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

*Snips ribbon* I declare patio season to be well and truly open! Make the most of it, gang, 'cause you and I both know that devilish wretch called Juneuary is in the wings, waiting to bring us all down with torrential rain, a sense of dread and a feeling that summer will never ever happen. But in the meanwhile, get out there, dammit! Go buy spot prawns straight off the boat, check out the Farmers Market openings and drink some new release B.C. rosé like a boss. You know it makes sense.

As always, don’t forget to bring napkins, it’s gonna get messy...

 

1. Say congrats to Vancouver’s newest cocktail champ!

cocktail champ Chris EnnsVancouver continues to be at the forefront of Canadian cocktail culture, and thanks to Chris Enns of the Botanist at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, we can add another international award to the growing list of why this city rocks! Chris just won the 2018 Woodford Reserve Master of the Manhattan in a contest in New York. I asked Chris how he felt after hearing he’d won this prestigious award.

“Winning the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience was quite a thrill after going through two rounds in Vancouver and Louisville and then the finals in New York. I feel incredibly proud to be able to represent Canada and our ability to create amazing experiences with our cocktails. To hear Charles Joly announce my name while behind the NoMad bar will be something I’ll always remember!”

For the Manhattan Experience, Chris had to make two cocktails: an interpretation on the classic Manhattan and an original creation. His classic had the twist of adding Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco, and his original cocktail, El Barrio, comes with a cold brew coffee ice cube and features Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Lustau Vermut Rojo, Odd Society Mia Amata Amaro and Apothecary ‘The Darkness’ Bitters. Yum! Hop on over to the Botanist bar to see Chris and get the 2018 Master of the Manhattan to mix you a cocktail!

While we’re talking all things Pac Rim, hats off to ‘em as they’ve just announced that they are going 100 percent strawless in support of Ocean Wise. To celebrate, they’re donating $1 from every Sablefish Motoyaki roll sold for the remainder of the year to Ocean Wise’s #plasticwise efforts. The oceans say thank you!

 

2. Go to all the cool events

DocksideHead to the Spring Patio Tasting at Dockside Restaurant (pictured) on Thursday, May 24th in association with the Coal Harbour Liquor Store. Dockside has just scored its eighth consecutive Georgia Straight Golden Plate Awards 'Best Patio' win and plans to celebrate! Guests will be able to enjoy wines from all over the world, along with local craft spirits and beers. Tapas will be served and the ticket also include a voucher good for $10 off any purchase at Coal Harbour Liquor Store.

Meet fellow food-lovers and listen to speakers from the local food scene who are kicking ass and taking names at Vancouver Foodster’s Food Talks on May 8th. This month the theme is: Crushing it in our Food Community and the event features two of my favourite bad-ass women, Shobna Kannusamy from Soirette Pastry Boutique and Dana Lee Harris from the BC Hospitality Foundation.

Celebrate the best of the Fraser Valley on May 19th at the Beer & Food Festival with live music, craft breweries, local food vendors and much more right outside the wooden walls of the Fort Langley National Historic Site. The Fort has very cool oTENTik tent-cabins which you can book, so make a night of it as entry to the Fort is included in your ticket!

Seven of Vancouver's master chocolatiers will go head-to-head on May 10 for The Gourmet Warehouse 6th annual Chocolate Challenge. The proceeds from this year's event will benefit the Vancouver Firefighter Charities Snacks for Kids program, Project Chef, and the Strathcona Backpack Program. The event takes place on May 10th from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at The Gourmet Warehouse. Tickets are $79 per person and include wine and assorted food stations.

 

3. Field trip fun

field tripRevel in the very best of the Okanagan with the amazing Joy Road Catering crew who’ll be hosting a Sip & Savour event with wine and hors d’oeuvres at Pentâge Winery in Penticton, overlooking Skaha Lake on May 5th. On May 12th, they gear up for a multi-course wine-inspired dinner at Painted Rock Vineyard. Celebrate the beauty of spring at these gorgeous wineries!

Vancouver Island’s Blue Grouse Winery is hosting a musical feast, Eat, Drink and All That Jazz, on Sunday May 20th. Chef Bill Jones of Deerholme Farm has teamed up with renowned New York City composer and pianist Misha Piatigorsky to host a magical and unique food, drink and arts evening.

I've gotta say, I love a train and adore wine, so this sounds like a hoot! Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive wineries are teaming up with the Kettle Valley Railway to host the Grand Sommelier Express on June 9th. This unique tasting events features live music, food and wine, plus (choo choo!) a chance to take a 75-minute trip on a heritage steam train with an on-board wine tasting. There’s also a stand-up grazing reception with wine, cider and beer stations with food provided by Brodo Kitchen. Pick an afternoon or evening ride!

 

4. Missing the Sedin twins? Eat your feelings

pie holeErin SousaThe Pie Hole has added two new flavours to their pie lineup, with profits being donated to charity. The Swedish-inspired Apple Streusel Pie and Meatball Pie are tributes to everyone’s favourite Swedish twins who recently announced their retirement from hockey. Pie-Hole-in-chief, Jenell said: “We love giving back to the community and our beloved twins are also notorious for their generosity throughout their long careers in our city.” Profits from the sale of these new pies will be donated to the Canucks For Kids Foundation.” You can order here.

 

5. Combine food and culture "In My Kitchen"

In My KitchenThis seems like a super-cool take on pop-up dining/cooking classes: “In My Kitchen” has cooks from different ethnic backgrounds welcome diners into their homes for a, "shared, cross-cultural cooking experience, where diners learn family recipes, participate in traditional cooking techniques, and share a delicious multi-course meal in the host cook’s home.”

So far there are four workshops available: Traditional Middle Eastern Family Meal with Suha; Spanish Paella and Olive Oil Tasting with Luise; Farm-to-table Swiss Family Favourites with Celine; and Exploring Japanese Flavours with Naomi. Each experience can accommodate up to six diners, is 4.5 hours long and costs $125 per person. I’ve not tried it yet, but it does sound pretty awesome and a great way to share your love for food and culture.

 

6. Get your hands on the Holy Crab at lunchtime

Holy Crab lobster grilled cheesIf you truly love eating, you probably enjoy eating with your hands... which means, like me, you probably adore the Holy Crab, where you get to dive straight in and double-fist superb seafood. Excellent news, fellow cutlery-dodgers! They are now open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week, with a lunch service from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and they take reservations. Brand new on the menu treats include a Lobster Grilled Cheese with fresh lobster meat, mozzarella, dill and cheddar Béchamel sauce (pictured), and lobster butter and Dirty Rice featuring clams, mussels, prawns, calamari, and catfish.

 

7. Book tickets now to Top Drop

Top DropCharles ZuckermanIt’s the coolest wine fest in Canada and it’s happening right here in Vancouver on May 17th and 18th! I asked Top Drop co-creator Kurtis Kolt for five great reasons to hit up the event this year:

  1. “A handful of natural wine producers, like Italy’s Elisabetta Foradori, a superstar to cool-kid somms around the world...
  2. A boatload of Barolo from legends like G.D. Vajra and Luigi Scavino...
  3. Because it’s likely you’ve never had wine from Croatia...
  4. Juicy, site-specific gems from California like Ridge Vineyards and  Spottswoode Estate Winery...
  5. Bubbles a-plenty, from champagne to Naramata!”

Sounds pretty legit to me... go, buy tickets! Drink amazing things!

 

8. Check out the all-new Spot Prawn Fest

spot prawn festivalThe Spot Prawn Festival is back for its 12th year at False Creek on May 12thbut this year with a new twist. It’s now free to watch the cooking demos and access the docks. There’s also a $10 (plus tax and service) spot prawn chowder option, which comes with Terra Bread that you can book for one of four time slots between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., thus avoiding any long lineups. Or you can go spot prawn crazy with the $60 grazing-style brunch ticket, which offers a tasting menu of six different spot prawn dishes from big name chefs including Vikram Vij and Shelome Bouvette across two servings from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1:30 to 3 p.m. Book a ticket now as this will sell out and it’s the Chefs' Table Society's main fundraising event which goes to fund education, mentorship and sustainability initiatives across the province.

 

9. Eat all the Dim Sum at 1886

dim sumCalling dim sum fans aged 19 and over! 1886 on the third floor of the Parq Vancouver (that’s where the casino is, so hence the age limit) is now offering all-you-can-eat dim sum every weekend between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The restaurant recently won a Critic's Choice Award at the Chinese Restaurant Awards for its Szechuan Style Braised B.C. Sturgeon Fillet in Spicy Chili, Clay Pot dish. On offer you can go nuts on classics such as shrimp dumplings, shu mai, barbecued pork buns and seafood congee, as well as new twists such as duck and mashed taro puff or deep-fried durian pastry. Thriftily you can have as much as you like for just $38.88 per person. Click here to view the full dim sum menu, or to make a reservation at 1886 call 778.370.8500 or book online at Open Table.