DINE OUT VANCOUVER FESTIVAL
I confess. I'm a foodie. And it's no secret that Metro Vancouver is a globally-acclaimed cuisine machine. So, every January, when Dine Out Vancouver Festival comes to town, you can count me in-along with my husband. He's a big fan of this palate pleaser too!
The seventeen-day flavour-filled event, put on by Tourism Vancouver, is the largest of its kind in Canada. Over two hundred participating restaurants offer menu selections for a prix fixe cost, many pairing their bounty with local wines and microbrews.
We could try Pasta at Al Porto's in Gastown, spicy Rendang beef at any of the five Banana Leafs, aboriginal fare at Salmon n' Bannock Bistro on Broadway-the eateries for this gastronomical grazer span from West Van to White Rock and promise a sure-fire cure for any hunger pangs.
In addition to fueling our bellies, we can nourish our brains. Special events are featured daily that add a little education to the epicurean experience. We can learn about BC's exploding wine industry while sipping signature selections, enjoy fine dining and fine arts in restaurants that pair up with performers, or go to one of the many multi-course menus that are dished up by award-winning chefs.
"Let's combine it with a sleepover," Brent suggests. "There's a list of participating hotels offering package deals." Accommodations range from wallet pleasers to chic retreats and we decide to live it up with a little luxury at the legendary Wedgewood, a boutique hotel adjacent to Robson Square.
This posh property is the brainchild of Eleni Skalbania, a successful hotelier who opened Wedgewood's doors back in 1984. By teaming up with her sister, Joanna Tsaparas-Piche, daughter, Elpie Marinakis Jackson, and General Manager, Philip Meyer, it continues to be the recipient of blue ribbon accolades. It's also a long-standing member of the Relais & Chateau, a prestigious collection that represents the finest hotels in the world -pretty much says it all.
We're ushered into a fireside lobby that showcases a collection of fine antiques, original art and floral bouquets. This attention to detail extends to all eighty-three rooms and chi-chi suites, one which becomes our getaway haven for the night.
We chill out in thirsty robes, cuddle on a cozy settee and soothe in the deep soaker tub. And before heading out to wine and dine, I go for the ultimate, an hour-long classic facial at Wedgewood's award-winning spa. It's a signature treatment that extends well beyond my jaw line. From my scalp and shoulders to my fingers and toes, aesthetician Annie magically massages and releases every gnarled knot and ounce of tension. And after exfoliating, extracting, cleansing and masking my aging pores, I emerge aglow, ready to put my best face forward.
"Let's whet our appetites at a street cart or two," Brent suggests. "Street Food City is in full cook-mode." Aromas waft from a dozen sizzling grills in the plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Pig On the Street, Holy Perogy, Pazza Rella Pizza -most of these popular nosh vans bear a catchy name that depicts their cuisine.
We fill up on Soho Road's butter chicken, wash it down with a strawberry smoothie from The Juice Truck, then eventually waddle off to Granville Island and Edible Canada. For this trendy bistro it's all about home-grown goodness. As well as hosting gourmet kayaking weekends and chef-guided tours, they offer a ten-part Dine Out series. The combo of spirits and specialties changes daily, as do the educational speakers.
"It's time for the grand finale," Brent says, knowing full well that we've made a reservation back at Wedgewood's Bacchus Restaurant. "It's one of Vancouver's finest!"
He's right. For a number of years this upscale diner and convivial bar has gained huge acclaim. Our meals begin with Woodland velouté, a mouth-watering blend of Portobello and chanterelle mushrooms, and an iceberg wedge exquisitely drizzled with tangy blue cheese. Exceptional entrees follow -for me it's the wild salmon, topped with artichokes and risotto. Brent goes for the beef -a succulent New York strip sidled by roasted veggies.
The next morning, after Bacchus Eggs Benny, we stroll away from this eating extravaganza feeling totally suffonsified. Dine Out Vancouver Festival has been a great way to celebrate our city-a perfect blend of textures, menus and tastes. It's also guaranteed to satisfy any taste buds-from the most discerning gourmand to indiscriminate foodies like myself.
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IF YOU GO:
Dine Out Vancouver www.dineoutvancouver.com
PHOTOS by Brent Cassie
1 Lobby areas showcase a collection of fine antiques, and original art
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