VieAMaggi.com

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

Category: Canadian Page 1 of 10

Visa Infinite Dining Series: Wildebeest

Today I was invited to my very first “Visa Infinite Dinner” featuring the collaborative efforts of “Wildebeest”, Vancouver and “Le Vin Papillon” in Montreal. Both of which helmed respectively by chefs Ian McHale and Jesse Grasso, friends and colleagues in this Montreal inspired meal to come. (As taken from the press release) Chef Grasso is “the third sibling in the Joe Beef clan and currently No.13 on Canada’s Top 100 list”. He will bringing his celebration of vegetables and cheeses to “Wildebeest’s” table of butchery, charcuterie, and game. A five course feast with canapés to start, and perfectly selected wine pairings every step of the way. Said wine was chosen by “Wildebeest’s” wine director, Christina Hartigan”. She is an impressive wine expert and enthusiast, with the title of BC’s second best sommelier.

“Wildebeest’s” cozy restaurant made the perfect setting for this private event. The narrow space had guests surrounded by red brick walls, wood panel separators, leather booths, and bulbs suspended by pulleys. Its rustic, yet homey feel played off their scratch-made, nose to tail, Pacific Northwest cuisine, well. We were seated towards the back, under the plume of a multitude of dried bouquets. Each seat was set with a name card and a menu listing the courses to come.

The night began with all the guests mingling in a mixed setting. Christina was at the back pouring glasses of “Jean Bourdy Crémant de Jura”. This was an easy drinking, 100% Chardonnay made in champagne-style. She mentioned that this was the perfect bottle to pair with likes of the light snacks that were also being passed around at this time.

The “Pomme Anna with kamouraska smoked eel” were tasty potatoes bites fried in waygu fat, and then topped with the eel and a dollop of sweeter mayonnaise. It was sumptuously rich and fatty in all the right ways. Definitely a great one to have with beer, or better yet: the sparkling above.

Next to be passed out was the “Waygu tartare with Chilliwack Horseradish”. It was served in a porcelain spoon for easy eating. It had a peppery tang that ended fairly garlicky. I liked the flavour, but am not a fan of the texture of tartare in general. Whereas, I prefer my raw beef in sheets, rather than minced.

I really liked the “Chicken liver and foie gras parfait with preserved wild berries on brioche”. I could have eaten a half dozen of these. Deliciously luscious pâté, smeared on thick. The sweetness of the berry played off the meaty paste well, and the crunchy brioche added some needed texture to the bite.

And I think this is first time trying whelks. They are much like their land cousins, and even seasoned similarly, here. These sea snails were prepared in plenty of butter with fragrant herb and garlic to finish. The seasonings masked anything musky you might not have wanted. I did like the firm chew of the whelks, it was a texture more like squid than escargot, which I prefer.

The “little neck clam with mirepoix bolognese” was served in shell. A scoop with flavours that ate like a meal, but I didn’t get much clam coming through.

When time, we were all directed to our assigned seats to start our meal. But first, a quick introduction to the program before us and acknowledgment of our traveling guest chef. Then our sommelier Christiana guided us through her wine choices, featuring many natural wines to speak to “Le Vin Papillon”.

The sit down portion of our night began with the “Mai & Kenji Hodgson Les Aussigouins 2016 Chenin Blanc; from Anjou, France. This is wine with a Vancouver connection. It is made by a former Vancouver wine writer that moved to France to make wine. His vintage was a lovely, medium bodied white with no oakiness, a fresh sipper that would pair well with the saltiness of the ham and starchiness of celeriac to come.

“Little burgundy ham, Avonlea cheddar, and brown butter”. This was one of the best ham and cheese platters I have ever had to date; and that says a lot, as this was just one of each kind being offered. But perfection together, with the savoury sweetness of the brown butter sauce coming through. I couldn’t stop picking at it. The creamy texture from the mildly smoked ham was memorable, especially how it played off the sharp and chalky cheese.

“Slow roasted celeriac, pickled chantrelles, and smoked walnuts”. Much like the dish above, this too was a light start that focused on delicious textures. Each element came together for a well balanced bite. Smooth celeriac, meaty mushrooms, and crunchy walnuts; best with a smear of oil from the pool at the bottom of the plate.

Our next wine tasting was the “Hajszan Neumann Nussberg 2018 Grüner Veltliner” from Vienna, Austria. Our in house sommelier declared that this is a wine that doesn’t get enough attention, so she would bring light to it here. It pairs well with any green vegetable, like the leeks in our fish course below. Its dairy nods went well with the green sauce and its savoury notes.

The “Lois Lake Steelhead, with Salt Spring Island mussels, leek velouté, Chilliwack lemongrass, and shore greens” would be my favourite dish of the night. And this is surprising considering I don’t often gravitate towards fish, or would I choose it over a heavy red meat main or a decadent pasta. But this buttery fish that ate like sashimi had it all, and I would order it again in a heartbeat. The freshness of the puréed leeks, the zested lemon in the sauce brightening things up, and the perfectly pedestal-ed mussels creating both visual and textural interest.

Next for wine we had the only red of the night, ideal for the red meat to follow. “La Stoppa Macchiano 2011 Barbera, Bonarda. This was a limited release from Central Northern Italy, pulled out from a cellar. It is a blend of two grapes at 50/50, all picked from a single vineyard. Made using traditional wooden vats that are unfiltered and triple decanted. The result, a smokier red with fine tobacco notes.

The red’s tartness helped to balance out the saltiness from the “Pastrami Pithivier served with sauerkraut, foie gras, house mustard, and bordelaise”. This was basically the merging of two Classic Montreal foodstuffs. A tourtiere filled with shredded Montreal smoked meat. But sadly I am not a fan of smoke meat, even with the delicious mustard plates. But I did appreciate the artistry and butteriness of the flaky pie crust and the gravy that I picked up with it.

Next, was the “Quebec cheese course”, another simple serving that I was caught off guard by how much I liked. There was pageantry in the plating of the Jersey royal cheese, topped with real honey comb, and served along side butterfly shortbread cookies and Quebec lingonberry. The latter most was even cultivated by monks in Quebec. This was a clean presentation that ate that way too. You spread chunky cheese over not all that sweet cookie, and topped it off with tangy berries in syrup. It was as fun to eat as it was to craft.

To pair with it we enjoyed an unique Quebec cider that you can’t normally find in BC. This is a bottle of fermented, 100% russet. Apples and cheese are a natural pairing and together the sweetness of the cider mellows out cheese above. But with an oakiness to it from the fermentation process. Dry and effervescent, it helped wash everything down.

And to close out the night, dessert was a “Grand Fir: Black locust, Chantilly, and cannoli pastry”. The pastry had an amazing crunch to it, like a solid strip of corn flake with ground sugar. And the black locus gel was set with vinegar, making it not too sweet. But I am not a fan of the texture of whipped creams in general, so it was a little much for me here. Although, I did enjoy the fresh lemon zest I got from it.

As its paring and our last glass, we had the “LaStella Moscato d’Osoyoos 2018 Muscat”. It is from Osoyoos in BC, but done in an Italian style; making it not as sweet as other Moscatos. A light sparkle coupled with floral and peachy notes.

In conclusion I was floored by the quality and caliber of this dinner, nothing disappointed. It delivered as advertised and I would be clamouring to attend any such Visa Infinite dinners in the future. And if you ever get the chance I suggest you do too. Simply fantastic.

Get tickets to exclusive Visa Infinite Dining Series events featuring unique chef collaborations, multi-course meals and wine pairings all in a private setting at Canada’s top restaurants.
https://www.visainfinite.ca/infinite/en/home.html?category=foodWineLink

Wildebeest
120 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1G8
(604) 687-6880
wildebeest.ca

Galentines at Glowbal

Every year my best friend and I celebrate Galentines, it is a take on Valentines that endures our relationship. We do all the clique things that boyfriends and girlfriends (or any couple arrangement) does, but with each other as the bestie. So all the fun and extravagance, but with none of the disappointment.

This year we choose “Glowbal” as our destination for a more luxurious feel. A busy weekend, we were seated on the second floor looking down on it all, and the open raw bar.

We started the night with a couple of glasses of sparkling wine to mark the occasion.

Followed by an amuse bouche of “Butternut squash and ginger soup”, served in an espresso cup. A vegan soup that was light without the cream, and carrot forward to my tastes.

It transitioned well to our “Glowbal Dungeness Crab Cake” appetizer. A large puck of crab meat with a crispy seared crust. Served over a lemon tarragon aioli that gave it an enjoyable creaminess. And with the thinly sliced, raw and refreshing side salad, this became a well balanced dish of textures and harmonious flavours. A delicious and light start.

For our main my girl friend was lured in by the appeal of a premium cut of steak, or in this case, two. This is the 28oz Prime Rib Eye ‘Double Entrecote’ for $110. Two steaks cut down to strips for your easy consumption. Served with enough sauces and sides to make it a full meal.

The truffle mashed potatoes were garlicky with lots of rich flavour, but none of the truffle.

I really liked the Brussels sprouts, fried crispy and seasoned salty with plenty of Parmesan.

The seasoned vegetables were a collection of zucchini, heirloom carrots, and broccoli sautéed in butter and herbs.

And if they or your steak needed a change of taste or any additional flavouring, look to 1 of the 4 sauce dishes also included with the set. A red wine jus, a horseradish cream, chimichurri sauce, and herbed butter. The red wine was a classic steak sauce. The horseradish, a sharp cream that helps to brighten up any dish. The chimichurri tangy with pesto and lime notes. And the herbed butter a little too decadent with the steak, overpowering it. The sauces were a nice way to elongate the longevity of the meal; but as flavouring agents unnecessary, given how well seasoned and dressed everything was.

As for the steak, it was a fattier cut. We asked for it medium rare, but I still found it harder and drier. Not bad, but not in my top 3, which is a little more detrimental given the cost. The salad on the side was undressed and added nothing to the plate, aside from colour. The sides above were what you wanted to concentrate on anyways.

As impressive as the assembly above was, the following stole the show. Every Friday and Saturday night ”Glowbal” has a bar cart service. A table side show where a roving bartender creates various sensory cocktails. Tonight they would use smoke and bubbles for an added flavour and scent, along with the literal smoke show.

The earl grey sage martini was shaken and topped with an egg foam, before a smokey rosemary bubble is blown on top of it. A specialized machine does the inflating. The bubble lasts for several seconds creating quite the image.

You can also get it on top of a whiskey sour, like my guest did. Then, as a party trick, our table side bartender pushed the two glasses together and the 2 singular bubbles merged into one with a well defined crack in between. Honestly the most fun I have had at a finer dining establishment.

None of the desserts really appealed to us, so I had mine as more of a liquid dessert. The Melon ball cocktail, topped with a tuft of cotton candy, that sat doubling the height of the glass. This is a fruity tropical cocktail made sweeter by melting the spun sugar within it. This too was a great visual drink.

It is worth noting that between our server, all the staff, and the managers, we were well taken care of. Plenty of check ins and the willing ness to help and accommodate at anytime. This included changing tables mid meal, in realization to the fact that we were ordering a feast we would not finish.

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.
A wonderfully memorable night because of the great service and outlandish food and drink. The attentive staff made all the difference and the unique moments they offered are the ones you will be talking about for months to come. Don’t deny your cravings.

GLOWBAL
590 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1A3
(604) 602-0835
glowbalgroup.com

CAVU Kitchen Bar

When you think Richmond you think Chinese food; you conjure up images of noodles, dumplings, and stir fry. But what if you don’t want any of the above, should you have to travel out of the island city in order to get a decent burger or a grilled steak? Well “Cavu” doesn’t think so. And they are helping those with that very dilemma, by offering them Pacific West Coast fare across their new winter menu. Hot off the heels of their “Le burger week” win, this menu includes two new burgers worth traveling for, as well as a collection of tasty shareables and delicious desserts.

Located in the hotel’s lobby, parking is easily accessible and free for diners. Once within, the restaurant ushers you close with an open entry way. It feels like your average hotel lobby restaurant with dark furnishings and floors, television screens for entertainment, and plants for visual interest. Nothing stand out, apart from the random words splashed across specific walls, foiled in gold. “Unlimited”, “visibility”, and the cut out ceiling labelled as such.

Our group grabbed the large high top, share table that divided the casual bar with the more formal dining area (minus the tv screens). Christmas was in the air and on the tables with buckets of candy canes, glass jars of baubles, and ever green trees set a glow. But I was most enamoured by the fact that our table had outlets built into it. I was able to charge my phone with no more than a cable.

We began our meal by snacking on thinly sliced, gently salted potato chips. Their light airy texture so addictive that our group found ourselves finishing it all, as we waited for our first course to arrive.

With it I had the “Berry coconut margarita” a feature cocktail for the season. Made with 1800 coconut infused silver tequila and chambord, with a beet root rim. This was a nice enough drink, fruity and easy to finish. Although it wasn’t one that spoke to the holiday, its popular flavours, or its warm and smokey tones. With the coconut and candy sugar rim, this drank tropical, more like punch that you gulp, then something to be slowly sipped and savoured for warmth.

My favourite dish of the night, and the one I would order again, had us starting the night on a high note. The “Mediterranean labneh” is a soft cheese spread served with arbequina XV olive oil, dukkah, figs, olives, and rosemary. With so many elements to sort though, its taste was dependant on how you smeared and topped your chewy pita bread. Worth nothing is that you are given more cheese than bread to spread. So either lay it on thick, or double your order of pita as a precaution. They make the labneh in house, from scratch. And even though it is made from mostly yogurt, its telltale tartness doesn’t move forward. You only get a pleasant tang to it. The cheese was easy to spread, thick like cream cheese, with extra sumptuousness from the olive oil. I especially liked a slice of fig to finish it off. This side would have been great with wine.

Next, we had the “Cavu fried chicken basket”. Extra points for the presentation of this one. Available in spicy or medium, the colouring of both looked the same: orangey-brown. For more heat, dunk your jagged-battered chicken nugget in to the iconic flavour of Frank’s Red Hot.

Although I preferred the spicy version as is, already well flavoured. But I did find that both versions had a little too much breading, causing it to feel dry and almost over cooked.

The burger that won them “Le Burger Week” was their “Le Big Mac N Cheese Burger”. An 8oz beef patty topped with melted cheddar, bacon, and ketchup. All sandwich between two Mac and cheese croquettes, repurposed into burger buns. Crispy on the outside, elbow macaroni packed on the inside. This is the type of comfort food I crave for after heavy drinking. But sober, I wanted more gooey raclette cheese to moisten things up with. There was also not enough stringy cheese with in the Mac and cheese patties for my tastes. And the beef burger was a little over cooked, a pinker centre would have been nice. But here, we discovered their kimchi ketchup, just came in handy. Not typically paired with this dish, but it should be. In fact, the condiment should be bottled up and enjoyed with everything. It has what you like about ketchup, but with additional sweetness and a kick from the preserved cabbage. They also have a garlic aioli that would have helped pull this together as a burger. But instead, I happily ate it deconstructed like pasta with ketchup.

Just as impressive is their “baller burger”. You want it for the name alone. Another 8oz patty, but this one is topped with sautéed lobster claws, asparagus, arugula, dijonaise, and a Béarnaise sauce. All set between a toasted brioche bun. This was basically a surf and turf made more practical to eat, as a handheld burger. Although things did get messy with all the oils and juices running down your hands. It made the vegetable soggy, and left you wanting a slice of tomato or sweet pickle to brighten things up, which was available on the side.

I was not a fan of the calamari. “Crispy chilli fried squid and prawn” with sesame puffs; seasoned in togarashi spice, shishito pepper, green onion, yuzu aioli, and chilli. The flavour was interesting: peppery, salty, and savoury. But the texture of the breading came across as ashy and chalky. Here, a creamy aioli would have helped course correct things, and add some cooling balance that the dish needed.

If you are looking for something light and lean, the “pan seared Lois lake steelhead” is a good option. Tender, flaky fish sitting on top of a rösti potato (a Swiss dish of grated potatoes formed into a small flat cake and fried.) and braised leeks; all in a pool of saffron butter sauce. The potato ate like pasta in its starchiness, but was overwhelmed by the butter sauce. Out of personal preference, I would have like a red tomato sauce with tang for the salmon, much like the one below.

The “Cioppino” (fisherman’s stew) was a collection of seafood in a spiced tomato broth. Rockfish, mussels, squid, prawns, onions, and bell peppers. A beautifully coloured bowl of neon red with sprigs of green leaves and herbs, and the pink of the watermelon radish peeking through. Thought was put into this presentation. The squid rings were my favourite part, they were beautifully prepared with a great chew. Although I preferred this whole, more as a soup; slurping up liquid and dunking toasted focaccia slices into it like a sponge.

The “stout braised beef short rib” was a generous serving. The meat was tender and easy to pull part. However I found it too salty and its flavour flat. The vegetables and jus on the side helped, but there was not enough to have some steak mushrooms, peas, or carrots with each bite. I would have also preferred the potatoes mashed and whipped smooth for a similar texture that that of the meat, one that would have had the vegetables pop more.

For dessert we had “Molten chocolate cake”. It didn’t really have a melty ganache centre, as we had thought it would (based on the name and description). It would have been nice to have the cake served warmer, fresh out of the oven. And utilizing the scoop of custard ice cream that topped it as a cooling agent; and then later, a sauce, when it melted over the chewy chocolate cake, with hazelnut notes.

Altogether I preferred the “spiced rum and raisin pudding”. I am more partial to a vanilla base dessert, and definitely I got it here. Bourbon vanilla ice cream, candied pecan, salted caramel, and toasted marshmallow. It looked and tasted like cookie dough with a nice burnt caramel finish.

Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – No.
Would I suggest this to someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I wouldn’t necessarily travel the distance for a meal, but for more show stopping burgers like the baller one up above, I can see myself returning for another go of the place. They are best for the hearty, “stick to your ribs” kind of stuff. There were some hits and some misses, but over all it was better than I expected. Quality food and some creative dishes for fall/winter. Don’t deny your cravings.

CAVU
Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel
5911 Minoru Blvd, Richmond, BC V6X 4C7
(604) 232-5001
cavukitchenbar.com

New summer menu items from Tim Horton’s

“Timmy’s” has launched a few new menu items this summer, and in this post, I taste my way through the three I found most interesting.

For the raw reaction, check out my latest taste test video, now up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.

 

The following was ordered from their food court presence at Metropolis at Metrotown, in Burnaby. A full meal with drink and dessert that came to $9.31 after taxes.

The “Jolly Rancher slush” is a pink drink with flecks of hard candy mixed in, like sprinkles in a cake. It is super sweet and tastes just like the candy. Not one flavour, but all the Jolly Rancher flavours muddled into one.

Their new poutine was a nice interpretation. I am already a fan of their herbed potato wedges with crispy edges and chewy centres. To it they add Quebec squeaky cheese and a rich beefy gravy. It was a nice snack and about time Canada’s favourite coffee spot had their own poutine.

The doughnut sticks were disappointing. Hard sticks of dough deep fried and tossed in cinnamons sugar. They weren’t fried to order, but allowed to sit and harden. It would have been better served warmed up and maybe with a dipping sauce, considering it is already the shape of a fry and therefore easy to dip.

Keeping in mind this is fast food for quick snacks and sugar cravings, these offerings are a fun edition to their menu. Not ones I would necessary revisit, but the right child would be thrilled to have this for lunch.

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

Jasci & Marchesani wine tasting at Homer St. Cafe

Today I was at “Homer Street Cafe” for a intimate lunch, featuring Italian wine brand, “Jasci & Marchesani”. Our time would begin with a wine tasting and the meeting of our two hosts, who only just arrived a mere 2 hours prior, straight from Italy.

We were introduced to the second generation owner of “Jasci & Marchesani”, and their brand ambassador who spoke English with a thick Italian accent. The brand ambassador would do the translating as he walked us through the 5 bottles presented today. He commanded the room like a Quintin Tarantino character, with a thick collar on his neon shirt and a large belt buckle drawing your attention to the word “energie”. Together, the two men took us to trip to Italy with wine.

“Jasci & Marchesani” is produced off the East coast of Italy, on the same latitudinal line as Rome. What sets them apart is the fact that they are the first organic vineyard certified in Italy, in 1978. This and their strong focus on sustainability. This focus was first introduced when the original owner noticed a lack of birds chirping on his property, and a dip in crop production. The solution, going organic and giving back to the land in order to yield from it for years to come.

No animal products go into their wine making, where as some other wine makes filter their wines using egg whites or add a fish substance for colour. Whereas “Jasci & Marchesani” uses minerals for its colouring; a pricer solution but one that gives their wines a unique lustre and sheen.

The winery specializes in montepulciano grapes and therefore the wine. But many of their grapes originate from all over Italy, replanted in the South, with the sun’s position in mind. Their agricultural planning goes so far as to considering which direction their grapes are facing, knowing that this changes the taste and production of them. And no sugar is added to their wine for a focus on fresh and crisp vintages.

Sustainably doesn’t just stop at what’s in the bottle. Each and everyone of their glass bottles are made from recyclable bottles. And the caps, cork, and labels are made from sugarcane and corn to easily biodegrade. The bottle is also as light as they can make it, making them not only easier to carry, but when they are shipped, they produce a smaller carbon footprint. Although, their production is already very green, being powered by renewable energy for the last 2 years.

As for our tasting, each place setting had a labelled map with 5 wine glasses. They were filled as we went through each, from 2 whites, on to 1 rose, ending with 2 reds.

The “Trebbiano D’Abruzzo Doc 2017” was a sweeter white with notes of apricot, pineapple, and yellow pear. A great refreshing wine, perfect for patio sipping.

The “Pecorino 2016” was a favourite amongst our group. It had great body to it, allowing you to feel the texture and levels as you drink. It is refined, spending 6 months in steel and the following it with the bottle. This process gave the wine a lifespan of 5 years versus the typical 2 years for a white.

The “Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo Doc 2016” was a rose named after the cherries used to make it. A lot of effort was put into manipulating these grapes, which is even more so when dealing with an organic vineyard. The fruit was hand picked with the belief that, this loving step makes a difference. The result, a lovely light rose with a great balance between sweet and tart. It isn’t as bitter as some roses, and not as sweet as others, it teeters at a good place in between.

The “Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Doc 2016” is made with grapes from their Northern vineyards. Here, our host brought our attention to the ability to taste the difference between grapes, based on the techniques used to farm them. Traditional methods yield a smaller bounty, but at a better quality. Whereas new ways increase production, but less time and resources are put into their cultivation.

This particular wine has never seen wood. The grapes are crushed and bottled without any external factors flavouring it. And an interesting property of it is that the way it hits the inside of our mouth and cheek causes you to salivate. Almost like watering it down.

Our last glass was a deep red with plenty of bite, the “Nerube Montepulcino D’Abruzzo Riserva 2016.” It was on the bitter side, a more concentrated batch due to a smaller yield. Great as a sipping wine to enjoy as is.

After tasting our way through today’s offerings we were then given the ability to have a full glass of our favourites, revisiting them with a 3 course family style meal, courtesy of the “Homer St. Cafe” team. Majority of the offerings below were served in larger portions than they normally are, in order to better share between 5-6 people.

The collection of pickled vegetables served as a great way to get our appetite going. Cucumber, red peppers, leek, and carrot. I liked the olives the best, finding the green ones not overly pickled or too salty.

“Duck liver parfait” with a morello cherry preserve, served with thick slices of chewy and oiled chunks of crusty bread. This was a delicious meat product, and luscious to spread. Smoky and rich with notes of sweetness, thanks to the preserve.

A favourite amongst our table was the collection of dips eaten with crispy taro and plantain chips. Chick pea, scallions, and za’atar. Each dip had its own flavour, which easily mixed together for one homogeneous spread.

The “House salad” was a fresh serving of greens with roasted beets and radish.

They are known for heir rotisserie chicken and this serving of sweet and sticky chicken drums did not disappoint. Tender dark meat coated in a harissa honey glaze, best enjoyed with hands and fingers you lick clean after.

The platter of porchetta was an impressive serving, ordered up feasting style. Not on the menu, this was the feature roast for the day; served with asparagus, green beans, and peas in jus. One slice was plenty, full of meat and enough fat to make bites soft and chewy. But the highlight was definitely the crispy crackling. To help balance all this pork we enjoyed it with the sides below.

These pickled horseradish turnips are also not on the menu, just something creative whipped up for us. They were hard to pick up, and even harder to chew through. Jawbreaker-like bulbs that you crunch through for some freshness.

I preferred the heirloom carrot side with its cream sauce more. A more traditional accompaniment that goes well with any protein.

And the only vegetarian of the group had a specialty made pesto pasta dish with spinach and cheese made for her. It was delightful, but compared to everything else a little bland.

And for dessert we ended on a silky smooth chocolate mousse topped with fresh strawberry. The mousse was so full bodied that it reminded me of ice cream. Rich and decant, a delight for any chocolate lover.

In short, a great meal and a great way to learn more about “Jasci & Marchesani”; how their organic and sustainable wines are a great additional to any one’s wine rack. For more details visit the link below. https://www.jasciemarchesani.it/

 

HOMER ST. CAFE + BAR
898 Homer Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 2W5
604-428-4299
homerstreetcafebar.com

Alta Bistro

Declared the best restaurant in Whistler, at the Van Magazine awards, I found myself at the threshold of “Alta”, as part of a tourism of Whistler organized trip. Truthfully, majority of our group has never heard of this place and I frequent Whistler enough to know all of its drinking holes, or so I thought. Either way, I would get a chance to experience the buzz tonight.

“Alta” hosts an intimate setting, kept romantic in dim lighting. You walk into a lengthy bar that opens up into a more spacious dining area. There, we sat around a long wooden table, under a set of paintings showcasing Whistler’s snow capped mountains.

But what caught my attention was the shelf of jarred perseveres. Mason jars of lemons, beets, carrot, and peas, etc.

We started off with some drinks. I was tempted by all the wine stacked on racks and the wall of bottles separating the bar from the dining room. And more so after learning about their special machine that serves wine, fresh every time. Poured from the bottle, with every glass as good as the first. This specialized machine ensures no air gets in the bottle, resulting in the freshness of it for up to 3 weeks. Many of the others went the wine route, ordering half pours to be able to try more. What a great idea in place of a flight.

I however, wanted to try their cocktails. Like their food, many of their drinks too feature ingredients locally sourced and foraged in their backyard.

I was intrigued by the “Garden party” with its use of spring pea pods, along with Sheringham aquavit, yuzu puree, homegrown mint, and fresh lemon. I got the citrus, but none of the pea. Overall, this was refreshing drink, similar to that of a mojito.

The “Rhubarbarita” was tequila forward and only rhubarb in colouring. Olmeca Altos reposado, Cointreau, spring rhubarb, and fresh lime; served on the rocks with a smear of sweet lime sea salt. I wish I got more of the vegetable that would have been highlighted by the sea salt.

The “Rainforest daiquiri” is a mix of Havana Club 3 years anejo, lillet blanc, Douglas fir and green tea liqueur, fresh lime and a hint of green chartreuse. It was refreshing and you got the piney notes from the Douglas fir sprig.

The “equinox” was today’s special and a pretty cocktail. Bombay gin, flower and luxardo cordial.

As for food, I took advantage of their $29 three course meal. Here, you choose two appetizers and an entree from a list of choices. First course was between soup or oysters, so I went for the latter. Two fresh oysters with horseradish, lemon, apple, and ortega granite. They were of the East Coast PEI variety, but on the smaller side.

 

For my second course, I went for the most unique sounding of four options. This was the “Venison tartare and chicken liver parfait” with a rye and chocolate cracker, egg yolk, thyme, parsley, picked shallot, and malted black barely. This was a very inventive dish, plenty of flavours paired together that I have never had prior. I didn’t get any of the chocolate on the crackers, but plenty from the crust that surrounded the meat. This was a nutty spread that I wish was more salty and meaty, like a pate. A little too rich to finish, but interesting to try.

And for my third course I went for the “Pork shoulder cassoulet” with slow cooked white bean, a soft poached egg, rich pork jus, bacon, frisse salad, and crackling. A stew full of textures and warming flavours. The pork meat was tender, the bacon crunchy, the beans gritty, the greens crispy, and the runny egg bound it all together with its creaminess. I liked the idea and the flavour of the pork rinds, just not how thick and hard they were. It was hard to bite down to size, and therefore hard to enjoy together with the rest of the cassoulet.

Our table also shared a side of “Seasonal veggies”, maple roasted carrots and freshly picked sea asparagus. Some light and refreshing bites to balance out the richness and the gravy soaked flavours above.

As for desserts, the chocolate mousse cake caught my eye, with its candied lichen (Moss) edible decoration. The candied lichen didn’t really taste like much, but it was such a unique way to showcase something else hand picked from Whistler’s back yard.

 

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.
A different way to experience all that Whistler has to offer through its edible nature. This favourite spot of local, is soon to be a popular destination, so be sure to stop by during your next drive up. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

ALTA
104-4319 Main Street, Whistler BC, V0N 1B4
604-932-2582
altabistro.com

Edible Canada, revisit

My latest visit to Granville Island had us stopping up iconic Canadian restaurant “Edible Canada” for dinner. And today we tried enough new dishes that I thought it worth documenting in a revisit post.

We arrived a little too early for their 5pm dinner service, but were still invited in for a couple of drinks while we waited. I was sold on their special of the month. A “Double espresso martini” that our server raved about. I don’t like coffee unless it is as a dessert, so this was lovely. Good with its cold brew, but not uniquely Canadian, nor is it something I couldn’t get else where.

I suggested that my guest get one of their caesars, as a great introduction to the restaurant, seeing as it was her first time. The “Maple bacon Caesar” with Stealth vodka, Clamato, Worcestershire, sriracha, candied bacon and a seasoned salt rim. A classic flavour made their own with their candied bacon garnish. Once again I wish the drink itself had a more unique personality.

For food I had the “Quebec duck tartare”. Raw duck with kumquat, gin, juniper, cucumber, radish, pickled ramps, and soy; served with tapioca crisps. The raw duck itself didn’t have much flavour, a little gamey and a lot fatty. And it was the vegetable sides that were the prominent notes. This was best enjoyed with their complimentary collection of salts gifted to each table. This was a new touch that my guest and I both appreciated and took advantage of.

Regular sea salt, spicy molten salt, and truffle salt. We had a pinch as is and could fully taste all the promised flavours in each grain. A few more pinches enhanced the above and the burger below. In hindsight I should have bought a pack of it to go from their neighbouring store. A gift shop of Canadiana ready to be bought up by the tourists that dine with them. And in doing so earn 15% off their purchase.

“Dry aged pemberton beef burger” with onion jam, crispy onions, aioli, butter lettuce, field tomato, and aged Canadian cheddar, all in a brioche bun. It comes with your choice of salad or fries, my guest got the former, but I would have gotten the fries, and added a fried duck egg for $5 more. The burger as a whole was good, the patty being the stand out of an otherwise standard burger build.

And we made sure to save room for their “Maple doughnut”, I read “crispy duck skin” in the description and was sold. House made yeast leaven maple doughnut with crispy duck skin, and an apple white chocolate sauce. These were balls of chewy fried dough that reminded me of Chinese deep fried mantou, with a heavy coating of powered sugar for a nice textured crunch. The light apple flavour from the creamy whip it sat in was nice, but could have used more flavour and sweetness for a dessert. I wanted an apple caramel sauce to double dip these balls into instead. And the saltiness I expected from the duck skin was non existent. A nice novelty but I wanted more from this dessert.

 

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.
One of my favourite places to recommend to anyone visiting from out of country and wanting a Canadian-esque experience. An ever evolving menu that has me returning and cataloging my visit. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

EDIBLE CANADA
1596 Johnston Street, Vancouver BC, V6H 3R9
604-682-6681
ediblecanada.com

Locus Restaurant and Lounge

This long standing restaurant is a Main Street staple. For over 21 years it has been run by the same owner, serving their community dutifully.

“Locus” is better known for its eccentric decor. Artsy with oil painted portraits and a series of sculpted branches twisted above booths.

Even the washroom has a touch of their dark and rustic art aesthetic. Painted like a cave wall, this single stall depicts a drawn savannah setting with birds in flight and hoofed animals grazing on the plains.

Today we were invited down for a reintroduction and a taste of what the kitchen has been churning out most recently. A kitchen helmed by the same head chef for the last 5 years; who features plenty of seafood on his menu, drawing inspiration from protein and produce sourced from local organic farms. His offerings include a weekly revolving fresh sheet that at times can get adventurous with camel, crocodile and even giant octopus. Sadly, this was not one of those weeks.

The following is what we had, we ordered all that peaked our interest, or what we saw as something different and unique to the restaurant.

To start, we sipped on some chilled cocktails to beat the heat. With blinds up, our seats by the windows took in a lot of sun, and things got fairly warm. “The railbird” came highly recommended by our server and bartender. Bourbon, ginger beer, peach preserve, honey syrup, and fresh lemon. It was light on the ginger and strong on the alcohol. A great one to beat the heat with and still get the sting of alcohol that you are looking for in a double. (All their cocktails are made with 2oz).

The “War of the roses” is Pimm’s no. 1 gin, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, fresh pineapple, and cranberry. It was like a spiked ice tea with a strong hint of mint. I got some tang from the pineapple, but missed the cranberry completely. Here, it would have been nice to have either of the two fruits as a garnish. The drinks are tasty enough, but given that this was a Lounge I wanted things elevated, with more thought on the presentation. But at $10 for a double, I can’t complain.

“The Flirtini” was fun and filled full in a large martini glass. Stoli raspberry vodka, Cointreau, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, fresh lime, and sparkling wine. This was a good time in a glass, a great drink to sip on all night long, and get into trouble from well after.

As for our meal, we had a complimentary basket of bread brought out to us to start. Their potato wheat bread is baked daily by their Main Street neighbour, “Cobs Bread”. But the potatoes that are needed and the recipe that is used is all “Locus”. Said potatoes are first boiled in house, then walked across the street and transformed into the fluffy and airy slices of bread that now sat before us. You got the starchiness of the potatoes, but not their dense nature. Great as is, but better with either their spicy or sweet butter. The latter is a cinnamon and brown sugar spread served in the morning with their cinnamon raisin bread.

We were here just in time for happy hour cut off so ordered their “Crispy Brussels sprouts” as a starter. I am a fan of fried Brussels sprouts, so can confidently say that this is one of the better renditions. There was plenty of flavour and taste without extra grease or oil. Simple and clean greens salted with hard cheese and seasoned with cracked pepper for $7. It is worth noting that their happy hour runs from 3-6pm and 10pm to close Sunday to Thursday.

The “Cyprus Halloumi skewer” is not actually served on skewer, but simply prepared on one. Grilled Cyprus sheep’s milk cheese, basil-arugula pesto, toasted pine nuts, sun dried tomato, charred artichokes, kalamata olives, arugula, citrus olive oil, and cilantro sprigs. Altogether the assembly tasted great. Though the halloumi didn’t stand out like you would expect it to, given the name of the dish. I enjoyed its firm texture, but didn’t get much taste from it or any of its blackened char. As a whole this dish would have been great over pasta, flatbread, or salad. Tasty as is, but I left like it was missing a base.

From this week’s dinner feature menu we tried their land and vegetarian offering. If you were expecting dressed up dishes with contrasting flavour profiles, this isn’t them. The following are rustic offering in large servings. Sensible flavours and familiar pairings for hearty and comforting plates.

The “Surf n turf steak and frites” was pan roasted AAA Alberta beef strip loin in a demi-glace with grilled garlic black tiger prawns, Parmesan black truffle pomme frites, smoked paprika aioli, wild and cultivated mushrooms, and a seasonal salad with French red radishes. This was a good amount of food, small servings of everything for a balanced meal. We ordered the steak in a medium rare, but it came more like well, with very little pink. At least it was cooked tender and sliced for easy sharing. But it was the large and juicy prawns that were the stand out, along with the crispy fries. There was only a little truffle essence on the latter, but the paprika aioli gave each stick more than enough kick.

The vegetarian “Mac and cheese” was not as expected. When you read mac and cheese you expected a gooey cheese sauce over tender pasta. This was noodle and vegetable topped with cheese. Serpentini pasta, carrot, grilled asparagus, curly red kale, blistered heirloom tomatoes, basil arugula pesto, arugula, pine nuts, and micro greens. All the vegetables above were prepared individually then mixed together with the cooked noodles, and after the whole lot is topped with soft ripened Quebec cheese. It was a light pasta serving, not creamy or cheesy, more like a pasta salad in a non-tangy vinaigrette. It had a similar flavour as the halloumi appetizer above, but less punchy. A dish I would make myself when wanting to eat better, but not one that I would order again from a restaurant.

Our second pasta dish was a lot more satisfying. Pan seared wild spruce tip, chèvre (cheese made with goat cheese) gnocchi” with crumbled chè·vre, arugula pesto, grilled summer squash, asparagus, fresh strawberries, and a balsamic reduction. We ordered this one out of curiosity and was pleasantly surprised by how much we all liked it. It had a similar pesto and vegetable flavour to the appetizer and other pasta dish above, but enhanced with the other ingredients. Ingredients that you wouldn’t think would work together, but just does. All brought together by the large, chewy balls of gnocchi deep fried for a crispy and doughy chew. Each irregularly shaped ball was great on its own, but best as a base for the crunchy and gritty pine nuts, the bitter squash chunks, the sweet strawberry slices, the grilled acrid asparagus spears, and the pops of salty goat cheese every now and then. And what originally seemed like a dish constructed as an afterthought was really a well conceived and very interesting entree. It is no surprise that this was the first dish we fully finished, leaving not even a single pine nut behind.

Our third pasta dish too felt flat by comparison, it too tasted like everything else; with similar seasonings, pesto, and like vegetables. Here, I wished we would have been given a warning of all the similar flavours, and that our server would have steered us toward dishes with their own unique flavours. “Seafood Spätzle”. “Spätzle” is a type of pasta that looks like lumps or threads, made from a batter poured through a coarse colander into boiling water. The texture of these noodle drippings were great, but with all the vegetable and seafood to sort through, it got lost. I would have liked a more simple dish, maybe just three vegetables or simply mushrooms and spätzle. Less to better highlight the feature ingredient and its texture, that you don’t find on too many menus. Fried sage and orange spätzle with Atlantic lobster, rock crab, Manila clams, jumbo tiger prawns, sockeye salmon, capers, caramelized fennel, snap peas, blistered tomatoes, curly endives, and mustards greens; all in a citrus herb oil.

I liked the simple beauty of the “Haida Gwaii BC halibut”. A pan roasted local halibut filet served with a torch Provençal lemon herb butter, grilled summer squash, roasted bell peppers, caramelized fennel, organic fingerling potatoes, spinach, and a Chardonnay halibut fumet. It tasted just like how you would expected it to with buttery smooth white fish and its crispy buttery skin.

To be honest, we were considering dessert, eyeing their blood orange cheesecake or Anjou pear featured strudel and bread pudding; however it was just so hot in the restaurant that I had to get out. I was boiling, and fanning myself with my cloth napkin wasn’t helping. Therefore our stay was cut short. So I guess that gives me a reason to return, and hopefully I can coincide my next visit with some adventures game meat. I have never had camel and didn’t know it was even an option in Vancouver. But trying this requires a keen eye on their website when their fresh sheet updated weekly, on my part.

 

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.
Their dinner menu was okay, but where they shine is their happy hour specials and offerings. Interesting small bites that I wish I got to take better advantage of. A handful of small plates partnered with their tasty cocktails, overlooking Main Streets sounds like summer time fun. $4.50 beers, $5.50 wines and cocktails, more Brussel sprouts, a miso poutine, halloumi fries; and nachos with charred corn, black beans and a pineapple salsa. Don’t deny your cravings.

 

LOCUS
121 Main Street, Vancouver BC, V5V 3P6
604-708-4121
locusonmain.com

Burgermania at Glowbal

Anything with “mania” in its title has my name written all over it. Therefore I made sure to visit “Glowbal” during its limited release run of “BurgerMania”. They have now launched a specialty menu which includes a burger with lobster, another with duck confit, and one of the better veggie burgers I have ever had.

Between March 11th to the 22nd diners can enjoy one of four full sized burgers or a slider trio, each with a unique side for $22. From Monday to Friday the following is available between 11-6pm, and during the weekends you can enjoy each between 2:30-6pm.

You can visit multiple times during the 12 day run to try them all ,or better yet, visit with a group and grab the whole shebang for $110. It is one attractive looking assembly. The following is my full review or each burger and its side, in the order from my favourite to the least.

When it comes to burgers, the more in between the buns the better, in my books; and “The Ultimate Burger” does just that. One beef patty, double smoked bacon, onion rings, fried egg, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and truffle aioli. All this is then topped with two deep fried, white cheddar mac and cheese squares. It is everything I want in a burger: plenty of meat to chew through with crunchy bacon, crisp vegetables, and a runny saucy egg to tie it all together.

It comes with sea salt fries that are seasoned in a Cajun spice, giving it plenty of flavour to enjoy as is.

“The Veggie Nation” was a great burger, and an even better vegetarian option. Tempura battered portobello mushroom, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, chipotle aioli, and roasted eggplant. This was a substantial order with plenty of textures and tastes to keep each bite interesting. Crispy mushroom pieces, charred smokey eggplant slices, fresh and juicy raw vegetables, and hearty guacamole. A great option for meatless Monday and a tasty burger for any other day of the week.

It is served with truffle fries that have plenty of that salty truffle flavour you are looking for. Another crispy potato stick that doesn’t need ketchup or any other dip.

“The Mediterranean” ate like a meal. Lamb patty, hummus, tzatziki, fried halloumi, bell peppers, and slaw. There was a lot to unpack in this and plenty that you wouldn’t find in any other burger. The halloumi was grilled with a smokey char, the bell peppers sweet, and the hummus creamy. If only the lamb patty wasn’t over cooked and dry. I could have also liked more of the tangy tzatziki, or a dish of it to dip bites into.

This came with my favourite of all the side: sweet potato fries served with a truffle aioli dipping sauce.

I liked the creativity of “The Funky One”, beef patty, spicy duck confit, pickled cucumbers, chili lime aioli, and cotton candy. The burger earned its name thanks to its sides. The large chunks of duck set it a part, although I didn’t find it spicy; and together with the beef patty both came across as dry. Here sauce or a tangy cream would have been nice. I didn’t taste any of the lime aioli, and once again got no spice from it. The cotton candy tuft comes on the side, but in my opinion, it is best eaten with the burger. It sounds and seems weird, but it works. Salty and sweet without the sugary finish.

This is served with a fun twist on poutine: “tater tot poutine”. Crispy fried potato nuggets with gooey mozzarella and an oniony gravy. I would have liked a thicker more meatier gravy thought, something more peppery out of preference.

The “Slider Trio” is a great way to try a little bit of the above. It comes with three bites of “The Mediterranean” with its cheese-stuffed lamb patty, hummus, and bell peppers. And “The Funky One” with beef patty, spicy duck confit, pickled cucumbers, and chilli lime aioli.

But the reason you order this is for “The Surf & Turf”. A decadent slider with caramelized onions, braised short rib, tempura lobster, truffle sauce, and slaw. In my opinion, it is the best of this set of three, so if you are sharing grab this one first. However having these few bites aren’t enough to get a true taste of the chunks of tender beef and crispy fried lobster. I would have also preferred the lobster meat simply dipped in butter and not hidden under a coating of batter. Overall, I found this and that each slider left me wanting more. More dressing, more ingredients, more lobster.

All three is served with two sides, some cotton candy for the “Funky One” and “Tempura green beans”. I liked the look and the taste of the green beans, but could have used less tempura batter coating each one.

And as a bonus treat our meal ended with a crispy buttery shortbread for us each.

In conclusion “BurgerMania” is a great idea and a fun way to introduce something new and interesting to an ever evolving menu. There is no better way to get bodies into the restaurant than with a mound of delicious food. Great on its own, even better when it all comes together. Make sure you check each out between March 11th and 22nd, before they are gone.

 

GLOWBAL
590 West Georgia, TELUS Garden
Vancouver, BC V6E 1A3
604-602-0835
glowbalgroup.com/glowbal

Page 1 of 10

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén