Posts Tagged ‘Gastown’
Whenever I plan to visit a new city, if it isn’t in Saudi Arabia, I’m checking out the local craft beer scene online ahead of time to ensure I enjoy some of the local flavour. I know I’m not alone in that regard because If you visit Rate Beer and Beer Advocate, you’ll notice each has a section set up for the brews traveller. And with the rapid growth of craft brewing in North America, beer tourism is also on the rise.
Beer festivals, like the Great Canadian Beer Festival in Victoria and the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale in Pentiction, are obvious tourism boosts to those cities. Penticton, however, isn’t known as a beer town. Victoria, on the other hand, is well-regarded in craft beer drinker circles for its high per capita number of breweries, pubs, and brewpubs. The fact that I don’t see much of Victoria outside of those when I visit is a testament to the quality experience our provincial capital offers.
In more food-related news, Salt Tasting Room is featuring Moccia and Driftwood Brewery in their cellar on November 16. With a single long wooden table running the length of the room, this is a great venue to sit down with others who share the love of good food and drink, meet new people, and learn something new.
Readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery. Moccia is an East Vancouver Italian meat market that offers the finest fresh and dry-cured meats. Their quality is a result of the following philosophy:
Eating meat is a privilege, not a right. We believe animals should be treated with dignity and respect, not only for their sake, but for ours. A healthy animal means healthy food.
Our meats come from local, pasture raised, humanely treated animals.
No antibiotics or growth hormones are added.
The lads from Moccia will be on hand to explain the art of charcuterie, guiding participants through six delectable pairings. Come experience some local excellence:
The Salt Cellar Series: Moccia’s Italian Meat Market & Driftwood Brewing
Monday, November 16, 7:00pm
45 Blood Alley, Gastown, Vancouver
Cost: $40 plus tax and gratuity
Tickets: call (604) 633-1912 or buy online
Having been very impressed with the Granville Island Brewing / Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts “Winter Ales and Fare” cooking competition, I’m pleased to announce another food and beer contest comes right on its heels.
On Wednesday, November 25, the Vancouver Aquarium‘s Ocean Wise program is hosting their 2nd annual Seafood Chowder Chowdown in conjunction with the Craft Brewers Association. The following ten Ocean Wise chef finalists will battle it out to be the BC Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Champion 2009: Chef Wesley Young (C Restaurant), Chef Josh Wolfe (COAST Restaurant), Chef Matt and Andrew Christie (Go Fish), Chef Chris Whittaker (O’Doul’s Restaurant), Chef Sarai De Zela Pardo (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts), Chef Jasen Gauthier (Provence Marinaside), Chef Michael Carter (The Refinery), Chef Randy Jones (Whistler Blackcomb), Chef Myke Shaw (Vancouver Aquarium Catering & Events), Chef Nobu Ochi (Zen Japanese Restaurant).
Granville Island Brewing, Phillips Brewing, R&B Brewing, Tree Brewing, and Whistler Brewing will each be partnered with two of the chefs to come up with beer pairings for their chowder. These, along with the ten chowders and other beers from the breweries’ portfolios, will be available for guests to sample in the extraordinary setting of the Aquarium at night. At $35 per ticket, this is a phenomenal value.
You get to choose the People’s Choice Award, while five esteemed judges—Chef David Hawksworth, Jamie Maw, Chester Carey, Guy Dean, Kim Stockburn—will determine this year’s champion. Chef Quang Dang of C Restaurant was last year’s 2008 Sustainable Seafood Chowder Champion.
As wine is often an ingredient in chowder, I’m looking forward to seeing what the chefs will come up with in respect to beer. The Smoked Salmon Chowder pictured here is made by Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham. It paired wonderfully with their Chinook IPA, an annual special release beer that’s sold to raise funds for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.
The Seafood Chowder Chowdown serves as a good model for other cooking competitions that also lend themselves very well to pairing with beer. Two that I can think of right off the top of my head are the Canadian Festival Of Barbecue And Chili at Eat! Vancouver and the Gastown Blues & Chili Fest. An IPA and curry cookoff would also be brilliant.
Participants will break up into four groups and hit the Alibi Room, The Irish Heather, Six Acres, and Steamworks. Each person will receive, respectively, a pint of R&B Hoppelganger IPA, Red Devil Pale Ale, Raspberry Sun God Wheat Ale, and Raven Cream Ale, along with an assortment of bar snacks.
People from CAMRA Vancouver and the craft beer industry will also be on hand to talk about cask-conditioned ale and answer any questions.
Gastown Cask Carouse
Time: Saturday, August 29, 12:30 – 5:00pm
Place: meet at Carrall & Water streets, between Koolhaus & Chill Winston
Limit: 80 people
Cost: $30, $25 CAMRA members
Info & Registration: CAMRA Vancouver Web site
The weather forecast for Saturday is sunny and warm, so be sure to register today to ensure your space.
If you were inclined to fill in the blanks with “wine,” don’t feel bad. These are clichés that will take some time to be struck from our vocabulary. The more people discover beer’s affinity with food, the less people will subconsciously utter the phrases. This has already happened with tea and especially coffee. How many cafés can you walk into and order “a coffee” without getting any further questions from the staff to determine what exactly it is that you want. Similarly, there are fewer and fewer places where you can order “a beer” and expect to leave it at that.
On May 20th, Two Chefs and a Table are contributing to the evolution of our culinary lexicon by hosting a six-course dinner with both beer and wine pairings for each dish. Diners can choose for each course whether they want beer, wine, or both. Paul Watkin of the Seacove Group worked with executive chefs Karl Gregg and Allan Bosomworth to build the menu for this unique event.
“We wanted to keep the spirit of fun from our Wine Drinker Dinners while offering something to please beer advocates just as much as wine lovers,” said Karl Gregg. “Creating a menu which includes outstanding beer pairings alongside the wine choices seemed like an excellent way to broaden the appeal and give our diners a more interactive experience. There’s no reason a couple couldn’t have beer and wine with each dish to compare.”
The cost for the Wine and Beer Drinker Dinner is $65 per person (not including tax and gratuity) with the option of having both beer and wine with each course for $80; reservations are recommended. Call (778) 233-1303 to book a spot.
Wine: Monmousseau Cuvee JM Brut 2003 Beer: Deus Brut des Flandres
Polderside Smoked duck salad w/baby arugula, fresh pear, candied almonds
Wine: Villa Chiopris Pinot Grigio 2007 Beer: Pyramid Haywire Hefeweizen
Salmon Rillettes – wild sockeye salmon, olive oil soda bread, cornichons
Wine: Domaine Lafond Tavel 2007 Beer: Propeller India Pale Ale
Pan seared pork loin: Cinnamon,cardamon,and grilled onion, concerto tomato polenta
Wine: Leyda Pinot Noir “las Brisas” 2006 Beer: Anderson Valley Brother David’s Abbey-style Ale
Double Braised Short Ribs w/wild mushroom risotto, roasted heirloom carrots, and braised tomato
Wine: Chateau Val Joanis 2005 Beer: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar
Chefs’ Table smores: Dark chocolate, house made marshmallows, graham crackers,
Wine: Chateau la Rame Ste Croix-du-Mont Beer: Unibroue Chambly Noire
Needless to say, I’m delighted Two Chefs and a Table are taking this approach. It’s rather silly to be pro-beer and anti-wine or vice versa. Allow the two to stand side-by-side and give people the opportunity to discover which they prefer. It could be one, it may be the other, perhaps both but for different reasons. There’s only one way to find out.
Two Chefs and a Table
305 Alexander Street, Vancouver
Tel: (778) 233-1303
Hours (subject to change): lunch M-F, 11:30am – 2:30pm; dinner W & Th, 5:30 – 10:00pm, F & Sa, 5:00 – 11:00pm, Su, 5:00 – 9:00pm; brunch Sa & Su, 10:00am – 2:00pm
Guinness brewmaster, Fergal Murray, arrived in Vancouver from Dublin on Monday, September 29, to officially open the new Irish Heather.
Publican, Sean Heather, started off the ceremony with a few words of welcome and introduced Murray who noted it was a rare opportunity to attend a pub opening.
Heather then had two pipers pipe the spirit of the old Irish Heather across the street to the new; toasts were made; and the Irish Heather was officially opened.
The pub was packed with friends, regulars, and local food industry types. Guinness was freely flowing as staff brought out food samples from the menu. Musicians and the pipers provided musical entertainment for a festive atmosphere.
While some are nostalgic for the ambiance of the old Irish Heather and have misgivings about the new location, I think they will eventually come around. The decor is entirely appropriate for Gastown—warm with a sense of the past, yet incorporating contemporary stylistic elements that dispel any mustiness. It just may need a bit of time for the construction smells to dissipate and the furnishings to get a more lived-in look for the reluctant to be converted.
I popped into the new Irish Heather on Friday to check out their new digs as the final touches were being rendered. I was very impressed with the clean lines of the interior which gave it a sense of modernity, while the brick and dark wood lent a warm, historic feel a la Gastown. (See Andrew Morrison’s video on urban diner.)
Most newsworthy for this column, however, is that they are the first establishment in Vancouver to offer cask ale daily. Red Devil Pale Ale, dry-hopped with Centennial, is being served from a traditional beer engine that R & B will be supplying continuously. I joined R & B’s Barry Benson, Rick Dellow, and Aly Tomlin in savouring the first pulled pints.
There’s no current plan to offer other styles of beer. However, customer demand could influence this — e.g. if enough people ask for cask-conditioned Auld Nick in winter, we may just get it. It’s also nice to see a couple of B.C. craft taps in addition to the Kronenbourg, Strongbow, and Irish imports — Howe Sound Rail Ale and Phillips Phoenix Gold.
Competition in the neighbourhood also seems to be having some effect. The Alibi Room, Six Acres, and Boneta have quality beer lists. Consequently, the Irish Heather’s bottle list has substantially improved:
Lager: Czechvar, Okanagan Spring 1516, Paddock Wood Czech Mate, Rogue Kell’s Irish Lager
Wheat: Mill Street Wit, Pyramid Apricot, Pyramid Crystal, Rogue Morimoto Soba
Ales: Fish Tale Organic Amber, Mill St. Tankhouse Ale, Newcastle Brown, Pike Kilt Lifter, Pike Naughty Nellie, Rogue Juniper, Sleeman Honey Brown, Tin Whistle Killer Bee
Bitters & IPA: Brooklyn IPA, Pyramid Thunderhead IPA, Rogue Brutal Bitter
Dark Beer & Stouts: Fish Tale Poseidon Imperial Stout, Paddock Wood Black Cat, Rogue Shakespeare Stout
Bottle Fermented: Brooklyn 1, Unibroue Ephemère
All beer can be ordered in the Irish Heather, Salt, and the Salty Tongue. As there is something for all tastes, hopefully it will encourage more people to try beer with their food. How successful they are will depend on whether or not the servers will take the time to educate the neophytes.
I’m looking forward to going back and trying the new menu. My only hesitation is in the execution of St. Patrick’s Day festivities. My experience at the last St. Paddy’s in their old location was of glacial service and substandard food. I think this will only improve if there is an adequate ratio of staff to guests — either limit the number of patrons or have more staff on.