This is your indispensable companion to all that is hot, fresh and freaking delicious in Vancouver right now

Well, hello birds, sky and little snowdrops! It is so nice to see you again. I’m writing this on what feels like the first day in a million years that it wasn’t dark about five minutes after lunch. I closed my eyes and if I tried really hard, I could imagine patio season just a few weeks away. Sure, there’s plenty of rain to get through first, but guys, it’s coming!

So, this month, pop your cork at amazing bubble deals, eat breakfast for dinner at a super-cool brunch hybrid pop-up, and definitely head on over to The Drive and give all your disposal income to the fine folk at Fets who have been through the mill recently.

Do not forget your napkins, people, it’s gonna get messy...

(Oh, and PS, the usual Valentine’s Day dining rules apply: if you are serious about delicious food, then go out on the 13th or 15th instead; avoid weird pink menus and heart-shaped guff, and the emotional horror of a night with couples who have gone out to eat because they felt they had to, rather than wanted to. Blurgh.)

 

1. Support Fets Whisky Kitchen

fetsFets Whisky KitchenSome achingly dumb law enforcement went down on The Drive recently.  I’m sure we can all agree that during a fentanyl crisis that has claimed the lives of some 1100 people in the city over the past year, the very best use of the province’s time and money is definitely carrying out raids on whisky bars, keeping us all safe from the horrors of specialty single cask spirits from the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. *Epic eye roll*

There’s been plenty written about this act of lunacy, which stems from B.C.’s embarrassingly outdated policy on wholesale liquor distribution, but what can be done? Well, sign the petition, head on over to Fets Whisky Kitchen and spend some money on delights such as their 40 Creek whisky ribs, whisky corn fritters, or their bangin’ free-run Creole chicken wings, and write to your MLA pointing out that when the law is an embarrassment like this one, it’s time for a change.

 

2. Half-price Champagne Mondays at The Keefer!

The Keefer Bar*POP* Indulge in some serious Monday-Funday bubble action at The Keefer Bar with their outstanding 50 percent off all bubbles offer. Sure, it’s not new, but it’s always worth a reminder that every Monday you can dive into top deals such as Nicolas Feuillata Brut Rosé for $103.50, Perrier Joët Belle Epoque for $230, and get a blistering deal on Dom Perignon Brut for just $276, pretty much the same price as the liquor store.

“I don't think anyone can complain at the bottles I selected off our list," manager Keenan Hood told me. “The price is less than $20 over cost. The Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé is a beautiful, clean fruity rosé; the Belle Epoque is a glorious bottle with floral notes and a great balance of citrus and honey; and then there is the famous Dom Perignon! There aren't too many things that you can hold in your hand that will make you feel like you did something right today like holding a glass of Dom.”

 

3. Check out the cool events

Joe FortesFeeling broke but gotta brunch? Joe Fortes has the answer: from February 3rd to 25th, you can pick from three different kinds of eggs Benedict (classic, apple and fennel sausage and BLT) for just $9.95 during weekend brunch (Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Bargain!

It’s all about the honey on February 21st at Campagnolo ROMA when they throw a collaborative dinner with Raintown Bees to raise money for Brian Saunders's 'Beekeeping 11' program, which teaches skills to young offenders at the Burnaby Youth Custody Services Centre. Five honey-kissed courses are on offer at the Propolis dinner for $110, which includes locally produced beverage pairings.

Vancouver Foodster is back with his third annual Pizza Polooza event, offering up a chance to eat your way through tasting plates of different types of pizzas from Neapolitan and Roman to New York and South Indian. Early bird tickets are available for $35 before February 11th (regular tickets are $60 after Feb. 18th).

Bag a ticket now for one of the most anticipated wine events of the year, the Wine for Waves event at the Four Seasons on Friday, April 13, which showcases the new spring releases from the Naramata Bench alongside delicious sustainable seafood bites from some of the city’s best restaurants with proceeds going to benefit Ocean Wise.

Because if you can’t get to New Orleans, then it’s possible that you could imagine yourself on Bourbon Street thanks to the scamps at Mamie Taylor’s who will be celebrating New Orleans’s 300th anniversary with two weeks of special Mardi Gras menus. Week one begins on February 2nd with crayfish bisque, jambalaya and beignets, while week two mixes things up on the 9th with oysters Rockefeller and king cake. Pair with classic New Orleans cocktails such as the La Louisiane, the Vieux Carré, the Sazerac and the Hurricane for the full Big Easy effect.

Homer St. Cafe and Bar has its regular tap takeover with Victoria-based Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. this month; the Hoperation Phillips Takeover event takes place between February 19 and 25th. Treats include a "Hoppy G&T cocktail made with their sensational Stump Gin, Phillips Tonic and a shot of Phillips Hop Drop liqueur, casks, and a selection of Phillips beer flights and draught beer alongside special dishes that incorporate the gin and beers on the Fresh Sheet all week long.” The week winds up with a family-style tasting dinner on February 25th.

 

4. Get voting in the Chinese Restaurant Awards!

Chinese Restaurant AwardsLeila PhotographIt’s the 10th anniversary of the Chinese Restaurant Awards, which were created to celebrate Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine, and they’re now the longest-running Chinese culinary awards event in the world. The hotly contested Diner’s Choice Awards offers up 21 different categories, including new categories such as Best Peking Duck and Best Spring Roll. Vote online until March 4th, as winners will be announced on March 5. Voters will have the chance to win a pair of round-trip tickets from Vancouver to Hong Kong via Hong Kong Airlines, and a first-class dinner either in Vancouver or Hong Kong!

 

5. Eat this cake

Soirette CNY cakeI saw a photo of this cake on Twitter and pretty much tried to eat my screen. Damn! Created especially for Chinese New Year, Soirette has knocked it out of the park with this light Vanilla Genoise soaked in a delicate yuzu syrup, filled with organic matcha buttercream, a delicious black sesame mousse and a drizzle of yuzu curd. Be the hero of any CNY celebration when you arrive with this masterpiece which serves 8 to 10 for $52.

 

6. Salute unsung heroes

Unsung HeroesBrandon HartOh my! It’s chef Frank Pabst’s 14th edition of his admirable Unsung Heroes seafood festival at Blue Water Cafe this year, which celebrates those lesser-known seafood gems with 10 percent of the proceeds going to benefit the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. Running until February 27th, guests are in for a treat with this year’s menu offering up such delights as Sturgeon Liver Pate, Octopus Bolognese, Slipper Limpet Paella and even a Sea Urchin Hot Dog. Fourteen years is a long time in Vancouver dining, and it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on the incredible hard work and commitment to sustainable seafood that Pabst and the team have made over the years, so thank them by making a reservation and see what it’s all about.

 

7. Winner, winner, breakfast for dinner

breakfastThis sounds awesome: a pop-up breakfast-for-dinner event featuring chefs Deniz Tarakcioglu (Café Medina) and Brad Miller (Red Wagon Café & Bistro Wagon Rouge) at the Red Wagon. On the menu at this ticketed dinner: çilbira manti (steamed dumplings and poached eggs), buttermilk pancakes, cookies and cream, and much, much more. Tickets are just $55 and I bet it’s gonna be terrific, so snap yours up now.

 

8. Like coffee? Love beer? Then you’ll adore Hopwired

hopwiredI dig the idea of this: a one-day festival focusing on craft beer and coffee, with coffee-infused-beer-roaster/brewer collaborations, and some 40 vendors to check out. Hopwired will take place on February 24th at the Croatian Cultural Centre, and tickets ($55) are going fast! Along with all-inclusive filtered/drip coffee and espresso, craft-beer tastings, and a local coffee market award show, there’ll be some fun live interviews to enjoy with roasters and brewers hosted by Aaron from the Cascadian Beer podcast. Cheers!

 

9. Give a warm welcome to Vancouver’s first vegan cheese shop

vegan cheeseBlue Heron CreameryAs a diehard dairy fan, you’d usually have to tie me up and force-feed me to get me to try vegan cheese... until I visited the Zend Conscious Lounge in Yaletown and had something of a transformative experience with chef Karen McAthy’s dairy-free cheeses, which were creamy, delicious and totally not what I’d expected!

So, say hello and welcome to Vancouver’s first vegan cheese shop, Blue Heron Creamery at 2410 Main Street, chef McAthy’s new creation, which is due to open any day now. Keep watching social media for the actual date, and head on over with an open mind and prepare to be dazzled by her selection of vegan cheeses, butters and yogurts.

 

10. Get theatrical and drink absinthe

absintheChannel your inner 18th century Romantic poet at Gotham, which currently offers several different kinds of absinthe, served up the authentically dramatic way with all the correct paraphernalia. I preferred Czech distillery Green Tree’s take ($14) with its authentic emerald colour, and bittersweet herbaceous soothing burn as it slips down the throat.

How is it served? Sit back and enjoy, as the water fountain (pictured above) with its icy water is prepared in place, with a glass of absinthe and a special slotted spoon over the top. Your bartender will dip a cube of sugar in the absinthe, then rest it on the spoon, and theatrically apply flames to caramelize the sugar. Water is slowly drip-, drip-, dripped over the cube until it’s melted into the drink which is now slightly diluted. Swirl, stir, savour that wonderfully boozy, slightly toasted flavour and and learn to love the ‘green fairy’ (as absinthe used to be known).