Vancouver, BC, is surrounded by mountains and water. My impression of the city is that when people who live there aren’t out biking or skateboarding they’re involved with food. Makes sense as Vancouverites (?) have easy access to very fresh ingredients–salmon, oysters, gorgeous fruit, unusual mushrooms–you name it. My other impression is that downtown the citizenry all seem about twenty years old. (Apparently the more mature, presumably wealthier types, live further out.)
Granville Island is home to the best all-around market I’ve ever been to, offering produce, cheese, fish (smoked, fresh, etc.), prepared foods, chocolates, flowers, baked goods, gelato and ice creams, coffee and anything else one would ever want to eat. Tourists visit and locals and chefs shop here. Stunning crafts shops are intermingled with the food offerings but I resisted although a $500 felt vest almost had my name on it. For lunch at Edible Canada we both had salads of albacore tuna that melted in the mouth–literally–with kale; pale, tan shimji mushrooms, and edible flowers, delivered by a waiter who seemed to have personally picked each mushroom.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is currently showing the Cone Sisters of Baltimore exhibit I’d previously seen at NYC’s Jewish Museum with addenda I missed on round one including a video with Michael Palin visiting places these shopaholic sisters frequented. (Shopaholic is probably an unfair term since their purchases included works by Matisse, Renoir and Courbet, not exactly like retail therapy at Saks’.) Also at the Gallery is a photo exhibit by the multi-talented Canadian Rodney Graham. His work vaguely reminds me of Cindy Sherman in that Graham uses himself as his subject but with a huge dose of humor.
MOA the Museum of Anthropological Art, on the University of British Columbia campus, displays art of many cultures with an emphasis on the work of Pacific peoples.
There are totems, masks, canoes, armor made of plant material and a great deal else dealing with cultures I know far too little about. The building is wonderful as is the setting amidst cedar trees and other plants.
And then there is Hawksworth, one of the hot-ticket restaurants in Vancouver. The room has cream walls in a textured pattern, white shiny tables edged in silver metal, mirrors and a large, elegant “diamond” light fixture in the center. I started with a fancy cocktail of tangelo- infused vodka, tangelo juice, other ingredients and ginger beer and then had the Forty-Eight Hour Short Ribs, three hunks cooked sous vide, (French for ‘under vacuum’ meaning that food is put in a sealed bag and cooked in water at a low temperature for a long time) on a smear of black pepper jam. My entrée was grilled sturgeon atop smoked tomato sauce with preserved lemon and cubes of butternut squash. Dessert, described on the menu as “chocolate, coffee, rum:.” turned out to be a layers of deliciousness: from the bottom up, something rum flavored followed by coffee mousse topped with a dark chocolate disc on which rode a layer of caramel foam and a sprinkle of toasted nuts. The entire meal was wonderful with highly professional service from many people, each of whom wears a pin of the Hawksworth logo, spoon, fork and knife in the shape of an H.
After so much incredible food, here’s
a simple recipe.
To infuse vodka, decide what taste you want to add (red pepper, fruit, fresh herbs) and fill a clean glass jar with the vodka of your choice. (I’d go for the low end price-wise because once it tastes peppery or like a tangelo, what’s the difference?) Add one or two handfuls of fruit. If you use pepper, use what you like—the more you add and the longer you leave it, the stronger the taste.
Seal the jar and put it somewhere out of direct sunlight. Most herbs and fruit will have left their mark after about five days—taste and see. You can always leave it longer.
Drink your infusion on the rocks, with a splash of soda or experiment. If Vancouver chefs can, you can too.