Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Weekend of Good Food

Sometimes a weekend starts out with a good meal and just keeps getting better. The weekend of food I'm about to describe was a long weekend – or at least it was in Britain – as it started with a Royal Wedding. Kari, Michelle and I decamped to the Hotel Vancouver at three o'clock in the morning to join in the celebrations. I've never seen the Hotel Vancouver, let alone at three in the morning, but imagine our surprise when we arrived to find it buzzing. Everyone had dressed up for the occasion: the restaurant was all fascinators and fancy tea cups.

Here are Kari and Michelle saluting the nuptials with a spot of tea. There was a hat contest later on in the morning (if you can consider 5:30 late) as Breakfast Television was coming by, and I was interviewed for morning radio! We ate scones, fruit, croissants, muffins and sausages, all in honour of Wills & Kate.

In marked contrast to the silver tea service and dainty sweets, this was the next thing I ate:

It wasn't delicate in any way; it was a porchetta sandwich from the new Gastown spot Meat & Bread. We took Kari out the next morning (or was it technically lunch?) for her birthday. We all chose their signature sandwich: a crusty, olive-oil slathered ciabatta filled with herbed roasted pork, crackling, and a generous amount of fat. It was fantastic. Possibly a little too fatty for my taste (I know! Apparently that's possible!), but opinions differed. I had a great soda, the Fentiman's Dandelion and Burdock, it had a great herby flavour. Not something you encounter everywhere.

More on Meat and Bread in my next post, but here's a shot of the interior, designed by Glasfurd & Walker, a popular firm these days for a certain sort of on-trend restaurant. There was a movie set in the background. Some sort of action/sci-fi film was being shot in Victory Square. My other photo features their impressive collection of knives; loads of bone-handled ones stuck to a magnetic strip. I wonder how many actually make it into the rotation to slice some roast meats?

After our meat and bread feast, we headed to the garden to put some food in the ground. We planted oregano, cilantro, bok choi, greens, peas, beets, leeks, carrots, and took out some rosemary, broccoli, cabbage, chard and kale. A new season was clearly upon us! The onions are growing strong; I replanted a few after thinning them and they take really well. And the smell of onions fresh from the earth is the most amazing thing. We had a few of the baby ones in some pasta and they were fantastic. I think my most favourite garden-grown items are onions and garlic. Here's the newest member of our team, Nova Whetung, helping out with the seed packets:

After gardening it was off to the Three Lions Pub to watch the hockey game. It was a Saturday night, and extra busy because of the hockey, of course, but the Three Lions is a busy neighborhood local at any time. It's a cosy place to have a pint and a chat, and they make the most delicious bangers and mash on top of a massive plate-sized Yorkshire pudding. All smothered in gravy. Wow.

Here's Alisha's fish and chips. This dish looks amazing. I shall have to get her to comment!

Sadly the Canucks lost. But luckily they won that series and are on to the next! Meanwhile, though, we went down the street for some late-night congee at the Congee Noodle House on East Broadway to console ourselves.

They made some dumplings that they usually put in soup for me, as I had a huge dumplings craving. And Chris recommended the congee made with ling cod. Lots of people don't see the appeal of congee, and I wouldn't eat huge bowlfuls of it (it's like a savoury rice pudding, so it gets repetitive after a while), but it was surprisingly good. Michelle loved it. Congee Noodle House is a bit basic on atmosphere, but it's a good place to find yourself for a post-drinks snack.

Our next meal was a breakfast at Chris & Alisha's (they very nicely put us up after we collapsed at their place due to video game exhaustion). Alisha made some scrumptious blueberry pancakes – the recipe for which I'll have to get her to post – and Michelle and Chris made bacon and eggs and coffee. Michelle even had a cup, which is a rare event. She didn't have any blueberry pancakes, though, being cooked-fruit averse; a special plain version was made just for her!

The sun was shining, bacon was up; what could be tastier?

We then grabbed some supplies and a few more beers and headed to the 'burbs for that most suburban of foodie get-togethers: a birthday barbecue. Sadly my pictures of this last event are few and far between, but we ate some delicious chicken and roasted veg, some perfectly-cooked steaks, loads of Raisa's famous coleslaw that involves mini-pickles and is compulsively edible, and some cupcakes that I iced with lemon buttercream and sprinkles!

From amongst all this splendour, all I can show you is the following:

My cute godson Konnan addressing a strawberry. It'll have to do!

What a way to end a weekend. Here's to the promise of summer, everyone, and to the many good food weekends in store!

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