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Archive for the ‘Sustainable’ Category

For those of you who follow me on social media, you would know that we took a trip to Vancouver Island. It was a pretty epic trip — travelled from Nanaimo to Port Hardy and San Josef Bay in the northwest corner, and everywhere in between — 2,300km in 9 days.

First stop, Nanaimo. It was brunch time when we arrived in Nanaimo. Downtown Nanaimo has no shortage of brunch options, and Gabriel’s Cafe caught my eyes. Gabriel’s is about eat local, farm to table.

Gabriel's Cafe, Nanaimo

Food

Ordering wasn’t an easy task for me, because I was just recovering from a bad stomach flu. I had to pick something light so I avoided pulled pork, braised beef, or anything rich and heavy. I opted for the Breakfast #11 — Coconut Milk Pancakes with Roasted Apples, Seasonal Fruit and Yogurt. I thought coconut milk pancakes wouldn’t be too heavy and there would be a good dose of fruit on the plate. Haha the portion size was not for the faint of heart. (more…)

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The Vancouver Fish Company has opened its door since September 2014. Located right at the entrance of the Granville Island, this seafood restaurant has been using Ocean Wise ingredients but only just recently that it has officially signed on as an Ocean Wise partner. And to celebrate, it’s running its first ever Ocean Wise Festival and I was invited for a tasting of the menu.

Vancouver Fish Company's Ocean Wise Festival 2016 Menu

Food

Not all festival menu items are new; some are simply customer favourites that they want to highlight during this time. First up, Fresh Shucked Zen & Glacier Oysters. According to the restaurant, Zen & Glacier are two lesser used varieties farmed in BC, and they’re more affordable than some more commonly known ones.

Zen reminded me of Kusshi – thinner flesh, delicate, crisp with a cucumber finish.

Fresh Shucked Zen Oysters

Glacier, on the other hand, is more plump in shape.

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Since our first visit to Edible Canada on Granville Island close to three years ago, it has been added to our list of staple because it has seasonal offerings and quality is consistently good. So for this year’s Dine Out, we decided to go back once again because it had an interesting “Canadian” menu. And we made it a double date with Bryan and Kathryn.

Food

In addition to the regular $30 DOV 3-course menu, you have the option to pay extra to upgrade your dishes. For example, Kathryn and I opted for the Surf and Turf Tartare Trio for an extra $10. It included three types of tartare (from left of photo): Venison, Elk and Arctic Char. I was quite happy with this option. Each tartare had its own flavours – venison was rich, gamey and it was mixed with some blueberries; elk had the resemblance of beef and the tartare reminded of traditional beef tartare with cornichon; arctic char was creamy and was similar to salmon tartare. The tartare trio came with the Amola salt truffle chips. They were crispy, nicely seasoned, with lots of truffle aroma.

Surf and Turf Tartar Trio

Mr. and Bryan went for a regular appetizer, the Braised Alberta Oxtail. It was rich, moist and tender. The kubocha squash risotto was slightly overcooked, a bit mushy, and the risotto to meat ratio was a bit off. There was too little oxtail meat, or too much risotto on the plate.

Braised Alberta Oxtail

Continuing with the meat, Mr. and Kathryn chose the Bison Bourguignon for entree. Now this had a lot of meat!

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For my birthday, Mr. surprised me with a dinner at Supermarine. Since its opening, I’ve been wanting to check it out so I was very excited when our car pulled up right in front of the restaurant.

Supermarine focuses on sustainable, seasonal, local products, highlighting the best that our farmers and fishers can offer. There are a number of staple items on the menu with seasonal dishes as well as daily features.

Food

There isn’t a clear division of appetizers vs. entrees on the menu, so we basically just order a bunch of items to share. First, the name Octopus Chips immediately caught our attention and it just sounded like something fun to eat. And it sure was fun! Sliced octopus and fingerling potatoes were lightly battered then deep fried to become “chips”, served in a little jar. Both octopus and potatoes were crispy on the outside; the octopus was tender and not at all chewy, while the potatoes were soft and fluffy inside. The bravas sauce was a tomato-based aioli, slightly spiced. The chips became quite addictive and we couldn’t really stop eating them.

Octopus Chips

You probably don’t know but I’m a sucker for fried/roasted Brussels sprouts (best with bacon, of course!). Our friend NS makes a killer one and I even requested it for our Thanksgiving dinner. So when I saw Fried Brussels Sprouts on Supermarine’s menu, obviously it made its way to our table. There’s an Asian touch to this version with the use of soy and shallot as well as cilantro as garnish, and the honey added some sweetness to the dish. I always think balsamic vinegar and Brussels sprouts are a perfect match, but Supermarine used yogurt instead to introduce acidity and to my surprise, it worked just as well. The Brussels sprouts had crispy edges, yet they’re still tender. This was one of the best Brussels sprouts I’ve had.

Fried Brussels Sprouts

Squid & Lamb, what an unusual combination of surf and turf! And the Middle Eastern influence was pretty apparent as they’re served on top of hummus! (more…)

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The Fish Shack, along with other members of the Glowbal Restaurant Group, extended their Dine Out menu for a week. With the full intent to try the Fish Shack’s DOVF menu, we ended up ordering off the regular menu, because, the Fishermen’s Catch was calling.

The Fish Shack

Food

For the 4 of us, we created our own seafood feast here. First, a dozen of Kusshi Oysters, my favourite.

Kusshi oysters

Fresh oysters here come with 4 sauces: mignonette, cocktail sauce, yuzu and house-made hot sauce. With the exception of the hot sauce, they were all on the light side. Not necessarily a bad thing, since the light sauces added some flavour to the oysters without taking away the taste of the sea. Another good way to eat fresh oysters? Ketchup with a bit of Tabasco.

Sauces for fresh oysters

Then, we shared the Small Fishermen’s Catch. You need to order a minimum of two; even though an order of 4 would give us more to share, we wanted to try other things so two orders made more sense. And as expected, the amount of food was probably more appropriate for two people. It had a good amount of mussels, clams, calamari, prawns, 2 snow crab legs and half a dungeness crab, as well as corn and chorizo sausages. It definitely reminded us of Crab Pot, but the tools here were much more refined than the wooden mallet at Crab Pot.

Tools for the Fisherman's Catch

As the seafood boil arrived, the server helped toss some seasoning and butter into the seafood. The seasoning is quite light, so I would suggest to be slightly less conservative with the seasoning shake.

Adding the seasoning

Everything tasted fresh, with its natural sweetness. (more…)

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My final Dine Out this year was at Merchants Oyster Bar on Commercial Drive. What caught my eyes was its decision to offer 3 savoury courses instead of the traditional 2 savoury + dessert combination. Mr. and I had a double date with NS and RD.

Merchants Oyster Bar

Food

When we got there, we realized they were offering more than what was posted on the DOV website. In addition to the 3-savoury course option, we could also choose 2 savoury + dessert or 3 savoury + dessert for a different price. There were also more choices for each course for an additional cost. This is actually how they run the restaurant on a day-to-day basis, except it’s usually a daily fresh sheet based on the availability of various ingredients. After much consideration, we stayed with 3 savoury courses but have gone for the new items.

Shucking Oysters

For appetizers the four of us each chose something different. My Clam Chowder, which cost an extra $2, was thinner than most other clam chowders I’ve had. It’s not as rich, but in a way I appreciated this preparation. It tasted healthier and fresher with crunchy celery and potato pieces; of course, they had to balance it out with some bacon strips.

Clam Chowder

Mr.‘s Baked Oysters was basically fresh oysters based with some truffle cream on top. (more…)

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For every Dine Out, in addition to the new restaurants that pop up throughout the year, my family and I also have a wishlist of restaurants that we would look for. It has been a few years since we wanted to go to The Observatory on Grouse Mountain, but every time the menu just wasn’t very interesting to us. Finally this year’s menu seemed to have something for everyone so we booked it as part of our Chinese New Year celebration.

The Observatory

Food

I should give a caveat that The Observatory isn’t a typical Westcoast restaurant. There are elements of molecular gastronomy that you will see below. But before I even talk about the actual menu, I must compliment on the Epi French Bread (Pain d’Epi) that they offer each table. First of all, it’s free; secondly, it’s of generous amount; and thirdly, it’s hot and tastes good. It came with a compound butter with some smokey and apricot flavours topped with some sea salt. It was some really good-tasting bread, crunchy but not jaw-breaking, and we finished it rather quickly.

Bread

Because there were 3 of us, we got all three appetizers. The Duck Confit wasn’t a whole duck leg; it was shredded duck meat in a ring mold along with some micro green salad. The grapefruit gel was basically the dressing, adding a bit of sweetness, bitterness and tartness to the salad.

Duck Confit

The Roasted Heirloom Beets was just too pretty to eat. The two preparations (crispy and soft roasted) really showcased the beets and its natural sweetness was very pronounced. The ricotta cheese cake replaced the usual goat cheese but still brought in some creaminess to the salad.

Roasted Heirloom Beets

The Black Cod Brandade was quite good (what is brandade?). (more…)

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