This is your indispensable companion to all that is fresh and delicious in Vancouver right now
Welcome back to the first You've Gotta Try This of 2022. Mood so far this year? Still deep in comfort eating mode: soup, oatmeal, banana-cocoa chia pudding. Wait... am I at the point in the pandemic where even chewing is too much? Yikes.
Join me and shake off those no-chew-blues and head out for some instant happiness this month in the form of the Hot Chocolate Festival, slurp up all the seasonal citrus, and maybe calm the eff down with functional delicious drinks from State B.
All that and more awaits, so grab those napkins, it’s gonna get messy...
1. Celebrate seafood with Ocean Wise month
Instagram: richmondnightmarketThe national Ocean Wise Seafood Festival is running for the whole month of February, celebrating sustainable seafood. I’m going to let the festival organizers speak for themselves here: “Overfishing is one of the greatest threats to our ocean with grave impacts on the food web and the livelihoods of millions of people worldwide. By simply changing the seafoods we eat people everywhere can help end overfishing, protecting our oceans and the lives that depend on them. Every dollar raised during the Ocean Wise Seafood Festival helps the Ocean Wise seafood program to provide easy-to-follow guidance for sustainable oceans. Collectively, choosing Ocean Wise seafood makes a difference for the fishers and farmers working to secure the health of our oceans, lakes, and rivers for generations to come.”
Check out participating outlets in Vancouver and beyond. Each festival item that you buy helps in the fight against overfishing.
2. Drink all the blood oranges now
Photo Credit: Olena SergienkoThe short but oh-so-intensely-sweet blood orange season is here and I urge you to join me in juicing these babies and enjoying them as a morning pick-me-up and then again as an exciting ingredient in an evening cocktail. The ever-excellent Difford’s Guide has this list of 20 cocktails which I am steadily working my way through. So far, I am absolutely loving subbing in blood orange juice in a Negroni. Cheers!
3. Switch to State B
Facebook/ State B Cannabis Beverage CoI’ve tried functional beverages before and always found they left something of a bad taste in my mouth, so when I heard that the one-woman whirlwind of deliciousness, Kelly Woods (ex-Gillespie’s Fine Spirits, Cordelia’s Locket, etc.) was launching a new line of drinks which blend the healing power of herb and flower essences with THC and CBD, I was ready to give them a try. Drawing on her years as a sommelier, distiller and creative bartender, State B Cannabis offers the most beautifully balanced flavours and active plant-based ingredients. such as ginko, guarana, matcha and blue spirulina. I loved the golden-coloured turmeric-infused Zing, and the soft florals of Sparkle with damiana, rose and hibiscus. You’ll find State B in cannabis dispensaries in B.C., and a cannabis-free range will be dropping in groceries in the spring under the Elevé label.
4. Go eat at the Irish Heather and tip like a drunk millionaire
Facebook/ The Irish HeatherLet’s talk about Seán Heather for a moment, the force behind so many beloved and brilliant Vancouver restaurants—from the Irish Heather to the Salt Tasting Room. I read a story in Van Mag about the closure of his super-sexy Open Outcry spot, which was illustrated with a note from the restaurant detailing all the pivots and switches that they’d tried to stay in business through COVID—to no avail—which absolutely broke my heart.
So, to then read later in the day that he was offering hospitality industry folks a free dinner twice a week made me well up again. So, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, if you’re in the industry, you have some place to go for dinner and a beer between 5 and 7 p.m. This is hospitality as a verb, not just an adjective, and it’s a gorgeous thing to see. Not in the industry? Go support this champ at their new Chinatown location, so he can keep doing what he’s doing.
5. Celebrate more chances to enjoy Hot Choc Fest
Photo credit: Rich WonThere's another week or so of the Hot Chocolate Festival to enjoy (it ends on February 14th), and I’m guessing even the most ardent fan hasn’t made more than a dent in the 100-plus flavours on offer this year. So, head on out there and slurp up some instant sugar-rush happiness and support the city’s most wholesome culinary event.
I always love everything Soirette does; this year they’ve teamed up with Scuié’s Yaletown and Pender Street locations, so head by and try their Venetian carnival-inspired Mask-querade pistachio-white-chocolate creation with a slice of spiced cardamom and fennel shortbread.
My other pick is over at Kafka, which surely wins the daftest title with 'Drove my Dulce to the Leche, but the Leche was Chai'. Ouch. Let’s hope they redeem themselves with their blend of dark and milk chocolate with house-made dulche de leche and a hint of masala chai. This comes with a 70 percent dark chocolate brownie with a dulche de leche swirl.
6. Make like you’re in Spain at Jamoneria by ARC Imports
ARC importsARC Imports has been keeping the city supplied with superb produce from Spain for some time now, but I only recently discovered that they’ve opened a tapas bar at their Richmond space which is open from Thursday to Sunday. The menu changes most weeks; I really love this concept as you can try premium hams, conservas cheeses, etc., and then buy them to take home to host your own tapas night. Best of all, they have a great selection of Spanish wines, cava, sherry, and vermut (delicious Spanish vermouth) too. Reservations essential.
7. Meet Kevin & Kevin
Facebook: Kevin & KevinI missed the launch of this funky 'cold-pressed juice, breakfast and lunch by day,' and 'cocktail lounge by night' spot in Chinatown, but just looking at the menu (damn, the weekend brunch looks lit!) makes me want to fix that error immediately. This is such an inclusive offering. Lashings of vegan, low- and no-alcohol, plus (of course) gluten-free options a-plenty. I’m hearing good things about the salad bowls, Cuban sandwich and the Sassy Spuds which come with smoked cheddar, egg, smashed avocado and crispy bacon. Hungover? Their excellent juice and smoothie menu with booster blends should do the trick.