This is your indispensable companion to all that is fresh and delicious in Vancouver right now
Hope made a thoroughly unexpected appearance this month in the form of an early vaccination (thank you, Oxford/AstraZenaca), so after months and months of cramming in as many comforting carbs as possible, I found myself lusting after crunchy raw veggies dipped in a luscious tonnato sauce—sure, no butter, no cheese—but it tasted of happiness and good times. And for the first time in a while, I feel like joy may be on the menu again for us all.
So take whatever shot you're offered 'cause the sooner we hit herd immunity, the sooner we can go back to some kind of social normality. I miss crowded dining rooms!
And in the meanwhile—seek out those patio-less places who need your takeout orders, use FromTo to get your deliveries and grab a whole wad of napkins 'cause it’s still messy out there...
1. Celebrate spot prawns
Chefs' Table Society of British ColumbiaBefore I moved to Vancouver, the Spot Prawn Festival seemed to sum up everything that was exciting and delicious about the city: a fun day-long festival devoted to a simple (but oh-so-sustainable) shrimp. The festival will always hold a special place in my heart and this year there’s so much more to love as the event will be online for the entirety of the all-too-brief season starting on May 14th. Going virtual allows prawn-lovers to join chefs across B.C. and Canada to celebrate spot prawns. The main event of the celebration will be held on Saturday May 29th—buy a $25 ticket to access a grocery and equipment list, plus recipes to make a three-course dinner with chefs including Angus An of Maenam, Ned Bell and Stacy Johnston of the Naramata Inn, and Ken Nakano of Aura in Victoria, as well as, (drum roll, please) special guest and Order of Canada recipient chef Robert Clark. The host for the evening will be Lien Yeung, CBC Vancouver News anchor/reporter. Follow these hashtags to learn more about how to shop for, cook and enjoy spot prawns: #SpotPrawnFestival, #BCSpotPrawns and #CTSBelong.
2. Get your all-day breakfast from the Wallflower Diner
Wallflower DinerUnbelievably at the time of writing, the esteemed folks at city hall denied Wallflower their request for a patio. Yup, after the province shuttered indoor dining. So, let’s try and make it better—go see them for takeout. They’re doing all-day breakfast during this current lockdown—I can recommend their excellent breakfast poutine with bacon—as well as plenty on the menu for vegetarians and vegans, such as the Campfire Breakfast which includes a grilled veggie dog and tofu ricotta.
3. Picnic with Les Amis
les amis du FROMAGEOoooh, my favourite cheesemongers, Les Amis du Fromage are doing picnic packs stuffed with delights including cheese, charcuterie, crackers, chips and chocolate that come in an insulated picnic bag with a cheese board, cheese knife and bottle opener. Pick up only from their East Van location, these are a cracking bargain at just $99.
4. Get the Fluffy Egg Toast at Bread X Butter
Fluffy egg toast? I haven’t tried this yet, but man it sounds—and looks—amazing! I quizzed Bread X Butter’s chef Felix Zhou about it, and he told me: “The idea actually came from my wife Lisa, she saw it on instagram. She told me about it and asked if I could make something similar. The ‘perfect’ fluffy scrambled egg is made like an omelette on the flat top grill. I took the idea and came up with different fillings.” These include a Hawaiian mubusi take with spam, seaweed, cheese, and a pork floss variety with cheddar, crispy seaweed and kewpie mayo.
5. Stock up on Kam Wai Dim Sum
Kam Wai Dim SumHeads up fans of dim sum! Chinatown’s Kam Wai, home of all the excellent frozen dim sum, recently had a makeover and now offer up a deli counter with a much larger menu of takeout hot and cold items (and so many yummy things in their freezers). Hit ‘em up for treats such as fresh steamed bao, wonton soup and just-made har gow, and make it your regular stop for filling your freezer.
6. Taiwanese fried chicken PSA
J&G’sI’ll confess that I sometimes may spend a little too long greedily watching TikToks and Instas of J&G’s fried popcorn chicken being made and just droooooling. J&G, if you’re not familiar, is a Taiwanese chain with a small hole-in-the-wall store on Robson by Denman and another outlet at the Crystal Mall on Kingsway. Anyway—heads up, bird fans, they just added to their empire with a store in the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond.
7. Support Patio-less Lupo
LupoCalling Yaletowners! (Or are you Yaletonians?) Anyway. You folks! Fan favourite, Lupo restaurant is open for dinner pick-up and delivery from Wednesday to Sunday, 4 to 8 p.m. and they do not have a patio. So, step up! Think beautiful, thoughtfully made family-friendly Italian dishes, such as their dreamy soft polenta and meatballs, pillowy house-made gnocchi with a classic meat and tomato Bolognaise, and tender lamb shank ossobuco with a risotto Milanese. Make room for the Sicilian cannoli and add on a bottle of something fabulous to complete the perfect night in.
8. Eat all the asparagus
Vancouver Farmers MarketsI just devoured some of the first new-season asparagus—lightly tossed in olive oil and salt and pepper, grilled for a few minutes then given a squish of lemon juice. Holy! So, so, so good. Check out your farmers’ markets this weekend for bunches of the good stuff!