This is your indispensable companion to all that is hot, fresh and freaking delicious in Vancouver right now
Oh... hi, November. It’s so good to see you again. Here you are in all your crisp-fall-air-and-early-dark-nights glory and you’re making me fizz with longing for all the comforting comfort foods. Sure, summer is amazing, but fall has been fabulous so far this year and I am into it. There are some hella cool openings this month, plus fun events too, so drag yourself off the sofa away from Netflix, give home food delivery a miss for a night, and get your ass out there to eat all the things.
As always, grab napkins, it’s gonna get messy…
1. Get your tickets for the 2019 Vancouver International Wine Festival
Vancouver International Wine FestivalOne of the city’s best events is baa-aack! Mark your diary, as tickets go on sale November 1st for some of wine fest’s premiere events, including the Bacchanalia Gala Dinner and the International Festival Tasting. The 41st festival’s feature region is California and there will be 53 different wineries represented from the Sunshine State. Here are a few words from the press release to let you know about some of the treats on offer: “The eight-day wine and food extravaganza (February 23 to March 3) will showcase 160 wineries from 15 countries… pouring 1,500+ wines at 54 events.” You can see the winery list here.
2. Check social media to see when these beauties open
I’m super excited about the opening of two very different restaurants this fall: the first is Como Taperia, a Spanish-inspired restaurant and bar from a dazzling team that promises to bring an authentic slice of Barcelona/Madrid-style deliciousness to Main Street. This is one of my favourite bartenders, Shaun Layton’s first foray into ownership and he’s joined forces with Frankie Harrington (Meat & Bread, aka purveyors of the world’s finest porchetta sandwich) and chef Justin Witcher to bring this venture to life. I’m massively excited that they’ll have vermouth on tap (seriously, try it with spritz of soda, it’s amazing), plus “premium gins with unique tonics, cava by the glass and ‘all the sherry we can get our hands on’." On the restaurant side, they promise: "Tortilla Español cooked to order, steak and Padróns (peppers) and the finest chorizo…. (plus) hamburguesa con foie.” In short: yes, please!
The second comes as part of the Toptable Group, who honestly knock it out of the park each and every time with all their ventures: CinCin, Blue Water, Araxi, you name it—if it’s Toptable, it’s probably gonna be aces, so I’m really jazzed about their new Yaletown steakhouse, Elisa. The press release promises: "an extensive wood-fired menu of prime cuts from around the world, sustainable seafood and locally sourced, vegetable-forward dishes (i.e. the burrata, beets and carrots pictured at the top of this article). Tartares from hand-cut beef to smoked bison along with raw bar specialties like oysters on the half shell, seafood towers and cured fish and meats." Cincin’s amazing chef Andrew Richardson is heading up the charge and they’ll have a Grillworks Infierno wood-fired grill to cook on. Looks like a slam dunk to me.
3. Eat the rice pudding (and everything else) at St. Lawrence
I actually woke in the night last week and all I could think about was the incredible rice pudding at St. Lawrence: creamy, comforting, and stirred through with a sweet salt-spangled caramel. Oh man. That pudding is the best! If I’m dreaming of rice pudding, then I think that means it’s time to wholly embrace all things comforting, and there are few places in town that do comfort as well as St. Lawrence. Make a reservation, wear your most forgiving stretchy pants and have at it. There is no better time of year to eat perfectly cooked steaks with buttery sauces, decadent flaky pâté-stuffed puff pastries and pies, and, yes, that outstanding rice pudding. Embrace the season, embrace the dizzying joy of JC Poirier and his team’s divine cooking.
4. Shove these grilled cheese sandwiches in your face
Carb up, gang! We talked soup last month, but now it’s time to shine a light on the ultimate comfort sandwich: the humble grilled cheese, which this trio has elevated to something rather marvellous. Have at 'em...
- Combining puns and melted cheese, food truck Melt City’s So Gouda brings home the (smoked) bacon on sourdough with a lot of gouda (hurrah!) and caramelized onion and a brinjal pickle.
- Oh dang. I may be late to the party on 49th Parallel’s ‘new’ store on the corner of Thurlow and West Georgia, but let me remedy that right now and direct you there at once to dive into their excellent grilled cheese which comes on sourdough with four (count ‘em) different cheeses: mozzarella and Swiss on the inside and a blend of clarified butter, white cheddar and Parmesan on the outside. Again, I say: dang!
- I’m also a fan of Purebread’s ridiculously huge ‘ultimate’ grilled cheese which comes piled high with Gruyere and mozzarella to make it wonderfully ooey gooey and cheddar for a great flavour hit. Add bacon jam, caramelised onion and fresh-baked farmhouse bread and yes, welcome to carb coma heaven!
5. Give a F and eat some duck (wings)
A quick look around culinary trends in Vancouver would suggest that there are no fried birds worth having that are not chicken. Fried chicken is ubiquitous in the city right now; however… spoiler alert, there are other birds to eat and they are just as delicious.
Take, for example Pidgin, where they've switched up their long-time fan-favourite chicken wings for terrific confit duck wings, which come crisp on the outside and table-bangingly juicy on the inside, dusted with a sweet-spicy-gochugaru citrus spice.
If you’re lucky, you may also find crispy duck wings on the menu at Heritage Asian Eatery but—when they’re gone, they’re gone—this is part of chef Felix Zhou’s mission to use every part of the animal. I love the process for these wings: they’re marinaded in chili, garlic and five-spice powder for 48 hours, steamed for one hour and 15 minutes, then finally cooked in the fryer until crispy and seasoned with heritage spice blend. Mmmm...
6. Actual sausage fest happening
karandaevUrgh. The jokes kinda write themselves with this one. Swine Out Vancouver is an excellent cause (the Chef’s Table Society), featuring great chefs (St. Lawrence, Au Comptoir, Cinara and more), but seriously? You’re throwing an all-male chef (eight of 'em!) artisan charcuterie event and what? Expect that it wouldn’t get branded a sausage fest? Oh wait… there is a woman, but she’s on dessert. Organizers, please: make the extra phone calls, get a more representative showing of chef talents. It’s on Monday, November 19th and yeah, as I said, excellent cause and wonderful people, but c’mon.
7. Make a res... at Vij’s
Facebook/Vij'sThe No. 1 reason I hear of folks not going to Vij’s is the wait. To which I always say, ‘Hey, that’s part of it! You can enjoy the lounge, drink Jay Jones’s terrific cocktails and usually snack on free bites too. But the folks at Vij’s have changed their long-held no reservations policy and now you can actually book. They’re doing it in a a pretty limited quantity and you can only do it on Open Table, but finally! Vij-res! But for goodness sake—show up if you do. Frankly, I’m all for an automatic credit card dock of $20 per person for no-shows (or some kind of Game of Thrones-style public shaming). It is the worst and you absolutely destroy restaurants when you do this (especially on special occasions like Mother's Day, so if you make a res, you go, OK?
8. Go to all the fun events
Join the folks at the True NOSH company to learn how to make your own dim sum from scratch. I love this: "Learn some Chinese words, make and eat yum cha, but for dinner, not brunch. Included: all ingredients to make shu mai, shrimp dumplings—gluten-free—and radish cake. Grab tickets for this event, which takes place on Friday, November 23rd at their kitchen on Ontario Street.
This sounds aces! A family-style, six-course feast from chefs at Forage paired with wines from Abbotsford’s Singletree Winery at their winemaker’s Longtable Harvest Dinner on November 3rd at the Mt. Lehman Community Hall. Limited tickets available for purchase via email or from the winery's Abbotsford tasting room.
I actually whooped with glee when I saw this: a whisky-and-cheese-pairing night at Yew. Yes, please! Join Macallan brand ambassador Dan Volway for a guided ‘master class’ of four Macallan whiskeys and their perfect pairing: local B.C. cheeses. Plus, a four-course dinner paired with Macallan cocktails. Cunningly named: #TheMacandCheese, this event is happening on November 18th.
Check out the Vancouver Tea Festival on Saturday, November 3rd and Sunday, November 4th at the Chinese Cultural Centre to find out what’s new and delicious in the world of tea. On offer: a retail marketplace, presentations and tastings galore for all budgets. Plus, new this year will be tea spirits. Featuring leading exhibitors from Canada, the United States and China, if you’re a tea fan, you do not want to miss this!