#7 – A Vancouver Legacy in the Armoury District

About six years ago I worked at my first major food event, the Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival, and it was an amazing experience. The wine fest, as it’s affectionately known to Vancouverites – who actually know about the festival, was an amazing experience then and has been each year I’ve returned as a consumer. It comes around once a year in the early spring at the convention centre downtown, look for the 2011 festival.

It was at this festival that I learned many things about Vancouver’s food and wine scene – including exposure to many of Vancouver’s industry personalities. One of which is Barbara-Jo McIntosh, who has opened a cook book story in 1997 and has been growing every since. Her store,  Barbara Jo’s Books to Cooks, is located in the Armoury District (a known design district area of Vancouver just south of downtown) – originally she opened in Yaletown.

 

Barbara-Jo McIntosh

Barbara-Jo McIntosh, Photo by Tracey Kusiewicz, http://www.EATMagazine.ca

 

She was recently inducted to the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame, as a Friend of the Industry, and is incredibly well known in Vancouver and beyond for inspiring culinary enthusiasts of all levels and sharing cooking lessons and events in her store.

Well, Barbara-Jo also has a blog, which is my Blog or Bust #7 share, called Cooks with Books. It is staff-authored and includes recipe reviews from their favourite cookbooks – high quality content. And **secret** if you purchase a book referenced in her blog, there is a discount offered: see their blog home page for more information.

If you’re in the area, visit her store because she has helped put Vancouver on the map as a food city. If you are anything like me, you could be her store for days…

What is your favourite cookbook?

#6 – For the love of food

Love_sculpture_onGeorgia

LOVE sculpture on Georgia Street, downtown Vancouver

Many locals should recognize this piece of artwork that graces Georgia street in downtown Vancouver. I’ve been past it countless times in my 11 years here, and every time it grabs my attention, with a rubber neck. Secretly, I’ve always thought it would be rather (hopelessly) romantic for anyone to meet their true love in front of this statue. Yes, I know, it may be quite ridiculous but there is nothing wrong with dreaming, right?

The other day as I walked past, to take the photo, I took the time to look up this piece of artwork for the first time. I learned that it is not the only one in the world surprisingly. We are a piece of the LOVE sculpture collection around the world, including other major cities like New York, Montreal, Lisbon, Bangkok, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Hong Kong, and more…  I am not familiar with the criteria behind the city selection for each sculpture replica, but all of these cities have great food too so could it be correlated?  One can dream, right? Art and food in great cities around the world… Vancouver loves food and we do it well.

There are many writers out there who agree, including the Foodists, a popular Vancouver food blog that includes a list of contributing writers who have also found food love in the Vancouver area and beyond. The blog includes food news, events, restaurants, great photography, and an appropriate tag line, “enlightened appetite”.

My blog or bust #6 post is Foodists. I met one of the contributors to the Foodists blog at my PC Confections tasting with Paul Croteau; it was fun to meet other food bloggers from around the city – offline.

#5 – Life Bites & Where is Julie Powell now?

This blog or bust post is brought to you from a West End sushi shop called Daija, on Denman between Robson and Haro. The staff have been refilling my green tea for the last hour and kindly allowed me to, ‘stay as long as I like’ following a late lunch.

My favourite time of year is here now, sunny looking crisp air on the verge of winter once again.  Looking through the restaurant window, it is simply sunny and warm outside, then the door opens and I feel the cold air hit me as it rolls along the floor.  It’s quiet in here right now, busy outside, and I feel like I am tucked away while I share my next blog or bust post.

During a meeting earlier today with a fellow foodie, I learned about another Vancouver based food blog that is very new, just over two months old! This Blog or Bust share is Life Bites – an infant food blog headed in the right direction with her local food adventures! On first glance, the blog reminds me of the Julie & Julia blog in a way, with a courier font look over a crisp mint green back drop. Complete with simple photos and fun articles of food adventures in Vancouver.

If you’re curious about where Julie Powell is now, after the popular book to movie – Julie & Julia – she has a new site called Julie Powell Books.  I loved the movie and the book and the blog, and well, I can’t deny, Julie Powell may have been a contributing inspiration to Beyond The Dough…

Julie & Julia movie

Julie & Julia movie

Baker’s Market: A Sweet Find in South Vancouver (with #4)

Connie at Bakers Market

Connie, founder of the Baker's Market, staff's her own booth on opening market day.

This past Saturday the Vancouver Baker’s Market reopened for it’s second fall season, after opening last year. It will now be open every Saturday from now to December, 11am – 3pm; and although it’s a bit of a trek to get to in South Vancouver, it is worth the trip!

Connie started the Baker’s market last year, and is excited about kicking off another season of local bakers. “Every week we get different vendors, so you gotta come every week to check it all out,” she said amongst the buzz of the market.

Buttercup Cake Design at Baker's Market

Buttercup Cake Design at Baker's Market

The opening Saturday vendor’s included our friend Amanda Goats, local pastry chef, who I chatted with a few months ago and has since launched her own business: Buttercup Cake Design.  Amanda will be at the market every Saturday this fall, and is just one of many fun vendors on display.

Miss Mandy’s Sweet Treats, selling mini bundt cakes and home made chocolates, is another vendor at the market and sold out quickly.  Damien’s Belgian Waffles, real Belgian waffles, in many flavours and even chocolate covered were heavenly to sample.  Other vendors included fresh baked bread, cupcakes, cookies, mini-pies, and much more.

Damien's Waffles on display at Baker's Market

Damien's Waffles on display at Baker's Market, white chocolate covered in bottom right - rich & yummy!

The vendor list is available on the market website, but be sure to arrive early because the fresh baked goods move quickly!

There were approximately 12 vendors on Saturday and 10 new vendors will join this coming Saturday – making it a tight squeeze with all the more to feast your fall sweet-tooth on!

Connie had a minute to spare while staffing her own booth at the market, so I could ask about the market’s beginning.

How did the Baker’s Market start? Basically I love baking, and my friends got tired of eating my stuff. And I really felt that there are so many talented people out there who want to share their products, so instead of giving it away I thought we could try a central location where people can share their love of baking.

Baker's Market Guest Book table

Baker's Market even has a Guest Book table with fun fridge magnets!

BLOG OR BUST #4: GOURMET FURY!

The Gourmet Fury is another great Vancouver Food Blog, who also happened to cover the spring season of the Baker’s Market earlier this year.  Although I first learned about Melody Fury, the author, earlier in my summer of blogging. Then, she had just covered solid ground during the Winter Games through her posts with videos, photos, and recipes as part of her culinary tourism angle.

Melody is also the founder of Vancouver Food Tour; and has an accolade of coverage and awards already for her quality food blogging. As another great foodie to follow, Melody continues to validate Vancouver as a quality place to eat. She eats and Tweets, and is a fun follow – enjoy Gourmet Fury!

#3 – Vancouver Eating

Well after a rough day yesterday, of recovering my hard drive (post-crash), I have to say day three of blog or bust challenge was on the verge of a prompt end all too quickly!  Fortunately Apple Geniuses are in fact Geniuses! My macbook was saved along with my important files; and now I can forge on confidently with day 3 of 30 blogs.

That said, today’s blog #3 is very short and sweet.  I chose VancouverEating.com simply because I like the name: Vancouver Eating.  Straight to the point – its about eating in our favourite city!

The blogger, Josiah Tam, includes reviews of restaurants and great photography as he also is a photographer (his profile links to a second blog, about photography as well).  Since eating is half visual, great blog photography makes for a quality food blog…

#2 – Butter On The Endive

The most important food blog ever, is Owen Lightly’s opening header for Butter On the Endive.  I think he can take that claim.  Owen is the blog’s editor-in-chief and works at Araxi in Whistler; he has one blog contributor, Katie Sanders, and each have professional culinary training. When I met Eric Pateman earlier in the summer, this was among the blogs that came up as we chatted about local foodies.

This is blog #2 for me because it is one of the first food blogs that was referred to me. Since then I have read about Butter on the Endive numerous times – and agree it is quality food blogging. With great photography, by contributing photographers, writing and recipes, they even include videos too.

PS. For those who may not know, endive is a type of leaf lettuce.

Endive from KitchenGardens.org

Endive. Photo source: kitchengardens.org

Blog or Bust #1 – Everybody Likes Sandwiches

Naturally, I had to share this blog first: Everybody Likes Sandwhiches.  Why? Because it was one of the very first blogs that came up in one of my very first searches – so it stands out for me the most.

The author, who shares a familiar name to myself, Jeanette, is an award winning blogger, with her classic style of writing, photos and recipes. She has been writing since 2005 – dedication alone is reason enough to check out her site.

To my fellow blogger, Jeannette, if you happen to read this somehow, without my having shared directly to you, then I think we should meet because I love your Vancouver food blog! And I believe in cyber-serendipity…

Your Quay to Great Soup with Ralf Dauns

The Soupmeister

The Soupmeister store front sign in Lonsdale Quay Market.

As the heat wave passes over Vancouver, back to school hovers around the corner. Inevitably cooler weather will soon follow, and your iced café becomes an extra hot latte and your salad becomes a soup! While it may not be what you crave on a hot day now, a hearty bowl of soup is a serious staple for fall eating.

But soup takes time, so you can count on your local Soupmeister in North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay to dish up the best of the best every time because its all done in house.

Ralf Dauns at work. Photo credit: Soupmeister.ca

Ralf Dauns at work. Photo credit: Soupmeister.ca

This serious soup expert was born, raised, and educated at Masters level in Germany and has now been in soup business in Vancouver for more than 15 years. Ralf Dauns, recently expanded his market location in January 2010 to include more kettles than ever – allowing up to five different soups prepared and served each day during their peak months (September to May).

So before the soup season kicks into high gear, I sat down with Ralf across from his shop in the market, to learn more about his experience, great soup, and a bit about community…

What are your most popular soups? We have a few staples like clam chowder, seafood chowder, Italian wedding. …Some soups fall out of favour and some come back or some ingredients are not available. [It also depends on] the market price, usually the higher the price the lower the quality – so you want to make good quality.

What is your favourite? I like soups with beans and meat, for example, the Sicilian connection: prawns, sausage meat, different beans, a little parmesan cheese, its almost like a chili.  It depends on the time of year and what mood you are in.

Do you oversee every batch of soup? Yes. Between [my sous chef] and me we taste the soup.  Sometimes we bring in the younger guys as well, to taste, so they understand when you add this, they see what makes the difference.

After being in the business this long, what inspires you to make soup now? Number one, as my friend also says, I really love to cook. …And the other thing is the satisfaction you get from all the variety of customers. You get customers of all ages and backgrounds. Then I run into somebody who used to come here as a kid. 89% of our customers are regulars.

Many of your staff are local kids, do you have apprenticeships? Not directly the cooking part, but I try to teach them work ethic, and a bit more independent thinking. …I’m not a big fan of writing a list of what to do all day, like franchise style. There are so much structures everyone has these days, so I give them room to grow and have some creativity – it’s a bit harder that way [laughs], but its better in the end.

Outside the market, what is your favourite place to eat? At Home [laughs] …I don’t go out very much, but if we do go out for a fancy dinner we usually go to Le Crocodile downtown – it’s very traditional French, and very consistent.

One of the Soupmeister's daily menu lists.

One of the Soupmeister's daily menu lists.

Lastly, what is the key to good soup? Main thing is a good stock. If you don’t have a good stock then it gets really tough. Then you have to have fresh quality ingredients. You can’t rush a soup. Soup is not something you can make by weighing things out all the time because your ingredients taste different all the time…. The main thing is a good stock, good ingredients, and time. You have to put some TLC in there or its not going to happen.

____________

This serious soup master enjoys what he does and has taken soup to a fine art level.  His soup has become a staple in the community, and that is heart warming in itself.  During our chat, Ralf said, “what I like about it too, it’s become part of the community,” he pointed out a customer at the counter and continued, “his dad used to come here and now he comes here,” you could tell he was proud, and with good reason – it’s more than just soup, it’s soup with a community story.

The Pastry School Switch-up with Amanda Goats

Orange Tyme Curd Tart

Orange thyme curd tart ganished with fresh thyme and a plump blackberry.

I arrived in Amanda’s north shore home kitchen on a Monday afternoon and was offered, “an after school snack” that trumps all of my previous after-school snack experiences: an orange thyme curd tart. Garnished with a plump blackberry and a sprig of fresh thyme, from her herb garden – in one bite it’s amazing. I had never considered the combination of orange and thyme before, but these are the secrets you learn in the pastry world.

Now a trained Pastry Chef working in Vancouver, Amanda Goats shared her experience with me on the switch from a corporate world to pastry. Amanda grew up in small town BC, where food was the heart of family social occasions. “I have always loved baking, since I was young. My sister and I used to fight over who got to bake the birthday cakes… My mom would also bake all of her own bread. I guess it started from there”.

After working in the corporate world for a while, Amanda’s artistic side grew restless, so she signed up for pastry school. Instantly she said, “I loved pastry school. It was the most fun thing.” Her program covered all pastry and some culinary fundamentals. Despite the intense amount of detail learned in a short time, she said it was all fun including, “…black box competitions at the end [of the culinary course], iron chef style, and you don’t know what your ingredients are. It was intimidating, but really fun.”

French Macarons

A sample of her French macarons, not macaroons, I learned from Amanda the extra o is part of the difference between these and the common coconut cookie.

My after school snack slowly disappeared, and Amanda share more pastry adventures, including what her transition out of school. Fortunate to work straight out of school, she has now experienced designing menus and creative desserts. Amanda even shared an insider perspective on Dine Out Vancouver, where the menus are set with dessert, “On weekends we were doing 400 desserts per night, and I was having to make all that product.”

Is it what you expected? It’s a lot harder and grittier…than I expected. It is physically tiring, but you don’t realize it until the end of the day. It is very hard on you. …I find it comical cooking at home now because the portions are so much smaller. I had to scale my [pizza dough] recipe from work down. I usually make a double batch and I made one-quarter of a single batch here, which made four pizzas. I generally make a double batch [at work], which requires 22lbs of flour and 7.5L of water. …I am definitely a lot stronger.

 

What do you enjoy most? I like the people I work with. Working in restaurants attracts a different type of person, there is a different sense of camaraderie.

Where do you find your inspiration? I have subscribed to bon appetite for years. They are by far my favourite… Epicurious is a mainstay for recipe searches too.

Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

At home with Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

Where do you dine out? My favourite place [right now] is The District. It’s a Belgium pub and all the food is good. They do really good brunch on the weekend too. Fishworks is really good as well.

When did you start your SweetPursuits blog? Before pastry school. A lot of my coworkers and friends were interested in what I was doing.

Amanda is looking into starting her own side cake business now, “I’m excited to do this,” she said with a smile. Simply by talking to her you can tell she favours quality over quantity and has a pastry instinct that is sure to satisfy any customer’s sweet expectations.

Endless Edibles with Eric Pateman

Edible BC retail location in Granville Island Market

Edible BC retail location in Granville Island Market

On a busy afternoon in Granville Island market, I made my way to EdibleBC at the north end of the market. As I passed vendors of fresh produce, meat, breads and pastries, the market hummed to my delight, with tourists and locals. I had the opportunity to meet Eric Pateman and learn more about his business. We found a seat at the Granville Island Tea Merchant, one of Eric’s neighbours, on a first name basis no less, “Good afternoon Eric, what can I get for you?” Just like an episode of Cheers, everyone seems to know his name.

Later Eric explained, “It’s all about relationships in this business”. Owner of EdibleBC, Eric Pateman’s business is showcasing local flavour and he is a pioneer in culinary tourism.

Truly passionate about what he does, Eric’s energy is fresh and inspiring to hear, so when he began his story from the beginning I was all ears, “I’m a fourth generation Vancouverite and I’ve been cooking since I was 12 years old. I had my first catering company when I was 17.” Now he is a trained Chef, has an Oxford MBA, and is well known in Vancouver’s food industry.

Eric Pateman displayed in an ad for Granville Island Market

Eric Pateman displayed in an ad for Granville Island Market, as a Birch Syrup expert!

“I’m a local guy, that thought there had to be something better,” and so Eric left Vancouver on a search for something more. He did find some inspiration in Paris, France, during his travels, which he brought back to Vancouver. And EdibleVancouver was born. “I thought it would just be a website where I could tell people where to eat, and didn’t know if would go anywhere. Six months later we had five employees.” His business began as a culinary concierge, for people to tour the great eats of Vancouver, and it grew into events, and now retail, online shopping and even blogging.

In 2005, EdibleBritishColumbia opened on Granville Island in the spring. Known for distributing quality local artisan products, they host interactive market dinners after hours in Granville Island, and other creative culinary tourism adventures.

Inside Edible BC store

A selection of some of the products available at Edible BC in Granville Island Market.

What inspires you about your work? Its different everyday, everyday brings new challenges and opportunities. Companies approach us everyday with new products; we receive 20 – 30 products a week. We promote the best of what everyone else is doing. I’ve done the corporate thing, and this is much better!

How do you choose the products in your store? We have a monthly staff meeting. All staff are involved, products are tasted, reviewed from a marketing perspective, shelf space, etc. If it makes the grade on all the levels then we’ll bring it in.

Voted top 40 foodies under 40 in Canada by Western Living magazine in 2008, what do you think qualified you for this? Because what we are doing is unique. We are promoting small artisan products, and culinary tourism is huge now. Part of it is the business background, passion for what we do, and hitting the market at the right time. If we’d started a year earlier, it would have been a different story.


What is your favourite product?
It varies every month.

What is your current favourite lunch place? Go Fish. It’s the best seafood in Vancouver by far. They do fish tacos, grilled oyster pulled sandwhiches, scallop burgers, and fish and chips. It is outstanding!

Birch Syrup from Quesnel, BC

Birch syrup, featured during EdibleBC’s 1500+ market tours during the 2010 Vancouver Games. Eric describes, “It’s like maple syrup but from birch trees. and comes from Quesnel, BC. Maple syrup takes 40 litres of sap to make 1 litre of syrup, and it takes 100 litres of birch sap to make one litre of syrup.” Birch syrup outsells maple syrup in their store five fold; with a more molasses and trickle flavour it has more cooking implications, such as birch syrup ice cream, salad dressing, or marinades for fish.

Well, if you ask this foodie, follow Eric Pateman and his endless edibles. You can trust his products, because they are passionate about what they do – their signature is sharing other artisans’ signatures! Eric Pateman’s team is still growing and the edible journey has really just begun, they just incorporated EdibleCanada…