5 local food events that will lift spirits and fill bellies this winter

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      With the holidays seeming as if they happened eons ago (Christmas break? What break?), it’s no wonder so many people find January to be a total downer. Even the sunniest of souls find day after day of Wet Coast dankness tough to take.

      But if you turn your attention to food, this isn’t such a bad time of year at all. In less than a month, Valentine’s Day and Lunar New Year will be here, each offering the chance to indulge in gastronomic extravagance. The Vancouver International Wine Festival kicks off in February too, the fest a local highlight that features some outstanding winemaker dinners, lunches, and brunches. (Stay tuned for Straight coverage of all of these events.)

      What’s more, there are plenty of smaller but notable culinary events taking place in Vancouver this winter that will help take the chill off. Here are five that will fill your belly, lift your spirits, and see you through to spring.


      Mediterranean-inspired breakfast bites are on the menu at Hard-Boiled.

      An eggsellentmeal

      (February 5 and 6 at the Red Wagon Café [2296 East Hastings Street] )

      Admit it: there have been times when you’ve had bacon and eggs for supper. And, really, why not? If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it can also be deliciously comforting; when it’s dark outside before 6 p.m., it doesn’t seem so far-fetched to serve it for supper.

      Hard-Boiled is the name of an upcoming pop-up that is serving breakfast for dinner—only here, the organizers at the Curatorialist are going beyond what most people might put on the table on a rainy, lazy Sunday morning.

      Created by Café Medina chef Deniz Tarakcioglu and Brad Miller, chef-owner of the Red Wagon Café and Bistro Wagon Rouge, the menu melds Mediterranean flavours and greasy-spoon classics. Shared bites include spicy olives, fried halloumi, and fresh brioche, while larger plates range from a Levantine egg bake with chorizo to “Brad’s ‘Fucking Amazing’ Buttermilk Pancakes”, complete with maple syrup, berries, and whipped cream. Tickets are $55; info at Eventbrite.


      Enjoy tacos and beer pairings at Tacofino's Beer Dinner Series.
      Amy Ho

      Let's taco ’bout brews

      (Various dates; Tacofino [2327 East Hastings Street] )

      Vancouverites are cuckoo for tacos and just as fond of craft beer. It’s a match made in heaven, one that Tacofino is celebrating with its Beer Dinner Series.

      It all kicks off on Thursday (January 25) with a five-course meal designed by executive chef Stefan Hartmann and head chef James You and pours by East Van’s Red Truck Beer Company.

      Here’s a sneak peek at the inaugural evening and examples of what to expect at those that follow: scallop taco with grapefruit, rukola, chipotle mayonnaise, and cilantro with Wicked Smaht New England IPA; smoked-eggplant taco with sriracha, squash, queso fresco, and cilantro served with Blue Santa Cask; and a taco of braised wild boar with Brussels sprouts, cranberries, feta, and serrano peppers accompanied by Imperial Stout.

      Other participating brew makers are Tofino Brewing Company (February 22), Steel & Oak Brewing Co. (March 29), Strange Fellows Brewing Company (April 26), Four Winds Brewing Co. (May 31), and Port Moody Brewers Row—Parkside Brewery, Moody Ales, Yellow Dog Brewing Co., and Twin Sails Brewing (June 28). Tickets are $50; information at the Tacofino website.


      Chef Heather Dosman and food educator Camille Flanjak will prepare a plant-based meal at Grapes & Soda.
      Carlo Ricci

      From the heart

      (February 11 at Grapes and Soda [1541 West 6th Avenue] )

      MuseumEats is the name of a Pacific Northwest collective for people who want to create an ethical food culture. With an interest in permaculture, wildcrafting, and wine, founder Camille Flanjak aims to train folks to think critically about their food so they can truly enjoy it while grasping the privilege of eating it.

      She’s teaming up with chef Heather Dosman, founder of Existential Eating, for the upcoming Heartwarmer Dinner.

      Beginning with a glass of bubbly, the evening features a multicourse plant-based dinner. The organizers call it a night of “laughter, existential eating, and ethical hedonism”; it’s capped off by short comedy performances. Tickets are $65; info can be found online.


      Okanagan Estate Wine Shop and Yaletown’s Xoxolat will join up for wine and chocolate.

      Date night for foodies

      (February 13 at Okanagan Estate Wine Shop [3669 West 4th Avenue] )

      There’s much more to tasting wine than swirling the stuff in your glass; it’s about learning to hone your senses to come up with a consistent description of what you’re drinking and a deeper understanding of what you like and don’t like.

      It’s always said that wine goes well with chocolate, but what kind of wine exactly, pray tell? Chocolates and other aphrodisiacs from Yaletown’s Xoxolat—which specializes in products made with pure, fairly traded chocolate—will be paired with five different wines at this educational nighttime event at the Kits outpost that exclusively carries B.C. VQA wines from the Okanagan (plus one from Vancouver Island). Tickets are $35 per couple; details are at the Estate Wine Shop website.


      Liuyishou Hotpot will pair hot pot with Red Truck Beer.

      Feelin' hot, hot, hot pot

      (February 26 to March 2 at Liuyishou Hotpot [various locations] )

      Liuyishou Hotpot locations all across Canada are celebrating the Year of the Dog with a special menu that comes complete with Red Truck Beer pairings during its hot-pot week.

      Hot pot is an interactive way of eating, with diners cooking their food themselves in steaming broth. Ingredients include meat, fish, vegetables, chilis, Sichuan peppercorns, and other herbs and spices. This is the kind of food that cures colds and hangovers equally well.

      The Chongqing-style meal comes with your choice of Red Truck Lager, Dark Lager, or IPA. Gong xi fa cai!