Another year and another version of EAT Vancouver! at BC Place is upon us. I've been attending consistently over the past few years where more recently, it has been part of the media preview. This year, it was a bit different as we had a tour of a few featured vendors. After that, we had free reign with the many booths proudly showing their wares and/or serving some little bites and samples. Of course there is the adults-only "Sips" area with samples of beer, wines and spirits. Probably the main attraction are the shows including a host of celebrity chefs including Rob Feenie, Chuck Hughes, Lynn Crawford, Vikram Vij and Ned Bell.
One of the first things we visited was a section dedicated to vendors associated with the Hawker's Market. We were able to sample some some items from Wonton Girl including the Beef Wonton and Yam & Cauliflower with a soy drizzle. These were fried until crispy while not greasy. I found the beef filling to be moist with light hits of sesame oil and cilantro. With the yam & cauliflower, I thought it was pleasantly smooth and sweet with the nice accent of chives. Right next door, I had something that was quite interesting in the Vegan Coconut Bacon from Sailin' On. Shaved and toasted, the coconut took on a buttery sweetness. They reminded me of these Chinese coconut candies in terms of overall flavour. Not really a "bacon" substitute, but good on its own.
Bosa Foods had an elaborate display highlighting many of the products they offer at their store. For me, the one thing that caught my fancy was the Truffle Salami. Freshly shaved, these were buttery from the fat and slightly salty with the strong aroma of black truffle. I didn't get to try any of their other items which included tomato & bocconcini and goat cheese with red pepper jelly. Nearby, there was an interesting booth called D-Way Ramen (which was really D-Way Foods). They were serving up fresh ramen with boxed broth. I tried their Pork Shio Broth and it was pretty decent for a pre-prepared product. It was flavourful with a good saltiness except lacking in a bit of texture and depth. I inquired about where I would buy some and they really couldn't come up with an answer for me.
Off to the "Bites" section, it was a bit troubling to see only 6 vendors. In fact, many were not setup, but in all, there would be only 10. I did get to sample Dunn's and their famous Montreal Smoked Meat. These slabs of brisket are smoked in Quebec and shipped over to BC where they are steamed for 3 hours and served to hungry diners. Not much to say other than "yum". There was an option to try Max's right next door as they were offering Halo Halo and Pancit Pabalok, but I was actually not that hungry. Instead, I sauntered over to an interesting booth, The Lo Gourmet Bao, manned by 2 fun-loving guys. With a name like that, it was no surprise to find mantou filled with beef. Normally, they would have other fillings, but this was the best way to serve it at EAT.
Lastly, I headed over to "Sips" for some beverages. After putting down 2 tickets as a "deposit" for my glass, I was immediately drawn to Jaw Drop Cooler Co. due to their colourful display (and also the fact someone was drinking it and I was curious). I went for the Sucking Lemons and it was refreshing and not overly strong nor sweet. Hence, once could easily down many of these in one sitting. Right next door, I sampled the Amber Ale from Yukon Brewery. This was really good with a hoppy presence with a nice smooth finish. There was much more to try, but I had to drive (I'm so responsible...). This was a fairly well-represented section as well as the main vendors. All-in-all, EAT! Vancouver 2014 is pretty much the same as before. However, the Bites section was not as big as the previous year.