Vancouver Olympics – New Foods 6

Tourists are arriving for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, BC, and while there’s a huge lack of snow on Cypress Mountain for the snowboarders and free-style skiers, there’s no lack of food adventures in Vancouver, BC!

Everyone is looking for good food! Here are choices to experience in the City’s casual and fine restaurants and also some products for you to take home!

Continuing my version of the series based on the 2008 List in Vancouver Magazine’s “100 Foods to Try Before You Die” from “Vancouver’s Best Foods”!

41. Solly’s Kosher Pickle
These organic bruisers (made by Strub’s of Toronto) have just the garlic-dill snap and briny fizz to get you through the lox and then on to a slice of sinful babka cake for dessert. Various locations. Find bagels at Solly’s and Siegels (they have specials on Tuesdays for 1 dozen bagels.).
Solly’s Bagel Bakery – Vancouver locations Family-owned.
Siegels’ Bagel Bakery, Vancouver locations

42. C Citrus Salt
Cook with this and you’ll never go back to bitter, iodine-laced table salt. Add a little of Chef Rob Clark’s famous Citrus Salt to fish, or anything else that stands to be brightened and enhanced by a hit of acidity. Your palate will thank you. Rob also does a great job with Spot Prawns (below) and with Native Abalone (yesterday’s post). C salt can be bought in various locations, but you can get it from his restaurant with an online order. It comes in a metal tin like Dean and Deluca’s fine herbs and spices do and in a covering black gift box.
C Restaurants’ Citrus Salt

43. Spot Prawns
Sweet and delicately flavored, with a firm yet succulent texture, these are the finest little beasts in Vancouver’s local waters. Give them 30 seconds with boiled broth poured on them, then remove or 1 minute in the frying pan. Serve them unadorned. Yes, they’re THAT good! Buy them off the boat at Fisherman’s Wharf on Granville Island for the 8 week season; this is a wild, sustainable fishery, and it is responsibly harvested, too, as the fishermen use baited traps on buoy lines, keeping habitat damage and by-catch to a minimum. Please don’t compare them to Tiger Prawns, (most of which are now farm-raised in Asia — causing marine pollution, filled with antibiotics and dispossessing coastal peoples.) Support wild food! Support local food! 1505 W. First Ave., 604-862-7192
All about Vancouver’s Spot Prawns

44. Ambrosia
I like this relatively new breed of apple (from a random-chance, naturally-bred seedling which appeared in 1987); it’s a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Jonagold with a season from October to January (sometimes to March, depending on weather). It’s a B.C. cultivar, and is actually is quite delicious (even though I don’t like Golden Delicious at all). The Ambrosia has sweetish skin that ranges from cream to a crimson blush, and the inside is sweet, very, crisp and aromatic. It’s pleasantly crisp with not as much bite as a Braeburn or Jazz. New plantings are becoming established in USA’a apple-country, Washington State, and in the Piedmont region of Italy. Canada is usually considered as a cold-climate growing region, but the Similkameen and Okanagan valleys of southern British Columbia are semi-arid and apples are grown alongside grape vines and other warm-climate crops. This is the same area which produces Black Hills wines, from earlier in this series.

45. Barese Sausage
There are a handful of Italian markets which Vancouver Chefs make a beeline to for authentic Italian foods. The best hot and mild Italian sausages in the City come from Columbus Meat Market, but the Barese there are even better. Skinny pork salsiccie with fennel and Parmesan, they caramelize divinely and are excellent cold; you can also buy cuts of lamb and goat there. 1655 Renfrew St., 604-253-2242

Linguine alla Barese with mushrooms, broccoli, baby corn, sautéed onions with creamy curry sauce are available at Cafe Luxy – Barese Sausage in Vancouver but it not clear if they make their own Barese, so this might not be the exact one on the List.

46. Ramen at Motomachi Shokudo
This unbelievably reasonably-priced organic and local miso ramen (with chicken stock) is a lighter, healthier alternative to traditional pork-broth based ramen, but it tastes as rich and smoky. Garnished with chilies, bean sprouts, and a hard-boiled egg, the steaming bowl of noodles is real comfort food. This little 20 seat café serves just ramens, and only cash or debit cards are taken. Motomachi Shokudo, 740 Denman St., (near the corner of Deman and Robson) 604-609-0310

And, be sure to note the 500 block of Robson, as many fast Japanese-style restaurants are opening there now in time for the Olympics and the many Japanese visitors that it will bring. These businesses are in addition to the well established Japanese restaurants Vancouver already has. It is run by the same owner as Kintaro, but most afficianados are into Motomaki better.

47. Pan de Sal
The only thing better than the alluring smell and the brioche-like texture of Aling Mary’s Filipino pan de sal, still warm from the oven, is the taste — especially when it’s slathered with butter and guava jam — but, be aware, each little roll has 3 grams of trans fats! It’s part of the Spanish contribution to the fusion cuisine of the Phillippines. And, by the way, the bread does not taste salty. Aling Mary, 2656 Main St., 604-873-6005

48. Taboo Absinthe
Taboo from Okanagan Spirits, “It’s a beautiful thing,” says Frank Deiter, owner and master distiller at the Vernon distillery. They produce real, genuine absinthe with a wine or fruit alcohol base, contrary to a grain alcohol base of other modern products. The wine base is the original.

Absinthe is an herbal brandy with an anise flavor and a delicate pale green tint that should look like mountain mist. It blends star anise, hyssop, fennel and the previously banned wormwood (both grande and petite forms) into a heady, herbaceous liquor. You add a sugar cube and a spoon to drink it traditionally. “And that does not contain any thujone. Thujone is one of the ingredients in wormwood that is the stuff that people say makes you crazy. In all honesty, I think it’s the alcohol.” says Frank Deiter, owner and master distiller. In the 19th century, when it gained a reputation, Absinthe was very high in alcohol — about 60 per cent — but cheap absinthe was often made with terrible quality alcohol, and did lots of harm, then, to those who drank it often.

Deiter’s Taboo is a pure agricultural product made with fruits and herbs which he grows himself and it has no additives. Taboo Absinthe has developed a passionate online following, and recently won silver at the World Spirit Awards in Austria.
25th Street Liquor Store, 2472 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-926-9463
Okanagan Spirits Taboo Absinthe

To drink as an Absinthe Drip (the traditional Swiss and French way)

1 oz absinthe
1 sugar cube (optional)
2 to 3 oz ice water (or to taste)

Put absinthe in a short glass. Place a slotted spoon (or perforated bowl known as a brouilleur) over it. Next, place a sugar cube on the spoon or bowl, then very slowly drip ice water over it. The absinthe will then turn cloudy and opalescent — this is called the “louche” — and it will release subtly intoxicating aromas. Stir and serve (no “fire” is needed). This serves 1.

49. Tiger Blue Cheese
Packing a Stilton-like punch, Poplar Grove Tiger Blue is not for the faint of heart as it hits your palate with powerful piquancy. But the intense blue-cheese flavor is tamed by the creamy texture, too, of this Okanagan Valley artisan cheese. Widely available.
See Poplar Grove Cheeses, British Columbia

50. Shitake Mushrooms at Bo Kong
In this vegetarian restaurant, piquant, sweet, earthy flavors dance in this dish which is complicated with the interplay of slippery, crunchy and even “squeaky” textures and excellent flavors. You’ve got a Chinese dragon dance going on in your mouth. Bo Kong, 3068 Main St., 604-876-3088


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