• Cocktails
  • Jun19

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    Grapes and Soda-2

    Farm-to-table concept Grapes & Soda quietly opened last month next to Farmer’s Apprentice. The brainchild of Farmer’s co-owners David Gunawan and Dara Young, this new intimate space serves to pair natural and organic wines with flavourful bites. The menu contains about half a dozen shared plates, with something for everyone: meat, fish, veg.

    Grapes and Soda-5

    Former Bishop’s Executive Chef and Winnipeg native Ron Shaw lived in London for six years, working at well-known dining establishments including Zuma and Maze. His BC-born wife wished to be closer to home, so they moved back here where Shaw completed his WSET Level 2 exam, with an interest in working in the wine industry. Bishops followed in 2010; he left at the end of 2014 in order to enjoy his first foray into fatherhood. When the space next to Farmer’s Apprentice became available, he was immediately on board with the dining concept they were after.
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  • Jun9

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    Semiahmoo Resort and Spa-2

    Semiahmoo Resort and Spa is an easy over-the-border hop for Vancouver and the Lower Mainland (a 90-minute drive from Seattle if you’re headed north). The resort’s a perfect spot for relaxing, bird watching, and exploring tidal pools, offering a myriad of onsite activities.
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  • May11

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    Etsy Canada PR/Communication Director Jennifer Knox
    [Jennifer Knox presenting Etsy summer trends]

    Last week, a group of local writers and media were invited to Gastown’s Blacktail Florist Restaurant + Lounge to help celebrate all things Etsy. The Canadian contingent of the popular online portal is based in Toronto, with Jennifer Knox serving as the company’s Director of PR and Communications.
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  • May7

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    Alberta Showcase at Edible Canada

    Alberta’s culinary scene was in full force this week as five regional chefs were brought to Granville Island’s Edible Canada for an evening of enlightened dining, AB-style.
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  • May5

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    Last week, I featured several Phoenix and Scottsdale restaurants. Here’s part two of that series.

    Bootlegger's Modern American Smokehouse

    Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse

    A visit to these parts wouldn’t be complete without a proper smokehouse experience. Since November 2013, Bootleggers Modern American Smokehouse offers meat lovers an amazing, right-from-the-smoker experience in the heart of Old Town. Moonshine is made on the premises (I tried their apple pie moonshine. Tasty way to end a meal!).

    Bootlegger's Dirty South: House-infused blueberry bourbon, bonal, lemon, demerara syrup, figgy pudding bitters
    [Bootlegger’s Dirty South: House-infused blueberry bourbon, bonal, lemon, demerara syrup, figgy pudding bitters]

    The restaurant’s award-winning burger is on the lunch menu but as we were there for dinner, my aim was to try their bacon board and BBQ sampler. Luckily I had company to share it all with!

    Bacon board: Rear: smoked pork belly, bacon confit, cheesy bread; Front: Pepper bacon, Jalapeño bacon, cherrywood smoked bacon
    [Bacon board: Rear: smoked pork belly, bacon confit, cheesy bread; Front: Pepper bacon, Jalapeño bacon, cherrywood smoked bacon]

    The Bacon Board you see here is actually a half order as I wanted to save room for the St. Louis ribs, 14-hour hickory-smoked beef brisket, organic smoked turkey breast, pulled pork and hot links.
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  • Apr27

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    The Henry

    Holding the title of America’s Number Two Foodie City (according to Livability.com) isn’t an accolade to take lightly, especially with the sheer amount of dining spots around the country.

    Scottsdale is blessed with a walkable footprint, giving locals and tourists alike a wealth of choice and cuisines. Phoenix too is a haven for culinary talent. Both cities draw from Native American and Mexican-inspired cuisines, however you’ll find just about every nationality of cooking represented in this part of the state.
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  • Apr10

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    Bellevue, Washington

    As occasional visitors to Seattle, my husband and I head down the coast for a change of scenery, some great dining, craft beer discoveries, shopping and cultural offerings. Last weekend, we experienced Bellevue, Seattle’s little brother to the East.

    Just 10 miles outside the Emerald City, Bellevue is a compact, easily-walkable city with shopping, museums, restaurants and cafés within its heart.

    Bellevue Hyatt-13
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  • Apr8

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    Salish Lodge and Spa-1

    Twin Peaks, the cult TV series from the early 90’s, may be a distant memory for many David Lynch fans, but it’s fresh as a slice of cherry pie in ours, having just returned from the original filming site, the Salish Lodge and Spa, aka The Great Northern Hotel.

    Salish Lodge and Spa-7

    The iconic hotel is offering a Great Northern Escape package in honour of the recent news of the series hopefully returning next year for a nine-episode run on Showtime. And much like the tangled web that the series wove, there’s now speculation that the series may not return due to “complications”. I sourced a couple of quotes below from the Welcome to Twin Peaks website.
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  • Apr2

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    Temper Pastry's chocolate ganache cake
    [Temper Pastry’s chocolate ganache cake]

    Rare Finds is an annual fundraising cocktail party to benefit the Rare Disease Foundation. This year, the gala benefit returns for the sixth time and will be held at Villa Amato in the Olympic Village, hosting many of Vancouver’s top chefs, mixologists, and pastry artists with beautiful views of the North Shore.

    Personas Tapas California sushi tacos
    [Personas Tapas’ California sushi tacos]

    The cornerstone of the event is a friendly yet spirited competition between Vancouver’s finest chefs and mixologists competing for your votes.
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  • Mar19

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    PiDGiN Mushrooms, snap peas, egg, soy yuzu brown butter
    [Mushrooms, snap peas, egg, soy yuzu brown butter]

    On the occasion of bringing new Executive Chef Shin Suzuki on board, PiDGiN hosted a group of media and food writers to its award-winning Gastown eatery earlier in the week.

    PiDGiN salmon, fish roe
    [Salmon, cod roe]

    Along with a recent menu revamp, PiDGiN has gained national recognition for culinary excellence. The menu will be a combination of tried-and-true favourites (including Parisienne gnocchi and Dan-dan kohlrabi noodle salad with tofu and almonds) alongside some of Chef Suzuki’s own creations.

    PiDGiN Raw scallops, pomegranate, red curry oil, daikon, green apple PiDGiN Potato & mentaiko udon, spicy cod roe, seaweed butter
    [Raw scallops, pomegranate, red curry oil, daikon, green apple; potato & mentaiko udon, cod roe]

    The dishes are beautifully presented and upon sampling offer a great combination of flavours, textures, and colours alongside a curated list of craft cocktails, single malt scotches, Japanese whiskies, wines, sakes and beer.

    Chef Shin Suzuki PiDGiN
    [PiDGiN Executive Chef Shin Suzuki; photo courtesy of PiDGiN]

    Toronto born and raised, Chef Suzuki looks to traditional flavours from his Japanese heritage and combines them with classic French techniques. His plates are highly composed and influenced by bold spices and humble ingredients from East and West, a perfect match for the ethos of PiDGiN.

    PiDGiN Parisienne gnocchi, radish, radish green pistou, ricotta PiDGiN Fried chicken wings
    [PiDGiN Parisienne gnocchi, radish, radish green pistou, ricotta; fried chicken wings]

    Honing his skills at Ferrandi Paris, the French school of culinary arts, Chef Suzuki’s resume boasts stints at many of the most acclaimed restaurants in Paris, including Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, and Taillevent, where he trained under Chef Alain Solivérès.

    Cook the Vote Party at Pidgin-15

    About PiDGiN
    Designed with beauty and comfort in mind, PiDGiN and its menu represent global travels and life experiences by both its owners and chefs. With no distinction between casual and fine dining, the expertly crafted menu exudes a delicate approachability associated with familiar flavours and childhood memories. 

    Pidgin is located at 350 Carrall Street and is open Mondays to Saturdays from 5 pm to midnight and Sundays from 6 pm to midnight. Also consider checking out their ‘before and after dark’ happy hour (5 to 6:30 pm and 10:30 pm to late).

  • Feb19

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    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-2

    It’s been a few months since Devil’s Elbow Ale & Smoke House, a restaurant showcasing Howe Sound Brewery beers, opened in the former Chambar space on Beatty Street. We attended the opening to check out the initial menu offerings as well as enjoy the welcoming, relaxed vibe.

    The inviting space seats up to 170 people between the front bar and side and back tables, incorporating a rustic feel with locally-made devil-themed art on the walls commissioned by Howe Sound Brewery’s graphic designer Tom Pedriks.

    Devils Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7

    This is the only spot in the city where you can sample from 16 Howe Sound Brewery beers. There are also four rotating guest craft beer taps to choose from. In addition, find a full range of bourbons, rye, whiskeys, scotch, cocktails and BC wines by the glass on the menu.

    We were also happy to see the addition of more salads and seafood options on the brand-new menu, which according to General Manager Trevor Magee, is set to rotate for each season.

    Of course, no visit to Devil’s Elbow would be complete without a few craft beer samples. We chose two beer flights.

    Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House-7
    [Hopraiser West coast IPA, Wee Beastie Oak Aged Scotch Ale, Dark Anvil Lager, Super Jupiter Grapefruit ISA]

    Devil's Elbow Ale and Smoke House-8
    [Sky Pilot Pale Ale, Pumpkineater Imperial Ale, Pothole Filler Imperial Stout, Bulleit Bourbon Porter]

    Alongside these randomly-chosen beers (there were four of us ordering), we decided on a sampling of several appetizers, salads, meats and sides, and before long, the entire wood-topped table was filled with what looked like half the menu.
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  • Feb6

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    Edible Canada Coast to Coast Yukon Dinner-1

    Living up to its vision to help define Canadian cuisine, Edible Canada has launched a new market dinner series, welcoming Canada’s top talent into the Granville Island bistro for a coast-to-coast dinner experience.

    “Ask 10 different people what Canadian food means to them and you’ll get 10 different answers.” – Eric Pateman, Edible Canada

    Edible Canada Coast to Coast Yukon Dinner-7

    
Every month, Edible Canada’s culinary team will feature a different province or territory, flying in award-winning chefs specifically chosen for their contribution to shaping Canada’s culinary landscape. 

    Edible Canada Coast to Coast Yukon Dinner-8

    “By welcoming the larger food community into our space we hope to learn more about what “Canadian” food is being served on a daily basis from Coast to Coast and what is influencing it” says owner Eric Pateman, “and share that journey with the public. This dinner series is about discovery.” 
 

    At the start of each month, the popular Granville Island eatery will host a four course kick-off dinner for 75 people. These dinners will showcase the regions top culinary talent with the best ingredients, traditions and stories from the lands. Their line up includes Top Chef Canada winner Dale MacKay, Slow Food pioneer Michael Howell, and Montreal’s celebrated Chef Derek Dammann of Maison Publique.

    Arctic char terrine, smoked livers, juniper, red onion compote, fennel sunflower flatbread
    [Arctic char terrine, smoked livers, juniper, red onion compote, fennel sunflower flatbread]

    Earlier this week, we were invited to dine with Tourism Yukon. Chef and Author Miche Genest, Chef Carson Schiffkorn, and Trapper Teena Dickson were flown down to our ‘balmy’ city for the evening. The menu was forage-themed and included several pours of Yukon Brewing craft beer, a Haskap Royale, and Edible Canada’s own Market Red wine, a gamay, syrah, pinot noir blend produced in Oliver, BC and crafted with Okanagan Crush Pad.
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  • Jan14

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    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Boulevard’s winter green salad, root vegetable chips, heirloom beets, sherry vinaigrette]

    Already indulged in a festive holiday season? Save some room for Dine Out! The 2015 Dine Out Vancouver Festival’s about to kick off its 13th edition with culinary events, prix-fixe menus at three price levels at over 270 restaurants, and special Dine and Stay Packages for both locals and tourists alike.

    The festival promotes local and regional ingredients, BC wines, and our city’s exceptional culinary talent. From January 16 to February 1, discover some new faves and old haunts; Vancouver’s food-forward scene is definitely alive and well as I experienced last night during a festival media preview.

    Our dinner tour was themed Date Night for Lovers: Old-World Romance. After a wine and nibbles gathering at Chambar’s gorgeous new space, we were divided into groups and whisked off to various eateries around town — each destination remained a secret until we arrived, keeping our group guessing as to what “old-world romantic” restaurants we’d encounter on our tour.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Black + Blue
    [Black+Blue’s vodka apricot sour]

    First stop? Glowbal Group’s Black+Blue (think Old World and classic hearty dining), where a large table – including table-side drink service – was soon filled with samples from the restaurant’s $38 three-course dinner with optional Mission Hill wine paring ($25). I enjoyed a Vodka apricot sour mixed right beside our table!

    Appetizers feature a choice between beer, bacon & cheddar chowder and Stilton wedge salad, entrée choices include Black+Blue jerk chicken, braised lamb shank, and peppercorn-crusted AAA tenderloin, and to top off the meal, chestnut almond cake for dessert.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Black + Blue
    [Black+Blue’s braised lamb shank, vegetable tagine, jeweled basmati rice]

    There’s also the option to add either 1/4 lb. King crab, lobster tail, scallops, or lemon butter prawns to any entrée. I much enjoyed the hearty cheddar chowder and tenderloin; Black+Blue knows their steak!

    A quick walk over to our biggest surprise of the evening, The Urban Tea Merchant. This is a spot I’ve come to really enjoy for high tea, and the salon’s impeccable attention to detail, service, and presentation did not disappoint. Urban Tea is offering an eight-course Tea Gastronomy during Dine Out, all their dishes infused with the luxury Singapore tea brand’s finest loose leaf teas.

    Executive Chef Nathan Wright has a mighty fine array of teas at his disposal, to infuse into his dishes.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant
    [Urban Tea Merchant’s Egg in a Nest]

    Cups of various teas were poured from the brand’s signature white tea pots as we sampled everything from Egg in a Nest (caviar, Tokyo-Singapore Tea smoked salmon custard, speck bacon, truffle aioli) to Camelot Tea & Sweet Potato Soup (one of our group’s favourite courses), with a colourful Pickled Carrot Salad paired with Jade of Africa Rooibos cocktail. Not only was each dish artfully presented but also paired with a distinct tea.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant
    [Camelot Tea and sweet potato soup, crème fraîche]

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant
    [Yunnan Tea crusted lamb chop, cauliflower textures, Yunnan FOP soaked raisins, fennel, almonds]

    A slightly smoky-tasting Russian Black Tea-scented ling cod is served alongside parsnip, pickled Beach mushrooms and Porcini.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant Dine Out Vancouver preview/Urban Tea Merchant's Executive Chef Nathan Wright
    [Chocolate and peanut butter bar, New York Breakfast tea chocolate ganache, toasted peanuts, dulce de leche, raspberries; Chef Nathan Wright]

    A sinfully delicious Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bar capped off our tea adventure, containing New York Breakfast Tea chocolate ganache, toasted peanuts, dulce de leche, and raspberries for a sweet finish, paired with a remarkably delicate cup of Milk Oolong tea.

    This is a treat and worth seeking out during Dine Out; on January 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, and 31 there will be two seating times per evening, 5 and 7 pm. The Gastronomy is priced at $125 and includes a gorgeous boxed tea set to take home. A similar five-course menu is available for $85 (not including tea gift; both prices exclude gratuity and ticket fee).

    Our final destination was Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar at the Sutton Place Hotel. Chef Alex Chen has prepared a well-varied seasonal three course $38 menu including sunchoke velouté, winter green salad, or Albacore tuna tartare to start, Pacific provider salmon, squash risotto, or braised pork cheek as main options, and pavlova or chocolate torte to finish the meal.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Boulevard’s Pacific provider salmon, fregola sarda, chorizo, paella sauce]

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Squash risotto, pumpkin seeds, kohlrabi, crème fraîche]

    I was very impressed with both the sunchoke velouté and the Pacific provider salmon, simmering in a beautiful paella sauce, topped with a split pea and sprigs of greens. The squash risotto is just so gorgeous, with added buttery flavour courtesy of crème fraîche and naturally sweetened by the seasonal squash.

    Dine Out Vancouver preview/Boulevard
    [Chocolate torte, sponge, mousse, cocoa nougatine]

    Boulevard’s Dine Out wine pairing prices vary per course ($11 to $15/glass) and selection.

    Visit the Dine Out Vancouver Festival website for menus and reservations. A word of warning: book early as many popular time slots fill up!

  • Dec16

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    Boulevard Vancouver-1

    Boulevard Restaurant’s Executive Chef Alex Chen has just released a new brunch menu to greet the year’s end.

    Boulevard Vancouver-6

    The dishes he’s selected to showcase are spins on traditional favourites. Alongside Nutella-stuffed French toast and Eggs Benedict, chef Chen’s created a Korean rice bowl, an Oyama truffle duck sausage piazza, and Boulevard’s wild salmon chowder, complemented by Bar Manager Justin Taylor’s Hemingway Daiquiri, and signature Bellinis and Caesars.

    Boulevard Vancouver-2 Boulevard Vancouver-3

    After admiring a few beautiful Goh Ballet Nutcracker gowns in adjacent Sutton Place Hotel’s lobby, we entered Boulevard’s modern dining room that features sleek, white and bronze lighting fixtures suspended from classic rounded moulding on the ceiling and mounted as wall sconces.
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  • Dec9

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    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Tableau Bar and Bistro

    The Loden Hotel is situated where Downtown Vancouver greets Coal Harbour. This beautiful luxury class boutique hotel has recently been named Best Hotel in Western Canada by Condé Nast Traveller’s 2014 Readers’ Choice Awards, and with good reason.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    From a yoga-inspired Garden Terrace room complete with a sweet little terrace, yoga mats, and blocks, to a room with two large floor-to-ceiling window walls looking out onto the world, all 77 rooms and suites at the Loden are comfortable oases for travellers seeking both quality and style in a hotel.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The bathrooms are marble-tiled and sleek and stocked with Moulton Brown luxury bath amenities.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    You’ll also find gorgeous Dornbracht and Philippe Stark fixtures, waterfall soaker tubs, and rainfall showers here.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver
    [Dornbracht’s Deque waterfall bathtub faucet]

    We decided to live like a tourist in our own town during this holiday season, enjoying dinner at Tableau Bistro next door, and nourishing our winter skin with an infrared sauna session the next morning.

    Just a couple of streets away and you’re at Canada Place; walk in the opposite direction for Robson Street shopping just west of Burrard.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    We found the complimentary wifi to be pretty speedy and reliable. A full fitness studio as well as the Loden Spa with infrared sauna can be found on the second floor. A small business workstation room is also located on this floor.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The second floor is also known as the Serenity Floor, with garden terrace suites that feature a little buddha to keep you company while enjoying a cup of herbal tea. These rooms also come with yoga props and mats for a good stretch after a day of walking the city or arriving from a long journey.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The beds are super comfortable! Goose down duvets and feather pillows made us hesitant to leave the room the next day but luckily we reserved an infrared sauna session to get our morning going.

    The staff are very outgoing, friendly, and helpful with tips on what to see and do in town. For a city hotel, the Loden has the advantage of being located on Melville, one of the city’s less busy streets. We didn’t make use of the complimentary bikes nor the car service, both obviously great options for getting around.

    Rooms are of a decent size so that we weren’t constantly in one another’s way. The large work desk space incorporates one of the most comprehensive ‘tech bars’ I’ve ever seen, with audio jacks, USB ports, several outlets, and wired internet cable outlets.

    Loden Hotel, Vancouver

    The lobby is equally sleek and modern, with free Nespresso coffee and TWG speciality tea service in the morning. Take your drink to go or bring it up to your room with a complimentary morning paper delivered to the door.

    Bringing a pet? The Loden offers custom beds and dishes, freshly-baked treats at turndown, Modern Dog Magazine, and a doggie clean up kit, so your pooch also gets pampered. We also received turndown service, with chocolates at our bedside and a carafe of fresh water.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Duck foie gras, grilled artichoke, brioche
    [Duck foie gras, grilled artichoke, brioche]

    Next door at Tableau Bistro and Bar, Executive Chef Marc-André Choquette prepares seasonal dishes alongside daily favourites such as braised short ribs, pork chops with herb spaetzle, and Meatless Monday specials.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Pork tenderloin, seasonal veggies
    [Pork tenderloin, pomme purée, green beans, served with a peppercorn sauce]

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Orecchiette pasta with short rib, tomato, kale
    [Orecchiette pasta with short rib, tomato, kale]

    On our visit, we enjoyed pork tenderloin (with pomme purée and green beans, served with a peppercorn sauce), and pasta and short ribs, with tomato, olive, and kale. Both were well-seasoned and beautifully presented.

    Tableau Bar and Bistro: Tart tatin, cinnamon anglaise, walnut tuile
    [Tart tatin, cinnamon anglaise, walnut tuile, vanilla bean gelato]

    Don’t miss the tart tatin, it’s gorgeous, served with a walnut tuile cookie, cinnamon anglaise, and a small scoop of vanilla bean gelato.
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