A Vancouver weekend long in the planning looks like it’s going to get a tiny bit longer, since my car gave up the ghost in the centre lane of a busy North Van street last night. I was on my way to a reunion with friends that we’d managed to coordinate between the five of us after seven months of emails, so turning back was not an option. My passengers, luckily, were possessed of cell phones, automotive repair connections and reliable husbands, so we managed to get my vehicle’s corpse towed to a nearby garage, and secured a car and the promise of a lift home and carried on with our evening. Tomorrow will tell just when I’ll be heading back to the Island.
However. Good things have happened. On Friday, having planned to meet up for a drink with Diane, whom I’d met at a wine-tasting at the last Salone del Gusto, and Joanne the local Slow Food convivium leader, we instead were offered a place at a well-set table, at a Slow Food potluck. Which then engendered a familiar bout of Slow Food potluck anxiety: how to compile a dish that included local-seasonal-Good-Clean-Fair when facing unexpected cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen? Thought of making bread (no local flour in the larder) or my Canadian-Food-Tradition-fallback: butter tarts (lacking my own home-dried raisins, local butter and Fairtrade sugar). I had, however, brought some of my raw flax crackers with me, and had a tin of Fanny Bay smoked oysters at the bottom of my bag (what self-respecting Islander leaves home without?) so made some smoked oyster pate, which we decorated with (edible) salmonberry blossoms, and it looked very handsome.
Also on offer were Diane’s hand-picked, hand-shelled and hand-roasted and seasoned hazelnuts, still warm and scattered with herbs.
Our hostess presented us with this dazzling starter, of beets and goat cheese in a sea of pea shoots…
and Joanne brought a Red Fife wheatberry salad, with kale, mushrooms, beans and goat cheese;
there was a bountiful dish of balsamic-dressed roasted veg
and a Tourtière (Christmas in April, why not?) with lovely flaky pastry.
A visiting Viennese guest brought some authentic Sacher Torte to finish off.
So that was good. A cheery and convivial evening which for me was also a rare opportunity for a few hours of unbridled nostalgia as I swapped tales of London with our host, who it turned out, had lived on the same street as me in South Hampstead.
The next day – I’d forgotten my camera at the dinner! – I spent with Ana cruising the food trails on a gorgeous sunny Saturday. First stop was the Home Grow-In Grocer, which was celebrating its first birthday with a lawn full of pink flamingos and a larder full of BC products. Brian Harris was there, camera in hand on behalf of Farm Folk City Folk; we’d met last September at the Duncan edition of Feast of Fields which had been held at Providence Farm.
It was a bit early to think about sharing the market’s enormous birthday cake, so we scooted off to the farmers market at the WISE Hall. It was a happy sight. Outside the hall, people were browsing the stalls – pastries, herbs, greens, nuts, dried fruits – or lolling on the grass with organic greens in buckwheat crepes, enjoying a bit of music and sunshine. Inside was a gentle hive of shoppers gradually stripping the place of garlic, hummus, salad greens, pesto, bread, cheese, home baking, chopping boards, teas and more. I was overjoyed to see Kootenay Alpine Cheese there, as I’d interviewed the owners for an article last year, and I carried off a nice piece of their Mountain Grana, to get to know them properly.
We were very near the original Bosa Foods store, so in we went to forage for olive oil, parmigiano-reggiano, pasta and the like, and out we laboured with massively heavy bags. After we’d toiled to the car with our burdens it was definitely time for a bite, so headed back across to the North Shore for lunch at the Ethical Kitchen. It was a delightful bright spot to pass an hour or so with a pasture-raised beef burger and a big glass of fermented hibiscus tea. But reunion dinner and fate were beckoning and it was nearly time for that unfortunate assignation with the car-devil, which is where I began, and where I will end for today.