Julia Child would have been 100 years old today. A lady and a legend, she brought French cuisine to the processed food-filled kitchens of North America in the 1950’s. Hers was a life that still provides endless inspiration; she travelled the globe working for the American Strategic Services, married the love of her life, built an iconic career from the ground up, and had a wicked sense of humour through it all. She’s kind of my hero.
To celebrate a century of Julia, Les Dames D’Escoffier British Columbia have organized over 40 celebratory dinners at restaurants and cooking schools across the province, and I’ll be heading to one tonight! It’s at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel, and I am quite excited.
But what of today’s post, you ask? How did I celebrate Julia’s love of French cuisine? I ate Korean, of course.
I’m just kidding. Sort of. I did eat Korean at the Aberdeen Centre food court, but the main reason I was there was to seek out the newly-opened Beard Papa’s, a chain that specialize in cream puffs. What could be more French than choux pastry?
Because (everyone else thinks) cream puffs don’t = lunch, I first tried out Jang Mo Jib, a place I mentioned in the Cafe D’Lite post due to its constantly-running stream of pop videos playing on TVs above their counters. They’re mind-numbingly
I went with the sautéed beef lunch box, which comes with rice, kimchi, bean sprout salad, potatoes, bulgogi, and a bowl of broth for under $9 including tax. The sweet, marinated meat is sautéed to order by a woman in the back kitchen; it came straight from the pan and into my lunch box, so fresh and hot I had to wait awhile before it was cool enough to eat. It was wonderful, and rightly so, as Jang Mo Jib means “mother in law’s house.” This lady looked like a mother, and mothers know how to cook.
The flavours of the different foods included in the lunch box combined well; there was the sweetness of the beef, heat from the kimchi, salty/vinegar from the bean sprouts and the potatoes, and the satisfying neutrality of the white rice. I mixed and mashed and loved my meal, though some of the strips of beef were a just a bit too fatty for my liking.
I found out later that this Aberdeen Centre location is an offshoot of full-sized parent restaurants in Vancouver, Burnaby, and Richmond. I bet it’s been recommended to me as a place to go for Korean, but clearly the name didn’t stick. Has anyone been to the bigger location? Thoughts?
After lunch, I found my tribute to Julia for the day: an eclair (chocolate-covered cream puff) and fondant au chocolat from Beard Papa’s, a new stall in the food court. Though this international chain was founded in Japan, they specialize in something that’s oh-so-French: cream puffs.
Ever had one? They’re little mounds of choux pastry, baked up golden and airy then filled with cream, pudding, or custard.
Honestly, my expectations for the eclair ($2.15) and fondant au chocolate ($2.75) were low – I don’t know why, but they just didn’t look like much. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to bite into the dark chocolate-covered eclair and find myself swooning.
The pastry was firm and fresh, the chocolate of good quality, and the filling – a sort of cross between whipped cream and creme patissiere – was cool, light, and not too sweet. They pipe it into the pastry only once you’ve ordered it, so it won’t get soggy. Refreshing, crunchy, creamy, and chocolatey – almost fit for Julia!
I waited until I got home to eat the Chocolate Fondant, as it needs to be heated up in the oven. It was very good – again, not overly-sugarly – with a rich, molten chocolate centre.
Check in tomorrow to see what they serve us at The Fairmont tonight, but for now, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, here are some of The French Chef’s best moments. Bonne fête, Julia, et merci.
Jang Mo Jib, Aberdeen Centre
Cash only (I think)
Not particularly vegetarian friendly
Beard Papa’s, Aberdeen Centre
Cash and cards accepted