Eating at the Olympic international pavilions
Olympic pavilions are about to open their doors all over the Lower Mainland and in Whistler, and some are putting on a mighty fine spread. If you love to eat your way around the world, now’s your chance to sample global cuisine without enduring hours in a middle seat on an airplane.
A handful of countries and regions—as well as most Canadian provinces and territories—have set up shop to promote their commercial and cultural attractions. The ones listed here are open to the general public, not just VIPs.
Below is a snapshot of what’s cooking at the international pavilions. Look for the culinary offerings at domestic ones in next week’s Georgia Straight.
House of Switzerland Canada 2010
Starting Friday (February 5), Bridges Restaurant on Granville Island will be transformed into a mini Switzerland. Swiss TV station SRG will be broadcasting from the second-floor terrace, and different days will see Swiss products like cheeses, Lindt chocolates, and the Swiss soft drink Rivella for sampling. Entry is free, as the pavilion is mostly operating as a restaurant complex, and seating at the main-floor bistro and bar will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are strongly recommended for the second-floor restaurant.
For both restaurants, “The menu is a selection of Bridges’ classic dishes and a Swiss selection, typically from the Engadine-St. Moritz area,” says House of Switzerland spokesperson Xenia Schlegel. Swiss chef Béda Zingg will be working alongside Bridges executive chef Shane McNeil on specialties like barley soup, a charcuterie platter with Swiss air-dried meat, and venison with spaetzle for the restaurant. Entrées range from $25 to $38 for dinner and $20 to $28 for lunch. At the bistro, menu items include moitié-moitié fondue (made with two types of Swiss cheeses and garlic; $44 for two people) and a raclette starter ($12).
Where: Bridges Restaurant (1696 Duranleau Street, Granville Island) When: February 5 to 28, 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Info: houseofswitzerland.org/, 604-687-4400 (reservations accepted for upstairs restaurant only)
Doolin’s Irish Pub, part of Granville Entertainment Group, has partnered with the Olympic Council of Ireland and the Irish Heritage Society to operate this 9,000-square-foot pavilion located next to Doolin’s. It will be family-friendly during the day, when there will be cultural displays and performances; entrance is free for kids but $10 for adults until 7 p.m. After that, it’s a party atmosphere, open to adults only with a $20 cover. Entertainment includes local Irish storytellers, dancers, and musicians. Food and drink will be available counter-service style. Vancouver-based cooks will prepare dishes like steak and Guinness pie, corned beef and cabbage, and burgers with Irish bacon; nothing tops $9.50. Guinness is a given.
Doolin’s will have a separate entrance (no reservations) and will operate with a limited menu. There will be a $15 cover after 7 p.m., when the pub is open to adults only.
Where: Adjacent to Doolin’s Irish Pub (654 Nelson Street) When: February 8, 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.; February 9 to 28, 12 p.m. to 3 a.m. Info: www.irishhouse2010.com/, 604-331-7854 (no reservations)
Holland Heineken House
Two hockey rinks in Minoru Arena will be made over into Holland Heineken House, the home away from home for the Dutch Olympic Committee. In the past, it’s been “one of the most popular noncompetition destinations at the Olympic Games,” says Ted Townsend, spokesperson for the City of Richmond. Dutch fans will be out in droves to party, because “speed skating in Holland is like hockey in Canada,” according to Townsend.
Admission to the pavilion is free, but you’ll need a daily wristband, and lines are expected. However, Townsend says that making an advance reservation for lunch or dinner at the pavilion’s sit-down restaurant, the Lodge Brasserie, ensures your entrance. (Minors will not be allowed after 7 p.m.)
The Lodge will be serving Dutch favourites such as split-pea soup and hotchpotch, a stew consisting of potatoes; vegetables such as carrots, kale, and sauerkraut; and beef, smoked sausage, or crisp-fried pork belly. Dutch chefs are doing the cooking. The menu is also heavy on Canadian dishes such as salmon and buffalo steaks. There are two dinner seatings, and entrées run $17 to $30. There’s also a casual food fair serving snacks like sausage rolls.
Where: Minoru Arenas (7551 Minoru Gate, Richmond) When: February 11 to 28, 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. Info: www.hollandheinekenhouse.nl/uk_home.html (no phone; reserve on-line for a 2.50 euro per person charge)
In case you were wondering, Saxony is a state in eastern Germany that borders on the Czech Republic and Poland; its capital is Dresden.
Saxony House will have free entry and feature a counter-service bistro area with cooking by Saxon chefs. Menu items include Ore Mountain grilled sausage with Bautzen mustard, crispy roast pork with sauerkraut, pickled pork knuckle with roasted potatoes, and trout in Riesling sauce with wild rice. Dishes range from $7 to $30. Wernesgrí¼ner Pilsner (a light beer) and Kí¶stritzer Schwarzbier (a dark beer) will be on tap at $9 for a 0.4-litre stein. Apple and plum cakes will also be baked on-site. A live folk and rock band, De Erbschleicher, will play from 6 to 11 p.m. daily. No minors will be permitted after 9 p.m.
Where: Vancouver Rowing Club (450 Stanley Park Drive) When: February 12 to 28, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Info: www.saxony-in-vancouver-2010.com/, 604-687-3400 (no reservations)