After a year-long hiatus, One for the Road is back in action. Lots of great adventures to share, plus new features and fun stuff. Stay tuned . . .
Archive for the 'Eat' Category
What an excellent way to end the week! The ZAP folks (that’s the California-based group Zinfandel Advocates & Producers) hosted a lunch today in the penthouse of the Pacific Palisades Hotel on Vancouver’s Robson Street. Along with the steak and chocolate mousse, we got to enjoy lashings of the teeth-staining vino, along with some great conversations with the people who make it.
This, along with a series of tastings this week, was the first ZAP event in Vancouver — their big gig is the annual Zinfadnel Festival held each February in San Francisco — and judging by the local enthusiasm for Zin, it won’t be the last.
I’m ashamed to admit that, until a couple of days ago, I didn’t even know where, exactly, Kirkland was. But now I’ve found it and, boy, am I glad.
So last weekend was the inaugural Taste festival in Victoria, and what a fest it was! Organized by Kathy MacAree (of Travels with Taste Tours) and her impressive team and industry partners, this was a hugely ambitious project, especially for its first year. And while not every event came together quite as planned, those that did were impressive indeed.
There were lunches, dinners and workshops all weekend, but the main event was, well, the Main Event, a giant public tasting held last Thursday at the Crystal Palace in downtown Victoria.
Am thrilled to learn that at last we have a decent wine, cheese, charcuterie and small plates joint here in North Vancouver. The place is called LoLo — short for Lower Lonsdale, how cute is that? — which is a much, much nicer name than its last incarnation, Smiles, or even before that, when it was Fiction.
It’s not much on decor, with terracotta walls, pretty basic furniture and a minimalistic patio. On the other hand, there is a piano, and live music every night, and it’s bright and cheery and fun.
More importantly, the food and wine are not only good, but cheap, especially right now that they have a deal on where guests can try three small plates for only $15. The menu features artisanal cheeses as well as charcuterie from Mocchia Meats and JN&Z and spreads such as the spicy spinach and white bean & artichoke. And then there are the yummy flatbreads — love the ’Zola (radicchio, gorgonzola, figs, honey and truffle oil) and the blow-your-diet-to-bits Tarti, with mashed potatoes, bacon lardons and melted cheese.
And best of all, there’s the wine. Stems start at $6, and the most expensive glass is the $9.95 Valdespino Pedro Ximenez El Candado Sherry. Take that, Brown’s and Deuce! These are interesting wines, too, not the typical Penfolds and Yellowtail you get everywhere else. There is, for istance, a Tokaji Late Harvest Muscat, a Balthasar Ress Riesling from germany, a Primula Nero d’Avola and the Pascual Toso Malbec from Argentina. All more than decent wines, but deliciously affordable, too.
LoLo is right near the SeaBus terminal and Lonsdale Quay, so who knows, some downtowners may even make the arduous trip across the water. Until then, it’s the hood’s newest hangout. If you’re looking for it, it’s located at 100 East 2nd St., North Vancouver, 778-340-6655, www.lolonorthvan.com. Note that it’s only open 4:30 to 10 pm (10:30 Fridays and Saturdays) and closed Mondays.
Went to a preview of Julie & Julia last night — doesn’t open until Aug. 7, so yay, lucky me — and all I can say is, if you love food, and if you love words, and if you love words about food, you have GOT to go to this movie.
To be honest, I was a bit nervous going in. The movie, directed by Nora Ephron, weaves together two books: Julia Child’s memoir of the time she spent in Paris alongside her husband, the cultural attaché Paul Child, which is when and where she learned how to cook; and Julie Powell’s memoir of her year-long blog during which she made every recipe in Julia’s seminal cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie stars a towering, quavering Meryl Streep as Julia and a mousy, emerging-from-her-miserable-shell Amy Adams as Julie. Like any foodie, I revere Julia, and was ridiculously worried that this would be a crushing disappointment.
Well, I needn’t have fretted because this was, quite frankly, the most enjoyable movie experience I have had in years. It was so good I didn’t even mind that the people behind me kept talking during the movie. At least they were talking about the movie; in fact, they were so into it, they were practically giddy. Pretty funny, actually.
Adams is, as she always is, utterly charming on screen. She has these crazy-huge blue eyes that are so dynamic that you can’t take your own eyes off her even when she’s doing something as tedious as typing. And the supporting cast, including a low-key Stanley Tucci as Paul Child, is terrific.
But everyone is overshadowed — as seems perfectly appropriate — by the gigantic personality of Julia, and by Streep, who is at her very best here. Julia would be very easy to cariacture (see: Dan Aykroyd), but Streep manages to nail her trademark oddities, starting with that peculiarly quavering voice, without ever truning her into a figure of fun.
As you’d expect from Ephron, there’s great insights to be had over women’s friendships, nice period details, especially when it comes to clothing, and some really great use of music. (I especially loved the way they had Talking Heads’ Psycho Killer playing in the scene where Julie has to kill a crustacean or two for Lobster Thermidor. Hi-larious.)
Ephron is always a great writer, but not always a great director, but here she’s really found her style. The movie was laugh-out-loud funny in spots, poignant in others. The food scenes were delicious. And even though Julia died in 2004, this movie has kept her alive, for now and forever. As she herself would say, bon appétit!
Finally, we get to the part of our two-day distilling course in Spokane that we were most excited about: adding the botanicals to the gin.
There’s something especially awesome about dining in a wine cellar. Maybe it’s the hope that things will get out of control and your host will start cracking open the vintage Petrus. Or maybe there’s a sort of intoxication-by-osmosis process. In any case, any wine cellar is a good place to dine. But when the cellar is the one at Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, the experience quickly becomes sublime.
In part that’s because there are all those bottles of vintage champagne and magnums of Ornellaia. In part it’s because the amazing Melissa Craig, winner of the Canadian Culinary Championships, is cooking your dinner. But mostly it’s because your host is Andre Saint Jacques, owner, wine-lover, eccentric and consummate host.
The wine cellar dinners are a new gig for the bistro, and the cost starts at $500 a head with a minimum 10 people — er, at least I think that’s what Andre said. Me, I was too mellow on Blue Mountain Brut Rose and distracted by all the champagne bottles he was sabering to really pay attention. Plus it was really, really cold down there.
But no matter. This is a completely fabulous Whistler experience, and you seriously have to get yourself invited along to one of the dinners. Check out the menu from the night we ate there: Read the rest of this entry »
I’m all for suppporting local and independent producers, especially if they’re producing things I love, like, say, booze. Or ice cream. Or, even better, booze AND ice cream.
That’s why I’m kinda dreaming of heading back to Alberta for a taste of MacKay’s super-awesome ice cream. MacKay’s is a family-run business that has been kicking around Cochrane since the 1940s. They’re famous for their rich, creamy artisanal ice cream, which comes in a huge variety of flavours. Their biggest success in recent years has been the exotic tropical flavours that appeal to Calgary’s booming South and Southeast Asian population. But we figure they’ve got a hit on their hands with their new boozy flavours.
Last summer they came out with Jaegerbomb, flavoured with Jaegermeister and Red Bull, as well as a Shiraz berry ice cream, McNally’s Ale Ice cream and, “best of all,” a Limoncello sorbet. Wonder what they’ll come up with this summer? Ice Cream de Cassis? Or how about a trio of BC wine sorbets — Sumac Ridge Gewurtz, See Ya Later Brut and Quail’s Gate Pinot? Or a B52 shooter parfait, with layers of Kahlua-, Amarula- and Grand Marnier-flavoured ice creams?
The yummy possibilites are endless. For more info, visit www.mackaysicecream.com.
Vancouver’s Listel Hotel and its funky restaurant / lounge O’Doul’s often get overlooked among the big players in the city’s hotel drinking-and-dining scene. It’s a shame, because this is one place where they’re doing pretty much everything right, from the wine list to the food to the live jazz to the attention to service and sustainability.
Witness the awards O’Doul’s Restaurant & Bar has just won at Where Magazine’s 2008 Where to Dine Awards. They picked up both the Green Table Award and the Where Sustainable Seafood Award — and this in a city that launched the whole Oceanwise program! Read more about it on the Where website. And for more info about The Listel, go to http://thelistelhotel.com/.