We had planned a quick foodie “reconnaissance visit” to Vancouver and Seattle on our way back from New England last September… We definitely wanted to touch base with bettyq, a long-time reader and an avid commenter on this blog, who is so incredibly knowledgeable and generous with her recipes, gardening knowledge, produce tidbits, tips, etc. But this desire to touch base grew into a mini-eyeball, with roughly 18 folks dropping by over the course of an afternoon and for a a delicious dinner. It was a terrific experience, and Mrs. MM and I are most grateful to the hospitable folks from Vancouver who made this all possible…
An advance party of five or six met us in our hotel lobby and after quick introductions, bettyq suggested we hit a gelato place a short drive away. That’s Jeffrey, Rowena, Jethro, Mitzi and Bettyq enjoying one of the 210+ flavors of gelato at La Casa Gelato. I hope I got all those names right, it’s been a couple of months and I am notoriously bad with name recall. Flavors like durian, sesame seed, saffron and green tea vied for our attention along with all the classic ice cream and gelato flavors. Nothing like a hit of sugar and cream to start off the afternoon…
From gelato to gourmet garage… next stop was an incredible kitchen store that would rival a sur la table or williams sonoma. It was fabulous. If we weren’t schlepping by train to Seattle a couple of days later, I could have filled several balikbayan boxes with goodies from this store. I restrained myself and only purchased a traditional basket for proofing round loaves of bread, while everyone got to know each other better and prepared ourselves for dinner. After gourmet garage, we got into Jeffrey’s van and the group kindly drove us to Stanley Park where we stopped for some photos, took in the magnificicent, water, bridge and mountain views, and basically just had a leisurely paseo as one might do with family or friends back in the Philippines. It was a strangely familiar and very comforting experience, and suddenly strangers seemed like long lost friends. Was this the power of a common interest in food? It was heartwarming.
Next stop, the West End, for dinner at Killer Seafood and Pizza, a place owned by a friend of bettyq, on Robson Street, for our dinner. Other guests arrived and introductions were made over a coctail with lychee fruit. Zoilo, Poch, Cal, Farida (who drove all the way from across the border in Washington state!), Jane, Angelo, cwid (Nori) and Chris joined us for dinner. I am certain I have missed a few names, help Jeffrey and bettyq if I have left anyone out! It was interesting to hear everyone’s stories, how long they had called Canada home, what news there was from back home, etc. So Canadian, and yet so Pinoy at the same time. And everyone seemed to get on rather well, despite some of them never having met each other before!
As we were waiting for all the guests to arrive, large platters of crudites and dips, cocktails and drinks were served. Next up, pica-pica included battered and fried shrimp (bettyq, help, please expand on menu if I don’t get it right or haven’t been complete in my descriptions!)…
Salmon cakes served with a mango salsa.
A fabulously opulent slice of pizza with with lobster, salmon roe and black caviar. Wow! Unusual and delicious!
A seafood soup, almost a bouillabaise chockfull with prawns, scallops and fish. Delicious. By now you can all tell this wasn’t your typical neighborhood pizza parlor. It’s owned by a chef who is intent on misleading passersby with the disarming name “Killer Seafood and Pizza” and this is the stuff that emerges from the kitchen! Killer indeed!
A beautifully cooked piece of beef, with a mushroom sauce and fried onions served on a slice of bread. Our stomachs were bursting, but we had to leave space for bettyq’s desserts…
…while I must say the food was wonderful, I think the dishes were eclipsed by the guests. It was an evening of conversation, laughter and conviviality normally reserved for a bunch of long time friends, relaxed and at home in each others company. Some readers laughed that I sounded like I wrote, when experienced live… hahaha. And I could put faces to commenters, which is always a nice thing to do. Not a shred of negativity, but perhaps some regret of all the missed opportunities for the Philippines who seemed to have such good prospects, but had mismanaged itself into its current state.
A small salad of romaine leaves with several shards of local cheese. It was heavier than it looks, but a nice way to segue into the sweets that bettyq was busily plating herself in the restaurant’s kitchen.
What emerged from the kitchens was a veritable work of art, a pie slice piece of rich melt in your mouth chocolate cake, served garnished with blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. A homemade popsicle with a raspberry sauce or coulis. Yipes, I ate it all!!! Fabulous, bettyq!
And a group snapshot at the end of the evening. Time flew by and despite being a weekday and folks having to get up early for work the next day, we had to consciouly make our way out of the restaurant for a typical pinoy goodbye on the sidewalk. Thanks to the chef whose meal was so generous and delicious, and thanks to the folks who made our visit and eyeball in Vancouver so memorable. And a special mention to others who missed the evening, but who sent mementos, gifts and foodie goodies for us to take home. A special mention to Stewart whose beautiful photo of a salmon underwater reminds us everyday of our recent trip to Canada! And thanks to everyone else for the wonderful wine, candied salmon, cheese, oil, etc. Don’t forget to look us up when you are visiting Cebu… Now where is the next eyeball going to be? :)