dim sum express.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Soup dumplings on the street? Hell yes!
After spending a couple of days eating my way around Vancouver last week, I've


10 Reasons Seattle Should Be Jealous of Vancouver

dim sum express.jpg
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Soup dumplings on the street? Hell yes!
After spending a couple of days eating my way around Vancouver last week, I've just got to say: Oh, Canada!

I just love the way our unfailingly polite neighbors in the Great White North say basil and pasta and eh, the way they call the ladies' and gents' "washrooms" and how rabidly they root for those Canucks. But mostly I am crazy about Vancouver's great food and kick-ass cocktails.

Here's a list of reasons Seattle should be jealous of--or maybe inspired by--Vancouver:

1. Soup dumplings on the street. As soon as I walked out of the the subway station near Canada Place, I spotted the Dim Sum Express food truck. There were all sorts of options, but I went for the soup dumplings and they didn't disappoint. Tender dough wrapped around seasoned ground pork, these gems were ultra-juicy. And just $3.50 for five.

big lou's butcher.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
Big Lou's porchetta is stuffed with crispy cracklins.
2. Cracklins in the porchetta sandwiches at the brand new Big Lou's Butcher Shop. Those fried porcine pieces add just the right crunch to that fine swine. This chef-owned tail-to-snout shop sources animals from small farms around the region, and serves a slew of sandwiches featuring those primo beasts.

3. Duck croquettes at Boneta. This was one of the first upscale restaurants to open in Gastown just a few years ago, starting a wave of welcome additions to the neighborhood. These knockout croquettes are golden bite-size cubes of pulled duck--what a McNugget wants to be if it ever grows up and gets all sophisticated.

bacon brioche.JPG
Photo by Leslie Kelly
It's bacon-y bread. What's not to like?
4. Bacon brioche at L'Abattoir. I had an exceptional meal at this haute spot, where chef Lee Cooper was in the kitchen expediting despite having a broken back. Snowboard accident. Gawd, the guy's got game. Dinner was fantastic, but it's the soft, porky brioche that's seared in my memory.

5. Tales of the Cocktail. Did you know America's premier boozing bash is hitting the road and making its first stop ever outside New Orleans in Vancouver in March? Yup. I got a sneak sip of some of the cocktails that will be poured and damn, those were some well-crafted drinks. Oh, and the bartender at L'Abattoir is aging cocktails like Manhattans and Negroni in whiskey barrels!--a trend started in forward-drinking London.

Photo by Leslie Kelly
You can buy a whole lotta beast at Oyama on Granville Island.
6. Oyama Sausage. Yes, we've got Salumi, but the range of animals represented at this Eurocentric salumeria in Granville Island's busy marketplace is staggering. There's cured bison, elk, and antelope, and venison, wild boar and duck prosciutto. Yes, there's even boudin noir and Scottish black pudding. Hot dog!

7. High tea at the swank Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel includes traditional sweets and savories, but among those finger sandwiches, there's also . . . sushi! Before selecting their tea, guests are invited to sniff their way through the fragrant options.

8. Duck confit at Le Gavroche. This classic restaurant has been around for, like, forever and it's still got it going on. Not a bit stuffy, the comfy dining room is the perfect setting for a dish that's so tres French. The kitchen nails it, the leg and thigh meat so incredibly succulent and the skin slightly crisped. It will be featured Jan. 24 through Feb. 6 on a special menu for Dine Out Vancouver, the equivalent of Seattle Restaurant Week. (Well, except more than 200 restaurants participate in Vancouver, as opposed to the 100 or so that play in Seattle.)

9. Exotic oysters at Cork & Fin. Another fairly new spot in Gastown, this pretty space has a great B.C. wine list that matches up with oysters from Read Island, Sawmill Bay Beach, and Chef's Creek.

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Photo by Leslie Kelly
Go get the best barbecue on the West Coast at Big Bob's in Whistler.
10. The best true-blue barbecue on the West Coast. OK, you're gonna have to drive to Whistler for this one, but BBQ Bob's is the real deal. Bob Haselbach has won a bunch of ribbons and trophies on the competition circuit, all on display in his tiny cafe. One bite of the Memphis-style pulled-pork sandwich with slaw on top and I knew I was tasting a real winner. (Note to barbecue joints around here: He doesn't smother the meat in sauce to keep it from drying out. You can actually taste the smoky meat.) The brisket and ribs are killer, too.
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