broth ever since I saw Adam Richman do it on TV! It was messy, but the mix of salty beef, soppy baguette and crunchy veggies was really good.
Our second break was at Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park, for a little hike through the BC rain forest to a place were the tidal flow causes rapids in a narrow inlet. During the rising tide, there can be waves several metres high, and during falling tide, giant whirlpools will form.
We consulted the tide table and hurried through the forest to catch the high tide. We were lucky and were able to watch some impressive swell. The only downside was that I found out that maybe plimsolls are not the best shoes to hike in, as my heels were rubbing and went so sore that I could not even walk back to the car properly. I assumed a gait that might have done a zombie proud. And the blisters were a sight to behold!
After the rapids, it was on to another ferry and over to Saltery Bay. We drove up to Powell River, checked into our hotel with sea view and after dinner on the restaurant's patio, had a little stroll along the beach. There were eagles crying in the evening air, and we watched seals have fun in the shallows. It does not matter where in the world, being by the water always makes me happy, and I felt very calm and content.
The sea indeed offered good viewing, as we were able to watch sea otters playing on the jetty in the marina. Sorry about the fuzzy photo, but the otters were roly-poling and I took it from about 50 metres away.
I also spotted this! A train on the water! I got very excited about it. Then Marco insinuated I was unlearned and asked me if I had never seen a tugboat before. Well, I had. But never one that looked like it was dragging a marine train. Killjoy!
We had a lovely breakfast in the sunshine on the terrace of Nancy's Bakery in Lund, where we also bought some ginormous cinnamon buns for our impending hike. Lund is at the very end (or actually the very beginning) of highway 101, which is also called the Pacific Coastal Highway and runs for 15,200 kilometres all the way down to Chilé. That would be one epic journey to take in a camper van, wouldn't it?
After a quick stop at a typical BC bathroom (drop toilets, they are such and adventure!), we set off on a 13 km hike around Inland Lake. It was sunny, and the path was nice and even, and apart from the occasional fellow hikers or cyclists, we had nature all to ourselves.
There were a lot of amphibian creatures in the clear water of the lake. We saw frogs and tadpoles, and this weird giant mixture of both:
They were about the size of a hand and looked like huge tadpoles. Does anybody know what they are?
These caterpillars were also out in force. There were so many trees that had cocoon-like webs nestling in their branches, and they were all teeming with these fuzzy guys.
I found this robin. I do not know how it died. It looked like it wasn't hurt externally and was lying just a little away from the path, poor thing. It might have just been old.
I mentioned my pain-inducing plimsolls earlier. In preparation for the lake walk, I had bought big plasters for my heels the night before, and I seemed to be okay. My feet hurt a little, and I was slowing down a bit towards the end, but I only complained quietly and infrequently to my unsympathetic husband. And that while actual blood was soaking my socks! I found this out back at the hotel room, when I took off my confounded shoes. I believe I deserved a moose tracks milkshake with dinner that evening!
On the way back to Vancouver (on a no-hiking, flip-flop wearing day), we stopped in Davis Bay and watched a guy kite-surfing off the wide beach for a while.
Before getting back on the homeward-bound ferry, we stopped and had a coffee and a snack on the pier in Gibsons Landing, a small fishing town, which used to be the setting for the Canadian TV series The Beachcombers. Apparently thousands of people come to visit every year because of that, but when we were there, the town was quiet and sleepy. Thank goodness!