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

Whisper it, but I’m kinda into fall this year. Ask me again in a month’s time if I’m over the rain, but right now I’m absolutely loving it. All the foods which seem so unwelcome through summer’s heat are roaring back in my kitchen: slow-braised casseroles, bowls of spiced lentil soup, mountains of buttery mashed potato, and endless crumbles and turnovers, pies and pastries. Carb up, gang! Winter is officially very nearly here.

Let’s welcome it back with all those seasonal treats: squash, pears, all the soup and as many desserts as you need to make the transition through the dark days ahead.

You know the drillgrab napkins 'cause it’s gonna get messy...

1. Vancouver scores eight Michelin-starred restaurantsAnnaLenaAnnaLena

I gotta say: the selection of the Michelin Guide was something of a shocker to me. Sure, I expected Published on Main, Burdock & Co and St. Lawrence to make the list, but I was stunned to not see Cioppino’s and Hawksworth on there too—and no Boulevard, Le Crocodile or Blue Water Cafe at all? Yikes.

Anyway, huge applause to AnnaLena, Barbara, Burdock & Co, iDen & QuanJuDe Beijing Duck House, Kissa Tanto, Masayoshi, Published on Main and St. Lawrence for their one stars; and to Anh and Chi, Chupito, Fable Kitchen, Fiorino, Kin Kao Song, Little Bird Dim Sum, Lunch Lady, Nightshade, Oca Pastificio, Phnom Penh, Say Mercy! and Vij’s for their Bib Gourmand nods.

Plus, special applause to Justin Isidro and the team at Kissa Tanto for bagging a Michelin Service Award, to Published’s wine director Jayton Paul for his Michelin Sommelier Award, and to creative beverage director Grant Sceney and head bartender Jeff Savage at The Botanist for their Michelin Exceptional Cocktails Award.

2. Salut Sortilège!Sortilège WhiskyFacebook/Sortilège Whisky

Never let it be said that I don’t try to fit into Canadian culture (What, you didn’t know? Yeah, immigrant here). Years back, as a new Canadian, I was delighted to learn from so many friends that American Thanksgiving marks the start of 'Baileys in coffee' season, but while I’m wholly on board with boozy breakfast drinks, I’m less excited about the frankly trashy booze in question. Well, at last I’ve found something Canadianand deliciousto replace it forever. Meet Sortilège from Quebec, a divine Canadian whisky, maple syrup-spiked cream that I’ve tried over ice, in an espresso martini, and in my morning coffee. Available in private liquor stores and worth busting out year-round.

3. Suck it up and join the queue at SakuSakuInstagram/Saku

I have been quietly obsessing online over the cutlet at Saku for some time, but man, how hard is it to get into this restaurant? The lineups are reliably long and waitlists almost always more than my rumbling stomach can bear, so I made a late lunch plan one day and waltzed in at *checks watch* 4 p.m. on a Sunday. Reader, it was worth the wait. I have never tasted panko as light, crisp and crunchy as this. The cheese pull on the deep-fried, pork-wrapped cheese katsu! The juiciness of the rosu katsu! The (unlimited) rice was on point, the cabbage salad and sesame dressing delicious! OK, I get itI understand why there is a lineup. Good times lie in wait for you at Saku. Go when you’re hungry and order the pork with a two-piece side of the cheese. Your only regret will be not going sooner.

4. A reminder to visit Juice BarJuice BarInstagram/Juice Bar

I hadn’t been to Juice Bar since its early pop-up days and wow, was that a mistake. What a fun, joyful room they have curated, packed with excited cork dorks and wine nerds eager to taste, experience and learn moremoremore about low-intervention wines. I went there the other night and adored everything about itfrom the perfect temperature Manchego cheese drizzled with lavender honey to my chatty neighbours and the friendly serving staff who were super happy to nerd out with me about skin-contact French wines (and even open something from the fridge just for me.) Take your friends and have a blast.

5. Road trip: Believe the hype at Whistler’s Wild BlueWild Blue Restaurant WhistlerWild Blue/Leila Kwok

It’s very often the smallest details that stick with you, and for days I have been utterly obsessed by the tiny teaspoon of Thai-spiced granita that came with my oysters at chef Alex Chung’s (formerly of Boulevard) new spot in Whistler. It was ridiculously good, as was everything else I ate there, from the exactly right al dente pasta to the table-bangingly perfect steak. But man, the perfection of the balance of spice, heat, citrus in that one small spoon of ice. Amazing! Seafood is the star here. I tried an octopus dish, smoky with 'nduja sausage and squid ink at a previous visit that I’m still dreaming about, and the zingingly fresh seafood towers are a must-order. The wine and cocktails are terrific, and I love the wildly sexy room, tooespecially the pools of light over each table which make reading the menu a breeze.

6. Learn to make gelato or sorbettoUno Gelato classesUno Gelato

In-person classes are back at Uno Gelato on West Broadway. They run every Wednesday and Thursday at 6 p.m. for 90 minutes till the end of March. Each class is limited to just six people and includes 10 gelato/sorbetto samples, a cone or cup of choice during the visit, along with a pint each of the gelato and sorbetto made that evening to take homewhat a deal! Priced at $79.99 per person (plus taxes), classes are themedPumpkin Pecan Bread gelato/Lemon Basil sorbetto runs till November 10th; then Chocolate Grand Marnier gelato/Apple Pear sorbetto takes over on November 16th till the 30th. Check their site for more details, but I’m strongly suggesting this for the gelato lover in your life.

7. Last-minute lottery alertRocky Mountaineer SilverLeavRock Mountaineer

The BC Hospitality Foundation's annual Hotels to Help lottery closes at 11:59 p.m. on November 3rd, with the goal of raising funds to help those in the hospitality industry facing financial crisis due to a health condition. This year’s grand prize is a trip for two adults on board the Rocky Mountaineer between Vancouver and Lake Louise or Banff; or between Vancouver and Jasper ($4000 value).

Other prizes include a golf weekend for two in Victoria with travel provided by Helijet and accommodations at the Chateau Victoria Hotel ($3,300 value); two nights at the Fairmont Orchid Hawaii hotel with a 45-minute dolphin encounter program plus a $1000 travel voucher ($3,275 value); and a two-night stay at Spirit Ridge with a wine-tasting at Nk’Mip Cellars and dinner at The Bear, the Fish, the Root & the Berry ($1,800 value).

Ticket packages are: one for $5, three for $10, seven for $20 and 20 for $50. Purchase tickets here. Winning tickets will be drawn Friday, November 4, 2022 at 12 noon.