Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Everything In Moderation

No, this isn’t another blog about Nadia G (see Aug. 20 entry). But, along with “Refined Country Cooking,” that could be the motto of Lampliter Gallery Café in Fort Langley, BC.

We were due to leave British Columbia, but wanted one more meal at this delightful little country restaurant. On this occasion, Melissa, the server with Philadelphia ties, wasn’t working, but our server--whose name we unfortunately didn’t get--demonstrated the same high level of friendly professionalism. I suspect Paul Buckley, owner and chef, both hires well and teaches well.

And speaking of the chef, we got the opportunity to talk with him for a few moments and express our admiration for both his food and his operation. Someone on line had described both Paul and his wife as an “eccentric couple.” Well, there was nothing at all eccentric about Paul unless you consider attention to detail as peculiar.

Chuck started with a cup of the day’s soup--the Italian roasted ham and tomato. This was a semi-thick soup, and my guess is that the thickening comes from pureeing some of the ingredients and not from a flour or cornstarch thickener. The smoky ham, bright tomatoes, and Italian seasonings all melded into a palate (and soul) satisfying starter.

The Lampliter’s menu lists about six sandwiches all of which sound delicious. Especially interesting were the West Van (shaved prosciutto, tomato, and marinated artichoke) and the Kamloops (tomato, bocconcini, and grilled zucchini.) Chuck decided on the latter with a small salad of baby greens, carrots, mung bean sprouts, and cucumber in a house-made creamy herb dressing. Since he doesn’t eat cucumbers, I was able to sample the dressing via the cucumbers that made their way into my bread plate. Again, there was a perfect balance of herbal flavors with no one predominating. His sandwich came on a crusty baguette and the grilled zucchini warmed, but didn’t melt, the fresh mozzarella.

Knowing what I planned to order, I paid no attention to the specials board. I was going to order the spagettini with baby shrimp and scallops with diced tomatoes in a basil and cream sauce. Well, Paul produced yet another winner. Just as Chuck’s previous selection of cavatappi was full of sausage slices, my spagettini was overflowing with sweet and tender seafood. But it is the sauces that shine and that prove that less is indeed more. There was a hint of garlic--but just a hint. There was enough tomato to provide an acidic balance to the rich sauce. And there was enough basil, but not so much that you would mistake this for a pesto. And, before my pasta, I had the small Caesar salad.

We again decided not to walk down the street for gelato and shared a slice of the Lampliter’s whipped lime cheesecake with an Oreo cookie crust and grape and plum garnish. This was light but rich, tart but sweet, and, like everything else we ate at The Lampliter, absolutely perfect.

It should come as no surprise that we award The Lampliter Gallery Café the ultimate 5.0 Addie rating. This was a restaurant that had it all – ambience, service, and amazing food.

It Had Been Our Practice . . .

to stop in Marina’s Gelato whenever in Fort Langley, BC.

“Marina's Gelato is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Marina and Paul Ravensbergen. Paul Ravensbergen grew up in a pastry shop in Holland, learning the craft of baking at an early age. After 4 years of full-time formal training at a pastry school, he worked for 2 years in one of the best Dutch pastry bakeries, eventually returning to his family baking industry where he remained until 1975.”

“…in June 2002, Paul and Marina Ravensbergen opened Marina's Gelato…Using only top Italian ingredients and making all of their ice cream fresh on the premises, Marina's Gelato offers over 40 delicious flavours of gelato (some say it may be the best gelato in B.C!) and sorbetto.” (From Marina’s web site.)

Located on the main street of Fort Langley, this small place is constantly busy. While there are two tables outside the front doors and another four or five inside, most customers take their cones or bowls of gelato “to go” and can be seen eating while window shopping. Our preference was to sit and relax--and it’s easier to take photos while in a seated position.

On our first visit, Chuck enjoyed a small cup of the hazelnut gelato (or nocciola) (right in photo), while I equally enjoyed my cup of coffee (caffe) gelato. These were just a hint of what was to come on future visits.

Our next visit found Chuck ordering a small dish of the chocolate, while I, having gotten smart and ordered two small samples instead of one somewhat larger sample for the same price, had small portions of the crème caramel and the dolce latte (a fine milk cream enriched with caramelized sugar and hazelnut and peanut grains).

A record doesn’t exist of our third stop – we just dug right in. But on that occasion, Chuck had the limencello, while I had a combination of dark chocolate and coconut (coccomio). Think of the most sinful Mounds Bar ever!

And we’re back again, this time for limoncello and limello (Chuck) and chocolate hazelnut and maple walnut for me.

On our final visit, we hit the fruit bonanza. Chuck ordered the cherry mania gelato with the blackberry which came complete with large whole blackberries. My two choices--apricot and peach--also came with giant pieces of fruit.

A wonderful stop when strolling through a small and charming country town.

Returning to the US via the Douglas Border crossing (at the junction of Highway 99 in British Columbia and Interstate 5 in Washington State), we passed the Peace Arch. Straddling the 49th parallel on the US-Canada border, the monument was constructed in 1921, commemorating the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, which ended the War of 1812 between the US and Britain. The open gate between Canada and the US bears the inscription May These Gates Never Close. The historical Peace Arch has engravings: Children of a Common Mother on the Washington side and Brethren Dwelling Together in Unity on the British Columbia side.

Impressive. In structure and message.

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