Yesterday I attended the EAT! Vancouver festival that is going on this weekend in BC Place. While I wasn’t thrilled with my experience last year, I wanted to give it another shot and experience more aspects of the festival this year. The rest of my review will be broken up by different featured areas of the event.
Bites of Vancouver:
They have a section of the event called Bites of Vancouver, where local restaurants have a few bite size feature dishes and you exchange tickets for them. Tickets can be purchased for $5 for 10 or $10 for 20. This year I was happy to see that they got some new and interesting vendors.
I was very excited to see Tacofino at the event. I am a big fan of both their food truck and their restaurant and everything I’ve ever eaten from them has been great.
The beef tartare taco (8 tickets) was served in a bite size taco shell and it was filled with a tomato, caper, and olive salsa. I enjoyed this taco. The whole thing was really moist and full of flavour. The beef tartare had a similar texture to the salsa and everything blended well together.
I was worried about the salsa, because I am not a big olive fan, but I barely noticed the olive flavour (which is good for me). The salsa tasted really fresh and the capers were a creative and interesting element.
I also tried the chilled avocado soup from Tacofino. It is topped with asian pear, radish, and kimchi crema (4 tickets).
This ended up being my favourite item of the night. I could eat a whole bucket filled with this. The avocado soup had a delightful, thick, creamy texture.
The toppings added some contrasting crunchy texture, with hints of both sweet and savoury flavours. I’m not sure if the actual soup was spicy, or if it was the kimchi crema on top, but whatever it was, it definitely had some kick to it.
I always need dessert after eating something savoury, so I tried the beaver tail stand next door. Beaver tails are a fried whole wheat pastry dough with different options for toppings. I went with the cinnamon, sugar, and lemon version (5 tickets).
I loved this topping choice and I was glad I got it. It wasn’t too heavy or overpowering, but it just added some sweetness and spice to it. I enjoyed the bit of acidic tartness from the lemon.
Wine, Beer, and Spirits Tasting:
If you are over 19, you can enter this area of the event. For two tickets, you can put a deposit on a glass, which you can then use for your drink samples. They will give you back the tickets once you return the glass. Make sure you get this glass because it is a larger size than the disposable cups the vendors have. Most of the drinks cost two tickets.
I stopped by the parallel 49 brewing co stand because the seedspitter caught my eye. The seedspitter is a watermelon flavoured beer.
This was a light and refreshing beer with a decent amount of carbonation. I didn’t find the watermelon flavour too in your face, but the beer definitely had a noticeable sweet and fruity after taste. This would be a good summer time beer.
I’m a ginger fanatic (maybe because I am a ginger?) so I also tried the new Ginja Ninja beer from Granville Island Brewing Co..
This lager had a dark golden colour and a mild taste. There were notes of both sweetness and spice in this beer and ginger was definitely the star. If you enjoy ginger drinks, you will like this beer.
A good strategy to have when you come to EAT! Vancouver is to wander around all of the exhibits and snack on samples. There are a lot of different booths, so you can actually get pretty full off of just free stuff. I’ve listed a few of the booths that I enjoyed below.
I’ve had Humm! hummus from the grocery store before and I’ve always liked it. They had a few new types of hummus with extra ingredients and flavours that go beyond the traditional plain chickpea spread. My favourite was the caramelized onion one because it had a savoury, rich, flavour.
Coconut bliss is ice cream that is made with coconut milk. It is dairy-free, soy-free, and gluten-free. They had a whole case of flavours for you to select a sample from.
Being lactose-intolerant, I’m always looking for non-dairy desserts and I’ve sample my fair share of soy ice creams, sorbet, and other coconut milk products. Honestly, most products just can’t replicate real ice cream, but this is the best one I’ve had.
I sampled the salted caramel chocolate flavour and I loved it. It had a very creamy texture that melts just like ice cream. I’m definitely going to the store to grab some of this.
Another product I was impressed with was Las Margaritas Premium Salsa. I have to admit, I’m a fresh home-made salsa snob. Most prepackaged stuff from grocery stores just doesn’t do it for me, so I was surprised that I enjoyed this product.
It didn’t taste overly sour or under-ripe, which I think is usually the problem with pre-made stuff. It tasted very fresh and flavourful.
The people at U-Be-Livin-Smart contacted me prior to the event to ask me if I would come by and try their karma*ffin product. It is a nutrient dense muffin that is loaded with a full serving of fruits and veggies in each muffin. They are also pretty healthy and they have no flour, sugar, or oil added to the product.
These muffins were surprisingly moist and pleasant to eat. I was worried they would be too dense, but they had a texture just like a muffin or a loaf. They had a few different flavours, but the Belgian chocolate with banana was my favourite. It tasted like chocolate chip banana bread.
Stages and Seminars:
This year I tried to watch bits and pieces of a few different seminars and stage events at the festival.
The Food Network celebrity stage features a few different cooking demonstrations from Food Network personalities. I watched the celebrity chef throw down, but I found it a bit boring. It is like watching Iron Chef on TV, but not being able to see or hear very well.
At the Grapes and Hops stage they have a few presentations on things like wine tasting, how to pair beer with food, and how to make certain drinks. This stage was more entertaining and informative than the celebrity stage. They give you some useful tips, and if you get there at the beginning and grab a seat, you can get free full-sized drink samples.
They also have a cheese seminar put on by the Dairy Farmers of Canada. Make sure you get here slightly before the seminar starts in order to get a seat and be able to participate. Here you will be able to sample a bunch of different cheeses side by side and learn about their different textures and tastes. I didn’t try this, but it looked interesting.
Final Takeaways and Tips:
– Load up on free samples before you buy food. You can get surprisingly full by doing this.
– Skip the Food Network celebrity stage and go to the cheese and grapes and hops stages instead. You will get good samples here and the shows are more interesting and informative.
– Come for the booze. The wine, beer, and spirits pavilion is very reasonably priced for the portions you get (Most drinks are two tickets/$1 for fair-sized portions). There are plenty of different drinks to try and there is something for everyone.
– Be selective with the food you buy. There are some good vendors and some mediocre ones and some of them don’t have good value. Walk around and check them all out first.
– Go get the avocado soup from Tacofino.