Yesterday was BC’s first Family Day, and do you know what that means? It means I’m about to get a little sappy. Break out the tissues.
Everyone loves a day off, of course, but it seemed to me that people truly embraced the concept of Family Day. Rather than just a long weekend, it was an opportunity to spend time with loved ones, whether related by blood or not.
My nuclear family is quite small, and incredibly loving and supportive. I also, however, consider my friends to be my family, so there was a lot to celebrate, and I was glad to have the opportunity to express that. My sister and I hung out the day before, and yesterday I spent the whole day with friends I love dearly. I had brunch with my friends Stephen and Holly, then brought lunch over for a baking session with my friends Marnie, Megan, Garrett, and Lucy. Perfect, relaxing, quality time with the fam!
I got lunch at a place called “Fatty Hi.” It’s located in the same plaza as Pho Queen, off Capstan Way, and every time I write or say the restaurant’s name I chuckle for an extended amount of time. It’s probably a good thing I’ve stayed the same weight since I started this job, otherwise it would be a cruelly-ironic place to walk into at this point. Just to amp it up a little more, they ought to put a sign on the inside of the door that says “Fatty, Bye.”
I’m not sure where the name came from, but don’t go thinking they specialize in bacon-wrapped everything and deep-fried butter. Rather, they serve Szechuan food, and yes, while Szechuan food is traditionally oily, the menu was no more fatty than you’d find anywhere else. The restaurant is L-shaped, with tall ceilings and pink walls. Everyone who served me was extraordinarily friendly, and I’d go back based on the service alone.
The food was good, too. I ordered the leek pie, spicy beef noodles, and pan-fried meat dumplings. Because the order was over $20, I received a complimentary dish of stir-fried shredded pork in celebration of the New Year.
The leek pie looked like a big, flat dumpling. The dough was crispy, and the filling appeared to be a mixture of chives, leeks, and skinny vermicelli noodles. It was served with black vinegar, and while I enjoyed it, I thought the filling needed a little something extra – a bit more seasoning, perhaps.
The beef noodles were mildly spicy (upon my request), and very flavourful. The best part was the chunks of beef, which were tender and tasted strongly of star anise and peppercorns.
The shredded pork was sweet, with just the right amount of heat for me (the kitchen seemed to know just how much Szechuan spice I could/couldn’t handle). In addition to the pork, the dish had chopped green onions, soft sweet peppers, and chunks of black fungus, an ingredient I enjoy more each time I have it.
Finally, the pan-fried meat dumplings were like little pan-fried purses filled with ground pork.
They were crispy on the bottom, and served with sweet black vinegar. The meat was juicy and well-seasoned, and they tasted similar to gyoza. I would certainly order these again.
Fatty Hi is a casual, friendly place with good food, and a bakery next door should you wish to continue with the “Fatty Hi” jokes and grab yourself a piece of cake. For those less familiar with Szechuan food, it’s an accommodating atmosphere, so you can ease yourself into the cuisine. No need to be intimidated.
I brought the huge amounts of leftovers back to Megan and Marnie’s apartment for them to have lunch, and we set about our Family Day Project: making heart-shaped cinnamon buns. I must admit, I was downright skeptical this could be achieved, but figured the worst-case scenario was that we’d up with round cinnamon buns, and eat them anyways. As long as baked goods are in the plan, I will wholeheartedly participate.
We mixed up an easy dough recipe, and played with the newest member of the family while we waited for it to rise. Lucy the Kitten is a crazy, wild, feisty little ball of fur, and I love her dearly. Even if she is a fan of biting at this point in her childhood.
Once the dough was ready, we spread a thick layer of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar over it, then rolled it up from each end towards the middle, like a scroll. We cut the pieces, placed them on their sides in the pan, and pinched the bottoms to form hearts.
We marveled over their adorableness, covered them with a towel to rise some more, and returned to Lucy, lest she get jealous the buns were receiving all the attention.
They came out perfectly. If Tim Burton wanted curly-que cinnamon buns to star in one of his movies (which I feel certain he does), these would be them.
We covered them in cream cheese icing, sat down at the table, cheers-ed to family, and ate them slowly and mindfully. As well as being cute, they were wickedly tasty, and I emailed a picture of them to my mom, dad, sister, and brother as soon as I got home.
To my family in the province and elsewhere, I love you dearly and send sweet cinnamon kisses to you all. I hope everyone in BC enjoyed their first Family Day – Happy heart-shaped baking!
Valentine’s Day and Family Day Cinnamon Buns (adapted from allrecipes.com)
¾ cup milk
¼ cup butter
31/4 cups flour
1 package instant yeast (21/4 teaspoons)
¼ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup warm water
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup butter, softened
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Mix in butter; stir until melted. Let cool until lukewarm.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups flour (*not all of it), yeast, sugar and salt; mix well. Add water, egg and milk mixture; beat well. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has just pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.
Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and softened butter.
Roll out dough into a 12×9 inch rectangle. Spread dough with butter/sugar mixture. Sprinkle with raisins if desired. Roll up dough lengthwise from either end, so the two rolls meet in the middle. Cut into 12 equal size rolls and place cut side up in a buttered pan, allowing plenty of room between each bun so they don’t crowd each other as they bake (you might need to use two pans). Pinch the bottom the rolls down to points, making heart shapes.
Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until browned. Check regularly after 10 minutes to ensure they don’t over-bake. Let cool slightly, then drizzle with cream cheese icing if desired. Serve warm to those you love!
*All cinny-bun and cat photos by Megan Thwaites
Cash and cards accepted
Vegetarian options, though the menu is quite meat-heavy