Over the weekend, my friend Kristin and I took a road trip up to Vancouver, B.C., to visit our friend Tahirih, who I'm pretty sure has already found all of the best places to eat in the City of Glass. After living there for just over six months, she was able to take us on a foodie tour that was as much about the food as the unique culture of our neighbors to the north.
We knew we were in for a food-filled weekend shortly after we arrived and were quickly swept away to Nook, a true-to-its-name handmade pasta joint that we easily could have found by seeking out the most crowded lobby. Not that anybody minds, since it turns out the lobby is also a great place to make friends, adding even more warmth to the "hole-in-the-wall" and then some.
After dinner, we loosely planned the next day, with the only requirement being breakfast at Medina. We were warned the wait could be long, as in up to two hours, with a promise that it was worth it to try their Liege-style waffles. An upside to the wait is that it gives diners time to choose from the assortment of dipping sauces akin to an upscale ice cream joint: salted caramel, milk chocolate lavender and fig orange marmalade just to name a few.
The entree choices also abound, and although I made the mistake of not asking whether the Tagine (at left) contained cilantro (it did), it still was a delicious way to start our busy day.
Next stop: Granville Island Public Market, where we could have spent the entire day eating and also planning our meals for whole week. Spices, teas, cured meats, pastured meats, organic cheese, maple syrup (of course!), French pastries, sweet and savory pies, I could go on and on. It's hard not to draw comparisons to the Pike Place Market since it's the market I'm most familiar with, but I have to admit I was envious of its focus more on pleasing the immediate community than the tourists.
But I digress. Let's get back to Vancouver, and the fun Aquabus we took to another side of town! As a matter of fact, we took full advantage of the city's bountiful transit system, then taking the Skytrain to East Vancouver so Tahirih could show us the neighborhood the tourists don't go to. We even got stopped by a street vendor who didn't believe we were from the United States because "Americans don't come to East Van." But I came to conclusion that Tahirih is on her way to going native as we shopped among the thrift stores and ate on the brilliant patio at Havana.
The Five Point to watch the Canucks play in a Stanley Cup playoff game. All eyes were on the exciting game (except for mine which were on the delicious mushroom pizza at right!) that unfortunately included a disappointing ending that was much too reminiscent of the Superbowl.
But we had one more stop before the night was done: Japanese tapas at the original Guu, a cultural phenomenon in Vancouver that is probably feeding Seattle's burgeoning Izakaya trend. The exciting atmosphere is booming with dance music, as the chefs bellow friendly greetings and farewells in Japanese as diners come and go. It's a place to share your food, and feed your soul.
We couldn't leave town without another fuel-filled breakfast, which we trekked to The Templeton for. Don't be fooled by the cheesy diner atmosphere, because despite its meat-and-potatoes-heavy menu, it still has fresh ideas and healthy fare including vegetarian bacon, free-range meats and tofu.
Maybe the next time Anthony Bourdain comes to town, he should go on a foodie tour with Tahirih instead of just another famous chef! Thanks to Tahirih and Kristin for the awesome weekend!