Saying that I'm busy as of late would be somewhat of an understatement. When I got an invite to attend EAT! Vancouver this year, I initially hesitated. That particular weekend looked totally booked up. Trying to figure out how to possibly fit it in, I found a small amount of time on the opening day. Problem being was that it was also the night of the Canucks game and I actually had a game myself. I tried to get out of it; but in the end, we had no other goalie for the league game. So crammed in between getting off work and my own hockey game, I made my way into Downtown. Yah, that was somewhat of an adventure since everyone was heading Downtown to watch the game. I briefly thought of Skytraining it in; but with the large mass of people I bit the bullet and paid the $14.00 to park at the new Convention Centre.
I quickly took a look at the many displays and there were so many, I didn't have enough time to see them all. Hence, I went straight for the Bite of Vancouver. There were much more participants this year. Moreover, it was nice to see a good diversity too. I remember 2 years ago, there were like 4 Indian restaurants (I love Indian food, but that's too many). I immediately headed over to a familiar face in chef Dan Craig of EBO Restaurant. It is no secret that I love their Tuna, so it was easily my first choice. And like everytime I've had it, the tuna was perfectly rare in the middle with a crunchy panko crust. Saltiness from the Serrano ham, a fresh crispness from the asparagus and smooth avocado puree make it a multi-dimensional dish. Then over to another favourite of mine, Crave and their Chunky Halibut, Shrimp and Corn Chowder. I didn't find it a chowder in terms of the broth. It was creamy while not being thick. However, it was certainly chunky with good sized pieces of halibut. The chowder was predominantly sweet due to the seafood and corn.
From that, it was onto something much more substantial in the Gramercy Grill and their Blue Cheese Macaroni plus Meatball. The macaroni was very creamy. There was a good amount of blue cheese; but I didn't get a whole lot of sharpness. That is probably due to them holding back since blue cheese is quite strong and pungent. I don't blame them, they must appeal to the masses. The meatball was large and substantial. It was very meaty with not a whole lot of filler. The meat was moist in the middle while still holding together throughout. The accompanying tomato sauce was light and only served to help keep the meatball moist. It wasn't particularly tart, sweet nor savoury. It was fresh tasting though. This was however one of the better deals since it was so substantial and filling.
From the heaviness of that mac n cheese plus meatball, I went back to Tuna from Fishworks from North Van. Somewhat similar to EBO, the Tuna Tataki featured rare Albacore tuna with mango puree, avocado puree and yuzu. As evidenced from the picture, the tuna was cooked up pretty much perfectly. It rested on a bed of mango puree and avocado puree. The key here was the mango. It added a necessary level of sweetness and a bit of tang. A very refreshing dish before I went for the heaviest of all from another one of my favourites - Mochikas. And this heavy item was the Chicharron Sandwich consisting of a crispy mini bun with layers of deep fried sweet potatoes, slices of chicharron, Salsa Criolla, and Mochikas hot sauce. What makes this sandwich is the beautifully roasted pork belly. It wass totally sinful where it practically melts in your mouth. The fat combined with the sweet potatoes and crunchy onions make it a "wow" item.
By now, I really needed to leave. On my way out, I stopped in my tracks because Tourist Office of Spain was featuring Jamon Serrano (as corrected by a wonderful Anonymous "perfect" commenter with wonderful sarcasm...) . Sliced from the leg itself, this was quite neat. Too bad I was so rushed; but it was nice to see a show dedicated to food. I missed the cooking competition, celebrity chefs, seminars and the beer garden. One really needs to be there many hours to experience it all. Maybe next year I can take my time.