This is your indispensable companion to all that is fresh and delicious in Vancouver right now
Seriously, May? How did that happen? Hello again, my absolute favourite month! For the next few weeks, seek out menus loaded with first-of-the-season asparagus, spot prawns, pea tips and nettles to enjoy the absolute best, best best bites of the year. Nothing thrills as much as those first green (and pink!) mouthfuls heralding the start to another tasty season in B.C., so savour them all.
In-person events are back, Wine Fest is back this month and I feel like it’s time to snip the ribbon on rosé and patio season too, so get ready to dive into the deliciousness and don’t forget—bring napkins 'cause it’s gonna get messy—but in such a good, good way!
1. Spot Prawn Festival is back!
Facebook/Chefs' Table Society of British ColumbiaFew things have filled me with as much ‘things are getting back to normal’ energy as receiving an email from the Chef’s Table Society telling me that the city’s most beloved seafood festival will be returning to Fishermen’s Wharf on False Creek for an in-person celebration on Sunday, May 15th.
The Spot Prawn Festival is the Chefs’ Table Society’s annual fundraiser that allows the organization to support scholarships for culinary students, and to further education, mentorship and sustainability initiatives.
You can celebrate spot prawns at the festival this year in a few different ways:
- By purchasing fresh B.C. spot prawns directly from fishers;
- By checking out cooking demos and family-friendly activities;
- By ordering up a 10-ounce bowl of New England Chowder for $10 (take it to go if you like!);
- Or, with a $65 ticket, by enjoying a grazing-style spot prawn brunch with high-top tables and a tasting menu of six delicious B.C. spot prawn dishes.
Tickets (available through Eventbrite) must be purchased in advance for the brunch. Chowder tickets can be purchased in advance or at the dock.
2. Off-menu item alert
Instagram/skorzackOh, dang! I had my first taste of prime rib carne salada the other day, courtesy of chef Scott Korzack at Bacaro, located in the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Usually made with rump, carne salada is a Trentino speciality that sounds a little like a meat-based gravlax, as it’s made by dry-rubbing the beef in salt, pepper, juniper berries, rosemary, crushed garlic and bay leaves. Korzak has been experimenting with different cuts and rubs, and the result had me gurgling with delight. The texture! The taste! It’s so meltingly soft but with a dense meaty flavour. Just awesome. Ask if it’s available. Trust me.
3. Pinot noir alert
Averill CreekLove your Pinot noir? Score some tickets now to Noir Fest, a whole festival dedicated to the ‘heartache grape’ this summer at Averill Creek, Vancouver Island on June 25th and 26th. The food comes from Top Chef Canada All-Stars winner, the fabulous Nicole Gomes, and there will be some amazing wine producers lined up from the the Okanagan, Vancouver Island and Niagara, featuring 14 different wineries, including Martin's Lane, Tantalus, Blue Grouse and Kutatas. It should be an absolute humdinger of a weekend and a great chance for an Island mini-break!
Tickets go on sale on May 4th at 10:00 a.m.
4. Day-drink Mezcal on the Alimentaria Patio
Facebook/Alimentaria MexicanaI finally made it to Alimentaria on Granville Island and although I’m still sad to not see Edible Canada there, it’s wonderful to see an exciting new business thriving in that space, especially one that shares Edible Canada’s passion for authenticity. Hit up their market space in the back for fresh salsas, sauces and chilis, (you get 10 percent off when you show them your dining receipt), and make sure you don’t miss out on their Cinco de Mayo Beef Birria take-home taco kits. Settle onto the sun-trap patio to enjoy a spot of day-drinking mezcal and fresh fruit juice cocktails (although, I gotta say, their horchata is superb too!) with a side of their seed and feta-spiked guacamole, and maybe an order or two of their chorizo verde tostada and albacore tuna ceviche.
5. Drink Untangled Black Plum and Basil Cider
Facebook/Untangled Craft CiderOh my gosh, this cider from Klippers Organic Acres is delicious! Organic apples, black plums and basil come together in an intoxicatingly refreshing blend. On the nose, you get a bouquet of fragrant rose petals, then take a sip for a super-refreshing whoosh of juicy fruit with a whisper of basil at the end. It’s unique and absolutely wonderful. Look for it at Farmer’s Markets at Trout Lake and Hastings, and see if it’s still on tap at the Alibi Room.
6. Feel the neighbourhood love at Dachi
Instagram/Dachi VancouverI popped into Dachi for dinner last week for the first time in years and was blown away by the happy, humming neighbourhood vibe—I loved it! Everything I tried from the small menu was on point, including the first season’s asparagus from Cawston and a super-tasty tuna tataki. Menu items change up according to what’s seasonal and available, and there are always some fun bottles of wine (mostly in the no/low-intervention camp) to try by the glass. We took home a gloriously fruity, fresh red from their excellent little bottle shop too. Do yourself a favour and make a reservation soon.
7. Pick up pastry from Remi Patisserie
Facebook/Remi.patisserieI’m very much not a dessert person, so it’s been a sweet surprise to me that I’ve been enthusiastically recommending Remi Patisserie to absolutely anyone who will listen. I ate two of the best little desserts I’ve had in recent memory there the other day: a sensational salted egg financier—all crisp, buttery and perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury; and a black sesame mochi that was the absolute bounciest thing—so good with grainy sesame paste and a sweetened cream filling. It's currently only open from Thursday to Sunday, and I strongly recommend you order online for a pick-up. It's impossible to not try these treats (and let’s be honest, everything else off the menu.)
8. Get your outdoors fun in before Juneuary arrives
BreadXButterOrder up a seafood picnic box from Bread & Butter, which comes packed with oceanic delights for two including: marinated scallops, poached prawns, house-cured salmon, tuna salad, seaweed butter and bread. It comes with a choice of a Pellegrino drink for just $45. My tip—if you don’t have to go to work afterwards, upgrade and bag a bottle of B.C. bubbles (I am obsessed with Township 7’s 2018 Seven Stars Polaris right now for a terrific foamy traditional method sparkler), or if you do have to head back to the office after lunch, you could try a couple of cans of Joie’s Tiny Bubbles instead.
9. Fun new festival alert
Facebook/Sechelt Downtown Business AssociationOh, this sounds like a good time—check out the Taste of Sechelt festival, Saturday, May 28th on the Sunshine Coast! On offer: "A day of shopping and exploring, with a special focus on wine and cuisine. The festival includes both a daytime event with complimentary tastings at downtown retail shops, and an evening event featuring 25 winery tables, each pouring four to five wines." Enjoy live surf rock and rockabilly from Joe Rotundo and the Interstellar Riders at the evening event paired perfectly with both B.C. and imported reds, whites and bubbles, plus appies from local restaurants.
10. Deal alert at the Hawksworth Bar
HawksworthI’m always a fan of being able to feel fancy at a knockdown price, so yeah, you’ll definitely be seeing me at the bar at Hawksworth enjoying their steal-of-a-deal cocktail hour every day from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. House highballs and beers are $6; featured cocktails, including Negronis, martinis and Aperol spritzes, are just $7; and wine is $8 a glass, or $39 for a bottle. On the food side, you can score a half dozen oysters for just $9 and the best deal of all—a classic Hawksworth burger (one of the tastiest in town) with either a beer or an old fashioned for $19. Yes, please.