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.


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.

quicksmartcook_2 quicksmartcook_3 quicksmartcook_4

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

Coffee in the Morning

Grabbing a morning coffee before the work day begins is a habitual routine for the majority of us. If you’ve been in our gift store, you know we have a multitude of tumblers to store your coffee on-the-go, but sometimes it’s just easier to grab one on the go!

These are the places we get coffee in the morning, or sometimes in the afternoon for  a midday pick me-up! We call it 4PM Coffee. We understand that this is a crucial component to becoming an insomniac in training.

Bean Around the World

Our long standing neighbors and purveyors of all-around coffee goodness! This is one of the main hubs on
Main St. for gathering and mingling over a cuppa joe. But the real winners at Bean are the pastries – scones and muffins the size of your face! How could you say no to that?

Coco et Olive

Going to Coco et Olive is like being transported back in time and space… to Paris when days were calmer and people took the time to linger over coffee. The light, open airy space makes it a great place to stop in regardless of rain or shine. In addition to coffee, you must get yourself a baked treat here as well.


Source: Dine Here

Liberty is a neighborhood staple. Under renovation right now, we are so excited to put it back on our morning coffee radar! It’s a great place to grab a coffee, and also black bean soup while you’re at it! Seriously, though, their black bean soup is amazing. If you’re a fan of spicy foods – get it with the chili lime dressing!

Our Trusty Work Coffee Machine

This guy never fails to disappoint… load him up with a bit of ground Bolivian coffee, press a few buttons, and presto. Hot steaming coffee goodness.

Did we miss any of our favorite cafes in the Main St. area? Drop us a line, and let us know!

Mmm, Beer…

Have you heard the news? You can now earn a Diploma in Brewing and Brewery Operations from Kwantlen!

Brewing and Brewery Operations Diploma

Source: Kwantlen Polytechnic University

Though we’d like to think that drinking a lot of beer makes us masters of hop and wheat, this diploma is a legit multi-faceted course that teaches the beer-connoisseur about the business, science, production of a good pint.

We love a good pint at the end of a work day, so we’re stoked that programs are being instilled to help expand the landscape of microbreweries in Vancouver. A lot of these microbreweries are located in East Van with a handful having tasting rooms in the Mt. Pleasant area! Here’s some of our choices for a hand-crafted, quality pint:

33 Acres Brewing 

Beautiful space, rotating roster food trucks, and three different craft beers on tap… we’re always pumped to grab a pint here after work! Also – waffle brunches. Need we say more?

15 W.8th Ave at Ontario

Tasting Room Hours
Mon – Thurs: 12 – 11PM
Fri – Sun: 11 – 11PM

Brassneck Brewery

Source: Vischal Mirapoon
Another one of our favorite spots after work! Brassneck also has food trucks stationed outside of their Mt. Pleasant tasting room, but we love to pair a flight of their handcrafted brews with a stick of locally-made pepperoni.
2148 Main St. at 6th.
Tasting Room Hours
Mon – Fri 2 – 11PM
Sat – Sun 12 – 11PM

Parallel 49 Brewing

The crazy cast of characters on the labels of Parallel 49’s beers reflect the unique quality of their locally crafted beers. We can’t wait till it’s Seedspitter season again!

1950 Triumph St. at Victoria Drive

Tasting Room Hours
12 – 9PM Daily

Powell Street Craft Brewery

Source: Ryan Tessier
Having won last year’s Canadian Brewing’s Beer of the Year award for 2013, Powell St. beer makes us go weak in the knees… and not because of the alcohol content! Delicious beers, especially the Old Jalopy Pale Ale, find them wherever tasty beers are sold!

1830 Powell St. at Victoria Drive

Tasting Room Hours
Wed – Sat: 1 – 7PM

Coal Harbour Brewing 

Close neighbors to Powell St. and Parallel 49 brewieries, Coal Harbour is without a tasting room but that doesn’t stop us from tracking down their delicious beers at our local beer store! Try the Helles Lager, you won’t regret it!

Did we miss any local breweries that are your are favorite? Let us know, and we’ll be glad you did!

PS. The registration deadline for Kwantlen’s Diploma in Brewing is June 27 😉

Front & Company’s Top Date Spots for Valentines Day

1. Robson Square Ice Rink 

Although this spot is cliché for Valentines days, it is also a classic. Take your date for a skate under the stars this Valentine’s weekend for an affordable yet romantic night out.
Bring your own skates or rent for just $4 dollars.

Sunday-Thursday 9AM-9PM
Friday & Saturday 9AM -11PM

2. Salt Tasting Room
If you love cheese, meats, condiments and wine then you should be dining at Salt Tasting Room. Although, the menu can seem intimidating with its long lists of mouthwatering meats and cheeses the staff is well educated, and is more then happy to help you create the ideal tasting plate. This spot is great for a date but also has large family style tables so you can be with all the people you love on the fourteenth. Book your reservation at before it’s too late!
Located at 45 Blood Alley Square and 2585 W Broadway Vancouver, BC

Picture source:

3.The Shameful Tiki Room
Getting on a plane and flying to some tropical paradise would be ideal this time of year, but if you and your lovebird can’t afford a vacation we have found the next best thing. The Shameful Tiki Room will make you feel like your in the beautiful sunny islands. Giant fruity drinks and tasty sharing plates is what this place is all about.  Join them this Valentine’s Day for their surf theme night!
Located at 4362 Main Street Vancouver, BC
4. Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France
There is no shame in just staying in with your loved ones this year, but before you head home you may want to stop by Chocolaterie de la Nouvelle France for some delectable hand made chocolates.  Using the best cocoa beans ownerAnne-Geneviève Poitras has created recipes for the most delicious truffles, tarts, caramels and many more sweet treats. It wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without some delectable chocolates.
Located at 198 East 21st Avenue Vancouver, BC
5. Raw Canvas Restaurant
Eat, paint and drink. Raw Canvas unique concept of mixing restaurant + art studio creates the perfect date location.  The creative atmosphere will allow you to loosen up and enjoy yourself on any date.  For further information please visit
Located at 1046 Hamilton Street Vancouver, BC

Vancouver Writer’s Fest

All you literary aficionados, listen up! The Vancouver Writer’s Festival is happening October 22 – 27. If you’ve never checked out the Writer’s Festival before, it is the place to catch authors such as David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, and J.B. McKinnon in conversation about their own works and with other authors.
If you’ve a birthday coming up or a gift-giving event for someone of the literati, what could be a better gift then a pair of tickets to see David Sedaris tear up the stage and some Shakespearean insult bandages to soothe the wounds you’ll sustain from laughing so much! Indeed, while we may not be a book store, we do have lots of gifts that would appeal to the literary buff!
And if those don’t appeal to the literature buff in your life, we have tonnes of notebooks that the aspiring writer could use!
Find out more information about the Vancouver Writer’s Festival here!
Photo Credit: Front & Company,