There are the days when I sit at beautifully-set tables, feasting on multi-course meals with fine wines, expertly paired…… and there are the days when I make a meal of a Danny’s screamer, butter chicken samosas, and Price Right’s Portuguese custard tarts. These latter options may seem a little lowbrow, but they’re institutions of the Richmond culinary scene nonetheless. And lowbrow can be really good.
After writing about the screamers from Screamers during the Ice Cream Olympics, I had endless comments telling me that I MUST TRY DANNY’S MARKET. So recently I decided it was time to try out Danny’s version of these cold and colourful slushy + soft serve ‘meals,’ accompanied by two of the samosas they’re also known for. The shop was actually a far more dynamic place than I imagined it would be, and I can see why on a hot day, there’d be scores of hungry teenagers saying “Let’s go to Danny’s!”
At the corner of Garden City and Francis Road, Danny’s is one of those places with an odd mix of things that have somehow melded into one cohesive, successful business; first and foremost they’re known for their screamers, which they’ve paired with various foods to make combos; there’s pizza, garlic twists, subs, samosas, and breakfast, as well as racks of convenience store goods and a lounge area with a TV, so you can sit and watch sports for awhile as you suck root beer + soft serve up through a giant straw.
I opted for a pina colada screamer and the butter chicken samosas combo for $6.99, which turned out to be an incredibly filling (if not rather unhealthy) meal. While the pina colada flavour was delicious, I should have known better than to order something so pale! It looked just like a giant cup of soft serve. The visuals, Anderson, you’ve got to consider the visuals.
I never really thought I’d ever say this, but the soft serve was amazing; so creamy. The samosas were also surprisingly good; I’d read somewhere that they weren’t note-worthy so my expectations were rather low, but they were filled with soft, spiced meat and were very flavourful.
Not to mention big! The picture doesn’t do it justice, but two of these triangular pies were more than enough food. So that was my meal, and I would totally get it again – if you’re biking in the area, or just driving near and want a seriously eclectic, fast, cheap, and unpretentious meal, Danny’s has it for you.
The same day, because I was on such a health spree, I popped into Price Smart Foods on Ackroyd Road because I’d heard they have Portuguese custard tarts, the slightly sweeter, bruléed cousin of the Chinese egg tart. And they do! There’s also Chinese BBQ, fresh steam buns, and plenty of other on-the-go Asian meals.
So how was it? Decent. The pastry was good, very soft and flaky – as with egg tarts, the tart shell should ‘give’ a little when squeezed – but the filling didn’t have enough vanilla in it. Still, a nice treat!
As a non-profit project, the Kaisei’s mission is to raise awareness regarding the excessive amounts of plastic debris that have ended up in our oceans. Focusing on the North Pacific Gyre (home to the North Pacific Garbage Patch), the ship and its crew have made multiple trips to this remote area in order to document and research the amount of garbage that collects in the gyre’s meeting-place of ocean currents. This great read from the CBC discusses the need to differentiate the tons of floating waste from Japanese tsunami debris, and look at the garbage patch as a problem that’s been accumulating over decades.
While on board, I had the pleasure of chatting with Jocelyn Turner, the ship’s cook, and asked her to take me on a tour of the kitchen. Having cooked for tree planters, I’m always curious to see how cooks manage to feed large groups in unusual circumstances; while I thought surviving mosquitos in the woods was tough, Jocelyn’s job made mine look like a Caribbean vacation. On some voyages, she’ll be cooking three meals per day for up to 25 people, 30 days in a row. All of it at sea. There’s no one to call if you’ve run out of milk, or if all your meat accidentally defrosts, or if your kitchen is moving up and down like a see-saw. With a galley kitchen below deck, she literally has to strap herself in, as well as everything she’s cooking with, just to prevent it all from hitting the wall (or floor, or roof). Have you ever tried preparing dinner for 25 while on a roller-coaster? Me neither, and I don’t think I’d be very good at it. Here’s Jocelyn explaining a bit about life in the Kaisei’s kitchen, and her strategies for getting all that food to last throughout the trip. You can board the Kaisei this weekend if you’re in Steveston, or visit their website to learn more about the important work they do. Thanks again to Jocelyn for showing me around.
Cash and cards accepted