Festivals & Food

July 3, 2012


I happen to have attended a few different festivals lately: Make Music Vancouver, Carnaval del Sol, and the Steveston Salmon Festival. In my mind, two were a success and one was not. And of course, a lot of it came down to food. The availability, pricing, and quality of food at a festival can make or break the event.

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Vancouver’s Shangri-La Hotel hosted its first farmers’ market this weekend. If you’re not from around here, allow me to explain why this is significant. The Shangri-La is one of Vancouver’s fanciest hotels, which is home to one of Vancouver’s top restaurants, Market by Jean-Georges. (“Market” hosts a farmers’ market – pretty clever). But really, only in Vancouver is no one surprised when a shmancy hotel decides to put on a farmers’ market. After all, isn’t a farmers’ market the complete opposite of luxury? Well, perhaps judging by the steep prices at some of the farmers’ markets I’ve been to around here, it’s not that much of a leap. But that’s not the point. It’s not exactly a logical fit. But I do think it’s an awesome idea. An idea I liked all the more once being handed one of their delicious complimentary cocktails…


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It can be challenging to source good quality meat (grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, etc.), especially if you are only used to shopping at the supermarket. Even at my local Whole Foods, the grass-fed beef is grain-finished. But tracking down nutritious, healthy meat is certainly worth the effort, and it gets easier with practice. Here are some tips to help with your hunt for good quality meat:

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Magnum Ice Cream Bar
(Photo by craigmdennis)

Prior to last year, if you craved an ice cream treat in Vancouver, whether you were at the beach or a hockey game, you could count on finding a Haagen-Dazs bar at the nearest concession. Last year, however, Magnum entered the North American market. And sadly, almost overnight, Magnum has become the most widely available ice cream bar in Vancouver. I was hoping this was a passing fad, but more and more places are solely selling Magnum. Why’s this a big deal?

The images of Magnum bars looked pretty good, so I tried one at the beach – not that I had any choice, it was the only “premium” ice cream bar available, Haagen-Dazs was suddenly nowhere to be found. Yuck, what a difference. It was cloyingly sweet and tasted like, well,  low quality ice cream. The Haagen-Dazs bars taste infinitely superior. And it makes sense that they would, check out how the ingredient labels compare:

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(Photo by david.niknvscanon)

I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Sardinia episode of No Reservations the other night. It made for an interesting episode since his wife Ottavia’s father grew up there. I had 2 main thoughts. One, the cuisine there rather sophisticated. For all the talk about times being tough, they sure use a variety of ingredients and cooking techniques – it’s probably because, as Anthony Bourdain likes to say,  invasions are good for food. And two, how had I never heard of roasted cheese with honey before? Anthony raved about it, and I was practically drooling. I didn’t know that was a thing. I googled, and indeed, it’s included in the  cookbook “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey: The Mediterranean Flavors of Sardinia”, which I then knew I’d have to check out.

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