Friday, May 31, 2013

EAT! Vancouver (and drink craft beer)

So what is Eat! Vancouver? The title is a dead giveaway that there’s food involved, but it could be a pie eating contest (ok fine, then it would be called EAT PIE! Vancouver). The festival was this past weekend May 24 – 26th at BC Place Stadium and it was packed with vendors (food, travel, household goods), various stages for cooking and presentations as well as an adults-only section Tasting Pavilion to sample wine, spirits and beer.

I was given a free pass to attend as a blogger thus, we purchased a ticket for my husband (online $14, door $16) and headed out Saturday morning. The food vendors had free tiny samples and giving us the opportunity to have a small taste worked in their favour. They did well by us as we bought a number of items including pasta, truffle salt, truffle pesto, local honey, chipotle peanut butter, meat rub, natural dog treats (no, I didn’t sample these), cheese and a few other items. The prices were good thus; we trudged along with three cloth bags of groceries. For others, though, I suspect it was a giant Costco as they lined up from booth to booth to get the next free sample and never bought a thing. Fourteen bucks for lunch is a good deal I suppose.

The crowd was a mix of Costco samplers, foodie-wannabe’s, cooking enthusiasts, and people of all ages. The event showcased Food Network celebrity chefs providing cooking demonstrations, seminars and over 250 vendor booths.

Some items, such as the alcohol samples and restaurant vendors, were ticketed items but those too were very inexpensive. My husband downed a Dunn’s open-faced meat sandwich for $3.50. Watching the guy carve the meat was amazing – he was a master at slicing meat thinly at lightning speed. The alcohol samples varied but most beer and wine was one ($0.50) or two tickets but there were others, like the sake we tried, that were eight tickets ($4). This was premium sake though. I’ll admit, I didn’t do much more than glance at the spirits and wine, after all this is Beer and Travel Adventures, but there was a good mix of people attending almost every booth. I say almost as the Molson Canadian Wheat Beer booth guy was lonely. Very, very lonely. He even had some wheat in a vase to spruce up his booth but alas, the wheat didn’t draw the crowd. Sorry Molson dude.

Dunn's Meats!
The craft beer booths, though, had lots of action and it was great to hear people stop at one of the newest kids on the craft beer block, Parallel 49 Brewing, and see their interest pique when they heard they’re located in East Vancouver. Shows like EAT! Vancouver are a great way for people who aren’t familiar with our local craft beer scene to sample their beers and see that there’s more to offer than the macro choices you see at a lot of restaurants and bars. Other than P49, from the local craft beer scene we saw Steamworks Brewing, Vancouver Island Brewery, R&B Brewing and Dead Frog Brewing. Way to represent!

Guess which one is Dead Frog's pimped out schwag booth...

We sampled a few beers and sake and I bought a great spicy Caesar from the Mott’s Clamato booth.  For you non-Canadians that haven’t experienced a Caesar, it’s wayyyy better than a Bloody Mary. Yes, it’s clams in the juice but it works. Trust me. Come to Canada and order a spicy Caesar. Do it.

After a few hours, we escaped the crowd and headed out. There was still a steady stream of people coming into the venue and I suspect they had a successful weekend. There is  a lot to explore at this event and I encourage you to check it out next year!
Our groceries... mmm truffles!

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