Monthly Archives: March 2012

So you want to be a Craft Beer drinker

So you’re sitting at a bar or restaurant in Gastown with your friends one night having some drinks and you order a Canadian. You may notice people start to stare at you and then it hits you, regular beer isn’t cool! This unfortunate scene is played out several times a day in places like Gastown, Main Street, Kits and Steveston and it is 100% avoidable if you just sit back and learn how to become a craft beer drinker.

The first step in this simple yet intimidating transformation is to stop buying mass produced beer, the Molson, the Labatt’s, the Heineken, they all have to go. They are made with large amounts of ingredients that are 10 times worse for you than the alcohol is. Check the facts on corn syrup here. People are used to the taste of this mass produced beer and they often find craft beer quite overpowering at first but I’m going to give you some suggestions to ease you into  loving the best beer money can buy.

Start with something that’s fairly mild in flavour, don’t start with a triple IPA because it will probably frighten you back to the corn syrup brews you’re trying to escape. Some recommendations are North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner or Gordon Biersch Pilsner. If you’re looking for an introduction to the world of hops, start with Sam Adams Boston Lager, Granville Island Brockton IPA or Anchor Steam. These are as close as craft beer gets to being mass produced but they still offer that hoppy flavour that most west coast craft beer in known for.

Once you grow to love these brews you’ll want to dig deeper into the depths of flavour craft beer has to offer. Using resources like Beerthirst, CAMRA, Vancouver Beer Blog etc will help you find your next favourite beer. Good luck fellow beer lovers, don’t forget that Vancouver Craft Beer Week is just around the corner. If you start now you palate will be ready just in time!


The BCTF, BC Liquor Stores and Dry Grad.

Ah Dry Grad, I remember it well. Actually I barely remember it at all but I’m sure glad it was around back when I went to high school. If there wasn’t a dry grad I’m sure that one or more of my friends, or even me, would have made some bad decisions that night and our lives would have ended up very different then they are today. So what does dry grad have to do with the BC Teachers Federation and BC Liquor Stores? A lot actually.

BC Liquor Stores raise money for dry grad by selling chocolates at the checkout for $1 with all proceeds going towards local dry grad programs which begs the question…who will be running dry grad if the BCTF is still imposing it’s limited job action at graduation time? I know that dry grad is, in most cases, a joint effort between a student committee, parents who volunteer their time and teachers who supervise the event itself. I remember quite clearly that some of my most (and least) favourite teachers were present at my dry grad. If there’s no dry grad because the teachers have suspended all extra curricular activities then where does the money from BC Liquor stores chocolate sales end up?

More important than the money is the fact that a lot of kids might not have a safe place to go after their big graduation celebration. I know this brings up the issue of under aged drinking which is a serious problem at graduation time. It blows me away that it’s still so easy for under aged kids to get alcohol. I just hope that someone higher up than me realizes we may be headed towards a very deadly graduation year before it’s too late.


Burrard Public House in Port Moody

Have you ever been to Port Moody? It’s at the end of the Barnet Highway and is directly across the water from Deep Cove. It’s a great place to live and play.

A few days ago I went to the Burrard Public House on St. John’s Street in Port Moody which opened at the tail end of November 2011. Formerly a hotel, the new owners have done a complete renovation to the interior, and I have to say it’s pretty nice. It’s a big place with large booths and lots of seating. I went on a Tuesday, but I’ve been following their Facebook page for a few months and driven past on weekends and it looks like they can put on a good party.

Cucumber Collins

I started off with a Cucumber Collins (Rochele is a cocktail girl, Scott is a beer man) and it was refreshing, but just a little too sweet. I tried my friend’s Mango Mojito, too, and I liked that a lot more. The mango was subtle, but it is there.

Fresh Flash Fried Potato Chips

I could not resist their Fresh Flash Fried Potato Chips. They were fun and tasty with cajun seasoning and an aoili sauce on the side. I resisted asking for ketchup, but it was very much a hybrid of potato chips and French fries. I am grateful that I had someone to share them with, because there is a lot in one order of these. For a main plate I ordered the Perogies, served with bacon, onions, and sour cream. It was good pub food, exactly what I was expecting.

Perogies with Bacon, Onions, and Sour Cream

I wish that it wasn’t a Tuesday, that I didn’t have to work the next day, and that I didn’t have to drive. They have a lot of drink specials throughout the week. They also have a patio, so I might be a regular there this summer. Let me know what you think! – Rochele

Green Flash Brewing Co. Long Table Dinner at The Pumphouse with Beerthirst

Another Longtable dinner at The Pumphouse Pub has come and gone and with Beerthirst hosting and Green Flash Brewing Co. as the featured brewer it was one I was looking forward to. Greenflash makes amazing beer, their West Coast IPA is in my top 5 for bottled beer and is probably my number 1 draught beer. This was a 5 course affair with a unique beer pairing for each course, as is the case with every Longtable dinner.

Course 1 was Thai Green Mango Salad with cold water shrimp, shredded coconut, bean sprouts and cashews. It was paired with the Rayon Vert, a Belgian style pale ale. Very nice pairing although the Rayon Vert has a tendency to foam up in your mouth when you drink it right after eating so it was tough to fully judge the way they complimented each other. The salad was refreshing and well balanced which is how I would also describe the beer. Nice combo.

Course 2 was Coconut Curry Prawns with Jicama and Pineapple slaw paired with West Coast IPA. West Coast IPA is, as I said above, an amazing beer especially on tap and it paired very well with the curried prawns and the sweet jicama and pineapple slaw. Jicama is a strange looking root vegetable that has the taste and texture of a slightly less sweet apple so pairing it with pineapple brought out the sweetness even more. If I had blind taste tested this dish I probably would have guessed the slaw was shredded apple.

Course 3 was Spicy dry rubbed Roast Beef with Caramelized Yams. It was paired with the Le Freak Belgian IPA. The Le Freak is a very hop and Brett forward beer that is not for the craft beer newbie and this was a ballsy pairing. I found that it paired very well with the caramelized yams, slightly less so with the beef. There was something about the sweetness of the yams that made a great partner to this aggressive beer.

Course 4 was Grilled Jerk Salmon with Miso Scallops and Coconut Rice. It was paired with the Imperial IPA. This was an interesting dish, the salmon was a nice partner top the very hop forward IPA but the scallops didn’t really seem to fit with this dish. The rice was an interesting choice as well. I think it was arborio rice which is typically used for risotto but it was prepared like regular rice for this dish. I’ve never had arborio rice prepared this way and I’m not sure I would ever  use a grain with such potential in such a pedestrian way. The IPA was, as one would expect, fantastic just like everything that Green Flash does.

The 5th and final course was Chocolate Velvet Pie (aka Mouse) with a Raspberry Shortbread Crust and Grated White Chocolate. It was Paired with the Double Stout, an 8.8% abv monster that is frighteningly easy to drink. It’s so well balanced and has such amazing flavours that you don’t realize you’re getting absolutely plastered until you try and walk. The mouse was a very safe but very good pairing, stouts and chocolate are a no brainer. The raspberry crust wasn’t my cup of tea but that’s because I don’t like raspberry…weird right?

So there you have it folks, you should really come out to one of these things as they’re quite awesome and usually sell out for a reason. Beer and food pairings offer so much more variety and depth than wine could ever hope to, in my ever so humble opinion. I think a contest or something is the next logical step to get some new faces out to one of these great dinners… Now I just have to convince Norm.


à la Rochele

For a point in time I was addicted to buying discount vouchers. I bought them for workshops, restaurants, hotel stays, spas etc. The very first one that I redeemed was a sauna and massage package and that was a disaster. In light of that, I’ve been a lot more careful about what I commit myself to.

I found a Social Shopper voucher for a screen printing workshop at Blim in Vancouver. Last week I finally got around to booking it to keep myself occupied because the husband is away. I took myself for dinner at Acme Cafe (did you know I write for What’s for Lunch BC, too? Check it out) and attended Level 1 Screen Printing and it was AWESOME! I want to screen print everything. My particular class had 3 other adults and 4 kids in it. The kids were really distracting and sometimes a little harrowing…

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Ro goes to Acme Cafe

Hello friends!

My day job keeps me on the Downtown East Side five days a week, and I usually don’t stick around afterwards. However, last week I found myself attending a screen printing workshop at Blim down the street, and thought I’d take advantage of the location and grab a bite to eat.

I went to Acme Cafe on Hastings, between Columbia and Abbott. I know the area  seems intimidating, but don’t let that deter you. Acme is a little oasis in the DTES, with it’s octagon floor tiles and rectangle booths it feels very art deco. Almost like you’re eating in another era. It was a horrible, windy rainy day and I needed some comfort food. Lo and behold, meatloaf is on the menu! I almost went for the chicken pot pie, it was a tough choice. The meat loaf was served with gravy, roasted vegetables, and a lovely, lightly-dressed green salad.

I really enjoyed it. The meatloaf was delicious, and the roasted vegetables had a caramelized flavour to them. I am grateful that I didn’t have to pick between the roasted vegetables and the salad, it was great to have both. I couldn’t eat everything on my plate, but I was stoked for the leftovers and thoroughly enjoyed it again the next day.

Acme Cafe's Meatloaf

It was also March 14 or Pi Day (3.14) and I felt the need to honour it. I asked my server for his recommendation, and I went home with a slice of banana cream pie. I was too eager to eat it that I forgot to take a picture before I devoured the whole thing. Amazing. There is not enough pie in this world. I’m bringing pie back.

Go check it out the next time you’re in the ‘hood. Parking is a bit hard to come by, but you won’t regret it.

Thanks Acme, I’ll be back to try the chicken pot pie and to eat more pie.


Belle’s on Thirty Two

Tucked away in an part of South Surrey that most people have probably never been to, Belles on 32 is another hidden gem located amongst some amazing suburban properties. I found Belle’s on Twitter while looking for places to go visit on behalf of Beerthirst, it turns out my parents have been there and liked it a lot. I set up a meeting with General Manager Budd Kerfoot, rounded up some beer samples and headed to South Surrey.

After a nice meeting and a very well received beer sampling session, I decided to order dinner. I started with the Calamari which was nice thick strips cut from the squids mantle, the part that normally provides ring shaped calamari. The squid was cooked well, not rubbery and nicely seasoned. On the menu it’s called “Crisp Calamari” but the batter wasn’t really that crisp to be honest, not that it wasn’t good, just not crisp. The spring onion and garlic aioli was tasty and well suited for dipping.

For my main I had the Braised Shortrib Sandwich with Caesar salad. The sandwich was fantastic. The Shortrib meat was loaded with flavour and had obviously been slow cooked for a long time. The brioche bun it came on was awesome, dark and slightly crisp crust surrounding a pillow of airy bread, so good. It had white cheddar, arugula and garlic aioli on it as well, one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a long time. The Caesar salad was very nice too, fresh lettuce,  a nice house made dressing packed with garlic and a little fresh squeezed lemon.

Budd and the rest of the staff at Belle’s are really nice people and they’re doing a great job in my favourite city. South Surrey is making some noise on the food scene these days, watch out Vancouver!

For the record, Belle’s paid for my dinner but that didn’t make it taste any better. It was already very good.