Delicious food without the fuss!

The word “smart” has been thrown around a great deal in recent years: smart phones, Smart cars, and even smart toilets. And then there are the more traditional smarts, usually attached to the other end: book-smarts, street-smarts. But what about kitchen-smarts?

It might sound trivial, but being smart in the kitchen is all about saving time and money, and not many would pass up on more of those. There are the tips that I’ve picked up from my mom (buy produce that can be used in various ways throughout the week); those I’ve learned from living alone (only buy packaged foods when they’re on special); and those I’ve gained through the weekly routine of cooking for two (buying and eating less meat means more money for DQ Blizzards).

Kidding aside, being kitchen smart simply comes down to determination. By implementing new systems and habits into your routine, and exposing yourself to new ideas, you’ll find that you’re optimizing your cooking experiences, and eating delicious food, too.

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Australian food editor Valli Little offers an abundance of good habits in her latest cookbook Quick Smart Cook, which is full of enticing and unique recipes not just for busy families and bachelors, but anyone in search of a fast, delicious meal. Recipes like Rib-eye with Espresso and Mushroom Sauce and Instant Fondue with Roast Vegetables sound super swanky, but Little’s writing is clear, concise and simple—suitable for beginners and seasoned home-cooks alike.

Best of all, it lives up to its Smart title. Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic and Quail Eggs might suggest a lengthy prep time and unusual ingredients, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I easily found quail eggs at the first place I looked—my local Asian grocer’s. And the recipe instructions are designed to minimize both cooking time and washing up: bread is toasted in the oven along with a whole head of garlic, and tiny speckled quail eggs are boiled at the tail end of the pasta’s cooking time. After a little wait and a whiz in the food processor, all you have to do is toss and serve.

And in case you needed another incentive to check out Quick Smart Cook, the beautifully-styled, full-page photos should do the trick.

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Spaghetti with quail eggs and roasted garlic

Serves 4

1 whole garlic bulb

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle

1 slice rustic-style wood fired bread

2 tbsp grated parmesan

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves

250g creme fraiche

400g spaghetti

12 quail eggs*

100g baby arugula

 

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Drizzle the garlic with 1 tablespoon of oil, wrap tightly in foil and place on a baking tray. Drizzle the bread on both sides with extra oil and place on the same tray. Bake, turning the bread once, for 15 minutes until the bread is golden. Remove the bread, then roast the garlic for a further 30 minutes until soft.

Meanwhile, pulse the bread, parmesan and parsley in a food processor to form coarse drums. Set aside.

Unwrap the roasted garlic. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the cloves from their skins into the creme fraiche. Mash together well and set aside.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water according to packet instructions. Add the quail eggs for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking time, then drain. Remove the eggs and set aside. Toss the pasta in a little extra oil, then toss with the deme fraiche mixture and arugula. Season and divide among 4 bowls.

Peel the eggs (it helps to roll them on the counter first to ease off the shell), then halve and place on the pasta. Serve scattered with the parmesan crumbs.

*For Vancouverites, I found them at Kim’s Mart on East Broadway, but they’re also available at T&T Supermarkets. Substitute 4 small chicken eggs, hard-boiled and quartered.

delicious. quick smart cook book by Valli Little available in store

 Review and Photography by Melanie Kwan © 2015

Easy Gourmet In-Store Now

We are excited to announce that we are carrying local blogger, Stephanie Le’s cookbook, Easy Gourmet, on our shelves! Her blog, I Am A Food Blog, is a Saveur Magazine award winner and features a collection of simple recipes that aim to please our eyes visually and our bellies. Check out her delectable recipe for soft-boiled eggs and avocado grilled cheese soldiers featuring egg cup holders from Front & Company. grilled-cheese-and-eggs-2

Easy Gourmet has become one of our new favorite kitchen companions. Come in and pick it up in-store!

Front & Company’s New TV Show Roundup

With the coming of September, there are a few inevitable things… the beginning of school, the turning of leaves from lush green to auburn brown, and of course, the return of our favorite TV series and the premiere of new ones! Twenty-four new shows are going to be released onto television screens this fall (including two different shows with Rashida Jones!), so get your PVRs ready and set to record. Here’s a round-up of the shows we’re most excited to watch!

A slew of new shows riff on the success of Modern Family in depicting abnormal family life.

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Photo from CAA Media

Fresh Off the Boat (ABC), based off New York restaurateur, Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name, tells the comedic tale of a Taiwanese immigrant family trying to assimilate into life in suburban Orlando.

Another ABC show, Black-ish, also tells the tale of a family trying to regain a sense of cultural identity. This sitcom has a large cast staring familiar faces such as Laurence Fishburne who plays the straight-laced old-school grandpa.

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Photo from Screen Rant

The fall season also brings us more TV shows that are pseudo-portrayals of celebrity’s real lives. TV shows such as Mr. Robinson (NBC) star This is the End’s Craig Robinson as a musician who is forced to become a middle-school music teacher.

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Photo from Fox

Comedian John Mulaney is getting a TV show based on his life, aptly titled, Mulaney (FOX). A man of many trades, John Mulaney stars, writes, directs, and produces, his show will be a coming-of-age story about Mulaney’s comedic career. Season premiere of Mulaney is set for October 5th.

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Photo from J and J Productions

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Photo from Comics Alliance

The superhero genre is not leaving TV screens this season as shows such as Gotham (FOX) and the Flash (CW) will be joining shows such Arrow and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gotham will premiere on September 22nd, and the drama explores the origin story of Lt. James Gordon, Batman’s chief police ally, and his battle with the city’s villains before Batman. The Flash is another show we’re been hearing good hype about and it tells the story of the fastest man alive.

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Photo from YVR Shoots

New crime-dramas will also be premiering in the fall. We’re excited about Aquarius (NBC) which stars David Duchovny as a police sergant in the late 1960s who is tracking down Charles Manson. Rainn Wilson, from the Office, shifts roles from the lovable awkwardness of Dwight Schrute, to playing a self-destructive detective in Backstrom (FOX). CSI gets a facelift as well in the new spin-off, CSI: Cyber (CBS), which will focus on cyber-crimes.

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Photo from Pulse

Finally, the last new show that caught our eye is Utopia (FOX). Utopia is a reality TV show that has 15 contestants trying to create a Utopian society from the ground up, literally. In this social experiment, contestants are put on an undeveloped piece of land and are expected to build civilization from scratch. Based on a hit Norwegian reality TV-show that has been Internet streaming the contestant’s actions since January 2014, this definitely piques our curiosity.

With all these new shows, we’ll see which ones survive the eventual cancellation frenzy!

Which shows are you excited for?

Leavenworth, Washington: The 4 Hour Getaway

Have you ever wanted to go to Germany before? Experience the beer-drinking feats of Oktoberfest, snack on some Bavarian sausages, and wear some lederhosen? If you’ve ever had an inkling to experience a taste of Bavaria, and a trip to Germany isn’t in your books any time soon, there is a place for you that isn’t too far from Vancouver! This place is Leavenworth, Washington.

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Photo from Leavenworth Summer

Leavenworth is a town located in the Puget Sound, Washington, and is about 150 km east of Everett. The history of Leavenworth does not begin with a Bavarian heritage, but one that is full of the Native American tradition of the Yakima, Chinook, and Wenatachi tribes. Leavenworth then became an early pioneer settlement that saw a boom and eventual, bust. The town suffered a few decades of economic hardship till in the 1960s, the community’s leaders decided to re-brand Leavenworth and take advantage of their alpine background. They turned their downtown core into a Bavarian-inspired town, and tourism flourished.

GET THERE

From Vancouver, it is about a 4 hour trip depending on traffic and border waiting times. The most direct route from Vancouver is to use Highway 2 towards Stevens Pass. If you’d like to visit Seattle and other central Washington stops along the way, you could also take Highway 97 which will allow you to make Leavenworth a last stop before heading back to Vancouver.

EXPLORE

The town  center on Front St. is where all the Bavarian action is happening. The architecture is all distinctly Bavarian themed and there are several attractions that keep it old world.

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Photo from Joe Lourenco

There is a traditional handcrafted maypole in the town square that features dancers performing at certain times of the day.

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Photo from Women World

If you like beer, there is a beer wagon that you can features lederhosen folk in which you can take your photo with. There are also numerous restaurants, bars, and even a brewery that all feature imported German beer or locally-crated German-inspired beer! Icicle Brewery is a fantastic stop for those who love craft beer while also enjoying small plates and morsels.

The hills are also alive with the sound of music as a Glockenspiel plays music every 15 minutes. Carillon bells are also playing music throughout the day in Leavenworth, head east towards the festhall to listen on. If you’d like to really listen to the sound of music, the Leavenworth Summer Theater puts on a product of the Sound of Music every summer!

pam-2Photo from Leavenworth

In addition to converting the town of Leavenworth into a Bavarian themed village, the town’s leaders also created numerous festivals in order to foster the Bavarian atmosphere. The next big events that are coming up include the Autumn Leaf Festival and Parade from September 26 – 28 which celebrates the changing colors of leaves, and Oktoberfest which runs on each weekend during October.

ADVENTURE

The Bavarian-themed area of Leavenworth is actually quite small. It takes only about 15 minutes to walk from one end of the downtown core to the other. If you exhaust all things Bavarian to engage in, Leavenworth is located in the beautiful Puget Sound area that has no shortage of nature activities.

Waterfront Park

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Photo from Panoramio

Waterfront Park is located a short walk away from downtown Leavenworth which makes it a good place to soak in natural sites if you are pressed for time. The Wenatchee River runs along Waterfront Park and there are several trails that can take you further along to Blackbird Island or to Enchantment Park. A fantastic place for those who like to wander.

Icicle Gorge

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Photo from Josh Cadd

The loop around Icicle Gorge is 4 km, but there is very little change in elevation which makes it an easy and leisurely hike. The hike around Icicle Gorge takes you through different nature formations from wooded areas, river views, and mountain views making it a fantastic hike for those waiting even more seclusion from village life.

EAT

There is no shortage of Bavarian delights to eat when in Leavenworth! From brats, beers, and more beer, if you are craving old world food, this town has it!

Munchen Haus (709 Front St)

http://www.munchenhaus.com

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Photo from Blue Sky Whitewater

Munchen Haus is a quaint outdoor-seating restaurant hat is fantastic for a casual feast with delicious Bavarian food. They are known for their brats and sausages, so make sure you order one (with a beer, of course!) when you head on over. They have an assortment of sausages that cater to everyone (even the vegetarian!)We love the currywurst! Truly a taste of Germany.

Andreas Keller (829 Front St)

http://www.andreaskellerrestaurant.com

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Photo from Alex Juy 

First opened in 1989, Andreas Keller makes traditional, hearty meals that feature old-world flavor. From dishes such as spatzle (handmade egg noodles), schnitzel (pork cutlet), and bavarian-style pretzels, this is the place to go for a nice meal in Leavenworth. If the food doesn’t make you feel like you’ve been transported to Germany, there is also an accordion player in the restaurant that will do so!

The Gingerbread Factory (828 Commercial St)

http://gingerbreadfactory.com

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Photo from Cake Spy

As the name suggests, the Gingerbread Factory makes gingerbread cookies! These gingerbread cookies are baked in house and are supremely tasty. The staff are very friendly and creative when it comes to hand-decorating your cookie! Make sure you stop by and grab a cookie before you leave Leavenworth!

STAY

Leavenworth makes a great place for a day-trip if you leave Vancouver early and want to see multiple sites in the central Washington area.

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Photo from Pamela Poland

If you’d like to stay for a weekend Bavarian getaway, there are numerous hotels and resort sites to stay at. For a romantic getaway, the Mountain Home Lodge looks like a fantstic place to stay as it is located a bit further from the town center and nestled into the alpine scenery surrounding Leavenworth. For accommodations closer to the town square and more Bavarian-themed, the Bavarian Lodge should be exactly what you are looking for!

We often see deals on social shopping sites such as Groupon, Social Shopper, or Dealfind for resorts and hotels in Leavenworth and the surrounding Wenatchee area, so keep your eyes peeled for weekend getaway deals!

Have any of your experienced the Bavarian nature of Leavenworth? Are there other sites we should see in central Washington along the way? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Our Favorite Vancouver Salad Bars

We don’t need to tell you that it’s blisteringly hot outside! When it’s this hot outside, cooking a hot meal is usually the least thing on our minds. We want something tasty, filling, and doesn’t require firing up the stove or oven. Therefore, summertime is the time for salads to shine!

Salads are easy to make – add greens, veggies, protein, dressing, and whatever else you like, then mix it all together! While it’s easy to prepare a salad, there are also those who take salad making seriously and elevate it to artful deliciousness.

These are the places we go in Vancouver for a cool, crisp salad on a hot day!

Culver City Salad Food truck and delivery service – check website for more info.

http://www.culvercitysalads.com

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Photo by Stephen Hui

Culver City Salads are leading the way in Vancouver for creating healthy, fresh, and delicious meals. Owned by a pair of sisters, Culver City Salads features a rotating men of salads based on what the local produce of the day is. We’ve had a salad that featured kale, rice noodles, a bevy of organic veggies and their house-made chipotle dressing! Culver City Salads can deliver to you with a minimum order or catch their food truck around! The Juice Truck brick and mortar store in Mt. Pleasant also carries a featured salad from Culver City everyday.

Chef Claires 3610 Main St.

http://www.chefclaires.com

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Photo from Chef Claires

Located about two streets down from Front & Co, Chef Claires is one of our go-to places for lunchtime! Chef Claires is a catering business that also does the meanest paninis and salad for lunch time. Everyday is different, but you will be sure to find a sandwich and salad you like at Chef Claires. One of our favorite rotating salads include the curried roasted cauliflower!

Harvest Community Foods 243 Union St.

http://harvestunion.ca

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Photo from Noam Dehan

Equal parts artisan grocery store and Japanese-inspired kitchen, Harvest Community Foods serves up delicious food that you can have inside or outside the store. They carry many of our favorite local brands such as Earnest Ice Cream, Sugo Sauce, and greens from Sole Foods, but it’s the kitchen that shines. The Japanese-inspired menu does a rotating menu of ramen that changes with the ingredients. In the summertime, the menu changes to include refreshing soba salads that are perfect to combat the hot weather!

Whole Foods Multiple Locations

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com

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Photo from C’est La Vie

Whole Foods is fantastic in a pinch when we are craving a salad we can customize. The salad bar has a huge assortment of greens, toppings, and dressing that you can load up and call your own! The olive bar is enormous and the hot food section is fantastic as well – add a meatball or two if you feel like beefing up your salad!

Where do you go to get a crisp salad on a hot day? Drop us a line and lettuce know!

Salt Spring Island: The 2 Hour Getaway

In the next installment of our Getaway series, we’re going to stay within BC but take you a little bit further away from Bowen Island. Tucked in between Victoria and Nanaimo, we’re going to venture to Salt Spring Island, the largest of the Gulf Islands and a fantastic place to visit for those who are seeking artistic inspiration and lovingly nurtured produce. As Salt Spring Island has the largest population of all of the Gulf Islands with around 13,000 people, this getaway won’t take you directly into the open wild, but will whisk you away into a slower version of city life.

GET THERE

The journey by Salt Spring Island is best made by car because depending on what day you decide to travel, multiple BC Ferry transfers may be required.  The ferry leaves from Tsawwassen and docks into Long Harbour at Salt Spring Island. On certain sailings during the week, this trip is a non-stop ferry ride that takes about an hour and a half. If you take the first sailing at 10:20AM on weekdays,  the route usually includes 3 stops at Galiano, Mayne, and Pender island. If you’re not pressed for time, this could be a good opportunity to extend your trip to explore the other islands on the Gulf Coast! Gulf Islands Water Taxi also provides services between the islands surrounding Salt Spring so if you’d like to make Salt Spring your base camp, they are also a great resource to use.

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Photo from Salt Spring Tourism

EXPLORE

Ganges

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Photo from Study in BC

The hub of community life in Salt Spring happens in and around the village of Ganges. Named after the British naval ship, HMS Ganges, the majority of businesses are located near Ganges such as an indoor climbing facility, a movie theater, and an abundance of local shopping all up and down the main road. Shops that we love include: Black Sheep Books, Rainbow Road Trading Company, and Harlan’s Chocolates.

Salt Spring Market

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Photo from True Stitches

A visit to Salt Spring would not complete without a visit to the Salt Spring Market. The market runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The big market is on Saturday where over 140 local vendors come out and set up stands hawking their lovingly crafted works of art and organic produce. The amount of artwork that is available to peruse at the market is stunning as you will see a mix of artistic mediums coinciding together such as textile arts, pottery, photography, and woodworking.

ADVENTURE

There is no shortage of nature for you to experience on Salt Spring Island. While the population is higher than the other Gulf Islands, it isn’t hard to find your own slice of green paradise on the island.

Beaches

Beddis Beach

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Photo from Salt Spring Market

This is a popular beach, and a fantastic one to go early in the morning as morning light streams in very well. Trees line and surround Beddis Beach which makes it feel like a good hideaway from the hustle and bustle of life. The soft sand and cool water also make it a great beach destination for hot summer days.

Booth Bay at Baker’s Beach

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Photo from Salt Spring Market

Booth Bay has a lot of rocks and driftwood strewn around the water which makes it not the best place for a day to laze around the sand. However, this is a great beach for those who like to explore and pick up ocean trinkets.

Hiking

Baker Beach

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Photo from Salt Spring Market

Baker Beach also has a great hiking loop that takes you through the forest, rocks, and leads you beach side; it gives you the best of what Salt Spring has to offer. To get to the trailhead, park at the end of Baker Road, walk back the other way a short ways and the trailhead is to your left.

Mt Erskine

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Photo from Salt Spring Market

The hike up Mt Erskine is 1.5km one way and is like a mini-version of the Grouse Grind. It is a vertical hike up a mountain and if you’re an outdoor enthusiast who likes a challenging workout, this is the hike for you. Mt Erskine is located a bit further from Ganges and in the village of Fulford, just off Rainbow Road.

EAT

Salt-Spring-Vineyards

Photo from Marc Smith

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Photo from Marc Smith

Salt Spring is quickly becoming known to be a “foodie” mecca for those who are into locally produced fruits, vegetables, and prepared goods. There are wineries, a craft brewery, and even a two cheese-makers making delectable local cheese! You may have seen Salt Spring Island Cheese Co. soft cheeses avialble in stores on the mainland, but come to Salt Spring and get it right at the source! You can visit the cheesemaker’s farm and studio and have a taste of all the cheese they make, it’s an unforgettable experience.

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Photo from Keri Coles

Additionally, there are a multitude of other farms that you can visit on Salt Spring Island. There is the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm that grows over 2 acres of the aromatic purple flowers. You can do a self-guided farm tour at Sacred Mountain, browse the farm shop for lavender-scented goodies, or if you’d like to join in on some lavender-related festivities, there’s a Lavender Festival coming up on July 13th!

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Photo from Studio Snapshots

Other popular farms and local food stops include: the Salt Spring Island Bread Co (they make all their bread in a rustic wood-fired oven!), Foxglove Farm who holds multiple farm workshops throughout the year, and Sunset Farm, the place for wool products on Salt Spring. Even if you aren’t able to make it out to a farm for a tour, there are also many farm stands throughout the island where you can support local and pick up some organic produce.

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Photo from Canadian Islander

If you’re looking for a restaurant to grab a bite, there is no shortage of fantastic places on Salt Spring Island. One of the places that we always go to is the Tree House Cafe at 106 Purvis Lane. The Tree House Cafe allows you to dine in a quaint tree house! Offering up a hearty menu including the tasty lamb meatballs, Tree House Cafe also features live music every night! Everyday at 7PM, a new artist hits the stage, making this the place for food and fun,

STAY

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Photo from Salt Spring Tourism

Salt Spring Island is a great place for an overnight trip as you can soak in all of the culture and nature abundant on the island. Once again, Airbnb is our go to to find accommodation for our trips and a quick search as led us to two awesome, cozy cabins that would be fantastic for an overnight stay! Salt Spring Inn is also a good choice if you’d like the comfort of a hotel as it is right in the heart of Ganges!

Have you ever been to Salt Spring Island before, or any of the other Gulf Islands? Drop us a line and let us know your travel trips!

Be on the lookout for our next Getaway installment which will take us across the border and into little Germany in America…

Our Favourite Waffles in Vancouver

Are waffles the new cupcakes? Back when cupcake shows were all the rage for network television, Vancouver saw an influx of cupcake shops opening throughout the city. Now, as these shows fade, there’s a new sweet boss in town: waffles. There is an abundance of waffle houses in Vancouver now, and we can’t get enough!

Here’s our list of our favorite waffle destinations in the city!

Pattiserie Lebeau 1728 West 2nd Ave
http://www.grababetterwaffle.com

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Photo from The Armoury District

Pattiserie Lebeau is the OG of Vancouver waffle shops. Founded in 1995, Pattiserie Lebeau’s retail shop sells some of the most authentic Belgian liege waffles in the city. The liege waffles are perfectly soft and sturdy while also including crunchy bites from the drops of pearled sugar interspersed throughout the waffle. Pattiserie Lebeau also sells their liege waffles frozen at stores such as Whole Foods. Best frozen waffles ever.

Miura Waffle & Milk Bar 2521 Main St
http://www.miurawafflemilkbar.ca

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Photo from Miura Waffle 

Miura Waffle & Milk Bar has moved shop from their Downtown location to the new retail space at Main and Broadway. We’re so stoked that Miura is now located closer to us as their sweet and savory waffles make our stomachs swoon. Specializing in what they call a “sando” (a derivative of the Japanese word for sandwiches!); these waffle sandwiches are filled with tasty delights from Korean bulgogi to Japanese fried chicken. If a savory sando is not what you crave, get the Boston Cream sando or creamy strawberry yoggy shake!

Crackle Creme 245 Union St
http://www.cracklecreme.com

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Photo from Urbanspoon

Newcomers to the game, Crackle Creme is serving up two of our most favorite things: waffles and creme brulee! Chef Daniel Wong is creating artisanal creme brulle combinations as espresso, cotton candy, and pistachio which can all be accompanied with one of the most pearly sugared liege waffle we’ve ever had! While the focus is more so on creme brulee at Crackle Creme, this is one shop you need to check out if you have love thoughtful sweets infused with love.

Nero Belgian Waffle Bar 1703 Robson St
http://www.nerowaffles.ca

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Photo from Urbanspoon

This little Downtown waffle spot boasts some of the most popular waffles in town! There’s usually a line-up when we go, so on a sunny day, it’s best to take either your deliciously crunchy Brussle waffle or soft and sweet Liege waffle to go. These waffles are some of the most decadent as there are a variety of toppings from ice cream, chocolate drizzle, strawberries and more! Just make sure you bring a friend or two, if you decide to layer on the ice cream!

Cafe Medina 556 Beatty St
http://www.medinacafe.com

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Photo from Urbanspoon

One of the meccas of breakfast in Downtown, Cafe Medina also holds their own with the waffle game! The liege style waffles are made with batter from Damien’s Belgian Waffle Factory, in Richmond, and are a tasty accompaniment to their more-than luxurious savory breakfast dishes. The liege waffle comes nude, but there is an assortment of dips that you can order to accompaniment it. Our favorite is the white chocolate pistachio rosewater! Hurry on over to Cafe Medina’s Crosstown location as they will be relocating close to the City Center come mid-summer!

Scandilicious 1340 Commercial Drive 25 Victoria Drive
http://www.scandilicious.com

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Photo from Urbanspoon

With two locations and a food truck, Scandilicious is a powerhouse for waffles and Scandinavian food in Vancouver! Similarly to other waffle houses in Vancouver, Scandilicious has both the Brussles and Liege style waffle, but it the Scandinavian twist on their toppings that sets them apart! One of our favorites is their signature, the Scandilicious waffle that has toppings that IKEA-dreams are made of: shrimp, mayo, cucumbers, sliced hard-boiled eggs, and dill-lemon sauce – this is drool inducing food!

Are you a waffle-connoisseur? Where’s the best waffle in Vancouver? Drop us a line, and let us know!