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Peter Green
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Mmmmmmm....pork roast with crackling.  No pictures of innards?  Was it just a little pink?
Give me time, I'm new in town. Plus, I've got the first part of London written, I'm just waiting on my friend to email the photos. When I get to part two we can go all George A Romero.

I'm enjoying this topic for three reasons:

1. I haven't lived in Vancouver since 1993.

2. I want to give my musical brother-in-law, now working in North Van, a cool foodie gift certificate for xmas.

3. Before I die, I need to be an extra in a Zombie movie, so the mere mention of Romero gets me worked up.

1. Even an hiatus of 2.5 years is turning up all sorts of things (although I haven't really lived here since 1983)

2. Push comes to shove, if I was to receive a foodie present, a gift certificate for Oyama would be really cool (but I'll check out the English Butcher on the North Shore, and Rick over on Main and 25th, too). Another option would be the sake guy on G. Island (where I was today).

3. "before I die"? Doesn't that defeat the point of zombie-ism?

I'm going to play some Iggy Pop now.

:biggrin:

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1. Even an hiatus of 2.5 years is turning up all sorts of things (although I haven't really lived here since 1983)

2. Push comes to shove, if I was to receive a foodie present, a gift certificate for Oyama would be really cool (but I'll check out the English Butcher on the North Shore, and Rick over on Main and 25th, too).  Another option would be the sake guy on G. Island (where I was today).

3. "before I die"?  Doesn't that defeat the point of zombie-ism?

I'm going to play some Iggy Pop now.

Thanks for the gift certificate tip PG, last time we sent one out west he got some pleasant Feenie's Weenies.

I think Zombies have a lust for life, and I'm a method actor. Well, method background performer, as seen on post #32.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Waking up is hard to do.

That’s why I do it several times a night….in order to build character.

By five a.m., sleep was a forlorn thing of the past.  I set down to catching up on mail, and, when it was looking vaguely light outside, I went for a walk to take in the morning air.

It was pretty.  Clouds with character worked the sky, coasting low with bright swathes of blue between them.  A steady stream of cars was pouring up 16th towards UBC, and some brave souls were shuffling about the bus stops.

I stopped in at Choices, and grabbed a few things to make a breakfast out of.

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A Comox brie (a little thick, and not as creamy as I might have liked); some cranberry pepperoni; and some pork pate.  All of this with stoned wheat thins I admire so much.

And yes, you can tell from the glass that I’m still drinking heavy.

I caught up on the news.  Here I’d been lamenting that I was missing out on the fun and games in Thailand, and all I needed was to spend half an hour with the newspaper to see that I was firmly in the midst of the same politics. 

Maybe they should start handing out yellow and red shirts here?

After breakfast I wandered the neighborhood. 

On 16th there was a place called Japanese Zest that looked interesting.  They’re doing a kaiseki menu which does get my attention, but I’d prefer to hear more about this place before committing a meal.

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I stopped off down by Broadway, and saw that Moderne Burger was open.  You never know when they’re going to shut down for another year’s renovations.  I’m good with their burgers, but it’s really their fries and milkshakes I lust for.

Close by, I took a look at db Bistro Moderne and Lumiere.  I’ve a call out for a reservation there if they open in time (Yes, I guess I’m one of the “look at me” crowd), but the sign on Bistro Moderne says they’re not opening until the 12th, which puts it past my time frame.

The other one I’d be interested in would be Market, whenever it gets up and running.  Current estimates put that in early 2009, though.

Further up the street, I saw that Wild Garlic was gone from Broadway and Arbutus, replaced by Transylvania Flavour.  Are these the same folks, I wonder?  It does seem coincidental that garlic would give way to the home of Dracula.

The Side Door is gone, replaced by Lola’s.  And a number of other small places are boarded up already in that stretch.

At Granville, having done some idle shopping for books and electronics already (Jacques Pepin’s biography is on sale for 4.95 at Chapters, is that worth reading?), I headed South, peering in the window at West, admiring the coffee crowds working out their caffeine addictions (“I can quit it myself anytime”, say I), and ambling in and out of the cookware stores that cluster around here (Cookery, Ming Wo, Wm Sonoma) and then stumbled across Chow.

A number of you had recommended this, as had others outside of egullet.  So who am I to argue?  I would rather be here for dinner, but when I find myself in a place, at a time, with opportunity, I feel it should be firmly grasped and devoured.

It’s a comfortable room.  Maybe that’s just the mood I was in, but when you step inside, you just feel right.  Greys and browns, rough worked grey painted floor.  Brown tables.  Ambient music and good staff.  In some ways it made me think of Arbutus in Soho, or Hereford Road in W2. 

Comfortable.

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I didn’t have a large meal.  I took a glass of the Kettle Valley Viognier and admired the menu.

Mind you, I admired the dinner menu more.

A side of frites with harrisa mayonnaise sounded good, but my eyes can be bigger than my stomach at this time of day, and I’d been getting by on one meal a day on average for the last week. 

I stuck instead to one main; the house-made cotecchino sausage, dupuy lentils, vegetable soffrito, and winter greens.

I had to ask about harissa.  It’s a red chile paste, North African in origin.  I was really thinking about those fries.

Next to me, the waitress asked the table how they’d liked the lunch. 

“It was really good, but tell them ‘it didn’t suck’.  Otherwise it’ll go to their heads.”

I do like being back in Vancouver.

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The bread was pully, just the way I like it, with a crust that would exercise my teeth.  Some proper butter, that perfectly serviceable Kettle Valley, and I was happy.

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The dish arrived, a glistening slab of textured meat atop a pile of lentils, with greens mixed in amongst the brown of the beans.  I’m a big fan of French lentils, and you’ll never hear me say bad things about sausages, so this was a perfectly good lunch for me. 

It’s one of those pleasant moments, when you can idly stare out the window at the passing traffic, admiring the facial ornamenation on the large bearded fellow in a suit, smoking in a passenger seat.  You can ponder things like “how does he get through a metal detector with all that stuff on his face?”

The chef, J.C. Poirier, has a pedigree including C, Lumiere, and Montreal’s Toque, and he’s created a very nice place. They recommended I come back for dinner, which I think is a great idea.  I wonder how this would work with sake?

I talked a bit more, and started adding more restaurants to my list.

It’s getting to be a long list.

Hey - I had lunch at Chow yesterday.....1 pm, two gals sitting by the front window. The meal was great - shared the pulled pork croquettes with vegetable ketchup, marinated olives, for my main I had the mushroom soup with truffle oil. First rate all the way.

The waitress mentioned their Sunday December special.....3 courses, $38, and wine at cost.....yes, you read right......cost. Just call first to confirm (in case my ears weren't working after the two glasses of Meyer Family Chardonnay...)

Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography.

~ Robert Byrne

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Is La Brasserie on your list? I haven't made it yet but I'd like to - no reservations though. Lots of pork, including suckling pig, and beer and champagne with low markups (for Vancouver anyway).

From Andrew Morrison:

Had a first whirl at La Brasserie. Suckling pig, hanger steak, bratwurst...so very good, and if you dig rotisserie, welcome home.

From Mia Stainsby in the Sun

On the German front, suckling pig with schupfnudel  (potato gnocchi) and sauerbraten with spaetzle (beef brisket marinated in red wine, then slow-braised) are flavourful and hearty dishes. On the French side, there's coq au vin and steak tartare but the best of the French dishes I tried were the onion soup and onion tart. The onions were beautifully caramelized in both dishes. Mussels with frites featured a very tasty broth (mussels themselves were average) and a cold seafood terrine featured fresh seafood, although it wasn't as inviting as the hot dishes.

Cheers,

Anne

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If you're coming to north van to visit a butcher, go to jolly foods  instead. (Don't judge a shop by its name.)  Unless you want the english butchers sausages.

I like the pie I just had from the British Butcher, and their pepperoni are quite good (more on this later).

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Is La Brasserie on your list? I haven't made it yet but I'd like to - no reservations though.  Lots of pork, including suckling pig, and beer and champagne with low markups (for Vancouver anyway).

We just came back from the Brasserie. Wow. We had the Alsatian Onion Tart and the Rocket Salad to start. He had the Rotisserie Chicken and I had the Thursday special Schnitzel. Then ended with a Lemon Sabayon Tart. A few glasses of bubbly, reisling and malbec and topped off with an eau de vie. What a lovely evening. The food was fantastic and the bill came to $112. So so reasonable. Will definitely be back. I want a taste of EVERYTHING on the menu!

Oh, and they serve the baguette with a ramekin of butter and a ramekin of chicken rillette. My God.

Quentina

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December 2, 2008 – Fuel for Thought

Walking down to 4th, after stopping in at the Spy Shop (“no, we can’t sell you that.”), I ambled (after a good lunch, I amble) up the avenue on the South side, admiring the sprawl of restaurants. Modern Italian, Indian, and sushi for the world. But then I came across one of the names I’d just added to my list.

Fuel.

They were between meals, closing out lunch and getting ready for dinner. This is, perhaps my second favourite part of a kitchen’s day (the first is when I have cutlery in my hands).

This place takes the idea of open kitchen even further, placing the cooking stations up at the front of the restaurant, prep going on windowside and all down the entry, which also supports a good bit of bar dining, full frontal to the kitchen.

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There’s something just alluring about a good turnip.

Now, before you think I’m an even bigger glutton than you already do (hard, I know), I wasn’t even going to try and brave another meal just yet.

But I would get some reservations set up.

That done, I continued my stroll homeward, stopping by Kits High to admire it’s impressive child-centric design (I believe it was put together by the same fellow who did the old maximum security facility at Okalla. They have a lot in common.)

Once home, I hit the phones. Dinner called for company.

A little befoe 8 p.m. I returned. It was a Tuesday night, and the room was about half full, most of the tables already well into their meals. Lots of laughter. That’s another good thing in Vancouver, when I go into a restaurant, people are happy. That doesn’t seem like much, but I’ve been a lot of places where you get a much more dour reception (at least until late at night; Dionysius is a great equalizer).

While I waited, I ordered a martini. They had a gin I hadn’t heard of before – Quintessential – from the UK. This is a 5 pass distill, with lavender and lotus leaves in amongst the final florals. Very smooth, I must say, and not a difficult thing to drink. Perhaps a little too smooth, as I do like a bit of an edge on my alcohol. But the herbs and flowers did make for a good nose.

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When R and W arrived, we settled into the business of gloating over the menus. We like to gloat. A lot of the ingredients were recognized immediately by Russ and Wendy – Polderside farms, Sloping Hills, Fraser Valley lamb – and the descriptions looked to boast a lot of technique in the kitchen.

I particularly liked the “suggestions” part of the menu, which culminated in a suckling pig stuffed with foie gras and truffles. I’d like to go out that way.

In the end, we left it to the chef. They’ll do four, five, or six course menus, with wine matchings if you wish. We settled on the four, as my appetitie was still recovering from the trans-Atlantic, and an evening like tonight, when the places isn’t jammed, seemed like a good time to let the kitchen have their way with us.

We were surprised. The menu had recommended that it would be best if the whole table took the chef’s menu. When the dishes came, we each had something different, so this was purely for the needs of staging, rather than efficiencies.

So, what did we have?

First, the amuse. The house made cotecchino sausage with apple butter.

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We’ve all decided we like apple butter.

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In front of me was a cauliflower soup with cured salmon, shaved cauliflower (which is something I have to try on the mandolin), and sliced scallions. The bowl was presented, and then the broth poured in, filling my space with that thickness of cauliflower that just cries out for caviar. There was a bit of ikura playing King of the Mountain, but my heart yearned for sevruga, I must admit.

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Cauliflower is one of those ingredients that just makes me feel rich. There’s something about that warm, mouth filling sensation as it blossoms that I always look forward to. This didn’t disappoint (but just a little bit of sevruga…..)

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R had a traditional brodo (broth) with cotecchino sausage (there it is again – it’s a cotecchino day) and dumplings, with a savoury infused oil and some bone marrow in there. A beautiful consommé. Being wanton gluttons, R and I swapped our dishes back and forth. The dumplings were as soft as they should be, and the marrow gave that rich, thickness to them that caused me to forget about the cotecchino that was there, so forget about me making any comparisons with lunch.

W had the carnoroli risotto with caramelized fennel and Dungeness crab. The picture was a dud, unfortunately, so consider a gleaming flat surface, cobblestoned with that particularly plump Italian rice, glistening with a sheen of fat. Littered on this, like the feathers of a crumpled dove, the light, shredded crab meat of the Dungeness huddles to the warmth of the dish. Again, this is something I should try at home (crab risotto, not huddling for warmth. I do enough of that here at night). The crab meat has that illusion of lightness about it that would set well with the risotto (crab I love, but there’s that wall lurking in there that just says you’re not going to eat any more of it at some sudden spot. Mind you, that wall is behind a lot of crab, so no worries here).

For wine, we’d been rooting through their substantial menu. W had taken an Herder Pinot Gris from B.C. to go with the crab, and R and I had found a Viognier from California, a Calera, which we cheerfully asked for as “cholera”. I’m growing very fond of Viognier this trip. It’s a nice Rhone grape, and the Californians and Australians are doing good things with it.

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For the second course, R had the Albacore tuna, seared just rare with a tuna emulsion and pickled vegetables. This had been taking just the faintest step away from sashimi.

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W was brought the Heirloom beetroot salad of crispy ricotta and lemon crème fraiche.

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And I had the duck confit and foie gras terrine, with shaved pink lady apples, hazelnut skin, and sea salt.

I’m going to have to buy some of these hazelnuts. They’re from Agassiz, not a place I would have associated with hazelnuts in the past. That skinned effect, still holding a crunch, along with the shaved apple is a good match with the richness of the terrine and the crunch of the bread. Plus, there’s salt!

Oh, I should mention the bread on the table way back when we’d started. I’d been carried away. It was good, fine enough there, but what really took W, R, and my attention was the service with sea salt and unsalted butter. It’s a little thing to do, but clever, the tactility (is that a word?) of the act of sprinkling the coarse flaked salt on your bread just engaging you in a different way.

Our mains arrived next. As the mains arrived, my ability to take a photograph with any semblance of focus departed. So I’ll have to talk my way through these.

For me, I had the Polderside Farms’ Redbro chicken over creamed leeks, matsutake mushrooms, more leeks, and a netsutake terrine. The chicken had been stuffed and rolled, baked to a crisp, golden exterior skin, and then sliced in four pieces. Rich, and with that flavour you get in good chicken, very similar to the richness I’d found in Japanese free-range birds.

The terrine was very good, as well. My first reaction was that it was just a piece of zucchini, but biting into it revealed the truth.

Under the chicken was the green bed of leeks, pillowed with crisped matsutakes. Around the dish was some squeeze bottle action of glazed jus, and a fall of micro greens set off of the golds, greens, and browns in the dish.

R had the Fraser Valley lamb, with a sunchoke puree, caramelized yogurt, agnoletti, and crispy sunchokes. This came with the meat snaking out across the plate, cut in medallions, jus drizzled over the recumbent red. At one end, the crispy sunchokes fell in a snowdrift of bown shreds. Individual brussel sprout leaves dressed the dish.

“Sunchoke” I had to ask about. It’s the tuber of a sunflower, or a “Jerusalem artichoke”.

W’s dish was the Sloping Hills pork with a crown bacon terrine, “fonne” puree, brussel sprouts, and roasting juices. Don’t ask me how, but I could almost focus on this.

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This was very good pork, with proper fat levels to keep me smiling and content. My notes actually state “the pork is fantastic”, a common cry from the three of us. I can see that Belcham deserves his reputation for working well with pig. And the bacon terrine, with the sea salt they’re using, is the sort of thing of beauty that just stops your heart (sorry, I couldn’t resist that).

For wine, W had moved to the cholera, which she also approved of. R had decided on a Wynn Shiraz from Coonawara for the lamb, and I’d gone with a cabernet, Blackwood Lane from B.C. The Wynn was definitely the right choice for the lamb. I’d gone with the cab as I wanted the versatility to match up with both the lamb and chicken, as it was my intention to steal R’s plate part way through, and to lift some of W’s pork when I had the chance.

It’s good to eat with old friends. They’re used to my larcenous attitudes.

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Dessert was next. W’s arrived first, with a Manjeri chocolate terrine, a thing of thickness and, well, chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

There was also a coconut sorbet that gave you thoughts of Thailand and crisp beaches; and a salted, caramel stuffed banana, with banana tuiles and peanut butter crumbs lurking under there in the shade of the tuile.

I had the Gravenstein apple cake, with German heirloom apples, with caramel and Ceylon cinnamon ice cream.

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This brought the question up of the Sri Lankan cinnamon. It’s a gentler bark than we usually work with, lacking the burn that you can get with other cinnamons. I’ve found when I’ve used this for ice cream, I can almost get a gingery taste, but with this it was much smoother, and more laid back.

Like I say, I’m not much of a dessert guy. For me, it was just a cake. Nothing wrong with it, but it takes a lot to get me interested in desserts. A lot of chocolate can help, and so can coconut, so I would probably have been better with W’s plate.

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R’s was really neat. A carnaroli rice pudding, with pistachio sorbet and chocolate, to give a bowl that was rich in colour, and a thick, pleasing feel. The pistachio green just gave the bowl such a nice look that it’s hard not to be happy.

And, each of us having taken a different route through dinner (although I tend not to stay in my lane), we were brought back together with the petite fours at the end.

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Nougat; a crisp chocolate; some truffles, and beautiful little jellies with the smell and hint of apple about them.

Good meal. I’m wrapping my head (still) around the idea of West Coast cuisine, and this is beginning to gel. Solid technique, good quality local ingredients, and an easy ambience.

If I have the time, I’d love to come back here and sit at the bar and try the chef’s 9 course grand meal.

If I have the time….so many meals, so little time…..

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Next: For the Sake of Granville Island

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Hi Peter!

As much as I always enjoy reading about your exotic travels and food, I have to say that I'm enjoying this most of all! I've never been to Vancouver, but it's still familiar to this Kansas girl.

How is the seafood up there? What is in season now?

Oh, and for the cat hair I recommend only dressing in white attire :biggrin:

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Hi Peter!

As much as I always enjoy reading about your exotic travels and food, I have to say that I'm enjoying this most of all!  I've never been to Vancouver, but it's still familiar to this Kansas girl.

How is the seafood up there?  What is in season now?

Oh, and for the cat hair I recommend only dressing in white attire  :biggrin:

I'm debating dunking the felines in India ink.

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December 3 – To Market, To Market

It was a fair morning, pushing the afternoon, so I headed off to undertake one of my “missions” for the trip.

I wanted to visit the Artisan Sake Maker.

After the Japan trip and the visit to the Kitagawa honke last Spring, this had been high on my list of things I had to do. Aidan (at Dipsophilia) had been emailing me links to some of the articles in print, and I’d already emailed Masa Shiroki, looking for restaurants in advance that would be stocking his wares.

His response was a very reasonable “Why don’t you come down? We’ve got a tasting bar here and you can see what you like.”

This is like inviting a vampire into your home.

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The brewery is on Railspur, an alley in the middle of the Island, a short walk away from the market itself. They’re blowing glass at the entry to the alley, and next door there’s a leather place, and a coffee shop nearby.

It’s Vancouver. How far can you ever be away from a coffee shop?

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It’s a very tidy operation, a gleaming stainless, with the odd bit of wood, such as the beam of the funa – part of the pressing operation.

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Up front, at the counter, a very charming young lady was quite happy to pour me a tasting set of the three sakes that they bottle. These come in both half and full-size (720 ml) bottles, whichever suits your needs.

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For the three, they’re doing a junmai nama, a clear, clean tasting sake, with some citrus elements in there. She recommended this for fish.

In comparison, the junmai nama genshu, at 18%, packs a much fuller mouth, holding its own with most anything you might want to try.

And then there’s the nigori. Junmai nama nigori. After the Takara nigori I’d had in London the week before, my palate was crying for more. This came out fresh, the ferment still on the go and the white, animal husbandry like fluid was dancing on the surface.

It’s important to stress that all of these had a beautiful, lively tone to their bodies. They weren’t pasteurized, and were still alive in the mouth as you took them.

I know, I know. You’re going to ask about the stubby one in the middle with the Grolsch cap. That one is a seasonal, a “sparkling sake”. This I didn’t taste at the time, I just took a bottle. I remember Mr. Kitagawa talking about this method, and how some of the brewers were taking it up for the export market.

When you find an opportunity, say I, seize it by the neck. Then swig it.

She nicely asked if I would care to buy any of the product, and I immediately put my money down and took one of each. I really want to see how this works out with some different cuisines. All through the Gourmet Fest in September, I’d been thinking about this dish or that dish would work with good sake. Now was my chance.

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They were also selling kasu, the lees of the sake from the pressing of the momori. Traditionally, this is used for marinating, for tenderizing meats and such. As was noted in _____’s post above, Oyama was using this for beef, and I was intrigued.

I intrigue easily.

We’ll talk more about the kasu when I come back to this later.

I had a lot of questions regarding the operation, but, unfortunately, Masa Shiroki wasn’t in the shop at the time. But I had his email, so I could formulate my material a little more cogently, and get back to him (I spent a wonderful afternoon with him over coffee later in the week, so I’ll get back to this later, and then we can talk more about kasu and sake)

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I walked up the Island to the Market.

Have you noticed how the world is devolving into Capitalized Nouns of late?

The Market is what I always think of as the centerpiece of the Island. Going back to its redevelopment in the 1970s, this was what all of the original fuss was about. The Emily Carr University, the hotel, theatres, and the brewery (which actually moved out to the Okanogan, but they keep the old place here).

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The market itself plays host to a number of permanent installations. Produce comes in from the Vallley, and is sold on again to locals and tourists.

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In the summer it’s a lot more fun, with things spilling out onto the open areas fronting False Creek and the downtown core. Little ferries shutting back and forth across the water.

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But, it still has a certain charm in the cold and wet, which is a good thing, otherwise they’d only do two weeks of business a year.

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The official bird of Vancouver – aka “Rat with wings”

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Inside the halls, there’s a world of stuff to leer at.

Truth be told, if I’m cooking I prefer shopping at T&T. With what seems like a half kilometer of live food tanks, that Asian market is my idea of heaven on Earth. But I won’t be in the kitchen this trip (I much prefer Sister’s place on the North Shore for working), I can eat with my eye here in touristville.

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And it is fun. Consider this stand. Oysters, oysters, and oysters (maybe I could buy just six?), plus mussels and clams.

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And fresh scallops. After Glen Ballis’ scallop dish, I can just picture how I would lightly sear these and set them off in a Thai backdrop.

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And what a civilized world it is when you can pick up smoked pigs’ ears whenever you want to? (I think they were selling these for the dogs, though. Still, I don’t discriminate in such matters).

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And, if you ask me what I’d want to have at hand to eat while writing, my answer would be berries. At this point I broke down and bought a tub of blueberries. I couldn’t help myself.

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But my goal wasn’t breakfast snacks…..okay, it was. But of a meat nature.

John van der Leick’s operation has been the talk of the town for ages. He came to Canada some 20 years ago from Germany, and started up operations in the Okanogan (at the town of Oyama), then opened the shop up here later on. Once the word got out on his products, he quickly became one of the busiest shops on the Island.

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It makes my eyes water to see a selection like this. Sausages, pates, hams, made from almost anything under the sun.

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I bought a quarter kilo of the beef kazu to see how this has worked, and couldn’t resist picking up a Grelots noisette, and a saucisse d’Alsace. They’ll go well with blueberries for breakfast.

My work here was done. Now all that remained to me was to wend my way out of the Island and get back home to a knife and some crackers.

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December 3 – Moderne Times

After walking by MB the other day, it was only appropriate that I’d soon be dining there. This was my evening out with Jackie and Aidan. Alongside their day jobs, also looks after Dipsophilia, which tries to keep up with the drinking events that pack out the calendar in this fine city.

It was Aidan and Jackie’s choice. With Wee Angus (well, he’s hardly “wee”) along, we were in mind for something close to home and child friendly.

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Moderne always fits that bill.

Luckily, unlike Lumiere down the street (industry tasting Monday. How come I wasn’t invited? – sniff!) Moderne Burger was open. It seemed like every other time the family came by over the last few years, they’re closed for renovations.

But not this year (or at least since Yoonhi and Serena were here in the summer). It was open, bigger, and, well moderne looking.

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I always like the look of this place. I wonder if the Smallville cast ever comes in here en masse? 1950s lines, deco windows, the works. The only place that evokes a similar feeling from me in Vancouver is the Ovaltine, and that’s a different clientele.

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(Hey, is the Ovaltine still open?)

Dinner was a straightforward affair. Burgers, fries, and shakes.

With mine I went for old-fashioned steak with mushrooms and bacon, just to make it healthier. A solid burger, the appropriate size (I’m not a fan of burgers you can’t get your mouth around), and with a nice wetness to it.

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Wear your food with pride, say I.

But, for me, the burger is an afterthought. What I really want are the fries and the shake.

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For a shake, I went for a mocha, figuring that it would help me stay awake.

Well, it’s a theory.

As for the fries, I was happy. You see, they're not a Belgian frite, by any means, nor are they the uber-crisp of McDonald's old recipe (before the ridiculous backlash against meat fats).

I looked in on Lumiere. They were bustling about, but when I asked, it was apparent that I wouldn’t be here at the right time. I’d either be heading for the Island to get Scud, or else whiling the time away at Vancouver International.

And I admired the White Spot across the street. A chain, I know, but a survivor. Feenie worked for them for awhile, after the Lumiere meltdown. I heard from my nephew, Jason, that they’ve opened in Seoul now, playing on the returned home-stay crowd’s sense of nostalgia, drawing on that need for Triple-O sauce.

Some gochujang wouldn’t be bad, either.

(Here’s a question. Has anyone been in Dan, the Japanese bar next to Moderne Burger?)

Our plan was, with food out of the way, for the older boys to be cast free, while Jackie and Angus headed back for some quality time.

We’re both elderly, responsible adults, right?

Right?

Next: East Into The Morning

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December 7 – An Aside

Well, it’s a week into my Vancouver time, and I’m already four days behind. Obviously I need to have a glass of wine and some good cheese, and reflect on things.

Otherwise I might be tempted to catch up.

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The cheese was fantastic. Yes, I know that’s a superlative, but it was good. I walked up to the Meinhardt’s at Arbutus. They took over this space from a music store, and before that it was a Buy-Low, and before that it was an IGA.

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Anyways, I told the woman behind the counter that I was looking for something that would smell like my socks and run away from just about anything.

That perked her up.

She recommended this – The Farm House’s La Florette, from Agassiz. As soon as I cut into it it just went soft and wet, spilling out onto the paper like bowels from a belly cut. Nice smell, good flavour. Not as aggressive as a strong Frenchman, but then, this is Western Canada, after all.

With that a bit of white, just to keep me honest.

Of course, the reason to have the cheese was just to get out of the house and admire the sky. It rained heavy this morning, and then cleared in time for the Santa Claus parade downtown.

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There’s a light you get here, especially after a heavy rain, that’s hard to explain in print. All I know is that when I’d watch taped TV programs in Cairo back in the 80s, we could always tell the Vancouver-shot shows by the light.

And, once home, Mom’s making blueberry crumble.

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There, now it’s time to get ready for dinner.

Next – back to our regular programming

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There’s a light you get here, especially after a heavy rain, that’s hard to explain in print.  All I know is that when I’d watch taped TV programs in Cairo back in the 80s, we could always tell the Vancouver-shot shows by the light.

I know what you mean about that light. Flipping channels in Hong Kong, I can often spot a Vancouver outdoor shot in seconds, even when they've decorated the set to make it look like somewhere else.

Nice report.

Hong Kong Dave

O que nao mata engorda.

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December 2, 2008 – Fuel for Thought

thanks for posting your pics of Fuel. I too was quite impressed with the pork that I had there. It's good to know that they're still going strong -- looking forward to trying them again someday.

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December 2, 2008 – Fuel for Thought

thanks for posting your pics of Fuel. I too was quite impressed with the pork that I had there. It's good to know that they're still going strong -- looking forward to trying them again someday.

I'm hoping to be back, too.

I hope that many of these places stand the test of time and are still here when I come through again. It's a trade-off this trip, not having much time, as to whether to cover a wide range, or concentrate on the ones that make me happy. There are a couple I've done a reprise on, but there are so many others that just look too good to miss.

I should eat more meals in a day.

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December 3 (part of it) – Into the Night

We had to drop by the Heather.

This place had come up on Aidan’s radar the moment it opened, the allure of black pudding striking a spark for his Newcastle-borne senses. The only thing that gets that quick a reaction out of him is a beer cap being popped.

The Irish Heather is different, though. It migrated across the street last summer, into cleaner, more fashionable digs.

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Pity.

The old Heather had that beaten up, broken down feel that just made you comfortable (sort of like me, except for the “comfortable” part). The new place is glass doors and stylish Celtic designs. Polished wood and comfortable seating.

Like I said, “Pity”.

I shouldn’t be so hard. Really, it only fails in comparison to the old place. But most things do.

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I had a Rail Ale, from the boys at Howe Sound, and Aidan went for the Phoenix Gold from Philips (ignore the Guinness brandings). I know Philips better for their IPA, what Aidan was having now was just a Canadian Lager, but it was a straightforward enough.

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The food does look good. The Heather has taken up the “gastropub” banner, crying for good pub grub. Mind you, it was a fine place to eat before, sitting back in the greenhouse, it just didn’t need to say it.

We did our beer to about the halfway mark, and by then we were talking with the manager, who recognizes Aidan easily enough. We walked through the bar to the Salty Tongue side, and admired the long table.

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It is, in effect, a long table.

And it works. It’s like a bunch of picnic tables on the green all put together. I can see how you’d get a great sociality about this, feeding upon sandwiches and the café food that they do here.

We had them walk our beers through back to Shebeen.

Now, if the Heather suffers from being cleaned up, Shebeen is in the trauma stage. The new place is very pleasant. It suffers immensely from pleasantness. It feels like you’re in someone’s rec-a-room. Low ceiling, well stocked bar, and low lighting. And clean.

But the old Shebeen felt like it should. It was a hard to find spot (and, fair enough, the new one is also not an easy find), and once there, you felt that you needed to keep an eye out behind yourself for the shiv that might be finding its way to your kidneys. As someone said “At the old Shebeen you felt naughty. At the new one you feel nice.”

A couple of nights ago, there was talk of how Vancouver lacked a Scottish bar. Plenty of faux-Irish, but nothing Scotts. I would’ve considered the old Shebeen a good example of a Glasgow drinking hole.

But that’s just me.

So, take what I’ve just told you and douse it in a liberal handful of Himalayan rock salt. Like the Heather, there’s not really anything wrong with the new Shebeen other than that it’s not the old Shebeen.

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Excellent selection of malts. 117 is what we figured, setting aside the Canadians and the Irish (and the Japanese) as they don’t count in this. The Man and I set about doing the bar proper, and laid into the selection.

I had a Royal Lochnagar, Speyside but very well balanced– the whisky of old Vicky (hence the “Royal”), and Aidan went for a Glendronach, sherry rich on the mouth – which of course got us talking with the bartender on barrel management. I’d know from the Bangkok tasting that Glenmorangie was taking their woodwork very seriously, but I hadn’t realized that they, along with Highland Park, spent more together on wood than anyone else.

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As we drank our whisky, we noticed that our beers had evaporated. It must be the alcohol in them that causes this phenomenon.

Aidan went for a Blue Truck, and I admired the Crooked Tooth Hallowe’en Ale from Phillips.

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A tidbit that came up with the Blue Truck was the story of the Red Truck. Mark James had done a Red Truck, which was only on tap. Sleemans (whom, I’m sorry to admit, I used to own stock in) sued them over the name, as they also had a Red Truck. James renamed theres as Blue Buck, but then went on to put out Accusation Ale, which contained a long diatribe on the ill character of litigation. This may be one of the few cases of editorializing through malt.

By this point, as you can imagine, we were in the inquisitive phase of the evening (Spain spent years at this). We found an interesting bottle behind the counter – PC6. Aidan spotted it through dyslexia, thinking it was PCG, my initials. This was an overproof from Bruichladdich, an Islay. 61.6%, and known for bottling their own whisky. It was a hardhitting dram, but very interesting, with an excellent finish in contrast with the slap across the face of the opening.

“Assertive peat”, was the term that came up. Regarding the whisky, not myself.

As happens when alcohol is involved, we got to talking about cabbages and kings with the staff, it wasn’t crowded. They’re a good lot, and they know their whisky. They know enough to hide some of the bottles in the back so they can avail themselves. Aidan spends enough time in here that they recognize him, and that helps.

The lads pulled a very interesting bottle off the shelf from the right hand trans-Atlantic side. Not a Scotch, but a Canadian. The Centennial, from Alberta. We tried this, closing our eyes, and what we found was something as smooth as silk. This didn’t taste like a Canadian whisky at all. They surprised everyone at the last tastings, and, at $36 CDN – in comparison to what you’ll pay for a Scotch – this was excellent value.

Which reminds me, I should pick up a case.

Then we had a Brora, a “silent distillery”, which means that they’ve passed off this mortal coil, but their spirit remains.

I’d like to comment about the peat and the front and the tail, but by this time we were embroiled in a whisky lesson with two fellows who were new to the taste.

With Aidan, that’s like putting chum in the water – especially when they’d accused him of having a “fake English accent”. Well, it’s Newcastle. Can you blame them?

About an hour later, we were out of Shebeen. But the night was young. At least we thought it was young. Maybe middle-aged would be the better term. We couldn’t read our watches anymore, so that helped.

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It was a long walk across the street, and I found a thirst upon me after that exertion. 6 Acres was doing a roaring trade, so we dropped in there for a pint.

It was doing such a roaring trade that we had to fight our way up to the balcony to get a seat. Once there we weren’t budging. We settled down to the bar and put in our order.

I went for a Belk’s Extra Special Bitter. A cute label, the Belk being a cross between a bear and an elk…which caused some disturbing imagery, but we’ll put that aside for now.

By this point, we were passing from inquisitive to maudlin. Now it was time to dwell upon what had passed.

Actually, what triggered this was just looking out across the cobblestones to the place that had once been a great live music venue – where we’d seen the B-Sides and others. But we couldn’t remember the name.

Around the corner I wondered about the Brickyard. It had become the Limerick Junction, with a stop on the way, and was now closed up.

Puccini’s was the Brick House before. And now it’s a good honest boozer.

I looked up at this. We’d been joined by the fellow who’d been sitting beside us, engrossed in a book. Our topic was dear to his heart, and he was a useful man, filling in those critical years in the 90s that I’d not been here.

We talked about El Cid, which was famous for being the first hotel in town with satellite porno feeds to the rooms. I’d just thought of it as an old folks place good for darts. They went on to the Spinning Wheel, and then the Churchill Arms.

The Grand Union is still there, bless them. A relatively accessible bar, just not with the clothing we were wearing.

Bosman’s Sidebar closed in 2006. We all did a moment of silence. We couldn’t muster a full minute, as we were quite thirsty.

And the best comment came up with regards to Shebeen’s “I used to feel naughty. Now I feel nice.”

On Powell there’s a karaoke place that’s a very good live music venue now.

And there’s the Rail. We were irate over a recent review that talked about the Railway Club as a “railroad themed pub”. This was the railwayman’s pub in the old days, part of the union. “Theme” my third eye!”

Sorry, I get worked up over these things.

And the Penthouse was recently renovated. If ever there was a “blast from the worst part of the 60s” the Penthouse had been it. Seedy carpets, dingy walls. It was a call back to the underworld of the time. And now they’ve cleaned it up.

And even the Marble Arch is getting a facelift.

The Blood & Guts is gone. If you’re not aware, the Royal Canadian Legions are (at least were) great places to drink. With a dwindling membership (this is before Afghanistan) they were welcoming to almost anyone who was polite and minded their language. We’d show up at these, have extremely cheap beers, play darts and pool on brand new tables, and enter the meat draws, listening to the stories the members had about WWII and Korea.

(Aside: talking with Mom, the Legions have fallen upon hard times. The city won’t consider them as a charity, and are taxing them out of existence. This is, truly, shameful.)

And then, as often happens, our ire fell upon the great enemy – the Liquor Board.

When you think back upon it, if it hadn’t been for Expo86 we might still be driving down to Point Roberts of a Sunday for our pints. There’s a scary thought. Yes, there has been some loosening of the Blue laws in terms of opening hours and such, but we’re still fairly restrictive in terms of what can be done, and where. And that tenacious control is killing the middle ground of innovative drinking.

Their firm hold on the licensing of pubs and retail outlets has made the matter of a license one of great value, and as the value increases, the desire to take risks decreases. Thus we see the big boys putting their money into the faux-British pubs about town, and the sports bars, following a formula that is tried, true, and growing intensely boring.

Much as I miss the old Heather and Shebeen, I do admire their efforts in staying different.

The restaurantizing (There’s a George W word for you) of pubs has allowed for a slightly different approach to drinking, although our public servants do undertake the occasional raid to ensure that food is on the tables somewhere at 10 p.m. I remember that this was a loophole we could exploit at places like the Cheddar Cheese and other such venues back in the university daze. It’s now become a business driver.

We glowered at our pints.

By this point, Famine had once again mounted his horse and was taking tilt upon us. Around the corner, another well-recommended restaurant was still open.

Bonita.

This name had been coming up a lot, and I wanted to see what they were like. We were here, the restaurant was here…..it was syncopatic.

We dumped our clothes upon the central feeding bar, and Aidan headed for the can as I settled into my beer. We were soon joined by a pleasant couple, archetypes of the new Gastown crowd. He was doing post production work, and being paid to watch Japanese cartoons, and she wouldn’t say what she did. They were relatively young, working in interesting areas (the unknown is always interesting) and obsessed with food and drink.

A fine set of qualifications for dinner company.

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Things were getting a might blurry.

We all went in together, and ordered a bunch of food. This is just the thing to do at some time around midnight….or was it later?

First, some poutine (which is becoming widely available in the town). It was something I’ve heard of, but never come across before (I know, I know….I’m just ignorant). A mass of starch with gravy. Quite satisfying.

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And there were scallops with sweetbreads. This lead to a discussion of what sweetbreads are, which drove off half the table (leaving more for me). The combination is very good, with those large, firm, meaty scallops being matched by the softness of the sweetbreads.

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There was a duck, served along with a duck sausage, and creamed potatoes. The duck was well done, no complaints there, but the sausage was much more interesting, with a very pleasant taste, rich and fat, with a backdrop of blood.

Oh, and beets are very much the vegetable of the season, it would seem.

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And we also had a carpaccio, but the photo of that was a dud. The carpaccio came out buried under a layer of greens, drizzled with mustard, and then covered with parmesan and a couple off eggs. I can’t say I was too pleased with this, as it just seemed a bit too “busy”. I think of a carpaccio as a straightforward dish of marinated beef, taken raw and tangy from Harry’s Bar.

Call me old-fashioned.

This turned out to be a very social meal, with a good discussion of post production, foo movies and drink.

It was good enough that we took the discussion across to Chill for another beer, but at that point they were just closing the house, so I can’t give much of a review. Big room, comfy chairs, cold beers. Nice ambience until they put the lights up.

Fed twice, and with enough beer in me to be content, it was a taxi home.

As I always say, it’s a successful night out when you wake up with your wallet and all of your teeth.

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That seems like an amazing amount of drink and I can't find the first food...other than at Bonita?

(Ah, this was later in the evening, post MB?) Thank you for the food trip - Vancouver is fun that way. Travel is really.

Edited by tsquare (log)
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