Apparently, it’s local food week on this here blog. That was unintentional, but maybe a reflection of the plethora of the events and whatnot that are going on this time of year, and in Vancouver.
Yesterday was the opening of the Main Street Station farmer’s market. Had I been more on the ball, I would have told you yesterday so you could go, but I’m telling you now so that you can go next week. There are early strawberries (a bit tart, but still infinitely better than the stuff carted in from California), beautiful rhubarb, garlic scapes, kale, arugula, radishes, eggs…the list goes on. And, yesterday, opening day cake!
I have visions of rhubarb pie, swiss chart tart, radishes with salt, and roasted scapes. It’s going to be lovely.
And just when you thought I had chocolate off the brain: when you go, say hi to Kelly at Bad Girl Chocolates, and tell her I sent you. She has two new things in her arsenal: a beautiful molded chocolate spattered with green, containing a rosemary caramel; and a fresh mint truffle. Oh, to die for.
The Main Street Station farmer’s market is on until October 21, every Wednesday from 3-7pm. It’s in Thornton Park at Main and Terminal, across the street from the train station. Look for the tents, local produce and happy people: you can’t miss it.
From the street, Osteria Marco looks more like a tea shop or gourmet food store than a restaurant. Once inside, the hostess leads you down the winding staircase to the cavernous, but not oppressive, dark-panelled basement dining room. Looking at the room, you wouldn’t even know that we’re in the midst of a recession. It was buzzing on a Tuesday night.
Since we were a large group, we were given a prix fixe menu to choose from. I started with a baby arugula salad, smartly dressed with a simple vinaigrette and finished with toasted baby pine nuts and currants. The arugula was delicate and didn’t have its typical bite, and the pine nuts provided a lovely nuttiness and richness to the salad. There were a few too many currants for my liking, but they did provide a sweet contrast to the dish.
The main course was touted as a margherita pizza from their wood-fired oven, but the menu didn’t say that it was going to be 14″ in diameter. I would have liked the crust to be a wee bit crisper, but aside from that it was delicious. The tomatoes were rich and meaty (San Marzano tomatoes, I’m sure), the basil nice and bright, and the mozzarella fresh and gooey. After trying to hock a few pieces of pizza to my dining companions, I ended up taking half of the pizza home with me.
The dessert menu was a little uninspired, but I was also so full of pizza that dessert wasn’t an option.
The kicker: all this food (including next day’s breakfast in leftovers), plus a glass of wine, came in at $20 including tax and a generous tip.
1453 Larimer Street
Posted in Restaurant reviews, Travel
Tagged arugula, basil, cheese, currants, denver, mozzarella, pine nuts, pizza, tomatoes, wine
Rioja was one of the presenting restaurants at the opening reception for the IACP conference in Denver, and didn’t disappoint. Their offering of homemade arugula ravioli, oak barrel smoked chevre on brioche, and salmon tartare with Valencia orange gastrique was just a glimpse of what they could do.
On the last night of the conference, after the IACP awards ceremony, it seemed like Rioja was the unofficial post-ceremony nosh nook. Despite the throngs of people and our lack of reservation, we managed to score a seat in the front window.
The homemade pasta is spoken of so reverently that I wanted to try them all. I restrained myself and tried just two. To start, I had the pea pod ravioli with mushrooms, peas and spring garlic. The pasta was delicate and smooth, and the ravioli actually tasted like peas. It’s not often that you have a pasta filling that actually tastes like its description says. This was followed by the artichoke tortelloni with queso de mano cheese and truffle essence. I love artichokes and I love truffles. Need I say more?
The nice thing about Rioja is that they offer their pastas in appetizer and entree size, so two appetizer-sized pastas left me comfortably full with room for dessert. I couldn’t resist the beignets, served piping hot and dusted with icing sugar. Inside a fragrant (and deep-fried, yum) dough is tangy and sweet goat’s cheese and black mission fig compote. Paired with a sparkling muscat (with notse of pear, pineapple and lychee), it was a wonderful way to end the week in Denver.
Rioja’s surprisingly affordable: three courses and two glasses of wine only set me back $40, including tip and tax.
1431 Larimer Street
Posted in Restaurant reviews, Travel
Tagged artichoke, arugula, brioche, denver, figs, goat cheese, iacp, muscat, orange, pasta, ravioli, salmon, truffle
I had heard good things about YEW restaurant + bar, but I confess that my main reason for going there was to see the space. Well, neither food nor space disappointed. The food was amazing, the presentation beautiful, and the service was spot on.
Posted in Events, Restaurant reviews
Tagged arugula, beets, bone marrow, broccoli, broccolini, butternut squash, cauliflower, dine out vancouver, gai lan, goat cheese, horseradish, miso, pear, risotto, sablefish, saffon, salmon, spinach, steak, venison
One beautiful summer morning, I was standing in my kitchen peeling beets when my roommate walked in and asked what I thought about getting a new couch. He had gone to IKEA the night before, and the couch he had been eyeing for months was finally on sale. The only catch: it was white. It was a giant, white couch. Now, the whole time we were talking, he was puttering around making coffee and not watching what I was doing. There was a certain poignancy to the moment when he looked at me, said the word “white”, and saw my hands and arms stained fuschia with day-glo beet juice.
And that’s the thing with beets. They’re sweet, delicious, and really good for you, but you better be prepared to clean up beet juice from places you never expected to find it. Beet juice is tricky that way.
To celebrate my 27th year of existence, I hosted a movie marathon with a “make yer own pizza, bitch” component. The latter featured homemade pizza dough and tomato sauce and whatever toppings I purchased at the market the day before: mushrooms, arugula, asparagus, spicy olives, and three kinds of cheese (brie, bocconcini, and regular mozzarella). It was deliciousness, although there was an almost-incident when an over-greased pan started smoking in the oven for a few minutes, and for a few minutes the kitchen looked like a bad 80’s nightclub with the smoke machine cranked up.
I did end up making my own birthday cake, but since it was a caramel-pear mousse cake I didn’t mind. It was a chance to practice all those techniques I worked so hard to learn in culinary school.