food

Pender Grocery: An Interview + Pan Con Tomate Recipe

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With it’s colourful interiors and sun-lit space—it is hard to miss this charming grocery store on Pender street. The smell of fresh baked goods beckons you in to admire the shelves and tables that are wonderfully stocked with Spanish goods, everyday necessities and organic produce.

Today, I sit down with Shawn, one of the three founders of Pender Grocery. Shawn tells stories of food and travel in the Basque region, how he discovered his passion for food, and their vision to cultivate slow living in a busy city. For a moment, my mind is teleported to apple fields, farmer markets, old towns and a relaxed and pleasant ambience that the store seems to emit.

Tell me how you started from importing cider to opening a grocery store in downtown Vancouver.
A few years ago, my wife and I travelled to Spain to visit our friend Michael, who was the chef of a restaurant in San Sebastian, a city known for Michelin restaurants. Michael introduced us to Basque cuisine—we experienced the pintxo culture, and ate our way through restaurants, each more interesting than the last. The experience shook me and there I discovered that I had a deep passion for food. It was a lightbulb moment. After Michael moved back to Vancouver, the three of us started importing wine and cider from the region and it led to importing goods, and the opening of this store.

Opening a store was actually a plan for us in the next three-five years. Luckily, we came across this space at the perfect time, and the landlord, who was hugely supportive of our idea, made us an offer we couldn’t resist.

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The sign on the wall and decorations in the store caught my attention the moment I walked in, how did the look and design for the store come to be?
We are actually sitting in a space that used to be parking lot 100 years ago. The sign on the wall is something really special—we uncovered it when we were tearing down the walls to reconstruct the space. It is a ghost sign from 1906 that was covered up in 1908. We decided to keep it to lead the look of the space. After that, everything seemed to fall into place. Many of the vintage pieces here are collected from friends and family as well as passed down from Kelly’s late grandmother.

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This is a very interesting location to open a grocery store, what is it that you hope to bring to the community here?
Living in the city, we are disconnected from farmlands and we don’t get to see how food is grown and made. We felt that the area was lacking a grocery store, and the idea was to create a Bodega—a grocery store for the neighbourhood.

Our customers consists of working professionals, and residents form the local community. We want to cater to everyone but also want people to come in not knowing what to expect. We want to invite shoppers to take their time to browse, and to be inspired to cook.

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Using ingredients from your shop, what is a simple and delicious recipe that anyone can make?
I love a good Pan Con Tomate—a humble recipe with few ingredients. Slice a fresh tomato, place on traditional crusty bread, drizzle with olive oil and add a sprinkle of salt. A simple snack can be a good can of conservas from the store—sardines, squid or mussels marinated in Galician sauce. Simply open a can, dip with bread, and eat with gusto with a glass of wine. It is a tasty high end treat.

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Pan Con Tomate Directions

In a small bowl combine sliced tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper

Whisk until combined

Toast the bread slices individually until golden warm and crispy

Set on plate and sprinkle with sea salt

Top with fresh basil

Serve

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How to Make Totoro Rice Cakes — A Tutorial

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Before I go off into the fascinating world of Totoro Rice Cake’s, there are lyrics from The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build a Home I must share.

It goes:

Out in the garden where we planted the seeds
There is a tree as old as me
Branches were sewn by the colour of green
Ground had arose and passed it’s knees
By the cracks of the skin I climbed to the top

I climbed the tree to see the world
When the gusts came around to blow me down
I held on as tightly as you held onto me
I held on as tightly as you held onto me

Combining these lyrics along with my favourite Hayao Miyaziki film hero—Totoro—I can just about envision the furry beast standing beside his acorn seeds, climbing on tree tops, and roaring his head off in ferocious grace for all that have ears to hear.

It is incredible to think that someone thought of stringing these words together into a song that is a perfect soundtrack for making Totoro rice cakes.

I think these things lead to a certain kind of excitement in being a creative. Knowing that you possess a skill or ability to create something that resonates with the rest of the world. For this season, that being me, in my studio where I dream of ideas and set about creating them.

To know that I have at the tip of my fingertips the ability to command to life an army of Totoro’s is quite empowering. While this post is to share my love for rice cakes, I hope that we all find and pursue diligently that medium where we bring much joy to ourselves and to the world.

Without further ado, here are steps to making your own Totoro rice cake, for you and for me.

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You will need:
Ground sesame powder
Cooked sushi rice
Piece of sliced cheese
Sheets of nori
Clean boba straw
Toothpicks
Leaves to decorate

totoro_rice_cakes_sophia_hsin_tutorial-13.jpg1. Mix sesame powder into rice for desired shade of grey. Puncture cheese with boba straw for Totoro eyes.totoro_rice_cakes_sophia_hsin_tutorial-14.jpg2. Use plastic wrap to mold grey and white rice into appropriate size for torso, abdomen and ears.Totoro_Rice_Cake_Tutorial_Sophia_Hsin-4.jpg3. Trim circles of nori for eyes, nose, and half moons for belly. Insert ears into Totoro torso and secure with toothpicks.Soot_Sprites_Totoro_Rice_Cake_Sophia_Hsin-12.jpg4. For Susuwatari (Soot Sprites) — roll rice ball onto nori sheet, soften edges of nori with water to shape. Decorate with eyes.
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5. There you have it, Totoro and soot sprite rice cakes. Better when they match your socks.
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Photograph them on black.yay-5.jpgGift them to a friend.Totoro_Rice_Cake_Tutorial_amelia_hedgehog-5.jpgIntroduce them to your hedgehog.

Do enjoy.

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Find tutorials to Alpaca Rice Cakes here & Panda Rice Cakes here.

Blueberry arugula salad recipe and llamas

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The wonderful thing about growing up is having a lot of your childhood wishes come true, like photographing llamas or picking fresh berries on a blueberry farm.

I took the liberty of the weekend and drove out to the unknown territory of Maple Ridge, known for it’s fruit, vegetable farms and llamas.

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I have always wanted to photograph a llama. The small black one is only two days old.

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I’ve never seen a blueberry bush growing up in Asia and I’m proud to admit that I must have ingested a couple pounds of blueberries that day. It’s safe to say that you can never get enough of the good things and berries are one of them.

There is not better way to end a blueberry picking day than visiting llamas on a farm. The owners were so kind to show us around and I got to pet a few that were being trained. It was an extraordinary experience.

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Llama with a very attractive backside

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Llamas are like large fluffy dogs with very long necks

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Mama llama with baby llama. She was so protective I couldn’t get too close but this is one of my favourites.

Without further ado, here is the salad recipe with photos. Tastier when you pick the blueberries yourself.

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Blueberry Arugula Salad with Lemon Honey Dressing:

*Serves 4
SALAD:
5 ounces baby arugula
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup roasted almonds

1/2 cup crumbled feta

LEMON HONEY DRESSING:

3 tablespoons lemon juice (half a lemon)
squeeze of honey
4 tablespoons evo
sprinkle of salt & pepper
 
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You know you’re cool when you mix your salad in a beer bucket.

Directions:

  1. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
  2. Combine the arugula, blueberries and dressing  in a large bowl.
  3. When ready to serve, sprinkle almonds and feta on top

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*Serve with chilled sweet tea

I will leave you with my new favourite quote from Edward Abbey:

It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Till next time.

We built a Newspaper Wall and made Strawberry Galette

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The thanksgiving season is a perfect excuse for me to keep the oven on 24/7 and bake anything that comes to mind.

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Pre baked beauties

We made Roasted Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce from Epicurious with a little adaption to the sauce (we used fresh ricotta + whipped cream + dill). You can find a recipe for the Strawberry Basil Balsamic Galette here.

I found the newspaper wall idea from the book Design in Bloom and knew I had to make it. It was fun going around town asking for newspapers and I am always pleasantly surprised how people are willing to help out on my crazy art projects.

Here are photos from our wall.

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It acts as a great photo booth too ✌️

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Plating by Hartman

Collaborations are so fun. You get to work with talented friends that know how to make things look+taste good and you get to eat it too.

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Everything was delicious.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Croissants, Photos and Farewell to Summer

Here are photos from a recent shoot with Bakery Sate– a little French bakery and cafe in the Vancouver.

They have the most heavenly selection of croissants. Butter, chocolate, almond, double baked almond, matcha, cheese..everything you can think of that goes with a croissant.

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I love going through the process of planning every shoot – set up, tear down, working for the right lighting and composition. It’s a thrill being able to come up with ideas and finding a way to make them come alive.

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It’s also immensely satisfying getting to eat your work after.

Can you believe that summer is already over?

Looking forward to the change in season, not too stoked about the Vancouver rain but am excited to work with the different array of moods and colours.

Hope everyone’s had a great summer.

How To Make Alpaca Curry – A Tutorial

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The beautiful thing about art is that it connects you with creatives from all sorts of different backgrounds. The best thing about being an artist is having creative ideas and people to carry those ideas out with.

Today on the blog, we have jewellery and graphic designer Foe and dear, Fox and flourish and me (or rather – a deer, a fox and a hedgehog)

Creative people you know, whom when put together, are bound to make awesome things happen.

Enough said. You will need:

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Kastu Curry *2
Nori Sheet
Hard-boiled eggs *2
Bow Pasta
Toothpicks to assemble

*I used store bought curry from the ZAC・ZAC  Japanese Curry House because this post is about alpacas, not making curry. They also have great customer service and will kindly separate the ingredients, give you unsliced katsu and a thumbs up when you tell them you are making alpacas.

Instructions:

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Peel eggs and slice a thin oval from the side for the alpaca face and tail. Cut nori sheet for eyes, nose, mouth and assemble onto egg face with pincers/toothpicks.

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Create an alpaca shape with rice on plate. Be mindful of hungry studio animals.

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Assemble decorative ingredients onto your Alpaca and pour curry sauce around the rice.

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There you have it! Alpacas for everyone. It’s not everyday that you get to eat Alpacas for lunch.

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Many thanks to Katherine and Christina for sharing your beautiful studio and your brilliant minds.

Also, a shout out to Margo the dog for being the best dog model. Even though you didn’t get any alpacas.

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How To Make Bear Toast- A Tutorial

There are times when life as a creative (or life in general) requires trying new things or breaking out of a tedious schedule. Times when you feel like you’re in a slum, and possibly can’t create work anymore.

The secret?
Bear Toast

Bear with me as I go through this list of reasons why:

1. They are irresistibly cute

2. Impress a friend, roommate, parent or neighbour. They are good for picnics too

3. A healthy snack (as long as you have self control and don’t eat spoonfuls of Nutella during the making)

4. Bound to get you out of any creative rut

Enough said.

You will need: how_to_make_bear_toast

slices of toast
banana
peanut butter, Nutella or frosting
blueberries (any type of berries)

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Start by slicing the bananas and cover toast with Nutella for blacks bears, peanut butter for brown bears (my fav).

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Position sliced bananas and blueberries for the eyes and nose. I’ve found that slicing the berry in half helps to keep the nose from rolling off. The blueberries also remind me of beagles in Fantastic Mr. Fox.

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Viola! You can experiment with different colours of frosting and berries too. Try white frosting for polar bears.

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Snap a photo with your favourite bear and enjoy. Now go make some bear toast.

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