Eat Local: A Singularly Delicious Pairing

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I was a guest of Kingfisher’s for the evening, but received no other consideration. All opinions are my own.

Beer has come a long way in BC. Not all that long ago, a beer and a meal meant mass-produced lager and a wan remembrance of English pub food.

These days, it’s an exciting prospect. With excellent breweries popping up around the province and many restaurants’ laser-focus on the best of local food, there’s no predicting what will happen when they come together.

Last month, I benefitted from such a collaboration between Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill in Maple Ridge and Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery. The occasion was the pouring of a very special stout and the carefully constructed tasting plate my brother, Chef Sean, dreamed up to go with it.

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Driftwood’s Singularity Russian Imperial Beer is delicious bottled, but it’s even better when it’s been cellared. Ted Hume, one of Kingfisher’s owners, opened a cellared barrel of the 2014 vintage and invited guests to enjoy it with Chef Sean’s tasting plate.

We had a glass of a more recent vintage, which is everything I love about stout – full of flavours like coffee and chocolate, refreshing and filling all at once. This stout has an extra layer of flavour imparted by the bourbon barrels it’s aged in, too, making it even deeper and darker than I’ve come to expect. As good as it was, the cellared beer was astonishingly better. It needed to be sipped and savoured, more like scotch than beer, and the flavours were even more complex and pronounced. As Driftwood representative Asia said that night, it’s a challenging beer to pair.

I may be biased, but Chef Sean’s tasting plate met the challenge perfectly. He started with a brioche crostini with bacon in a bourbon-caramel sauce, dusted with pecan. Then, lamb sirloin with a port-cherry demi glaze over blue cheese infused mashed potatoes. Finally, a beignet with dark chocolate sauce, sprinkled with brown sugar. Sipping the beer between bites, these dishes enhanced and were enhanced by the Singularity. The only thing I could have asked for was a second round.

Ted and Asia were kind enough to talk more about the event, the night’s offerings, and the synergy between Kingfisher’s and Driftwood’s philosophies, in a Periscope interview that I’ve captured here:

This synergy extends beyond the presenters of the evening, right onto the plate. Bacon from Gelderman Farms, brioche from A Bread Affair, blue cheese from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks, and more were showcased in this meal, companies that put as much effort into collaborating with restaurants as they do the quality of their products.

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It made for a room full of happy eaters and drinkers, including my mother and me – though we didn’t order a second round, we indulged in a few more plates of food (including some fabulous crab cakes and a tiramisu so wonderful I forgot to photograph it).

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Happy Swoktoberfest

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Steam Whistle Brewing provided me with an entry ticket to their Oktoberfest party on September 20th, along with a keepsake stein. However, I received no compensation and all opinions in the following post are my own.

Vancouver has become a craft brewing hotspot over the last few years and it seems natural that our cultural scene would find ways to celebrate the diversity and quality of the beers we have available to us now.

Take Oktoberfest – unlike Ontario celebrations, Oktoberfest was limited to small German cultural centres for a long time in Vancouver. But in the last few years, Oktoberfest celebrations have sprung up in restaurants, bars, and even downtown. I was given the opportunity to check out one of the first of this year’s events by Steam Whistle Brewing, who held their 2nd annual Oktoberfest party at The Imperial on September 20th. They debuted this year’s reusable steins, got folks into Bavarian alpine hats, and threw a party.

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Bestie was there, with sausage, saurkraut, and pretzels (and amazing mustard sauce, I might add). Polka music was provided by the Rheinlander Oom-pah Band, while the Austria Vancouver Club Edelweiss Dancers showed off German folk dances. Many of the guests got into the act, too, and there were some impressive traditional German costumes all around the room.

The best part of this Oktoberfest, for me, was how well the event catered to patrons young and old. It wasn’t just a university crowd – there were people ranging from their early twenties to well over sixty and you could tell it was a family evening out for many of them. And Steam Whistle’s pilsner is delicious – which is something coming from a stout and ale lover. (Steam Whistle is one of the early entries into better Canadian beer, having been around since 2000 and concentrating on their pilsner exclusively.)

You can get a stein and try their beer for yourself throughout October at Donnelly Group locations.

Now tell me, have you been celebrating Oktoberfest this year? There are plenty of options – what’s been your favourite?