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

Dare we call it pre-summer yet? I hope so. I want a reason to dump the umbrella and work my cute floral parasol in the sunshine instead. Asparagus! Rhubarb! Spot prawns! All the first delights of the growing season are upon us, and weeks and weeks of enjoying each fresh new tasty treat is spread out before us like a picnic blanket in the park.

Dive in with both hands, and don’t forget those napkins, 'cause you know it’s gonna get messy...

 

1. Check out all the fun events

Odd SocietyRD CaneTwo of my favourite groups of people are getting together to host a Mother’s Day High (Proof) Tea, I’ll let them tell you about it:

Odd Society is pleased to partner with chef Tobias Grignon and host Toby Neuman of Rabbits Foot Culinary to present a unique afternoon tea experience on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12. A delightful arrangement of intricate bites will be served along with a choice of warming teas and imaginative cocktails rooted in authentic flavour profiles including fermented, smoked, nutty, green, floral and sweet. In keeping with the tradition of a leisurely food event that takes place sometime between lunch and supper, two seatings are offered for High (Proof) Tea: 12:30 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.  High (Proof) Tea is priced at $42 plus tax and ticket fee per person and includes tea, savouries and sweets, and one cocktail. Tickets are available online.

This sounds like my dream evening... Join renowned cheese expert and co-owner of Les Amis de Fromage cheese stores, Allison Spurrell and sommelier Pam Cohen, as they pair a selection of cheeses with six wines. Wednesday, May 8th at 6:30 p.m. sharp to 8 p.m. at Marquis Wine Cellars (1034 Davie Street, Vancouver). Tickets available online.

Jump on the SeaBus and head on over to the Shore for the Shipyards Friday Night Market which is back every week from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., May 3 to September 27th. Skip dinner and get your snack on with 30+ local food trucks and food vendors set up in hot food alley. New this year the vegan double-decker Buddha-Bus from the owners of Buddha-Full and Truckin BBQ. Returning favorites include Reel Mac & Cheese, Rolling Cashew, Tacofino, Mama's Fish & Chips, Taters and Urban Wood Fired Pizza. There’s also a beer garden with local breweries, wine, cider and Nude vodka and gin sodas, plus live music and plenty of stalls to browse.

 

2. Take a road trip

Whistler cocktailJoern RohdeI was up in Whistler recently and got super excited about the new cocktail program at the Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont. So many tasty treats! This sexy smoky number (pictured above) ticks all the right boxes: creates instant drink envy at the bar, Instagrammable as F, and—most importantly—insanely good. The Duck in the Fog is part of a seasonal collaboration with the Tofino Distillery, featuring their Old Growth Cedar gin, Green Chartreuse, lime, a house-made juniper berry syrup, rosemary, egg white and Applewood smoke. Oh, dang!

Head up to Oliver for a special celebration of the excellent Culmina’s new white and rosé releases, including a very special new wine from the Number Series. This is paired with a lavish multi-course dinner featuring the extraordinary talents of local food champions, Joy Road Catering. May 18th at 6 p.m., tickets $140

Over on Vancouver Island, Unsworth Vineyards is throwing an all-day party to launch their new releases from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. On offer, a tasting through the new wines with winemaker Dan Wright, vineyard tours with the vineyard manager, Andrew Watts, live music, and plenty of other fun. In the evening, enjoy a Big Day Out winemaker dinner with Chef Maartyn and enjoy four courses inspired by the traditional flavours from the Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris regions of France. Winemaker Dan will guide diners through the new releases perfectly paired to this feast.

 

3. Shrimp it up

side shrimpCassandra Anderton captured this shrimp dish by Ned Bell at the 10th Anniversary Skipper Otto GalaSure, I know that it’s spot prawn season and if I know you, you’ll be counting down the days until you can get your prawn on down at Fisherman’s Wharf, 'cause hey, spotties are damn delicious.

But—and bear with me here—have you considered celebrating the humble B.C. sidestripe shrimp too? Just like the spot prawn, it’s Ocean Wise-approved, and they also start their lives as males and make a switcheroo to females after two to three years (yup, spot prawns are hermaphrodites!) Sidestripes are caught in remote areas around Prince Rupert and the Georgia Straight, so they’re nearly always de-headed and frozen on the boat which means they taste incredibly fresh. They’re smaller, but pack a super-sweet, almost lobster-like flavour. I had some cooked simply in garlic butter with wilted spinach the other day and they were amazing! Oh, yeah and they're less expensive than spot prawns. Support your local fishmonger and pick up a pound (with a couple of spot prawns!) today.

 

4. Devour the bison board at Forage

bison boardStart making plans now to go to Forage on Saturday and have the bison board. Holy crap, it’s incredible! Made to be shared by two greedy people and only available one day a week at 6 p.m., this is a real wow meal made even more wondrous by its gloriously geeky cheffy attention to detail.

What’s on the board changes every week, but treats such as bison short rib, braised bison risotto, strip, prime rib, heart tartare, cured bison meats, marrow, and bison and buffalo brie spring roll have been in rotation. If you want one for sure, you have to book your place at the bar for 6 p.m. via this link. It’s $100 for the giant board for two, or you can pair it with a bottle of Blue Mountain Estate Winery Pinot Noir, La Frenz Winery Cabernet Sauvignon or Niche Wine Co. Foch for $160 (plus taxes and gratuities).

Heads up: beware the gravy... it’s basically the best thing I’ve ever tasted. if I were a more polite person, I’d probably not have unashamedly scraped the board with my fingers to get the last of that ambrosial jus in my face. But honestly, it was too good not to. BYOBib.

 

5. Order the cauliflower at Pidgin

cauliflower pidginJuno KimNever in my life did I imagine that I would be groaning with pleasure and slapping a dining companion away from a plate of cauliflower, and yet that is exactly what happened at Pidgin the other night. So here we are in this strange new world where anything can happen.

New to their menu, this spicy miso-fried cauliflower dish has an ultra-umami kick, aromatic basil, a breezy lil’ kiss of mint and is scattered with sesame seeds. My note on this to convince you all that you've gotta try this is: "So punchy! Ate this and literally sat around bellowing f***, that's good." And really, is there anything better to be said? I think not.

 

6. Say yes to large format at the Mackenzie Room

Mackenzie RoomI love the Mackenzie Room. It’s a great spot for hanging with friends over a family meal, sharing all the delicious things on the menu with their killer I Want it All (IWIA) option and chatting with the brilliant team there.

They’re trying something new every Tuesday and Wednesday in May with Form@ featuring pairings from local wineries and breweries in a four-course large format dinner series. Each installment of Form@ will focus on a separate protein. May 7th and 8th serves up lamb with amazing Bella sparkling wines; May 14th and 15th sees Lock and Worth and Nichol Vineyards pairing with BBQ; the ocean and beers with Steel & Oak is on the menu on for the 21st and 22nd; and finally veggies play the star along with wines from Vancouver Island’s Rathjen Cellar on May 28th and 29th.

Call 604-253-0705 to reserve your spot, 'cause this sounds awesome.

 

7. Sounding the oyster happy hour klaxon

wildtale oystersShuck me! WildTale (in Yaletown and in Olympic Village) is offering a new extended double-dip happy-hour menu daily from 3 p.m to 6 p.m. (2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Sunday at WildTale Olympic Village) and from 9 p.m. to close at both locations.

On offer, buck-a-shuck oysters (minimum of six) along with small plates starting at just $2.75, such as seafood ceviche, Hawaiian tuna, B.C. salmon poppers and AAA beef carpaccio. Drinks include draft beer and highballs for $5, Moscow Mules and Negronis for $6, and a selection of B.C. red and white wines starting at $6 per glass. See you there!