PICA bakery creation

I spent my lunch hour yesterday both touring the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts and enjoying their Dine Out menu. Normally a three course daily menu prepared by students is a bargain at $18. The school has added three choices for Dine Out, which has been extended this year until February 11th and remains a great deal at the same price point.

Next year, the Institute will be celebrating 15 years in business. On staff are six Culinary Arts Chef Instructors, four Baking & Pastry Chef Instructors, two Restaurant Instructors, and one Wine Instructor to train students during the six month full-time program. I learned that all instructors are internationally-trained and bring a wealth of culinary expertise to the students, many of whom go on to open and work at highly-recognized restaurants throughout Canada and the world.

Alumni are now working at local restaurants such as db Bistro Moderne, ORU, The Pear Tree Restaurant, La Quercia and Refuel Restaurant & Bar.

One of the first staff to greet us was Adam Butler, Restaurant Instructor for Bistro 101, who was working Front of House today during a very busy lunch hour. He poured a flight of three wines to pair with our Dine Out choices. Today’s chosen winery was Hester Creek. As with all things PICA-related, the staff ensure that the program utilize sustainable ingredients wherever possible, and are both Ocean Wise and GreenTable Network members.

Mussels with Pomme Frites
[Mussels with Pomme Frites]

My first course was a dish of local mussels, served with Pomme Frites. The lovely curry coconut broth was delicious and paired very well with my 2009 Hester Creek Pinot Gris. The mussels were soft with a delicate flavour to compliment the crispy frites.

Miso Marinated Sablefish
[Miso Marinated Sablefish]

I chose the Miso Marinated Sablefish as a main course. The Thai black rice was flavoured with anise and citrus, as well as the miso broth brought from the sablefish. The accompanying vegetables and herbs made for a delicious pairing with a glass of 2008 Hester Creek Merlot. The rice was dark and hearty, making a red wine the right choice to be paired with this particular seafood dish.

The Chocolate Mousse Dome
[Chocolate Mousse Dome]

Next came a dessert for chocolate lovers: The Chocolate Mousse Dome. Served with Crème Anglaise and a nut tuile, the chocolate dome’s coating hid a beautiful moist mousse inside. A light shaving of citrus was presented on top of the crème, which added a perfect flavour balance with the 2009 Pinot Blanc Late Harvest wine, its hint of citrus and honey melting in my mouth. The strawberries weren’t ignored either, as the vanilla sauce and tiny chocolate beads on the plate were perfect for dipping.

Hester Creek 2009 Pinot Blanc Late Harvest

The bakery is currently undergoing renovations and when through will include window seating and barista service. I brought home a gorgeous piece of carrot cake to savour later in the day. Baguettes, sandwiches, quiches, and all sorts of desserts and chocolates can be purchased for take-out.

Carrot Cake from take-out café

To add to an already busy roster of events being held at PICA, the ever-popular Quady Winery Dessert Competition will be hosted here on March 12 and 13. This event (in its 23rd year) will be judged by a panel of respected pastry chefs. PICA is proud to host this event, with competitors competing for a Grand prize trip for two to California!

PICA bakery creation
[Touring the PICA Bakery Kitchen]

The Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts is Vancouver’s original hands-on cooking class provider and 5-year consecutive winner of the Consumers’ Choice Award for Business Excellence. As well, they were 2010’s opentable.com Diner’s Choice Winner. The Institute is located at 1505 West Second Avenue at the entrance to Granville Island. For reservations, visit their website or call 604.734.0101.


  • Comment by Denise — February 3, 2011 @ 11:06 am

    This looks so yummy! $18 is a real bargain! I want to try it out!

  • Comment by arianec — February 3, 2011 @ 11:20 am

    It was delicious! I hadn’t had lunch there yet so the view to the kitchen (with Granville Island to my back) was fun for people-watching of all sorts!

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