The Galley Guys hit the Vancouver International Boat Show running. All day long, we were checking out new boats, looking into ice lockers, peeking into storage compartments, seeing what’s new for gourmet cooking onboard and being forced to live on “show food” by day. By night, however, we could be found researching Vancouver restaurants that cater to hungry boaters. Our mission was straightforward; find great dining establishments that are easily accessible, with incredible views of the water, kitchens that serve great food and sommeliers that specialize in award-winning BC wines. Some of my colleagues from the boating community might see this as an overwhelming challenge, but for the Galley Guys this is a mission from heaven.
VIBS started off with some very tough weather conditions: wind, rain, snow and foreboding gray skies. Attendance on the first day was low and our spirits were severely tested. We decided on a cruise across False Creek on the Aquabus over to Stamps Landing and an evening at Ocean 6 Seventeen. The company was great: Frank Leffelaar, Marketing Manager for Mustang Survival, a real ‘foodie’ and wine expert; Diana Becker, a great story teller and the owner of Chef & Chauffeur; and, Cate Simpson – a well known ambassador for the BC restaurant scene.
Highly recommended are Chef Sean Cousin’s Fish Stew; a tomato broth, with root vegetables and saffron oil, a starter that should be a whole meal, pan roasted wild spring salmon with goat cheese and the most delicious and colourful risotto I have ever seen. This was followed by what the locals recommended – elk with a cedar marinate escalope, organic vegetables and lentils du pays. All this and a bottle of Kettle Valley Merlot made for a great recovery of the day and provided us the will to get back into show mode the next morning.
Day two of the Vancouver Boat Show started with a strange and wonderful sight; the sun had broken through and long line-ups stood waiting for the boat show to open. Busy days like this make the hours fly by and we decided to celebrate this positive step forward by visiting The Lift – one of my favourite bars in Coal Harbour – located just beside the Westin Bayshore Hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed a glass of Pentage Pinot Noir while basking in a perfect view of the harbour and many of Vancouver’s most beautiful yachts.
The festivities then moved up the street to the Raincity Grill located on English Bay in the heart of Vancouver’s West End, one of the city’s best-loved locations. With views of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountains, the primal forests of Stanley Park steps away, any remaining tiredness from the boat show was replaced by the friendly greeting from General Manager & Sommelier Brent Hayman and the warmth of this restaurant.
If you want fresh and to get close to the region that that you are visiting, sit and savour The 100 Mile Menu at the Raincity Grill. Chef de Cuisine Peter Robertson wanted to create a menu working with local products and, in 2006, created The 100 Mile Menu at Raincity. It’s sometimes tricky to have every ingredient on the menu grown within a 100-mile radius, but the results are awesome. Our dinner at Raincity Grill was most memorable. The 100 Mile Wine List (cheekily referred to as diet) featured some rare and unique wines from Vancouver Island selected by Brent himself.
One of the highlights of our meal were the Venturi Schulze Millefiore, a fragrant sparkling wine with elegant floral and grapefruit aromas made with Siegerrebe and Ortega grapes and served with a salad of smoked Langley trout and BC spot prawn, organic greens, sake emulsion.
The “show stopper” was a Venture Schulze No. 3 Brandenburg. After harvesting and pressing the grapes (predominantly Madeleine Sylvaner), the juice is gently simmered over an open fire to concentrate the natural sugar, acid and flavours, after which it is fermented with a special yeast from the property. The fermentation lasts a full year. The wine is then matured in new French oak. This sweet amber wine is named for the No.3 Brandenburg concerto. Its rich, earthy, smoky, caramel-coffee notes paired wonderfully with Grilled parsnip “red fife” pound cake poached apple, honey bavarois. Day two at the Vancouver International Boat definitely ended on a high note for the Galley Guys.
Saturday morning was just like Vancouver – raining, grayish and a little chilly for mid-February, but faithful of Vancouver, it turned out to look, smell and touch this show, produced by the BC Marine Trades Association and run by the National Marine Manufacturer’s Association of Canada. One aspect we enjoy about this show is getting to try a few of the BC wines that are ‘all but impossible’ to get outside of the province. We took it upon ourselves to look into this dilemma and ask the experts why this cruel injustice takes place. The afternoon was spent at the Taylorwood Wines store in Yaletown, the very hot and trendy restored area of downtown Vancouver. They stock wines from 60 BC VQA wineries and were most informative and knowledgeable about BC wines.
BC wines have come a long way in the past few years and there are many choices of styles and varietals, from both cool and hot growing areas. Smaller wineries are the rule, so when wines are released, many in small quantities of just a few 100 cases, they get snapped by restaurants and the many local wine enthusiasts. BC counts 136 grape wine wineries spread over five wine regions (designated viticultural areas) namely Okanogan, Similkameen (about 500 km from Vancouver), Fraser Valley (50 km south of Vancouver), Vancouver Island, and the Gulf Islands. In 2006, BC produced more than 12 million litres of wine, 48% white and 52% red. In 2007, 7,500 acres were planted. The region grows more than 60 different grape varietals. From cool climate grapes that are found in the Germanic countries and Burgundy to Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, and there are also a few hybrids like Marechal Foch and Bacchus that produce interesting wines.
On your next trip to BC for a charter or cruise, we highly recommend that you do your homework before leaving the dock. Take a trip to Taylorwood in Yaletown or Liberty Wine Merchants on Granville Island and spend some time at www.bcwine.com. You might also be interested in a sailing winery tour available through Cooper Boating that stops at five different wineries (boasting the opportunity for a future Galley Guys article).
Our trip to the wine store was very painful. Although we talk about BC wines, we did not get to taste them and there we were with parched palettes and a need to do more research.
Get thee to a cannery! The Cannery Seafood Restaurant has been a legend in Vancouver since 1971. It displays a collage of nautical artifacts and huge windows offering a spectacular view of the Burrard Inlet. Especially memorable for us was the lobster-based oil with balsamic vinegar for dipping on the homemade bread along with the fennel & BC octopus salad. The salmon Wellington, the house specialty, lived up to it’s reputation and the Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir complemented the dish superbly.
The Galley Guys made a special note to come back in the warmer season so they could tie up to the Cannery’s 140-foot dock and spend an afternoon and perhaps dinner enjoying West Coast cuisine on the waterfront.
As the Vancouver International Boat came to a close the Galley Guys were tired, but not hungry. The show is a great place to not only see all the new boats but also a great place and time to prepare for a summer of cruising in the Pacific Northwest and enjoying one of the greatest culinary centres anywhere!
By Greg Nicoll with Frank Leffelaar and Friends