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

So, it just kinda went straight into ‘big coat’ weather then, huh? I was expecting a pleasurable slide through fall into winter, but obviously that’s not what the mischievous gods have planned for us. Interesting times. Godawful weather. Uuurgh.

At least there is squash. I’m obsessed with those cute kuri squash right now (the teardrop-shaped deep orange ones that you don’t have to peel). I roast them, chopped up and tossed in olive oil with whatever spice blend I’m feeling, and then pair with pasta, rice or quinoa. Like pizza, they’re even better on day two fresh out the fridge.

Go support independent restaurants this month, y’all. It’s been a tough old time, so don’t let the grim weather keep you at home. 

As alwaysgrab napkins, things are gonna get messy…

 

1. Make brunch bottomless at Arc

Nikki BayleyNikki BayleyThree words: Ooey Gooey Skillet—a freaking spectacular mash up of apples, cinnamon and torn-up croissants hosed in caramel and topped with plate-lickingly superb cream cheese icing. Go get italong with a host of other dishesat Arc’s Bottomless Tasting Plates brunch. I’m honestly not usually much of a fan of this kind of thingI hate food waste and this style of dining tends to bring out the worst in all of usbut thanks to a smart ‘no more than two things at a time’ policy, that’s not a concern here. I took a friend so we could tear through a decent chunk of the menu and there’s plenty to recommend. The Beef Short Rib Poutine was made to help your hangover, the Braised Pork Cheeks are very good, and the Jerk-fried Chicken and Eggs Benny were on point too. But seriouslyworth it for that skillet alone. I can’t stop thinking about it! 

 

2. All hail Tojo

Tojo's RestaurantFacebook/ Tojo's RestaurantThere are still a few dates left to raise a glass to the incredible achievements of chef Hidekazu Tojo who’s celebrating 50 years in Canada this month and an astonishing 33 years of his world-famous restaurant, Tojo’s. Splurge (it’s $220 per person) and book the Anniversary Omakase, (only available till mid-November) a seven-course tasting menu which will take you through some of Tojo’s most delicious creations and enjoy the magic of the man’s talents. This is a landmark anniversary, so who can say if retirement is on his mind, but surely every Vancouverite should visit Tojo’s at least once? After all, he’s instrumental in making sushi a staple in all our lives and invented the inside out roll, and I, for one, am profoundly grateful for that! 

 

3. Indonesian awesomeness alert

ArchipelagoArchipelagoCalling fans of Indonesian cuisine! New Vancouver-based online market, Archipelago has launched with the tasty mission of bringing sustainable, quality food and beverages from some 50 independent Indonesian creators to your door. Part social enterprise, supported by the Consulate General of The Republic of Indonesia, shop for everything from spices and seasonings to baking supplies, teas and dried fruit and veggies safe in the knowledge you’re supporting small businesses and upping your nasi goreng game at the same time! 

 

4. Snack on salted egg chips

Nikki BayleyNikki BayleyI feel like a pusher, but seriously, these are the absolute freaking bomb. I can’t get enough of them. Available at the T&T Supermarket, just you try not chomping down a whole pack in one sitting (who are they kidding with their never-used resealable packs?) and then scrambling to lick the insanely delicious crumbs from the corners. No other salted egg yolk chip comes even close to the mildly spiced snackability of these babies. Become a hopeless devotee like me. They are so, so good. 

 

5. Head to Ugly Dumpling… before they close ☹

Ugly DumplingInstagram/ Ugly DumplingSad news: the magnificent Ugly Dumpling is set to close its doors at the end of the year. Apparently, it was all part of their plans. Darren and Nanako are off to Japan, and Stephen and Miki will be creating something new in the same space next year. But, oh, I am sad for all of us who no longer get to sit and eat dumplings and drink sherry in this terrific place. Thanks for the deliciousnessand heads up everyoneget a reservation while you still can for their seven-course omakase, which continues to be one of the best deals in town at $60.

 

6. Van Wine Fest is back!

Vancouver International Wine FestivalFacebook/ Vancouver International Wine FestivalI felt quite tearful when I got the email telling me that Wine Fest was back. After all, that was the last time I got to be in a room of like-minded wine and food fans, tasting, talking, learning and laughing like mad without masks or fear of COVID. God, those were good times!

Anyway, in a change from the normal routine, the 2022 festival will run: “Monday, May 16 to Sunday, May 22 at the Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC) and other venues around town, featuring tastings, winery dinners, lunches, seminars and a fundraising Bacchanalia Gala with auction.” Sounds like there is no themed country this year; instead, I’m guessing we’ll just be welcoming everyone who’s able to safely travel, and oh wow, won’t it be good to see them?

 

7. Wait, what? Top Drop Vancouver’s back too?

Top Drop CanadaFacebook/ Top Drop CanadaDang. My wine glass runneth over! Top Drop, the boutique wine festival created by Kurtis Kolt and team is back on Tuesday, May 10th and Wednesday, May 11th at the Roundhouse in Yaletown along with various locations around the city. Expect all kinds of fun and delicious events “featuring winemakers and proprietors from international, terroir-driven wineries, along with a handful of favourite craft breweries and cideries.”

 

8. Road trip: Cordelia’s Locket in Squamish

Cordelia’sJoern RohdeAll-round creative powerhouse and maker of super-tasty things, Kelly Ann Woods (you may remember her from her days as bar manager at La Mezcaleria, or the co-founder and CEO of Gillespie’s Fine Spirits) now has one more string to her already impressive bowshe’s opened Cordelia’s Locket in Squamish with fellow badass Melissa Steacy, and it’s so worth the road trip to go eat there!

Perched out on the water in downtown Squamish, overlooking the Chief with a huge patio, it’s an enviable location. Brunch and breakfast are served daily till 3 p.m. (the Benedict with buttery house-made hollandaise is divine), there’s a carb-lovers’ ‘Toastie Hour’ from 3 to 5 p.m. (that’s fancy toastiesthink grilled pear with house-made ricotta, chive oil and Maldon salt on grilled baguettes) and dinner service too. Any menu that has a ‘Bougie Comfort Food’ section is doing it right as far as I’m concerned (Hello, open-faced chicken pot pie!).

One final very cool touchits women-focussed wine list features wines that were either made by women, wineries owned/run by women or those who employ a significant number of women. Cheers to that, sister!