It’s about time I got around to sharing my Vancouver trip with you!
It’s been so long since I’ve done a Travel Diary post and I must say I am SUPER excited to change things up a bit and not write a recipe post for once. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing all of my recipes with you! But it’s always refreshing to get into some different content every once in a while. I hope you don’t mind? Oh, and rest assured, there is plenty of food to talk about here, too!
I actually had to go to Vancouver for a work conference, so I didn’t have TOO much free time, but I did drag my newly-retired mom along and we managed to get into plenty of trouble (or at least eat at plenty of restaurants) in the small amount of leisure time that I had. Side note on that, it really was so great to have my mom along with me. We haven’t been on a trip with just the two of us for somewhere around five (maybe more?) years and, especially with this wedding of mine coming up, I really cherished our time together. Who knows how often we’ll have the chance to do that once I’m hitched?
But let’s get down to the nitty-gritty so I can tell you all about the fun things we did/ate/saw. Are you ready for this? Buckle up because it’s going to be a quick and crazy ride!
Where We Stayed:
The host hotel for my conference was The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. What a charming place! Although the lobby went through a renovation recently, the old-world charm of the hotel still shines through. I guess they don’t call it the “Castle in the City” for nothing! The staff was so warm and welcoming. The gentleman that checked us in took a good deal of time telling us about where we should eat, how we could get there, etc. And his job was just to check us in! This leads me to how unbelievably helpful the actual Concierge was as well. After our first visit with him he had dinner reservations for us at some of the best restaurants in the city for every night of our stay. Not to mention, the hotel is conveniently located in the heart of downtown and a short cab ride away from all of the charming little boroughs that make up Vancouver, B.C.
What We Ate:
Okay, in the interest of time, and so as not to completely lose your attention, I’m going to make this as short and sweet as possible. We ate so many amazing things on our trip that it’s a wonder I was still able to fit into my jeans when I got back. I’ll let the photos do as much talking as possible. Feast your eyes, folks.
Located in the borough of Yaletown, an upscale seafood restaurant whose dishes are just as impressive as their seafood towers. Not to mention highly knowledgeable staff and a Sommelier on the floor to assist you with all of your wine pairing needs.
Mixed Ceviche – I LOVED that they served this with crispy spiced chickpeas as opposed to something like tortilla or won ton chips. Definitely going to give this a try sometime at home!
Baked Bay Scallops with Parmesan Crust
Sablefish with Miso Sake Glaze, Baby Bok Choy, Edamame, Quinoa and Shiitake Mushrooms, Yuzu Dashi – I just have to say that this was probably THE favorite dish of the trip. And yes, that means I am going to try and recreate it someday. Stay tuned!
Warm Dark Chocolate Cake with Brandy Truffle Center, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
I must also mention their two delicious flavors of butter that were served with warm bread: red pepper and nori. I died. So good.
We stopped in at this happenin’ little spot more than a few times since it was in our hotel! I was quite impressed with their offerings (coming from the gal that works in the “big box” hotel biz herself) and so I felt that I MUST share them with you. It was a convenient spot for us, but I would recommend stopping in for at least a light bite and a drink if you’re ever in the area.
Tableside Cocktail of the Day – On Friday afternoons during Happy Hour, they have a bartender that wheels around a little cart with ingredients for a “Cocktail of the Day” that he mixes tableside. So fun!
Maple Hickory Old Fashioned
Earl Grey Blueberry Tea – Yes, this was a tea cocktail and yes, I have plans to recreate it.
Notch8 Poutine with Cheese Curds and Kennebec Fries – In case you don’t know, poutine is a classic “must-order” Canadian dish…French fries + gravy + cheese curds = amaze-balls.
Stout Pull Apart Bread with Whole-Grain Mustard and Comte Cheese – Let’s just add this to the list of things I’m going to try and make at home. Seriously, a savory pull apart bread? Music to my ears (er…mouth.)
AMAZING LOCAL WINE ALERT: So, this wasn’t technically a restaurant we ate at, but I had to mention it because it was YUMMY! And you know I love my wine. We got a great lesson in British Columbia Wine Country from the manager at the liquor store, and we seriously enjoyed the Painted Rock Syrah he recommended from the Okanagan Valley. Sadly, he said that the production of BC wine is so small, we’ll likely never see it widely distributed here in the U.S., but it was so fun to try their local goods. Guess I’ll have to plan a wine tasting trip up there someday!
This ultra-fine dining restaurant has been named Vancouver’s Restaurant of the Year. Conveniently, it was right across the street from our hotel and, conveniently, our Concierge was able to get us a seat there. Score!
Foie Gras Torchon with Green Apple, Pecan Crumble, Yogurt and Warm Brioche – I still have not gotten over the fact that (for a very short time) they outlawed foie gras in the U.S…I’m making up for lost time by ordering it whenever I see it on a menu now.
Parsnip and Vanilla Soup with Dungeness Crab, Hazelnut, Pickled Chanterelle and Brown Butter – They serve this “deconstructed,” with all of the toppings sitting in the bowl when they serve it while the waiter brings out a carafe of the soup and pours it tableside. What service! (And so delicious to boot! I need to try and pickle mushrooms.)
Parmesan Crusted Chicken with Red Kuri Squash, Potato Gnocchi, Cavolo Nero and Black Truffle – I know what you’re thinking: “Why order chicken at such a fine dining establishment?” Well, let me tell you, this dish was AMAZING. Far better than the fish I ordered.
Pan Roasted Sablefish with De Puy Lentils, Cauliflower and Crispy Chicken Skin Gremolata – see above.
Vanilla Bavarois with Raspberry and Meyer Lemon
I just have to say, this Public Market puts many of the ones I’ve been to here in the U.S. to shame! Think of S.F.’s Ferry Building but three times the size. I’m not kidding, it goes on forever! So much beautiful produce, representation from all corners of the world. I was in heaven! Definitely worth the five minute ferry ride (or 10 minute drive) if you’re ever in the area!
A French 75 Macaron from Bon Macaron Patisserie Ltd.
Blue Brie from Duso’s Italia
A Honey Dip Raised Donut from Lee’s Donuts
A Spinach, Tomato and Cheese Crepe from Muffin Granny de Paris Crepes
Local Goat Milk Brie from Benton Brothers Fine Cheese
Salted Caramel Apple Focaccia from Terra Breads
A hip (but small) Chinese/Vancouver-ized restaurant in Gastown. With inventive cocktails to boot!
Post Opium – Don’t worry, it’s a cocktail, not a drug! And it’s very good. This is one of those places you just have to order something that you know has a few ingredients you like, and just trust that the rest of what’s involved will make it taste amazing.
Lobster and Shrimp Dumplings with Chipotle Mango Mayo and Cilantro Pesto
Smoked Cauliflower with Arborio Rice, Mushroom X.O. and Nori Peanuts – Add the scallops. You won’t be sorry.
House Made Gnocchi with Woodland Mushrooms, Chicken Broth and Shaved Parmesan
The number-one recommended breakfast spot that our Concierge recommended we hit early Monday morning so as not to find a line wrapping out the door and around the corner. We were seated right away and the food was so creative, and tasty!
Milk Chocolate-Lavender Mocha – They have so many amazing-looking cocktails on the menu here but I opted for the mocha instead. All I can say is “Yum!” So glad I went that route.
Dark Chocolate Mocha – My mom went for more of a classic espresso drink, but hers was super-tasty as well!
Liege-Style Waffle with Passion Fruit Topping – Are you hating me yet for saying I want to try and recreate just about everything we ate in Vancouver? Well, you can add this to the list! So chewy and comforting and delicious.
“La Sante” – Soft Boiled Egg, Marinated Tomato Salad, Olive Tapenade, Avocado, Oyama Charcuterie (local charcuterie company alert!) with Grilled Ciabatta – Served in a “build your own breakfast” style. What a cute concept!
Le Sandwich Peameal – House Cured Peameal Bacon, Over Medium Egg, Cabbage & Medina Pickle Slaw, Tomato Jam & Seasonal Greens – Served open-faced. Must eat with a knife and fork but the balance of flavors is on point!
What Else We Did (Besides Eat):
Shopped. A lot. It was a bit dangerous that in close proximity to our hotel were both (a) Lululemon – we’re talking flagship store status…Did you know Vancouver is where Lululemon began? And (b) one of the largest Victoria’s Secret stores in North America. We of course also had to check out the local outdoor outfitter, Roots (think Canada’s version of Patagonia) and the humongous Nordstrom’s that happened to have a bar in the middle of the women’s section. Dangerous!
Stanley Park – Don’t worry, we fit in some (non-food related) sightseeing as well. On our last morning in Vancouver (since I wasn’t in conference that day) we took a cab out to the park, which, did you know, is larger than NYC’s Central Park? Our ambition was to hit the museum, but we got there before it opened and then got sidetracked taking in all of the sights. And the totem poles! Did you know that these crazy-looking totem poles are Vancouver’s most visited tourist attraction? I have to admit it is quite impressive to see so many in one place. With such a gorgeous backdrop of the city!
Even though it was a short one, this first trip of mine to Vancouver was packed full of great experiences, delicious food and also so many learning opportunities. It was also so great getting to spend some quality one-on-one time with my mom. This little introduction to the city provided me with the perfect foundation to make a return trip, explore even more and, most importantly, enjoy more delicious food and drink!
Have any of my readers out there spent some time in Vancouver? What did I miss? I’m already taking suggestions for my next trip! XO
And if you want to check out more of my travels, check out some of my past Travel Diaries!
Travel Diaries: Leavenworth & Seattle, WA
Travel Diaries: Yosemite
Travel Diaries: Oahu
Travel Diaries: Napa
Travel Diaries: Colorado