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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Eat Local: Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill

Sean

Meet Chef Sean McCarthy. He’s the Executive Chef at Kingfisher’s Waterfront Bar & Grill. He also happens to be my little brother. In the photo above, Sean’s showing off some of the sunchokes the restaurant receives in their farm box of produce each week. He’d heard about the difficulties the Doristas had in sourcing this vegetable and wanted me at least to know that I should have talked to him before running around all over town looking for them. Lesson learned. Having trouble sourcing an ingredient? Ask a chef. They know where to find everything you might need.

Sean brought the sunchokes out to show me a couple of weeks ago when my mother and I stopped by Kingfisher’s for lunch after visiting the West Coast Christmas Show in Abbotsford. I don’t get the opportunity to visit the Fraser Valley often enough, so I wanted to make the most of my trip.

Views

You’re used to me extolling the virtues of farmers and local, seasonal food, so you shouldn’t be surprised that my brother shares those values, along with the owners of Kingfisher’s. They take every opportunity to showcase the local goodness around them, like the Gelderman Farms pork loin chop I chose for lunch, which Sean paired with roasted carrots and fig jus. I also got to try a draught from my own neighbourhood with my meal. One of Kingfisher’s rotating tap selections was Bomber Brewing’s Choqlette Porter, a variety I have a hard time passing up.

Food

Kingfisher’s menu is quite varied, so my mother was able to choose a favourite from farther afield, the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, then we finished with pumpkin crème brûlée. In general, though, you’ll find the menu dotted with the provenance of the products they’re using, both in the restaurant and behind the bar. It’s the kind of establishment that’s taking hold across our region, building community with its customers and suppliers and introducing eaters to producers.

Now, this can’t strictly be a restaurant review, since I’m the chef’s sister. But what I’d like to mention is that it’s Buy Local Week and that’s a perfect opportunity for you to seek out just this kind of restaurant in your own neck of the woods. You’ll be supporting a local business that supports local businesses in turn and you might just discover your new favourite butcher, farmer, or brewer along the way.