Harmony Arts Festival, 
West Vancouver’s signature summer festival, has just wrapped up another spectacular year. The festival’s been going strong for 29 years due partly to the popularity of its wide range of events.

Always on the forefront of creativity, gastronomic highlights Best of the West and Night on the Pier have attained sell-out status year after year. Participating chefs, sommeliers and mixologists bring their A-game to create two memorable evenings.


Best of the West 2019

Now into its ninth year, the delicious delights at this competition never fail to dazzle. 


10 culinary teams paired delectable small plates with carefully curated wines, tempting event-goers to cast their votes.


Last year’s winner, Parc Retirement Living, definitely had my vote with their mouth-watering Alderwood-smoked sablefish. Executive chef Allen Hsu chatted liberally about balancing the smokiness and buttery texture with the slight saltiness of black truffle caviar and a delicate crisp of dried mandarin.


A bright and lively chardonnay from Blue Mountain Vineyards completed the flavour profile.


Terroir Kitchen’s executive chef was no slouch either, presenting one of only two non-seafood dishes of the evening. Their wagyu beef bresola atop a simple buffalo mozzarella heirloom tomato salad took five months to conceive and perfect. The depth of flavour was almost too bold for Paint Rock’s mellow syrah.


Earls Ambleside Beach elevated the humble tostada with succulent lobster meat and a chardonnay pairing with Tantalus Vineyards.

Cactus_ceviche_2 Kitsch_reisling

I felt Cactus Club’s tangy, fresh ceviche made the most intuitive pairing of the night with Kitsch Winery’s luscious Maria’s Block Riesling, scoring a perfect balance of sour and sweet notes.


Feast Dining Neighbourhood Table brought a smoking dome to finish off their creation dubbed “grilled octopus in his nest.” This whimsical dish was matched with an outstanding Black Swift Pinot Noir from The Hatch.


Although Mangia E Bevi’s house-made ricotta and herb gnocchi had lacklustre plating, the taste was superb, especially when chased with a bold Cab-Sav from Culmina Family Estates.


Ancora’s Dungeness crab causa was a visually sublime creation. The playful textures worked well with the Free from Vin Gris from Haywire.

Haywire_1 Smoked_Char3

Lake Breeze Winery teamed up with Edible Canada this year to compliment their refined and colourful smoked steelhead morsels.

The last two contenders were both Japanese restaurants but presented different spin-offs of the traditional cuisine. Stem Japanese doled out a generous portion of amazing tuna tataki on a bed of truffle potato salad.


Raku Japanese Kitchen seems to be new to the West Vancouver restaurant scene but has garnered nothing but 5-star reviews thus far. Their salmon ochi sushi was nothing short of impressive, as served with Poplar Grove’s rose̒.


This year’s Best of the West competition definitely raised the bar for luxury tastings. I predict next year’s tickets will be hot sellers. And what better way to spend an August evening?


Night on the Pier 2019

Cocktail culture is alive and well in the Lower Mainland!


On Thursday evening, seven of Vancouver’s most creative mixologists converged at Ambleside pier to synthesize their intoxicating potions.


Newcomer of the bunch, Gerald Jones (Juniper Kitchen & Bar), exuded flair and intensity which manifested into the bright and alluring Surely Seaside.


This cocktail packed a punch, with Jones’s own kiwi-infused pisco, gin, chartreuse and kiwi-bitters, finished with lemon juice and spruce tip syrup.


Both Katie Ingram (Elisa Wood-Fire Grill) and Souhail Rostainajad (Pourhouse) had similar looking cocktails but they could not have been more different.


Ingram’s Wannabe was citrus-forward with a hint of pineapple. Rostainajad’s Amble Breeze introduced a twist to the cucumber mint gimlet with a finishing absinthe spray.


Skye Hanuel Kim’s (Ampersand Bistro & Bar) Sassy Secret revealed her lively personality. This flirty concoction is lush, with sweet and fruity top notes.

Skye_Hanuel_Kim_1 Sassy_Secret_1

Summer Sunsets was Sabrine Dhaliwal’s offering for this year. A bright combination of citrus and apricot aromas, this cocktail is balanced and elegant like the lady herself. No wonder she is Belvedere Vodka’s brand ambassador.


Matthew Benevoli (Nomad Restaurant) is always bold and playful with his unexpected creations. This year’s Patagonia Spritz blended yuzu and lavender florals with herbaceous botanicals in Träkál – very earthy, very exotic.  

Matthew_Benevoli_1 Patagonia_Spritz_1

My favourite cocktail was from the engaging Robyn Gray (Rosewood Hotel Georgia). His stand for the Ambleside Punch was the only one with a queue because Gray chatted with each of the patrons individually while mixing his magic.

Not only is this brew vibrant and visually stunning, there’s a hidden gem underneath the paper umbrella: a 24-month rum and anise-infused cherry. This burst-in-your-mouth-goodness ain’t no pantry shelf maraschino!


All these free-flowing libations were accompanied by tasty morsels catered by Las Margaritas Restaurant, Sebastien & Co Fine Meats and Cacao Latin Progressive.


Event-goers snacked on low-key finger foods such as corn and plantain gorditas, tomato bruschettas and pichanga charcuterie cones.

Corn_plaintain_gorditas_2 Pichanga_charcuterie_1

Unfortunately, like last year, the snacks evaporated long before the last pour. Will there be more substantial eats next year? Mark your calendars to grab tickets for 2020.

Photos by Cora Li.

About Our Contributor Cora Li

Cora Li

Cora dabbles in arts, technology, food, and travel. She loves that Vancouver offers a vast playground for exploring all of her passions. Cora’s most memorable job to date was working with VANOC during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

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