Sound Bites: Top food trends for Dine Out Vancouver 2013
Sharpen your knives. Raise your forks. Dine Out Vancouver, Canada’s largest restaurant festival, runs until February 3. The city-wide salute to gluttony offers three-course prix fixe menus at $18, $28, and $38.
Dine Out also gives foodies the chance to preview the hottest food trends of 2013 in one epic extravaganza. We’ve highlighted our favourite 2013 food trends, and where to try them.
Eating local is nothing new. Chefs have just got better at it. Forage, which opened doors November 2012, is among the best at responsible regional cuisine. Executive chef Chris Whittaker is a hunter and fisherman who isn’t afraid of using less appreciated inputs. The $28 Forage Dine Out menu boasts an easy-to-love spot prawn chowder with soft-poached quail egg and crispy pork rind chicharrón, alongside exotic options such as rich game terrine and Provider salmon with a red wine-balsam fir cure and BC kelp pasta.
Eat your veggies. Because it’s official. Vegetables have stolen the spotlight from meat. You’ll find more veggie entrées than ever on the 2013 Dine Out menus. Even Gastown’s latest nose-to-tail restaurant Wildebeest is getting creative with veggies.
“We like to use vegetables to do something inventive with our dessert course,” says sous chef Josh Blumenthal. The lemon cake on their $38 menu comes with a delicate parnsip and white chocolate mousse. “We cook the parsnip in vanilla syrup to take on a sweet, aromatic note while keeping the nutty elements.”
Where there’s smoke there’s a fiercely hot food trend. The scope goes well beyond double-smoked bacon. Find smoked lentils on Diva at the Met’s $38 Dine Out menu and smoked onion veloute on the $38 Fraiche Dine Out menu. Oakwood Canadian Bistro’s $28 Dine Out menu boasts the most fun with the smoker. Chef Mike Robbins house smokes cheddar cheese before incorporating it into a rich cauliflower soup with tomato foam; he gives sable fish four hours of maple smoke treatment before pan searing.
“I’m going for earthy flavours,” says Robbins. “I offset the smokey fish with citrusy cod brandade croquettes and a clean pea puree.”
René Redzepi — chef at Noma, the world’s best restaurant — launched the brown butter craze by using it to enhance simple dishes such as plain pasta. All you have to do to make brown butter is heat it in a saucepan on medium until the foam subsides and the butter turns nutty brown.
For Dine Out 2013, find brown sage butter enhancing homemade cavatelli on L’Abattoir’s $38 menu. Yew Restaurant’s $38 menu also features Arctic char with a sweetly herbacious maple rosemary brown butter.
Count Your Chickens
No longer relegated to the kids’ menu, sophisticated foodies can expect to see more chicken on the menu in 2013. Diva at the Met has a tempting chicken cordon bleu as a main on their $38 Dine Out Menu. Abigail’s Party has the comfort food version with free range buttermilk fried chicken and gravy. Meanwhile Raincity Grill has petit “hallmark” Cornish hens served with roasted salsify on their $38 Dine Out menu.
Newbie Ancient Grains
In the effort to source everything locally, chefs are turning away from grains such as Italian risotto and quinoa toward farro, which they can get from farms on Salt Spring Island and in the nearby Fraser Valley. Farro is a wheat berry that refers to different wheat species depending on the location of where it’s grown, although occasionally it refers to barley.
For Dine Out, Wildebeest has a farro “risotto” with caramelized celeriac and turnips. “We cook based on the ingredients we have available, and we hope to define a West Coast cuisine in the process,” says Blumenthal. Meanwhile, over at Forage, you’ll find a hearty wild and cultivated mushroom wheat berry “cassoulet.”
For details about the more than 240 restaurants participating in the annual festival, as well as special seminars and events, go to DineOutVancouver.com.