Photo credit: David Mason.
Hello from Galiano Island! Galiano is one of the islands just off the west coast of Vancouver BC, and home to one of my very good blog buddies, Dan from IslandEAT. Dan’s the second food blogger I’ve met this trip, and he is very kindly showing me around and looking after me whilst I’m in his part of the world. His hospitality is absolutely astounding, and I guess I’m so relaxed that I’m unfortunately not very well! Eep! My body seems to have decided to start breaking down! Hopefully lots of rest, fluids and drugs (the medicinal kind) will sort me out, but we’ll have to see how that one goes.
I spent the past few days on Vancouver mainland with one of my best friends David, whom I’ve mentioned a gazillion times on here before. Bad timing as he was flying out of Vancouver back to London, but he was an amazing tour guide and an even better friend, and I’m so glad I could see him, even though I feel terribly guilty for imposing at such a terrible time! Thank you David – love you uber amounts.
So what have I been up to, then? Read on and you shall find out!
When David lived in London he would occasionally have these incredible cravings for some fare from The Naam, a vegetarian restaurant a few blocks from his place in Vancouver. He told me extensively about their tempeh burgers, miso gravy and famed Dragon Bowls – giant bowls of brown organic rice, topped with veggies – so extensively, in fact, I could almost taste it. When I arrived in Vancouver, after dropping off my gear and a quick shower, I got to taste it for real.
The Naam is a very funky little place with wooden furniture, pies galore on display at the counter, and very chilled out staff. And the food is all kinds of awesome – what, after all, is better than a massive bowl of vegetables? Not very much, my friend. It was, however, so big that I couldn’t finish it. Good thing that David is a human vacuum cleaner, because he not only polished off his own Tempeh Burger Platter (a feast of mushrooms, vegetables, tempeh, toasted bun, cheese, wedges and lashings of miso gravy) but also half of my Naam Dragon Bowl.
2724 West 4th Avenue
Photo credits: David Mason.
Vancouver is a very beautiful city. Even as I was coming down on the airplane I looked out of the window and had mountains on one side and water on the other, and all I could think was, ‘wow’. It was simply stunning. That afternoon/evening David took me for a walk all around Vancouver’s lower mainland, along Kits Beach and eventually down to Granville Island, where we sat in the brewery and sampled some of their beers. My favourite of my samplers was their Winter Ale, which was an explosion of caramel, apple and vanilla, and utterly addictive. Afterwards I insisted that we buy some to bring back home with us – it went to a very good home, I promise (my tummy).
Granville Island Brewery
1441 Cartwright Street
Photo credits: David Mason.
The next day David had promised to take me up Mt. Grouse, one of the mountains in Vancouver. This particular one, however, had a fine dining restaurant called The Observatory at the top. After the bubble car ride up (which took maybe twenty minutes) we made a reservation for dinner (every winter for a couple of weeks Vancouver participates in a scheme called Dine Out Vancouver, where some of the top restaurants in town put on special three-course meals for only CAN$38 – a bargain to say the least!) and then spent the afternoon relaxing in their more chilled out restaurant Altitudes.
Photo credit: David Mason.
We shared some cheesy fries and a tasting dessert (which consisted of a cannoli, chocolate cheesecake and ‘Smores’ dessert, which was basically chocolate cake with marshmallow topping and a cracker), and started chatting to a couple of guys who were on the table next to us. Eventually we agreed to snap a couple of photos for them out on the balcony as the sun was setting, which was a fairly spectacular sight in itself.
Afterwards we headed over to The Observatory for our fine-dining dinner, which was decent but not spectacular. It’s really more about the view, which is of the whole of Vancouver – really quite the sight. I’d forgotten how nice it was to hang out with another photographer, especially as David was giving me tips on photos as I went, or helping me to take the photos I couldn’t (I have astigmatism, so when the lighting is low – as it was in this particular restaurant – I find it quite hard to see if my images are in focus) – a real collaboration of two minds, which is always a wonderful thing, especially when you’re already very good friends.
House butter with olive oil and parsley; roasted squash soup with pecan bread pudding, creme fraiche and sage; belly pork with white bean puree, redcurrant reduction and salad frisee; lamb with German spatzle, enoki mushrooms and spinach (photo credit: David Mason); Atlantic Char with clams, cauliflower and root vegetables (photo credit: David Mason); chocolate pate, white chocolate profiterole, dark chocolate mousse on a black pepper biscuit with a red wine reduction (photo close-ups credits: David Mason); apple fritters with Calvados ice-cream, thyme jelly and an apple crisp (photo credit: David Mason).
Afterwards as we were heading back to the bubble cars to take us down the mountain I spotted an ice-rink. It was one of the most surreal and amazing things I’ve ever done: ice-skating on top of a mountain. I used to rollerblade when I was a kid, and also went to a few ice-skating parties, so I’m okay on skates, but David used to play ice hockey, so he was really quite the pro. He tried to teach me to skate backwards and master turns, but I was pretty pants at it, so instead we just skated around the rink for an hour or so, joking and laughing, me trying not to fall over (which I didn’t!). It was cheap too! Only CAN$8 for a pair of very decent Nike skates!
6400 Nancy Greene Way
North Vancouver, BC
Diva at The Metropolitan Hotel
We had another Dine Out Vancouver experience the following evening at The Metropolitan Hotel’s restaurant Diva, which was far superior, and a really very lovely evening with David and some of his friends. David’s housemate Robin (of the amazing Chocolate Quinoa Cake) is good friends with the executive chef at Diva, Quang Dang, who is not only a scientist-turned-chef (and so thinks about food in a very scientific and unique way), but also all about organic, local and happy products.
Robin: beautiful lady, beautiful soul! She also makes amazing feather earrings and she gave me a pair as a present, which I totally love!
Quang Dang and Robin.
Shai’s two heads taller than me! Love it. Photo credit: David Mason.
The evening was a good send off for David, and really awesome to finally get to meet some of the people I’d been hearing about for a year and a half! Hopefully it won’t be the last time I see them, either!
Diva at The Met Restaurant
645 Howe Street,
After David left for the airport my good blog friend Dan met me to hang out and take me over to Galiano Island. We had dim sum (it was, after all, Chinese New Year!) at Sun Sui Wah, which has apparently been voted the best in North America. Sadly, the meal was a little disappointing and standard (eh, dim sum, how different does it really get?), but at least I celebrated Chinese New Year properly! Sort of.
We had dinner at a little Japanese place on the other side of town, then hopped on the ferry over to Galiano Island.
Around Galiano Island.
The Daystar Market on Galiano Island.
Galiano is both stunningly beautiful and a nomad’s paradise. When we arrived last night it had stopped raining but was pitch black, then today suddenly the sun had popped out and it was incredibly balmy out, warm even. Dan took me for a drive and a walk around the island, which was absolutely stunning. It was just great to be able to hang out with somebody I’ve communicated with for such a long time!
Oat pancakes with Lingonberry Syrup, Partridge Berry Syrup & Canadian Maple Syrup; mushroom, barley & sherry soup; Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches; awesome napkin rings (I want a ring like that!).
And, of course, Dan’s cooking is beautiful. He made me these delicious pancakes earlier, which are both light and fluffy and have a lovely texture from the oats, then the Italian beef sandwiches for dinner, and I had the pleasure of assisting him with the mushroom soup, by chopping up all the veggies! His knives are so sharp – it’s intensely pleasurable to use them, and yes, I know that sounds weird and sexual; it almost is. That’s how much I value sharp knives. Of course, cooking with friends is too wonderful, and it was great to see how Dan works in his kitchen!
So, that’s all for now. Providing that I can kick this bug by tomorrow morning, we’re heading off to Victoria Island for the day to explore. Dan tells me that it’s “more British than Britain”, so I’m looking forward to it! Fingers crossed I’m better by then!
If you’ve managed to make it through this post, well done! I’m proud of you! Have a wonderful weekend and I’ll be updating again soon – heading to Portland on Monday, which is extremely exciting! Many more adventures to come… until next time, peace and love.