Sherman's Food Adventures: Talking Trees Tours + 3-Course Indigenous Inspired Dinner (Collaboration between Talaysay Tours and the Fairmont Waterfront)

Talking Trees Tours + 3-Course Indigenous Inspired Dinner (Collaboration between Talaysay Tours and the Fairmont Waterfront)

If a first-time visitor to Vancouver asks you where should they stay and what should they do, there are some pretty standard answers. If we talk about activities, we get the usual Capilano Suspension Bridge, Science World, Grouse Mountain, Granville Island and of course Stanley Park. Now if one wanted a more unique and truly local experience, many of these would be classified as "touristy". However, I recently participated in something a bit different with the Talking Trees Tour by Talaysay Tours. They have partnered up with the Fairmont Waterfront to provide a complete experience including a stay at the hotel and a 4-course dinner inspired by the Tour.

Let’s talk about the tour first. It is run by Talaysay Tours by mother and daughter team Candace and Talaysay (it is named after her). The Talking Trees tour focuses on the indigenous foliage in the area (in this case Stanley Park) and their many uses by the indigenous peoples. This is only one of the tours that are available. Back to the Talking Trees Tour, we were shuttled by the hotel to meet up with Candance and Talaysay in the Stanley Park train parking lot. From there, we made the short walk to one of the trails. For roughly 90 minutes, we were taught how various trees and plants were used not only for medicinal purposes, but how were used for food and building materials. This was a low impact walk with many stops and also hot tea near the end.

After being shuttled back to the hotel, we had some time to refresh before heading down to The Arc restaurant for a 4-course dinner consisting of local ingredients and items found on the Talking Trees Tour. We started off with an Amuse Bouche consisting of an Oyster with herring roe, kelp and hemlock & eucalyptus emulsion. This was a simple bite that was briny and sweet with a background herbal essence. Next, we were presented with the Elk Tartare with elderberries, blackberries and hazelnuts with a side of bone marrow sabayon. As lean as the elk tartare can be, this one was still buttery soft and tender. The bone marrow sabayon added the necessary fat to create body and add a meaty flavour. Loved the little pops of sweet tangy berries as it added sweetness and acidity. Normally, I don’t talk about flatbreads very often, but the one here was perfect, being fluffy and soft with a firm exterior char.

Onto the main dish, we had the West Coast Salmon Kedgeree with wild rice, 63 degree egg and madras curry veloute. It was suggested we mix everything together including the salmon. So we mashed everything up into a dirty rice of sorts and yes, it was very good. Loved the firm chewy rice and the tender flaky salmon along with the silkiness of the egg and aromatic creaminess of the veloute. There was just enough curry for aroma without overwhelming the salmon.  For dessert, we were served Fry Bread (Bannock) with berries and dark chocolate mousse.  Coated in cinnamon sugar, this was a crunchier and chewier version of a churro.  Naturally, the blueberries was a nice add to the dessert while the chocolate mousse was light, creamy and semi-sweet.

Another great thing about the Talking Trees package is that it includes a one-night stay at the luxurious Fairmont Waterfront starting from $514.00 based on double occupancy. We were put up in a Signature Harbor Stanley Park View Room with a fabulous view of the Stanley Park and the North Shore.  Tastefully appointed with plenty of space, the room featured a 47" flat-screen TV and a comfortable Sealy Posturepedic king bed (2 doubles available too).  Our bathroom came with a large rain shower, but could be had with a bathtub as well.  Toiletries were Le Lebo Fragrances branded under the Rose 31 line.  They were a large 90ml size and I barely put a dent into them for one night.  Soap bars were plenty big as well.  Yes, they did not skimp on anything.

Probably the best feature of this 20th floor room was the outstanding view.  I caught myself just staring out the window on many occasions.  However, with its convenient location across the street from Canada Place, there was no reason to just sit in our room (despite the cold weather).  Even then, the heated outdoor pool was beautiful (with also a view of the harbour) and warm enough to use.  But in reality, a quick dip into the adjacent hot tub kept things from getting too frigid.  Overall, I thought the Talking Trees package was original and well-priced.  Starting at $514.00CAD (Fairmont City View Queen), you not only get a stay at the hotel, it includes a 3-course (4-courses with the amuse bouche), walking tour and transportation to and from Stanley Park for 2. Worth checking out if you are a visitor to the city or live in the city itself.

*All food, beverages, tour and hotel stay were complimentary*

The Good:
- An experience that is original and truly local (not too touristy)
- Well-priced inclusive package
- Thoughtful indigenous-inspired dinner

The Bad:
- If you have a car to park (other than electric), it will cost you $49.00

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