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

It got cold fast this year and for once, I don’t mind it one bit. I was waiting for Caldo Verde season to begin (world’s easiest soup: simmer chopped up potatoes and onions in chicken or veg stock until soft. Blend till smooth-ish—I like some chunks—throw in chopped up uncooked chorizo sausage, gently cook, then add ribbons of kale. To serve, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with good olive oil.) I make this around Hallowe’en every year and obsessively eat it for a week or so. It’s the best. I’ve also been mainlining all things Chai spiced as I am over my PSL hatred (don’t worry, I’ve found something new to detest—monster croissants, I am coming for you) and pondering whether cranberry Boursin is basically cheesecake but without the base. But I digress.

Dive in! And gab napkins 'cause it’s gonna get messy...

1. Don’t miss this fromage and meat fest

This sounds like my idea of heaven: a festival of cheese and meat and all the things that pair best with 'em! On Saturday, November 4th, the Vancouver Cheese and Meat Festival is taking place at The Pipe Shop in North Vancouver, where there will be a special showcase of eight Oregon and Washington State cheese producers who are not yet in the market, alongside 40 local and international vendors. On arrival you get a mini charcuterie board and tasting glass and all samples are included in the ticket price. The early tasting had already sold out when I wrote this, but there are still a few VIP early-entry tickets left, and also some for the 7 to 9 p.m. tasting session, so snap 'em up and go have fun!

2. Sons of Vancouver’s barrel-aged brilliance is back

It’s that time of year again—one of my all-time favourite craft distilleries, Sons of Vancouver releases their delicious barrel-aged amaretto! I’ll let them tell you about it: "This year's release is very special, as it’s been aged in our own award-winning SOV rye whisky casks. Our signature house rye flavours of banana, clove and spiced orange peel pair perfectly with our vanilla/honey-forward amaretto. Midway through the year we transferred the amaretto to an ex-bourbon barrel from our good friends at 2Bar Spirits in Seattle to give it that delicious bourbon oak-forward sweetness.

"The result is a beautifully well-rounded liqueur with lots of whisky-soaked apricots, melted vanilla sugar and almond cookies. It’s the perfect spirit to sip with your friends by the fire this holiday season.”

I can’t disagree with any of that, but I will say that it’s absolute heaven if you toss a few shots into some cream, whip it, then serve with a warm peach pie. Pre-release sales start right now. Click and buy immediately, this will not last long.

3. Get super baked

During the pandemic lockdowns—when so many bars and restaurants were pivot-dizzy trying to obey the rules, keep folks safe and also stay in business—the folks at the Flying Pig launched Super Baked Deep Dish, a super-tasty, super-popular, take-out pizza operation from a ghost kitchen. Well, its much-missed pies are back at Olympic Village, dine-in only, every night from 9 p.m. to close and all-day from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays. Money’s tight right now, so I gotta say $15 for a Bodacious deep dish piled with pepperoni, shaved ham, banana peppers, grilled pineapple, mozzarella and provolone is a sweet deal. There are also $2-a-shuck oyster deals, a terrific poutine, plus wine, beer and cocktail specials.

4. A word about those weird massive croissants

I don’t like 'em. I feel very Old Man Shouts at Cloud about this, but the whole point of a croissant is that it’s a deliciously flaky, buttery light indulgence. Light. Not something the size of your head. Not doughy. Not requiring two hands to eat. The latest gross-out seems to be these monster-sized croissants. Ick. And no. Bigger is not always better. These too-big pastries give me the same insta-rage those ludicrous butter boards did a couple of years back. Just say no, kids.

5. Calling all Pad Thai fans! Win free Pad Thai for a year

Oh, this sounds like fun! November 7th is World Pad Thai Day, and it also marks the launch of a delicious competition between sister restaurants Longtail Kitchen in New West and Sen Pad Thai at Granville Island in the Public Market. The two will be battling it out to win the title of Best Pad Thai as voted for by you! You have two weeks to try the two dishes and then vote on your favourite. Just pick up a special Pad Thai stamp card from one of the restaurants and make sure you return it, stamped, with your vote by November 21st. Longtail’s Pad Thai, by chef Alex Lim, features wild prawns, a tom yum and tamarind sauce blend and fried lime leaf; Sen’s features Canadian rock crab meat and thin noodles. A winner will be announced on December 1st. Happy noodling!

6. Yay! Cornucopia is back

Cornucopia, Whistler’s brightest bash is back from November 9th to 19th with a combination of much-loved old favourites and new events, including the always magnificent world oyster invitational and bloody Caesar battle at the Bearfoot Bistro; wonderful winery dinners (looks like there are still tickets to Tinhorn Creek’s dinner at Araxi—yum!); and excellent wine, beer and spirits seminars. I especially love the sound of the Taste of Indigenous Worlds event on November 12 from 7 p .m. to 9 p.m., which brings seven Indigenous chefs from various Nations within B.C for a delicious and immersive culinary and cultural event at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

7. Torafuku reopens after fire

My heart broke for the folks at Torafuku, who were all set to celebrate their eighth anniversary, when they were closed by fire—and then flooding—back in September. Happily, they’re back after a thorough restoration with a seven-course anniversary menu until they close for their annual holidays on December 17th. Expect everything from Hiramasa crudo, fan-favourite steamed buns with foie gras, duck breast, Totten Inlet mussels and tiger prawns. The menu, designed to share is available for $70 per person (a minimum of two orders per table is required). Go see 'em and toast to eight more years!

8. Vancouver’s prettiest dining experience returns

You need to book this immediately as it sold out super-fast last year (I couldn’t get in! Wah!) and it just looks like the most delightfully photogenic way to dine in the city. The ‘Winterlust’ dining domes are coming back to the Westin Bayshore on the H Tasting Lounge patio overlooking the North Shore mountains and waterfront. They looked so cute last year! On the menu are treats such as a tableside-flamed Certified Angus Beef bone-in rib-eye steak, a jumbo seafood feast and tahini-glazed roasted cauliflower “steak” with beluga lentils. The fresh-baked milk buns have honey butter made with honey from the Westin Bayshore’s own hives.