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Classic West Coast Casual


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I'm having a bit of an identitiy problem, I've been asked to make the menu more 'West Coast'. Is there an actual definition of West Coast cuisine? I've always felt it to be more of an infusion of different styles utilizing west coast ingredients. What are your thoughts?

Colin

Colin Dunn

Burnt Out Exec Chef

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No definition that I'm aware of, but there was a short (and lively) thread on what Canadian cuisine was recently.

I've taken a look at your menu, and there's a lot of stuff that looks interesting, but I personally don't think "pizza and pasta" when I think of West Coast (you can whip me with overcooked linguine if you like). From someone who doesn't live there but who has visited often, I've noticed that West Coast/BC cuisine generally has:

1. The use of a lot of wild ingredients and a significant (sometimes single-minded) use of local (BC-origin) ingredients (Feenie's been lambasted a couple of times for using Alberta lamb I believe).

2. A different expression of seasonality. By this, I speak of the Vancouver restaurant scene and mean that there is a smaller impact on your menus with the change in seasons and availability of seasonal ingredients. I find that chefs in the East do better with autumn/winter ingredients/dishes, while it's been more uniform in YVR.

3. The presence of two significant culinary influences, being Asia and the First Nations populations. Both have made contributions to flavors and ingredients as well as techniques which are not necessarily found elsewhere in the country.

4. The existence/emergence of a BC-focused wine culture in spite of the BCLCB's efforts at promotion. :rolleyes:

My two cents. By the way, that seafood hot pot of yours sounds pretty good.

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I'm having a bit of an identitiy problem, I've been asked to make the menu more 'West Coast'. Is there an actual definition of West Coast cuisine? I've always felt it to be more of an infusion of different styles utilizing west coast ingredients. What are your thoughts?

Colin

I think I would identify a westcoast menu as one utilizing local, regional, seasonal organic and sustainable ingredients.

You have a wealth of suppliers on Vancouver Island that grow produce or raise (ethically) animals and fowl for consumption. We've got cheese producers,artisanal bakeries, wineries, cideries, breweries, oysters, mussels, clams, and wild fish. Even seaweed purveyors.

And yes, I think you are right about infusing these wonderful ingredients into your own style of cooking.

As to an actual definition of West Coast cuisine, what a good question. Perhaps you could ask the person who suggested you change the menu to clarify.

Edited by shelora (log)
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No definition that I'm aware of, but there was a short (and lively) thread on what Canadian cuisine was recently.

One of my all-time favorite threads too! HERE it is. A little more philosophical than you may be looking for, but lots of "food" for thought. :blink:

wattacetti and shelora pretty much summed up my thoughts. I'd also suggest you take a look at the different cultures around you and try see how they've influenced the local cuisines. Chinese and Japanese influences are easy to find. How about Indian or Middle Eastern?

Let us know how you make out!

A.

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^ I read a review of Aurora Bistro and Habit in the Westender (I think) and it basically defined west coast Canadian cuisine as what's on Aurora's Menu. Not sure if Kurtis and Jeff agree. What is west coast? Must it involve seafood? How far east do you go from here before you stop calling it west coast?

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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wattacetti, its the Hot Pot that has started this whole thing  :blink:

You've got to be kidding - the hot pot started this all? :huh:

I singled that out because apart from sounding tasty, it was one of the things that really stood out in your menu as an example of something developed on the West Coast.

I am now very curious to know what elements on your menu were considered West Coast. For me, I had picked the following when doing that menu review:

- salmon & dungeness crab cakes

- salmon & seafood chowder

- baby spinach salad (for the other stuff in the salad, not the fact that it's spinach)

- cedar-planked salmon

- doublesmoked bacon-wrapped tuna

- the hot pot

- rotisserie chicken

- merlot-braised lamb shanks

- ginseng-infused consommé (Valentine's menu)

- scallops (Valentine's menu)

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I look at "West Coast" cuisine with an eye for locally sourced ingredients (nice to mention the name of the place or producer on the menu), the use of Pan Pacific cooking techniques, and an emphasis on seafood and locally sourced proteins. A decent selection of B.C. wines and microbeers would round out the concept. I know the word "fusion" pops up alot but I have no issue incorporting Asian cooking ingredients and techniques into our base products.

Cheers,

Stephen

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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wattacetti, its the Hot Pot that has started this whole thing  :blink:

You've got to be kidding - the hot pot started this all?  :huh:
I singled that out because.... it was one of the things that really stood out in your menu as an example of something developed on the West Coast.

I always thought it was the pot luck that was developed on the West Coast! :laugh:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Over on another thread, Zuke lofted a great idea: Compiling a list of classic West Coast items that, in aggregate, would make for a casual menu that reflects where we live and how we like to dine. We can also pull in lots of ethnic influences, but with local ingredients.

Details of ingredients, prep, saucing and companion veg welcome, and please price it. Mention the season, and bear in mind that the 'burn'/assembly time and technique cannnot be overly complicated.

Just a couple of guidelines: smaller or appetizer items should be ± $10; mains ± $20.

Tempura smelts need not apply.

Bon chance,

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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Tempura smelts need not apply.

Aw, why not?

Last week, I stopped into Ho Yuen Kee, a Cantonese restaurant on Fraser Street, and sampled a few things on their late-night snacks menu. The best dish by far was something they called deep-fried "silverfish". Smaller than a smelt... my guess would be grunions. Nonetheless, they were lightly battered and deep-fried with minced garlic and thinly sliced chilies. Served liberally salted. Outrageously delicious.

Give me two plates of those silverfish and a few Tsing Tao... I'd be set for the night.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled brainstorming session.

Joie Alvaro Kent

"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2,000 of something." ~ Mitch Hedberg

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What I would like to see :biggrin:

-Free range/organic omelette with pine mushrooms.

- Dim sum incorporating wild salmon.

-dishes using B.C. wine reductions, sauces, glazes etc...

-Anything with some of the great heirloom tomatoes from Vista D'oro in Langley

Cheers,

Stephen

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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What I would like to see :biggrin:

-Free range/organic omelette with pine mushrooms.

- Dim sum incorporating wild salmon.

-dishes using B.C. wine reductions, sauces, glazes etc...

-Anything with some of the great heirloom tomatoes from Vista D'oro in Langley

Cheers,

Stephen

Great start, Stephen. Would you like to begin assembling the wine list?

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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Perhaps Silverfish and Chips, then?

Just please rename the fish on the menu, as the original brings to mind those creepy little squigglers that the Raid company loves. :blink:

How about serving it with some local organic sweet onion rings in a light panko batter;

Grunions & Onions anyone? :smile:

"If cookin' with tabasco makes me white trash, I don't wanna be recycled."

courtesy of jsolomon

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are we talking about cookie cutter west coast menu items?

Absolutely not. You have a free reign to design menu items and wine pairings of your choosing. Think Go Fish crossed with Diner and Aurora: quality - representative of where we live - big flavours, and reasonable prices. But after some of the angst recorded in the other thread, you may want to 'improve' on CFD classics.

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 agree with Jeff's post above - for classic west coast you need a dungeoness crab dish. Crabcakes with local greens? like so:

gallery_30857_1852_1364365.jpg

Details of ingredients, prep, saucing and companion veg welcome, and please price it. Mention the season, and bear in mind that the 'burn'/assembly time and technique cannnot be overly complicated.

Mix crabmeat with some chopped green onion, fresh parsley, egg to hold it together, coat the crabcakes in panko crumbs instead of bread crumbs, serve with wasabi mayo, put it on the appetizer menu priced at $10. Make the cakes in the morning, refridgerate until needed, then sear both sides in oil and finish for a couple of minutes in the oven. Easy as pie. I don't work in the restaurant business, though, so this is all just talking out of the ass.

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