Nibble and sip your way around Vancouver
Even with the Canadian dollar at parity with the U.S. dollar, it is entirely possibly to indulge yourself in a long weekend of gourmandism, without breaking the bank, says Wine Adviser Paul Gregutt.
Special to the Seattle Times
Pick of the week
Chateau Ste. Michelle 2010 Pinot Gris; $11
CONSISTENT WITH the past couple of vintages (the 2009 might still be in the market), this lively, racy take on pinot gris is delicately spritzy. It tickles the palate with grapefruit and lime flavors, highlighted with bracing acidity and mouth-cleansing minerality. (Distributed by Young's-Market)
WHILE ATTENDING last month's Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, I had the opportunity to explore a number of restaurants, wine bars and tapas joints, some old, some new. I came away, as always, with a profound admiration for that city's brilliant dining-and-drinking culture.
Even with the Canadian dollar at parity with (or slightly higher than) the U.S. dollar, it is entirely possibly to indulge yourself in a long weekend of gourmandism, without breaking the bank. Make lunch your big meal and in the evening bar hop, having a small nosh with a tasting flight at each stop. You need not focus entirely on wine, though it can certainly be the high point of a trip to sip and swoozle your way through a selection of British Columbia's finest (the province hosts more than 200 wineries).
My long weekend began with a friend's suggestion that we do lunch at Kintaro Ramen, a steamy hole-in-the-wall across from my lodging at the Times Square Suites. I'd noticed the line outside the door the night before, but we arrived early on a Saturday afternoon and sat right down. The broth comes in light, medium or heavy, the meat (I chose pork) lean or fatty, and add-ons such as seaweed are excellent options. For about $15 each, including beer, we feasted like kings.
With a lunch like that to warm us, we were set for carousing all night long. Some options — a visit to Chambar (www.chambar.com) for moules frites and a chance to explore the city's longest list of Belgian brews. A stroll over to Gastown, where the Irish Heather Gastropub (http://irishheather.com) has a museum-quality display of Guinness beer ads, posters and paraphernalia, along with a bar stocked with more than 200 single-malt whiskeys. Their Long Table Series (http://ltsmenu.blogspot.com) seats you at a 40-foot communal table, where $18 buys you a hearty meal and a schooner of local beer. Don't miss the Shebeen Whisky House, a private sipping lounge in the rear.
At the Salt Tasting Room, in nearby Blood Alley, you are invited to build your own tasting plate by selecting three meats or cheeses and three condiments ($15). A flight of three wines, paired to your food choices, costs another $15. The specialty is Spanish sherry, with a couple of dozen poured by the glass. Here, too, is a Long Table option, downstairs near the wine and meat locker, offering Sunday evening specials (www.salttastingroom.com).
At tiny Judas Goat Taberna (www.judasgoat.ca) next door, a nice selection of tapas and pintxos can be accompanied with a glass or two. Try the Joie riesling or the Rollingdale pinot noir.
Edible Canada on Granville Island is the place to find anything food-related and local, and now there is a full-service restaurant on site. Sourcing fresh ingredients in the spring, summer and fall is a no-brainer, but when I dined here, in early March, the menu was just as local. Most impressive! The wine list (80 percent Canadian) features gems such as Sperling Old Vine riesling, Le Vieux Pin sauvignon blanc and Poplar Grove pinot gris.
The Raincity Grill, celebrating its 20th anniversary this spring, was on the forefront of the locavore movement with its 100-Mile dinners. At lunch I sampled a sweet-and-sour soup with a crisply steely glass of Lafrenz sauvignon blanc. On the last Monday of every month a four-course Market Monday Dinner offers the chance to dine with the folks who supplied the meal's ingredients; $65, reservations essential.
For extensive information on Vancouver lodging, parks, events and more, visit www.tourismvancouver.com.
About Wine Adviser
My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.