This is your indispensable companion to all that is hot, fresh and freaking delicious in Vancouver right now
As I write this, I’m staring out of my window at a gloomy white sky whilst wearing a sweater. The last days of May have served up a slice of unseasonably cold weather, but I know that those glory days and endless sunset nights are almost here, so suck it, cold snap, summer is on the way!
There are so many tasty treats this month—from soft serve espresso drinks in Victoria to B.C. Pinot Noir in the Okanagan, and more beers and ciders than you can shake your growler at right here in Vancouver.
You know the drill: bring napkins, it’s gonna get messy…
1. Screw the horrifying after-stank: eat all the new season asparagus
Shelley MacArthurScience tells me that there are people in the world who are fortunate enough not to be cursed with smelling the dreaded ‘pee stank’ after eating that most delicious of spring veggies, the asparagus. A wholly unscientific social media poll showed that yeah, around 30 percent of my friends had never experienced the annual spring dining pleasure/pain of chowing down on glorious fresh char-grilled asparagus spears dressed simply with olive oil, salt and pepper and finished with a squish of lemon juice, then flailing with horror in the bathroom the next morning as you’re greeted with the unmistakable aroma of ‘asparagus pee.’ Sure, it’s a grim whiff, but I say: worth it, there is no gain without some pain, after all. Hit up the farmers’ market and bag some fresh this weekend.
2. Victoria soft serve and coffee PSA
Discovery CoffeeGood news folks, summer is back on the Island, because soft serve is happening again at the Blanshard location of Discovery Coffee. Get your cool fix of affogato, nitro floats and stratocasters all season long!
3. Eat the buttermilk-fried eggplant Parmesan at La Pentola
I ate at La Pentola a few weeks ago and was bowled over by how utterly wonderful everything was—from the alarmingly crushable pre-dinner pistachio mai tai in the bar to the bouncy house-made ricotta gnudi dumplings in a bright San Marzano sauce and the freaking amazing buttermilk-fried eggplant Parmesan scattered with crunchy pine nuts. I haven’t been there in forever, and maybe you haven’t either, so add it back into your restaurant rotation 'cause man, it was fun to sit there stuffing ourselves with delicious on-point Italian, enjoying the breeze from the open windows and people watching on Davie in Yaletown.
4. Say cheers to 10 years of Vancouver Craft Beer Week
Celebrate craft beers and ciders from May 31st to June 9th at the annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week festival which has dozens of excellent events across the city—from tap takeovers and trivia nights to an oyster shucking how-to and beer and burlesque shows. It all finishes with a two-day party at the PNE with live music, food, games, and art plus an amazing 100 craft breweries and cideries pouring over 300 beers and ciders on-site. Single-day tickets, weekend passes and VIP tickets are available now, starting at $39.
5. Book this culinary experience for visiting friends and family
Say thank you to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts for solving the perennial ‘how to entertain visitors’ problem with their new West Coast Culinary Experience. This is a deep dive into the flavours of B.C. which takes in a guided walking tour of Granville Island, a sommelier-led interactive B.C. wine tasting, a cooking demo of traditional West Coast flavours, such as recipes from local First Nations, or how to clean, filet and debone a whole salmon, and finally a three-course meal at PICA’s Blue Hat Bistro. You can book this as a lunch or dinner experience (tours begin at 10 a.m. or 3 p.m.) and it runs daily until October 31st. For more information or booking, call: 604.734.4488 or email.
6. Go to all the fun events
I was lucky enough to spend some time with talented chef and food writer, Trine Hahnemann, a couple of years ago. The Scandi-star is in town promoting her new book, Copenhagen Food: Stories, Traditions and Recipes on June 4th at Inform Interiors. They’re hosting a free event, so drop by and pick up a copy!
Ever since my first visit to Minami in Yaletown years ago, I have loved the cute patio in the back, so I’m glad to see them use this space with a one night-only long table dinner on June 25th. On offer: “the freshest catches from both land and sea, and local garden harvests, prepared with our signature Aburi flair paired with the season’s finest wines.” On the menu, seven courses featuring Haida Gwaii halibut, Sayori, Atlantic lobster tail, smoked char caviar, Japanese A5 wagyu, and Brome Lake duck. Mmm...
Well, this sounds amazing: a night of blind tasting 16 or more of B.C.'s best Syrah in the B.C. Iconic Reds series. This is happening on June 13th at Sutton Place Hotel at 7 p.m. Wines so far include: B.C. Wine Studio Siren’s Call, Black Hills, Black Swift, Bonamici, Church and State, Gold Hill, Hester Creek, Laughing Stock, Le Vieux Pin, Painted Rock, Poplar Grove, Road 13, and Thornhaven. No special sommelier skills are needed as there will be a guide on how to judge and score the wines, and special guest John Schreiner will be on hand too. Find out more here.
Calling all sake fans! Celebrate the start of Japan’s Reiwa era (when Prince Naruhito became emperor of Japan on May 1) with a special multi-course feast from chef Masahiro Omor showcasing the highly prized sakes of boutique brewery Nakashima at Yuwa on June 12th. The sakes featured will include the ultra-rare Gold Medal Junmai Daiginjo, seasonal House Junmai, Kimoto Junmai, Yamahai Honjozo and Umaji Yuzu, among others. Book now!
7. Drinks trend: rosé cider
Obvs, as usual I’ll be crushing rosé wine super-hard on patios this summer, but to add to that drink-pink vibe, I’ll be switching this up with rosé cider too. Pleasingly dry and totally delicious, I’ve tried two so far and suspect that we’ll be seeing more from B.C.’s growing craft cideries. Broken Ladder’s rosé is a crisp fruit-forward blend of B.C. apples and cherries with a pleasing floral note of hibiscus flower and sour cherries. Windfall’s Hail Mary is a blend of a dozen B.C. varietals including Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Spartan and lip-smacking, tart Saskatoon berries. Crisp, pink, pairs well with food and it’s a low-alcohol option at lunch, so give rosé cider a whirl!
8. Take a road trip for B.C. Pinot Noir
CK Stenburg Visuals, Chris StenburgIf you love the ‘heartache’ grape, there is no better place to be than the UBC Kelowna campus on August 17th for the BC Pinot Noir Celebration. Back for its fourth year, wineries from across the province will be pouring 35 Pinots (plus a palate-cleansing sparkling wine from Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards), along with a courtyard tasting salon featuring tasty bites from Joy Road, Waterfront Café and Catering, Frankie We Salute You, Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Winery, Vice and Virtue, Start Fresh Catering and Vancouver’s Wildebeest. Food and drink will be complimented by feeding the mind with information sessions hosted by UBC’s Okanagan Campus researchers, as well as breakout sessions where guests can learn more about Pinot Noir; most excitingly, Wine Folly superstar, Madeline Puckett will be delivering the keynote address. The evening ends with a cocktail-style dinner by Joy Road and Waterfront Café followed by live music featuring The Insiders. Book tickets now! This will sell out.