Sherman's Food Adventures: EAT! Vancouver 2009

EAT! Vancouver 2009

Honestly, I really wasn't planning to attend EAT! Vancouver this year. I am not a big fan of crowds, lineups and noise. However, seeing that Kevin had written up a nice post about it, I decided to go. Moreover, it seemed like everyone was going - was it foodie peer pressure??? Actually I was quite famished since I really didn't eat lunch and had just finished playing hockey. I guess it was a good thing to go somewhere that was solely based on everything food.

Viv and I were lucky to get a parking spot right on Expo Blvd and we took in the nice weather as we strolled up to BC Place. Upon entering, we were overwhelmed by smoke. Naturally, we knew it was from one of the vendors cooking food. Later, we found out it was the Izakaya booth (there was lots of smoke coming from them!), and a really long lineup waiting for their food. As I mentioned, I hate lineups and didn't bother with them. The first thing we did see was the mushroom scones from the All Seasons Mushrooms booth. I've never had mushroom scones; but they were really yummy. A nice "earthy" taste to them. Pushing our way through the crowds, we ended up in front of Ace Curries. They specialize in prepackaged curry mixes that can easily be prepared at home. I tried both of their samples (Butter Chicken and Channa Masala) and I was impressed with the taste and consistency of the sauces. Compared to another exhibit, Gourmantra, Ace Curries was definitely better. The sauces at Gourmantra were watery and bland.

One booth that attracted my attention was Boylan beverages. They had unique naturally flavoured and cane sugar sweetened soft drinks. I tried the ginger ale and it was very good. The use of natural ginger really gave it a kick. Further up ahead, we spotted a really nice display of oils. Turns out, it was John Spenger's of Napa Valley Bistro Blends. We tried a few of the offerings and we came away very impressed. The ones that stood out were Truffle Oil, 18-Year Old Raspberry Balsamic, Garlic Parmesan and Chardonnay & Roasted Garlic Marinade. I particularly loved the 18-year old raspberry. It was so rich and sweet, I can see why people drizzle it on ice cream. We were actually intending to buy some of the oils; however, we got sidetracked. We later found out you can order them from the Internet.

Wandering further into the crowds, we spotted some smoked rockfish on a cold platter. The fish was delicious. It was sweet and smoky with a bit of chewiness to it. I can definitely see this on a bagel with cream cheese in place of smoked salmon. The rockfish is produced by a local company - Ocean Amber. Now onto the Consulate General of Indonesia, which apparently was Kevin's and Kim's favourite exhibit for a variety of reasons. They were serving Nasi Tumpeng which is essentially a cone of rice served with various dishes. Today, it consisted of a chicken wing, a liver & potato curry, egg and veggies. The dish looked much better than it tasted. It wasn't bad, but due to the circumstances, it was cold and mostly bland. I'm sure in a more ideal situation, it would be much better. It was quite comical with our order because the girl forming the cone of rice did an epic fail when the cone came out halfway and collapsed on the plate. Fortunately the second time it worked well. However, that must be a tough gig since it looks like a lot of effort for each rice cone. Imagine that for the entire day!

Seeing that we were still a bit hungry, we picked up a few sheets of tickets and tried some of the Bite exhibitors. While I getting more tickets, Viv got some prawns with sweet chili sauce and a mango drink from Aththi. The prawns were pretty good and the mango drink was refreshing. After that, we headed over to the Dona Cata booth and grabbed a couple of tacos. One was pulled pork and the other chicken. I was squeezing hot sauce on the tacos and it seemed to jam on some seeds. As I was still squeezing, Viv pulled the plate away. Yes, that's when the bottle became unclogged. Well, at least the carpet was the same colour as the sauce. I really liked the tacos, the meat was tender and the flour tortillas were soft. I can only imagine how good they would be at the actual restaurant.

We used nearly the rest of the tickets at Jamaican Jerk. These guys were a hoot. Very friendly and working the crowd. I was only going to get a Jamaican beef patty; but somehow came out of it with a Jamaican deep dish pizza. It was certainly interesting. I think it would be best that I sampled a full size one to make a better judgement of the food. After we briskly ate the food (there were very few places to sit), we headed back to Aquastar to try some of the food. The Aquastar booth was actually promoting sustainable seafood. Yet, they seemed to have wonderful looking food too. They had seafood curries, fried prawns and whole King Crab legs. We passed on the crab legs because it seemed difficult to eat under the prevailing conditions. We opted for the vermicelli wrapped fried prawns. These babies were awesome. The fried noodle gave a really nice crunch on the outside of the prawn.

By then we were getting a bit tired of all the lineups and people, so we tried to see what we could get for our 4 remaining tickets. Apparently there was very little choice except for the Japanese Izakaya or the kebabs at Ashaiana. Seeing that there was a 30 minute lineup at the Izakaya, we headed over to Ashaiana. We ended up choosing one pork and one chicken kebab. However, looking at the picture, why was one of them a drumstick? Either they gave us the wrong one or the chicken drumstick was a kebab??? Anyways, the pork one was very tender and packed with onions. The chicken drumstick was a bit overdone; but it did have lots of flavour.

There were many more booths that we missed, including the wine exhibits. We just didn't feel like staying for that. Again, I really didn't want to go in the first place; however, it was not too bad, overall we had a good time. But I can't get over the fact that it resembled the PNE Showmart in many ways, complete with the Sham-Wow booth. One minor gripe were the goodie bags they handed out at the entrance. They were black and if you held onto them long enough, they turned your hand black as well. Viv didn't like that since she was holding the bags. She was also quite miffed at having to carry such a heavy bag with a Mott's Clamato in it. She really doesn't like Mott's Clamato. Lastly, there was this lady trying to sell me some biscotti by trying to trick me. She asked if I wanted to "try" them. I said sure, she replied "8 dollars". I said I wanted to try them, not buy them. She replied "oh we don't have any samples". This definitely reminded me of the PNE Showmart!

The Good:
- Lots to see, lots to do
- Lots of samples
- Some interesting products

The Bad:
- Lots of people
- Lots of lineups
- Looks and feels like the PNE Showmart

EAT! Vancouver
BC Place Stadium


604foodtography said...

Foodie peer pressure....that's almost laughable! More like, oh no, I'm missing out on a potential blog post!!

Haha, my favorite booth....mmm hmm. When I went back after the Lambic Beer Tasting, they were gone. :(

A note about Dona Cata, they were charging $4 for 2 tacos, right?

It's actually $2 for 2 at the restaurant, but the reason why it's more expensive is probably because they have to pay the exhibitor fees, which I totally understand.

I didn't look through my swag bag till I was on the bus home, and realized it was the damn Clamato that was making it heavy....and a lot of brochures/pamphlets I picked up.

Sherman said...

Yes, the tacos were not cheap. But I totally understand why. I actually had a good time. I guess I was being lazy at first not wanting to go. Thanks for giving me "pressure". LOL...

KimHo said...

Peer pressure? In my case, it would be a yes and no at the same time. It certainly wouldn't have made any difference if I made it or not, as I have been there previously. I guess is the matter if I would end-up posting something or not.

At Doña Cata, if memory serves me right, it was 4 tickets per taco, which would equate to $2/taco. They sell it at the same price at the restaurant (according to their site). I would say most prices were borderline reasonable but not outright expensive. For example, I had shots of ice cider for a ticket! As for the Clamato, just drink it...

However, I wrote my post so for next year, no EAT! Vancouver for me... (So, who is going to Taste of the City later in June? :D)

Sherman said...

Yes, I think you are right, 4 tix for the tacos. Can I give you the Clamato? I don't like it either. Oh, you don't have to peer pressure me into going to the Taste. I'll be there! Let's all go together and scare people with our cameras!