6 Canadian Food Inventions To Help Celebrate Canada Day

Happy Canada Day! While you’re out celebrating the nation’s birthday let’s take a look at a few Canadian foods that will make you proud of the place we call home.

McIntosh Red: long before Apple Inc debuted their Macintosh computers, Canadian John McIntosh cultivated the Canadian apple in 1811, perfect for a Canada Day Apple Pie!

Butter Tart: an integral part of Canadian pioneer life, the Canadian pastry tart has expanded from its eastern roots to reach all parts of the country.

Poutine: one of the best known of Canadian cuisine, beyond our borders, the Québécois staples of french fries, cheese curd, and brown gravy, has become a beloved source of national pride as its gained acceptability.

Nanaimo Bar: while it may have other origins, the no-bake, layered bar was first recorded as the “Nanaimo Bar” in a 1953 recipe enshrined in the Nanaimo Museum.

Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale: Ontario chemist John J. McLaughlin created a ginger ale that was dry, or less sweet, than other ginger ales on the market at the time, which became popular during prohibition to mask the taste of homemade alcohol.

Caesar: celebrating the 50th anniversary of its invention by Calgary bartender, Walter Chell, the Caesar cocktail has become the staple of brunches and ‘hair of the dog’ mornings everywhere!

Harmony Arts’ Night on the Pier Crowns Top Mixologist

Harmony Arts Festival – Night On The Pier

Last week Harmony Arts Festival presented its 3rd Night on the Pier, a celebration of cocktail culture. Under the late-day heat of the setting sun, Ambleside Pier was filled with visitors seeking thirst quenching cocktails.

Nine of Metro Vancouver’s top mixologists poured their original cocktail creations for guests to sample and enjoy, alongside small bites from Mamie Taylor’s, Feast the Neighbourhood Table, Sebastian & Co. Fine Organic Meats Ltd, Las Margaritas, Two Rivers Meats & Backyard Eatery.

Winner: Cocktails At Tiffany’s, and Las Margaritas house-made salsa & chips

After sipping all the cocktails, guests were invited to vote for their favourite to be crowned top mixologist.

After the votes were counted, Milestones’ bartender Souhail Rostainajad was crowned the people’s choice for top cocktail with his refreshing “Cocktails at Tiffany’s” featuring spirit sponsor Barcardi White Rum.

The other competing cocktails, bartenders, restaurant and spirit sponsors were:


Matthew Benevoli, Nomad – “West Coast Windstorm” featuring Southern Comfort & Charton Hobbs






Max Borrowman, Juniper Kitchen and Bar – Essence de Rouge featuring  Grand Marnier






Amber Bruce, Keefer Bar – “From Sea to Sea” featuring Giffard & Torres Pisco, & Tempo Renovo Gin






Daniela Campos, Feast The Neighbourhood Table – “Hazy Prophet” featuring Aviation Gin






Levon Culbertson-Bottomley, Edible Canada – “Sheringham Oolong Sout” featuring Sheringham Distillery






Sabrine Dhaliwal, UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar – “Cherry Road” featuring Belvedere Vodka






Robyn Gray, Rosewood Hotel Georgia – “Bahamian Swizzle” featuring Mount Gay Eclipse Rum






Skye Haneul Kim, Cacao Progressive Latin – “atardecer en Ica” featuring Tacama Demonio de los Andes Pisco




Vancouver Foodster 2nd Sangria Challenge

vf_sangria_web-01Vancouver Foodster’s latest challenge is perfect as we move into the final weeks of Summer, the 2nd Sangria Challenge is running now until September 25th.

Restaurants and bars from all over the city were invited to enter their Sangria creations into this challenge, most have created a special creation just for this challenge.

Hopefully some sunny weather will accompany the Sangria Challenge, many of the participating restaurants have bright patios perfect for sipping sangria on a summer day.
Some of the participating restaurants are;


Bacchus Restaurant & Lounge, 845 Hornby Street

House Special, 1269 Hamilton St

Patron Tacos & Cantina, 265 Robson Street

The Westin Bayshore, 1601 Bayshore Drive

The Parlour Restaurant, 1011 Hamilton St,

U & I Thai, 3364 Cambie Street


U & I Thai, 33261 1 Ave


Ban Chok Dee, 20563 Douglas Crescent

Maple Ridge

Ban Chok Dee, 20395 Lougheed Hwy

During the run of the Sangria Challenge everyone is invited to order the creative sangria entries and then vote for your favourites at vancouverfoodster.com.  In addition to the Peoples’ Choice, the media judges will select a Judge’s Choice.
The media judges for this challenge are:

Zahra Alani,
Radio & Television personality, Weather Anchor at CTV News -Twitter: @ZahraAlani

Sonia Beeksma,
Weather/Traffic Anchor, Community Calendar Host, Feature Stories Reporter at Global BC
Twitter: @SoniaBeeksma

David Peng
Blogger at Picky Diners and Vancouver Foodie Pulse
Twitter: @pickydiner

For full details about the entrants and voting procedures visit vancouverfoodster.com

Friday Farewell – Bengal Lounge at Fairmont Empress

Bengal_2016-04-22, 12 46 40Not a usual Friday Find, because the Bengal Lounge at the Fairmont Empress Hotel has been around since the 60’s but rather a farewell since it will be closing its doors tomorrow, April 30th.

The iconic space began as a reading and writing room before becoming the Coronet Lounge, Victoria’s first cocktail bar in the 1950s.  It’s been serving cocktails over half a century, becoming the Bengal Lounge in the late 60s.
The Fairmont Empress Hotel is named for Queen Victoria’s rumoured favourite title, Empress of India, and the Bengal Lounge is decorated in a Victorian-era colonial Indian style to echo this title. Dark wood fixtures and fitting, tiger-skin hanging over the fireplace, punkah ceiling fans, sipping on a 1908 martini  and the famed Curry Buffet are all part of the colonial style charm that makes a visit to the Bengal Lounge a visit back in time.Bengal_2016-04-22, 12 43 29

While the Bengal Lounge will be closing as a restaurant / lounge it has been announced that the 3000 square foot space will be retained as a banquet rental space.  A perfect setting for a meeting, event or even wedding. Watch for the newly renovated restaurant and lounge, replacing the Empress Room, to open in the Fairmont Empress later in May.


The Bengal Lounge – visit before it’s gone!

IMG_0906Last week, it was announced that the renowned Bengal Lounge at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria would close this spring.  While the decision has brought plenty of controversy, especially amongst Victorian, there’s still many people who may not have had the pleasure of visiting the old school cocktail lounge.

With the Bengal Lounge closing after April, so there’s still time to try the famous Curry Buffet and classic cocktail menu.  Stepping into the Bengal Lounge is like stepping back in time. Although it was created in the 1950s it takes it’s decorating style from a century earlier when Queen Victoria was bestowed the Empress of India title, said to be her favourite.  While seemingly out of touch with modern thinking; the Colonial era decor is complete with animal skins, huge hearth & fireplace, oversized leather chairs and upholstered settees and classic punkah fans on the ceiling. Anywhere trying to decorate like this today would never pass the court of public opinion but the bygone age is alive and well in the Bengal Lounge, at least for a few more months

The real star of the Bengal Lounge is their Curry Buffet, a classic collection of curries, side dishes and desserts.  Unlike the authentic Indian cuisine from the sub-continent, the Bengal Lounge buffet is like Indian food via Great Britain at the turn of the century. Comforting and satisfying, the Curry Buffet will be missed, unless it’s recreated somewhere else in The Empress renovations.

If Curry isn’t your thing, the Bengal Lounge’s food menu offers a great selection for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  However, the cocktail menu is what really shines at the Bengal, deciding on the right libation from the extensive menu probably takes more time than the food menu.  But there’s no need to just have one, try a Empress 1908 then sample some of the other favourites. Visit on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays for live entertainment throughout the evenings.

While the cocktails and food menu will outlast the Bengal Lounge, the atmosphere will disappear in a few months, so don’t miss out, get there soon!

The Bengal Lounge is located within The Fairmont Empress Hotel on Victoria’s Inner Harbour, 721 Government Street.

The Veranda at Fairmont Empress opens for Summer

Photo 2015-05-22, 13 20 07Under the historic “The Empress” sign a the front of the majestic Fairmont Empress sits The Veranda is a relaxing and casual location for cocktails or a meal with a view.

Now open for another summer season, The Veranda, is one of the best locations for people watching, overlooking Victoria’s bustling Inner Harbour Causeway; yachts, tour buses, horse-drawn carriages and hundreds of visitors make their way past.Photo 2015-05-23, 12 21 33

While you’re sipping on your signature Empress 1908 cocktail or Veranda Iced Tea visit with your friends or watch the scenery.  Late afternoon sun sets the tables ablaze or if it’s cool, soft blankets are available to wrap across your lap.

Executive Chef Morgan Wilson and his team have created a light and local menu that has something for everyone; fresh West Coast Oysters & seafood, salads using local Mason Street Greens (from just a few blocks away), savoury fish & chips, sandwiches and new this summer thin-crust pizzas. In a couple of recent visits, I’ve had the Chicken BLT and one of the pizzas. Both were excellent, adding the local greens with the light and savoury dressing made a perfect pairing for the BLT and the pizza went down great with the Veranda Iced Tea.

The Veranda is open from 1130am until dusk, or too chilly.  Reservations are not required.

Chef Vij is a Dragon In The Garden

Next month, join renowned Chef Vikram Vij at the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden for a one-night-only fundraising soiree. Guests will be treated to a menu created by Chef Vij that is inspired by the world-class garden.  The evening will include live entertainment, cocktails in the garden and a silent fundraising auction. The proceeds of the evening go towards the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden’s educational and community programs.

Dragon In The Garden takes place from 7:30-10:30 on September 13, 2014 at the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden at 578 Carrall Street.

Tickets are on sale now for $80 including Garden Admission, Dinner, Welcome Beverage and Entertainment. Cultural Dress optional.