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New Orleans Food Bloggers Coming to Vancouver and looking for guidance

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hesaid_nola Jun 6, 2011 05:52 PM

We are New Orleans food bloggers, writing at He Said/ She Said NOLA (www.hesaidshesaidnola.com) preparing for our first visit to Vancouver in October. Obviously, food will be the focus and of course chains are out of the question.

We are just beginning to dive into the Vancouver food culture and have some questions:

1. Is there any sort of indigenous cusine, or perhaps a more regional Pacific Northwest cuisine?

2. What kinds of food does Vancouver do really well?

3. What ethnic cuisines are particularly well represented?

4. What's new in the local dining scene (trends, approaches, specific groundbreaking venues, etc)?

5. Any specific recommendations? High or low end or anywhere in between is fine; what is non-negotiable is fresh, high quality ingredients. Any place that is obsessive about the sourcing of their food is a plus.

Thanks in advance for the advice from any locals or experienced travellers. We can't wait to experience this town and bring a report back to the Big Easy!

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    ErnestVanJapan RE: hesaid_nola Jun 7, 2011 11:22 AM

    Hello...actually, I wrote this long reply to this but I click on the wrong button and went away from the page at the end of my Illiad of suggestions. Which might be a good thing, because maybe you didn't have to read all that. But it's 3 am here in Tokyo so I'll just give a few suggestions you can follow up on. We'll talk more.

    Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler (1.5 hr drive from Vancouver) The lovely Golden Plate Award winner Melissa Craig heads great establishment.

    The Salmon House - Best bet for some Haida Native food.

    Tojo's - sushi. Let the chef make whatever he feels like for $80, $100, $120. Or chicken out and order a la carte.

    Pink Pearl - Awesome dim sum in a dodgy part of town. Seats over 150.

    Sun Sui Wah - Great dim sum at the Richmond branch. Great roast squab, Peking duck, steamed ling cod in black bean sauce...Excellent Chinese food.

    Chocolate
    Thomas Haas - http://www.thomashaas.com/
    DC Duby - Can only order online or find a store that carries their product. Pretty famous couple. http://www.dcduby.com/chocolate/
    Chocolate Arts - http://www.chocolatearts.com/

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    The Salmon House
    2229 Folkestone Way, West Vancouver, BC V75 2V6, CA

    1. moyenchow RE: hesaid_nola Jun 7, 2011 11:59 AM

      Vancouver Does the following well and I've put my resto recommendations in Brackets:
      -Seafood (Blue Water)
      -Sushi (Kimura, Ki, Octopus Garden)
      -Izakaya (Guu with Garlic, Kingyo)
      -Ramen (Santouka)
      -Dim Sum (Jade, Sea Harbour)
      -Cantonese (Jade, Sea Harbour)
      -Shanghainese
      -Use of Local Ingredients (Bishop's)

      Pork seems to be making a comeback.

      Also in regards to the earlier suggestion of Pink Pearl, it's been closed due to fire for a year & a half.

      -----
      Kingyo
      871 Denman St, Vancouver, BC V6G2L9, CA

      2 Replies
      1. re: moyenchow
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        ErnestVanJapan RE: moyenchow Jun 8, 2011 07:49 AM

        Fire?!? Noooo! I haven't been back for the past 3 years now. I grew up on the dim sum there.

        What do you think of Raincity Grill? Just like Bishiop's, they're big on locally sourced ingredients.

        Gotta go to Granville Island. It's a farmer's market with some butchers, fishmongers, fromagerie, and art studios. Plus there's a brewery and a culinary school there.

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        Raincity Grill
        1193 Denman Street, Vancouver, BC V6G 2N1, CA

        1. re: ErnestVanJapan
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          hesaid_nola RE: ErnestVanJapan Jun 8, 2011 09:09 AM

          Moyenchow and Ernest, thanks so much to both of you. This is exactly the kind of on-the ground info that we think is impossible to get any other way! So obviously Vancouver is an Asian food hotbed. We have surprisingly great Vietnamese in New Orleans, but the rest of the Far East pantheon is not really our strong suit, so this should be terrific. We'll let ou know what we choose and report on it afterward (and if you ever get to New Orleans we will happily return the favor)

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        leilani327 RE: hesaid_nola Jun 8, 2011 04:29 PM

        I am from NO and was in Vancouver last week. I highly recommend Go Fish on Granville Island. Don't order the fish and chips but the specials of the day. Go for lunch (it is all outdoors) and visit the adjoining boats where you purchase fresh seafood with great samples.

        3 Replies
        1. re: leilani327
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          hesaid_nola RE: leilani327 Nov 14, 2011 09:06 AM

          Thanks to all for the great suggestions. I was going to post a link to our trip report, but the Chow moderaters weren't too keen on that, so here's the entire text for those with the time and inclination to read:

          He Said:

          October is a traveling month for us, it seems. This time we blame The Delachaise.

          We’ve begun to catch on to the idea that for some reason October is a good month for fare sales. We made a quick decision two years ago to get away to Santa Fe, opted for New England last year, and found ourselves seated at the bar in The Delachaise one Sunday evening a few months ago where the dangerous combination of wine and wireless enabled us to find and book cheap Fall flights to Seattle with the idea of heading north to Vancouver, both places we’d never been. You might argue it was the most expensive bottle we drank all summer.

          Flights booked, there was the little matter of arranging everything else that remained. A local friend of ours put us in touch with his sister, a Seattle resident and frequent Vancouver visitor, who was able to give us an amazing catalog of do’s and don’t’s, illustrating what is perhaps rule one of travel: hook up with a local whenever possible. When she learned she’d be out of town during our visit, she went the extra mile and insisted we stay at her place gratis. Amazing generosity from someone whom we’ve still never met IRL. Then again, the fact that she doesn’t actually know us might go a long way toward explaining her willingness to have us in her house.

          So below, a few thoughts, observations, photos, and terrific places we discovered in our trip to the Pacific Northwest:

          Thursday: Arrival in Seattle, followed by the very efficient light-rail to the train station where we checked our bags, grabbed our umbrellas (necessities in the part of the world) and spend the rest of the day exploring downtown. Lunch at the wonderful Salumi, run by Mario Batali’s father, where we had grilled lamb and grilled veggie sandwiches in a very unassuming setting just blocks from the station. A great call by our local friend, and not to missed. We spent the rest of the day in and around Pike Place Market. No fish were thrown, which was fine with us, but we did find a very large, very interesting market that while understandably filled with tourists was a lot more than just a snapshot checklist item. Pike Place is far more extensive than our own French Market and pretty impressive, at least until we saw its Vancouver counterpart (more about that later). We managed to check out the original Starbucks, a tiny place just back of the market, and grabbed late afternoon wine at the very French Le Pichet before heading back to the station for our night train on the shockingly nice Amtrak Cascades to Vancouver.

          A note about the train: In consultation with our Seattle hookup we decided on the train to get to Vancouver, but we were iffy enough that we didn’t even book for the return trip, figuring we’d wait and see how it went. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the entire trip was how freaking nice this train was. We upgraded to business class, resulting in a total one-way of $79. The train was quiet, the seats were huge and comfortable, the dining car was great, and there was free wi-fi. Absolute home-run decision.

          Friday: Rainy Vancouver. We were in the Hotel Moda, a boutique place with a great downtown location, and we once again busted out the umbrellas and hit the streets. Breakfast was at trendy Café Medina, where we had morning versions of tagine and cassoulet. Great stuff on no breakfast menu in NOLA, but at a painful $60 after tip for with no alcohol. We spent the remainder of the morning in Gastown, Vancouver’s slightly underwhelming original city center replete with cobblestones and galleries, and then just to the east in Chinatown, where we grabbed some quick Vietnamese for lunch. The highlight of the day for me was the Inuit art we encountered in the Gastown galleries. We happened to stumble in on the morning of the annual Cape Dorset print release, a collection of extremely limited prints issued each year by a group of Inuit artists working in remote Northern Canada. The 2011 collection is dedicated to the recently deceased Kananginak Pootoogook and included his final six prints, one of which through sheer dumb luck we found ourselves in a position to take home with us. The Inuit work is entirely different from anything we’ve ever encountered, spare and evocative of a life in close proximity to the indigenous flora and fauna. After an afternoon in the West End we spent our evening in the funky Kitsilano neighborhood, south of downtown, which made me think of what the Marigny’s version of Magazine Street might look like. The event of the night was a prix fixe dinner at Maenam, a Thai restaurant picked by Vancouver Sun critic Mia Stainsby as among her top twenty restaurants. Dinner was very nice, and more ambitious than anything Thai available here, but it wouldn’t have made my NOLA top twenty. After coffee a few doors down, it was back to the hotel and a nightcap at Uva, the on-premises wine-bar.

          Saturday: Amazing Granville Island, some sunshine, Stanley Park, and other things. Up early, we grabbed a bus to Granville Island for breakfast in the eponymous market, one of the nicest I’ve ever seen. The place is huge and filled with local Canadians having breakfast, reading the paper, and shopping for anything they could possibly want. We ate a bite looking out the windows over the water toward the downtown skyline as the sun peeked out for the first time on our trip and we were able to get a sense of how spectacular the Vancouver panorama of water, mountains, and skyscrapers really is. This place has serious curb appeal. After eating, we grabbed supplies for a lunchtime picnic as we wandered the market, checking out seafood, charcuterie, cheeses, stocks, fruits, vegetables, and everything else you can imagine. I love Eastern Market in D.C., and La Boqueria in Spain, but this place is right up there on the list. Absolute must-see. After the market we grabbed a little water-taxi across False Creek and worked our way gradually toward Stanley Park, the largest urban greenspace in North America. The park is massive, and we were only able to explore a sliver of it before a lunchtime picnic. It is the exclamation point on the ubiquitous greenery Vancouverites enjoy in their urban spaces. Afternoon found us in Yaletown, Vancouver’s answer to NOLA’s Warehouse District, where we ran into a strikingly anemic Occupy Vancouver protest. We wondered what anyone could possibly have to be unhappy with in this town, unless maybe it’s the $600+ per square foot real estate values.

          Hawksworth: Saturday night included an unscheduled stop for wine and sangria at La Bodega, a funky Spanish restaurant that’s been a fixture downtown for about 40 years, followed by dinner at incredible Hawksworth. This was another Mia Stainsby top 20 Vancouver pick, located just a few blocks from our Hotel in the posh Rosewood Georgia Hotel. Our meal began with a couple of glasses of complimentary champagne to ‘make up’ for the fact that we screwed up our reservations and showed up two hours early for dinner (thus allowing the drinks at La Bodega while we waited). It was this kind of hyper-service approach that characterized the entire evening. The room is gorgeous, modern, and sleek. Ten seconds inside lets you know that this is indeed event dining. We opted for a bottle of Foxtrot Vinyards Pinot Noir, to complement a focus on Pacific Northwest seafood, including Steelhead and Sturgeon. Two and a half hours of amazing dining at a venue that certainly rivals anything New Orleans has to offer. Indeed the experience further convinced me that Le Foret has no idea how to run a restaurant, but that’s a rant for another day. Best meal outside of NOLA this year.

          Sunday: A two-hour drive up the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, scene of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Winding roads between ocean and mountains reminiscent of the Pacific Coast Highway in California. Stop-offs at beautiful Shannon and Brandywine Falls, both worth the drive by themselves. Lunch in the Olympic village before we worked our way back, saying goodbye to Vancouver and grabbing the Amtrak back to Seattle.

          Monday: We woke at our friend’s condo in Queen Anne, a gentrifying neighborhood West of downtown Seattle with a growing collection of restaurants and coffee shops. Umbrellas were necessary in the morning, but the skies cleared by lunchtime, giving us a gorgeous final day in the Emerald City. Coffee and breakfast at Cafe Fiore and 5 Spot/Philadelphia, respectively, were followed by a twilight-zonish bus ride into downtown, where we found the Seattle museum of art was closed on Mondays but were able to settle for some incredible Fran’s chocolates instead. Another bus brought us steeply up into the Capitol Hill neighborhood for a a leisurely lunch and vino at the very interesting Oddfellows. We spent the afternoon working our way slowly downtown (and downhill) on foot, catching sunset over drinks on the terrace of the Edgewater Hotel with a perfect view of Puget Sound. All that work required a little ‘rest’ after a cab brought us back to our place in Queen Anne, and the result was that we didn’t get out for dinner until after 9:30, ending up as the last customers in the more than 20 year history of an Italian place that was closing up that night. Weird.

          Tuesday was a stop at Top Pot for ‘hand forged’ doughnuts, followed by nothing but planes trains and automobiles as we negotiated the all-day affair of a return from the West Coast. Seattle’s an interesting place with a very hip sensibility and a multitude of charms that are tempered only by close proximity to Vancouver, one of the most interesting cities we’ve ever visited. We found Vancouver cosmopolitan, international, vibrant, and food-centric. It’s long been considered one of the world’s most livable cities, and we can see why.

          -----
          Maenam
          1938 W. 4th Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1M5, CA

          Santa Fe Cafe
          24F Second Ave S, Williams Lake, BC V2G1H6, CA

          West Coast Cafe
          5142 Cordova Bay Rd, Victoria, BC V8Y2K5, CA

          1. re: hesaid_nola
            fmed RE: hesaid_nola Nov 14, 2011 10:28 PM

            Thanks for that great report hesaid_nola.

            1. re: hesaid_nola
              GroovinGourmet RE: hesaid_nola Nov 15, 2011 12:00 AM

              What a great read! David Hawksworth is one of my favorite chefs (along with Frank Brigtsen and a a few others). SO glad you had such a good dining experience. I ate 3 times when he was at West, and his cooking is nothing short of amazing.

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