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Category: seafood Page 1 of 10

Water St. Café, take out

With the need to distance yourself socially, given the viral landscape we are currently living in, local restaurants are doing what they can to stay a float during these uncertain times. Many of them, such as “Water St. Cafe” are offering customers promotional pricing and deals. Like if you purchase a $50 “Water St. Cafe” gift card you get a second one at $15. It doesn’t need to be gifted. If you are planning on purchasing take out from them, you might as well buy a gift card to use as payment. The two together covers a full meal including appetizer, entree, and desert.

You can’t dine in, but you can still have the perfect romantic date night date by setting the mood for yourself, at home. And I can speak from experience, their food taste just as good out of biodegradable, cardboard take out boxes as it does from off of their dish ware served on their white clothed tables. Albeit, you don’t get their stunning view of the Gastown clock, but as a whole it can be whatever you make out of it.

Their full menu is available for take out or delivery via “Skip The Dishes” and “Uber Eats”. The following is what we ordered to celebrate the first day of spring. It is all about the little things right now, simple joys and any reason to be jovial. I suggest taking them all. Plus, indulging like this also supports local businesses like “Water St.” who have been serving Gastown for the last 32 years.

The “Water St. Salad” is a popular appetizer to share. A dressed bowl of Tuscan greens topped with heirloom tomatoes, goat cheese, half an avocado, pumpkin seeds, and cucumber; all coated in a honey lemon olive oil vinaigrette. A light start, better served as a side to accompany all the food before us.

The “West Coast crab cakes” are declared a “Water Street Cafe tradition” by the menu. A battered and deep fried round that includes Pacific rock crab and baby shrimp, served with preserve citrus, fennel, arugula, and a saffron aioli. Another light plate to wet the appetite with. A little bland as is, but ideal with the aioli that helps to brighten the serving up; along with a side of fennel for some crunch.

The “Short rib pappardelle” is one that never disappoints. It features 72 hour braised short rib raguet, confit garlic, fresh basil, and Asiago cheese. A comforting serving that fully satisfies with its sheets of thick el dente noodles, evenly coated in the sweeter tomato sauce and tender pulled meat. This is one I recommend.

The “Grilled wild bc salmon” was a great one to kick off spring with. Made with balsamic and honey pickled blueberries, and served with pan roasted potatoes. A flavourful main that I would have liked best if the salmon was left a little more raw, for a more silken texture. Something with a lot more moisture to offer in contrast to the soften potatoes, crisp veggies, and juicy berries.

The “Braised beef short rib” was a stunning plate. Two generous pieces of sous vide Prince Edward Island beef topped one over the other, on a bed of herb crushed potato, crispy onions, and a pool of hoisin jus. Another comfortable main that gave you the flair of fine dining with the familiarity of a causal, non pretentious plate. Tender meat and fresh vegetables, tried and true.

And for dessert we had the “Lemon tart” with housemade lemon crude, apricot glaze, and berry coulis. This, my guest raved about.

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.
For delicious, classic staples that are dressy yet comfortable and familiar, look to “Water St. Cafe” for a meal that doesn’t disappoint. And doing so now with their spend $50 get $15 back giftcard promo adds great value to your take out. Don’t deny your cravings.

Water St. Café
300 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
(604) 689-2832
http://www.waterstreetcafe.ca/menus/

Holy Crab, brunch

Today, breakfast practitioner and enthusiastic food lover, Diana of @foodologyca and I were out for brunch. We stopped at the well known, Louisiana inspired seafood shack: “Holy Crab”. Here, to try their seafood focused brunch, the entire menu’s worth. Be warned, if you order as much as we did, it does take some time for all of it to come out. With so many different components per dish, (from a kitchen that typically offers simply steamed seafood or deep fried snacks), these were a bit more complex to push out.

“Holy Crab” might not have the most extensive brunch menu, but for what they do have, they stand out. Any brunch place can do eggs Benedicts, but where else can you get it topped with blackened catfish, a crab cake, or lobster as the main protein? Given all the options above and smoke salmon, we decided on the “lobster klaws”. Because when given a choice, lobster is always the way to go. But sadly the claw meat wasn’t as expected, I wanted buttery and juicy, but it came out dry. We should have taken our server’s suggestion and gotten the crab cakes instead, in hindsight I am certain that, that would have been the best option. Be warned, you want to dig into this one quickly as the slightly spiced, creamy hollandaise does congeal and the lobster meat does harden as they cool. But the biscuit base we choose over the regular English muffin one stood the test of time. And it proved to be a great variation on a classic breakfast staple, especially with perfectly poached, ooey and gooey yolk that dropped down its sides.

Available during brunch, but great any time of day is their seafood grilled cheese served with the soup of the day. You started with a grilled cheddar and mozzarella sandwich and to it can add shrimp or lobster, or keep it the classic cheese only. Made with whole wheat toast, it is full of seeds and finished with a deep grill. The toast choice made it crispier and heartier than most; ideal for all the large chunks of lobster we choose as our filling today. This is another one to eat quick, before the bread gets soggy and the cheese oiler than necessary. Though if that is the case, a dip in soup is an easy remedy.

Today’s soup was a seafood chowder. It was thick, yet bright with a slow back of your throat spice. I especially liked the chunks of potato and clam bobbing about, giving it a watery stew texture. But truth be told, this was better by itself or with a side of garlic toast, to better highlight the soup. And the grilled cheese best with a tomato bisque to give the sandwich some needed tang.

The “Breakfast poutine” took the Canadian favourite of fries, cheese curds, and gravy. And to the assembly added an egg to give it more of a breakfast feel. Followed by some shrimp and snow crab claws to make it “Holy Crab” specific, with their Cajun-spiced fries. The result, an easy to graze on skillet. Tasty, but I was left wanting more diversity in my seafood, not just shrimp. Maybe some squid rings and scallop, plus the crab claw meat shredded over top. A little more panache to elevate the serving to the impressive standing of the others dishes. This felt very normal, comparatively.

For a lighter offering the “toast board” gave you two open face slices of toast, served with their rice salad. The latter was a chilled mix of black bean, corn, and wild rice. I didn’t find that the salad added anything to the board, or was even all that complimentary given the toast options available like shrimp and egg or vegetarian with avocado and spouts. A regular leafy green and tomato side salad would have been nicer. Better served as a full break from all the flavour each toast was bringing.

As for the actual toast, the menu doesn’t include any sweet breakfast options, so we sought out the banana toast with sliced banana, peanut butter, chopped toasted walnut, and a caramel drizzle. However, they didn’t have bananas on this day, so we opted for two savoury choices instead.

The smoke salmon was a familiar classic made with cream cheese, capers, shallots, and fresh dill. A fresh bite that offered a break between the heavier, denser plates before and after.

I also liked the truffled scramble egg toast as a palette refresher. A black truffle tapenade spread over crispy broiled white bread, topped with fluffy scrambled egg; and seasoned with truffle oil, Cajun spices, and chives. There was no mistaking the truffle flavour in this.

I was most excited for the Southern fried chicken and pancakes”, out of preference. No seafood in this one, just a twist in the batter and the spices used. Southern fried chicken seasoned with their signature Cajun spices, served on top of three fluffy cornmeal buttermilk pancakes. I liked the thorough crunch that the breaded chicken had, but wanted more meat on bone and seasoning to have gone through. There was gravy, but it was better suited to the poutine (as they are both use the same gravy). I could also make out the taste of oil and the need of plenty of pepper to balance it. To take it in a sweeter direction, there was also some maple syrup served on the side. It was nice, but I didn’t add any of it as the pancakes were served pre-dressed in jam and syrup with the butter melting slowly over them. This I felt this added unnecessary decadence to the dish. Whereas I would have liked the pancakes undressed and therefore less soggy, to better match the the crispy crunch of the chicken. Instead, they were sticky sponges that served as a base. Although given how stunning this looks, I ain’t even mad. This dish was all about presentation; a leaning tower topped with thyme and it worked.

The next dish I didn’t like out of personal preference, but I had to give it a bite in order to say that I have had “Holy Crab’s” entire brunch menu. The “Egg Sardou” are poached eggs and more of the Cajun hollandaise over artichoke hearts and creamed spinach. So basically a keto take on eggs benny, plus an toast or two. This is available as a half serving and a full. The texture of wilted greens makes me gag, so I worked my way around it. Not for me, but I recognize it as a very creative alternative for those who are looking for something more lean.

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.
In conclusion a great spot for seafood lovers, and those looking for a differing kind of brunch. With no other options in the are they are your go-to. Don’t deny your cravings.

HOLY CRAB
1588 Robson Street, Vancouver BC, V6G 2G5
604-661-8533
theholycrab.ca

Pokey Okey, Burnaby

Rejoice fans of “Pokey Okey”, you no longer need to travel all the way to Richmond to get your fresh fish and vegetable fix over rice in a bowl. Their second location is now open in Burnaby, just past Metrotown. A small shop with limited seating, no tables, and plenty of containers to take your poke to go.

Due to this being their soft launch they were only offering 3 types of poke today. Each is colour coded based on a feature ingredient, making it pretty easy to differentiate between the three. Therefore, I won’t be able to cover the entirety of their menu in this post, not until they are officially open the last weekend of February, leading into March.

You order at the counter and can watch your bowl being assembled before your eyes. Rice and/or greens first, salad and pickled vegetable next, followed by seasoned seafood, and crunchy toppings. All with multiple sauces drizzled over, at various layers.

The “yellow bowl” was bright and sunny with chunks of ripe mango, a pineapple salsa, sweet corn kernels, a sweet omelette, and a puffed tempura topping; along side non yellow items like spicy salmon, scallop salad, seaweed salad, pickled onions, and seaweed flakes over salad greens and your choice of brown or white rice.

The “red bowl” got its name from the chunks of spicy salmon, ahi tuna, kimchi, bacon bits; and an eye catching, perfectly round scoop of flying fish roe. The non red items included seaweed salad, purple cabbage, pickled carrot and radish, with seaweed flakes over more leafy greens and white or brown rice.

The “green bowl” had plenty of soy beans, wasabi peas and seaweed salad; along side ahi tuna, salmon, purple cabbage, pickled onions, seaweed flakes, wasabi mayo, and capelin roe. The tiny fish eggs were a showstopper for me, they had me favouring the two bowls they crowned.

And this weekend you can get anyone of the above for free! Just head down to “Pokey Okey” Burnaby for your free bowl February 29th and March 1st. And while you are there, be sure to tag their pink wall with some chalk art!

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? – No.
I liked what I had today as their most popular bowls, but would definitely like to come back to try the full extent of their actual menu before making any judgements. Especially as this was my first time visiting their brand. (Haven’t been to the Richmond location yet.) Don’t deny your cravings.

POKEY OKEY
4919 Kingsway, Burnaby, BC V5H 2E5
(604) 423-9339
pokeyokey.com

Sanbo Chinese Restaurant

For our latest food blogger meet up, our group decided to take advantage of the timing, and themed our dinner around Chinese New Year, (which actually lasts for 15 days). We made “San Bo” our destination, given that a few of us have been before and have vouched for the food.

The restaurant is located in an outdoor plaza, with plenty of parking available. The restaurant is easy to spot with its bright awning marked with a spiny king crab. Normally the restaurant is bustling, but given the medical state of emergency that is plaguing the world currently, there was nothing but a quite whisper at this Chinese restaurant in Richmond. Many of the tables remained empty during our 2 hour dinner.

Our group of 7 gathered around a large table centred by a lazy Susan. We ordered based on things returning guests have had and liked, and to it added on a few interesting sounding dishes. The English menu is fairly easy to read, but with very little photos and names/descriptions like “preserved ham”, you aren’t quite sure what you will be getting.

Our feast began with a lotus root and pork bone soup that we would serve ourselves. A murky broth that was warming to the bone. Deliciously satisfying with bits of meat to maw on as you sip. So good that I helped myself to another serving immediately after finishing the first.

The “Whole Soy chicken” comes highly recommend, and you have to order it ahead of time, given the need to marinade the chicken for an extended period of time before. The end result: the chicken’s skin was flavourful with sweet soy, but the actual chicken meat a little dry for my tastes. It was good, but comparatively, this wasn’t my favourite of everything we had. There was just so much good food to follow.

Like their “Famous curry beef tendon” this is one you order for its texture. Jiggly pieces of tendon, firm meat, and potatoes boiled for so long that they almost melt; all coated in a sweet curry with a slight spiciness. This was of my favourites that I would order again.

The “Crab and sticky cake special sauce” came with some theatrics. The crab was fished out of the tank live, and presented to our table before preparation. You are paying for it by pound, so this way you get to assess the size and freshness of your meal to come. In this case it was 2.8lbs. I like the taste of the crab in the peppery sauce, but the amount of work you have to put in to cracking its shell and peeling meat from it, takes away from its deliciousness. Especially as this dish does tend to cool down fast. Either way, I was plenty happy simply chewing on the rice cakes that surrounded it. I did try the guts\brains of the crab for the very first time. It was so bitter and acrid that I immediately spit it out. I have seen guests fight for it, but this one was not for me.

I also really enjoyed the “Spicy shrimp with vermicelli hot pot”. It came sizzling, remaining warm well into the meal. We didn’t order any rice, so this served as the carbs/base you wanted to eat, with some of the more protein forward dishes. Although it was plenty tasty as is, especially with the large butterflied shrimp that topped it.

The dish that stole the show for the table was the “House special salted egg with deep fried fish skin”. At $28 you get this much, made fresh to order. It is well worth it when compare it to the pre-packaged bags of salted egg yolk fish skins that are trendy now. But bring friends because it is a lot, and I personally couldn’t see myself eating more than 4-5 pieces at most, in a sitting. It is best enjoyed right when it hits the table, warm. Although is just as crispy and crunchy towards the end of the meal as well.

The “Fish lips and duck feet” we ordered based on its name, and the novelty of saying something so bizarre aloud. Chewy textures saucy in a thick gelatinous stew. Another one you order for texture and its unique mouth-feel.

Feeling like we needed some greens to balance out the deep fried items and all the meat and seafood, we order d the “Garlic pea tips”. This action is very typical at most multi-course Chinese feasts. I am not a fan of the texture of wilted greens, so passed on this one. Besides, reading its name I expected crisp peas in pods.

The “Sweet and sour pork” was a classic, not something I haven’t had before, but much better prepared than I have had it previously, at food courts stalls. Sticky and sweet chunks of breaded meat that hit the spot with a balance of refreshing pineapple and sharp peppers.

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.
We were skeptical about being able to finish it all, but impressed ourselves. The food was that good, and we left plenty satisfied because of it. Overall, an amazing meal, I can see why half of our party wanted to return today. I have no qualms over a revisit in the near future, and simply ordering everything we had tonight. Don’t deny your cravings.

SANBO
4600 No 3 Rd Unit 121, Richmond, BC V6X 2C2
(604) 278-2616

Water St. Café

Admittedly I have frequented “Water St. Cafe” a handful of times, but on each visit it was for an event and during such an occasion the experience is much different. A full house with standing room only, and nibbles to graze on, as you sip on glasses of bubbles and wine. So tonight my guest and I were excited to join them for a simple dinner for two, in Gastown.

The restaurant is better known for their fine dining vibe, a modern upscale spot with dim lights, flickering candles, and white table cloths. The best seat in the house is definitely the corner table on the first floor. It over looks the cross section of Cambie and Water Street, with a clear view of the iconic steam clock. Not to mention all the folks taking photos of it, as it bongs and releases plumes of smoke into the night sky.

We were given a table upstairs, to be able to take in the live music they were promoting on this Monday night. That, and the restaurant was fairly business on what others deem a “slow night”. The server led us through a maze of large parties, past their marble counter bar, ascending up the carpeted staircase that spiral. On the second floor there are individual rooms for group events, as well as some pocketed seating that gave you seclusion for your party.

We were seated at a table for two with a view overlooking Gastown’s streets, right in front of the lit “stage”. A curtain of LED string lights set the stage literally. We arrived just as our local and live entertainment were setting up for their set. Across the evening they would perform melodic covers and their own music played across a guitar, base, and drums. I found the live music element a wonderful surprise, and was delighted to be able to take this in. It definitely elevated our evening and experience. That, and the food to come.

We enjoyed wine with our five dishes below, including the amuse bouche that came first. Instead of it being something the chef whipped up with left over ingredients, our amuse bouche was actually available for ordering off the regular menu, but in a more compact size for sampling. Instead of the “Smoked BC salmon plate, this was a bite each of smoked BC salmon served over a crostini with dill cream cheese spread. This was a great treat, a crowd pleaser elevated with the inclusion of red onions, crispy capers, and a sweet balsamic vinegar drizzle. All together a classic flavour that doesn’t disappoint. The balsamic lent sweetness to the assembly, the capers a sharp tanginess, and the radish some crunch.

Next we had the “Bison carpaccio” for our appetizer. Pink pepper corn crusted canadian bison, sliced thin as tracing paper, topped with shaved parmesan, truffle aioli, and crispy capers. This was a dish that had you choosing your own perfect bite. The truffle elevated it, and the freshness of the raw onion and the pepperiness in the greens came together, offering layered depth. Everything was wonderfully paired. Except I wanted a base with it, something to make this a heartier bite. Although at the same time, I didn’t want to dilute such an interesting flavour combination with a starch. In short, I wanted a meatier bite to the wafer thin bison I was enjoying so much.

For our vegetable course we had “Lamb lollipops and kale”. The perfectly prepared lamb made this salad a lot more approachable. Rosemary marinated, grilled lamb chops with charred radicchio, baby kale, and salsa verde. The lamb was good on its own, but the leaves it sat on offered freshness and a nice citrusy seasoning for the savoury meat. Alone, the kale salad had points of bitterness, and hints of mint.

The “West coast crab cakes” were declared a “Café tradition!”, so we had to give it a try. A blend of pacific rock crab, baby shrimp, and preserved citrus with fennel, arugula, and a saffron aioli. It was fragrant with the diced peppers, a notable taste paired with the sweet crab meat. As for the sauce you smear your crispy crab puck in to, it was mild enough that it doesn’t over power, but rather accented the lot with notes of marmalade on the tongue and in the nose.

And for our entree we had the “16oz Ribeye steak and frites.” A grilled 16oz bone in AAA canadian ribeye, prepared medium rare. Smothered in a three peppercorn mushroom sauce and served with cajun seasoned frites on the side. We well received this classic. The perfect amount of fat to lean beef, with a pink centre. Easy to slice through with a peppery sauce that perks it and the fries up. Fully satisfied with this one. No complaints.

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.
In conclusion this was an amazing night. Everything was on point from the one or a kind view, to the cozy interior decorated with Christmas flourishes, to the live music surprising and delighting. And most importantly the food that was amazing, a classic menu prepared well and as expected on what typically isn’t a peak night. “Water St.” did not disappoint! Don’t deny your cravings.

WATER ST. Cafe
300 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1B6
(604) 689-2832
waterstreetcafe.ca

H Tasting Lounge, Winter High Tea

There are a handful of cafes and tea salons offering a Christmas themed high tea this season. But “H Tasting Lounge” is setting itself apart with their Ferris wheel display, the ability to have mulled wine with your finger sandwiches, and to enjoy live music with it all.

Their festive tea is only available on weekends, from November 30th to December 29th, from 11:30am to 4:30pm. The cost is $55 per person. After reading the press release, I ventured down to be the first person to try it, on what should have been its release date. However, due to complications with the menu, it was delayed for the following week. So I ended up dining with them the first day, tasting from their new winter menu instead; and then returning a week later to try the official winter tea service. This post will be an accumulation of the two visits.

I am a huge fan of “H Tasting Lounge’s” modern space. It speaks to luxury with velvet furniture in soft pastels, metallic throw pillows, and gold panel detailing with a 20’s flair. The latter, a remnant of the aviation themed bar they originally launched as. We grabbed my favourite seat, within the open space. One of the two c-shaped booths in the corner, by the patio entrance. A crushed blue velvet backdrop in your very own booth. It hugs you and your guests, whilst offering just the right amount of intimacy for two.

High tea starts with a box of loose leaf teas to sort and sniff through. You un-lid each vial and make your choice based on smell, much like a sensory menu.

Given that I was the very first person, during the very first service of this, they were still working out the kinks. Meaning we weren’t given the option for either of their two seasonal teas; which we would have ordered. The “Tealeaves Nutcracker Black Tea Blend” and/or the “Tealeaves Organic Herbal Sugar Plum Fairy”. So in the this case, I went for their “organic vanilla rooibos” instead.

Teas is served in a modern white and gold gilded tea pot that matches with your cup and saucer. It comes with milk and sugar, should you need it.

Although, I am more partial to their alcoholic drink options, and highly recommend either their “Mulled Wine” or “Miracle on Bayshore Dr.” cocktail. The latter a mix of rye, brandy, gingerbread syrup, milk, whole egg, and marshmallows. But today I went with the mulled wine, because where else can you get mulled wine (not at an outdoor market)? Here it is made with red wine, holiday spices, brandy, and peach schnapps. The wine is steeped with sugar plum tea leaves, and infused with clove cinnamon and star anise. After one sip, I concluded that I much rather a glass of mulled wine indoors, with each sip furthering my warmth.

Looking for another hot beverage to get tipsy on? They also have a lovely “Rye chai”, served warm in a tea pot. Made with rye, mezcal, apricot, falernum, lemon, and chai. It was a strong sipper, but I didn’t get much of the chai flavour I anticipated. Good hot or cold with the natural burn of the alcohol fuelling things.

For something just as festive, but packed with ice, their “Cranberry cobbler” offers dessert in a glass. Gin, cranberry, all spice dram, and lemon. This was refreshing and effervescent, with the cranberry offering its unique blend of sweetness and tartness.

As for the actual food portion of the tea service, it is a combination of savoury and sweet bites swinging back and forth on their precarious Ferris wheel. Take it from first hand experience, it is best to remove all the elements from the tower before you start eating. Emptying one glass plate throws off the balance of the entire apparatus, and spinning it has plates catching on to one another. Worst case scenario, everything falls and you have mashed cake on the table.

The follow is what we had, in the order in which we ate it. From lightest to heaviest, savoury to sweet, starting with the soup. Served in a shot glass, the “Squash Soup” with an herb and cheese crisp was a sumptuous start. A thick and creamy soup, so rich that it could function as a sauce, especially when dipping the crispy flaky cheese twist into it. I wanted a larger bowl of this, to enjoy alongside the sandwich I liked below.

This was a savoury bite reminiscent of the season: “Confit Turkey Sandwich” with apple butter and cranberries. It reminded me of a classic turkey dinner all in one easy to eat handheld. Juicy, pulled, white turkey meat, sage and thyme seasonings, and pops of sweet cranberry. The only thing that was missing was a cup of gravy to smother it all in, thanksgiving turkey style.

My favourite feature of the set was the “Tourtière”. A savoury ground meat pie with a golden brown buttery crust, topped with a crispy fragrant sage leaf. This was just beautifully done. I have had my fair share of this Québécois classic, and to date this is my favourite.

Not winter specific, but familiar to any high tea tower is the “Smoked Salmon & Cucumber sandwich”. The “H Tasting” version is served on rye bread. This is a classic that tasted exactly as you expect it to.

Similarly, there were scones included, scones being another staple to any good tea tower. Each was a perfectly crafted raisin scone: crispy, flaky, and crumbly all in one. It was just as shame that they didn’t make them with the cranberries and thyme that was used to decorate the plate. This would have spoken better to the holiday theme. Though it didn’t stop me from taking a bite of the scone and popping thyme and cranberry into my mouth after it. The scones also come with a jar of orange fruit spread and clotted cream, though the former wasn’t necessary given how much dried fruit there is already on the plate and within the scones themselves.

The menu described this as the “Festive Cotton Candy Bonsai Tree”. I understand the “tree” part, with the mental object being the “trunk” that the round of green and pink cotton candy sat on. However, I was still missing the “festive” portion of it. It could have been flavoured like peppermint, or given a sprinkle of powdered sugar for snow. It didn’t speak to Christmas, but instead spring. Nonetheless it was fun to eat, we enjoyed pulling tuffs from this impressively spun cloud of sugar.

Next we moved on to the dessert portion of our high tea service. Here, we learned that all the restaurant’s pastries are outsourced by “Faubourg Bakery”. They were okay, but I wasn’t expecting this from a hotel property of this caliber. And maybe if it was all made in house, I might have liked them more.

The “Yule Log” was the visual show stopper, it immediately spoke to the holiday with almond jaconde, praline, and ganache. It had a nice chocolatey hazelnut flavour, but a little too sweet for my taste. My guest on the other hand was not only enamoured by this visual, but liked its taste as well.

I couldn’t taste the gingerbread mousse or cranberry compote from the “Festive Profiterole”. The shell was a little soggy and the spices lacking. This wasn’t as memorable as I had hoped.

I preferred the mild flavour of the “Frangipane Cake” with spiced pear and almond. A dense cake that is a little on the dry side. Though the pear in its syrupy coating helped to moisten the two bite treat, flavouring it with hints of cinnamon and apple.

I also didn’t get any gingerbread in the “Gingerbread Cake”. The sponge was chewy with a burnt caramel flavour, and the black currant mousse tasted more like raspberry with its tartness and colour. Sadly, it was bolder in hue than taste.

Overall, I preferred the savoury options to the sweet. None of the desserts, outside of the Yule log, felt or look all that seasonal. Much like the restaurant’s decor, there wasn’t much in terms of Christmas flare. A tree or two outside the restaurant and the ability to cozy up with one of their fur blankets if you get cold. I wanted peppermint, more gingerbread, and/or eggnog. More embellishments and more red and green as the holiday is known for. The Ferris wheel wasn’t even decorated in tinsel. It could have been hung with metallic balls. And the cotton candy bonzai, could have easily been reinvented into a cotton candy Christmas pine with coloured sprinkles and a candied star topper. I am still glad I got to try it, and can’t hold the pastries against them, considering it wasn’t prepared by “H Tasting” go begin with.

But if you are looking for something more heartier, they do have their new winter food menu out as well. The following is what we tried from it.

Their new persimmon dish is the fruit sliced thin like carpaccio and topped with kohlrabi and a sesame praline, then drizzled in a mint and orange blossom vinaigrette. I was surprised by how satisfying this was, and how much it ate like a fulsome dish. Everything came together for a complimentary collection of flavours and textures, with the candied granola being the standout. Tangy and sweet, crunchy and refreshing, and altogether one worth trying, during your next visit.

Something just as light and refreshing, yet satisfying is the new “Burrata” dish. Fresh Burrata from California, topped with Northern Divine caviar; sitting on top of a creamy pea purée, with a fresh pea shoot salad. You eat the cheese like a spread, smeared on top of crispy crostini. The greens add some pepperiness, the purée some sweetness, and the caviar a certain level of elevation that I expect from the setting. Wonderfully simple, yet indulgent.

We also ordered their seafood platter. It is available in three sizes. Small, medium, large; each incrementally giving you more food, although not more variety. So I advise ordering the small version, like we did; and supplementing it with appetizers like we had above. The result, a beautifully fresh collection of kusshi oysters, poached prawns; and halibut carpaccio with a house made carrot kimchi. All served with fresno oil, mignonette, and a cocktail sauce flavoured with gin for dipping. I wouldn’t recommend pairing the kimchi with the gentle white fish, the former was overpowering, and you want to taste the natural flavour of the halibut. In fact, I am not m sure why one is put over the other. I did like the substitution of carrots for cabbage in this spicy fermented mix. This change gave a dish I tend to avoid, a new texture profile I actually like. (I am not a fan of the texture of wilted greens).

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.
I honestly wish that the property was closer to a skytrain station, so I could and would frequent it more often. And with continuous updates to their menu like so, they are giving me multiple reasons to take the commute. Highly recommended for a good time. Don’t deny your cravings.

H TASTING LOUNGE
1601 Bayshore Drive, Vancouver BC, V6G 2V4
604-682-3377
htastinglounge.com

Westcoast Poké, FEAST: Asian Dining Festival

Today I was back at Richmond, in town for another “Feast: Asian Dining Festival” destination. This is the annual event that gets diners down to Richmond, with the goal of seeking out over 30 participating restaurants. Running from now until November 18th, “Feast” offers you a chance to try somewhere new, at a price that doesn’t break the bank.

For my journey to the island city, I was loaned the use of the 2020 “Subaru Ascent”. And although Richmond is convenient to get to via the Canada skytrain, nothing beats a comfortable ride in a well build vehicle. And it got us safely to “West Coast Poke”.

There are a handful of poke places vying for your attention, but this one focuses on ingredients from the west coast and themes their bowls as such. And with the “Feast” menu you are able to try two of them, with 2 of their house made drinks, and a side of your choice, all for $25. And truly this is such a great deal. More than enough food for leftovers, and a drink that compliments all of the above.

You are able to choose between 1 of their 5 classic bowls and have it assembled to your specifications. You choose your base from brown rice, white rice, or greens. And how spicy you want things, then what crunchy toppings you’d like to finish it off with.

I choose the “Tidal” poke after noticing the “fresh-in” tag beside its name, but regret not getting any tuna or salmon because of it. Prawn, togarashi, scallion, pickled red onion, cucumber, pineapple, avocado, jalapeño, gochu garlic aioli sauce, and a citrus ponzu sauce. I enjoyed all the flavours, but would have liked them with fish instead.

My guest had the “Smoke” Poke, a spicy bowl with a warning of a chilli pepper logo by its name. This one featured albacore tuna, a burnt miso chilli oil, Thai chilli, scallion, jalapeño, cucumber, radish, ginger, spicy crab salad, pineapple, and a miso ginger glaze. Minus the heat, I preferred the flavour and the fish of this more.

But what really stole the show for me was the side salad. You had your choice between a fruit and seaweed salad, but when you see the name “crack salad”, that is clearly the one you get. It did not disappoint, this crab based salad had me going back for more. And I thought of mixing it to my shrimp bowl to give it more depth. The “crack salad” is made with crab, mango, avocado, cucumber, fried onions, a miso ginger soy, a maple soy sauce, and chopped nori.

For drinks we got one of each of their options, a nice mild peach tea and a sharp and refreshing lemonade. Made in house ahead of time, and poured into individual plastic cups for each dispensing.

Worth noting is how friendly the staff on shift were, we closed the shop down and told them we would rush as to not keep them later than necessary. However, they reassured us that it was quite alright, as they would still be here cleaning up anyways. They even offered us additional slices of avocado and portions of miso soup, as to not have to waste any of it at the end of the night.

The “charred nori miso” was brilliant. You got a nice umami flavour from the mushrooms they used. It warmed you up, which is a nice contrast to the served cold chilled seafood rice bowls before it.

We enjoyed everything so much so, that we decided to order two more bowls to go, to be able to try more of their menu. My guest ordered the “Pacific” bowl, as she was toying with either this or the smoke bowl earlier. This is their most popular bowl and a lot less spicy with albacore tuna, cilantro, cucumber, pickled red onion, crab salad, pineapple, mango, and a green mango curry sauce. It was fairly light and citrus forward, whereas I prefer punchier flavours like the feature bowl below.

I was intrigued by their “Hola Hola” poke bowl, it read like and tasted like nachos. Hot chilli cheese over a taco salad. Made with albacore tuna, pickled red onion, radish, black beans, blackened corn, avocado, a smokey sriracha aioli, and a tortilla chip crunch. Definitely a heavier bowl, and one for those who like the flavours of tex mex.

Glad to have been turn on to this poke franchise by “Feast: Asian Dining Festival”. For more of the other participating restaurants, check out their website below. https://asianfeast.ca/

WESTCOAST POKE
11666 Steveston Hwy #3030, Richmond, BC V7A 1N6
(778) 297-1138
westcoastpoke.com

#asianfeast #subaru #subaruBC #richmondbc
@feast_asian, @docksteadersubaru, @subarucanada, @wolfesubaru @wolfesubaruonboundary @richmondsubaru_bc, @jpsubarunorthshore, @jpsubarucoquitlam, @jpsubarusouth

Hydra Cafe & Bar

The reviews have been only so-so for this place, but the decor alone is worth visiting for. They are the newer dining option attached to the “Exchange Hotel”, in downtown Vancouver. This space was design specifically for their Mediterranean restaurant.

You are in awe walking in and climbing their spiralling staircase, up to the main dining area. They do have a secondary bar/lounge space downstairs, but the second floor with vaulted ceiling is the place to be.

I had arrived early and my girl friend was running late, so I was more than happy to spend the additional time waiting for her, by their bar. A handsome arch framed their tiered assortment, well stocked and well presented before a back splash of half circles, layered like scales. This spoke well to their aquatic theme. A chandelier of plastic fish floated over a table, large paintings of wild waves in varying degrees of blue drew your eyes to the wall, and a television screen broadcasting picturesque scenes of the Mediterranean furthered the mood. Turquoise waters, white sandy beaches, and not a cloud in the sky. The music, upbeat and lively, like at a tropical resort night club. All this made them a great place for a drink, or to begin a bar crawl at.

On the way to the single stalled washrooms, be sure to take in their raw bar. Back lit mirrors hang over a trough of ice. In it whole fish peak through, speaking to the freshness of their seafood assortment. We were sure to sample from this with their “chill platter”, but more on that below.

By the hotel entrance to the restaurant is a living wall, greens crawling around the name of the restaurant in white LED. Under it a Möet branded tub and life persevere, that I had to take advantage of as a photo op.

Back at the bar, I order my first cocktail of the night. The name spoke well to the drink: “holiday”. Made with summer fruits and bright flavours, this play on the margarita featured fresh watermelon purée, cazadores reposado, martini bitters, ginger, and fresh lime. It was finished with a coconut sugar, and a maldon rim.

My next cocktail was at our reserved table, the “Fig” was a strong drink, that delivered on its name. A smokey sipper with fig at its core, and an extra bite as garnish. Dewar’s white label scotch, fig syrup, angostura bitters, citrus oil, and fig garnish.

The cocktail after that was “Tart”. And unlike the “Fig”, this was a name that did not perfectly describe what you were getting in a drink. Like its colour, it tasted like lavender and flowers. Bombay sapphire, cassis, kefir, fresh lemon and lime, honey, egg whites, and black toasted sesame.

We then decided to try a Greek wine, for drinks 4 and 5. We reasoned out that it would be more economical to get a bottle to share, as opposed to ordering it by the glass. This was “Monograph” from Peloponnese, Greece; it is an Assyrtiko. This was what was suggested when we asked for something similar to pinot gris.

And although it is ill advised, we ordered a “Chill Platter” to accompany all our drinks. Normally you’d want some carbs or something more solid to balance yourself with. But my girl friend and I have an on going thing where we aim to try all the seafood towers in the city. This one comes with prawns, oysters, ceviche sashimi, pickled octopus, tartare, and accoutrements for $105. For those who need even more, you can add on a pound of crab for $45.

The prawns were large and juicy, but plain. They needed a dip, and we found it in the sauces for the oysters, on the top tier.

These were Kushi and Royal miyagi oysters. And normally I can barley tell the difference between types of oysters. But the Royal miyagi oysters were deliciously sweet, the sweetest I have ever had. I chased it with a very clean and crisp tasting kushi oyster.

The ceviche sashimi was very dill forward, it over powered the herbed paprika, salmon and celery for crunch. This is the type of seasoning I would expect in a potato salad.

I liked the tanginess of the pickled octopus, I just wish it wasn’t served cold. Its already chewy texture would be butterier if warmer.

The tartare was bland by comparison, especially when eating it with the cucumber. The caper gave it some salt, but it felt lost amongst the others.

The crab was very water logged, shredded and soaking in olive oil with tomato and parsley. It was also too acidic and vinegary for me to enjoy the natural sweetness of the crab.

The broad beans were a nice little palette cleanser. Served chill with feta for a sandy texture. It was best enjoyed with the hard pita points, made harder with its time in the ice.

Overall, there was quite a bit of food on these two tiers. Plenty to keep you causally nibbling for an hour plus. And when anything got too dull, the sauces and minuet served with the oysters, as mentioned earlier, was enough to do the trick.

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.
Given how much we spent on a seafood tower, I felt it should have lived up to the cost. And for that I wouldn’t necessarily clamour to visit again, but can safely recommend them for an amazing hotel bar to see and be seen at. Don’t deny your cravings.

HYDRA
475 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2B3
(604) 416-0880
hydracafe.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

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

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