Archive for What I Ate

Happy Hour at The Emerald Supper Club: Deliciously Retro

There’s a debate raging in Vancouver, and it’s been raging a while. Do we make the grade as a world-class food city?

I’ve been to some of the great food cities in the world: New York, Paris, London, Melbourne… and while we may not be quite at that level, I vote yes. Guys, I think we got it going on. And the reason why is because of the amazing, passionate people that run some of our city’s best and most interesting eateries.

Rachel Zottenberg is one of those people. She co-owns and runs several establishments in the city; The Narrow, The Emerald, Uncle Abe’s and the newly re-opened (yay!) Rumpus Room.

Her husband, BTW, is the exec chef at the newly-opened Parq, so it’s a family affair.

The Emerald Cocktails

The Emerald has been around for 5 years, and I’ve been a few times for cocktails. When you hear that Rachel also runs the Rumpus Room, the atmosphere at The Emerald makes a lot of sense. Even though it’s upstairs, it feels a lot like you’re downstairs in your parent’s basment in the 70’s. It’s dark. There’s teak everywhere, and burgundy velvet and that particular shade of orange that we all know and love from that particular decade. The decor is firmly stuck somewhere between 1957 and 1977. Mid-centrury modern rules here.

The food is firmly in this century, though.

Lavender 75 The Emerald

Cocktails are worth mentioning, as it’s the main reason most people go here. I particularly enjoyed the Lavender 75, a mixture of gin, lavender syrup, champers, and lemon. Kind of the perfect summer drink, refreshing and light, a bit floral.

It’s currently negroni week, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sip on one of those. This is a classic version, and it balances the bitter with the orange well.

Negroni The Emerald

And if you like Pina Coladas… yeah, they have one of those. If you need a little spice in your life (and cocktail), there’s The Michelada, featuring Sol beer, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and lime, served in a glass with a salt & spice rim.

Cauliflower The Emerald

There’s nibbles, too, built for sharing. Cauliflower is having a renaissance right now, and there are two cauliflower “wings” options on the menu: a spicy szechuan, cooled by an accompanying blue cheese dip, and an Asian-inspired version with a peanut sauce. House-made chips, sprinkled with flavoured salts and rosemary-garlic fries are also available for noshing on.

Flatbreads The Emerald

I know I’m the veg blogger, but many of my friends are meat eaters, so it’s always important to me to find a place where we can both be satisfied. There’s a share plate of wings, ribs and cornbread that got picked clean in a big hurry (and the cornbread was grilled, warm and delicious). There are flatbreads, too. Oh–and for you veg-heads, a pretty great veggie slider (the brioche buns were perfection).

Veggie sliders The Emerald

 

And for dessert? Emerald cake, of course!

Emerald Cake

Happy Hour at The Emerald happens Tuesday through Friday nights, 5-7 pm, with $6 cocktails, $5 wine & beer, and $5 nibbles.

It’s a great place to get social with some friends, and support our local (growing and thriving) food scene. See you there?

Farm Fresh Ratatouille with Polenta {Vegan}

Ask me about my food philosophy, and it’ll be the same answer every time: obviously it needs to be delicious, made with love, mostly plant-based, and ideally, sustainable, local and in season.

You see, what we eat has far-reaching effects, probably more so than we realize. By supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, it’s much better for the environment. Our carbon footprint is reduced when we eat locally-produced stuff, and the truth is, it tastes better, too. Now, I’m not saying I don’t buy bananas (I totally do), but given the choice between a locally-grown cucumber and one grown a continent away, I’ll choose the local one every time.

Cucumbers growing int he greenhouse

Cucumbers being grown in a greenhouse.

Supporting local farmers also supports our local economy. I’m a small business owner, I want to support other small business owners, and hopefully they will support me. More money stays in our local economy, and that’s also a good thing.

BC Greenhouse Vegetables

I really love visiting farms, so I was stoked to get invited to a long table dinner last week that took place inside a working greenhouse where they were growing cucumbers. It was a really cool experience to see how they are able to grow way more cucumbers hydroponically, by growing them vertically instead of on the ground. And it’s not just cucumbers. Other farms are growing eggplant, peppers and tomatoes.

BC Greenhouse Longtable Dinner

The dinner was fantastic, and paired with lots of other local ingredients, like cheeses and wine from Mt. Lehman, and local meats as well.

Roasted red pepper bisque Veggie Fritters Lemon curd with rhubarb

We went home with very full bellies, and also a bag of superfresh produce. I decided to turn mine into ratatouille, which is a kind of French peasant stew made of vegetables. You could serve it plain, or as a side, but I like serving mine on a bed of creamy polenta.

It’s such a great spring/summer dish, the perfect thing to make after a trip to the Farmer’s Market.

Hug a farmer, you guys! They work so hard, and without them, our lives would be much less colourful and a whole lot less delicious.

Ratatouille and Polenta

Ratatouille with Polenta

Ingredients for the stew:

  • 2 tbsp–1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small yellow or light green zucchini, not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled or not peeled, quartered and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced into 1/2″ dice
  • 3-4 vine-ripened tomatoes (small to medium), diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olives (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs: parsley, basil, oregano
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 tbsp tomato paste plus 2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the polenta:

  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup non dairy milk, unsweetened, unflavoured
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 2 1/2 tsp vegan butter

Vegan Ratatouille and Polenta

Method:

  1. In a dutch oven on medium heat, heat up 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the diced the onion, season and stir well. Allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the eggplant and zucchini and stir well to coat with oil (add more if needed). Season. Allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
  3. Add the garlic and stir well to combine.
  4. Add the peppers and stir well, allow to cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the tomato sauce. Stir everything well together and allow to cook for 20-30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and the olives. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  6. Lastly, stir in the fresh herbs just before serving, reserving a few for garnish.
  7. To make the polenta: bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the polenta and the corn flour together, and then add it to the boiling vegetable stock in a a steady, slow stream, whisking all the time.
  8. Turn the heat down to medium and continue to whisk until the polenta is a thick, porridge-like consistency. Remove from heat and whisk in the vegan butter and the vegan milk. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  9. To serve: pour the polenta onto a large serving platter and top with the ratatouille. Garnish with fresh herbs, balsamic vinegar, EVOO and (if you’re not vegan) a little cheese.

 

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