Thursday, June 19, 2014

EAT! Vancouver 2014

EAT! Vancouver has been one of my favourite foodie event in Vancouver for the past few years.
After my last visit (2 years ago) I've always been longing to go since I couldn't go last year with all the school band's music festival stuff. 

So, what is EAT! Vancouver and why are Vancouverites (and other tourists from all over the country/world) attracted by it every year?
EAT! Van is known as the biggest food and cooking festival in Vancouver, the "ultimate consumer food expo" featuring local restaurants, cafes, wineries, celebrity chefs, cooking tool suppliers and other businesses in presenting the current trend in the industry. 
People can purchase cooking tools, try out new foods, taste some wine, attend cooking lessons and even meet their celebrity chefs in real life (yes). 

As a second-timer I did somewhat know my way around BC Place but there are still some changes that I've felt this time I went. Here's EAT! Van from the perspective of a second-timer student (in other words, did not get to try wine due to age ._.)

 My first stop was the Canadian Cheese Seminar. In the past years this event usually gets filled up at least 5 minutes prior to starting so I dashed to find a spot 8 minutes before starting. However there are quite a few seats left and no lineup either - had people lost faith in cheese these days? I wonder. 

 I've always liked the seminar not only because of the opportunity to try 7 types of free Canadian cheeses (which you don't often do in your home unless you're a cheese farmer?), it's also an opportunity to learn the definition of a "good cheese", which would be useful during cheese shopping later on.

 Blue Brie Cheese - didn't smell/taste exotically as normal blue cheese...brie is just simply good anyways. 
They also give you a list of the cheeses in case you want to purchase them later or taking some notes of the texture, etc.

 After the cheese seminar I took a brief tour around the exhibits section...

Guilt-free bakery 
Granola Girl Booth
 Seems like GF, Vegan, egg/sugar-free, etc (free everything?) has been the trend of this year...

The Tea Sparrow Booth - the guy at the booth said that this isn't a tea-store, but a program where members (sign-up needed) receive teas (sent from different companies) rated by a group of tea-testers, which ensures that the teas received by members are some of the finer ones. Is this the new way of tea-business? Correct me if I'm wrong.

 Some snapshots of candy apples...
 Dave's Killer Bread - one of the best things of EAT! Van is the opportunity to try different sorts of foods. This 21 whole grains and seeds bread had a moist (but not spongy) texture and the ingredients are all organic according to the nutrition info. You can get these at Costco or at the festival for a special price (another bonus of this fest...)

 BC Salmon Farmers Association giving out smoked and grilled salmon with purchase of some tasting tickets ($5 for 10 tickets or $10 for 20 ) and small samples if you don't like the bigger portions - a favourite every time. 
 Giant (for sample sizes, that is) coconut Greek yogurt from Liberté with a coupon too - trying out some new flavours. 
Designer cookies and cake pops

Artistically-styled bread

Another favourite section from this festival - Flavors of the World. Chefs and presenters form different countries present their culinary culture with free recipes, live demonstrations and tasting! After visiting the Louisiana show 2 years ago I went with Thailand's, in which the Thai chef made Pad Thai for us. 

 The Urban Fare Booth was filled with exotic/local foods - from dressings/condiments to colourful cauliflowers and square watermelons, a display of modern grocery shopping.

The Bites section was a section I've always looked forward to since it featured some of the best local restaurants offering samples of their best products (tasting tickets needed). This year's Bites was not as great as expected in its choices and even in product quality (sorry to disappoint) seemed more of a business than an actual "bite" section compared to 2 years ago. However some fine classics remained such as Bella Gelateria :3 

The number of exhibitors at Bites decreased - choices had become more limited, maybe due to the vast amount of free samples or just market demand?
BeaverTails at its most artistic form? Not only are the beavertails cold the maple butter and chocolate were slathered messily, creating an art pieces that looks too artistic to eat...half a beavertail for a price higher than the actual stuff sold in their stores. I still recommend buying from an actual BeaverTail store...
Chicken curry fettuccine from Basil Pasta Bar- the only warm, freshly cooked food I tried at Bites. The sauce was good :)
 Old-fashioned smoked meat sandwich from Dunn's Famous Restaurant - the bread was cold but the meat tasted finer with out the cold bread actually. 

Now the fun part - Celebrity Stage. As an food network-obsessed one, I sometimes plan my schedules accordingly to the times my favourite chefs show up. Unfortunately I missed Jackie Ellis's show at noon on that day (founder of Beaucoup Bakery) but I did get to meet Chuck Hughes! 
Improvising dishes...

Choosing plates...

After 30 minutes of line-ups...these chefs do wonder around the exhibits after their show. If you are lucky you might just bump in to one of them without having to wait in a line. 
Now some more snaps...

Raspberry swirl ice cream cone from Island Farms for only 2 tasting tickets - better deals

More Raw/Healthy products, locally made

Complimentary fine tea!

 Just before I left the Mexican Tourism booth started giving out these on the side (almost secretly...). According to the chef these are chocolate cheesecake truffles with whip cream, syrup, and dusted with cocoa powder. Best complimentary dessert of the day!

Popular cracker tastings

Goodies from EAT! Vancouver
Here are some key summary points of this year:
  • # of free samples increased drastically - the picture above are made up of goodies from the Thailand show (also a limited edition Thailand dish reusable bag), BBQ sauces from the winner of UK's Dragon's Den, free almond milk (yes), and much more in which I already engulfed...
  • The local cafe section (made up of French Made Baking, Granola Girl, Milano Coffee and Tea Sparrow) is also quite adorable in the idea of having a little relax section in the festival
  • If planning to attend EAT!, it's best to have a pre-made schedule so you can get close seats to the popular events such as Celebrity Chef shows, Flavors of the World, etc.

I would visit this event again sometime in the future (that is, if I can come back to Vancouver during that time next year :P)  but as no event is absolutely perfect, EAT! Van also has its pros and cons. Applause and congratulations to this year's great event! 

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