Please to enjoy this photo of Henry’s magnificent rear. 90% of the photos I took of our vacation were of food, which made finding a photo suitable for a cover shot tricky! I picked this one.
We went to Vancouver! Andy and I are members of the National Puzzlers’ League, which is the greatest organization in the world. It’s not jigsaw puzzles, it’s mostly word puzzles and trivia. We have a monthly publication called the Enigma, which has its charms but at first glance tends to turn people off joining our group (it’s packed with a complicated and somewhat archaic puzzle type). But the convention, oh the convention! It is a weekend where brilliant people invent brilliant games for you to play, and you get to be dazzled by a room full of the most talented people on the planet to boot. As an added bonus, the convention is in a different location every year, so it provides a fabulous opportunity to travel to places you otherwise might not. This year we traveled to beautiful Vancouver, BC and I am completely smitten with the city. Here’s what we ate this week.
High on my list of places to eat was the Granville Island Public Market, which is more food hall than farmers’ market, but still packed with delicious stuff. On my list of vendors to check out was Chocolata (for beautiful chocolates with unusual flavors), Terra Breads (for anise and fig bread), Benton Bros (for cheese), and Longliner Seafood (for a small container of maple-glazed smoked salmon bites).
We managed to hit all those places except Chocolata, with some teeny tiny grapes thrown in for good measure. That’s the fig and anise bread, which was just as lovely as I’d heard, plus a ham and cheese croissant and a tiny little focaccia, the smoked salmon bites, which were not quite as good as I’d hoped- a bit too dense and tough I think, and some goat gouda from the cheese shop which was just glorious with the fig bread. I brought back a little box of chocolates for my sister, and so far she’s tasted a rosemary sea salt caramel one and a grapefruit vodka one. They’re fun! The little grapes were a big hit with Henry. Here’s how he ate them:
I have 10 separate photos in this series and they’re all fantastic. Maybe I’ll have them all printed and display them somewhere in a long line.
Henry picked out this samosa chaat with chickpeas after tasting his Grandma’s- it was so good! Vegetable samosas were smashed in a bowl and topped with curried chickpeas, chutneys, and yogurt. I wish I had a bowl right now.
That night Andy and I got to go out to a fabulous (kid-free!) dinner with a dear friend to The Farmer’s Apprentice, a highly regarded farm-to-table spot. It was the best tasting menu I’ve had in a long time. The Taste of Summer menu included the following courses:
This morning’s scallop, cucumber gazpacho, sour apples, tapioca. Our first bite of the evening, and damn near perfect. The scallop was sliced thinly into a sort of carpaccio, and was heartbreakingly lovely with the tapioca, cucumber, and apples. They garnished this course and others with what I’m assuming is foraged clover. If you haven’t ever eaten it, it has a great lemony taste, and would work well if you wanted to garnish something with micro greens but also wanted to save five bucks.
Citrus panna cotta, summer harvest. I think it’s sweet and fun that the “summer harvest” in Vancouver is mostly springtime fare in Texas- crisp fresh English peas, sugar snaps, and radishes. They had just started to get tomatoes, so one of those was included too. Underneath the vegetables was a quivery little square of a decidedly savory panna cotta, bright with lemon juice. The combination was sunshine-y and happy.
Ling cod, gai lan, shaoxing wine. This was the first hot course and it was so light and fresh tasting that it was the perfect bridge to the hot ones. The cod was buttery as shit. In the good way, not the bad way. The gai lan (chinese broccoli) was crisp and bright and bitter, also in a good way. I loved it.
Organic beef, beet, carrot, colatura. This tasted like a light and fancy bahn mi. I had to look up colatura- it looks to be a sort of fish sauce made in Italy. The more you know! (shooting rainbow star + four note melody).
Young eggplant, miso, shiso, wheatberries. Miso-glazed eggplant is one of my favorite things on the planet and this was the best version of it I’ve ever had. I’m going to have a hard time not putting cherry tomatoes and herbs on top every time I make it from now on.
Lemon curd, summer berries, mint. Notice how judiciously the mint was used- three tiny little bits, but it was really the perfect amount. Just a hint that left you wanting more. The blueberry sorbet on top was sublime with the lemon curd.
The next day we took a long walk through Stanley Park (like Central Park- it’s huge! and full of gigantic trees and ferns and mosses and lagoons and all sorts of glorious Neverland-like things) and ended up ravenous in the middle of the park and in search of options. Luckily, the aquarium (which is supposed to be great but we didn’t have time for) had a sweet little outdoor cafe, and the fish and chips there were rad.
This is a thing in Canada. Did you know? I didn’t. I mostly ate them because I wanted to see for myself what level of disgusting they were (I don’t super-love ketchup), but was surprised to find I rather liked them! They taste like salt and vinegar chips mostly, heavy on the vinegar, plus they’re a shocking shade of purple, so that’s cool.
We stole a few minutes between officially Con activities on Saturday to head up the street to the farmers’ market. I was really hoping that I would be able to try tay berries or marion berries, but alas, none of the stands had them. We did get some of the most delicious thin-skinned cherries I’ve ever had, plus tight fresh blueberries, a couple apricots, and a couple peaches.
Little Georgie hands! Side note: we have apparently called George “George-o” so much that he thinks that’s his name and will now correct you if you try to call him George.
Ok, y’all! The Richmond Night Market is next up. It’s 180 tents that sell all things Asian, from meats on sticks (see below) to wacky drinks (see below) to 4000 different iPhone cases (we didn’t buy any of these). It was crowded as hell, but the food was fun and we got to experience it with some of my favorite NPLers, so I loved the whole thing.
Andy’s pick- you could get 3 skewered things for $7, so he got some kind of spicy pork that wasn’t spicy, rib eye, and pineapple. You know this guy couldn’t walk by steak on a stick, right?
I walked around every food stand twice before committing to this thing- something called a “fusion wrap” stuffed with beef and kimchi. The outside is like a scallion pancake, sort of, but thicker and breadier, and all the elements together were delicious.
Our pal went full-Canada and ordered this green curry poutine there, and my other pal graciously snapped a pic and shared it with me. I got to taste this and thought it was tasty, but spicy enough that I wouldn’t want to eat the whole thing. It turns out the fellow who ordered it cooks with ghost peppers a lot though and didn’t have a problem with it.
This is aforementioned pic-snapping-pal’s “Mango Yummy.” I hate the word yummy but will forgive them that because this thing was so great. It was shaved ice topped with chopped mango, mango puree, mochi, and ice cream. I wish I had ordered one of my own.
Henry went all in on the wacky drinks. This was his big get- a mocktail sort of thing in a peach-something else that started with a ‘c’- flavor. But the kicker is that they put a flashing LED ice cube in the drink that lights the whole thing up like an edible(??) glow stick. There were also tons of bubble tea stands, some of which served the tea with dry ice so it smoked all over when you drank it.
And how did you feel about the Night Market, Andy? 😐
We ate breakfast at a little 80’s-style diner called Joe’s Grill and I ate everything on this plate. Then we went to Tim Horton’s for a bang bang.
We had to see how Tim Horton’s stacked up against the hometown favorite, Dunkin Donuts. So right after first breakfast we went to TH to buy donuts and then eat them for second breakfast in the park by the beach. I think DD wins the regular donut prize, but my TH chocolate cake donut (my favorite kind) was better than the competition- really more like eating a good piece of chocolate cake- more light and moist than the denser Dunkin ones.
I’ll leave you with this shot of the clouds parting to shine a divine light on George’s sprinkle donut. Vancouver is so beautiful, and there were so so many places left on my list that I was hoping to try- I hope we get to go back some day. In the meantime, I’ll be back on Monday to share our regularly-scheduled meals with you!
P.S. Huge thanks to cookinginvictoria for all the amazing suggestions!