CandyTown – Yaletown Holiday Festival

CandyTown Yaletown Winter festival 2013
CandyTown Yaletown Winter festival 2013

Saturday November 23 from 12pm – 9pm

The Yaletown Business Improvement Association is proud to announce the 2nd annual free outdoor Christmas festival – Candytown. Last year, an estimated 15,000 people came out to Candytown to kick off the holidays.

Downtown Vancouver’s only free winter festival will transformMainland Street into a winter wonderland. Lights and candy canes will adorn lamp poles and costumed characters will parade down the street. Holiday shoppers are invited to start their seasonal gift buying in Yaletown with local merchants as well as a specialty market carrying unique gifts and holiday treats. You’ll also find Mainland Street filled with local artisans, street performers and live music.

This outdoor Christmas festival is free, open to the public and sure to get people into the Christmas spirit.

Featured Activities:

  • “All I Want for Christmas” Gift Market
  • Free Horse Carriage Rides
  • Live Music
  • Ice Carving Demo
  • Visits with Santa
  • Candy Making
  • Yaletown Rotary Club Xmas Tree Lot
  • CandyTown Cocktail Tour

 

CC: Yaletowninfo.com

Fall Events in Vancouver

October Events Around Town:

pumpkin

International Chefs Day: Oct 18. To create awareness and to salute chefs who have set remarkable industry standards. This event includes a hosted culinary competition and demonstrations and charity events to raise funds for the international culinary community. Event takes place at Oppenheimer Park

4th Annual BC Beer Awards and Beer Festival: Oct 19. This one-day-only event will include not only the awards ceremony itself, but also the BC Beer Awards Beer Festival. BC’s best breweries will be on hand, showcasing their talents and doing what they do best – making great beer. Where: Croatian Cultural Centre, When: Sat, Oct 19th, 2013, Time: 1-6pm. Tickets available on eventbrite

Harrison Beer Festival – Oct 25- 26. Harrison Hot Springs is celebrating Craft Beer Month with three must-attend events over two days: Cask Night, Harrison Beer Festival and Oktoberfest Dance.  Beer lovers and weekend adventurers alike are invited to partake in the celebrations and stay for the weekend to enjoy scenic Harrison Hot Springs.

UBC Apple Festival: Oct 19 -20. More than 70 varieties of heritage, new and “tried and true” varieties are available, grown both conventionally and organically. Also at the event is The Vancouver Island-based BC Fruit Testers Association who host a physical display of the nearly 200 apple varieties that are still grown in British Columbia. Members of the association are also on-hand to give demonstrations of grafting and cider-pressing. Admission $4, cash only. Kids under 12 are free. Where: UBC Botanical Garden

Taste of Yaletown: Oct 16 -27. Record number of 30 participating restaurants. This year, the popular dining event will move away from limited 3-course menus to offer creativity and flexibility to chefs. Expect to see emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients as a result of this change. Taste of Yaletown will also expand to offer set-price lunch menus in addition to dinner this year.

Full Pig Butchery Oct 29. For those who want to get their hands bloodied. A four hour, hands-on class is designed for the home cook. Guided by Pasqual Stufano, of Sebastian & Co. in Dundarave, West Vancouver, participants will learn how to split sides into primals and cut those primals into cookable cuts. The class will include tips for buying and conversations you should be having with your butcher, as well as cooking and curing techniques to try out at home. Tickets on eventbrite. Price: $175, When: Oct 29, Where: The Modern Pantry

Hop Scotch Festival: Nov 11 – 17. Tons of dinners and tastings. Main tasting event Nov 15 – 16 at the PNE forum. Over 100 booths and over 300 products to taste.

CC: image William Sonoma

 

Annual Taste of Yaletown 2013 , Oct 16 – 27

The Yaletown Business Improvement Association today announced that the 9th annual Taste of Yaletown (TOY) will run from October 16 – 27th, 2013, with a record number of 30 participating restaurants. This year, the popular dining event will move away from limited 3-course menus to offer creativity and flexibility to chefs, who can now offer any menu combination at set prices of $25, $35 and $45. Organizers expect to see a diverse and exciting offering, with specific emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients as a result of this change. Additionally, TOY 2013 will also include lunchtime menu offerings alongside the traditional dinner. The addition of lunch will be supported and promoted through a unique, free trolley service to Yaletown for the public.

“Taste of Yaletown has remained one of the most popular dining events in the city for the past 9 years, and we are dedicated to continuing to push the envelope on delivering a unique experience for diners. This year we have introduced a few exciting changes that we are confident will make it even easier and more exciting than ever to attend Taste of Yaletown,” states Annette O’Shea, Executive Director of the Yaletown Business Improvement Association. “The fact that we have a record 30 restaurants on board this year is a testament to TOY’s continual growth and strength.”

Changes to the menus for Taste of Yaletown will see the event move away from the traditional 3-course dinner offering set at $25, $35 and $45 price points. This year, chefs and restaurateurs will have the freedom to serve up any combination of items or courses under the same price points, meaning that the public will receive something truly unique and carefully selected at each restaurant. Menus will not be limited by number of courses and can include beverages pairings inside of the set prices as well.

“Yaletown is home to some of the cities best chefs, many of whom view Taste of Yaletown as a time to showcase their creativity. Removing the limitations of number of courses has opened things up further so that they are free to decide how best to deliver their very best to customers. I suspect we will see a huge range in exciting menus this year – everything from a 7-course tasting to a menu that includes drinks as well as food. The public will have so many new options to discover,” explains O’Shea.

Taste of Yaletown will also expand to offer set-price lunch menus in addition to dinner this year. Restaurants are being encouraged to demonstrate creativity for lunch as well and the YaletownBusiness Improvement Association has taken a direct approach in promoting the emphasis on lunch by arranging for a public trolley to take customers from other areas of the downtown core, intoYaletown for lunch and then delivering them back to work within the hour. The trolley will run for free throughout TOY and schedules and locations can be found through the TOY website and social media channels.

List of participating restaurants and menus

 

CC: press release, image:http://yaletowninfo.com

Milestones Summer Menu – Not Your Typical Chain

Milestones Yaletown
source: Eurolite.com

I was invited with several other passionate foodies to preview Milestones Summer Chef Tasting Menu. 6 dishes paired with 6 wines from Constellation Wines.

Milestones have really stepped up their game. Within the past 8 months, Chef Russo and his Culinary Team have created and launched around 15 new menu items with another 10 rolling out in the coming months.
Their efforts to be more food driven has really revitalized their menu and speaks volume to the creativity and quality of the dishes on their menu. Now don’t scoff, I realize being a chain with over 50 restaurants across the country usually does not go hand in hand with culinary creativity. I used to be one of those people, chain restaurants would be the last place I think about going to. In fact, I might have used the term “fah-’actus” once or twice on Food Persuasion.

**Personal note** I’ve f’g accidentally deleted the folder containing pictures from my Milestone dinner from my drive and it’s disappeared. Ack! I’m still sore about this. I was going batty, the pictures were awesome. Enough bitching…getting over it, back to Milestones.

I sat beside Chris Meeds, Milestones Regional Manager, past Milestone’s Chef and, he said something that really peaked my foodie interest. Generally, the menu is the same throughout the chain but, each Chef is encouraged to give their own personal spin to it. They are local, they know their patron’s palette, know what they like, fostering culinary creativity and experimentation. “You are a chef, so be a chef” was the advice Chef Russo gave to Chris when he was a Milestone’s Chef.

Their drinks menu will be the next to roll out. Keep an eye for some delicious craft beers and, local wine on tap.

About Milestone’s private dining room in Yaletown, it is gorgeous. I don’t know why I never think to throw dinner parties here. F’g, NO PICTURE

6 Dishes from Milestones Summer Chef Tasting Menu

Wine pairing review to come…

Crispy quinoa shrimp with chimichurri aioli and vegetable slaw. The quinoa is raw, washed with egg and then quickly deep-fried. So instead of the crispy, greasy texture you get with battered almost anything, this is crunchy. A creative use of quinoa, the chimichurri aioli, was delicious. I would have loved it more if the quinoa battered didn’t fall apart once you cut into it.

Panko Blue Crab Cakes, the batter was too overwhelming, the filling itself was decent but a very typical dish. I guess the menu has to include the staples to satisfy the non adventurous palettes.
Spicy Thai Basil Stirfry, rice noodles, shrimp and coconut milk. Alright, show me a chain restaurant that does Asian cuisine well? One of their more popular dishes, I didn’t expect it to be authentic. Overall this was good, the sauce was a little too gluttony for my liking but the flavours were great. It’s a western take on a classic Thai dish.

Grilled Japanese Tuna Tataki, with asparagus and fennel slaw, topped with mandarin dressing. Bravo Milestones for stepping above and beyond to ensure the quality of the tuna is superb. It is cured in-house, which makes a big difference in flavor, then lightly seared for a nice carmalization. It was perfectly cooked, a second over, it would have been over cooked. It was prepared so well it looked like it was sous-vide, with very fine charred rim. The Tuna tataki was my favourite dish of the night.

Surf and Turf, a duo grilled flat-iron and lobster fricassee. Mmmm lobster fricassee was amazingly decadent, served with a tempura battered onion ring. People tend to forget about the quality of the flat-iron steak, very flavourful. You could also upgrade to the striploin or sirloin.

WTH! Not on the menu yet but, they definitely should add it. Never a huge fan of tarts, Milestones, Avocado and lime tart sitting on a bed of bourbon pecan chutney and topped with Tequilla Chantilly cream. Holy shit! Yea, that’s all I have to say. Paired with Inniskillin Riesling Ice Wine.

BAM! Awesome end to the night.
Wine reviews to come….it’ll be epic

preview:

Constellation Wine Piarings Review
Constellation Wine Piarings Review

Yaletown L’Antipasto – The Best Olive Oil in Vancouver

Food Persuasion Restaurant Review
Yaletown L’Antipasto

Yaletown L’Antipasto, a cute little bistro like Italian restaurant in the heart of Yaletown.  The seating is limited without being cramped. A very non- Yaletown vibe, Yaletown-L’Antipasto had a friendly, casual and cozy atmosphere. Because the seating was so close, diners were able to converse with other diners at other tables.

I was dining with Jenn and Marian, which meant by the end of the night we would’ve had at least 3 bottles of wine between 3 girls.

Bruschetta Mista Toasted ciabatta bread with an assortment of in-house made pates. That night, it was Tomato, truffle, artichoke and Tuscan chicken pate. The chicken pate was our favourite, decadent and flavourful.

Bruschetta mista

Carpaccio  AAA Alberta Beef, drizzled with “Gocce di Tartufo” white Truffle oil, served with preserved vegetables in olive oil. It had a really big serving of Olive oil, a little too much for my taste, otherwise the quality of the meat and with the preserved vegetables was an excellent pairing.

Carpaccio

I am not an olive oil connoisseur but, even I can taste the quality. Olive oil flavours, grassy, buttery and it reminded me of drinking wine. There was enough olive oil in the last dish for a few teaspoons. I have included an  Olive Oil Tasting – How To’s section on the bottom. I wanted to purchase a bottle for myself but, alas it was directly sourced from a farmer’s co-op in Italy, all whom presses their own olives. Matti, co-owner of Yaletown L’Antipasto, tries to source their ingredients locally. However, the quality of the olive oil isn’t there locally and so they had to import from abroad.

olive oil

Spaghetti Bianchi, Manila Clams Sauted with Pinot Grigio, Olive Oil, fresh Garlic & Chillies. Simple and basked in my favourite olive oil. The pasta was cooked to al dente. Good dose of olive oil, by the end of the night the oil from my dish soaked through the cardboard takeout box and the paper bag.

Clam Spaghetti

The spaghetti is bought fresh.
fresh spaghetti

Pappardelle Rosse, switched to Spaghetti, home-made Organic Tomato Sauce with an assorted Meat Ragu, a rustic dish great for those cold nights.

Ravioli alla Filly, Lobster & Crab stuffed Ravioli served with a Fresh Roma Tomato Sauce, Sauted Tiger Prawns & Arugula. This was my favourite dish, Jenn thought it was too bland.

Ravioli

Segway tooo…

Simple Dishes Are the Most Difficult to Perfect

We launched into a debate that simple dishes are much harder to make because, A) you need quality ingredients, there are no heavy sauces to mask the poor ingredients B) that is how this dish is supposed to taste like! Well ok, my second point wasn’t a supporting argument but, I am sticking with it. We got so heated that we started to involve other diners and the restaurant owners in our conversation. Some dishes are meant to be simple so you can taste the ingredients. The highlight of the ravioli was the tomatoes, they were acidic with a hint of sweetness, Matti agreed. You cannot beat a simple dish with fresh quality ingredients.

His ultimate dream would be to have a farm with cows, chickens and vegetables and a restaurant on the side. I would LOVE to go. Have you ever tried fresh ice cream? I have, I milked a cow and manually creamed it.  It was the best ice cream that I had ever had, even better than the internationally award-winning Bella Gelateria.

Olive Oil Tasting – How To’s
When tasting olive oil, much of the oil’s characteristics are perceived through the sense of smell. Though most people enjoy olive oil with other foods, the following steps allow us to focus on the olive oil’s flavor without distraction:

  • Pour a small amount of oil (about 1 tablespoon) into a small tapered (wine) glass.
  • Hold the glass in one hand and use your other hand to cover the glass while swirling the oil to release its aroma.
  • Uncover the glass and inhale deeply from the top of the glass. Think about whether the aroma is mild or strong. You may want to write down descriptions of the aromas that you detect at this point.
  • Next you slurp the oil; this is done by sipping a small amount of oil into your mouth while “sipping” some air as well. (When done correctly, you will make that impolite noise that would cause you to be scolded when you were a child!) Slurping emulsifies the oil with air that helps to spread it throughout your mouth – giving you the chance to savor every nuance of flavor with just a small sip of oil.
  • Finish by swallowing the oil and noticing if it leaves a stinging sensation in your throat.

Source: Directly from: The Olive Oil Source- Nancy’s Tasting Advice

Other Italian Restaurants

Yaletown L'Antipasto on Urbanspoon

Minami Japanese Restaurant

Minami Japanese fine dining restaurant opened their doors this Spring and it has become my go to restaurant this Summer.

Minami Japanese Restaurant, located in Yaletown and sister restaurant to Miku, a fine dining Japanese restaurant in the heart of Coal Harbour meets high expectations. I’ve been to both, the menu is very similar but, the atmosphere and décor is much nicer at Minami.
The service was impeccable right from when we entered to when we left.
It is a rare treat, when all the dishes scored between 4 -5 out of 5!

Now the Food…

We started with the Shiso Mojito Watermelon and Citrus Cured Scallops, mojito infused watermelon, montchevre goat cheese, micro greens, pickled celery, cucumber, a light salad to prepare our paletes. Creative ingredients that melded so well and gave a refreshing blend of flavours. 4.5/5

watermelon and scallops
We were recommended to try the calamari, everyone that went to Minami raved about this dish.

Calamari, nori tempura batter, brussels sprout chips, pickled tomatoes, tosazu sauce. The batter was heavenly, so light, not the usual American calamari. This is one of their popular dishes. 4/5

calamari

Miso Baked Duck Breast, ginger braised carrots, watercress, sweet potato fondant, orange reduction. This dish is slightly different from the one offered at Miku. I much prefer the duck breast at Minami. Again, this dish was able to hit my entire palette, sour, sweet, spicy, salty. 4.5/5
Duck Breast
Minami and Miku are known for their Aburi Sushi, a roll that is pressed and then lightly seared and, topped with the secret Miku sauce. We tried dissecting the sauce, the two ingredients we all agreed on were sesame and soy sauce but, that is a given, it’s the base of almost all Japanese, Chinese sauces.

Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi, pressed local salmon, jalapeño, miku sauce, my favourite dish. It was sooo good. 5/5
aburi salmon sushi

Aburi Saba Oshi Sushi, pressed mackerel, miku miso sauce. Once again they hit this out of the ball park, a terrific dish. 4.5/5.
aburi saba sushi

I keeping my fingers crossed, Minami will stay open longer than the other predecessors at this location, Goldfish being one of that recently closed. Their dishes were made with creativity and detail. The ingredients were fresh and, I will be recommending this place to my picky foodies.

Minami on Urbanspoon

Zimt Chocolate – Closest Vegan Option for Chocolate

Quality ingredients for vegans who still crave chocolate. There are no preservatives and unnatural sugars.

Vegan Chocolate

What I love about chocolate is the creamy, melt it in my mouth texture. When I take a bite my pleasure senses are kick started. I don’t think any other candy could compare to the sexyness that chocolate induces. Using your tongue and swirling the rich sweetness and letting it melt in your mouth is orgasmic.

Zimt Orange chocolate bar although very decent in taste and comparable to the real orange chocolate, it lacks the texture. It was crunchy, from the nibs and grainy.

Zimt Vegan Chocolate

They are a good option for Vegans not yet ready to give up chocolate or people with food allergies. Not yet available everywhere, I saw this at Loving Hut Express  down on Pacific a vegan food cart.