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restaurants

Wine & Game Pairings

By Afton Aikens

Beef-to-bison converts love the latter’s leanness, while elk is popular with visitors who want to taste ranch-raised cousins of the game animals that adorn our mountain landscapes.

These hoofed fauna are among many types of game you can sample in the Canadian Rockies—but be sure to add a glass of wine. We talked to three restaurants in the region about their favourite wine and game pairings. We hope you brought your appetite!

Elk, Eden

Elk, Eden

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Hot Dates: Ready, set, dine!

Dine-About-Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s hottest tasting event, Ciao! magazine’s Dine About Winnipeg, presented by Manitoba Pork, returns! Visiting foodies won’t want to miss this crash course in city dining. More than 20 restaurants will be offering up 3 course meals at a fixed price of $28 and $36. For a list of participating restaurants and menu offerings, visit ciaowinnipeg.com, Feb 1-11.

Hot Dining: Food Blogger Lindsay Anderson Talks Richmond’s Food Scene

Richmond's official food blogger Lindsay Anderson

Richmond’s official food blogger Lindsay Anderson

The number 365 is a meaningful one for Lindsay Anderson. It’s the number of days, and eateries, the epicurean explorer signed on for when she won the coveted position of Richmond’s official food blogger. She eats her last meal for her “365 Days of Dining” blog this month and, after spending a year tasting her way around the city, she is bursting at the seams with praise for its dining scene: “I’ve had some of the most amazing food I’ve ever had in Richmond.” The slim brunette fairly sparkles as she talks about the sweet and the sour of eating for a living.

What downside could there possibly be for a food blogger, you ask?  For one, turning up your nose at the unfamiliar just isn’t an option. Some of the more challenging tidbits Anderson’s had to sink her teeth into include durian—“I wasn’t excited to try durian and I wasn’t excited while eating it and I wasn’t excited after”—and squid guts—“Pretty funky looking and pretty funky tasting.” Interestingly enough, her writer side relishes such forays into the culinary unknown: “My goal is to have good content. So if I see something I know I’m not going to like, I’m almost pleased because I know this is something I can write about.”

A few less-than-tantalizing tastes are a small price to pay when a cornucopia of crave-able comestibles await, of which Asian options are Richmond’s bread and butter. Anderson recommends first-timers to the city try Alexandra Road, which has been dubbed “Food Street” because of its seemingly endless eateries: “You can just show up and have your pick of Chinese, Japanese, Korean.” Foodies seeking hidden gems can find them in the unlikeliest of places, such as under Real Canadian Superstore, which has HK BBQ Master tucked away in the parking lot. Mom-and-pop-owned food-court stalls can also hold culinary treasure. One of Anderson’s faves is R&H Chinese in Landsdowne Centre, where they hand-make dumplings to order. “They’re super good, some of the best dumplings in Richmond.”

Richmond’s menu has more than just East Asian cuisine, though. Craving Indian? Tandoori Kona comes highly recommended by Anderson: “It totally blew me away. It was so delicious.” Tramonto and Gudrun also top her list for palate pleasers.

If people haven’t come down here to have dinner, they definitely should,” says Anderson, who sees Richmond’s food scene as a way to taste the world without having to go abroad. “You can go on trips to everywhere in one city.” Put that way, it sounds like one year isn’t enough to discover all of Richmond’s gastronomic goodies.—Rachel Dunlop

YYC Burger Week: Cast Your Vote for the Best Burger in Calgary

One of the contestants in this mouth-watering competition. Photo: 80th and Ivy.

One of the contestants in this mouth-watering competition. Photo: 80th and Ivy.

It’s time to settle a question that’s near and dear to this beef-lovin’ town: who has what it takes to eliminate the competition and claim the glorious title of Best Burger in Calgary?

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Hot Dining: Elegant Dining with a View at Cafe Pacifica

Ahi tuna tartar at Cafe Pacifica

At Cafe Pacifica, it’s impossible to decide which is more stunning, the ocean view or the artfully presented food. Fortunately, there’s time to admire both as you sample appetizers such as porcini-dusted scallops with truffle-scented celeriac puree, or ahi tuna tartar with sweet soya, yuzu pearls and a blend of sauces (pictured), and entrees such as braised oxtail ragout with egg noodle fettuccini, or seared Lois Lake steelhead served on top of crushed potatoes blended with West Coast Dungeness crab. Consider it a feast for all the senses.—Sheri Radford

Hot Dining: 5 Communal Tables in Vancouver

Meat & Bread photo by KK Law

There’s no need to eat alone in a town in love with communal tables—and, often as not, family-style fare to go along.

  1. Meat & Bread Go for the acclaimed fresh sandwiches prepared à la minute from the carvery. Two locations, one word: porchetta (pictured).
  2. Yew This giant table carved from a single slab of maple is a popular hang-out to sample Four Seasons chef Ned Bell’s stylish seafood.
  3. Two Chefs and a Table This unlikely tucked-away-but-worthy cafe in Railtown often hosts winemaker dinners.
  4. The Irish Heather Check into their long-table evenings and you’ll be eating like a local in no time, drinking Guinness and possibly telling tall tales.
  5. The Refinery Find creative cocktails, artisan cheese and charcuterie, tapas, and tasty share platters in a funky, almost-all-recycled, cozy upstairs setting.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dining: Best New Restaurant Vancouver in 2012

Don’t-miss dish: “canned” tuna. Photo by KK Law

It was barely a couple of days before Top Chef Canada finalist Trevor Bird’s revival of a shuttered Kitsilano spot into vibrant farm-focused Fable Kitchen became a Vancouver hotspot. What makes it tick? Short answer: just about everything, from Bird’s concise but varied menu of responsibly sourced ingredients to the well-drilled team in the open kitchen and beyond. Our faves range from “canned” tuna to potato-crusted chicken to a show-stopping cooked-rare tender duck breast to flat-iron steak with black pepper jam—plus sidekick Curtis Luk’s superb desserts. Best place to take in the action? The end seat at the open kitchen bar—right where the chef assembles and checks each plate before it goes to the table, calls for service and generally runs the show. And even finds time to chat.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dining: Vancouver’s Portland Craft Celebrates Oregon Beer

Braised pork belly with roasted shallots and crispy baby potatoes. Photo by KK Law

In a twist from more BC-inclined locales, Portland Craft unabashedly celebrates Oregon’s brewing scene, which kick-started the craft beer revival. Drop by this friendly Mount Pleasant room for stalwarts such as Deschutes, Pyramid, Rogue, Hopworks and more, all properly poured and easily paired with a daily pizza, house-built burger or perfectly crunchy pork belly slices with fingerling potatoes. Also not to be missed: the stout chocolate lava cake.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dining: Local Under-the-Radar Asian Restaurants

Spicy tuna prawn rolls (front), seared salmon sashimi (middle) and alpha rolls (back), at Alpha Global Sushi. Photo by KK Law

Uncover some of the city’s best eating at a myriad of unsung Asian rooms. Alpha Global Sushi sports fresh rolls, inventive izakaya and smart drinks in a cozy laidback setting. Robson’s Gyoza King eschews sushi for affordable home-style fare such as piping-hot prawn gyoza (dumplings), bowls of steaming ramen, robata and more. Fast but not fancy, Lin makes for a perfect quick bite of northern Chinese, including the celebrated handmade soup-filled Shanghai pork dumplings (Xiao Long Bao)—vowed by serious XLB hounds to be the best this side of the Pacific.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dining: Green Cuisine at Sustainable New Restaurant Forage

Chef Chris Whittaker with Fraser Valley beets (front), Pacific Provider salmon (middle) and apple pie (back), at Forage. Photo by KK Law

Newly unveiled Forage on Robson Street is the city’s most sustainable room, both on and off the menu. Chef Chris Whittaker’s creations highlight local ingredients, not only seasonal but also gathered and preserved year round. The feel is more contemporary gastropub than hotel dining room, with well-picked pints plus BC wines on tap. Tastes wander from crunchy pork-rind popcorn to seared albacore tuna with blackberry-and-fir jelly, not to mention a silky smooth spot prawn chowder that swept the field at the Vancouver Aquarium’s hotly contested Chowder Chowdown. Looking for more ways to balance calories with carbon credits? Check out casual and hip Commune Cafe or regional trailblazer Raincity Grill.—Tim Pawsey

Hot Dates: Dine Out Vancouver 2013 Offers Prix-Fixe Plates

Diva at the Met photo by KK Law

January 18 to February 3

Attention, foodies: the largest restaurant festival in Canada, Dine Out Vancouver, celebrates its 11th year with cabaret dinners, food and cocktail tours, street food markets and prix fixe menus with optional wine or beer pairings at hundreds of eateries, from humble bistros to casual favourites to Vancouver’s most elegant dining establishments. Click here for details, and get ready to delight your taste buds.—Sheri Radford

Hot Dining: Try The Fisherman’s Catch at Granville’s The Fish Shack

The Fisherman’s Catch, tossed tableside at The Fish Shack. Photo by KK Law

Straight-ahead seafood, fresh and simply prepared, is the mantra at the aptly named, no-nonsense, high-energy Fish Shack, downtown on Granville Street. Regulars go for The Fisherman’s Catch, a cornucopian haul of Dungeness and snow crab, mussels, prawns and more, landed tableside in a net. The giant blackboard beneath a soaring ceiling proclaims a wide variety of fish ’n’ chips, from halibut, salmon and lingcod to red snapper, oysters and prawns, while Sundays pay homage to crustaceans with $19.95 whole lobster and crab specials.—Tim Pawsey