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Last weekend was K’s birthday.  I remember a few years ago while visiting V and K in Australia, V cooked up a very delicious Persian dinner for K.  For his birthday this year, V organized a little birthday gathering for friends.

I arrived an hour before the party was scheduled to start to assist as needed.  We were preparing mostly finger foods.  I’m not very artistic, but the platters look pretty good, don’t they?

cheese and crackers

cheese and crackers

veggie and dip

veggie and dip

We also prepared the fruit plates for dessert time.  When it was time for dessert, out came the fruit plates and the ice cream.

a selection for dessert....

a selection for dessert….

Looking at the jars of Earnest Ice Cream reminded me that I have not blogged about a particular eating adventure with V from this past summer.   And that is what I will blog about today.  🙂

During the August long weekend, V and I met up for our monthly girls’ day.  I didn’t have any plans except spend the day with my dear friend.  V had a few places she wanted to check out and mentioned a craving for ramen.

We started our day by doing some window shopping and eventually stopped at Benkei Ramen on Broadway for a bowl of ramen.

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I used to go to the Benkei Ramen on Thurlow for lunch while working downtown.  It was the first place I thought of when craving a bowl of ramen at work. My two favourite broth choices were Shio and Shoyu. I like the lighter clearer broth and depending on how I felt that day, I would pick one.  I carried around and redeemed the frequent  collectors card for buy x number of bowls and get one free.  As other ramen places opened closer to the office, the convenience of the location became more important than collecting for a free bowl.  Apparently the various Benkei locations around downtown are closed and the only Benkei location is on Broadway.

I must be getting old as my appetite seems to have shrunk.  Whereas in the past I was able to finish a bowl of Benkei ramen with little difficulty, I now find that two-thirds of the bowl is more than filling.  Depending on what is already in the ramen, I like to add toppings.  If it is not part of the description, I usually opt to add corn and egg as side orders.

The ramen tasted okay.  It satisfied our ramen craving.  Would I go back again?  Maybe… although it wouldn’t be the first choice I think of.

Benkei Ramen on Urbanspoon

After satisfying V’s ramen craving, we continued to run more errands and visit shops on Broadway.  When it was time for an afternoon treat, V mentioned Earnest Ice Cream.  Only a few months earlier, another friend wanted to try Earnest Ice Cream and we discovered that it was not open on the day that we went (Thursday to Sunday).  I was hanging out with V on a weekend so this was my opportunity to try it.

We arrived to a line up out the shop and down the street.  The line was slow to move but at least it was moving.  I took a few photos outside and inside while we waited in line.

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It took us a good 20 minutes to get from the outside to somewhere near the front where you can see the ice cream menu.  The available flavours were written on chalkboards.  I’m not a fan of long line ups especially when it’s in a crowded space.  However, I endured the experience and eventually we made it to the front of the line.

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It was really cramped inside with minimal seating and too many people.  Even after ordering, we had to wait a few minutes to get our order.  There were quite a few people waiting for their orders as well.  V and I each ordered two scoops in bowls.  Given how hot it was outside, the ice cream would melt too quickly.

I can’t remember who ordered which flavours but I seem to recall London Fog, Salted Caramel and Red Current Ripple were amongst the four flavours.  The ice cream was smooth and tasty.  But… $7 for two scoops seems to be quite the price tag to pay for ice cream.  I guess that goes with the novelty and quality of the ice cream.  I’m quite content with a basic vanilla or pralines ‘n cream from the local grocery store.  For the price paid and as a personal preference, I enjoyed the Earl Grey Tea flavour at Bella Gelateria more.

Because there was no available seating in the shop, V and I stood outside to sample our purchases.  The sun was beating down on Fraser Street and we ducked in around the corner on 24th Avenue.  We were standing beside the building and thankfully in the shade.

We finished our ice cream and went back to the shop to toss our garbage.  It was good to see that the store had left two garbage bins on the sidewalk just out front for customers to throw their garbage.  It is a considerate step for the shop to keep the neighbourhood clean and as a convenience for the customers.  For other customers like V and myself, it doesn’t matter that we are unable to sit indoors to enjoy our ice cream.  At least we know that after we’re done outside, there is still somewhere for us to throw our garbage.
Earnest Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Leaving Fraser Street, V mentioned that she wanted to check out the shops along Main Street.  We parked on Main Street and wandered up and down the block.  There were lots of little shops selling retro gifts, boutiques with unique clothing and home decor/furniture.  We spent some time walking and exploring those few blocks.

Again, being in the summer sun and heat, it didn’t take long for us to look for a thirst quencher.  We decided to travel up a few blocks and visit another Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe.  Why “another” one, you ask?  I didn’t mention it in my blog post, but V and I actually started our day with an iced tea from the Forty Ninth Parallel Cafe in Kitsilano.  We only ordered drinks to go and no photos were taken so I didn’t mention that first visit.  For our second visit (of the day), we stopped at the Main Street location.  This time, we decided to enjoy our drinks in the cafe.

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V's iced tea and my lemonade

V’s iced tea and my lemonade

We sat by the window along Main Street and watched the people walk by.  We were tempted to purchase a doughnut or a small bite to share.  Unfortunately (for V), my appetite is greatly reduced in the heat and though the doughnuts in the display looked very tempting, they also looked too heavy for me.    Maybe next time!

Forty Ninth Parallel Café & Lucky's Doughnuts on Urbanspoon

After resting our feet and quenching our thirst for a few minutes, we continued on our day of adventure.  We were close to 12th Avenue and aware that it was nearing dinner time.  We checked one more shop on the Broadway corridor before deciding on dinner.

Having spent the day going from Kitsilano to Fairview to Kensington to Mount Pleasant and back to Broadway (Fairview), decided to find a dinner place close by.  We happened to drive by A Taste of Vietnam and since neither V nor myself had been there, we parked out front and gave it a try.

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When we first walked in, it was rather empty.  There were two to three other tables.  V and I picked a table that was off to the side.  Centre of attention is not our style.  We studied the menu and selected our orders.  V ordered a combo meal which came with a Prawn Soup, brochettes, a salad roll, spring rolls and fried rice.

prawn soup

prawn soup

V's combo plate

V’s combo plate

I considered ordering a combo as well but knew that I wouldn’t be able to finish it.  Instead, I ordered a small Rare Beef Noodle Soup and a side order of the Mango Basil Salad Roll.

Rare Beef Noodle Soup

Rare Beef Noodle Soup

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Mango Basil Salad Roll

Mango Basil Salad Roll

I enjoyed my Rare Beef Noodle Soup.  The small was perfect for me as I was able to finish the beef and noodles but not the soup.  The Mango Basil Salad Roll was less to my taste.  It was quite fresh but perhaps after a filling beef noodle soup, the mango and basil flavours worked against my appetite.  I finished it but feel that I could have enjoyed it better is I had started with the roll first.

V told me that her meal was good and offered me some.  I was too full already and thus declined.  It looked really tasty though and if I do go there again, I will order the combo dinner that she had.

Taste of Vietnam on Urbanspoon

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