My mom, from Thai Creations, spent some time at the EAT! Vancouver Food & Cooking Festival over the weekend and had a really great experience. There were over 250 booths of exhibitors set up at BC Place Stadium, offering everything from free samples, products you could buy, demonstrations and cooking classes. The variety of sponsors and exhibitors ranged from health and gluten-free options to spice and dip stations (Epicure, Vancouver Olive Oil Company), to Switzerland Cheese Marketing, to big name brands, like Bosa Foods and Urban Fare. There was something for everyone; they really put on a great show.
The fan favorite, however, was the Restaurant Pavilion, where you could sample appetizer portions of local Chef creations from restaurants all over the lower mainland. The servings ranged from $1 – $4, and were prepared and served right in front of you, food-truck style. Attendees could also quench their thirst in the Tasting Pavilion, where there were dozens of booths set up sampling wine, beer, spirits – they even had a Mott’s Caesar Booth and served Singha (Thai beer) samples! If you’ve never tried Singha, you must – it’s available in select liquor stores and is the perfect refreshment to a hot day, especially when at the beach. 😛
It was quite busy on Friday night, so they weren’t able to get into any of the free demonstrations (there was a really great wine and cheese pairing session, with 5 types of cheeses and 5 types of wine), but there were many other spectator events all over BC Place Stadium. The Food Network hosted a “Celebrity Chef Throwdown” between Rob Feenie, Anna Olson and Trevor Bird – the three Chefs had 20 minutes to create a seasonal entree, using a secret ingredient (Ninja Ginger Beer from Granville Island Brewing) provided right before the timer started. It was pretty fun to watch, with Rob Feenie being declared the winner.
The Glowbal Group had a booth set up in the Bites of Vancouver Restaurant Pavilion, where they were sampling some great meatballs and even better Clam Chowder, served in tiny breadbowls. Both options were decent sizes and served fresh and hot. The Clam Chowder was thick and creamy, which quite a few clams in each mini serving, and tasted perfect in the sourdough bowl. There were actually dozens of samplers who went back for a second helping!
Next up was Ebo Restaurant which is an Asian-fusion restaurant located in Burnaby. They had a number of great appetizer-sized portions, and my mom picked the lamb slider. They were served on these adorable little bamboo boats with a greek tzatziki sauce and spinach leaves, and were tender, juice and delicious.
NoodleBox was up next, and they were offering two selections: a spicy peanut (vegan and gluten-free) noodlebox, and a shrimp lettuce wrap. My mom tried both options – the lettuce wraps were filled with shrimp, cabbage and lettuce, lots of cilantro and carrots, and were crisp, saucy and very spicy – definitely something she would order again from the restaurant. The noodlebox was filled with bean sprouts, peppers and other veggies, sauteed in a creamy spicy peanut sauce. Shrimp or chicken would have gone great with this sauce.
The small portions were suprisingly filling, but my mom made a few more stops – once at the Switzerland Cheese House, for some freshly bubbled raclette cheese on a baguette slice. Apparently, you could smell this cheese melting through the entire stadium!
The Tacofino booth was the last dinner stop in the Bites of Vancouver Restaurant Pavilion, where she ordered the Beef Tartare Taco. It was served in a mini taco shell, which are apparently made fresh by a bakery in Burnaby, specifically for Tacofino, on a daily basis. The beef tartare was ground up and served with a freshmade pico de gallo and some lettuce.
Finally, she had to finish up with dessert: BeaverTails Pastry had the longest line up in the stadium, and it was easy to see why. Freshmade whole-wheat pastries were served up with your choice of topping – chocolate, peanut butter, M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces, Bananas, Hazelnut Spread, etc.. Mom settled for the Coco Vanil’, which was one of the BeaverTail pastries smothered in vanilla icing, oreo cookie crumbles and then drizzled with chocolate. Messy, gooey and delicious, I only wish I had been there to have a taste!
Overall it was a great experience, and my mom walked away with a full stomach and a bag of samples, coupons, recipes and some great Matt & Steve’s Caesar Rimmer! This is an annual event, so if you haven’t been before, or are looking for some great tastes and food ideas, make sure you get your tickets for 2014!