Restaurant

FOOD | La Pentola Sunday Supper Series - Pasta & Vino by Jenn Chan

La Pentola

 

There is a day each month set aside for a special culinary experience.  The Sunday Supper Series at Italian restaurant La Pentola takes place the last Sunday of the month, a familia style meal with a new menu each time.  Our visit was in February when the menu featured Pasta and Vino.  The six course meal was available with or without wine pairings.  The evening was like a virtual tour of Italy as each course was from a different region of the country.  I was a tourist in Italy a few months ago and had many excellent meals there.  I am determined to return some day but until that happens meals in Italian restaurants will have to satisfy my yearnings.

 

We arrived promptly at 6pm.  A large curved bar is the focal point of the warmly lit main room.  We were shown to a side room with seating for twenty two people at three tables.  Two windows facing Davie Street let in the dwindling daylight.  A large window to another side room in the restaurant was curtained off, creating a comfortable feeling of privacy and separation from the larger restaurant.  As we settled in we were brought fresh bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to tide us over until the first course.  You might say that traditionally Italians don’t eat bread before a meal but as North Americans we are able to enjoy this without any qualms and it is so, so good.

 

Pasta & Vino Supper Series Menu

 

The first course, from the Piedmont region, was Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti with Side Stripe Shrimp, Lemon Butter Sauce and Bottarga.  Piedmont is a mountainous area in the north of Italy with Turin the largest city of interest.  The fresh shrimp was excellent, the agnolotti equally good.  The lemon butter sauce light, harmonious.  A Marchesi di Gresy Sauvignon Blanc was the wine paired to this dish, a fine match.  The Piedmont region scores high marks all around for this course.

 

Piedmont | Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti, Side Stripe Shrimp, Lemon Butter Sauce, Bottarga Wine Pairing: Marchesi di Gresy Sauvignon Blanc

Piedmont | Pea and Ricotta Agnolotti, Side Stripe Shrimp, Lemon Butter Sauce, Bottarga
Wine Pairing: Marchesi di Gresy Sauvignon Blanc

 

On the central Adriatic coast of Italy is the Marche region which provided inspiration for the next course on the menu: Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo.  The lobster tortellini’s subtle flavour was nicely enhanced by the slightly spicy lobster brodo.  The summery white wine with this course was the Andrea Felici Verdicchio.  The Verdicchio grape is one of the best for white wines in Italy.  I found this wine easy to drink and a welcome respite from the slight spicy heat of the brodo.  (I have a low threshold for spicy foods so you might have found the brodo very mild.)

 

Marche | Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo Wine Pairing: Andrea Felici Verdicchio

Marche | Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo
Wine Pairing: Andrea Felici Verdicchio

Marche | Lobster Tortellini in Lobster Brodo

 

From the Adriatic coast to Sicily in the Mediterranean for the third dish of the evening: Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, and Saffron.  This dish had layers of texture and tastes.  I liked the currents quite a bit.  As sardines are slightly oily a full bodied wine was called for.  The lovely Mazzei Zisola Nero d’Avola fit the bill fabulously.  This rich dark red wine was my favourite of the evening.  As good as the spaghetti dish was this wine pairing made it better.

 

Sicily | Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, Saffron Wine Pairing: Massei Zisola Nero d'Avola

Sicily | Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, Saffron
Wine Pairing: Massei Zisola Nero d'Avola

Sicily | Spaghetti, Sardines, Currents, Pine Nuts, Saffron

 

The fourth dish to be brought to the table, inspired by the city of Florence, was Pappardelle, Wild Boar Prosciutto and Rabbit Ragu.  A translation of the word pappardelle is “to gobble up” and that is exactly what I did with this delicious offering.  The boar prosciutto and rabbit ragu were amazing.  Jenn said “I don’t know where the rabbit ends and the boar begins.  So delicious together!”  The wide pappardelle noodle was a perfect choice with this ragu, bringing so much flavour to the mouth with each bite.  If I had the talent to make this dish at home it would appear regularly on my dining table.  La Pentola makes their pasta in house so you can count on it to be fresh and excellent.  A dish this good needs an equally good wine.  The Tenuta Guado al Tasso il Bruciato, a blended red wine, did not disappoint.  It is a rich, full flavoured vibrant wine that paired very nicely with the dish from Florence.

 

Florence | Pappardelle, Wild Boar Prosciutto and Rabbit Ragu Wine Pairing: Tenuta Guado al Tasso il Bruciato

Florence | Pappardelle, Wild Boar Prosciutto and Rabbit Ragu
Wine Pairing: Tenuta Guado al Tasso il Bruciato

 

The Veneto region is towards the north of Italy, on the Adriatic sea.  Venice and Verona are two of the tourist friendly cities of Veneto.  This region is represented on the menu by Potato Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragu, Pecorino.  The oxtail ragu was the star of this dish.  Lots of flavour, accented nicely by the Pecorino.  The wine pairing was Werner Walch Saint Magdalener Schiava, a nice red similar to a Pinot Noir with hints of cherry.  I’d not tasted Pecorino before this evening and I am happy to say I very much like this cheese made from ewe’s milk.

 

Veneta | Potato Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragu, Pecorino Wine Pairing: Werner Walch Saint Magdalener Schiava

Veneta | Potato Gnocchi, Braised Oxtail Ragu, Pecorino
Wine Pairing: Werner Walch Saint Magdalener Schiava

 

Dolce is the logical conclusion to a great Italian meal.  Four different sweets appeared before me along with a sweet dessert wine.  I tried the Lemon Curd Stuffed Meringue first and loved it.  The Apricot Biscotti was warm and yummy.  A pleasing Raspberry and Rose Water Macaron was next, and my final taste experience was a Sour Cherry Gorgonzola Cheesecake.  I was initially surprised at the bold gorgonzola taste but quickly grew to like it.  I regret not noting the name of the dessert wine.  I can say it was a very suitable choice, as were all the wine pairings this evening.

 

Dolce | Lemon Curd Stuffed Meringue, Apricot Biscotti, Raspberry and Rose Water Macaron, Sour Cherry Gorgonzola Cheesecake

Dolce | Lemon Curd Stuffed Meringue, Apricot Biscotti, Raspberry and Rose Water Macaron, Sour Cherry Gorgonzola Cheesecake

 

The six courses of this Sunday Supper Series were served over a comfortable three hours.  Our servers were well informed about the food and wine choices and were happy to share that information.  The theme of the supper series is different each month.  Prepare yourself for a variety of interesting courses that will leave you satisfied and full, with or without wine pairings.  La Pentola sources vegetables and meats locally and imports olive oils and prosciutto from Italy.

 

La Pentola is located in the Opus Hotel, 350 Davie Street near Hamilton.  The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Don’t drink and drive, plan ahead.  Bus, taxi and skytrain are all nearby.

 

La Pentola & Opus Hotel
 
 

FOOD | Happy Hour at The Sandbar, Granville Island by Jenn Chan

Sandbar, Granville Island

 

Did you know that Sandbar never had Happy Hour before? Me neither!! I was lucky enough to try a preview of the Happy Hour menu last night, and let me tell you, it was AMAZING! Their Happy Hour officially starts this coming Monday, and you need to go! My absolute favourite from the menu is the Avocado Chips - 100% highly recommended! That is just one amongst many other great items on the menu. 

 

Happy Hour starts Februrary 26, 3-6pm Monday to Friday at the Bar / Lounge.  Enjoy $5 Granville Island Beer, $5 wine, $5 highballs, and tasty food items under $10. 

 

 

Happy Hour from 3-6pm at The Sandbar

Happy Hour from 3-6pm at The Sandbar

Happy Hour
Avocado Chips
House Blend Spiced Frites

House Blend Spiced Frites

Tacos Frijoles

 

I mean really.... look at this view! I'm in love!

 

View from The Sandbar Patio

View from The Sandbar Patio

 

"Give Peas a Chance" at ARC Dining, Fairmont Waterfront by Jenn Chan

Arc Dining, Fairmont Waterfront

 

Fairmont Waterfront will always have a special place in my heart. It is the first restaurant that we covered for  JennChanPhotography.com/blog, the food is amazing and we have made some wonderful friends amongst the incredible Fairmont staff. Recently returning from a life changing two month odyssey through Southeast Asia it seemed fitting that one of the first restaurants we visited was Arc! 

 

We arrived bright and early to a bustling lobby, sun shining through the signature mile high Arc windows and Kristyna, one of our favourite Fairmonters, waiting with her signature beaming smile. I ordered a latte and sat back and enjoyed the ambience and pleasant conversation. You will not have a bad meal at Arc, I will personally guarantee that!

 

Breakfast Menu

Breakfast Menu

 

I ordered the 2 Egg Breakfast and Jenn had the Pork Belly and Egg and the Spring Pea Toast. Perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs, an excellent chicken sausage, oven fresh bread toasted just right and delicious roasted potatoes. It is as good as it sounds and I know it sounds damn good! The belly has got to be the tastiest part of the pig; flavourful and tender. Combine that with an organic egg and a delightful parsley root purée and I regretted not ordering it myself. Next time! The Spring Pea Toast uses feta cheese, delicious, greens from Arc's own rooftop garden, peas and beans, the same organic egg atop a fresh slice of sourdough bread. I generally don't like peas, but I found this dish very appealing and snuck several bites whenever Jenn turned her back. A couple of glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice to wash everything down and that is a great way to start a day!

 

Bircher Müesli & Super Green Smoothie

Bircher Müesli & Super Green Smoothie

Pork Belly and Egg

Pork Belly and Egg

2 Egg Breakfast with Chicken Sausage

2 Egg Breakfast with Chicken Sausage

Spring Pea Toast

Spring Pea Toast

Spring Pea Toast

 

The Canada Place area of Vancouver is tourist central. I state that without a hint of negativity; it's a high compliment coming from me! Tourist areas are shining examples of your town that attracts people from literally 1,000's of miles away to take them in. Fairmont Waterfront is in the centre of centre. The rooms are amazing, the pool is absolutely world class and the food, as above, will suit any tastes or budgets. Tell them Jenn sent you and enjoy!

 

Arc Dining, Fairmont Waterfront
 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Seattle Dining: Trace Seattle by Jenn Chan

Trace Seattle

 

Trace is a beautiful, modern room. High ceilings, artist architectural details and brimming with potential! We were seated and looked after by our very kind server Loan. She suggested we try their Mai Tai, twist my rubber arm, but returned with 5 different colourful, photogenic cocktails at the behest of Trace's GM Zack. They came out just before our first courses: amazing pulled pork sliders and a seared ahi and poke plate.

 

Trace Seattle
Trace Seattle Menus

 

The Crime of Passion has a nice passion fruit puree, tanqueray, pimm’s, St. Germain and cucumber dry soda. Thankfully helped to extinguish the fire from the seared ahi and poke dish which had a nice heat from a house secret spice GM Zack was nice enough to share with us, but we won't share with you. Ever. Critic/ client privileges. The Cactus Drop again boasted a purée, but this time a prickly pear puree, with Ketel One Citroen, cointreau and lemon juice. I have never eaten a prickly pear. In fact the prospect frightens me a little bit, but sipping its liquid offspring is not daunting. Not even a little bit. This cocktail is perfectly balanced with the exquisite Ketel One Vodka forming the base and the prickly pear providing a perfect compliment; very, very good!

 

Trace Mai Tai, Prickly Pear Margarita, Crime of Passion, Champagne Cocktail, Cactus Drop

Trace Mai Tai, Prickly Pear Margarita, Crime of Passion, Champagne Cocktail, Cactus Drop

 

The Champagne Cocktail has a blackberry puree, domaine de canton and, of course, champagne. Jenn was unable to take on a new initiative and give me her opinion on this drink. She lapped at it like a lizard for a few minutes, staring blankly at me as though mentally handicapped severally. Now, personally, as I prefer low-biscus, the hibiscus flavour is a little off putting. That was a tired Hawaiian joke I lifted from virtually every Hawaiian tour guide we encountered last year. In reality this drink was very much like a fizzy Ribena; a reference lifted from Jenn's childhood. The first thing I noticed about the drink was the expertly zested and curled lime. It's fragrance hits you as soon as you lift the glass to your mouth; delicious! The Prickly Pear Margarita has a prickly pear puree, Avion tequila and Trace's house 'sour mix'. You have to like tequila, or even solely tolerate it, to appreciate any drink in which it forms the base. This margarita was very good. Not too strong and not too fruity, a good balance.

 

Last, but not least was the Trace Mai Tai. Bacardi superior, Orange Curaçao, Orgeat, Bacardi 8 and lime. Orange, almond and lime. These are the building blocks of the Trace Mai Tai and they mix very well, better than you might imagine and the drink is overall: rum heavy (in a good way), hints of orange, almond (from the orgeat) and lime from both the juice and plump lime slices in the drink. This drink is a winner and Loan is a genius! 

 

Drinks on drinks on drinks and then thankfully our food arrived. The Pulled Pork Sliders came piled with incredible smoked pulled pork, a charred pineapple bbq sauce on fresh sesame buns. I was never a fan of pineapple growing up. I couldn't understand how they became a staple on pizza; it both bewildered and angered me. As an adult, presumably due to my taste buds mellowing, I'll take down a Hawaiian pizza. I'll savour it on my Hawaiian burger and I'll eat it like a hungry Pitbull on some pulled pork sliders! Savoury and sweet and delicious. You need these in your life! The Seared Ahi & Poké Plate come with Ogo, scallions, macadamia nut inamona and taro chips. The five spice on the edge of the seared ahi at the top with  tuna poké underneath. The hint of spice is often times better than lots of spice and always better than no spice. The two different kinds of tuna was a new twist on a tartare-like appetizer. I preferred the seared tuna and Jenn preferred the poké so it worked out very well. This dish is excellent and it disappeared quickly!

 

Pulled Pork Sliders: Tender smoked pulled pork, charred pineapple bbq sauce, sesame buns

Pulled Pork Sliders: Tender smoked pulled pork, charred pineapple bbq sauce, sesame buns

Seared Ahi & Poke Plate: Ogo, scallions, macadamia nut inamona, taro chips

Seared Ahi & Poke Plate: Ogo, scallions, macadamia nut inamona, taro chips

 

The Oxtail and Foraged Mushroom Risotto was the first of our entrées to make its way to the table. My first experience with a red wine / pomegranate reduction. A full bodied, rich and comforting dish. If you hate mushrooms you will still like this risotto. If you hate cheese... then move along. Your type isn't welcome. Anywhere. On Earth. This dish is a must try even for a mushroom-phobic. A college days delivery as a Panago delivery driver ruined me for the subtlety of fungus, but that is another blog post all together. The point is Jenn ate this, forearm curled around it like she was a jaded convict protecting her food from other inmates, as quickly as she could. Oh yes I got a few choice adjectives to help me write this: warm (it's supposed to be warm, it's a restaurant), comforting (oh...kay...) and delicious. Even after I let her know I could use only one of her three contributions she didn't waver. She couldn't. This dish is delicious!

 

Oxtail and Foraged Mushroom Risotto: Red wine pomegranate reduction

Oxtail and Foraged Mushroom Risotto: Red wine pomegranate reduction

 

Jenn also deigned to order the Huli-Hulu Spiced Draper Valley Half Chicken. It came with grilled corn, red rice and was bathed in a pineapple bbq sauce. Super tender, juicy and flavourful with its incredible Huli-Hulu spice enveloping it in its entirety. Amongst the best pieces of chicken I have eaten and I have eaten enough chicken to satisfy the lifetime appetite of an 80 year-old fox. I went with Trace's Char-GrilledRib Steak. It was accompanied by some roasted winter squash and natural jus. A large, discus sized round of beef arrived at my table minutes, seconds it seemed, after we waved our entrées over to join our myriad of appetizers. A perfect rare, as requested, and swimming in a sultry bath of its own juices and roasted winter squash. I sat with this dish, as 4 others languished, for a good half hour. Tempered bites with measured portions of the mashed potatoes and squash. After that half hour I was still working away on the steak in between bites of others and several cocktails and felt unapologetic for neglecting the others. A solid 8.5/10!

 

Huli-Huli Spiced Draper Valley Half Chicken: Grilled corn, red rice, pineapple bbq sauce

Huli-Huli Spiced Draper Valley Half Chicken: Grilled corn, red rice, pineapple bbq sauce

Char-grilled Rib Steak: Roasted winter squash and natural jus

Char-grilled Rib Steak: Roasted winter squash and natural jus

 

Dessert came and I almost exploded just looking at it. I was full, very full. Between the dishes and the many, many cocktails I had little to no room in my belly, but then I laid my eyes on the Warm Chocolate Cake and Washington Apple Semi Freddo. Root beer isn't for everyone and I'm not sure why. I love it! If thy made a root beer shampoo I would use it. Ditto on body wash. The chocolate cake was amazing, it's hard to screw up chocolate regardless of which form it takes, the accompanying vanilla ice cream was nice and light and fresh, but then you add a root beer sauce to the whole thing and you hit another level of delicious! Even if you head to Trace just for this cake and you won't be disappointed! A wise man once said "you never go full Freddo". Trace's semi Freddo adheres to that age old wisdom and uses the delicious Washington apples in a perfect way. My father was born and raised on an apple orchard in the idyllic Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. The area boats the only dessert climate in Canada and the apples are the best in the world; hands down! Washington, our beloved neighbour to the south comes a close second in my humble opinion. As a youngster we had a weekend property in Whatcom County just outside of Bellingham and up the street from Whatcom Lake so I know a thing or three about Washington apples. I would request this dessert as my last meal. It is that good!

 

Warm Chocolate Cake: vanilla ice cream, root beer sauce

Warm Chocolate Cake: vanilla ice cream, root beer sauce

Washington Apple Semi Freddo - Caramelized Apples

Washington Apple Semi Freddo - Caramelized Apples

 

In all our experience as Trace was excellent. Loan was a very sweet and knowledgeable server and Zack made frequent trips to our table to make sure everything was to our standards. The ambience was lovely as a large table was celebrating a birthday nearby and couples could still enjoy an intimate candlelight evening. Boisterous chatter from the adjacent lobby bar kept the atmosphere electric and the high ceilings and modern decor made for a lovely vista. I would recommend Trace to anyone visiting Seattle and for any Seattleites looking for a new experience. 

 

 
Words: Scott Allan
Photos: Jenn Chan
 

Afternoon Tea Series: TWG Tea Canada by Jenn Chan

TWG Tea Canada
TWG Tea Canada Interior

Have you ever noticed that some days you learn a couple new things and some days you learn nothing? Since TWG Vancouver, which, it turns out, stands for The Wellbeing Group (learning) made its debut in Vancouver in 2016 their offerings seem to be constantly improving. The service has evolved in lockstep with our host Brady and server Donnie making us feel stupendously welcome! We started our visit with the Tea Party Tea, a delightful black tea with sweet undertones, and the White Spring Yin Zhen Silver Needles. The White Spring is renowned for its health benefits and is easily added to ones health regime because it is really delicious.

TWG Tea Canada Tea List

TWG Tea Canada Tea List

Tea Party Tea - Perfect for Easter!

Tea Party Tea - Perfect for Easter!

The West Coast Tea Set is a uniquely Vancouver, three-tiered teatime experience crafted by the very talented Chef Cliff Hohl. Japanese Miso Sablefish, Follow Me Tea Albacore and Steelhead Hawaiian poke with uni, Sencha infused Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll and Wagyu Beef and Burgundy Truffle with Hidden-Pu-Erh infused Vietnamese Pho. Yes Pho, properly pronounced fuh (think duh with an 'f'), in a tea set; amazing! Chef Cliff makes my favourite Sablefish. To say it's delicious cheapens the meaning of the word. It is incendiary. Having visited Hawaii for the first time in 2016 I came home with what some may dub an "unhealthy poke lust". I would dub it love and the poke done at TWG in a way that would make my Oahu brethren proud! The Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll is very good and the Pho, with its incredible Wagyu beefy goodness, wouldn't feel out of place in Saigon. In all an incredible and satisfying meal, but we were fortunate enough to indulge in another tea set right after we devoured this one.

TWG Tea Canada Menu
TWG Tea Canada West Coast Tea Set Menu

TWG Tea Canada West Coast Tea Set Menu

West Coast Tea Set

West Coast Tea Set

Tier One - Sencha Infused Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll & Wagyu Beef and Burgundy Truffle with Hidden Pu-Erh infused Vietnamese Pho

Tier One - Sencha Infused Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll & Wagyu Beef and Burgundy Truffle with Hidden Pu-Erh infused Vietnamese Pho

Tier One - Sencha Infused Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll & Wagyu Beef and Burgundy Truffle with Hidden Pu-Erh infused Vietnamese Pho
Tier One - Sencha Infused Spicy Scallop Tempura Roll & Wagyu Beef and Burgundy Truffle with Hidden Pu-Erh infused Vietnamese Pho
Tier Two - Japanese Miso Maple Sablefish & Follow Me Tea Infused Albacore and Steelhead Hawaiian Poke with Uni

Tier Two - Japanese Miso Maple Sablefish & Follow Me Tea Infused Albacore and Steelhead Hawaiian Poke with Uni

Tier Three - Lemon Bush Tea Infused Mousse Tart, Napoleon Tea Infused Jivara Petit Four, 1837 Black Tea Infused Pâte De Fruit, TWG Tea Macaron

Tier Three - Lemon Bush Tea Infused Mousse Tart, Napoleon Tea Infused Jivara Petit Four, 1837 Black Tea Infused Pâte De Fruit, TWG Tea Macaron

 

The Chic Tea Set, unlike the temporarily available West Coast tea set, is a bonafide, tried and tested TWG menu staple. It features: Smoked Salmon and Horseradish Cream with Nori and Genmaicha Furikake, Mimosa Egg Sandwich with Aioli and Mirror Quail Eggs, Smoky Russian Tea Infused Tomato Bread with Pesto Chicken and Stracciatella Cheese. We had our arms twisted and added the Finger Sandwiches plate so we could enjoy two additional sandwiches not included in the Chic Tea Set, the Foie Gras Medallion and Atlantic Lobster Salad.

 

Smoke anything, salmon, beef, leather or bicycle, and I'll eat it. I will. The smoked salmon sandwich has a really nice popcorn-y flavour to it and I could have eaten 50 even after the West Coast Tea Set! The Mimosa Egg Sandwich's yoke pops as soon as you put it in your mouth and the flavour is fabulous. The pesto chicken sandwich is literally the best chicken sandwich I've ever had! Somewhere between the unique cheese and tomato bread a new level in chicken sandwichery is reached. Lobster is the most expensive crustacean on Earth and it isn't because they're beautiful. It isn't because they're hard to catch. It is because they taste like a sunny walk through a dewy meadow on your birthday. The lobster salad sandwich tastes like that walk times 10; it is incredible! The foie gras offering is equally delicious with a tangy mustard kick.

 

TWG Tea Canada Tea Time Menu

TWG Tea Canada Tea Time Menu

Chic Tea Set

Chic Tea Set

Chic Tea Set
Smoked Salmon and Horserash Cream with Nori and Genmaicha Furikake, Mimosa Egg Sandwich with Aioli and Mirror Quail Eggs, Smoky Russian Tea Infused Tomato Bread with Pesto Chicken and Stracciatella Cheese

Smoked Salmon and Horserash Cream with Nori and Genmaicha Furikake, Mimosa Egg Sandwich with Aioli and Mirror Quail Eggs, Smoky Russian Tea Infused Tomato Bread with Pesto Chicken and Stracciatella Cheese

2 Freshly Baked Scones Served with TWG Tea Jelly & Whipped Cream

2 Freshly Baked Scones Served with TWG Tea Jelly & Whipped Cream

Finger Sandwiches - Smoked Salmon and Horserashish Cream with Nori and Genmaicha Furikake, Mimosa Egg Sandwich with Aioli and Mirror Quail Eggs, Smoky Russian Tea Infused Tomato Bread with Pesto Chicken and Stracciatella Cheese, Foie Gras Medallion with Homemade Summer Palace Tea Infused Cherry Jam, Atlantic Lobster Salad bound with Geisha Blossom Tea Infused Créme Fraîche, Meyer Lemon and Norther Divine Caviar

Finger Sandwiches - Smoked Salmon and Horserashish Cream with Nori and Genmaicha Furikake, Mimosa Egg Sandwich with Aioli and Mirror Quail Eggs, Smoky Russian Tea Infused Tomato Bread with Pesto Chicken and Stracciatella Cheese, Foie Gras Medallion with Homemade Summer Palace Tea Infused Cherry Jam, Atlantic Lobster Salad bound with Geisha Blossom Tea Infused Créme Fraîche, Meyer Lemon and Norther Divine Caviar


 

The TWG desserts are worth the trip alone: Lemon Bush Tea infused Mousse Tart, Napoleon Tea Infused Jivara Petit Four, 1837 Tea Infused Pâté de Fruit and TWG Macaron. The Pâté de Fruit is amongst the tastiest things I've ever masticated. I have a sweet tooth, all my teeth really, and this soothed the lot. The lemon tart harkened back to my sweet Granny's homemade lemon meringue pies and I like things that make me think of the dearly departed Francis Allan so I liked this tart. Like a lot. The TWG macarons wouldn't be easily discernible sitting beside their $100 a pop, bejewelled Parisienne cousins and the Jivara Petit Four would satisfy any chocolate hounds cravings.

 

TWG Tea Pâtisserie in TWG Trolley

TWG Tea Pâtisserie in TWG Trolley

 

TWG is the best tea house in Vancouver. Full stop. It is wondrously beautiful inside and it, like the world's best athletes, the world's best anything really, strives to improve itself everyday. Chef Cliff Hohl is passionate about his craft and is also very, very good at it. Their upcoming Easter Tea Set will no doubt inspire me to wax poetically and I look forward to trying it. As you should.

 

TWG Tea Selection

TWG Tea Selection

TWG Tea Selection
TWG Tea Macaron

TWG Tea Macaron

 
 

Top Japanese Restaurants in Vancouver: RawBar at Fairmont PacRim by Jenn Chan

PacRim RawBar

PacRim RawBar

 

Have you ever woken up the day after a birthday party, with its accompanying revery and libations, only to realize you forgot you had a cocktail brunch to attend early the next day? I have and the beautiful Raw Bar at the Lobby Lounge in Fairmont's Pacific Rim did not disappoint! The old saying 'hair of the dog that bit you' or just 'hair of the dog' stems from the belief that if you drank a gallon, or ten, of a particular alcoholic beverage the night before a glass of it will help cure your hangover the next day. The Germans call it a 'counter-beer', Austrians a 'relief beer' while the Spanish and Italians believe 'a nail pulls out another nail.' There can be no other reason for a cocktail brunch and there need not be! This was the best, the absolute best, brunch I have ever had!

 

PacRim RawBar
RawBar Brunch Menu

 

The first of our five courses, yes five, was the Red Tuna Tataki. It was served with a yuzu kosho vinaigrette, soy gelée, daikon and micro greens. The mouth watering tuna has a distinct soy taste and was melt in your mouth fresh. It was paired marvellously with their LIght-Zaiten cocktail. A mixture of gin, organic green tea, dry vermouth, rosemary, cucumber, lime. The subtle cucumber taste accented well by the rosemary and it washed the tuna down as though they'd been preordained from birth to do so!  We also ordered the Torched Wagyu Beef Salad because not only do we need to be thorough in our culinary reviews, but also because we are gluttonous hedonists. No excuses.  The wagyu beef was served with red onion, sake-beet purée, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips and miso crème fraîche. Wagyu beef is the best beef on earth, move over Kobe, so tender and flavourful! Miso crème fraîche is also one of my new favourite thing! If they made a flavoured toothpaste I'd buy it. Heck if they made a miso crème fraîche shampoo I'd use it. They paired the beef salad with an amazing Bloody Mary: vodka, lemon, tomato juice, sriracha, horseradish, salt and pepper. Americans don't believe clams and tomatoes belong together, they just don't. Call it forbidden love, but they don't see the correlation and I can't blame them. I can't even fathom who first thought they ought to be combined, but I ain't mad at cha, got nothing, but fo ya! Hence the Bloody Mary instead of the Canadian treasure, the Caesar. Add Sriracha to anything and I'm in, it was simply delicious. So much so I had to order another just to make sure their mixologists were being consistent. Ya, that's what it was.

 

Red Tuna Tataki & Torched Wagyu Beef Salad

Red Tuna Tataki & Torched Wagyu Beef Salad

Red Tuna Tataki + Light-Zaiten - Yuzu Kosho vinaigrette, soy gelée, daikon, micro greens

Red Tuna Tataki + Light-Zaiten - Yuzu Kosho vinaigrette, soy gelée, daikon, micro greens

Torched Wagyu Beef Salad + Bloody Mary - wagyu beef, red onion, sake-beet purée, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips, miso crème fraîche

Torched Wagyu Beef Salad + Bloody Mary - wagyu beef, red onion, sake-beet purée, scallion-ginger emulsion, nori chips, miso crème fraîche

 

 

Starting to feel human again I salivated as the next course, a steaming bowl of their Signature Bacon and Sable Miso soup, was laid in front of me. Hands down the best miso soup I have ever had!! Two exclamation points. Bacon dashi, house-cured sable, ginger and scallion in a magnificent miso broth. Bacon, bacon, bacon! As an aside, In 2013 65% of Americans polled would gladly have named bacon as their national food. I started with the broth and, wow, it is amazing. Miso with a touch of sweetness. The bacon dashi may have been the best bacon I've ever tasted! Even the tofu, renowned as the world's blandest food, was delicious as it took in the flavour of the divine broth. They served it with their Beer Makes Miso Happy: Grand Marnier, wheat beer, ginger, lemon. I chortled when I first read the name. Apparently I'm not the only one who tries to let their personality shine through their writing, hats off! It was tangy, well balanced and refreshing! Again, for consistency's sake, I had to order another and the second was even better than the first. 

 

 

Signature Bacon and Sable Miso + Beer Makes Miso Happy - bacon dashi, house-cured sablefish, ginger, scallion

Signature Bacon and Sable Miso + Beer Makes Miso Happy - bacon dashi, house-cured sablefish, ginger, scallion

 

 

The next course came and I was excited; this was what I'd been waiting for! The Wild Salmon Motoyaki “Benny”. I love eggs Benedict and I always have. I still think back, at least once a month, fondly to one time when I ordered a king crab Benny and my date had a lobster Benny and we each traded one... And it's been 3-4 years... Raw Bar's offering featured a poached egg, sweet milk bread, ikura, miso hollandaise and avocado. I frequently judge a Benny by its muffin. Fresh and airy English muffin and you've got yourself a good Benny. Deliciously fluffy sweet milk bread as the base is my new gold standard, excellent! Farmed versus wild salmon really makes a difference. Google all the health benefits, and they are myriad, but the taste benefit cannot be overlooked. Adding a touch of miso into the hollandaise is a stroke of genius and the ikura was fresh and flavourful. It paired well with the Pepe Le Pew, a meeting of Lillet rosé, sherry and sparkling brut. The sherry really mutes the sweetness of the brut and balances the cocktail perfectly, but the name of the cocktail had me in stitches. Chris Rock brilliantly satirizes Pepe in one of his standup acts. Give it a Google!

 

 

Wild Salmon Motoyaki "Benny" + Pepe Le Pew - poached egg, sweet milk bread, ikura, miso hollandaise, avocado

Wild Salmon Motoyaki "Benny" + Pepe Le Pew - poached egg, sweet milk bread, ikura, miso hollandaise, avocado

Wild Salmon Motoyaki "Benny"

 

 

Jenn ordered the Kurobuta Pork Kakuni, a braised pork belly, 62°c egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato with tamanishiki rice. The pork belly was very tender and breaks apart easily, no knife necessary! They perfectly made the 62 degree egg, very gooey. Bite size potato, carrot and daikon. Dip the rice in the sweet soy broth and include a mouthful of pork and it's worth the trip on its own. It came with the Pork ‘N’ Cider which consists of Lonetree cider, sweet vermouth and sherry. It was sweet and tasty and Jenn liked it the most of all the selections to that point.

 

 

 

Kurobuta Pork Kakuni + Pork 'n' Cider - Braised Pork belly, 62*c egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato, tamanishiki rice

Kurobuta Pork Kakuni + Pork 'n' Cider - Braised Pork belly, 62*c egg, sweet soy broth, daikon, carrot, potato, tamanishiki rice

 

 

Now for what Raw Bar is famous for, sushi! The Sushi Omakase featured maki, nigiri, hako and temari and was paired with a delicious Sparkling Junmai Sake. That's right champagne sake and it is good as it sounds! The rolls were as close to perfection as one can get: incredibly fresh sashimi, you'd expect nothing less in the lobby of Vancouver's premiere hotel, inventive flavours and even the sardine sushi was really good. These aren't those pickled, smelly sardines from a can, you could tell immediately this guy (or girl) was swimming only days or weeks earlier! 

 

 

Sushi Omakase + Sparkling Junmai Sake - maki, nigiri, hako, temari

Sushi Omakase + Sparkling Junmai Sake - maki, nigiri, hako, temari

Sushi Omakase

 

 

The dessert was equally as inventive. The Yakult Shooter came out on an actual oyster shell, cleaned of course, and featured plum gelée, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder and yuzu pearl. It disappeared in an instant and was sweet and delicious. Just the right size for a fifth course. You wouldn't want to try and dig through a 1,000 calorie piece of cake after all that! It came with the Wakayama Beach: gin, yuzu, basil, coconut water and ginger. The yuzu flavours really shined through from each and they went together like peas in a pod, very, very good! Leaning back in our chairs and enjoying the soulful pianist tickle the ivories we couldn't help, but wonder what else the menu might have in store for us. We requested one from our lovely server and oooo'ed and awed over Raw Bar's regular selection and vowed to be back with a fortnight. And we will!

 

 

Yakult Shooter + Wakayama Beach - plum gelée, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder, yuzu pearl

Yakult Shooter + Wakayama Beach - plum gelée, pear, matcha green tea, black sesame powder, yuzu pearl