Monday, July 07, 2014

EAT! Vancouver 2014: Food + Cooking Festival


Vancouver guest blogger Py takes us to EAT! Vancouver 2014.

EAT! Vancouver 2014 is a great celebration of food as well as a great snapshot of food trends in Vancouver. I first visited EAT! Vancouver in 2009, when the words "gluten-free", "vegan" and "organic" were just starting to appear in the common vernacular. At EAT! Vancouver 2013, there were much more "gluten-free", "vegan" and "organic" labels, but none so much as this year, when many vendors proudly announced that they were (any or all of the below):
- vegan
- organic
- GMO-free
- vegetarian (can something be vegan but not vegetarian?)
- wheat free
- no preservatives
- all natural
- no MSG
- artificial coloring free
- gluten free
- sugar free
- egg free
- dairy free
- lactose free
- kosher

It got to the point that I would actually take the product and read the ingredients list to see what was actually in the product! This sentiment was echoed by my partner in crime, Mau5, and his parents. As food trends go, this isn't a bad food trend. It makes for healthier eating and living!


Maille, a producer of some very delicious mustard, is one of the newcomers to EAT! Vancouver, and since the food festival, have been appearing at numerous day festivals around Vancouver. In addition to the traditional honey and dijon mustard, they also have "moutarde a l'ancienne": a delicious, spicy mustard that is an emulsion of sauce and multi-colored mustard seeds for an extra textural and gustatory kick.


Granola Girl and Chef Kev, two side-by-side booths, offered healthy granola mix and delicious candied nut mixes. I wonder if they deliberately paired up together; granola with candied nuts sounds like the perfect dual buy!


Dolly's Delicious Treats is a Vancouver-based company that sells deliciously sweet and spicy jelly condiments. At their stand, they had samplers of habanero tequila jelly, red pepper vodka jelly and sangria jelly (alcohol seems to be the common theme here).


Blaze's Beans has the best pickled green beans I have ever tried. They're not cringingly sour, eye-watering spicy, but hover at the limits of being boldly pickled and spiced without crossing over into being intolerable. The other best thing about their beans? Every single bean I've ever tried from Blaze's Beans has given me a crisp crunch when I bite into it. Their canners know what they're doing.


Otimo, selling Brazilian cheese puffs, is another newcomer to EAT! Vancouver. Their puffs can be bought and reheated and puffed up in the oven at home. To my surprise, they're not gooey, hot or greasy, but taste like a nice, slightly heavier, savory version of cream puffs.


Raw Canvas, located in Yaletown, also had a booth at EAT! Vancouver this year. Raw Canvas is a lounge, a wine bar, and a place to paint. While definitely on the pricey side, it's a fun place to go to paint a farewell canvas for a friend or workmate over glasses of wine and delicious charcuterie.


There were two products that made me go WOW this year.
The first is Sriracha Mayo. Yes sriracha plus mayonnaise. Produced by Asian Family, and apparently appearing in grocery stores like T&T, it is a taste combination that at first, results in quizzical eyebrows being raised, before putting all doubts to rest. It is surprisingly and brilliantly delicious. It is mayonnaise with a kick, mayonnaise in 3D. Go try it.


The other is Pulo. Pulo is a company that specializes in Philippino sauces for cooking, use as a marinade, and seriously, just as a topping on rice. It's delicious, and makes me wonder what I've been missing in Philippino food and culture all these years.


While EAT! Vancouver has become a little typical in its offerings, it is nevertheless a great place to discover new foods and tastes (sriracha mayo, Pulo), food and drink clubs (like Tea Sparrow), and to observe food fads (gluten free, dairy free, vegan, sugar free, GMO-free, egg free cookie, anyone?)
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