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Culinary Tipping Points


jamiemaw
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Two questions; When roughly was the turning point from greasy backwater to culinary hotspot and have we really turned a corner, or are we all so engrossed in our own food-centric existance, we perceive the city differently than it really is?

Good question, I asked it - in a much less entertaining way - myself.

I think the mid-eighties was a turning point for the better, but that may just reflect my vintage.

Have we really turned a corner - I don't know.

I think one "turns a corner" when one stops wondering if they have.

A.

Ah, that will be the day Vancouver stops hyping itself as a "world-class" city.

(Other cities presumably aren't sophisticated enough to actually be part of the world?)

Yes, you are both right.

Cheers,

Anne

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I was at a golf tournement with the requisite banquet afterwards. The appetizer course was sushi cooked, err I mean prepared by the good people from Octopus Garden in Kits. Not only did the golfers, not known as bastions of the avante garde devour the sashimi and rave about the eel, but the interesting thing happened during the main course. While plates were set in front of the diners, pretty much everyone in the room kept eating with chopsticks. I found this fascinating. The entree was barbecued chicken or something I forget, it wasn't asian, but people already had their chopsticks in their hands, and seemed to be entirely comfortable continuing with them. I can't imagine a crowd of middle aged white guys anywhere else in the world doing that. The thing I found interesting is it was not remarkable, no one commented on it, no one seemed to notice. It was just an interesting picture of where we are as a city in 2004.

This really ties into what Anthony brought forward earlier, Keith: the now unconcious acceptance of merged cuisines (post the 'sushi breakthrough') that show up even in White Guy dining rooms. That being said I haven't tried to eat prime rib with chopsticks, but then, as your story suggests, maybe that's no longer necessary.

As to the larger side of the story, I see the improvements being made in our restaurant cuisine and wine continuously accelerating. And the conjunction of rapidly deepening culinary tourism and the impending Olympics suggest that the upward curve of outside interest will parallel that of improvement.

Across the board, so to speak.

Jamie

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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The Dinner Roll

A highly subjective list of some of the most influential of the past 100 years

Alltime Coolest—Chez Victor, Kafana Bosna.

Most Beautiful—La Brochette, Fado, Il Palazzo, the garden at Il Giardino.

Seafood—The Café, The Only, Monty’s, The Devonshire Seafood House, The Cannery, Sun Sui Wah, Phnom Penh, C

Proprietors—Nat Bailey, Erwin Doebeli, Jean-Claude Ramond, George Tidball, Umberto Menghi, The Aisenstat family, Bud Kanke, Janice Lotzkar, John Bishop, Brent Davies, Sinclair Philip, Ruy Paes-Braga, The Fuller family, Jack Evrensel.

Chefs—Xavier Hetzman, Michele Clavelin, Kerry Sear, John Bishop, Bernard Casavant, Michael Noble, Mark Potovsky, Tojo, Julio Gonzales-Perini, Pino Posteraro, Rob Feenie, David Hawksworth.

French—la creperie, La Brochette, Le Pavilion, Chez Joel, Le Napoleon, L’Escargot, Le Crocodile, Lumiere

Chinese—On On, The Only, The Ho Inn, Sun Sui Wah, Grand King.

Italian—Puccini’s, Teany's, Peppi’s, Umberto’s, Il Barino, Villa de Lupo, Piccolo Mondo

Regional—Three Greenhorns, La Cachette, The Four Seasons, Bishop’s, The Raintree, Sooke Harbour House, Chateau Whistler, The Pointe at The Wickaninnish Inn.

Bars—The Panorama Roof, Harry C’s, Charlie Brown’s, Orestes, The Bayside Room, Trader Vic’s, Gerard’s, Bacchus.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Way cool in the 70s

High end arrivals: La Cote d’Azur, Chez Joel, Three Greenhorns, Le Napoleon, La Brochette. Herb Capozzi, Harry Moll and Pat McLeery open Charlie Brown’s as a place for “fun seekers.”

MOR: Victoria Station.

Budget: Wooden Plate dinner for two at the Little Budapest, $4.50; Chicken crepes at la creperie $1.65; Mr. Rupe’s Pizza. Cult favourites: Kafana Bosna, Chez Victor.

Best sound-bite: Ste. Michelle Medieval Red ($2.90) and Calona Sommet Rouge ($1.85) beat Mouton Cadet in early taste-off convened by Anthony von Mandl, who went on to build a $37 million chateau at his vineyard, Mission Hill.

Wedding Gift: Avocado green crock pot.

Don’t try: to impress your date with a bottle of Andrés Still Rose.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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“Harry’s Nightspot was a cult place. It was located across from the 7-Up plant at Kingsway and Schoolhouse Road. There was no sign, a bare bulb over the door, and inside just a griddle and a counter. It was open late—until 2 or 3 AM. Harry was a surly old circus carny, propped in a wheelchair. He happened to make the best hamburger in town. But he billed it as a ‘chopped sirloin sandwich’ and you didn’t want to cross him on that or anything else. He chopped the sirloin himself. Order the ‘combo’ and he’d add a wiener.

Now Harry was a very unhealthy looking guy. One night just past closing a punk with a knife held him up. Harry reared out of his chair, hauled the guy over the counter and griddled his face.” —Denny Boyd, 1996.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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The Dinner Roll

A highly subjective list of some of the most influential of the past 100 years

Alltime Coolest—Chez Victor, Kafana Bosna.

Most Beautiful—La Brochette, Fado, Il Palazzo, the garden at Il Giardino.

Seafood—The Café, The Only, Monty’s, The Devonshire Seafood House, The Cannery, Sun Sui Wah,  Phnom Penh, C

Proprietors—Nat Bailey, Erwin Doebeli, Jean-Claude Ramond, George Tidball, Umberto Menghi, The Aisenstat family, Bud Kanke, Janice Lotzkar, John Bishop, Brent Davies, Sinclair Philip, Ruy Paes-Braga, The Fuller family, Jack Evrensel.

Chefs—Xavier Hetzman, Michele Clavelin, Kerry Sear, John Bishop, Bernard Casavant, Michael Noble, Mark Potovsky, Tojo, Julio Gonzales-Perini, Pino Posteraro, Rob Feenie, David Hawksworth.

French—la creperie, La Brochette, Le Pavilion, Chez Joel, Le Napoleon, L’Escargot, Le Crocodile, Lumiere

Chinese—On On, The Only, The Ho Inn, Sun Sui Wah, Grand King.

Italian—Puccini’s, Teany's, Peppi’s, Umberto’s, Il Barino, Villa de Lupo, Piccolo Mondo

Regional—Three Greenhorns, La Cachette, The Four Seasons, Bishop’s, The Raintree, Sooke Harbour House, Chateau Whistler, The Pointe at The Wickaninnish Inn.

Bars—The Panorama Roof, Harry C’s, Charlie Brown’s, Orestes, The Bayside Room, Trader Vic’s, Gerard’s, Bacchus.

Under chinese I think you forgot 'The Wei (sp?) Inn' in Chinatown. I'm sure it is gone now, but it was a place that many an adventerous diner would frequent. Very good authentic chinese (take that as you will) I also remember on the exit they had a sign...'The way out!'

John

It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.

Hunter S. Thompson ---- R.I.P. 1939 - 2005

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

--Mark Twain

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The Raintree was definitely a 'tipping point' for me with respect to the impact of fresh, local ingredients on the taste of my food as well as the ability it gave chefs to produce creative, innovative cuisine. I was never able to accept dull, muted and ordinary tastes after that.

As for Chinese, reaching way back in the mists of time, wasn't there a restaurant called the Orange Door or was it the Green Door? I can't remember if this happened here or somewhere else. My recollection of those years is somewhat impaired.

The other place I have to remind us all of is The Old Spaghetti Factory if only because I worked there when it was first opened by the Puolos family. Gastown was a different place in those days.

Cheers,

Karole

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The Raintree was definitely a 'tipping point' for me with respect to the impact of fresh, local ingredients on the taste of my food as well as the ability it gave chefs to produce creative, innovative cuisine. I was never able to accept dull, muted and ordinary tastes after that.

As for Chinese, reaching way back in the mists of time, wasn't there a restaurant called the Orange Door or was it the Green Door? I can't remember if this happened here or somewhere else. My recollection of those years is somewhat impaired.

The other place I have to remind us all of is The Old Spaghetti Factory if only because I worked there when it was first opened by the Puolos family. Gastown was a different place in those days.

And Brother's has to rank right up there too!!

John

It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.

Hunter S. Thompson ---- R.I.P. 1939 - 2005

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

--Mark Twain

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Me too for the Raintree. And I think it was the Green Door.

The Old Spaghetti Factory and Brother's (it was Brother Jon's first, wasn't it?) didn't have much impact on me in a culinary sense although they were definitely "the" places to go in my teenage years.

Edited by barolo (log)

Cheers,

Anne

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dodger ,Feb 22 2005, 12:34 PM]

Under chinese I think you forgot 'The Wei (sp?) Inn' in Chinatown. I'm sure it is gone now, but it was a place that many an adventerous diner would frequent.  Very good authentic chinese (take that as you will) I also remember on the exit they had a sign...'The way out!'

John

Thanks John. By the way, my list is no means conclusive, but rather was designed to inspire a dogpile of remiscencent posts just like yours!

Pile 'em on.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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As for Chinese, reaching way back in the mists of time, wasn't there a restaurant called the Orange Door or was it the Green Door? I can't remember if this happened here or somewhere else. My recollection of those years is somewhat impaired.

Stop! You're both right! There was a Green Door and it begat an Orange Door. Both coolly hard to find off exotic Chinatown alleys, primitive and dirt cheap. I remember (if also shrouded in the mists of time) that years ago, an article that Angie Murrills and I wrote about regional cuisine was actually called "Beyond The Green Door".

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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Fado - where was it?

I have have a wonderful. if vague, memory of a dinner at Fado. I can't remember any details (that mists of time problem), just that for a long time that dinner at Fado was my benchmark. I went back a second time and was disappointed. Sometimes you should just treasure a good memory and not try to reproduce it.

Cheers,

Anne

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I have fond memories of Hoshi Sushi on Main Street near Keefer. That would be at least 15 years ago.

A huge sushi counter manned by two chefs, Hoshi-san and Ishikawa-san and quite often frequented by JAL flight attendants overnighting in YVR.

Whenver I need the Hoshi fix, I head to Sandbar on Granville Island but the ambiance is not the same.

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As for Chinese, reaching way back in the mists of time, wasn't there a restaurant called the Orange Door or was it the Green Door? I can't remember if this happened here or somewhere else. My recollection of those years is somewhat impaired.

The other place I have to remind us all of is The Old Spaghetti Factory if only because I worked there when it was first opened by the Puolos family. Gastown was a different place in those days.

It was called The Green Door and I ate there many times in the 70s and early 80s. It was in the alley between Pender and Hastings. You entered off of Carrall Street. The main thing about it though was taking friends there for an adventure because no one believed there was really a restaurant there. It really had just a green door but there was a sign above the door. I actually have a picture of this somewhere.

There were rumours that there was also either a Red Door or Orange Door, I can't remember which but I was never able to find it or verify that it even existed.

Didn't Lee Poulos also open a restaurant in Gastown called The BreadLine or something similar. It was kitty corner to the Steam Clock. I worked in Gastown for five years in the mid 80s and think I've eaten at every place it was possible to eat at in the area during that time.

Someone left the cake out in the rain ...

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As for Chinese, reaching way back in the mists of time, wasn't there a restaurant called the Orange Door or was it the Green Door? I can't remember if this happened here or somewhere else. My recollection of those years is somewhat impaired.

The other place I have to remind us all of is The Old Spaghetti Factory if only because I worked there when it was first opened by the Puolos family. Gastown was a different place in those days.

Didn't Lee Poulos also open a restaurant in Gastown called The BreadLine or something similar. It was kitty corner to the Steam Clock. I worked in Gastown for five years in the mid 80s and think I've eaten at every place it was possible to eat at in the area during that time.

To say nothing of the Medieval Inn, where wenches served overdone roast beef knightly.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I don't recognize "Alltime Coolest—Chez Victor, Kafana Bosna." Little help for the historically impaired please.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Chez Victor was the place to go for weekend crepes and occasionally dinner if he was in the mood. Victor turned the jazz up loud, made pressé coffee au lait, and was essentially the Crêpes Nazi: if he didn’t like the look of you—you were sent packing immediately. He kept very irregular hours, did his shopping the day of in Chinatown and was, for many years, the epitome of cool downtown. It was if you had stepped in off a pavement in Montmartres rather than Seymour Street. His cassoulets were legendary, but mainly we went for the savoury lunchtime crêpes. Je t’aime, as one of the chantresses of the day proclaimed, and for many of us who backpacked Europe each summer, it was a place to smoke Gauloises, drink bagged plonk and pretend we were something, for a few hours at least, that we were decidedly not. You will no doubt be relieved to know that my fellow travellers and I resisted the urge to don berets.

Kafana Bosna was an inconveniently located restaurant in an industrial building only accessible via a long external staircase near the Hastings flyover, half a dozen blocks or so east of Main Street. It was a favourite place to aim for after cutting classes on a Friday afternoon, and pull a double shift, usually exiting well after midnight. Because the proprietors were emancipated Europeans, in other words, they let us drink from their short wine list or, more usually before a Saturday rugby game, drink beer. The menu included the entire goulash archipelago and very sweet baklava for dessert. I also seem to recall veal soup and various bureks and chevaps. But we really went there because, like Chez Victor it was cool, way inside and filled with hard drinking folks (many of whom at five o’clock shadows by lunchtime) who sang later of lament and no small joy. It was also a rather elegant place, with crisp linens and decent glassware, but with nowhere near the prices of a west side restaurant, nor the opportunity to bump into a parental friend.

The real reason that we frequented these places, though, as good as the food and as evocative as the atmosphere were, was rather more simple: To impress girls. It was just the thing to do, and hopefully, as I’ve no doubt said before, afterward Suzanne might even take me home, to her place by the river.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I also recall the breadline in Gastown. Must have been good, becuase I liked it as a ten year old, and we all know ten years olds are the most discriminating critics.

To move the conversation away from restaurants that enriched the Vancouver restaurant scenme, to one that actively tried to destroy it, anyone remember a pizza place on Howe or some street on the south side of downtown, probably west of Granville that featured a giant organ. Very "curtain pulled away from the Wizard" in appearance, pizza and soda on the menu. Probably called "The Organ Grinder", but that seems too obvious for the name?

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Fado was on West Broadway between Cambie and Oak, on the north side, about 1/2 a block east of Broadway Earls.

Fado was a Portuguese restaurant owned by the same family that started the Bino's restaurant chain. That's why it was underneath the Bino's restaurant there.

One night in 1980 or so, a friend and I were sitting in that very Bino's around 1 am. On their placemats it listed that there were 8 or 9 restaurant locations so we decided then and there to visit each one that very night. We drove all over town and had a coffee and side of fries at each one. It was just one of those things you do when you're young.

Someone left the cake out in the rain ...

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I also recall the breadline in Gastown. Must have been good, becuase I liked it as a ten year old, and we all know ten years olds are the most discriminating critics.

To move the conversation away from restaurants that enriched the Vancouver restaurant scenme, to one that actively tried to destroy it, anyone remember a pizza place on Howe or some street on the south side of downtown, probably west of Granville that featured a giant organ. Very "curtain pulled away from the Wizard" in appearance, pizza and soda on the menu. Probably called "The Organ Grinder", but that seems too obvious for the name?

They served deep dish Chicago-style pizzas and it was indeed called The Organ Grinder, possibly the most unfortunate name in the history of Vancouver restaurants. More appropriate nomenclature for No. 5 Orange perhaps.

Well, not quite the worst name, at least for one night in the West End when the old Black Angus on Davie street experienced a huge downturn in their walk-in business on what should have been a busy Friday. Finally, at the prompting of a regular, the manager took a look outside at their neon sign. Turns out the "G" on the sign had burnt out.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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