Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vancouver Eats

I wrote a little bit about the extraordinary eats in Richmond last week, but not to mention Vancouver itself would be a foodie lit crime. With the riches of the Pacific Ocean, and trout streams galore, this is a top seafood city (apparently there are more sushi bars here than in Tokyo). But more than that Vancouver's awesome demographic diversity--with immigrants from China, India, and many other parts of Asia--has created a fusion cuisine one sees nowhere else. Creativity is at the top of most menus here, and its enhanced by the extraordinary freshness of the local produce, meats and fish.

Here's a short photo essay on some of the meals I enjoyed:

In the spring of 2010, Vancouver changed its food cart regulations (previous to 2010 it had been verboten to sell anything beyond hot dogs from roaming carts). This repeal has led to a culinary flowering, with the debut of a good dozen new carts in the past year.

Kaboom Box was one of my favorites. Every item on the menu but one was locally sourced. In fact, the friendly fellow behind the counter gave me the name of the fisherman who'd caught the inside of my wonderful hot smoked salmon sandwich and the bakery that provided the bread. Cheese curds, used on the poutine, were the only item that traveled, but as they came from Quebec and were absolutely scrumptious, who was I to complain. (The vendor jokingly insinuated that no-one would eat poutine made with non-French Canadian curds).

Roaming Dragon, a rival cart that was named best in the city by a local magazine in 2011, was even more innovative. The cuisine was Pan Asian, but really "roamed" even more widely than that, offering up Asian classics with Canadian and Mexican ingredients and cooking techniques.
 My favorite was the Korean short ribs taco served in a solid corn tortilla and topped with sesame-infused mushrooms, nori, ultra-tender beef and pickled carrots.

 I didn't only eat on the streets, of course. I treated myself to a splendid lunch at C Restaurant which overlooks both the water and the Granville Island Public Market (more on that tomorrow). Here, even the parts of the meal that I expected to be standard had a twist. For example, the cocktail sauce that came with my raw oysters was actually a veggielicious marinara sauce with a kick of sweet chile sauce; it perfectly complemented the sweet BC oysters. And between those and my chowder of onion bisque with spotted shrimp, lobster, crab and mussels, the chef sent over the delightful amuse bouche pictured here. (On the sticks are various types of smoked and sauteed fish, embracing gelees, cheeses and sweet beets).

Alas, it was too romantically dark to photograph the inside of L'Abbatoir, but that's another highly recommended restaurant of creative Canadian cuisine and cocktails. The young chefs trained in the kitchen of famed chef Jean Georges Vongrichten when he came to town to open a restaurant right before the Olympics.

(To the right of this paragraph is a photo of the lovely verandah of C Restaurant.)

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