Friday, May 29, 2009
British Columbian Cuisine Unveiled
Cuisine \Cui`sine'\: defined as a characteristic manner of preparing food using to local ingredients; national food
You can get all foods in the port city of Vancouver. This is a restaurant culture. Everyone eats out. It’s affordable and some of the finest menus on the planet are just a step away. French, Italian and Asian (Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese) foods dominate, and who wouldn’t want to be dominated by these fabulous cuisines.
So what does this all mean for the persistent question of BC cuisine, do we have one? Is there a consistent style of cooking that would define BC on your plate? First, you have to consider the thousands of immigrants that make up our population. The British and Spanish landed here first, but Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German, Mexican, French, Korean, the list goes on and on, trickled in to form what is now an extremely diverse province. That is a too much ethnic influence to ignore, so a restaurant culture developed from a ‘melting pot’ of these peoples. Our style of cooking is exactly that, ‘a melting pot’, the borrowing of techniques and foods from many countries. I don’t believe you can define our cuisine through style of cooking, so the only other option, if you need a definition while eating some of the freshest most cunningly prepared foods that have graced your plate, is to define it through ingredients.
Locally sourced, fresh, seasonal, this is the palette chefs who wish to serve true BC foods will paint with. Two stand-out examples who have been cooking this way for years come to mind, Raincity Grill, Vancouver and Sooke Harbour House, Vancouver Island. Most other restaurants in Vancouver that serve nouvelle cuisine (a cooking style that seeks to emphasize the natural flavours of foods through application of light sauces etc.) have followed suit. And it’s sooo easy for local chefs with brilliant local seafood like oysters, mussels, scallops, salmon, black cod and Dungeness crab. Local meats range from spring lamb to bison and wild boar. Our growing season runs from spring to fall for fresh produce like sorrel, cherries, asparagus, sweet corn, garlic, chives, squash, apples, peaches, blueberries and hazelnuts. Wildflower honey, mustard, balsamic vinegar, fruit preserves and, of course, the wide range refreshing BC wines are some of the prepared foods to think about. Lots of local foragers help further define our distinctive BC flavours by harvesting wild foods like chantrelles, morels, porcini mushrooms, watercress, miner's lettuce, oregon grape, thimble berry, salmonberry and blackberry. Cheese makers like Moonstruck and Farmhouse Cheeses create mouth watering goat’s cheese and award winning brie. And with a producer penchant for full flavoured organic, sustainable foods, you’ll be laughing all the way to dinner.
If you are searching desperately for true BC cuisine, start by sitting down at Raincity Grill on Denman Street in Vancouver. Order the 100 mile tasting menu with the local BC wines. Close your eyes before each bite, wash down with wine, and then ponder the ingredients, so that you can spearhead the BC cuisine revolution by cooking this way at home.