Tonight, we were at Granville Island to take in the Art, Eat, & Sip event. It is hosted by the Vancouver Foodster: Richard, a local food celebrity well known for his city-wide food and drink related tours. These tours are self-guided walks/drives around the city showcasing Vancouver’s food scene through themes, as curated by Richard. Tonight’s theme was centred around Granville Island and its local food, drink, and visual art artists. An intimate way to get to know those working in the area, and learn what is it they do that has them standing out in their craft fields.
After check-in by the Granville Island Market, you are left to your own devices. The list below are all the stops, in the order that we chose to take them in. There will be very little critiques in terms of what we ate and drank. The focus instead will be on the experience, some of the great offerings, and what you can expect should you attend a future session. Because given how great this one turned out, I can see this happening again on a larger scale, with more artists and more stops.
Right in the market’s entrance is the new Preservatory Toast Bar. Here, attendees got a taste of their fine preserves which are all made locally. And their famous wines made using walnuts, grown on their farm in Langley.
This is the Preservatory Ricotta Crostini with house whipped lemon ricotta and pomegranate. It was a lovely way to showcase their wares and show how easy it is to incorporate any preserve into your next snack. Best paired with their Mulled Vista D’oro Wine, given how cold the night air felt.
One of Granville Island’s most notable landmarks is Granville Island Brewing. Many simply stop by to grab a 6 pack and some merch from their store, so it was nice to be able to take a seat in their tap room and have a mini meal. They have a full kitchen at their disposal, and after a taste of their delicious, hot to order Crispy Chicken Slider I need to return to taste my way through more of their menu offerings.
Crispy fried chicken breast, slaw, chipotle aioli, pickled onion, tomato, and lettuce on a slider bun crowned by a pickle wedge. This was paired with a mini taster of their Kitsilano Juicy hazy IPA. If our first stop was the appetizer, this was the main, with dessert being a collaboration with Hype Chocolate below.
Hype Chocolate is located in Strathcona, and not typically in Granville Island, but they are making an appearance twice in this tour. Together with Granville Island Brewing they were treating guests to a limited-edition sundae featuring Granville Island Brewing’s Winter Ale, which they have also made into a chocolate bar that they offer in their normal line up.
As we gathered around a well-lit table, Hype Chocolate had the stage to tell us a little more about their local, small business, and what sets them apart from all the other chocolatiers and artisan ice cream purveyors. We were given a brief history on their inception and their specialty ice cream swirler, turning hard ice cream into soft serve, while keeping the taste and then adding in toppings for texture. This mini featurette was enough to have me making plans to visit their actual store front and try more of their chocolates and sundaes.
In groups we were served made to order floats featuring their vanilla ice cream, Granville Island Brewing’s Winter Ale and a special beer sugar Hype Chocolate made for this occasion. They basically reduced the beer down to a solid and sweetened it for a sprinkle topping of sorts. I found the dessert splendid paired with the mini Winter Ale chocolate bar we were given just before.
Hype Chocolate’s second appearance was at New Leaf Editions, a print studio where any one can come in, draw a design and have it etched by Peter, who then in turn is able to make a stencil and/or stamp that came be printed multiple times, depending on the coating.
Here, our little treat was a chocolate mousse with “twig” chocolate pieces and an edible rice paper stamp etched by Peter conceived by Hype Chocolate, only for this event. The leaf stamp for the latter was made by Peter and a great segway for a conversation about what he does in this studio space.
I had no idea there were so many local edible businesses operating out of studios in Granville Island. Like Kasama Chocolate, who I have only seen in Farmer’s Markets. I know them best for the most amazing Durian chocolate bar. I cannot rave more about this product, but sadly they were sold out of them this evening. Here, we learned of Kasama Chocolate’s bean to bar processes, starting with what cocoa is and how does it get processed to become their chocolates.
In this stand-up experience we got to taste some of their award-winning chocolates that is made on premise, including their decadent drinking chocolate. Then sample 3 of their origin chocolates from Philippines, Ecuador, and Papua New Guinea. All of which was 70% or more cocoa with no diary included. Each sample was even tastier knowing all the work and care that goes into each bar from harvest to production.
Next door was Bon Macaron with their kitchen workspace. Most know them from their Granville Island Market place presence, so will be surprised to learn that they have their kitchen so close by. Not only are all their unique flavours of macarons made in house here, but they also host workshops on how to make your own as well. We were given a brief walk through of the experience before being able to pipe the cream into our own sample macaron. If you take the class you get to choose which flavour you want to make, then batch prepared multiples to be able to mix and match and share with the whole class. This is so that everyone walks away with over 40 macarons in an assortment of flavours.
Tonight, we got a taste of their savoury offerings. A Beetroot, goat cheese and honey Macaron and their Pear and black currant Macaron. I immediately tasted the goat cheese and honey in the former and it was amazing.
Off the Tracks Bistro offered more substantial bites. It is first come first served at this popular cafe. We sat in rest as we waited for our drinks and sandwiches to come to pass. Event goers could choose between a Hazelnut and ashwaganda(mushroom) infused coffee with coconut whip or a Chocolate pretzel macchiato.
The latter perked my interest, although given the time of night, I opted for the caffeine-free Hazelnut and ashwaganda instead, and loved that I fully got the earthiness of mushrooms in it.
For food we got a quarter of their “Level-up Grilled Cheese” prepared on house made rosemary and roasted garlic artisan bread and served with a side of chips. This was a lovely snack and something savoury to offset all the sweet we had just before. Although we only had ourselves to blame, as we picked our own route in this adventure.
Next door was Artisan Sakemaker and a taste of some of their award-winning sakes, which of course, are all made on-site. I have seen wine and charcuterie pairings, but never sake and an assortment of meat and cheeses. So it was fun to have this here, and now know that it needs to be a more common thing. The pairings were so well thought out and complimentary.
Osake Junmai Nama and Olives from Dussa’s Ham & Cheese Granville Island, Osake Junmai Nama Genshu with Kasu Coppa from Oyama Sausage Granville Island, and Osake Junmai Nama Nigori with Goat Gouda from Benton Brothers Granville Island.
And we finished out night on a visual treat, at the combined workspace of Amy Stewart, Shira Gold, and Banquet Workshop. Here, I learned that such spaces are opened to the public and that the artists are more than happy to share their work and techniques with anyone in candid conversation.
Amy is an abstract artist and her pieces have you doing a double take, given her ability to create so much depth with paint and canvas.
Shira Gold is a photographer that overlays her prints and edits her fine art to create a merger of nature and wonder in vivid colour.
And at Banquet workshop they make cheerful and fun prints that they turn into frame-able art, greeting cards, tote bags, and apparel. Many of us have seen their work on a large scale, as murals.
Here as we chatted and admired, we were treated to little bites from La Bise Bakery. They aren’t located in Granville Island, but are close enough to stop by for one of their baked goods before or after a visit to the island. They specialize in canelés, which are fluted pastries filled with assorted cream. The exterior is buttery and crispy like a croissant and the filling is what flavours. I can definitely vouch for the pistachio and lemon.
In closing, this was the perfect way to get better acquainted with some of what Granville Island has to offer. I sincerely hope there will be an Art, Eat, & Sip part two as we continue to showcase some real original talent working in and out of Granville Island. After all Granville island is also homes to an improv troupe, a distillery, a blacksmith, and a traditional broom maker; to name a few.