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

You guys! I was at brunch on Saturday in a buzzing room, with a long queue at the doorand it felt like absolute heaven. On the weekend, I spotted a tour bus in Stanley Park and welled up with tears. Are we kinda, sorta back? 

It feels like it. We’re heading into spring, Omicron feels like it’s in the rearview mirror, and sure, COVID absolutely isn’t done with us yetwe still need to mask up, take precautions and get ready for whatever the next variant throws at us, but in the meantime, get out there and devour all the delicious things!

As always, grab a big ol' pile of napkins 'cause it’s gonna get messy...

 

1. Stand with Ukraine

Kozak Ukraïnian EateryFacebook/Kozak Ukraïnian EateryOur hearts are broken for our Ukrainian friends and their families right nowglued to the news, fearing the worst, and wondering what on earth will happen next, and if their loved ones are safe. It is unimaginable. Food, as always, is love, so show you care by donating to the Ukrainian Red Cross and also by supporting Ukrainian businesses in the city, such as Kozak Homemade Ukrainian Food which has three outlets, including East Van, Gastown and New West; the legendary Ukrainian Village Restaurant on Denman (which has the best perogies); and order up a takeout supper from the Ukrainian Community Society of Ivan Franko on March 19th (f you have some free time, they need help with perogy making on Tuesdays and cabbage roll creation on Thursdays). 

 

2. Dive into Oysters 101 at Fanny Bay

Fanny BayFanny BayI absolutely love this for date night or a fun foodie friends hang out. Fanny Bay Oyster Bar and Shellfish Market has launched a ‘Sip, Shuck, Slurp’ experience for $100 per person. It’s a fun, educational evening all about oysters, and wine and beer pairings. Learn one-on-one how to shuck oysters, enjoy raw bar snacks, get a guided tasting to east and west coast oysters and their best pairings, and take home your own knife so you can shuck at home like a pro!
To book, email calvins@fannybayoysters.com

 

3. Double take: those white strawberry things? Not bitter!

2I’ve always loved the pretty piled-high fruits and berries in Granville Island Market and spotted what I thought were white strawberries. I was curious, so I asked, and discovered my new favourite thing: pineberries! I expected them to be bitterlike an unripened strawberrybut no, sweet, reminiscent of pineapples, crisp pears with a hint of strawberry. So cool! Beautiful on their own or macerated with a little sugar, they’re in-season from California (yes, I know, sorry, not local!) from January till October. Go bag some today! 

 

4. Try the doughnuts at Nukid

NukidNukidI get excited by any new doughnut trend, so I hightailed it over to Nukid on Robson to check out what wildly Instagram-able Korean-style delights they had in-store. I was not disappointed. I was excited about the cheese and potato twisted doughnut (it was a little Kraft Dinner-ish for me), but I inhaled the double-corn twisted doughnut, which had sweetcorn and cornflakes! Heads upalso recommending their deliciously doughy pretzel with a chunk of sweet butter filling. 

 

5. Head to Northern Italy via Carlino

pastaCarlinoIt’s all change on Alberni Street at the Shangri La. Their Chinese-Italian hybrid restaurant Miantao is out and a new northern Italian restaurant, Carlino, which pays homage specifically to the Friuli region is in. I had two dishes there which were easily amongst the best things I’ve tasted in years: the first was a silky sweetened, super-creamy house-made ricotta with slow-cooked dandelion, wildflower honey and a dried fruit-and-nut-studded ‘piza trentina’ bread. Holy! The next, a cute postage stamp-sized pasta stuffed with roast game that arrived on a lake of the most fragrant, buttery red wine and rosemary sauceI am still dreaming of it. It tasted extraordinary and I have spent the past two days urging everyone I know to just go there and have it.

I got spoiled rotten as I got to stay at the hotel, tooif you’ve something to celebrate, check out the ‘dine and dream’ package, which offers a tasting menu for two at Carlino, breakfast, valet parking and an early 10 a.m. check-in and late 3 p.m. check-out in a very sexy floor-to-ceiling window suite. Oh! And they have a cracking daily aperitivo from 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., with cocktails from $7 and snacks from $5. They have a deal for a bottle of Lambrusco, bread, olives and a snack for just $50 that needs to be your new go-to fancy-date-on-a-budget. 

 

6. Inhale the Quesabirria Tacos at Don Oso

Don OsoDon OsoI’ve been meaning to check out this Mexican spot for a while and man, it’s excellent! The quesabirria taco (a divine cross between a quesadilla and a taco that you dip into a meaty consommé) is magnificent: crunchy on the outside with cheese, deliciously overstuffed with fragrant, slow-cooked beef and more gooey cheeseand the dip is table-bangingly perfect. They have excellent Taco Tuesday menus at their Commercial and Hastings outposts, but seriouslyget the quesabirria and yeah, wear a bib. 

 

7. Celebrate 15 years in Gastown with Jules Bistro

Jules BistroJules BistroIf you love French food done right, then Jules Bistro in Gastown is likely on your list of favourite places to dine, so hats off to them celebrating 15 years in business this month! I adore their French onion soup gratinée, and their duck confit is pure joy. They’re offering 15 percent off all menu items from Tuesday, March 8 to Saturday, March 12, so if you’ve never stopped by, let this be a good reason to check 'em out. Oh—their happy hour is reliably excellent too with great by-the-glass deals and a decadent smoked salmon carpaccio. 

 

8. Get the Dill Salmon Rosti at Maxine’s 

Maxine’sMaxine’sI’ve praised the rosti at Maxine’s before, but never tried the smoked salmon and dill brunch version—holy F! It’s quite possibly the best brunch dish ever: the potatoes are crunchy on the outside and butter-soft inside, the dill cream cheese and smoked salmon is generously portioned, the eggs are cooked to perfection and it’s a joy to look at too. Damn! I can’t stop thinking about how good it was, and it’s dangerously available every single day till 3 p.m.