VieAMaggi.com

Real, raw, & relatable me. Enthusiastic food & lifestyle blogger living in Vancouver, BC!

Month: June 2019 Page 1 of 3

Vij’s on Cambie

In this post I was finally checking out “Vij’s” new space, since they have relocated to Cambie from their original home on South Granville. Their cozy space was now expanded across 3 floors. A visual upgrade, the glamour starts with the exterior’s rose gold and brick facade.

A full lounge greets you at the entrance. A causal scene with an eye catching ceiling. Dots of red and splashes of blue. A similar stain glass impression surrounds the room with triangular panels. Past them, a glimpse into their kitchen.

A climb up a stone staircase leads you past two private dining areas and their covered patio. The latter offers more of a bar vibe, with a communal wrap around table to share with other patrons.

As a family celebrating an occasion, we choose to have our own table in the dining area. We aimed for the corner table by the window in order to be able to better see our meal and each other. But the room was intentionally set dark for mood. Set in a golden glow with lamps that seem to drop down from the ceiling. I appreciated all the seating variety here, but preferred the intimacy that the old location offered.

Our server approached with a run down of the restaurant, and her suggestion for us to order a few dishes and share them amongst our party of four. All appetizers are accompanied by a serving of garlic naan, and all entrees come with more naan and basmati rice.

As we went through the menu a dish of complimentary snacks came to the table to wet our appetites. The potato and lentil pakoras were a table favourite. Like little nuggets of mashed potatoes hidden under a doughy shell. I liked the flavour, but wasn’t a fan of its sandy texture. Although I found the ground up lentils less sandy than the mung beans below. It is worth mentioning that I don’t like legumes and lentils for that very reason, so am biased here.

I liked the hints of sweetness in the date chutney and the crunch of the whole wheat crisp. I could have done without the grainy mung bean salad. It tasted as healthy as it looked.

We decided to pass on appetizers and share 3 mains. My brother ordered his own, not wanting anything else. So without a taste, I won’t be able to review the “Organic braised beef in cinnamon and clove curry”. Although something can be said for how quickly he consumed it. Although it is at a smaller serving size, much like all their other dishes. And at $27-32 a plate, it did feel like you weren’t getting value. Everything tasted good enough, but not necessarily $30 a plate good.

“Chicken sautéed in turmeric and ginger in za’atar spiced lentil curry.” This was another small serving entree at $30. Four and a half smaller chunks of chicken, equivalent the amount of meat on a chicken leg. It ate more like a stew in need of rice and or the topping to a casserole. Tender chicken with more grainy lentils. A dish with a slow burn that we didn’t mind. After expressing our concern over the potential spiciness of the dish, our server offered raita, a yogurt based drink that helps cools things off if it gets too hot.

From some vegetables we ordered the “Assorted mushroom, squash and chickpeas in kalanji- fennel and sour cream cream”. It was spicer that the chicken above, with the tanginess of the sour cream coming through. There were very little mushroom to this, in fact I only tasted and identified enoki. The rest was cauliflower, green breads, and the occasional chickpea. This would have been better served as a side to some protein, instead of the main at $28.

We originally ordered the “lamb and spinach in cumin and lemon-tahini curry”, but edited it when our server not so subtly asked if we wanted that instead of the lamb lollipops. We took the hint and I commented on how sly that was. Good thing to as this was pretty much the only dish I liked and would order again. There was still spinach, cumin, and lemon-tahini curry; but instead of regular stewed lamb we upgraded to their lollipops. Both were tasty separately, but together, there wasn’t enough lamb to enjoy with all the curry. Luckily, here the rice and naan came in handy to further the dish. But for $32 for the curry and extra for the lamb upgrade, you are once again paying for not enough. Not enough charred lollipops, at barely 2 meager bites per bone.

As for the accompanying carbs. My mother wasn’t a fan of the naan, wanting something lighter, more like roti. Whereas I didn’t mind the fluffy, pizza dough nature of it. Both it and the rice offered a great vessel to sop up and soak up all the sauces with. They also helped to fill you up.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
I am sure you are paying for the use of quality ingredients, as well the brand that Vij has built, as well as for the costs of this wonderful restaurant and its friendly staff, but at $30 plus an entree, I can venture else where for more. Or find Indian cuisine I prefer more at different Indian restaurants, without the celebrity attached. I wouldn’t mind coming back, but I don’t want to have to pay for it. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

VIJ’S
3106 Cambie Street, Vancouver BC, V5Z 2W2
604-736-6664
vijs.ca/vijs-restaurant

Peroni patio party at D6

Today I was invited to celebrate “Peroni” at one of their annual cross-Canada summer Terrazza parties. And what better a place to host such an event than at the now opened, newly furnished patio of “D6”.

The sunny day allowed guests to mingle across the entirety of the patio, and the covered portion with its heat lamps offered shade and warmth against the roof top wind. There was plenty of seating across couches by coffee tables, you could grab a high top over by the bar, or a regular four top against the greenery and it pink plastic flamingos, or maybe just huddle around the fire pit with a drink in hand.

But first to get the drink. The roof top bar with its chic white marble tiles was themed in Peroni with bottles of the beer in an ice bath, and more beers poured non stop from the tap. Although the most appropriate for the patio was their “L’Oriente” cocktail, a special pour for the day. Fresh mandarin juice, yuzu syrup, and Peroni Nastro Azzuro; topped with candied ginger. Delicious even for non beer drinkers. So good that my guest and I both finished two pints with ease.

But there were also other ways to enjoy your Peroni today. “Passionate Gelato Artigianale” was on site passing out scoops of their gelato kept cool on ice.

They had a Peroni Nastro Azzurro gelato flavoured with lime. This was a refreshing and creamy slush that served as a great way to turn my cocktail into a float. But for those who enjoy more traditional flavours there was a salted caramel and organic BC strawberry gelato to choose from.

All the while small bites circulated throughout the enclosed patio. I wish I bothered to ask which kitchen they were from and if they are available off of the regular “D6” menu.

The “Brie cigars” were a fun way to call melty and stringy Brie cheese wrapped in phyllo and fried. Best enjoyed with a deep dunk into a sweet and sour dip.

The goat cheese crostini offered up the lightest bite with fresh cherry tomato and a sweet drizzle of balsamic.

The vegetarian spring rolls included mashed potatoes with the shredded carrots and beans, it gave things a different texture and take.

The beef short rib croquettes were meaty bundles of shredded beef served with either a sweet chilli sauce or a blue cheese dip.

The mini sliders were a filling burger with a juicy beef patty.

But I preferred the mini chicken burgers for their generous crispy chicken feature and tangy sweet pickles.

And the coconut shrimp was a favourite. A sweet and crispy shell hiding juicy shrimp.

In short, this was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and enjoy one of the nicest patios in the city.

D6
39 Smithe Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 0P4
parqvancouver.com/bars-lounges

Wara Thai Eatery, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Today I was at “Wara Thai Eatery”, to check out yet another Vancouver Foodster Chicken Wing Challenger. The competition that pits local restaurants against one another in order to declare their wings the best in the city. This year we had 5 restaurants, and I was one of the judges given the responsibility of finding the winner based on presentation, taste, and originality.

And “Wara Thai” was clever to use this platform as an introduction to their new restaurant, which at this time has only been open for 3 months. Although the husband and wife team are not new to the food serving game. They currently still operate “Wow Thai” located in “Tinseltown” aka “International Village”. There, they offer up their authentic Thai cuisine to diners on the go and the lunch time office crowds. And they aren’t your typical food court stall, with them ingredients and craftsmanship matter. Made to order curries and fresh Thai favourites. Their consistent cuisine has earn them a fan base. And these loyal customers have encouraged them to open this restaurant so that they can enjoy “Wow Thai’s” food, in a more private setting. So here they are, after 4 months of renovations in a space that was still “under construction”.

The exterior wasn’t eye catching, as was it pretty unspectacular inside. Nothing noteworthy other than the “work in progress” murals. Thick black lines began sketching out clouds, water, and characters with bold expressions. Although it was a shame that it wasn’t completed, to be able to give a great first impression to new customers and first time diners. Other than it, the generic art on their all white walls, and grey upholstered booths; their decor really didn’t speak much to the colourful and vibrant offerings. Nor did their menu in black, white, and red. Though, I did like their piggy logo.

When we asked about the unfinished art work the owners did explain that they are currently focusing on their food and service, and as a new establishment, more is yet to come as they grow their brand. They are even planning a trip back to Thailand to collect some artifacts and add more of a visual authenticity to the place.

We started with some Thai ice tea. As the only Thai restaurant in the blossoming area, I wanted to taste the classics and see how they stacked up as the go-to for authentic Thai cuisine in the neighbourhood. With this, they were off to a good start. Perfect in orangey colour and flavour, a refreshing caffeinated beverage I would back just for. I wonder if they have to-go cups?

Next we had the “Larb wings”, the chicken wing challenge contender. This was not on their main menu, but I hope finds its way there, as they literally cause you to lick your fingers clean. These were deep fried chicken wings seasoned with their special “larb sauce”, a mix of lime juice and Thai herbs, giving each crispy wing a nice glaze. The flavour was original, offering tangy notes, a hint of sweetness, and some kick to a familiar classic. It was well balanced and served at the perfect temperature. You find yourself going back for more, almost forgetting the tasting and wanting to experience it new all over again.

Similarly, they had a neat twist on papaya salad. Their version was made crunchy with a quick deep fry. This too wasn’t on the menu yet. Shredded green papaya, green beans, and tomato slices battered and deep fried. Served with its dressing as a dipping sauce on the side, you choose how much tangy fish sauce you wanted with your crunchy salad. And this way things stayed crispy until you wanted to eat it. This was the same papaya salad flavour you enjoy, but with a whole new texture to work through. Even if you aren’t a fan of papaya salad, you will be a fan of this one. Proof that deep frying makes things tastier.

I wasn’t a fan of the “Chicken satay”. The Thai peanut sauce and Thai cucumber and red onion relish were good, but I found the chicken itself hard and dry. The menu listed these chicken tenders were marinated in fresh Thai spices and coconut milk, but I couldn’t taste either. It had a flat flavour and could have use some char or a similar glaze to the wings above. It should already be tasty and the satay sauce used to elevate that taste.

“Pad Thai” is a go-to for adventurous and cautious diners alike, so I wanted to see “Wara Thai’s” take everyone’s favourite Thai noodle dish. Stir-fried rice noodles in tamarind sauce with egg, red onion, chives, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and basil. We had our choice of protein from pork, chicken, or tofu; and went with the latter as we had three other chicken dishes, and I never had pork with my pad Thai before. Premium protein options are also available for more. Beef for $1, shrimp for $2, and extra of any of the above for $2. My guest though the pad Thai had a bitter taste to it. I noted it as a tangy, tongue puckering note that each bite ended on. Neither good or bad, just there. Overall a decent serving of pad Thai piled high.

You don’t often see “Khao soi” on menus, so I had to try “Wara Thai’s” version. A mix of boiled egg noodles and deep fried crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallot, lime and chicken drumstick in a curry-like coconut soup. It had some medium level heat to it, but was balanced by the coconut cream in the broth. I would definitely recommend this one for those who love chewy noodles and a sweeter, creamier soup. I would be just as happy with only the noodles in soup, but this way everything else that came with it, was a bonus.

And for dessert we couldn’t walk away without trying their “Sweet coconut sticky rice with ripe mango”. Originally I was eyeing their jackfruit version, where they stuff the jackfruit with the sweet coconut sticky rice. However, we were told that the fruit is from a can, and the one to order was the mango; seeing as it was in season and the chef really prides herself on acquiring the sweetest mangos for her dessert.

In fact, the chef chooses majority of the ingredients herself. She wants to take the time to ensure that she is getting the best produce. She shops from different markets, knowing where to go for the best. And all this definitely came through in this dessert. This was honestly one of the best mangos I have ever had. It was so sweet and flavourful that I wanted to eat it separate from the coconut milk drizzle and sticky rice; even though those two were tasty as well.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
The aforementioned focus on food and service really showed. On several occasions the chef personally came out to deliver her dishes to each table. She presented plates and took the time to converse and solicit feedback about the meal. She was really creating rapport and building up her clientele. After all what makes a meal at your favourite restaurant is more than just what’s on your plate. At “Wara Thai” it is the people behind the scenes recreating family recipes with heart and integrity of product. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

WARA THAI
509 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V6A 2V1
604-685-5623
warathai.ca

 

For more on the challenge and how you can play judge and vote for your favourite chicken wing dish, visit the link below.
http://vancouverfoodster.com/chicken-wings-challenge/

Comox Valley in the 2019 Mazda CX-5

We set off for Victoria Island, Father’s Day weekend, and had the “Mazda CX-5” to get us there. It was a good sized SUV for our lengthy drive. Plenty of room for ourselves and our over packing. With safety and comfort in mind it got us to our destination and our check-in.

We stayed at the “Holiday Inn Express” in Courtney, conveniently located in the hub of all our weekend’s worth of activities. Our room was equipped with two firm, queen sized beds with cloud-like sheets, a television, mini fridge, and coffee maker. Everything that we would need for a 3 night stay. And best of all, it included access to their complimentary breakfast bar. A buffet style offering with juice, toast, bagels, cereal, yogurt and a pancake making machine. The hotel also has a gym, swimming pool, hot tub, and water slide to take advantage of, but we were far to busy for any of it.

We came to take in the seafood festival, but also took the time to explore what one might do if not visiting during the festival. So for more on the actual BC Seafood Festival, check out my vlog for the highlights, and the blog for all the details.

 

BC Seafood Festival 2019, Events & Tours

 

When looking for places to eat outside of the festival, there are two restaurants worth considering for their view alone. “Blackfin Pub” and “Ocean 7”.

“Blackfin Pub” is nestled by the beach, overlooking the Comox marina and all of its boats. It offers slushed drinks and a bevy of bar favourites.

The “Louisiana Chicken wings” were tangy with a vinegary zip and a dull hot sauce flavour.

The two pounds of dry ribs seasoned in sea salt, cracked pepper, and lemon were extra meaty and surprisingly not dried out like they are at other pubs.

The lightly floured calamari was kettled fried and topped with red onion and tomato chunks. It was crispy with a nice chew, but on the blander side without a dip into tzatziki sauce.

I wanted rice with the “Thai coconut curry clams”, but made due with the grilled focaccia. A delicious warming broth to enjoy the fresh seafood in.

“Ocean7 Bistro” is located at “Kingfisher Resort & Spa”, their property boasts an unobstructed water side view and delicious ocean inspired dishes, best enjoyed on their scenic terrace. During the BC seafood festival run they were voted as the “BC seafood on your plate” winner by judges and fans alike. For more on this dining experience, visit the link below.

Ocean7 Restaurant, AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar

 

We also stopped at “Liquid” in Courtney for some late night eats, which we would learn was the Friday night hot spot. Bumping music, a fully seated bar, and a patio that stayed opened late.

There, we enjoyed the “Bourbon BBQ Makers Mark Ribs”. Baby back slow braised pork ribs, bourbon bbq sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables. A class with fall off the bone meat and a lick your fingers clean sauce.

We partnered this with some slushy cocktails: a Bellini and what the restaurant has fondly named a “Bubblini”. It had the same house made peach slush as in the bellini did, but mixed with a mini bottle of sparkling wine.

We left long before the party ended, only to head to another, just as busy spot. Apparently Courtney’s local “Dairy Queen” is the place to go for some late sugar. There aren’t many dessert options in a small town, so this is where we and everyone else visited for some ice cream on a warm night. And it was here that I finally got to try and fully enjoy “DQ’s” new orange dreamsicle dipped soft serve cone.

But my favourite spot for ice cream on the island was “Love’s” in Cumberland. A cute little blue and white trailer parked permanently in out front of a house, using its lawn as their make shift patio seating area.

This was so good that they are now my new favourite ice cream place, with plenty of gluten and dairy free options. It is just a shame that they are all the way out in Cumberland and requires a ferry to get to. What sets them apart is their ability to swirl hand scooped ice cream. First you choose your base between coconut milk or vanilla cream, and then the frozen fruit you want to flavour it with. Wild blueberry, strawberry, mango, or a berry mix. Together they go into their special machine and what comes out is a perfect swirl. And best of all you can mix two flavours together for a double scoop. Or do what I did, and get a regular hard scoop of their “backyard mint chocolate chip”, and top it with a swirl of their wild blueberry with a vanilla ice cream base. Both ice cream flavours weren’t too sweet, just creamy and tasty, I can see why the line was forming well before they opened, and continued at a steady pace throughout our time there.

While waiting for them to open, we grabbed a couple of tacos from their neighbour, “Old Library Taco”. From what I gathered, the building was converted from an actual library to this cute little tacoria. The chicken and al pastor tacos were colourful, but not as tasty as they looked. I liked the space, but wouldn’t revisit for the price alone. $6 a bland taco seems steep.

Most of our free time in Comox Valley was spent exploring the sights and taking in the scenery.

Like every Saturday from April to October, Comox hosts its own farmer’s market from 9am to 1pm. This is a great way for locals to support small businesses in their community, and for visitors to try something homemade or home grown.

Farm raised beef that is government inspected, grass fed, and hormone free. Various meat sausages and whole roasting chickens. Plenty of pesticide-free, organic fruits and vegetables. Home made chips and salsa, loaves of bread, pastries and pretzels. Honey, barbecue sauces, spreads and preserves. Even ointments, soaps, and creams. It had everything including live music and food trucks for lunch.

We enjoyed getting up close to the fighter jets and all the rescue planes at the “Comox Air Force Museum Heritage Air Park”. You walk the laid out paths that bring you to each plane and a written description of it and its accomplishments. This self guided tour is offered Tuesday to Sunday from April to October.

For more on these planes and others, the Comox Air Force museum is nearby, marked with a statuesque fighter plane.

Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park was where majority of the seafood festivities were held, but outside of the annual affair, the space hosts beautiful views, and a bit of history.

Here, water side scenes unfold before you, best enjoyed on a quiet bench. And you are able to enjoy a self directed tour of Filberg Heritage Lodge, which also serves as a gift shop filled with antiques.

The house was decorated with photos and plaques offering explanations on the first floor. And on the second, bedrooms and bathrooms with collections of dishes, flatware, tea cups, soaps, creams, and vintage jewelry for sale.

But for views of green, water, and mountains in the background there are plenty of options. Most of which we found by using the Mazda’s built in navigation system, using it to exploring the unmarked roads.

On our drive we saw plenty of marshland during high tide, and the birds that dwelled there.

And plenty of beaches. Rocky beaches with stones covered in barnacles and seaweed.

Sandy beaches revealed during low tide.

Beaches with wind blown ridges in the sand.

And all the marine life to explore within the water that got caught in the tide pools. Mostly small crabs and mini fish.

My favourite spot was “Goose Spit Park”, a narrow coastal park with a sandy beach, and walking trails. During the day there were picnics, sandcastles, and folks digging for horse clams.

And during our visit, we just so happened to walk in to the 32nd annual Father’s Day kite flying competition. A family fun event with sign up sheets and prizes to be won.

At night, with plenty of pull up parking to stop your car by the water, “Goose Spit” made for a great place to watch the sun set from.

But for a view of the valley from above, we drove the “Mazda CX-5” up Mount Washington. We sadly didn’t make it in time for the sunset, but did catch a few streaks of colour in the sky.

On the way up the mountain we caught glimpses of deer, but sadly none of the marmots that the caution signs told us to watch out for.

We were too early in the season for their new chairlift, however those visiting the Comox Valley area now will be able to take a ride up and down for spectacular views.

In short, there is plenty to see and do in Comox. So Seafood Festival or not, they are definitely worth your vacationing consideration. And thanks to the “Mazda CX-5” we got to enjoy it all, and in full during our stay.

 

TOURISM COMOX VALLEY
discovercomoxvalley.com

MAZDA
mazda.ca

Dim Sum at Kirin New Westminster

We had relatives in town and my family took them out for dim sum at “Kirin”. My dad is a fan of “Kirin”, but not the Cambie location due to several brushes with bad service, so a drive out to New Westminster was required today. He liked the finer dining restaurant for its finer details. The thought put into their food presentation, the more attentive service, the overall cleanliness of the space, the free parking on premises; and how the food wasn’t too salty or sweet, but seemed to cater to everyone’s taste. And our meal even ended with a luke warm cloth for wiping up after. I am sure it was meant to be hot given the metal container they were rolled up and stacked in, and the matching tongs that were used to deliver them into out out reached hands.

Our sever was also friendly, not common at most Chinese restaurants. He bantered in Cantonese and wore a smile on this face. Although this might be a different experience on a busier day. Today this was an easy drive on a Tuesday, with less traffic on the road and in the restaurant.

We were seated at one of their many round tables with a glass lazy Susan at its centre. An ideal set up for the easy sharing of small plates, amongst our party of 6. White table cloth over a peach, cloth napkins folded into a peaked cone. And there we sat in light conversation, as the meal began with no one wanting to order. No one wanted to come across as being too forward, or to have the responsibility of ordering for everyone else. There was the passing around of the menu, and the reassurance that no one cared what they would be eating. All until my dad took charge, ordering dim sum staples like “ha gao” and “sui mai”. I tried ordering a few items based on photos posted online, however it wasn’t available at this location and neither were items in the photos pictured on their in house menu. No explanation was given for the false advertising in the latter. None-the-less the following is what we were able to order, in the order of which it came. And everything took longer to come, as it is made fresh to order.

“Steamed shrimp dumplings”. Chunked prawn within a starchy coating, tasty like it always is.

“Beef tendon braised in spicy sauce”. You eat this for its firm gelatine-like texture. Fully coated with a thick syrup-like glaze, seasoned with a slow to creep heat that flavours the dish fully.

Similar in texture was the “Steam chicken feet and gluten in black bean sauce.” But both had more of a soften, rubbery texture with the scrunched up skin on the chicken feet and the folded sheets of the gluten.

The “Sticky rice with pork and shredded scallop, wrapped in lotus leaf” had more filling that most sticky rice bundles I have opened up.

The “Deep fried eggplant stuffed with minced prawn in black bean sauce” was the table’s favourite, as it was the first dish to be cleared. This was cut in halves at the table, for easy sharing. Minced prawn meat formed like a ball and steamed like meatloaf with a similar foamy texture.

The “Spareribs steamed with chopped garlic” were easy to pop into your mouth and have your tongue and teeth do all the work, tearing the typically soft meat and cartilage from bone.

“Steamed prawn and Sakura farm premium pork dumpling topped with flying fish roe”. You could absolutely taste the quality of the meat used in this fulsome dumpling. Definitely one of the better renditions I have had.

“Pork neck bone, peanut and fried fish congee”. This was a nice warming way to end our meal. Lightly flavoured by pork and topped with shredded iceburg lettuce and peanuts for crunch; although there are already plenty of cooked peanuts within this, but those were quick to crumble under the pressure of your tongue. I also got a few of the bones that I ate clean, the meat had no seasoning; but was still the most flavourful element in the bowl. Plus it offered some texture to chew through.

Worth noting, the higher price point comes with additional service. I had my plate switched out twice during our 1 hour meal, and my bowl once. Although each time it was done abruptly by one of managers in a suit.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – No.
Everything was tasty, but I have had other dim sums just as good, for less. I wouldn’t necessary make the commute just for dim sum. However if my family is inviting and paying, you can definitely expect to see me here again. Although my dad was very please by how reasonable the cost of the total was today. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

KIRIN
Starlight Casino, 350 Gifford Street, New Westminster BC, V3M 7A3
604-528-8833
kirinrestaurants.com

BC Seafood Festival 2019, Events & Tours

This year I was invited to attend the 13th annual BC Seafood Festival. One weekend out of two where the bounty of BC is celebrated across multiple dinners and various behind the scenes look at local seafood operators.

To skip the reading, check out my latest travel vlog, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

An early ride on the ferry got us to Vancouver Island quick. And from Nanaimo we drove to the Comox Valley. Stopping at Holiday Inn Express to check in. This is one of the designated hotels with regular shuttle service by “Ambassador Transportation” to festival grounds and various event site and back again. This would especially come in handy during said events that featured drinking.

As was the case for our 8 course dinner at “40 Knots Winery”, which included 7 wine pairings. This was a ticketed event held amongst the winery’s grape vines. For the full review of this spectacular out door dinner visit the link below.

40 Knots, BC Seafood Festival 2019

 

We got shuttled there by bus, and to kept the jovial mood going, got driven back to our respective hotels via limo bus. Leather seats, neon lights, cup holders that fit bottles, and stacks of plastic cups. Just one of the many options of transportation available for regular travel, or one of their guided tours. The latter includes a cocktail tour that brings you to 3 different surprise places, three different backdrops to eat and drink at. And best of all, you get picked up from your home or hotel and dropped back there. So now one has to drive and everyone gets to drink! I didn’t get to experience one this time around, but will have to look into this appetizer and drink tour if/when I return.

But on this trip I did drink plenty. The following were offered as a ticketed events or behind the scenes tours, all of which I participated in.

At “Fanny Bay Oysters”, in Fanny Bay we were treated to an oyster freshly grown and picked from their farm. Then given a tour of their facilities. “Fanny Bay Oysters” is 1 hour north of Nanaimo. They do not own the land on which they operate, but instead lease it from the BC government to farm shellfish. Here, we learned the life cycle of their oysters from the General Manager himself.

Oysters start in their hatcheries, located in either Washington or Hawaii. Hawaii being the most optimal, as it is easier to to grow the algae they need to feed the oysters. As well, it is easy to generate the heat needed to keep the intake of the water warm. Once the oysters are small seeds, for the next stage of their growth they get flown to “Fanny Bay”, where they are planted. If the oyster shells are not attached to each other, they will grow singularly. Attached shells grow into oysters that require shucking. Once matured, they are all harvested by hand, as per the government and wildlife and forestry’s requirements. It takes 6-8 months for smaller oysters to mature and 8-12 for the larger ones. Sun Seaker, Kusshi, Olympia, and Kumamoto oysters are grown on tubes, hung in the water in parallel lines. Doing this allows them to grow more on the same foot print. And the advantage they have operating on the inlet is that it is protected by the land formation, and the waves bring more nutrients into the water.

“Fanny Bay Oysters” are known for their consistent product with no barnacles. Specifically their “Sun Seaker”, grown in a bag that floats on top of the water. Hence, the name. There is more food for the oyster on the top, with the sun and the waves. Therefore the meat is in better shape. Similarly oysters grown on the beach are heartier because they are tougher, having to learn how to survive out of water. Whereas ones grown in trays are always in the water, and in theory weaker.

We saw large bins filled with them, submerged in ever running water. Which also included bins of scallops, mussels, and clams. And marvelled at the speed of shucking, in which 5 men before a troth committed to. The tour ended with us staring out at the Georgia Straight and wondering how many shellfish contributed the mountains of bleached white shells in their backyard.

FANNY BAY
#1-6856 ISLAND HWY S., FANNY BAY BC
250-335-1198
fannybayoysters.com

 

I got more than enough oysters in during the ticketed “Shucked!” Happy hour event. All you can eat oyster from 7 local producers; and the wine, beer, and shots to chase them with. More more on the slurping and burping visit the link below.

Shucked! Canada’s Largest Oyster Bar Happy Hour

 

We learned more about local spirit producer, “Wayward Distillery” with a tour of their operations, and a tasting of the end result. They are better known for their use of BC honey in their liquor. Currently they purchase vats of the stuff locally, but have begun farming their own hives in their back yard.

The tour began and their behives, one traditional build and another that allowed you to look into their inner workings.

And ended at the bar with micro shots. First the “Krunkik”, a spiced honey liquor, steeped with mulling spices and mixed with citrus peel. One of their signature bottles, as “Wayward Distillery” are the firsts to make clear spirits out of honey.

I really liked the creativity of the “Caesar’s ghost” vodka, flavoured with ghost pepper. This would make a great base to any savoury cocktail.

We also got a sneak peak and taste of their new “Drunken hive rum” to be released on June 28th, 2019. A new direction they are taking with their distillery, this too is made with their trademark caramelized honey.

WAYWARD DISTILLERY
2931 Moray Ave, Courtenay BC, V9N 7S7
250-871-0424
waywarddistillationhouse.com

 

At “Natural Pastures” we learned how they made their cheeses. Dawning a lab coat, loaner crocs, and a hair net we made our way through their factory and the cheese making process step by step. We started in the aging room where it was ceiling to floor rounds of firm cheese. The dark skinned ones were noted as being smoked. And the speckled ones where flavoured with either pepper, garlic, or chilli. The aged farm house cheese was the oldest, aged for the longest, and the extra effort has made it their best selling firm cheese.

We learned about the cultures and various bacteria that go into the making various cheeses. Then how enzymes are added to help lock protein molecules together, and when ready its consistency is like a thick yogurt. We saw “the harp” and learned how it cuts the curd. Which is then placed into moulds and pressed. All the soft cheeses are kept in a humid room to keep them from dying out. Brie, camembert, and buffalo Brie. Greater than 8 days and it grows mould. So next it needs to be wrapped. This is done in a special room with a machine that is capable of wrapping a round of cheese in 1.8 seconds.

We ended our tour at their shop front, where we able to taste a few of their favourite hard cheeses, and a handful us liked what we tasted enough to buy some for the road. I had to get a bag of their squeaky cheese curds, but their best seller cheese is their Comox Brie.

NATURAL PASTURES CHEESE COMPANY
35 McPhee Avenue, Courtenay BC, V9N 2Z7
250-334-4422
naturalpastures.com

 

My next tour started bright and early and required a plane ride from the Comox Harbour. “Harbour Air” shuttled us to Harwicke island, the most North I have ever been. A scenic flight, but one that noise cancelling headphones were made for.

We flew past green meadows and snow capped mountains, to what seemed like the middle of no where. This was “Mowi salmon farm”. Entry required a sanitizing foot bath for disinfection, and a life vest for safety.

Here, we were greeted by the farm manger who toured us around the property, including the 10 live pens with 52-62 thousand fish in each. You don’t really get a good look into the netted enclosures from the metal walk ways. But you do from their control centre. From televised screens, you get to see what the multiple cameras dropped into the base of the pens see. The farm uses them to gauge the fish’s response to the food pellets they are feeding them. These pellets are a mix of carbs, protein, and oils; sourced from sustainable avenues: Fish meal, fish oil, marine content, grain, wheat, chicken meal, and omega 3 oils. Thus making their salmon the most economic source of protein grown for humans. It takes 1.1 kg of feed to grow 1 kg of fish. And here, the salmon stay in these pens, waiting for 18 months to 2 years, until they mature to 51/2 kilos, the ready for selling weight.

Seeing as salmon only spawn in autumn, having the farm allows them to regulate temperature and light, and gives them the ability and to save their eggs, so that the consumer can have salmon all through out the year. They basically use light to trick salmon into thinking it is time to spawn.

During the tour viruses were brought up, along with the conditions of the fish in the pens. To which our tour guide and the farm manager went into detail regarding their use of vaccines. Thanks to their vaccination program the need to use antibiotics on the fish have dropped by 5%. Each fish gets 3 individual injections during their juvenile stage. Each injection requires a team of 12-18 to administer. All to ensure that all their salmon are well looked after. And every week the farm team checks every pen for the slightest hint of lice.

Ned Bell, Oceanwise Chef was co-hosting this tour. He was present to speak to his support of farmed fish. Acknowledging where fish aquaculture is now a lot better, but there is still work left to do, work to become Oceanwise certified. As resources dwindle we can’t only rely on wild caught fish. And for the critics, when was the last time you had “wild chicken”?

MOWI FISH FARM
#124-1334 Island Highway, Campbell River BC, V9W 8C9
250-850-3276
mowi.com

 

And the last tour I attended echoed the same sentiment: Sustainable seafood though updated aquaculture practices are necessary. At “Manatee holdings LTD.” we were given a limited look at their operation, 10 years in the making.

They specialized in geoduck on their 8 acres of non-commercial land. Which includes a backyard pond that they use as a nursery system, testing ground for them to see how their “crop” will do in nature. Results they won’t actually get to see for at least two more years. Therefore, we weren’t actually able to take a look at their cultured geoduck stock, which they cannot shown due to proprietary reasons.

Instead, we were gathered around a kiddie pool and were given the opportunity to touch and hold the various sea life they raise for consumption and profit. Geoduck, sea cucumber, uni, and oyster seeds.

The rest of the tour was a series of videos, how geoducks are harvested and possible solutions to the over fishing of seafood. But most of the information was U.S. based, which is very different from Canada. In the States they use visible tubes to grow their geoducks, which only takes 5-6 years. Whereas in Canada, the government requires that geoduck farming operations not be visible. Therefore here at “Manatee Holdings” their aquaculture happens 30-60 feet deep in water, and takes 10 years.

Currently “Manatee Holdings” only has their geoduck licence, and they have been working on getting one for sea cucumber farming, but have been left waiting for over 9 years. They are also looking into selling oyster seed in the future. One geoduck goes for $300 in Japan, with cultured products being more expensive due to their controlled quality. For example, ensuring no pollutants are in the water as they grow. This thus controls the market, which has a great appreciation for white neck geoduck, deemed as “Grade A”, whereas the darker necks are less desirable.

Overall I felt the tour was a steep at $10, considering 2/3 of it was a video, and the only thing we really saw with a pool full of water. I suggest doing as our owner/guide suggested, and check back in with them in 2 years time, when they can actually review their operations to the public, as it was proven successful and is no longer under proprietary legislation.

MANTEE HOLDINGS LTD.
4085 Gartley Point Road, Courtenay BC, V9N 9T2
250-331-0486

 

All this led up to the BC Seafood Festival Signature weekend, a festival in the park with food and drink booths, live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, and plenty of activity to engage the whole family in. For more details visit the link below.

BC Seafood Festival Signature weekend

 

The BC Shellfish Grower’s Association Gala was my favourite event. A way to learn more about the seafood through the super star chefs that prepared them. Everything was prepared by the water, under tented booths, right before your eyes. You visited each table, trying each tasters, and coming back for more of your favourite. For all 15 dishes and the BC chef that brought it to life, visit the link below.

BC Shellfish Growers Association Gala

 

In short, the BC Seafood Festival is more than just eating seafood, it also gives you the opportunity to learn more about what you eat and where it comes from. I would definitely like to explore more tours in the future. Including whale and big game animal sightseeing. And revisit all the events and dinners again. But for now, like you, all I can do is get inspired for next year’s festival by visiting the link below, and plan to go!

BC SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
https://bcseafoodfestival.com

Showcase Restaurant, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Tonight I was at “Showcase”, here to try another “Vancouver Foodster Chicken Wing Challenge” contestant. I am 1 of 3 judges looking for the best wings in the city.

Admittedly I have been to “Showcase” a handful for times, but never to sit down and eat, so I was excited to get the full experience today.

We choose to sit in the lounge, adjacent to the bar for ambience sake. Although the menus between their bar and their dining area do differ, and if you want a certain item, you need to be seated accordingly. However, the chef and staff obliged, and an exception was made where we were able to taste from both menus at our table; seated by the all glass exterior. An exterior shared with the the “Marriott Pinnacle Downtown Hotel”.

We took all our chef’s suggestions and were not disappointed. We also got to learn a little more about Chef Westley. He had his apprenticeship at “Showcase” many years ago, then left to work at the “Vancouver Club” for a year, following that he started his own catering company, and shortly after landing himself a desk job as the product developer for “Joey’s” the chain. However, not being able to cook as much as he wanted to, he found his way back to “Showcase” all these years laters, now as the “Chef de Cuisine”, helming the kitchen and launching their new dinner menu.

In fact the very wings I would be judging today were from Chef Westley, added on to the regular menu before he left, and kept on due to popular demand. Our server even made a point to mention to us that they were her favourite menu item, and she had pushed back when the kitchen announced that they were going to update them. So here they are, just as they were 4 years ago.

“Soy marinated chicken wing”. They are breaded and fried, then tossed with a soy ginger glaze and topped with spicy aioli. They are only available on their bar and happy hour menu, but the restaurant has been known to serve them wherever their fans want them. They were hearty and meaty wings, with plenty of crunch from the thick and lumpy coating. It had that lick your fingers quality to them. A tad on the salty side, making them the ideal pairing with beers at the bar.

From off of the dinner menu we enjoyed some seafood. “Grilled pacific humbolt squid” with romesco sauce, watercress, fennel, charred lemon vinaigrette, and pine nuts. This was a beautifully elevated dish befitting of a classy hotel lobby restaurant. The flavours in this were bold and tangy with dull spice, and the greens and fennel added freshness to the smokey char of the squid.

Next, we enjoyed “Seared Ocean Wise scallops”, I love a good scallop and found there aren’t enough of them on menus; so to be able to try them here, so well done, was a treat. Prepared with Ajo Blanco, caramelized cauliflower, and calabrian chilli. This was my favourite dish with the night, and I would order a bowl of the cauliflower as is.

To drink I tried one of their new cocktails, created by their new cocktail consultant from “Odd Society”. The “Hibiscus cosmo” with vodka, fresh lime, orange liqueur, and salted hibiscus syrup. This was a modern, less sweet take on the cosmo. It was very refreshing with citrus, but I kept looking for more floral notes from the hibiscus.

And for dessert I couldn’t stay no to trying their “Japanese cotton cheesecake”. I am not a fan of rich desserts, so a light and fluffy cake with the texture of angel food cake but more custard-like, was a nice way to end the meal. Dressed with pink grapefruit, yogurt cremeux, and white chocolate puffed rice. I liked the burst of freshness from the fruit, the extra decadence from the cream, and the crunch of the puffed rice.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Now that I know the food is this good, I will be back. They have the menu of a great waterfront restaurant, but sadly without the view or setting, shame. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

SHOWCASE
1122 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6E 4J6
604-639-4040
showcaserestaurant.com

Mumbai Local, #ChickenWingsChallengeYVR

Today I was getting to know a little more about “Mumbai Local” through the Vancouver Foodster “Chicken Wing Challenge”. This year I am one of 3 judges, and my duties brought me down to try their wing creation. They are 1 of 5 restaurant/ competing for the title of “best wings”. A competition based on originality, taste, and presentation. It is worth noting that they are the only restaurant who created a new dish specifically for the competition.

But first, finding them. “Mumbai Local” was hard to spot. We walked passed their all black facade a couple of times. Without a colourful awning or a stand out sandwich board you wouldn’t bother looking at their direction. But inside, it is a different story. Extending the length of the space is a beautifully done, eye catching mural in black, white, and yellow; depicting every day life in Mumbai. A woman with a bucket of fish on her head, a man loaded with multiple Indian kaftan lunch boxes on either shoulder. I would love to see a similar portrait splashed across their exterior. One, to attract attention; and two for a great selfie moment, to encourage fans to stop by for a photo, if not to eat. That being said, the mural is a nice surprise for those who do make it in.

To start I ordered their “Monsoon” cocktail with Olmeca tequila, Cointreau, guava, grapefruit juice, and chilli salt. I made sure ask if I would actually be able to taste the guava juice, and I was not disappointed here. The guava was pronounced, topped with a lingering spice from the chilli. This was a nice cocktail to compliment our meal ahead, unlike the drink below.

My guest ordered the “Turmeric milk”, a steamed milk yellow with turmeric and saffron, served in an adorable little jug. It was a nice way to end the meal, not accompany it.

We took the Chef’s suggestion and started with their “Chaat Sampler”, local street food popular on the streets of Mumbai. Four different one biters with a combination of salty, sweet, sour, or bitter paired with either a crunchy, crispy, or spongy texture. A beautifully put together platter and an adventure in dining.

The “Bhel puri” was served in the dish. Puffed rice, fried dal, crackers, onion, and a tamarind and chilli chutney. It was like bbq flavoured Rice Krispies cereal, and whipped potato, but made soggy with the sweet sauce. This was my least favourite of the four, given it felt like you were eating a spoonful of crumbs.

The “Shev puri” had flat crackers, potato, onion, and the dams tamarind and date chutney. Stacked like a mini tostada, it was easy to eat with one bite. And it is advised that you enjoy this one as soon as you get it to avoid sogginess.

The “Pani puri” is a hollow cracker filled with chickpea purée, enjoyed with a small jug of sweet tamarind water and a spicy mint and chilli water. With a steady hand you fill each globe with as much of each water as you like. This gives it a fun interactive element, a sensation similar to eating a soup dumpling. Refreshing as you bite down and the liquid flushes into your mouth.

The “Dahi puri” was a more filled and filling hollow cracker. This time stuffed with yogurt, chickpea, and their tamarind and date chutney. This one had all the flavours and all the textures of the top three rolled into one, literally. Best defined as an orb filled with cream, and spiced with a heat that lingers

Next we enjoyed their limited edition, Vancouver Foodster Challenge wings, inspired by chicken kabob. “Hariyali Chicken Wings” marinated in mint, cilantro, and yogurt; cooked over charcoal, and served with a cabbage slaw and mint chutney. A striking plate with the opposite, yet complimentary colours of forest green and burgundy. It looked like it came out a Dr. Seuss book, and would go well with green eggs and ham. The meat was velvety and the mint acted like a pesto with it herbaceous-ness. Plenty of mint flavour, citrusy masala notes, and the crispness of a char from the charcoal.

The “Vada pav” was carb overload for me. Fried potato patty in a toasted bun, this was too much starch. It did taste good, but it sat heavy and was dense. It needed a sweet and tangy note to brighten it up. In the end are them separately, patty out of bun. The potato patty was tasty enough to stand on its, own and the dough of the buttery bun absorbed plenty of sauce to give it its own character.

I really enjoyed their “Kombadi vade curry” and would come back for more. Chicken breast, caramelized onion and coconut; served with steam rice and vade, a traditional bread.

“Vade” is a dough made from lentil flour, seasoned in cinnamon and corridander. Rolled and stamped with banana leafs, then fried. It was chewy like a hard tortilla, not great on its own, but made for a nice base to dip into the curry with.

As another alternative bread, we also added a chapati to our order. this was a whole wheat roti, grainy and hard.

As of the actual curry, it was thick and creamy, and drank like a bisque. It reminded me of a spicy lentil soup and smelled like carrots. Delicious, but it was the chicken that stole the show. Brined for 24 hours, and sous vide for 1 hour, shocked in a pan and seared for a crispy skin. This was perfectly prepared and super tender chicken.

And for dessert we fully enjoyed the “Shrikhand”, a kitchen favourite. Although simple looking, it does take a day of preparation. They make their own yogurt in house and it needs to hang. The pineapple is compressed with cinnamon simple syrup. The cardamon and saffron are imported from directly from India. And it is finished with dehydrated beet power and a pistachio crumble. This was a light dessert that was fully satisfying. I liked being able to to mix and match all the elements and curate my bite. The cream portion had a similar consistency to ice cream, but much lighter. The tang of the acidic pineapple was nicely paired with the rich nuttiness of the cinnamon. I would like to have this one again too.

We chatted quickly with two tourists who raved about their meal as well. They searched for dinner options in the neighbourhood and found “Mumbai Local’s menu enticing. I agreed, but I might not have if the chef didn’t go through the menu with us, and explain the thought behind each dish we order. It would be nice if all their staff could sell their menu as well as this, and to help personalize each diner’s meal. Their menu is chic, but hard to order off of. A photographic one would be nice, and make it more approachable. However, it would take away from their boutique vibe and trendy look.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
As Vancouver’s only restaurant featuring Mumbai cuisine, they are the authority and go to. Everything is made in house, like their masala, proudly from a family recipe. All their meat is local from “Three Rivers meat” and their seafood Oceanwise. Recipes recreated from family members, friends, and experiences. For example, the chef just came back for a trip to India, and with him he brought back kebabs, their new menu feature. Overall they were a great modern take on traditional Indian street food. Authentic flavours and modern styled plating, made for a unique dining experience. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

MUMBAI LOCAL
1148 Davie Street, Vancouver BC, V6E 1N1
604-423-3281
mumbailocal.ca

BC Seafood Festival Signature weekend

All the tours and dinners I have been enjoying in Comox Valley were leading up to the “BC Seafood Festival Signature weekend”. A two day celebration, set up “Filberg Heritage Lodge & Park”. On Saturday June 15th and Sunday June 16th from 11:00am to 5:00pm, ticket holders came down to explore the extent of the seafood festival summarized into booths, tasting stations, cooking demonstrations, and activities for kids and adults alike.

There was so much to see and do that I visited both days, to be able to take it all in. The following are the highlights of the weekend.

The main draw is definitely the food and drink vendors. All food and wine tastings required tickets in exchange for money. A dollar a ticket with a difference between food and drink tickets.

Local wine vendors were on site offering plastic cups of red, white, or rose. “Lake Breeze”, “Joie”, “40 Knots”, and “Gold Hill” to name a few.

And breweries had their pressurized taps to go. For locals this was a great way to support the community; for visitors, a great way to try something new and find that perfect souvenir to take home.

Local spirit vendor, “Wayward Distillery” was also available for stronger pours.

And for those looking for libations without the booze, the folks at the “Shrub & Soda” were mixing their flavoured syrups with club soda. Although their product can also be used for cocktail mixes as well.

For food, there was plenty of seafood, naturally. But for those who don’t like fish or shellfish, or for little picky diners “The Pickled Carrot” catering food truck was on site offering popcorn chicken, fires, and poutine. And surprisingly they were popular.

At “Summer Kitchen”, the regular in-park concession, there was candied salmon mousse, cold smoked salmon tacos, tandoori tuna, prawn bisque, and a double salmon pasta salad.

The “Fanny Bay” team was shucking oysters to order.

But if you like them cooked, “Mac’s Oysters” had them battered, fried, and seasoned.

The “Cod Father” too were offering fresh shucked oysters, but these were from “Effingham Oyster”. So instead, I would recommend their smoked oysters or smoked salmon

There were smoked and barbecue scallops on the grill, at the “West Coast Wild Scallops” booth. They were plated in shell with pickled vegetables.

The “North Vancouver Island Chef’s Association was asking 5 tickets for their panko crusted wild halibut with basil aioli coleslaw, and berry coulis.

There was smoked steelhead, sockeye, and ling cod to nibble on cod.

I enjoyed watching all the kettle corn stir to life in a kettle drum.

And for dessert they boys at “Slopes” we’re scooping their small batch ice cream and hand made waffle cones, for a cold treat. Their ice cream is made with grass fed milk and you had your choice from sea asparagus with gin and lemon zest, salted caramel made with salt from “Vancouver Island Salt Co.”, a dark chocolate sea salt, or an ice cream made with infused kelp oil and topped with more kelp oil. I went with the first with no regrets. It was like a lemon spritz, very refreshing.

Non food vendors offered information on sustainable fishing and a had visitors learning through diagrams and games. But my favourite booths were the ones that allowed you to connect with the local wild life.

At the “Mars rescue centre” there was a smaller owl to get close to and take photos of.

At the “Deep Bay Marine Field Station” you got to pick up and poke leather sea stars, hermit crabs, sea cucumber, and spiny green sea urchins. I definitely was the oldest “child” enjoy the water play.

But the most popular showcases were ones held at centre stage. There are seats to sit and enjoy the show from, but be warned, they filled up fast, and it was hard to see past the crowds. It is best to check the schedule and stake out your ideal spot for your favourite presentation. Like the oyster shucking master class, the chef’s black box cooking challenge, and various cooking demonstrations hosted by Chefs from all over BC.

There was even a cooking workshop for kids, where they helped to prepare shrimp tacos.

In short, the “BC Seatfood Festival Signature Weekend” is a great place to take the family, or a unique setting to enjoy with friends. There was much to eat, much more to drink, and even more to look at and explore. To be sure that you don’t miss out on any of their future events, visit the link below.

BC SEAFOOD FESTIVAL
https://bcseafoodfestival.com

Ocean7 Restaurant, AQUA Bistro & Wine Bar

We were at “Kingfisher Resort and Spa” for dinner, here thanks to a handful of recommendations. But what sold it for us was the promise of the “best patio view” in Comox Valley. And I was not disappointed, especially as we got the table right by the water.

The restaurant sits behind the resort. Guests staying overnight only have to stroll across the courtyard for a night cap. As visiting diners, you walk through the entrance and the bar greets you. Past it is either their fine dining room on the left, or their cement block patio on the right. On the patio, golf umbrellas offer shade for clustered tables. In the distance, a boat sails on calm waters, a bald eagle soars over head, and snow cap mountains offer much to take in on this warm night.

But what set them apart for me, was the cat that has made this property her home. She roamed freely and rested where she liked. Today it was the lounging on the concrete, amongst the diners. And taking a peak in the kitchen, only to be lured back out with cat treats.

As for the actual dinner, I started with their “Fizzle my swizzle” cocktail, enticed by my curiosity over cachaca. “Cachaca” is a distilled spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice. The result, a tropical punch with fig reduction, coconut, lime, and orange. A very tropical drink, like a pina colada. Good, but I didn’t taste any of the promised fig, which would have elevated this to more than just an island punch.

To eat, I ordered the “Marinated Yellowfin Tuna Tacos”, after a strong suggestion from our server. A white corn tortilla filled with avocado, marinated cabbage, black and white sesame, scallion, and a chilli vinaigrette. The tuna was absolutely the best part of this meal, but there was not enough of it. A small chunk of tuna with every bite, but not enough to taste it past the generous amount of julienne vegetables; with the combined texture of coarse slaw. Red cabbage, nappa cabbage, red and yellow peppers, chives, carrot, and guacamole with spice. Be warned this is quick to fall apart, but I was quicker to grab a fork and eat it like a salad.

With them, you get the choice of sides between the pommes frites or organic green salad. I upgraded them to the “Aqua Pommes Frites” seasoned with rosemary, Grana Padano, and truffle aioli. There was plenty of truffle, so rich that I wanted some ketchup to cut the taste, and offer with it a refreshing tang. Although the fries were already pretty salty and the truffle’s oily and buttery nature was hard to mask when in excess.

My partner got the “Bistro Burger” with ground chuck, smoked cheddar, honey cured bacon, roasted garlic aioli, and grainy mustard; all between a pretzel bun. This too comes with your choice of pommes frites or organic green salad. He got the former. The menu didn’t list pickle being in the burger, so he was upset that it “contaminated” his dinner. He removed it and the two slices of tomato. But I found the density of the juicy patty and the heavy pretzel dough in need of those vegetables for freshness and balance, like the sweet cherry tomato.

 

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
Overall a good enough meal, but what you will remember is the view, and the reason I will return is for this view. But next time around I will be visiting their fine dining property. It too has the same view, but just behind glass.
Don’t deny your cravings.

 

OCEAN 7
330 Island Hwy S, Courtenay BC, V9N 9R9
+1 800-663-7929
kingfisherspa.com

Page 1 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén