My folks were visiting Vancouver this weekend so much time was spent walking, eating, planning where to eat, planning how to drive various people various places, planning what to do, eating, planning the next rendezvous for eating, walking, etc. Most people who have dropped by Vancouver will understand that my idea of showing someone around town is really touring them through restaurants, tapas bars, purveyors of fake meats, and sometimes even cooking for the mob in our own kitchen. This visit with my hilarious and fun parents was no exception.
Friday, five of us met at Sitar, an Indian restaurant in Gastown. The meal was very good, but I wouldn't say it's the best Indian food ever. The naan are a generous size and their palak paneer is very tasty, but Tandoori King in Little India is still my favourite in Vancouver. My sister did point out a major omission: the true test of a fine Indian restaurant is Malai Kofta (vegetable balls in a creamy curry sauce). Malai Kofta at Tandoori King absolutely rocks the house - damn! - but we neglected to try the same dish at Sitar so we have no true comparison. Our meal was fine, and everyone was talkative and relaxed. The next day mom and dad came over for knish at our apartment, then we drove all the way to Dunbar and 41st to gorge at the Celtic Treasure Chest on whiskey marmalade and flake bars only to find that the shop was closed for the long weekend (Remembrance Day). Bah! Dad was sorely disappointed that he couldn't get his hands on a jar of gooseberry jam. I'll see what I can do for you before my trip home, dad.
Saturday night found all six of us at Savory Coast Cucina Mediterranea, an Italian-style restaurant right in the heart of downtown, above shoe stores on Robson Street. The place was packed and loud. The food was amazing. I was a little worried because none of the Vancouverites among us had tried this restaurant before, and my sister and I aim high when we're choosing where to take my parents. Our first choice was an Italian restaurant in Gastown called Incendio. We went to check it out a week before my parents arrived and found the food mediocre, and their pet cockroach dead in the ladies' bathroom. No way, Jose! So, we were a little anxious that Savory Coast would cut the mustard. I think it's safe to say that everyone at the table was satisfied. I can vouch for the warm goat cheese salad with beets and greens, and the mixed mushroom pizza - both dishes were wonderful. Other people at the table tried the slow food lamb, the salmon (the server announced the arrival of Rocco's meal with "Sir, your slamon!" and no, that is not MY typo), and pastas. Desserts were awesome, the service was good, and we could almost hear each other speak for nearly 10 minutes when the huge birthday party beside us had their meals delivered. One note of warning to people who may be tempted to try this place, the wine list is absurdly priced! They demand $45 for a bottle of Chilean carmenere that goes for $15 at any wine store. Ridiculous, and not even proportionate to the price of their meals.
Sunday morning we all gathered at Caffe Artigiano on Hornby Street, across from the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), for a morning coffee. This place has what I consider to be the best coffee in Vancouver. The barristas also dabble in coffee art, making delicate designs in the crema of lattes and cappuccinos. Rocco and I breakfasted on their fabulous paninis while everyone else admired their coffees. Later on, after a visit to the VAG and a tour around Rocco's office, mom and dad came to our place for brie and bread, wine and olives. We were careful not to spoil our appetites since A&M invited everyone over for dinner at their place.
More amazing food! A&M went all out, offering both seered, breaded chicken and tofu, super tasty couscous with onion, olives and corn, baked potatoes and beets (frickin' amazing), mushy peas, and a delicious mushroom sauce for the chicken or tofu. Mushy peas? They are boiled peas mashed with mint and parsley and they are to die for! Anne, I want that recipe! The meal almost put me over the edge of my capacity to keep eating, and that's saying a lot!
Finally, mom and dad caught the plane home today, only in the nick of time since I really couldn't handle another day of indulgence and gastronomical excess! Of course, before they left they managed to feed us again, as we all met at Sunrise Pizza on Commercial drive for some great, basic pizza. I'm not naming names but some of us opted for one more glass of wine with our pizza lunch, to properly tie off a really nice holiday weekend.
That's it, I'm stuffed!