Saturday, June 18, 2011

We Go to Eat! Vancouver

Last weekend Kevin and I took off to Eat Vancouver, a fun food and culinary festival at the Convention Center right in downtown Vancouver. Neither of us had gone before, but we thought it would be loads of fun to check out.

The day started off on a weird note; as we sat in the car in line for the ferry, a small child in the car next to us whipped open their door and smacked the back end of my car. The door was opened with such force that it actually made our car shake. Hubs was out of the car talking to the parents, who were really apologetic, and we exchanged driver information for insurance purposes. My car now has a dent in it.

The parents were really, really apologetic and we assured them that things happen, little kids do stuff that we can't control, and not to worry-insurance will take care of it. Little did we know at the time, the other driver didn't have insurance. Once we arrived home and I called our insurance provider, they told us that the other driver bought insurance a few hours after the fact. Eeep!

The rest of the day went without a hitch. Kevin and I were smart enough to arrive very early, so we had lots of time to walk around and look at the sights by the Convention Center since we had never been there before.

Vancouver Convention Center

Those huge egg like things were art inside the building, titled "Floats". We thought they looked really interesting. Kevin was most excited about the whale and kept saying it was Minecraft, which made me giggle. For the first time we had a close up look at the Olympic Cauldron, which is actually really interesting-the whole outside looks like frosted glass.

Since we were early, we had loads of time to look through the whole Expo hall at the exhibits before the masses arrived. Good thing too, because each vendor had samples! It was like visiting Costco for lunch, although this was sample heaven. We wandered through the building, talking to such great companies as Camino, Stonyfield Farm, Kitchen Basics, Windset farms, Bosa, Nature's Choice, Maple Delights, Honey Bunny, and My Garden Footprint.

Eat Vancouver

At Bosa foods we saw the biggest wheel of Parmesan cheese ever, another company was doing veggie art with ceramic knives, and we sat through a cheese tasting seminar with the Dairy Farmer's of Canada. Camino was obviously my favorite booth as we sampled all the juices, then tried out their bars and chatted with Jennifer from @caminolala on Twitter. There were other chocolate vendors in the building, but Camino was our hands down favorite. The chocolate is SO good. Also, did you know that the farmers who produce it grow the cacao bushes with the fruit trees for the juices, so the trees provide the shade for the cacao bushes, AND it gives the farmer a better cash crop? I think that's so cool. Jennifer kindly gave us a mint bar to sample and we broke it apart, devouring it greedily, as soon as we were home. I think it would be so yummy if you pressed a square into the top of brownie bites. The juices are also really, really tasty.

Despite the bazillion samples we ate that included things like specialty cheeses, sausage, bbq sauces, honey, chocolate, and more, around lunch time we were hungry so we headed over to the Bite of Vancouver, where local restaurants had small servings of some of their popular items that you could buy with tickets. The first thing we decided to try was this drink with dry ice in it, which looked like something from a Halloween party.

Care for a Drink?

Then my son, being the ever adventurous boy he is, found raw oysters.

For the Love of Raw Oysters

He brought it back to our table, eyes shining.

"Mom, you have to try one!"

"Uh, no thanks, I'm good." I've had raw oysters before, not entirely on purpose. We were in Australia on our honeymoon, the restaurant was dark, and I didn't realize what I was eating until I'd already downed a few. Then I was a bit revolted. Cooked oysters, no problem. Raw kind of turns my stomach. Unable to convince me, he slurped that baby back like a pro and smacked his lips.

"Mmm, salty. Good. I want another one."

He ate THREE.

Loaded down with what felt like a bazillion samples and cute basket of fresh mint that I had won from My Garden, we made our way through the crowd chatting with vendors, sampling, and looking at cool products. It really was fun to meet the faces behind some of our favorite local brands. There was a celebrity chef stage, but Kevin wasn't that interested. When I asked, he simply shrugged and said that it wasn't Jamie Oliver or Michael Smith, so he wasn't interested.

I think I've created a monster. Oysters and chef preferences? Oy!

Or last stop was at the Boylan booth. While we don't drink a lot of soda, every now and then we like a really good specialty soda, and Boylan or Stewarts are our favorite brands. Kevin selected 4 to take home and carefully carted them through the crowd.

Boylan Sodas

At the end of the day, we retreated from the crowds to a quiet spot and sat looking over the harbor with bowls of icy gelato.

"Mom, this was so much fun," Kevin mused as he licked his spoon. "Can we do Eat! Fraser Valley too?"

I have totally created a monster.

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