Saturday, September 29, 2012

9.--A Great Little Diner

Round Up Cafe on Urbanspoon
No self-respecting Lower Mainland blogger would forget to mention The Round-up Café, a little walk-by-fast-and-you-miss-it diner a block or two from the Whalley Skytrain.

It first opened in 1949, when Louis St. Laurent was prime minister for Canada and Nisga’a Chief Frank Calder was elected to the B.C. Legislature. Postwar prosperity was beginning to assert itself. Bacon was 50 cents a pound. A pound! Newfoundland joined the Canadian Confederation, and seedless watermelon, Jolly Ranchers and instant pudding were invented. The Round-Up Café must have done well, because it was still going strong ten years later when it was bought by Orest and Goldie Springenatic. Orest was Ukrainian and an avid baseball enthusiast, two things that figure heavily in the café, with its perogies, Ukrainian sausage, borsch and cabbage rolls, and the myriad of baseball pictures on the wall from Surrey’s past. Outside it boasts one of the few old neon signs left in Surrey, a cowboy on a bucking bronc, that makes me feel like all the good things from the past are not yet quite gone, and gives me hope.

I hadn’t been to the Round-Up in many years, though I do recall that their breakfasts were really good. This time, however, we decided to do lunch and check out a couple of the non-Ukrainian offerings on the menu. The first thing we noticed was that the diner is nice and clean, and stepping in through its doors is like stepping back in time. I was disappointed to notice the jukeboxes gone from the booth tables (like I said, it’s been many years), but other than that it retains its small-town, simpler-times feel.

Not much can really be said about the food. It’s good, standard fare, satisfying and of average value. The water tastes a little funny, like it’s been poured from a tap, but other than that the food is fine. I had the club sandwich on whole-wheat, my sister had the Reuben sandwich on rye and my brother-in-law had the Bases Loaded burger with cheese, mushroom, onion and bacon. Service is good--the waitress was friendly and allowed us time to decide what to have without making us feel rushed. The order arrived at our table in ten minutes. They’re a bit chintzy on the pickle; one thin slice on the side. This wouldn’t bother most people but I carry pickle-related baggage from my childhood and so I noticed. It wasn’t the best food in the world but we’re not talking thirty dollars a plate, either. I’ve had worse for more money.

It’s easy to see why the Round-Up Café has lasted 63 years. It isn’t the best flavor or the best of anything, really.

It’s just plain good.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

8.--Fraser Valley Food Show Winners

If you missed the Abbotsford Food Fair this year, you missed a real treat. In addition to LB Emporium (mentioned in last week’s post) they had 92 other exhibitors, plus 19 alcohol exhibitors in the Wine, Beer & Spirits tasting pavilion, five restaurants in the Bite of the Valley area , a Master Chef competition, daily cheese seminars, a Food Network Celebrity stage, a Grapes & Hops presentation stage, and a Great Canadian Sausage Making competition. One could attend all three days and never have to make a meal, there were so many delectable samples to try.

The winner of the Master Chef competition was chef William Tse, executive chef of the Sandbar Seafood Restaurant on Granville Island.

The Great Canadian Sausage Making competition was a little more extensive, winner-wise. Windsor Ontario’s Robert Bornais took the amateur division with his wonderful chorizo, and won in addition gold standing in the Game, Italian, and Breakfast Link sausage categories. Manfred Cross won gold as well for his bratwurst, and Steve MacLeod also won gold standing in the Farmer’s sausage category.

For the professional division the grand winner was Viktor Kozak of Sedo’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop & Deli in Salmon Arm, B.C. with his salami entry, winning gold standing as well in the Liver/Braunschwieger and Chorizo categories. Other gold standing winners were Mink Lindsay of Hopcott Premium Meats, Pitt Meadows (Andouille, Boudin, and Italian sausage categories; Dianne and Dale Herbert, Davis Quality Meats, in Abbotsford (Kielbasa and Breakfast Links); and Gerry Gelderman, Gelderman Farms, Abbotsford (Farmer’s and Specialty).

Robin Brooks won the People’s Choice award for his Kielbasa sausage, also winning a gold standing in the Bratwurst category.

In my opinion, though, everyone there was a winner. Especially the people who went to see, and taste!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

7.--Life is Spicy at the Fraser Valley Food Show

I have never been to the Fraser Valley Food Show at the Tradex in Abbotsford (last day is tomorrow, Sunday Sept. 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.). This morning  I dragged my sister and her husband out to see what it was all about. Certainly their website made it seem exciting  ( ); but I thought to myself, how good could it really be?

I was going to write a single entry regarding this food show, but after having spent a delirious afternoon eating and drinking, I discovered that, like the chip, you just can't have one post. This is going to take a few. For those of you who can't make it to the food show tomorrow, remember it for next year. It's a foodie PNE--even better, because  the parking is cheaper (five dollars), the entrance is cheaper (nine dollars for adults), and you get way better samples to try. Delicious samples. And the booths are amazing. It's foodie heaven.

Vivian Balbeck (L), and Donna Stuart (R)
Take, for instance, LB Emporium, our number one favorite, a boutique spice company that presses all the right gourmet buttons. The owners are a couple of can-do, charming women by the name of Vivian Belbeck and Donna Stuart.

"We're high school sweethearts," Vivian joked (they've known each other since grade eight). I said I might put that in my blog.

Donna asked me not to. I promised that I wouldn't...

Their spice mixes are amazing, complex and versatile; although each mix is recommended for certain meats, I would put them on anything and everything. They have a new retail-warehouse in Port Kells at Unit #12-19889 96th Avenue, Langley. You can get all the information you want by checking out their website--

One of the really interesting things Donna mentioned is that they generally prefer to use fruit powder in their spice mixes instead of sugar, powders that are high in antioxidants and bought locally. "The fruits are fresh-picked and the process for turning them into the fruit powder begins that day," she explained. "Most people think spice rub blends are a simple thing, but the background is really interesting." They even have one rub sweetened with carrot instead of sugar. How guilt-free can you get?

These two entrepreneurs also named their spice rubs. We bought Hot Daddy, African Queen, Put Me Anywhere, and Last Tango in Paris. All four were chosen on the basis of the spices that were in them and the intoxicating scent (they have samples of the spice out so you can see and smell them). Plus, how can you not buy a spice named after your favorite Bogart movie? How can you say no to the flavor of Marlon Brando?

Who has the time these days to mix and try different spice combinations? In this day and age, when you never have time to mix, taste and tweak spice combos for your food, these girls do it for you, and do it brilliantly.

 Check 'em out.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

6.--Sweeeet! The Honeybee Centre

This past week my eye fell on an online ad for the Tea Hive Café, a little spot nestled comfortably in the Honeybee Centre, located on Fry’s Corner. It was a very small menu indeed, but since I hadn’t been to the Honeybee Centre in ever so long my sister and I decided to go and buy some honey and check the café out.

You have to go. Not just for the pie at the café, which is really, really good, but for the pleasure of looking and testing the different kinds of honey, taking a self-guided tour, and checking out the courses they offer, like beekeeping and candle-making. (By the way, this is a very kid-friendly place.)

We were greeted as we came in the door with a warm smile by Karen Downey, who couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the benefits of honey. She explained that all their honey was unpasteurized; since the honey is not heated up, valuable enzymes in it are not destroyed.

We ordered the apple pie, mine accompanied by a lovely pear green tea, my sister's paired brilliantly with a delicious chai redolent with spices similar to those we traditionally use in apple pie, and then went into the “greenhouse” to sit and wait for our orders to come to us. The place was charming. One side has several tables and chairs and the other has more of a sunroom feel, with small glass-topped tables surrounded by wicker easy chairs. There is a small bookcase with books and magazines you are free to browse through while you wait. A little goldfish pond sits in one corner, pretty with plants, and everywhere there is information about bees and honey.

Karen told us they order the apple pie from a gourmet bakery, and I believe her. It was full of chunks—not slices—of apple. A scoop of vanilla ice cream nestled beside it and both pie and ice cream were drizzled with Rewarewa honey, changing it from good to fabulous. The honey took on the characteristics and flavor profile of caramel. Absolutely delicious. Do try it with the green tea—the sweetness of the dessert off-sets the teas natural mild astringency and makes for a memorable combination.

After our treat we went back into the store area and began tasting the honey at the honey bar set up for just that purpose. Karen explained that the nutrients are different for each honey, depending upon what the bees were feeding on.

Unprocessed honey has antibacterial properties because it contains natural hydrogen peroxide and it has an acid PH. But Manuka honey, for instance, has additional antimicrobial activity because the Manuka bush the bees feed on contains something called methylglyoxal. I didn't like the Manuka honey. It tasted medicine-y to me. I did, however, like the buckwheat honey, which is somewhat reminscent of molasses and is probably amazing in bbq sauce applications, and the clover honey tasted, as my sister so aptly put it, "like our childhood". I remember our mother always buying clover honey. The blueberry and cranberry honeys were amazing. Once we finished tasting we selected a jar each--my sister the cranberry and I, our childhood--and paid for our choices. We were a little sticky. If you go, take wipes.

Karen gave me a couple of brochures (I could do a blog on the Honeybee Centre alone) and let me know about their website. You can visit the website by clicking on this URL:

Go. Enjoy. Taste honey. Learn about bees. And don't forget to try the apple pie. 


Saturday, September 1, 2012


Stomachs, get ready to ruuuuuuuuummmmbbbbbble!

Jugo Juice (Guildford Town Centre) on Urbanspoon Jugo Juice vs. Booster Juice
Booster Juice (Central City) on Urbanspoon
This will be a semi-regular event here on Anywhere There's Food.  This week we're comparing the smoothies of Jugo Juice against the smoothies of Booster Juice.

The first place we went to was Jugo Juice, a kiosk at Guildford Town Center located upstairs in the mallway between Motherhood and Aldo's, near the Bay.  The service was phenomenal. There was no line-up so we stood back a little and ordered three "snackies"--their smallest size smoothie at 14 ounces. Jugo Juice has a lovely selection; 26 smoothies, seven different juices, eight grilled wraps and 3 grilled flatbreads. They're tops in nutrition, too, as their information pamphlet, displayed prominently for one to take home, is quick to point out. They boast five plus servings of fruit and are 100% sorbet free, using instead 100% pure, unsweetened juice.

There were two servers behind the counter. We ordered a Copa Banana (banana, pineapple, tropical nectar and a hint of coconut), a Pineapple Powerzone (strawberries, pineapple, tropical nectar, and orange juice), and for my brother-in-law, a Caramel Buzz (banana, low-fat frozen yogurt, caramel, and iced coffee). All three orders were taken, filled and we were walking away from the counter in two and a half minutes. The bill came to $13.78.

Then we went to Booster Juice, located unhelpfully twenty minutes away at 12080 Nordel Way, just down a few doors from Shoppers Drug Mart. When we got back home we discovered one much closer, at 10153 King George Blvd, in the Central City Shopping Center, but of course it never occurred to us to check before we went. My sister works near there, we saw it, and that was that. If you're closer to Guildford go to the Central City one, and here is why:

When we walked in there was  a couple of people ahead of us and one girl behind the counter. No one else. She would take an order, take the money for it, fill the order, and go on to the next person. This meant, of course, that each customer had to wait before they could even give their order. As others came in, the wait got longer. She wasn't slow, but they really needed another person there to get the orders out. I tried to ask her why there she was the only server there, but she looked at me like she didn't understand what I was asking. She was busy, like I said. It made me wonder if someone had phoned in sick, they weren't doing well financially and could only afford to have one person on, on a hot Saturday afternoon, or if someone in charge was a cheapskate. It seems to have a similar number of smoothies, wraps and stuff, in addition to quesadillas, but we really couldn't tell because there was no brochure that would tell us and we weren't about to stand and count the menu items posted on the huge menu board. We asked for, in 12 ounce size (their smallest), a Canadian Colada (pineapple, coconut, bananas and frozen yogurt), a Pineapple Freeze (Pineapples, bananas, strawberries and vanilla frozen yogurt), and a Mean Mocha (frozen yogurt and iced mocha; not sure of all the ingredients) for my brother-in-law.  It took fifteen minutes for the order to be filled, paid for, and given to us. The bill came to $12.60. This is actually very close to Jugo Juice, which was marginally more expensive but also was larger by two ounces per small container. I didn't get the comparable prices for the 24 ounce, a size identical in both places. My bad.

For Jugo Juice, calories per 14 oz. (snackie) is as follows:
Copa Banana--189 calories
Pineapple Powerzone--136 calories
Caramel Buzz--305 calories

For Booster Juice, calories per 12 oz. is as follows:
Canadian Colada--266 calories
Pineapple Freeze--203 calories
Mean Mocha--a whopping 362 calories

A quick look at the calorie count will tell you which chain our tastebuds preferred. Loaded up with a frozen yogurt reminicent of ice-cream, Booster Juice tasted best to us, hands down. But Jugo Juice was a close second, and nutritionally speaking is clearly superior for the same price.  We must remember what these businesses are selling--yummy health. So I am going to take the moral high ground, healthwise, and announce Jugo Juice as the winner.