You’ve Gotta Try This in July

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

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

So long Junuary, and hello July! Endless summer nights with sunset patio drinks that go on, and on, and on… This month is all about the best fresh things of the season: Chilliwack corn—I throw mine on the BBQ in its husk and turn it until it’s got blackened strips all around (it steams the corn so it’s super-tender), then shuck it, and slather in butter and devour—salmon on the BBQ with just a lick of olive oil, salt and pepper, and the start of all that juicy wonderful Okanagan and Similkameen fruit! Hurrah!

You know the drill: bring napkins, it’s gonna get messy…

1. Say cheers to the world’s best bar team… at Botanist

Raise a glass to the incredibly talented bar team at Botanist who are simply KILLING it out there on the world stage right now. Led by ex-World Class finalist Grant Sceney, with Canada’s current World Class contender Jeff Savage and Max Curzon-Price, finalist for Bombay Sapphire’s ‘Most Imaginative Bartender’. The team headed to Amsterdam in June and beat out teams from 40 other countries to win the Bols Master Bar Team of 2019. Go try the winning drink, Into the Aether, a drink “inspired by the four elements: fire, earth, wind and water and how they come together to create the element of spirit”. This stunning cocktail is presented on a billowing cloud of dry ice with grapefruit aromas and thanks to a clever bit of magic, appears to float ethereally above it!

2. Go to all the fun events

This sounds amazing, Arc Iberico Imports are having a Spanish Fiesta with live music and a Porron drinking experience after their Iberico Pop-up shop. ¡Olé!

There’s free entry for the shop from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then there’s a party from 5 p.m. till 1 a.m. Advanced tickets are just $8.00 online, while from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., at-the-door tickets on July 13th will run $10.00. On site: Master Ham Carver Antonio Romero Casado carving Cinco Jotas Iberico charcuterie; acorn-fed chorizo, Salchichón, Loin Iberico meat BBQ, premium seafood conservas, Spanish cheeses, assorted tapas, live Flamenco music directly from Spain and even DJ entertainment: Rumba, Flamenco, Reggaeton!

I went to one of these a few years back and it remains one of the best value and most delicious downtown BBQs I’ve ever been to, so get a group of mates together and bag your tickets for the Tailgate Barbecue Series at the original Railtown Café and Catering (397 Railway Street, Vancouver) throughout the summer on July 14th, August 18th and September 22nd, all from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The menu includes: 35-hour Texas-style beef brisket, applewood-smoked pork shoulder, beer-brined Maple Hill Farms chicken, D’Original Sausage Haus Brats, corn on the cob, jalapeño corn bread, and even a choice of two side dishes: Carolina coleslaw, creamy potato salad, classic caesar salad, or farmers’ market field greens.  Strange Fellows Brewing and Good Company Lager are partnering with Railtown and drinks specials include Lynchburg Lemonade and Railtown Ruby Sangria. Tickets are $27 per person plus tax, or $17 vegetarian plus tax and can be purchased online and in-person. All tickets purchased online include a complimentary drink voucher (up to $6 value).

I love Benjamin Bridge bubble from Nova Scotia and what’s better than Nova Scotia lobster to make a perfect pairing. Provence Marinaside are throwing a Provençal take on an east coast tradition with a lobster boil on July 15th. The evening begins with a short reception at 6:30 p.m. with Benjamin Bridge NV Brut and fresh oysters followed by a three course menu at 7 p.m. for $165.

SPLURGE on this fancy AF Grand Cru Wine & Dine evening at Ancora on July 17th, featuring the fine wines of Bordeaux. In this edition, taste your way through nine wines hand selected by Thomas O’Neill, starting with two beautifully refreshing whites, three Left Bank, three Right Bank, and of course Champagne to start. Paired over four courses with canapés to start, the evening begins at 6 p.m. and tickets are $225.

3. Eat a pluot

A what now? A pluot! It’s a hybrid between a Japanese plum and an apricot… and it’s freaking delicious! It has the smooth skin of a plum and it’s incredibly juicy but not too sweet. I tried a ‘raspberry jewel’ pluot the other day from a fruit stand in Keremeos; oh wow! Is there anything more cheering than finding a brand new fruit variety to obsess over? Check out farmers’ markets and Whole Foods to try and track one down or head up the Crowsnest for a fruit stand trip! I got this one from Bears Market.

4. Get yo’ bubbles on at brunch

I’m pretty much down for bubbles at any time, but brunch bubbles? That’s a must. Head on over to Tableau every Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer from 10:30 a.m. till 2:30 p.m. where all sparkling wines from Francefrom crémants to boutique grower vintages and the grandes maisons champagnesare on offer, with prices starting from just $29 a bottle. You can get some great name bottles, including Perrier Jouet and Veuve, for under $100. Pair that with new dishes including Tartine Niçoise, Crêpes Jambon Gruyère and the Seafood Tower for two.

5. Eat Mr. Bannock’s wild salmon burger

Dive into the authentic taste of awesome Indigenous cuisine and chomp down on one of these bad boys! Grilled wild salmon, fresh organic baby arugula slathered in a wild blueberry aioli sandwiched between fresh fluffy fried bannock. Oh damn! Rarely spotted, but always worth tracking down, find where Mr Bannock’s truck will at on Instagram or Facebook.

6. B.C. spirits update

I finally tried Odd Society‘s Prospector, a 100 percent Northern B.C. rye, recently and wow, it’s soooo delicious; a warm caramel nose with a toasty, spicy finish that’s smooth and tastes decidedly like ‘more, please.’ It rests in new American oak barrels for three years and is currently making me very happy as my spirit of choice in a Boulevardier (Campari, sweet vermouth, rye).

New from Okanagan Spirits,The Whole Truth, a collaboration with RauDZ Creative Concepts, is a soft, smooth and wonderfully silky Western-style gin that’s one of the most pleasingly subtle cucumber-forward gins I’ve tried in a long while. Blended with native B.C. botanicals such as mock orange, mint, lemon verbena and orris root, this makes for the perfect Cucumber Cooler on a hot summer day. Blend it tall over ice, with soda and sliced cucumber, lime and mint leaves (if you prefer a sweeter style, add a little sugar and stir in).

I was a big fan of Goodridge and Williams’ Northern Grains whisky and I’m really loving this season’s jaunt into fruit gins too. Tempo Arandano blueberry gin is just the prettiest colour, thanks to a blend of blueberries and peaflowers! It’s got a whisper of vanilla in the mid-palate juicy fruity finish. I’ve just been crushing this tall over ice with frozen blueberries as a garnish. It may make an appearance as a brunch G&T.

7. Field trip time

Head to Victoria for Vegtoria, the annual celebration of Vegan food on July 20th at Centennial Square, and expect a day of music, vegan food, speakers and fun. Learn how to make your own zero-waste vegan oat milk and toothpaste (BYO jars) at a zero-waste workshop, hear activist Amy Sorrano speak or simply enjoy samples of vegan goodies from companies, including Blue Heron and Very Good Butchers.

Stags Hollow is throwing a Tapas and Tempranillo party on Saturday July 27th, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Join their winemaker for tastings of six different Tempranillos, including three of Stags Hollow’s single-vineyard lots paired with a selection of tapas from Oliver Eats and live Spanish guitar from Kirk Dixon.

Take the Sea to Sky up to Whistler any Tuesday or Sunday until September 17th to experience the First Nations Summer Feast and Performance at the brilliant Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre. Start with a tour at 6 p.m. then head into dinner and a cultural performance an hour later. The Northwest Coast-inspired menu features fresh baked bannock, local produce, venison, bison and salmon.

8. Hunt down Rainier cherries

Oh my god. Best, best of all the cherries, all hail the Rainier! They seem to have the shortest season and can be infuriatingly elusive, but do go and track them down. In my opinion, they are at the centre of the ‘taste triangle’ of juicy, tart and sweet; sitting happily in the middle of that and expressing the very best of each quality to perfection.