Vancouver 2010 Olympics: Top 10 of City's Best

In the run up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver food blogger Melody Fury (Gourmet Fury) is dropping by to guide travelers to the city's hidden gems in a series of Top 10 Local Recommendations. These locations are easily accessible from Downtown (within walking distance or by public transit). The recommendations boast of the unique, international delights that this beautiful sea-to-sky city offers. —The Mgmt.


Pheasant Ballotine at Boneta [Photograph: Melody Fury]

All anticipation converges today at the Olympics opening ceremonies held at BC Place. In honor, I saved the conclusion for the best of Vancouver for today. Rather than just where to eat, this final feature centers on how to experience our culinary scene to the fullest.

Vancouver proudly ranks as the world's most livable city and is certainly among the most beautiful. Surrounded by scenic beaches and snow-capped mountains, we never run out of outdoor activities. Further more, mother nature has blessed us with plenty of fertile farming soil to produce superb produce, wines, and meats.

This top 10 celebrates the most prized and cherished aspects of our food culture as a salute to British Columbia. Keep your eyes open; here's also how to spot our local favorites when you're dining and shopping about.


Oyama Sausage Co. [Photograph: Melody Fury]

1. Local Markets: Explore our colorful array of organic and heirloom produce and distinguished artisanal products such as roasted hazelnuts, Verjus and Balsamic, honeycomb and wild mushrooms. Granville Island Public Market is the real deal. Unlike other tourist-centric markets *coughPikePlacecough,* locals actually shop here for groceries, fine foods, and specialty goods.

Be sure to visit Oyama Sausage Company. These meat artisans with honest farm-to-table principles have been making premium sausages, hams, pâtés and cured meats for five generations. Terra Breads and Stuart's Bakery fills the market with the smell of freshly baked bread. La Baguette, located just outside the market, specializes in authentic French breads.


Stuart's Bakery [Photograph: Melody Fury]

Farmer's Markets run throughout the city in the summer but they don't quit during the Winter. On February 13th and 27th, the Winter market will take place at Wise Hall, 1882 Adanac Street at Victoria Drive (map).

2. Sustainable Seafood: Located just off the Pacific shores, it's no secret that BC has some of the finest seafood and sushi in the world. However, take care to confirm whether your sashimi is actually from our waters. Our favorite local shellfish include Qualicum Beach scallops, BC's blue mussels, littleneck clams, and the prized geoduck. We also have a huge assortment of oysters off BC's shores (Chef's creek, Pacific Rim Petites, Stellar Bay, Kusshi, Effingham...). Learn more about our oysters.

When dining out, look for the Ocean Wise symbol on menus. Ocean Wise is the Vancouver Aquarium conservation program to "help restaurants and their customers make environmentally friendly seafood choices." Some sustainable fish varieties they recommend are rainbow trout, tilapia, channel catfish, sturgeon, and Arctic char.


Fresh Local Oysters [Photograph: Melody Fury]

3. Local Wine and Beer: Quality wines from BC's Okanagan Valley and Vancouver Island gained increasing International attention. No longer confined to Ice Wine alone, our province now is bursting with everything from deep Syrahs to complex Cab Sauvs. Blasted Church, Road 13, Township 7, Burrowing Owl—the list goes on and on so be sure to sample some with your next meal. They can also be purchased at any BC Liquor store or independent wine store.


Local Wines [Photograph: Melody Fury]

BC's microbreweries deserve just as much love. Granville Island Brewing's assortment of beers can now be found in nearly every bar and restaurant. Numerous craft ales and lagers from our own backyard such as Red Truck, Bowen Island, and Okanagan Spring are also great companions for the games.

4. Artisan Sake: This clean and crisp rice wine merits its own category because it's an alcohol rarely brewed outside of Japan. Located in the center of Granville Island, Osake brews three Junmai Nama sake, two Junmai Ginjo sake, and even a sparking sake. Masa Shiroki, the dedicated sake maker, has gone as far as harvesting his own rice! Stop by to sample three styles of sake for only $5 and to learn more about this ancient craft.


Osake, Granville Island [Photograph: Melody Fury]

5. Handcrafted Cheeses: In the skilled hands of cheesemakers, the milk from grass-fed animals blossoms into a medley of delicious, natural cheeses. Farmhouse Natural Cheeses from Agassiz and Salt Spring Island's goat cheeses are among my favorites. I can't get enough of Salt Spring's Blue Juliette. Look for those and many others at these independent cheese shops: Les Amis du Fromage, Mount Pleasant Cheese.


Long Communal Table at Salty Tongue [Photograph: Frank Lim]

Cornish Game Hen at Long Table [Photograph: Melody Fury]

6. Communal Dining: The most exciting aspect of hosting the Olympics is getting to chat with visitors from all over the world. Mingling is certainly more fun when booze and grub are involved. Long, picnic- style communal tables can be found throughout the city to facilitate the interaction.

Long Table Series at The Salty Tongue/ Irish Heather is a well- loved community dining event. An entrée and a pint of brew is served nightly on the 40-feet long table at the low price of $15 to 18 per person. Spots are snagged up quickly so book your spot now. p.s. Catch them on the Today show on Valentine's Day.

Other communal tables: Picnic Cafe, The Cambie, Salt Tasting Room, Hapa Izakaya, Red Sea Cafe and Alibi Room.

7. Ethical Foie Gras: Is this an oxymoron? Take the debate on this controversial, yet undoubtedly luxurious food elsewhere. Here I'm simply introducing foie gras lovers to a better option. Most restaurants serve foie gras shipped in from Montréal but SPCA Certified Polderside Farms produces delectable foie gras here in Cultus Lake, BC. Their free-range ducks are raised with organic feed, free from antibiotics and treated humanely. They are available in stores and in some restaurants. They are listed at the bottom of ">this article.


Fraser Valley Lamb [Photograph: Melody Fury]

8. Organic Meat and Poultry: Happy animals are tastier animals so keep an eye out for grass-fed beef, lamb from the Fraser Valley, and free-range, organic poultry. Do not pass up Sloping Hills Farm's Berkshire Pork if you spot it on the menu. It is a heritage, black breed that provides exceptionally succulent and flavorful meat.

Occasionally, game meats such as venison, bison, pheasant, and rabbit can be found too. Generally, restaurant menus will state if the ingredients are local or organic. If not, the best policy is to look your server square in the eyes and ask.

9. Ethnic Neighborhoods: International flavors found around town have been covered in Top 10 Ethnic Specialties, but if you're craving more, venture into one of our ethnic neighborhoods for a true cultural experience and some definitely good eats: Chinatown (East Downtown), Punjabi Market (South Main Street and 49th Avenue), Little Italy (Commercial Drive and 5th Avenue), Greektown (West Broadway and Macdonald), and Modern Chinatown (Richmond. Aberdeen Centre, Yaohan Center).


Tropical Fruit [Photograph: Melody Fury]

10. Japadog: Many of you almost had a heart attack when I didn't mention this streetside phenomena previously. Combine Japanese ingredients like bonito flakes, nori and grated daikon with America's favorite street food—add a dash of strong branding and prime location and you have a Japadog, Vancouver's pride and joy. Receiving praise in countless publications and getting the thumbs-up from celebrities like Anthony Bourdain and Ice Cube doesn't hurt either. From one humble hot dog stand, they've expanded into three locations and growing.


Japadog [Photograph: Melody Fury]

So truthfully, how do they taste? Damn good. Their hot dogs are made to order and served piping hot. They've gone as far as using gourmet dogs made with American kobe beef and Berkshire pork. The general consensus is that we love the dogs but hate the hype. That's just how we roll.

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