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Food-lover’s delight

The Produce Market on Granville Island in Vancouver, Canada offers a plethora of culinary delights from vegetables to meat to pate to jam to fruit to seafood to chocolate to pastries like the ones above. I found the sight of these perfectly formed puff pastries with their savory fillings to be especially titillating.

I spent most of Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Vancouver with four close friends: Ed De La Fuente, Brian Choo, Bobby Boos and Marian Liu. One of the places we wanted to see was Granville Island which is just minutes from downtown Vancouver where we were staying.

So on a rainy Saturday afternoon we headed to the highly walkable village area. After we got some nourishment at Agro Cafe Coffee and Roasting House we headed on over to the famous Granville Island Public Market.

Once inside we are bombarded by the sights of fresh fruit and vegetables as far as the eye can see. The food will bring you to the market but the real charm is in the vendors who offer you their advice on how to eat or cook their wares. There are about 50 or so stalls and stores of every kind imaginable and all of these shops include at least one expert on the types of food they sell. It’s intoxicating to talk food with someone who has a background in it.

The Public Market is open until 7 p.m. all the days of the week.

If your visit occurs between June and October you can check out the Farmer’s Market that the Island hosts every Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. immediately across the street from the Public Market adjacent to the Net Loft.  Like most farmers’ markets this one is cash-only.

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Chocolate Tasting Party

This is a plate of chocolate treats that a guest made up at my Chocolate Tasting Party on Dec. 7. From left is the Mardi Gras Cake, Valrhona Bites, Truffle Doughnut and Cappuccino Cake.

I usually do a holiday cookie basket for close friends and relatives. This year I couldn’t decide what my chocolate part of the basket would be so I decided to host a party where the guests would vote on which they prefer.

I made Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Bouchon which I called a Valhrona Bite; Sherry Yard’s Dark, Decadent Doughnut which I called a Truffle Doughnut; Jim Dodge’s Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Cake which I called a Mardi Gras Cake (since it’s a party in your mouth) and my sister, Suki, contributed her Cappuccino Cake which was a chocolate-espresso confection. Click the links for the recipe.

It was a fun afternoon full of chocolate and friends. In the end, the Truffle Doughnut narrowly edged out the Mardi Gras Cake. Unfortunately, since the Truffle Doughnut needs to be served hot it wasn’t the best choice for sending in the mail.

Raksha Bandan

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

I made these ice cream sandwiches from molasses spice cookies and mint chocolate chip, butter pecan and chocolate ice creams. Click the Recipe Index tab for the recipe.

The family gathered to celebrate Raksha Bandan in Huntington Beach. For those of you that don’t know: Raksha Bandan in an Indian holiday that celebrates the bond between sisters and brothers. The sisters all make some sort of dish for their brothers and tie a rakhi around their brothers’ (and their wives) wrists. For that they are rewarded with a gift, but more often cash. It is a great time.

This year Suki hosted the festivities in the sunny garden with a menu that included quiche, berry salad, pasta salad, tater tots, buttermilk biscuits, mango, strawberries, tea, water, lemonade and juices. Surabhi brought Desi turkey sliders (the hit of the meal!) and potato salad. Sujata contributed samosas with accompanying chutneys.

For dessert there were ice cream sandwiches, brownies, cupcakes, tollhouse cookies, ras malai, assorted pastries.

Everyone enjoyed the festivities and visiting with those who attending including: Dad, Mom, Vijay Chachi, Surabhi, Subodh, Sujata, Sunil, Bansi Dada, Karen, Sunjay, Dinesh, Serena, Murli Dada, Sangeeta, Maya, Suki, myself and special surprise guest my cousin, Vishnupriya Saksena from India who happened to be in California on business.

Wedding treats

weddingcake
The family flew to New Jersey to attend the wedding of Amitabh Hajela to his betrothed Laura Neill. An Indian wedding can take all weekend — and this one did. We had a great time eating, drinking, dancing and socializing with our new cousins. Want to see Stephanie’s  wedding pictures? Or my wedding slideshow?

A find in Cleveland

marketbreakfast
I came to Cleveland, Ohio, on my cross-country trip to visit some friends at the Plain-Dealer and see the famed Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. I had come across one of Rachael Ray travel pieces on the West Side Market and Cafe and wanted to check it out. It is truly one of the coolest things in Cleveland and you get to meet and talk with the locals, too. While I was there I checked out the two main galleries of food: one with fresh fruit and vegetable, the other had meats, fish, popcorn, candy, pastries, nuts and more. After I had oohed and aahhed over the stalls, I decided that now would be a good time to get some breakfast at the cafe. I got a decadent breakfast of eggs Benedict and hashbrowns, got to talk to some of the locals who come there regularly and picked up a gift for a friend in my next stop on the cross-country trip.