Vv Magazine’s West Coast Editor, Alexandra Gill gives us the low down on why you need to hit up this year’s 13th Annual EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival…
Go to EAT! Are you kidding? For years, we’d rather choke on shoe leather than be herded into BC Place with thousands of ravenous festival goers and their unruly children, all scrambling for free bites and sips.
The EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival is now in its 13th year. And for the first time, we’ve actually enjoyed the newly extended festivities and are looking forward to attending the stadium events this weekend.
What changed? Alan Fogel of Fulcrum Events (the publisher of Flavours Magazine) took over three years ago and has been slowly turning things around. This year, the local weekend festival was expanded into an eight-day smorgasbord with national appeal. During the week, there were a series of star-studded dinners that saw visiting chefs (Susur Lee and Mark McEwan, among them) collaborate with Vancouver restaurants, in addition to hands-on workshops, panel discussions, a hospitality symposium, and a red-carpet gala.
The BC Place portion (running today until Sunday) will no doubt be a zoo with its 250 exhibitors, free samples, and stage demonstrations. But a slew of new features, including the limited-ticket VIP chef experiences and pre-stage-show minglers, should offer a bit more intimacy for those willing to pay. There will be more food (and less grabby fingers to fight with) at the Canadian Food Artisan Pavilion, where luxury samples can be tasted for nominal fees. There will be more to drink at the new Craft Beer Alley, and more excitement with Speed Rack, an international cocktail competition that’s come to Canada for the first time, featuring top female bartenders from coast to coast. (We’ll tell you more about this one next week.)
So yes, we’re going to EAT! this weekend and we’re actually excited about it. It’s been a fun, dare we say, educational week so far. Here is just a smattering of the fascinating foodie facts we learned.
Butchery Is Sexy
At The Art of Butchery with Sebastian & Co. Fine Meats, one of several intimate workshops in the hands-on series, we watched a talented team break down an entire hindquarter of beef with handsaws and a long, curved boning knife that looked like a scythe. Did you know that there is creamy, sperm-like fluid above a cow’s kneecap that drips out thick and stringy? (Humans have it too!) It was an elegantly gruesome evening.
Charcuterie Is Best Left To Professionals
It’s one of our biggest beefs — restaurant chefs who like to dabble in salumi. Come on, guys. Nine out of ten times, your cured meats are tough, grainy, and over salted. We wish every wannabe charcutier had the opportunity to hear John van der Lieck of Oyama Sausage Company speak at Beyond the Chop, one of the four panel discussions at the EAT! Hospitality Symposium, about his long years of apprenticeship and training. He’s travelled all over the world and learned several languages to hone his trade. The art of great charcuterie can’t be taught with a few YouTube videos and a tricked-out mini-fridge. Leave it to the professionals.
Whoopie Pies Are The New Cronut
We obviously don’t eat nearly enough dessert. When the talk turned to current trends at the Pastry Tasting & Panel Discussion, we learned that “time” is actually the hot new ingredient now that all the cool pastry chefs, including Dominique Ansel and Jacques Genin, are making custard mille feuille and lemon tarts to order. Whoopie pies are the rage in Paris. Kouign anman, a sticky Breton cake, is apparently taking Vancouver by storm. And in poor, stodgy Switzerland, they’re finally catching up to the cupcake. Wow, we’re definitely going to have to pack on some pounds to get current.
Lanyard Wine Glass Holder
What a genius invention. Instead of juggling your tasting glass with plates and spoons, you can actually hang it from your neck with a handy yoke. We saw a gentleman wearing one at the gala and we definitely need to get one before our next grazing event.
They’re Make Uni Bottarga In Calgary
We attended Wild Things, a collaborative dinner featuring Chef Andrew Winfield of Calgary’s River Café and Chef Chris Whittaker of Vancouver’s Forage, and tasted many delicious creations, including a triple chocolate cremeux with pine mushroom ganache (another new dessert trend). But the most interesting dish we devoured was Chef Winfield’s Sunshine Coast sturgeon with iberico consommé and shaved sea urchin bottarga. This Mediterranean delicacy is usually made with cured fish roe, which the chef apparently has trouble sourcing in Cowtown. So he took some uni, a fantastic Canadian product that is vastly underappreciated, and mixed it into a steamed pudding with egg yolk and tapioca. After burying the pudding under salt for three weeks, he lightly smoked it and hung it a curing room for three months. Then he brought it to Vancouver and shaved the salty, cheesy goodness all over our plates. Thank you very, very much. This single, mouth-watering bite made EAT! a festival worth attending.
What are you most excited to see at the EAT! Vancouver Food and Cooking Festival? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.