Your guide to the latest mouth-watering food and drinks in Vancouver this month
Credit: Nikki Bayley

Your guide to the latest mouth-watering food and drinks in Vancouver this month

I’m always excited about fall. It’s when I first moved to Vancouver four years ago (logic: if you can get through rainy winter, of course you’ll love summer), so I get nostalgic about those first days here. Watching the trees blush from green to scarlet, those incredible autumn sunsets, seeing little maple leaves on the pavement, buying that new pair of rain boots and oh! the thrill of first discovering the seasonal flavours of Vancouver.

There’s a lot to get excited about as we snuggle into the comfort of fall, so here’s everything you need to eat and drink this next month. As always, don’t forget to take napkins, it’s gonna get messy...

Book the five-course cocktail brunch at RAW BAR Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel
Credit: Nikki Bayley

Book the five-course cocktail brunch at RAW BAR Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel

First, a massive hats off to all involved in this innovative and delicious brunch experience—and yes, I do mean experience—as this goes way beyond the usual eggs ‘n’ mimosas and takes you on a culinary adventure, pairing creative cocktails with Asian-inspired dishes. It’s five courses (there are choices for two) paired with five cocktails. Take a friend as that way you can share and try everything.

Dishes include a red tuna tataki with a ‘Light Zaiten’ of gin; organic green tea and dry vermouth; a bacon and sable miso with a wheat beer; a Grand Marnier, ginger and lemon drink that I wanted a pint of; and an omakase of brilliant chef Taka’s Ocean Wise sushi (uni’s in season right now—go! Have the uni!). Oh! And the most extraordinary dessert: a Yakult Shooter of whipped foamy pannacotta masquerading as an oyster on a bed of sugar crystals with a ‘Wakayama Beach’ cocktail of coconut water, gin, basil and yuzu.

The Pac-Rim’s booze genius Grant Sceney explains, “Wine pairings have already been done, but with cocktails you can deconstruct the sugar, acidity, the weight and adjust it perfectly to the dish.”

Yes, it’s a little pricey ($70 per person + tax and gratuity), but I’d say as a treat or just because you’re worth it—do it— I’ve been talking about it all week. It’s that good.

Eat happy hour melted cheese at La Mezcaleria

Eat happy hour melted cheese at La Mezcaleria

Hold the goddamn phone! One of the best things to eat in the city—the queso fundido at La Mezcaleria, a no-holds-barred pot of sheer joy and melted cheese— is now available in solo portions for $8, during happy hour at their new Gastown location. The offer runs from Tuesday to Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and they’re doing $5 Paloma cocktails too.

On the regular menu, you should definitely check out their whole pescado frito to share—it’s the most gorgeous presentation and a truly delicious fish. One day a branch of La Mezcaleria will open around the corner from me in the West End and that will be that: I’ll die of happiness and too much melted cheese, but until that happens at least I have the walk to Gastown to stay healthy…

Head to Whistler for Cornucopia
Credit: Mike Crane/Tourism Whistler

Head to Whistler for Cornucopia

Now in its 20th year, Whistler’s joyful celebration of all things food and drink is about to swing into another delicious season, so snap up what tickets you can and make plans to head up the Sea to Sky in November.

As always, there are plenty of live cooking demos (the Nourish Stage is hosting some great fermentation, pickling and canning events), seminars covering everything from Scottish single malts to Tiki drinks, plus the incredible wine dinners featuring wineries such as Quails' Gate and Burrowing Owl, and the über cool Chef’s Table lunch series which take place in some of Whistler’s swankiest private homes.

Highlights this year include the 20th Anniversary Party at The Picnic and, of course, the Crush Grand Tasting. It’s a fantastic event and spreads across two weekends. Don’t even think about drivingbook that Pacific Coach and enjoy craft wine, beer and views.

Say ‘Ja, bitte’ at Harvest Haus
Credit: German Pizza

Say ‘Ja, bitte’ at Harvest Haus

Thigh-slapping bratwurst action is back at the QE plaza (649 Cambie Street) as Harvest Haus returns for two weekends of Teutonic Oktoberfest frolics. Enjoy theatrical swordplay, keg tapping and dance to the sound of Bavarian oompah music and Vancouver’s ‘Oktoberators,’ then swig German beers and wines and tuck into spätzle, bratwurst, schnitzel and sauerkraut in the marktplatz. Limited tickets remain!

BONUS: They also have flammkuchen, a fabulous blend of bread, bacon, crème fraiche and onions, which has been near-impossible to get your hands on since much-missed Pizza Fabrika closed.

Cheer up with a fancy event

Cheer up with a fancy event

There are still a few tickets left for the 10th anniversary Toast to the Coast night (October 14th) at the Vancouver Aquarium, one of the city’s most fun fundraisers with gourmet Ocean Wise bites from restaurants such as Boulevard, Hapa Izakaya, Tableau and CinCin served up with wines from Constellation Brands. There’s late-night dancing, a silent auction and a raffle too, and you don’t even have to drive there—the Vancouver Trolley Company lay on transit for the evening from Waterfront Station in their vintage-looking trolleys. All aboard!

Ancora is celebrating a stellar first year with a one-off Moët et Chandon dinner on October 5th. The night starts with a champagne tower reception then a communal table five-course dinner paired with some of Moët’s top bubbles including Dom Perignon. Tickets are $200 per person (+ tax and gratuity), and include all food and wine pairings. To book, email info@ancoradining.com or 604-681-1164.

Drink flights of cocktails at Pidgin

Drink flights of cocktails at Pidgin

Well, this is just awesome and I love it. Hurrah for Pidgin for taking away the tyranny of choice when it comes to cocktails and just letting us have it all—which, after all, is what we all really want. Currently on offer: a trio of negroni, Vieux Carré and el Presidente, all of which are on tap. They’re also available as Happy Hour shots (oh boy) and as full cocktails for a discounted price, but I say stick with the flight, and also, please can more places do this, it’s SO MUCH FUN.

Enjoy the best of Yaletown
Credit: Britney Gill Photography

Enjoy the best of Yaletown

You know it’s fall because it’s time for the Taste of Yaletown festival, a two-week dining event featuring 31 restaurants in the neighborhood. This is the 12th year of the event and it will run from October 13 to October 27. The concept is simple: three-course menus and pairings offered at set prices of $25, $35, $45. All of your Yaletown favourites are taking part—The Greek by Anatoli, Brix and Mortar, Hapa Izakaya and Wildtale Coastal Grill, Lime and Moon Pie Company and Zend Conscious Lounge. For the 12th year in a row, Yaletown will be making a donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

Do the pumpkin thing, if you really must
Credit: Mister

Do the pumpkin thing, if you really must

Oh god... it's here. The wretched 'P' word. Just please, don’t do it to your taste buds, don’t do it to your mouth and your whole digestive tract. Just don’t go and have one of those garbage red-cup PSLs. I beg you.

Instead, if you absolutely, positively must indulge your seasonal cravings then try these pumpkin spiced treats instead:

But really, just don’t.

Drink Okanagan apples

Drink Okanagan apples

Apples are everywhere this month and what’s the best thing to do with an apple? That’s right! Turn it into cider. Cider is definitely on the rise as a trend, but many of us (including me) have adored it for years. If you think cider is that nasty tinny fake-tasting stuff you’ve drunk your whole life, boy, are you in for a delicious and delightful surprise! Real cider is made from fermented apples and tastes amazing. Try some of these small-batch cider houses for a true taste of apple-y goodness.

Based on Vancouver Island, Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse is handily loctaed near the ferry exit so you can stop by and stock up next time you visit. Sea Cider offers one of the widest ranges of organic cider in B.C. and they cater to all tastes with more than a dozen ecclectic flavour varieties. I’m a huge fan of their Rumrunner which is made with heritage apples, fermented with champagne yeast and aged in bourbon barrels, and their off-dry sparkling bittersweet which pairs incredibly with cheese. New for fall, try the Witch’s Broom, a semi-sweet cider with a hints of cinnamon, orange, nutmeg and ginger that’s pretty much the perfect thing to drink, curled up in a blanket, watching the rain.

Left Field Cider Company specializes in English-style glorious dry sparkling cider. Try their Big Dry made with Okanagan applesI popped a bottle with a friend at dinner at Forage recently and it was so good! They also make a limited edition ‘cider makers series’ with small batches of different apple varieties.

Central City Brewers & Distillers has a limited edition Imperial Cider made from 100 per cent Okanangan Valley apples and oak-aged for a subtle bourbon notes of vanilla. 

If you’ve not been yet, go check out Orchard and the Sea, the craft cider pop-up at Birds and the Beets where you can try a great selection of ciders from B.C. and beyond.

Support Chef Ned Bell
Credit: Lana Brandt

Support Chef Ned Bell

I’ll go on the record right now as being a huge fan of chef Ned Bell so I hope he hits his targets soon for this exciting new project he’s working on. Since leaving YEW, he’s taken on a new role as Ocean Wise executive chef at the Vancouver Aquarium and is planning a series of cookbooks for the at-home chef. The first book, scheduled to hit shelves in the fall of 2017, focuses on the Pacific Ocean and will be co-authored by food and travel writer, Valerie Howes.

"I am working on this cookbook because the health of our oceans, lakes and rivers are under threat and the fish that rely on these habitats are struggling to survive," says Bell. "We need better management, more sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices, and even more demand for seafood that is sourced responsibly. This cookbook is an invaluable tool for shifting seafood choices at home, cooking and eating with 'the real fast foods' plant based nutrient dense ingredients, healthy fish and seafoods."

He’s fundraising to make this happen at GoFundMe with a raft of incentives for donors including dinner cooked by Ned for four adults in your own home. All proceeds and profits go to Chefs for Oceans and its initiatives, including building support for making March 18 National Sustainable Seafood Day in Canada. Donations can be made here.