Thursday, April 25, 2013

Elite Danish Bakery in Burnaby

Even though I have lived in the Lower Mainland my entire life, I know very little about any community outside of Vancouver. I have always lived in Kits and my ignorance of our suburban towns is so high that I get panicky any time I am east of Commercial Drive. I recently secured a contract job with BC Hydro that required I commute to Edmonds in Burnaby. On my first day of work I got off the Skytrain and was totally disoriented. If someone had walked up to me and said I was in Asheville, North Carolina I would have believed them, so poor is my knowledge of Burnaby and its environs. Fortunately, one of my co-workers at BC Hydro was a huge foodie who lives in that neck of the woods and immediately started firing-off recommendations once she discovered I was a Yelper. One of her favourite places was (and still is!) Elite Bakery.

In a squat, unattractive strip of small shops on sleepy Rumble Street lies Elite, with its massive 'ALMOND KRINGLE' sign in the window. This is a Danish bakery, and I did not know much about Danish baked goods before eating here. I'll save you a Google search and tell you all you need to know about pastries from this part of the world: almonds. Every freakin' item in Elite (besides the out-of-place samosas and buttery copenhagens) was either almond or marzipan based, including the massive and eccles-like kringle. I bought some kransekage cookies and an almond-chocolate slice. Both had an outstanding texture, with crisp exteriors and chewy interiors, and the almond flavour didn't slap you in the ansigt. The service was also great. I guess there IS good food beyond the far reaches of East Van!

Keywords: "best vancouver bakery", "Alex Dawkins", "vancouver food blog"

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Juanita's Cafe on Olvera Street

Pops with Combo #14
Olvera Street attracts a swath of characters: tourists, church-goers, foodies, gritty locals, and Dodgers fans grabbing a bite before taking the nearby shuttle to the game. My dad and I fell into this final category of punters when visiting from Vancouver in the spring of 2013. We had some time to kill before heading off for a Dodgers vs Giants game and decided to wander down Olvera. There are at least a dozen places to eat along this historic stretch, but we quickly noticed something about the patrons of these various establishments: people of Latin descent were primarily eating at the shops and stands, while the sit-down restaurants were primarily occupied by tourists and bawdy Dodgers fans. Even though the little taco shops lacked liquor licenses, and we were attempting to pre-tune before the game, we quickly opted for one of the stands.

Juanita's was appealing to us because it was busy, it was cheap, and the food looked muymuy fresh. We both ordered the Combo 14, which is a chicken enchilada and a beef tamale. Juanita's is known for their taquitos, but this was one of the best enchiladas either of us had ever tried! Packed with green chilis, moist chicken, and a bit of fresh tomato, this enchilada was much more than just meat in a tortilla. The tamale was also excellent, with a perfect corn-to-beef ratio. It is so easy for restaurants to skimp on the meat contained within tamales. We also liked the fact that they served limonada and horchata. What a find :)

Keywords: "Alex Dawkins", "Juanita's taquitos", "Olvera Street"

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Concert Highlights

Can't make it to Coachella or Sasquatch? Don't have any exotic travel plans for this spring? You're in luck! While it really does feel like Vancouver is 'No Fun City' in the middle of summer, the shoulder seasons offer unique events (such as the Vancouver Film Festival and the Khatsahlano Music + Art Festival) and awesome live music. It's the time to catch those bands as they are arriving and departing North America after touring all June, July, and August. 

These are three shows that you should go and see. They are cheap, they will be entertaining, and they are all underrated!

Anberlin - Venue - April 29th
There is a stigma (pun intended) attached to the music genre Christian Rock. I have had to defend this genre in the past because I happen to really like some of the music produced by people who go to church. Sufjan Stevens, Hopesfall, and Low are all considered to be "Christian" acts, but these three are actually all in my Top 30 Favourite Bands! No good, Jesus-denying atheist wants to hear song after song about Nebuchadnezzar's Captivity or what awesome goddamn fishermen Jesus and Peter were, but sometimes bands are lumped into the Christian Rock category just because of their beliefs. Often, there are very very few references to religion in the lyrics of Christian Rock bands. Anberlin is one of these bands. I became a fan of this band after adding some of the songs from their breakout album Cities to my jogging playlist. They have come out with a few albums since this solid LP, and it's time for me to catch up with this catchy pop-metal band.

Daughter - Venue - May 15th 
As soon as I heard Daughter will be opening for Sigur Ros in the UK, I started listening to this London trio. Sigur Ros is my favourite band, so I pay attention to their opening acts and recommendations. Daughter is super new on the scene with two EPs and one full-length album, but their singles Youth and Smother have already been used in several European commercials and UK shows. Leadsinger Elena Tonra looks like Karen O and sounds like Florence Welch. I YouTubed Elena and didn't much care for her solo work, but the drummer and bassist she recruited provide her delicate delivery with an engaging backbone. In fact, they do kind of remind me of a folky Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I advise you see them now, on the cheap!  

The Brothers Comatose - The Roost - May 18th
You should go to this show for the venue alone. As a converted house in a residential neighbourhood, which prides itself on being unknown and affordable, The Roost is a gem of the Northwest. I saw a show there last year and wrote about the venue not so long ago. I know of The Brothers Comatose through two friends in Bellingham who saw them last year at this same venue and said it was super fun. As a bluegrass-punk band, The Brothers (two of them are, in fact, siblings) are focused on including the crowd, which results in a raucous recital. Go for Bellingham craft beer and Trader Joe's...and stay for the concert.

Keywords: "Alex Dawkins", "The Roost Bellingham", "Daughter band"