Italian Day on the Drive – Jun 8

Vancouver, BC – In one of the biggest displays of all things Italian outside Italy, Commercial Drive will be transformed on Sunday, June 8 for the 5th Annual Italian Day. As one of Vancouver’s most celebrated cultural festivals, Italian Day is a showcase of classic style, masterful design and superior quality that represents ‘Made in Italy.’ From inventions to Italian goods to lifestyle products, this year’s Italian Day celebrates everything that makes Italy unique – many of which are found in our very own backyard.

Last year, 300,000 attendees took over The Drive with a passion to embrace Italian culture and celebrate the contributions made to this city by Italian immigrants and subsequent generations of Italian-Canadians. Similar numbers are expected for this year’s festivities with activities that are fun for the whole family.

Event: Italian Day on the Drive
Location: Commercial Drive (which will be closed to motorized traffic with all festivities positioned along The Drive from 4th Avenue to Parker Street)
Date: Sunday, June 8, 2014
Time: 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Recognized as Vancouver’s very own ‘Little Italy’, The Drive will be transformed into a vibrant street festival, with the goal of sharing the quality and wealth of Italian culture with Vancouver’s multi-cultural community. From food to performing arts, fashion, merchants and activities, Italy’s unmatched sense of style will be the centerpiece at this year’s event, which gets bigger and better each year.

NEW for 2014 Italian Day:

  • ‘Made in Italy’ Museum – A large, walk-through display featuring various inventions and products created/designed by Italians that are part of our everyday lives
  • La Festa della Repubblica Tent – Stop by the tent after 2:00 pm (located at 2nd and Commercial) to celebrate Italy’s National Day and discover more about Italy’s culture and lifestyle. You will also learn about the upcoming Expo Milano 2015, which has the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life. The Expo Milano 2015 will take a deeper look at problems of nutrition and the resources of our planet, which are major challenges that are relevant to everyone today.
  • Book signing by Pino Posteraro (Cioppino’s Restaurant) – Chef of the Year (2014 Vancouver Magazine Awards) Pino Posteraro will be signing his book: Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill
  • Fashion Show by Romielle Designs with Kalena Shoes – Local mother/daughter designer team (Anastacia and Irina Shorohov) will show off their 50s-inspired Euro/Sophia Loren women’s couture collection with Kalena Shoes – a long-standing family-run Commercial Drive business – which will provide shoes to complete the ultra-feminine looks. Established in 1967, Kalena’s was named after the owner’s hometown in the Molise region of Italy and is proud to offer the largest selection of Italian shoes and accessories in Vancouver.
  • Vancouver Whitecaps FC Player Appearances – Players from the Vancouver Whitecaps FC will be on-site with the goal of entertaining kids and adults alike
  • Fiat, Vespa and Ducati, oh my! – These gorgeous Italian cars will be on display inside the ‘Made in Italy’ Museum

Back by Popular Demand:

  • Two main stages – Featuring presentations, music and dancing throughout the day
  • Italian-inspired food contests – You don’t want to miss out on pasta eating and grape stomping
  • Little Italy Kids Zone – Engage your little ones with arts, crafts and games
  • Bocce Court – Show off your bocce skills, located at 3rd and Commercial
  • Opera – Be mesmerized by a performance by the Vancouver Opera
  • Italian folkloric dance and choirs – Stomp along as adults and children alike keep alive the culture and traditions of the Veneto region of Italy
  • Famee Furlane dancers – Witness the beautiful and gentle signature courting dance that originates from the region of Friuli called La Furlane
  • Live Italian music – Pop and contemporary Italian music by showman Federico Fuoco and international singer/songwriter Carmelina Cupo never fails to capture the audience’s attention
  • Langley Ukulele Ensemble – This Ukulele youth group is sure to draw a crowd!
  • And much, much more!

As always, there will be food options galore to satisfy all of your Italian food cravings, including gelato, cannoli and pizza. Make sure you check out Bella Gelateria, Italia Bakery, Via Tevere, Dolce Amore and more. With its Tuscan-inspired patio setup and authentic Italian cuisine, Federico’s Supper Club is just one of the many Commercial Drive restaurants that will be extending its business with an outdoor patio so you can take in some sun and rest your feet. Italian associations, guest vendors and food trucks will line the street with authentic style food and merchandise.

This year, partial proceeds of funds raised from Italian Day’s raffle will support Templeton High School’s SummerVision Arts Program for at-risk youth. The mastermind behind the program is Jimmy Crescenzo – a local actor and drama teacher at Templeton High School who is highly involved in keeping at-risk youth off of Vancouver streets. Raffle tickets are currently on sale now at select Vancity locations and will also be sold throughout the day with four generously donated prizes – the grand prize is a trip for two to anywhere in Italy (valued at $3,200), courtesy of long-standing Commercial Drive merchant Columbus World Travel.

For more information, visit italianday.ca.

**directly for press release**

La Mezcaleria: First Mezcaleria in Canada

la mezcaleria Vancouver

La Mezcaleria is the first mezcaleria in Canada, brought to you by the same people who opened La Taqueria, a Vancouver favourite. Located on the eclectic commercial drive. The shared plates are inspired by traditional Mexican recipes made from local and organic products and meant to be chased with sips of mezcal (or mescal). The flavour profiles of each dish are creative and unique, not your typical tacos and salsa restaurant here.

Little Background on Mezcal

It is a distilled spirit made from the heart of the maguey plant, a form of agave. Is smokey in flavor. Fruits and herbs can be added during the fermentation and distillation process. Some bottles contain a worm or a scorpian. Quite controversial, some say it’s there to impart flavor others say that it is proof that the mezcal is fit to drink.

Scorpion mezcal
Scorpion mezcal

Mezcal was first made and drank by farmers. It has become quite popular in the past few years as people start to realize how complex and vast mezcal could be.

Similar to vodka, I always cringe when pretentious alcohol snobs proclaim,” ohh I only drink Grey Goose because great vodka is supposed to taste like water.” Well shit, I don’t know what kind of water you drink but, the water I drink sure doesn’t taste like vodka.

Starter:
Daily Ceviche – snapper ceviche. Heavier on the lime than I’m more used to. Very refreshing tomatoes, cilantro and, fresh snapper, you can’t really go wrong.

ceviche

I like that there was a bit of kick to it.

red snapper ceviche
red snapper ceviche

Mains:
Tostadas De Pato: Fraser Valley duck confit, guava, fruit mole sauce, (manchamanteles), chayote, squash and radish. The fruit mole gave the dish a rich and earthy flavour and the candied guava for a bit of sweetness. A unique flavour combination that complimented surprisingly well with each other. It came with 4 house made sauces ranging from mild to habanero spicy.

tostados
tostados

Parillada: grilled beef shrot-ribs marinated in homemade pasilla chile sauce. Served with mexican chorizo, nopalitos, toreado peppers and green onions.

beef short ribs with Mexican chorizon
beef short ribs with Mexican chorizon

Traditionally in Mexico people like to play and suck on the bones, thus each rib had a bone. Served with 4 tortillas. You get two different tortillas in one dish. The chorizo tortilla paired well with chilli de arbio and the salsa de verde, rounded out the chorizo.

Drinks:

drink board
daily drink board

Agua Fresca del dia con piquette, spiked fruit water of the day was, white grape pear calvados, cinnamon and vodka. The cinnamon was quite prominent . Reminds me a a thanksgiving dessert. All my favourite fall ingredients in a delicious cocktail.

mexican cocktail
mexican cocktail

Espadin Mezcal Flight served with sangrita and lime with a little worm salt.

  1. Sombra: very smokey, reminds me of smoked wood chips. mmm…
  2. Fidencio Classico: mellower on the nose and quite smooth on the palette, when compared to the first mezcal.
  3. Siete Misterios: very fragrant, floral with a hint of olive, especially in the end. My favourite in the flight
  4. Scorpion Silver: This was delicious! Lime, cucumber and savory herbs and a hint of spiciness. You gotta try it with the worm salt and orange. NUTS! (I started craving this the next morning, I might have a problem)
mezcal
mezcal

For those who haven’t tried Mezcal, there are various ways to enjoy Mezcal.

How to Enjoy Mezcal

scopion silver mezcal
scopion silver mezcal

I’ve only drank mezcal once and because it is served in a shot glass I shot it down straight. Yep, big mistake, didnt’ feel so good after that. Thanks to our gracious host and co-owner Ignacio Arrieta, he educated us on 2 traditional ways to enjoy our mezcal. So before you shoot the shot down, read the glass, it said something like “sip don’t shoot”.

Method 1, Sip, Sip, Sip

Drink the lime juice before you a sip the mezcal and follow it up with a little sangrita. Sangrita is not locally available so La Mezcaleria made their own, from tomatoes juice and Mexican spices, garlic, garlic juice and orange juice. It helped cleanse the palette between sips.

Method 2: Sip, Suck, Sip (Noooo…don’t go there. Don’t go dirty.)

I found that it was tastier when the mezcal was followed by an orange slice that was sprinkled with worm salt. This way the mezcal doesn’t get diluted with the lime juice.

worm salt oranges
worm salt oranges

Worm salt, dehydrate worms mixed with Mexican spices and salt. Think of umami, or the japanese spice mix you add in your ramen. It goes sooo well with Mezcal and, I believe it would also go perfectly with good tequila.

worm salt
worm salt

To truly enjoy this type of food, you have to be more aware and interactive with it. From choosing your mix of La Mezcaleria house made sauces, to making your own tortillas and getting their hands dirty with the beef ribs. A truly enjoyable learning experience, I will be back.

La Mezcaleria on Urbanspoon

Merchants Oyster Bar – Truffle Baked Oysters

Merchants Oyster Bar, a cozy new oyster bar on Commercial Drive, will seem familiar to some. That’s because it’s the sister restaurant of Cork in Fin in Gastown. Similar in concept and design, the menu is a bit different. From when I walked in to when I left, the service was warm and helpful.

Merchants Oyster Bar

Our server Doug was very knowledgeable, he knew exactly how our food was cooked to where it was sourced. I love that, we’ve all been to restaurants where servers weren’t sure of the ingredients in the dishes they were serving, embarrassing.

My main take away from my experience at Merchants Oyster Bar, was that their ingredients were fresh and every dish was prepared with care. Their dishes were simple and on the lighter side and, it suited me just fine.

Starting with raw oysters, of course we had to order oysters it’s an oyster bar. It was fresh and absolutely scrumptious. I love oysters of any kind, so I could be bias.

Raw oysters

Baked truffle oysters were amazing. My eyes actually rolled when I popped it into my mouth, I absolutely recommend the baked oysters. There are other styles, miso baked oysters was good but, the truffle was excellent.

Truffle baked oysters

Flat Iron Steak, butter poached with potatoes.

Flat Iron Steak

The cooking method was interesting, I forgot the term. They submerge the vacuum bagged steak in water in controlled temp water, ensuring that the meat is evenly cooked throughout. You can tell how evenly cooked it is by the edges of the steak and, how it is still pink to the very edge.

steak cooking method

Pomme Au Gratin, not as heavy as traditional French gratins but still creamy.

Pomme au gratin - potatoes

Bison Tartare, cornichon, homemade mustard, a simple flavored dish.

Pork belly with Provencal salad. I would have liked a bit more flavor to the pork belly. Overall this was a nice light dish. Usually I don’t associate pork belly with refreshing but with the combination of the light flavors from the salad this is a good summer dish.

Pork belly salad

Roasted Bone Marrow with parsley salad was delicious! I could eat this all day.

pork belly with salad

bone marrow

Overall, it was a generally nice experience. I would definitely go back again.

Merchant's Oyster Bar  on Urbanspoon