Monday, June 24, 2013

Food nostalgia

My passion for good food and drink is well known. There is a cultural history here that goes way back to my days growing up in Holland. Northern Europe's food culture is quite a bit different from what I experience in North America. Take beer for example. Did you know that back in northern Europe, most beer comes in a specific glass designed especially for that beer? Last week I was a Chambar, a Belgian restaurant. I remember this place, when I caught wind of it opening, promising authentic fries and a selection of imported Belgian beers, I was excited. I called them while they were still under construction asking when they would be open. This was about 6 years ago and I have been there many times since. Anyway, when you order beer there, it comes in a specific glass.

There are reasons for this, the shape of the glass is important for example. Heady beers will need a wide glass for the aroma to be strongest, some lighter lagers need a narrow glass to contain the stronger carbonation and resulting foam. The glass also serves as a branding exercise and it adds a nice touch to the experience.

Connie and I have a long history of date nights, most of them involving restaurants. West has been one of our favorites for a long time now, it has been around as long as we have been in Vancouver and given it's proximity to our home and consistent high quality, we have been there many times. I have very fond memories of this place, we celebrated our 10 year anniversary there, the chef (David Hawksworth at the time) made a custom tasting menu for us. I remember walking in, they sat us down, handed us two glasses of champagne and the food started coming. It was a magical experience. Then there was the time when I went one evening with a friend and we had the tasting menu. The next day I had unexpected visitors at work and they wanted to go out for dinner in the evening. This was back in the heydays of expense accounts so we went to West. We had the tasting menu again, the server recognized me and since I had the same menu the night before, they made me completely different dishes, improvised on the spot. It was brilliant.

The bar at West, a cocktail laboratory
One other favorite date night was dinner at En, a very interesting Japanese restaurant that serves classic Japanese dishes with a modern twist. They used to be located on South Granville. Our evening out would be to have dinner there, then head over to West for cocktails and desserts at the bar. We celebrated our recent anniversary with Kai at Darrin and Alexia's for a sleepover and decided to recreate one of these classic evenings. We drove out to En (they moved to West 10th close to UBC) for a lovely Japanese meal. Their menu hasn't changed much which in this case was a good thing since we had some of the same things we used to have. We then went to West to sit at the bar for desserts and cocktails. I had an absolutely delicious drink made with fresh espresso, dark rum, caramel and vanilla.

The Shakerato. Delicious.

Connie's rice pudding with boozy cherries and white chocolate mousse

Chocolate cake, mocha ice cream with rolled up chocolate crepes
Such indulgence. Needless to say we had a great evening.

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