Grain Tasting Bar has been open for just under a year in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Their locally-sourced menu features shared plates, smoked wood-fire pizza, a raw bar, and build-your-own cheese and charcuterie board.
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- Craft Beer
Posted in: Craft Beer, Events, Exhibitions, Outdoors, Recycling, Sustainability, Vancouver, Wine
Posted in: Craft Beer, Dining, Vancouver, Wine, Yaletown
Earlier this week, I attended the soon-to-open Homer Street Café and Bar in Yaletown. This space has a century-long history, with past occupants including the former Homer Café, the Stratos Café, and Rose’s Coffee Shop. The original Homer Café opened in 1952 and was originally called the Smithe Coffee Bar.
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Posted in: Craft Beer, Dining, Granville Island, Sustainability, Tea, Vancouver, Whisky, Wine
Edible Canada at The Market commands a prime spot on Granville Island close to the Public Market where over 12 million visitors peruse the food hall on a yearly basis. They started with a small shop in that very food hall (Edible British Columbia), selling many items now found in their current onsite shop. The busy restaurant has a comfortable, casual vibe, with families, businessmen, and groups coming and going.
The restaurant was packed during my recent lunch visit. Sitting by the window offers a glimpse into the daily life of Granville Island. The open kitchen is the first thing you see upon entry, opposite a series of square windows letting in a good amount of natural daylight.
Edible Canada enjoys relationships with many local suppliers, including South Surrey’s Hazelmere Farms, providing the Granville Island restaurant with beautiful sunchokes for their soup. Sea to Sky bacon-salted butter is offered with crusty bread or rolls. Victoria’s Silk Road Teas and Granville Island Tea selections are on the beverage menu, as well as local beer, wine, and spirits.
You can see where this is going: Edible Canada at the Market is a proudly local restaurant and retail space that’s passionate about things sustainable. They are dedicated to sourcing the highest quality products across Canada.
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Posted in: Craft Beer, Events, Richmond, Vancouver
Of the many new festivals popping up around Vancouver, the Vancouver Craft Beer Week is one that has grown like wildfire in its three short years. The Fourth Annual Vancouver Craft Beer Week returns this year with the theme “We’re Going All In”. This represents Vancity’s new brewery movement and the big gamble these four new brewers have taken to open their doors this year.
Brassneck, Bomber, 33 Acres, and Main Street Brewing will all surface on the Vancouver craft beer scene this year. A fun promotional video features the risks each of the four are taking, with a poker game in full force and cigar smoke looming in the air.
Nine signature events, six feature events, six walk up events, and many special beer-related activities will all capture the hearts of Lower Mainland craft beer lovers.
[Mayor Gregor Robertson taps the 2011 Collaboration cask]
The opening night gala will be sponsored by the soon-to-open Craft Beer Market. Yaletown’s Roundhouse Community Centre will again serve as opening night venue. On that night, those same new brewery owners will tap the first cask of the official VCBW beer, brewed last month at Parallel 49 Brewing Company.
This year’s Collaboration is an Altbiere; partial proceeds will be donated to Mark Brand’s A Better Life Foundation, which in turn will use the money to fund the Save On Meats Meal Token Program. A great way to enjoy a limited-release beer for a great cause.
[Russell Pale Ale served with pulled pork at Memphis Blues]
After the opening gala, look for six days of non-stop beer events, parties, and dinner pairings, culminating in the main event, the VCBW Beer Festival presented by Earls Kitchen & Bar and the Donnelly Group. The craft beer action will move south to Richmond’s glamorous River Rock Casino (keeping with the gambling theme), where a huge patio and two giant beer halls will be filled with no less than 50 tables of the craft beer industry’s finest. This translates to over 50 breweries in attendance, from East Vancouver to Belgium.
Enjoy a world tour of craft beer tastings right here at home. Just remember to take the Canada Line home; there’s a convenient stop right near the casino.
Events are already starting to sell out, so if you’re keen on attending a few, now’s the time to consult the website and pick your favourites—or risk disappointment.
The Vancouver Craft Beer Week festival runs from May 31 to June 8. Visit the website for full event details and to order tickets. Follow the four new players in town on their respective Twitter handles: @bomberbrewing, @Brassneckbrew, @33acres, and @mainstreetbeer
Posted in: Cocktails, Craft Beer, Dining, Interior Design, Sustainability, Vancouver, Wine
Last night, I was invited to the opening of Vancouver’s newest lounge space, Grain Tasting Bar. Drawing its name from the reclaimed wood doors and accents located throughout, this new downtown player offers smoked wood-fired pizzas, salads, crafted sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese, and shared plates, all created with local ingredients.
Grain is located inside the Hyatt Regency Vancouver’s lobby, its entrance chic and urban. It’s the perfect spot to grab a light meal or drinks before heading upstairs to dine at Chef Thomas Heinrich’s other venue, Mosaic Bar and Grille.
The salads on the menu are under the Lettuce section; a couple of salad choices that stand out are the Gelderman Farms pulled roasted pork and crispy kale salad, with Klippers organic butternut squash, apple, pea greens with apple vinaigrette, as well as the seared Vancouver Island Albacore tuna salad with farm tomatoes, arugula, and cucumber vinaigrette.
On the charcuterie side, house-made duck proscuitto, Toscano proscuitto, and Okanagan salted and dried Sezmu beef are delicious choices to pair with Little Qualicum Cheesework’s Brie, Olde Farmer raw cow’s milk cheese, and Salt Spring Island Cheese’s Romelia. Softly-scented truffle honey, candied walnuts, pickles and other lovely accompaniments make the cheese and charcuterie experience complete here.
The space captures a lot of natural daylight and looks equally imposing at night, offering city street views with lush trees outside the window.
In summer, the windows slide open to integrate the outdoors into the lounge, a creative, cutting-edge window design by Sunflex.
I especially like the bar’s colouring and design. The shimmery ceiling reflects the lighting and bar stools below, almost adding a water-like quality. Everything from inventive cocktails, BC wines, and craft beer begin their journey here, in a beautiful space designed by California firm EDG Architecture.
The cocktail list is equally fun and inventive: Cherry and Basil Margaritas, Bangkok Mules, Ginger Pear Martinis (my favourite–so far), Poet’s Reach, and Ruby Tuesday are just a few on offer. Hand-made, small batch Victoria gin, including concoctions from Long Table Distillery, the city’s first micro distillery, find their home here as well.
Beers are available on tap and in bottles (both domestic and imported). You’ll feel at home with the BC red and wine listings, including Burrowing Owl Merlot, Quail’s Gate Pinot Noir, Mission Hill’s ‘Five Vineyards’ Cabernet/Merlot, Sumac Ridge’s unoaked Chardonnay, Prospect Winery’s Pinot Blanc, Haywire’s Gamay Noir-Rose and others. All wines are available either by the glass or bottle and range from $9 to $16/glass.
Judging from the last night’s scene, this will become the spot to hang your hat (or laptop bag) for some serious unwinding. Kudos to Chef Heinrich and his team for putting together yet another spot to celebrate simply delicious food and drink.
Grain Tasting Bar is located at 655 Burrard Street and is open daily from 11 am to 1 am.
Imagine the serendipity of being able to tweet about craft beer taps while lunching at a popular Whitehorse restaurant and not an hour later, being approached at Yukon Brewing with a “that was YOUR tweet?”. I arrived just in time for the 2 pm tour, a 45-minute look behind the scenes of Yukon’s most celebrated (and only) brewery. 65% of all beer sold in the Yukon is produced by Yukon Brewing, with Yukon Gold the particular favourite of the bunch. The newest in the collection is Bonanza Brown (currently only available in mixed packs).
Yukon Brewery opened its doors in 1997, at the time calling itself Chilkoot Brewing Company. The company was conceived on a canoe trip, when owners Alan and Bob brainstormed at the campfire.
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Posted in: Contests, Craft Beer, Dining, East Vancouver, Events, Kitsilano, Sustainability
Ever the community-minded restaurant, Rocky Mountain Flatbread Pizza Company is holding a series of Earth Day workshops this month at both their Kitsilano and Main Street locations. Lighten your footprint on Mother Earth while learning about urban farming techniques, creating your own bubble bath and scrubs, and preparing organic ravioli and fettucini.
I had the pleasure of attending a ravioli-making event at Rocky Mountain Flatbread during Dine Out Vancouver this year. The restaurant is friendly, casual, and provides a good atmosphere for a varied pizza and pasta menu plus local beers on tap, domestic bottled beers, sangria, wine, cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks.
April 15, 6 pm, 1876 West 1st Avenue, Kitsilano
Learn from Chef Wout Schipper how to make your very own organic ravioli and fettucini.
April 10, 6 pm, 1486 Main Street
Suz will demonstrate how to make your own bubble bath, scrubs, and creams using all-natural products.
Companion Plant Container Gardening
April 17, 6 pm, 1486 Main Street
Learn how to grow your own food by creating a companion plant container with Munisha, an urban farmer.
April 27, 10 am, 1486 Main Street
Join Sarah and Suz as they read the award-winning book Uno’s Garden and plant pea shoots.
Register for the above complimentary workshops by phoning 604.730.0321 (Kitsilano) or 604.566.9779 (Main Street).
Learn to make an artisan pizza with five of your favourite ingredients, kicking things off by enjoying a salad and fresh bread.
Register by phoning 604.730.0321 (Kitsilano) or 604.566.9779 (Main Street). Tickets are $25 with 10% of all evening sales being donated to Earthbites, an local organization that teaches kids to grow their own food.
I’ve a pair of tickets to give away to a lucky reader and their guest to attend the Monday pizza making and beer tasting event at either location.
Follow both @arianecdesign and @flatbreadCo for a chance to win and enter by tweeting the following:
RT to win a pizza & beer tasting evening from @flatbreadCo and @arianecdesign on April 22 http://ow.ly/jXaYn
For an additional entry, leave a comment on this post mentioning your most memorable and delicious pizza-eating experience to date, anywhere in the world.
I’ll select a winner at random on Friday, April 19 at noon.
Congrats to Jessica Adamson, winner of the pair of tickets. Happy Earth Day
Posted in: Craft Beer, Dining Reviews, East Vancouver
Posted in: Craft Beer, Dining, East Vancouver
This week I visited Eight 1/2 Restaurant and Lounge to partake in the VanEats SalivEIGHT package deal. For $15, diners can choose from an appetizer and thin crust pizza, with a flight of Stanley Park Belgian style beers.
The flight includes two ambers and two bruns (the same of each) from Stanley Park Brewery:
Stanley Park Amber: subtle toasted malt, lightly hopped, exceptionally clean finish
Stanley Park Brun: distinctive dried fruit aromatics, complex chocolate, roasted nut and malt biscuit
Flights are available on the regular menu (four 5 oz. samplers, $8.50; the current selection includes brews from Coal Harbour, Stanley Park, Howe Sound and Driftwood breweries)
Choice of appetizer:
- Baked brie: filo wrapped brie, local honey, sambal oelek, candied apple
- Dungeness crab cakes served with lemony yogurt and arugula
A third option, tortilla soup, served with chicken, black beans, corn, avocado, tortilla crisps, and gluten-free mozza cheese wasn’t offered on the night of my visit for some reason.
Choice of thin crust pizza:
- 8th Avenue: hot calabrese, chorizo, banana peppers, and sautéed mushrooms
- Market Place: roasted vegetables, goat cheese, torn basil, sun-dried tomato base
- Wild Smoked Salmon: BC smoked salmon, creamy dill, capers, red onion, craisins
Pizzas on the menu range from $11.50 to $13.50.
The Dungeness crab cakes were thick, delightfully light and non-greasy, and contained a lot of crab with very little filler. The avocado-topped crab cakes sat on a flavourful lemon yogurt sauce and were accompanied by a small portion of dressed greens. Normally 12.50, hopefully they’ll make a return to the regular menu.
The pizzas are prepared thin-crust style, and all the ingredient portions are generous. I ordered the Market Place with cherry tomatoes instead of roasted veggies, as my system doesn’t tolerate bell peppers well.
The restaurant was accommodating in this respect and my modified pizza was simply put, delicious, and combined well with the second of the lightly-hopped amber samplers. I found the brun beer too flat taste-wise, but then again I’m all about hoppy IPA beers, thus finding the amber more food-friendly for my palate.
The service is fast and friendly. The interior is tasteful with modern lighting, a brick wall at the front, and a central bar with flat screen TV. Wall designs play off the eight and a 1/2 name while black and white photos on the wall depict the neighbourhood streets.
This casual lounge is conveniently situated close to the Main and Broadway corridor. I suspect that with several new businesses including HootSuite’s new digs nearby that this area will get a lot more visits in the coming months. Eight 1/2’s chef Thomas Chauca uses Ocean Wise-sanctioned seafood in his dishes and takes pride in working with local vendors.
I also discovered a comprehensive drink menu with daily specials plus an international selection of wines, bubbly, and port.
The package is available until May 4 through VanEats.ca; only one pass can be purchased per two persons, and the package doesn’t include tax or tip. When you piece together the price of the two courses plus beer, it’s a really great value. Reservations (highly recommended) can be made online.
Eight 1/2 Restaurant and Lounge is located at 151 East 8th Avenue in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant district and is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch.
My meal and beer sampler were compliments of Van Eats and Eight 1/2 for the purpose of writing this review.
Posted in: Craft Beer, Events, Granville Island, Inspiration, Sustainability, Vancouver
Richard Wolak is the man behind Vancouver Foodster, Food Talks, and Tasting Plates.
A variety of appetizers and decadent desserts were prepared by Dockside’s Executive Chef Simon McNeil and his team for a large group of attendees.
Each guest received two sampler-sized Dockside craft beers and the chance to mingle and nibble before the speaker portion of the evening started.
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Posted in: Craft Beer, Dining Reviews, Vancouver Island, Victoria, Wine
AURA is a waterfront restaurant and patio located at the Inn at Laurel Point, just outside Victoria’s downtown core, where West coast Pacific Rim-inspired dishes are beautifully crafted by Executive Chef Takashi Ito.
The harbour views are magnificent, particularly at night. Reserving in advance allowed for a prime seat at the window, to enjoy the jewelled tones of the surrounding harbour lights.
The ambiance here is casual yet feels formal enough to dress up for dinner. The music is toned down, with classical, jazz, and lounge styles flowing through the room, allowing for conversation to be heard. The illuminated bar (showing a Canucks game on the TV screen the night of my visit) is home to a buddha.
Staff are very accommodating and the service is paced as to enjoy a bit of space between courses. I chose the deep amber Blue Buck out of a selection of Victoria microbrews on tap ($5/glass): Driftwood Brewing Fat Tug IPA, Lighthouse Brewing Race Rocks Amber Ale, Swan’s Oatmeal Stout, Hoyne’s Pilsner, and Phillips’ Blue Buck Ale. There’s also Merridale Cider available as well as international red and white wines by the glass or bottle.
Chef Ito chooses Ocean Wise-sanctioned seafood in all his dishes, as well as using seasonal and local ingredients on the breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus.
A freshly baked brioche was brought to the table with a small dish of homemade browned apple/thyme butter, the perfect complement for sipping the ale.
As a starter, I ordered the Fried Sushi platter: a colourfully-presented dish of side stripe shrimp, scallop, seared tuna, and tobiko caviar on deep-fried sushi rice. Two soy sauce injector sticks were on hand to season at will. The fried sushi is divine on its own; combined with the seared tuna, it was just gorgeous on the palate. The side stripe shrimp’s texture is luxuriously matched with the scallop and caviar dollops on the grey slate square. I could smell the freshness of the BC seafood as it was set on the table in front of me.
Between sips of Blue Buck, I also enjoyed the crunchy structure of the nori and rice.
Steel head is served pan-seared with a couple of edamame bean and potato croquettes, surrounded by seasonal vegetables atop a stroke of corn purée. I found the vegetables cooked just right, and not overdone. The veggies were Patty Pan zucchini, kale, golden and purple beets, and carrots. All very good together with the delicate, flaky locally-caught trout.
AURA’s dessert sheet is also loaded with some gorgeous combinations: cocoa nib and maple blondie with Phillips Chocolate Porter Stout ice cream and malt powder crunch, warm apple and peanut butter galette served with cinnamon ice cream and caramel sauce, and my choice, the Carmelia Valrohna chocolate bar ($11). A big thumbs-up to Pastry Chef April Iverson for both flavours and presentation.
This beautiful vanilla cream-filled chocolate bar arrived with chocolate pop rock crunch atop salted caramel ice cream, and a dark chocolate ring decorated with gold leaf. A couple of small mounds of dried berry powder added a bit of tang to the dish. Together with an Americano, this was a delightful way to end a leisurely meal by the water’s edge.
Artisan cheese plates served with spiced nuts, jams, chutney and inn-dried fruit bread are also part of AURA’s dessert menu.
AURA Restaurant is located at the Inn at Laurel Point, 680 Montreal Street in Victoria.
My dinner was compliments of AURA and the Inn at Laurel Point.
Posted in: Cocktails, Craft Beer, Dining Reviews, Recycling, Sustainability, Vancouver, Wine
The amount of restaurants opening up in Vancouver over the last couple of years has skyrocketed. Each new spot seems to offer a menu filled with delicious, fresh, and innovative items plus lovingly crafted beer, wine, and cocktail lists.
I recently found a wonderful new gem in the crowd. Luke’s Corner Bar and Kitchen has been open for little over a year and half now, located in the South Granville corridor.
An inviting space awaits diners as the welcome sign on the door indicates. The interior is filled with wooden tables, a centrally located bar, and booths, offering a variety of seating options for sports and non-sports lovers alike.
This forward-thinking establishment is owned by Mark Roberts, who together with co-owner Peter Baker is putting truly sustainable dining on the map. This is the first Vancouver restaurant to dive into high-temperature composting of vegetable waste (plus coffee grinds and tea bags). This new technology greatly reduces a restaurant’s ecological footprint.
Later this month, a micro-farming operation will begin from behind the restaurant: a container is being prepared by Urban Stream’s Nick Hermes that will turn the waste into compost, either to be planted back into the onsite garden or sold back to the community. For now, several herbs and arugula are grown and used in Luke’s dishes. Plans are to add hydroponically-grown bib lettuce and oyster mushrooms, an extremely locally-sourced option.
Chef Megan Anahaw has a flair with presentation, bringing out colourful, healthy, and fresh dishes to enjoy. I ordered Diane’s Choice salad, named after the restaurant’s neighbour, Diane’s Lingerie. Part of the brand-new menu, this dish is a hearty mix of grilled chicken mixed with quinoa, black beans, asparagus, and other vegetables – a meal in itself.
Another new and very welcome menu item is the Ahi tuna poke stack, piled high with tuna, and offset with flavourful fruit salsa, and a lovely ginger/soy dressing to complement to crisp wonton chips.
Luke’s uses 100% heritage Angus grass-fed beef for its burgers. This ensures a hormone and antibiotic-free product. The burgers are hand blended and served with a house made chipotle Granny Smith ketchup and skinny fries.
I opted to try the house made veggie burger, piled high on a brioche bun. This thick, flavour-packed burger is made with black beans, wild mushrooms, quinoa, egg, and BC white cheddar. It is a lovingly crafted masterpiece!
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Posted in: Cocktails, Craft Beer, Technology, Vancouver, Whisky, Wine
Over the holidays, while cleaning out unused apps on my iPhone, I also discovered a wonderful new one to download, available for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad.
BC Liquor Stores have put an amazing (and free!) app together that’s feature-rich. This app will come in handy at the upcoming Vancouver International Wine Festival. If you can type it in, you can look it up later! Note: You must be at least 17 years of age to download the app.
- Wines can be searched via type, colour, country, price, volume, varietal, organic, VQA, etc.
- Browse and search through a huge database of wine, beer, and spirits
- See current inventory in nearby stores (allowing location based services to access your phone)
- Share created lists via email, Facebook, Twitter, and text message
- The wine and food pairing guide will help you find just the right wine with your creation
- There are food and drink recipes culled from BC Liquor Stores Taste magazine
- Items can be scanned in order to find details and store availability
- You can save your favourites and create a Cellar for easy access
- Rate and comment on your favourite discoveries
- Find a store, get directions, and view store hours
- Map view will show stores open (green pins) or closed (red pins)
- Detailed product information plus space for typing in your own notes
Find the app here. And remember to taste, sip, and spit at your next wine event!
Posted in: Craft Beer, Dining, Events, Vancouver, Wine
Eight of the city’s top restaurants, plus Granville Island Brewery, The Burrard Hotel, Secret Supper Soirée, Off the Eaten Track and Street Food City II were on hand for sampling and information leading to the big event itself: Dine Out Vancouver.
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