Vancouver Olympics – New Foods

As Vancouver BC begins to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, both visitors and residents have new food choices available.

The Olympic pavilions will open their doors all over the Lower Mainland and in Whistler. Some are putting on a really fine spread. If you seek to eat your way around the world, then now’s your chance to sample global cuisine without enduring airplane travel.

Several countries and regions—as well as most Canadian provinces and territories—have set up shop to promote their commercial and cultural attractions, as they did at Vancouver World’s Fair Expo 86. The food was fantastic then, so hopefully they will repeat that success.

The options listed here are open to the general public, instead of just VIPs.

Here is a snapshot of what’s cooking at the international pavilions.

House of Switzerland Canada 2010
Starting today, Friday February 5, Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island will be transformed into a mini Switzerland.

The Swiss TV station SRG will also be broadcasting from the second-floor terrace, and different days will see examples of Swiss products being showcased, like: cheeses, Lindt chocolates and the Swiss soft drink Rivella will be available for sampling.

Entry is free. The pavilion is mostly operating as a restaurant complex, and seating at the main-floor bistro and bar will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are strongly advised for the second-floor restaurant.

For both restaurants, “The menu is a selection of Bridges’ classic dishes and a Swiss selection, typically from the Engadine-St. Moritz area,” says House of Switzerland spokesperson Xenia Schlegel.

Swiss chef Béda Zingg will be working alongside Bridges executive chef Shane McNeil on the Swiss specialties like: barley soup, a charcuterie platter with Swiss air-dried meat, and venison with spaetzle.

Entrées will range from a hefty $25 Canadian to $38 for dinner and $20 to $28 for lunch, per person!

At the bistro, menu items include moitié-moitié fondue (which is made with two types of Swiss cheeses and garlic; $44 for two people) and a raclette starter will be priced at $12 Canadian.

Bridges Restaurant (1696 Duranleau Street, Granville Island)
February 5 – 28th, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Info: House of Switzerland
Reservations: 604-687-4400 (accepted for upstairs restaurant only)

Irish House

Doolin’s Irish Pub, part of Granville Entertainment Group, has partnered with the Olympic Council of Ireland and the Irish Heritage Society. They will operate a 9,000-square-foot pavilion located next to Doolin’s. But, I object to the horrendous cover-charges before anyone has shared anything or eaten. Surely, the Irish should have insisted on a free Education Area.

The pavilion will be family-friendly during the day, when there will be cultural displays and performances; the entrance is free for kids but there is a $10 Canadian fee for adults until 7 p.m!

After that, it’s a party atmosphere, open to adults only; then, there is a $20 cover!

Entertainment will include local Irish storytellers, dancers, and musicians. Food and drink will be available for counter-service. Vancouver-based cooks will prepare dishes like: steak and Guinness pie, corned beef with cabbage and burgers with Irish bacon; nothing tops $9.50. Guinness is available.

Doolin’s itself will have a separate entrance (no reservations) and will operate with a limited menu. There will be a $15 cover after 7 p.m., when the pub is open to adults only!

Where: Adjacent to Doolin’s Irish Pub (654 Nelson Street)
When: February 8, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.; February 9 – 28, 12 p.m. to 3 a.m.
Info: Irish House 2010
Phone: 604-331-7854 (no reservations)
Holland Heineken House

Two hockey rinks in Minoru Arena, Richmond will become Holland Heineken House, the home away from home for the Dutch Olympic Committee.

In the past, it’s been one of the most popular destinations at earlier Olympic Games. Dutch speed-skating fans will usually be out in droves to party.

Admission to the pavilion is free, but you’ll need a daily wristband. It will be popular, so lines are expected. However, by making an advance reservation for lunch or dinner at the pavilion’s sit-down restaurant, the Lodge Brasserie, ensures your entrance. (Minors will not be allowed after 7 p.m.)

The Lodge Brasserie will be serving Dutch favorites such as: split-pea soup and hotchpotch, (a stew consisting of potatoes, carrots, kale, sauerkraut and beef, smoked sausage or crisp-fried pork belly). Dutch chefs are doing all the cooking.

The menu is also includes Canadian dishes such as: salmon and buffalo steaks.

There are two dinner seatings, and entrées run $17 to $30 Canadian. Also seek out the casual food fair serving snacks like sausage rolls.

Where: Minoru Arenas (7551 Minoru Gate, Richmond)
February 11 – 28th, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Info: Holland Heineken House, 2010 Olympics
(no phone; reserve on-line for a 2.50 euro per person charge)
Saxony House

If you are not up on European geography, Saxony is a state in eastern Germany which borders on the Czech Republic and Poland; its state capital is Dresden.

Saxony House will have free entry and has a counter-service bistro area with cooking by Saxon chefs. Menu items include: Ore Mountain grilled sausage with Bautzen mustard; crispy roast pork with sauerkraut; pickled pork knuckle with roasted potatoes, and trout in Riesling sauce with wild rice. The apple and plum cakes will also be baked on-site. Dishes range from $7 to $30 Canadian.

Wernesgrüner Pilsner (which is a light beer) and Köstritzer Schwarzbier (a dark beer) will be on tap at $9 for a 0.4-litre stein.

A live folk and rock band, De Erbschleicher, will play from 6 to 11 p.m. daily, but no minors will be permitted after 9 p.m.

Where: Vancouver Rowing Club (450 Stanley Park Drive)
When: February 12 – 28th, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Info: Saxony in Vancouver, Olympics 2010
604-687-3400 (no reservations)

Bon Apetite! Skol!

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