If you are a foodie then Vancouver on the west coast of Canada is one stop you have to make and there is one particular food trend taking the Pacific Coast of Canada by storm, and that is the 100 mile diet.
In the UK 100 miles may be considered a large geographic area (depending on where you live, a 100 mile radius can take in parts of northern France) – but in the world’s second largest country, where you can go for 100 miles between one town and the next, it’s not a large amount of space to source food from.
The Rain City Grill in Vancouver’s English Bay district, which is a must see on any visit to the city, is one restaurant which has championed the 100 mile diet, and has been a patron of sustainable and locally-sourced food for twenty years. The establishment’s trademark menu is the 100 Mile Tasting Menu. Each dish comprises of seasonal, locally-sourced foods that are paired up with wines from British Columbia.
The first dish to tantalise the taste buds is the North Arm Farm beetroot salad. It was fresh, and the sweltering heat (it was 30 degrees on the day I went to Raincity) made it all the more fresher, it seemed, to cool the pallet. This dish was paired up with the Mistaken Identity Abbondante Bianco 2008.
The second dish was Saltsprings Island Honey Mussels, another light dish perfect for hot weather – and with the view of the beach from the restaurant’s patio, it does make you feel more connected to the food. The dish was paired with Garry Oaks Pinto Gris 2009, and it cut through the sweetness of the mussels.
Next came the two ‘main dishes’ – the Wild BC Salmon and the ‘Rossdown Farm’ Cornish Game Hen. Salmon, in BC, is more or less the province’s dish. Every year in the summer, the salmon leave the salty pacific waters and make their way up the many rivers to where they were born to mate. This annual event makes both the fishermen and the bears happy. The wild salmon is served with Rocky Creek Pinot Noir 2009 – a strange choice for a salmon dish, you may think. But wild salmon tends to be more red than pink in colour and has a much stronger taste, thus the choice of the light red wine. The Cornish Game Hen was moist and tender and had that a slight gamey taste. This dish was served with another Garry Oaks wine, this time the Zeta Zweigelt 2009.
The dessert was apple-wine Panna Cotta with caramelized rhubarb and elderflower sorbet. It was fresh, delicious and pallet-cleansing. It was served with the Mistaken Identity Charmela 2009, a sickly-sweet dessert wine.
The 100 mile menu is a fresh and simple menu that brings the best of BC to the taste buds, and is not to be missed. If you are a vegetarian, the Raincity Grill has the only vegetarian tasting menu I’ve seen outside a veggi restaurant. The regional tasting menu puts the humble vegetable centre-stage, with dishes such as tomato and cucumber gazpacho, beetroot salad and the BC mushroom papprdelle. This menu will change your mind about vegetables forever.
1193 Denman Street
V6G 2N1 Canada
604 685 7337
Reviewed by: Cat Hughes